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Wikipedia Actively Battling PR Sockpuppets 166

Nerval's Lobster writes "Over the weekend we discussed news that PR firms have been selling their ability to modify Wikipedia entries to help clients clean up their image. Now, the Wikimedia Foundation's executive director has confirmed that Wikipedia editors are actively engaged in a wide-ranging battle against those PR firms. Over the past couple weeks, those editors have isolated several hundred user accounts linked to people 'paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products,' according to Sue Gardner. Those users' accounts violate Wikipedia's guidelines, 'including prohibitions against sockpuppetry and undisclosed conflicts of interest.' Some 250 suspicious user accounts have already been nuked. Correcting biased text is a thankless job for those Wikipedia editors — the literary-world equivalent of killing endless hordes of zombies approaching your protective fence. But that job gets even harder when a PR agency deploys dozens, or even hundreds of writers to systematically adjust clients' Wikipedia pages."
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Wikipedia Actively Battling PR Sockpuppets

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  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @06:54PM (#45207273)

    Seriously though, Wikipedia - the online encyclopedia - is an MMO as well.

    Thousands of grinding edits, all of which are likely to be undone by griefing mid-level "players" are necessary to be taken seriously enough to rise though the levels. ...and if you get too infamous, a GM will ban you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @06:56PM (#45207291)
    Yess, good for Wikipedia. It's just a shame Slashdot didn't do the same or it might still have a community left.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:02PM (#45207349)

    Is there anything at all that advertising and marketing firms can't turn to shit? Anything?

    I say name 'em and shame 'em. Where is a list of companies and people that have hired a PR firm to manage Wikipedia articles? Once I know, I'll never deal with them.

  • by jodido ( 1052890 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:23PM (#45207527)
    Anyone who takes Wikipedia's word for anything without another source deserves whatever they get, and this is not due to the growth of sockpuppets. It's always been true. A teacher I know tells her students that to cite Wikipedia "is like telling me you saw it written on a bathroom wall at the bus depot."
  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:31PM (#45207603)

    I don't think StackOverflow's solution applies very well to Wikipedia. Hell Wikipedia's solution doesn't apply well to Wikipedia, where you have people knowledgeable in fields being overruled by editors utterly unfamiliar with the subject. The problem with implementing any new system is converting anyone already in the system appropriately and how to prevent new users from being discouraged.

    Instead of Wikipedia begging for money once a year, they could implement a site which has some light advertising. By default all users go to, but for those who want can manually redirect to I would be glad to support such a system.

    No advertiser will move to advertise on a site that users won't see unless they explicitly go to it. I'd rather Wikipedia stick with the begging, much like NPR it lets them maintain a degree of independence from corporations who do shit like this.

  • Wow in one post you showed us that you don't understand the free market, communes, or wikipedia.

    well done.

  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @08:04PM (#45207833)

    No kidding. So many burnt-up, cynical admins who think that they can just do what they want and abuse people - because they pretty much can. Look at the way Toddst1 treats people as a great example of how crappy Wikipedia culture really is.

    Every time I see a story about Wikipedia, I remember this [] from years ago. And I chuckle, because that corrupt place hasn't changed one bit since. They have a new crop of Essjays now, and the Durova List behavior is alive and well too.

  • some sympathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @08:28PM (#45207985) Journal

    I kind of feel bad for Jimmy seems like he's been in waaay over his head ever since I first read an interview....

    He was the lesser tech of the two who started wikipedia, and he kind of screwed his partner a bit...

    But...what major online company doesn't have a story like that in its history? Not an excuse but puts it in context...

    Wikipedia is awesome. The internet would suck without it.

    Wikipedia has never had ads or attempted to become a pay service in any that way Jimmy Wales is a saint

    I know Jimmy Wales seems like a cheesey step-dad used-car-salesman type but he's capable of learning and improving...

    Credit him for keeping wikipedia open...

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer