We’re sure many of you guys have come across Wikipedia entries which sound as though someone paid the author of the page to write something nice about a particular product, brand, or company. Given that Wikipedia is expected to be a neutral source of information, this is a little disturbing, and probably the reason why many schools discourage or disallow Wikipedia to be used as source material for reports. In any case it seems that the Wikimedia Foundation has had enough of these deceptive practices and have since announced that they will be cracking down on sockpuppeting, which is where Wikipedia users create fake identities to help companies or brands edit Wikipedia pages that will put them in a positive light.
According to Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, “Unlike a university professor editing Wikipedia articles in their area of expertise, paid editing for promotional purposes, or paid advocacy editing as we call it, is extremely problematic […] We consider it a ‘black hat’ practice. Paid advocacy editing violates the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people.” Given that creating new or fake accounts is pretty easy, we can only imagine that the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts would be more reactionary as opposed to precautionary, since fake accounts and glorified Wikipedia entries are only noticed after they have been edited, but still kudos to their efforts nonetheless.
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