Wikipedia>> PR • Virtual world
Wikipedia has banned over 250 user accounts which, it says, were set up for commercially promoting products and institutions. Paid-for advocacy and the adoption of fake “sockpuppet” identities for promotional purposes are against the policies of the free web encyclopaedia, said Sue Gardner, executive editor of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Gardner believes that “several hundred accounts are still suspect. “Our goal is to provide neutral, reliable information,” she said. “Wikipedia considers paid-for advocacy a black hat practice that violates the principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people.”
According to investigations by Wikipedia’s editors, most disputed entries appear to originate from a US firm, Wiki-PR, which claims to “build, manage and translate Wikipedia pages for over 12,000 people and companies”. The probe shows that entries were posted by accounts commissioned by Silicon Valley dot-coms, financial institutions, authors, doctors, a musician and an oil company, among others.
Wiki-PR disputed the idea that it broke Wikipedia’s rules by promoting or advertising its clients’ agendas, saying it merely wanted to ensure they were “presented accurately” on the site. “The PR in Wiki-PR is a misnomer—we’re a research and writing firm,” Jordan French, the firm’s chief executive, told BBC.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.