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GOP firm plans appeal after researcher is blocked by Wikipedia

A GOP opposition research firm on Monday vowed to appeal a Wikipedia ruling that blocked an employee's account after the researcher edited articles about Democratic Senate candidates. 

Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising Pac, said Wikipedia administrators had not shown that the staffer had ever made disruptive edits, despite the conflict of interest. 

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"We've consulted long-time Wikipedia editors, don't believe the blocking will stand, and are going to appeal," he said in an email. "Nobody has produced an example of a disruptive edit made by an America Rising researcher and we are not being paid to edit Wikipedia. Every edit our researcher made was accurate, relevant to the topic at hand, met the Wikipedia standards, and flagged for other editors the potential conflict of interest." 

"Sprinkler Court," the user identified as an employee from the firm, was blocked Sunday after making a number of changes to the pages of Democratic candidates. America Rising did not identify the staffer by his or her real name.  

Buzzfeed highlighted the move Monday and had written about past concerns from Wikipedia administrators. 

Wikipedia administrator Jonathan Hochman, who goes by the handle "Jehochman," said the conflict of interest goes beyond uncomfortable.

"Thank you for disclosing your conflict of interest," he wrote. "You stated that you are editing where you have a conflict of interest, and where you have a vested interest. Since you recognized both situations but continued editing (a wrong decision), I have blocked your account."

He added: "While I am not sure whether you are paid for your edits, you should know that paid editing is forbidden. Please don't continue with a different account or 'pass the baton' to another person in your office."

The administrator said the America Rising staffer could request to have the block lifted but recommended staying "away from editing that could be viewed as political advocacy."

The user had edited articles on Democratic Senate candidate pages in competitive states including Arkansas, Iowa, Georgia and Montana. America Rising had previously told Buzzfeed it allows employees to make fact-based edits as long as they disclose their affiliation. 

"Sprinkler Court," the self-identified America Rising employee, did so in his user page. 

"For total clarity, I'll always disclose potential conflicts or vested interest on Talk pages where I discuss edits using this account," the user page reads. "My aim is to ensure that I follow all the relevant guidelines, make constructive edits and contribute productively to discussions."