Wikipedia cracks down on paid editing

Wikipedia is cracking down on Wiki-PR, a company that gets paid to write and edit posts on the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia.

“Sockpuppetry” — or using false user accounts to post and edit on Wikipedia — violates the site’s editing policies and hurts Wikipedia’s online community, a lawyer for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, said in a Tuesday cease and desist letter to Wiki-PR.

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The letter follows an announcement last month by Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner that the nonprofit would be investigating reports of Wikipedia editors being paid to write or edit articles.

Wiki-PR was banned from posting on the site after reports that it was engaging in “sockpuppetry.”

Evidence gathered by the Wikimedia Foundation and public statements from Wiki-PR indicate that the company “is circumventing the ban” while “it professes to engage with the community about complying with it,” the letter said.

Accepting payment to write and Wikipedia posts “violate core community editing policies, such as neutrality and verifiability, and intentionally circumvent Wikipedia’s policies on conflict of interest and editor misrepresentation,” Wikipedia’s lawyer, Patrick Gunn of Cooley LLP, wrote.

The practice also burdens the Wikipedia community members who “must continuously search for the false accounts and suspend them,” he wrote.

The letter warned that paid editing can have an adverse effect on a company’s reputation. 

“Companies involved in self-promotions activities on Wikipedia have come under heavy criticism from the press and the general public, with their actions widely viewed as inconsistent with Wikipedia’s educational mission,” the letter said.