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How PR Subverts Wikipedia

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the citation-needed dept.

Wikipedia 219

Daniel_Stuckey writes "We all know that Wikipedia can be subverted—it’s an inevitability of an open platform that some people will seek to abuse it, whether to gain some advantage or just for a laugh. Fortunately, the Wikipedia community has strong mechanisms in place to deal with this, from the famous cry of [citation needed] to the rigorous checks and standards put in place by its hierarchy of editors and admins. In recent months though, Insiders have encountered something altogether more worrying: a concerted attack on the very fabric of Wikipedia by PR companies that have subverted the online encyclopedia's editing hierarchy to alter articles on a massive scale—perhaps tens of thousands of them. Wikipedia is the world's most popular source of cultural, historical, and scientific knowledge—if their fears are correct, its all-important credibility could be on the line... Adam Masonbrink, a founder and Vice-President of Sales at Wiki-PR, boasts of new clients including Priceline and Viacom. Viacom didn't respond ... but Priceline — a NASDAQ listed firm with over 5,000 employees and William Shatner as their official spokesman — did. Sadly, Priceline didn't choose to respond to us via Captain Kirk; instead Leslie Cafferty, vice president of corporate communications and public relations, admitted, 'We are using them to help us get all of our brands a presence because I don't have the resources internally to otherwise manage.'"

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219 comments

Internet democracy (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 6 months ago | (#45175665)

If the internet organized itself with a sort of government and had votes and such on laws and such governing it, this wouldn't be a problem. The problem is that the internet needs representation, but all it has is our shitty bricks and mortar governments, and organizations like ICANT (cough, giggle), running the show.

We used to deal with shit like this with things like the Usenet Death Penalty. We simply boot the companies off the internet. Suddenly, ethics and morality abounded. Nope... you can't blame the PR companies for this: You have to blame our fucktard governments (all of them, equally) for being utterly and completely incompetent.

We should hold an Internet Congress, elect some people, and start cleaning shit like this up, instead of waiting until the heat death of the universe for the governments of the world to advance in maturity past the age of five.

Re:Internet democracy (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 6 months ago | (#45175725)

This is actually a great idea.

Re:Internet democracy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175753)

Yeah, let's have a Congress of elected representatives who can sit down as reasonable men and women and make collective decisions on important policy issues! Kind of like the model of...

Oh wait.

Re:Internet democracy (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#45176259)

Well, maybe...

The old UDP system wasn't as badassed as proclaimed. It was fairly quickly subverted by simple dint of getting another ISP account.

Netcop me over something that offended you in USENET? Hah - fuck you, I'm back on in less than two hours courtesy of an AOL floppy, some other uni's server which left their dial-in lines wide open (and lookie here - anon logins!), or one of a zillion other means of getting in. Seriously - it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and get even less powerful as ISPs started popping up out of the woodwork. By 1999, even the little rural corner of Arkansas I lived in gave me a choice of at least 10 different ISPs (be they local and otherwise), not counting the UofA alumni accounts, the local government dial-ins (which also had a fun little generic login for awhile) and etc.

Now - fast forward to today. In the age of free wifi damned near everywhere, 3/4/whatever-G mobile devices, and IP assignments that are almost as disposable as toilet paper squares?

Yeah, good luck with that. Can't even call it by MAC addy, and until/unless an RFC is universally implemented that will simultaneous destroy any hope of privacy, you're kinda fucked...

Sorry 'mano, but we've been hearing/hashing similar arguments since the days when Uni/.mil/BBS dominated things.

Re:Internet democracy (5, Insightful)

Garridan (597129) | about 6 months ago | (#45175757)

See, Wikipedia started like that, too. But very soon, our Internet Congress would be populated by corporate fucktards, and not long afterwards, anybody with a clue would be outnumbered and banned from the internet. Also, any mechanism that you create to ban folks from the internet will be used for governments for censorship. Great intention you've got, but that road leads straight to hell.

Re:Internet democracy (3, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45175961)

How do you get banned from the Internet? It's literally impossible at this point in time.
Of course if you have a Facebook account (and I wager you do) you're helping "them" to create exactly what you just said, a bannable Internet.

So STFU.

How to get banned from the Internet: (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 months ago | (#45176073)

Get the MPAA/RIAA/etc. mad at you, that's how.

Sigh.

Re:How to get banned from the Internet: (2)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45176119)

Explain to me how anyone will keep me (a individual) from using the Internet *today*, because it is *literally* impossible.

Re: How to get banned from the Internet: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176207)

No one wants to keep you from accessing the internet. You are insignificant and meaningless to the internet and all it serves. Why not go to Wikipedia and create your own page? At least that way you'll think you matter to the internet.

Re:How to get banned from the Internet: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176583)

because it is *literally* impossible.

It is not literally impossible. Some people are forbidden by court order from accessing the internet, or any computers that are capable of it.

