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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wikipedia Faced Paid Editing Scandal

A couple of trusted Wikipedia types were noticed editing encyclopedia pages and facilitating front-page placement for money. Media reports say that Jimmy Wales is furious.

A “high-return-earning PR consultant” named Roger Bamkin, who is also a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation UK, was noticed using Wikipedia’s “Did You Know” feature which is posted on front page and the resources of GLAM WikiProject in order to hawk Gibraltar, which apparently was his customer.

Last month, Gibraltar appeared as a Wikipedia “Did You Know” front page feature 17 times in 2 to 3 days, an astonishing number. In fact, Gibraltar managed to receive more publicity than the Olympics.

Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has written a stiff missive, claiming that it was absolutely inappropriate for anyone taking an official position to take money from clients for securing favorable placement on the main page of the online encyclopedia.

In the meantime, the community members also managed to expose a PR-strategy Wikipedia page editing strategy employed by GLAM editor Max Klein as a lucrative business. Max Klein has created a consulting business named “untrikiwiki”. Business in question aimed at using Wikipedia articles to guarantee a top 3 Google hit. Klein explained that he had found out how to circumvent the encyclopedia’s “conflict of interest” editing. As a result, he has made over 10,000 edits within the last 8 years.

Jimmy Wales announced he was unaware of this case, and then he had no time to take a look at it. However, if this case was true, Wales will be very unhappy about it. In the meantime, another problem is that there’s no existing Wikimedia UK policy which would prohibit paid editing for encyclopedia pages. However, Jimmy Wales claimed that paid editing was undoubtedly against the service’s values and policy. 

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