Wikipedia cannot say that it was not warned long ago about the corrupt practices going on behind the scenes by some members of its volunteer army of supposedly unpaid editors; an unhealthy culture of manipulation, secrecy, bullying and censorship, driven mostly by the root of all evil: money
The Guardian newspaper has just published an article under the headline: “Wikipedia founder backs site’s systems after extortion scam”
Once again, for commercial reasons, hundreds of Wikipedia “editors” have been exploiting the fatal flaw that allows people to edit Wikipedia articles anonymously, hiding behind an alias. My guess is that it is actually thousands of “editors” not hundreds.
Like many other people, I am a great admirer of Wikipedia and use it frequently.
The Wikipedia organization is conducted on a non-profit making basis, has no subscription charges and does not allow advertising on Wikipedia articles.
It does, however, have a serious flaw in respect of Wikipedia articles about businesses.
I have rung alarm bells for several years that such articles are wide open to manipulation by anonymous parties with commercially driven motives.
I forecast that an editing scandal would inflict damage to the reputation of Wikipedia.
As is evident from extensive recent newspaper and magazine articles, this prediction has come to pass.
Consequently, Wikipedia cannot say that it was not warned long ago about the corrupt practices going on behind the scenes by some members of its volunteer army of supposedly unpaid editors; an unhealthy culture of manipulation, secrecy, bullying and censorship, driven mostly by the root of all evil: money.
The way the editing process is set up, it is absolutely wide open to manipulation because editors are allowed to operate without disclosing their identities or background; a recipe for pr disaster. It is known as sockpuppetry: an online identity used for purposes of deception. Articles about businesses can be laundered to provide a rosy, misleading picture to investors and the public.
I first became aware of sockpuppetry in the context of Wikipedia articles about Royal Dutch Shell that I was editing. They were constantly patrolled and sanitized of critical entries by anonymous parties hiding behind aliases. Having lawfully obtained Shell internal correspondence about me, I knew how concerned Shell was at the prospect of information about its controversial activities being published on Wikipedia. Shell was obsessed with removing such information and Shell employees were actually caught (by Wikiscanner technology) editing Royal Dutch Shell Wikipedia articles from Shell premises. Shell is far from being alone in such activity.
Just some of the recent articles that have damaged the reputation of Wikipedia by undermining public trust in the credibility and integrity of such articles:
Click capitalism: PR firms cash in cleaning up clients Wikipedia pages: The Washington Times: 21 Oct 2013
Wikipedia Stunned That Companies Pay Users to Write Favorable Articles: PJ Media: 22 Oct 2013
Wikipedia: We have blocked 250 ‘sock puppets’ for biased editing of our pages: The Independent: 21 Oct 2013
Wikipedia Probes Suspicious Promotional Articles: The Wall Street Journal: 21 Oct 2013
Wikipedia editors report high numbers of paid-for articles: Digital Journal: 22 Oct 2013
Wikipedia probe into paid-for ‘sockpuppet’ entries: BBC News: 21 Oct 2013
Wikipedia Bans 250 Users for Posting Paid, Promotional Entries: Time Magazine: 21 Oct 2013
Wikipedia cracks down on ‘paid advocacy editing and sockpuppetry’: The Guardian: 22 Oct 2013
Is Wikipedia Still Reliable?: Time Magazine: 22 October 2013
Wikipedia wants to erase propaganda and bias from its pages: The Verge: 22 Oct 2013
The decline of Wikipedia: MIT Technology Review: 22 October 2013
According to an article published a few days ago by New Scientist under the headline “THE END OF ANONYMITY”, it seems advances in technology may hopefully soon bring the dark age of sockpuppetry to an end.
MY OWN WARNING ARTICLES ON THE SUBJECT
Controversies surrounding Royal Dutch Shell 29 October 2007
Royal Dutch Shell Wikipedia Machinations: 29 March 2010
Ku Klux Klan culture at Wikipedia: secrecy and censorship: 12 October 2010
Wikipedia Foundation non-profit status at risk?: 14 October 2010
Comment on Wikipedia controversy: 13 October 2010
Instant reaction on Wikipedia: 13 October 2010
Wikipedia Klan exposed: 13 October 2010
Integrity of Wikipedia corporate articles corrupted by editing scandal: 18 December 2011: 18 Dec 2011
BP a novice at manipulating Wikipedia compared with Shell: 17 April 2013