Wikipedia bans 250 accounts on pay-for-article concerns

The online encyclopedia's editors are investigating other allegations of suspicious edits and accounts

Amid news reports of groups paying users to write Wikipedia entries, the online encyclopedia has blocked or banned more than 250 accounts, the site announced Monday.

A number of user accounts, "perhaps as many as several hundred," may have been paid to write Wikipedia articles promoting groups or products, Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a blog post.

Wikipedia editors continue to investigate allegations of suspicious edits and so-called sockpuppetry, the practice of using online identities for purposes of deception, she wrote.

Editing for pay has been a "divisive topic" at Wikipedia for years, Gardner said. "Unlike a university professor editing Wikipedia articles in their area of expertise, paid editing for promotional purposes, or paid advocacy editing as we call it, is extremely problematic," she added. "We consider it a 'black hat' practice. Paid advocacy editing violates the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people."

Gartner's statement follows recent news reports suggesting that public relations agencies and other groups have been targeting allegedly negative information in Wikipedia articles. Vice.com recently wrote about PR agencies working as Wikipedia reputation managers, and DailyDot.com reported on an extensive sockpuppetry investigation at Wikipedia.

With the uncovering of alleged sockpuppet accounts, editors "have expressed shock and dismay," Gardner wrote. "Our readers know Wikipedia's not perfect, but they also know that it has their best interests at heart, and is never trying to sell them a product or propagandize them in any way. Our goal is to provide neutral, reliable information for our readers, and anything that threatens that is a serious problem."

Using sockpuppet accounts or misrepresenting your affiliation with a company is against Wikipedia policy and prohibited by its terms of use, Gartner added. "We urge companies to conduct themselves ethically, to be transparent about what they're doing on Wikipedia, and to adhere to all site policies and practices," she said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesinternetSue Gardnerwikipedia

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?