Nerval's Lobster writes: Wikipedia editors are actively engaged in a wide-ranging battle against PR firms attempting to edit the crowdsourced encyclopedia’s entries to reflect their clients’ best interests. Over the past couple weeks, those Wikipedia editors have isolated several hundred user accounts linked to people “paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products,” according to Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia’s operations. 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. While Gardner didn’t mention the names of such agencies in her statement, The Daily Dot cited a firm named Wiki-PR that brags on its Website about its skill in building client-friendly Wikipedia pages. “We build, manage and translate Wikipedia pages for over 12,000 people and companies,” is one of its advertising slogans. Other services include “crisis editing” and “concept development.” Wiki-PR has not yet responded to Slashdot’s request for comment, and the firm’s Twitter page is now locked. And therein lies the downside of crowdsourcing: it’s great to have a million people building something for you, but not all those hands and minds are necessarily working in your actual best interest. Whether or not Wiki-PR sticks around, other PR firms are surely doing their best to change online history.
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