Short of that, it is practically impossible. But not literally.

Re:Internet democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176423)

How do you get banned from the Internet? It's literally impossible at this point in time.

Prison time or a death penalty works fine for this purpose.

Re:Internet democracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175965)

See, Wikipedia started like that, too. But very soon, our Internet Congress would be populated by corporate fucktards, and not long afterwards, anybody with a clue would be outnumbered and banned from the internet.

Not necessarily. The internet was fine until Eternal September [wikipedia.org], when the "existing culture did not have the capacity to integrate the sheer and endless number of new users and so they overwhelmed the network's existing social norms."

If we could create an internet governence that grows slowly are delibrately keeps excessive numbers of the "fucktards" out, then there might be hope.

Re:Internet democracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175759)

Jimmy Wales seems to at least have tried to do things right.

(Think with him just still with a veto things might have been better).

Re:Internet democracy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175815)

This is a terrible idea! You just read an article about PR firms editing articles about science & history. Facts are the least democratic things of all!

Do you want people to vote on science? How many people think Relativity is just E=mc^2? They ignore all the import aspects about it. If there wasn't a maximum speed (speed of light), then kinetic energy (KE=mv^2) would go to infinity and create unlimited energy.

Do you want people to vote on History? Well, they did, and the Holocaust only killed Jews. The other 5 million killed for handicaps, homosexuality, and others don't count. There were even 3 more genocides in the 20th century alone: Pol Pot's Cambodia (the educated), Serbia (muslims), & Rwanda.

I don't want popular opinion to warp reality anymore!

Re:Internet democracy (2, Informative)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45175967)

And why is it you only hear about the Jews hmmm?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Re:Internet democracy (1, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 6 months ago | (#45176379)

Reality is just as subjective as the rest. There is no reality per se, just the account you can make of it. And this is subjective, and no two persons will tell the same story. Nobody knows that better than the police: Ask 3 eye witnesses about the facts and you immediately get 3 different versions.

Re:Internet democracy (2)

Sique (173459) | about 6 months ago | (#45177265)

Don't mess two different things up. There is reality, and there are our measurements, our convictions and our accounts of what reality is. Just because you almost never get the last ones to match doesn't mean there was no reality. Yes. There is reality. No. We will never know it completely.

Re:Internet democracy (1)

Mr. Competence (18431) | about 6 months ago | (#45176389)

This is a terrible idea! You just read an article about PR firms editing articles about science & history. Facts are the least democratic things of all!

Do you want people to vote on science? How many people think Relativity is just E=mc^2? They ignore all the import aspects about it. If there wasn't a maximum speed (speed of light), then kinetic energy (KE=mv^2) would go to infinity and create unlimited energy.

Do you want people to vote on History? Well, they did, and the Holocaust only killed Jews. The other 5 million killed for handicaps, homosexuality, and others don't count. There were even 3 more genocides in the 20th century alone: Pol Pot's Cambodia (the educated), Serbia (muslims), & Rwanda.

I don't want popular opinion to warp reality anymore!

And you even left off the Armenian Genocide.

Re:Internet democracy (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 6 months ago | (#45176575)

I suspect he meant that there were three more after that, but yes, there was also the Armenian Genocide, and surely others too.

Re:Internet democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45177257)

This is a terrible idea! You just read an article about PR firms editing articles about science & history. Facts are the least democratic things of all!

Do you want people to vote on science? How many people think Relativity is just E=mc^2? They ignore all the import aspects about it. If there wasn't a maximum speed (speed of light), then kinetic energy (KE=mv^2) would go to infinity and create unlimited energy.

Do you want people to vote on History? Well, they did, and the Holocaust only killed Jews. The other 5 million killed for handicaps, homosexuality, and others don't count. There were even 3 more genocides in the 20th century alone: Pol Pot's Cambodia (the educated), Serbia (muslims), & Rwanda.

I don't want popular opinion to warp reality anymore!

And you even left off the Armenian Genocide.

Don't blame him, blame the government schools he attended [patheos.com]

Re:Internet democracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176737)

First, the non relativistic kinetic energy is mv^2/2 and not mv^2. Second, the relativistic kinetic energy is given by mc^2/(1-v^2/c^2)^(1/2). It goes to infinity when v tends to c.

Re:Internet democracy (-1, Offtopic)

PRMan (959735) | about 6 months ago | (#45176929)

And you have situations where a moderator will simply leave out information. For instance, the article on catapults (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catapult) insists that catapults were invented by the Greeks, despite them being listed in the Bible much earlier (2 Chronicles 26:14-15):

14 Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and slingstones for the entire army. 15 In Jerusalem he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls.

Now, you may or may not believe the miracles in the Bible, but historically and archaeologically it's a VERY accurate book. If it says that Uzziah had catapults in those days then he almost certainly did. But the moderator has purposely excluded this clear reference rather than letting people decide for themselves. Hope you like censorship, because that is what power-mad moderators are increasingly turning Wikipedia into.

Re:Internet democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175867)

Any internet vote would be dominated by the largest interest group.

In short, the internet would be forced to be Chinese-only.

Given the way Americans run the internet now, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

Re:Internet democracy (4, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 6 months ago | (#45175955)

OK I giggled a bit.

Wikipedia: verifiability, not truth; consensus, not truth; time available to engage in edit wars, not truth. objectivist power-mongering, not truth.

OK, it's a fair introduction to some non-contentious subjects... although even e.g. where it's supposed to be good, like mathematics, I'd much rather go to Mathworld or a topic-specific repository (e.g. the MacTutor history of mathematics archive) for something written by people who are both knowledgeable and able to write... so, to refine my point, it's a fair introduction to trivia where a series-specific Wikia hasn't already been created.

But what's really going for it is that it appears at the top of search engine results. And most people aren't using the Internet for anything important, which means anything resembling an answer is good enough.

Re:Internet democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45177069)

You have to be joking about “...able to write...” if it's supposed to be Wikipedia vs. Wolfram then Wikipedia always wins. What use Mathworld is supposed to be to anybody is beyond me (I suspect it is the corpse of high-flying yet unmet ambitions killed by the incredible amount of work required), it's mostly just a sentence or two filled with links and devoid of actual information (the links almost exclusively point to other similar collections of useless links).

Bias: I actually like Wolfram the person and his ideas but “his” internet stuff isn't even “meh!”.

Talk about setting the bar low (i.e. Wolfram). If any Wikipedia article is far too obtuse (and many maths-related ones are in certain fields) then any search engine will do better with a little bit of patience.

Or you go straight to Khan academy if your realize you didn't know what you thought you did and need to learn things/basics in the first place :)

And there are these things called physical books which beat the crap out of most things (especially if they're leather-bound and heavy) including some deceptively slim and truly enlightening ones that pack a really staggering wallop.

Re:Internet democracy (1)

surd1618 (1878068) | about 6 months ago | (#45176305)

I wish behavior like this could be outlawed, but sadly, banning them would just make them harder to detect.

Re: Internet democracy (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 6 months ago | (#45176471)

So we institute a government to acts that problems of other governments.

Yup. That'll work.

Re:Internet democracy (4, Interesting)

s13g3 (110658) | about 6 months ago | (#45176785)

No, the answer is not for a bunch of people to elect another bunch of people via popularity contest to exercise power over everybody else, especially including the people who didn't want the people who got elected in the first place.

The better answer would be for people like yourself to, instead of throwing their hands in the air and blaming everybody but themselves for the problem, to actually get involved in efforts to combat those doing wrong, such as taking part in Wikipedia's anti-vandalism process, as opposed to just crying about evil corporations, etc.

Remember, governments aren't interested in people, they're interested in furthering themselves and their own authority. No matter the intentions they start with, democracies evolve into tyrannies nearly without fail: Plato pretty well nailed it with the Five Regimes [wikipedia.org]. It's one thing when participation in a body with a government is voluntary, but when you propose to place everyone under your "protection", whether they want it or not, you're a mob with mafioso leanings at best.

If this is an issue of genuine concern to the Wikimedia Foundation and their leadership, they can alter their policies to combat it. I don't propose to know how best or even if they should do so, but they have the ability to respond as they see fit, and there are undoubtedly options they could pursue if the threat is great enough. Let them and their governing body choose whether to subject themselves to some other governing body or shielding organization, if they wish to abrogate their own control and responsibility, but to suggest everybody should be de facto subject to another group of people making decisions for nearly everyone else based on principles they may not share is how you get the mess we have with most of the world governments today.

So how exactly is that bad? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175667)

So how exactly is it bad for priceline to be getting all of their brands a wiki page? And, if they have relevant sources, why not add them to other websites? If it's incorrect, malicious or deliberately misleading info, that's fine, but that's not what I'm seeing from them.

Re:So how exactly is that bad? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175893)

How is it bad? Wikipedia is supposed to be facts, not PR spin, marketing buzz words and advertisements.

PR firms are incapable of telling the truth or stating clear, accurate facts. If you asked a PR firm for the time of day they would massage their response in such a way to try to get you to buy a watch from one of their clients.

Re:So how exactly is that bad? (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45175985)

How do you get rid of the scum and still keep it an open system?

In my opinion Wikipedia should be moved to a bunker in Iceland (yes it should also have multiple data stores around the World but edit-ably subservient to the one in Iceland) and only Wiki librarians of the highest order will be allowed to manipulate the pages.

Kind of like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault trying to save all the seeds from the likes of Monsanto.

How do you get rid of the scum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45177289)

How do you get rid of the scum and still keep it an open system?

I don't think it's even possible.

As an example, there's one guy who has been stalking a TV and movie producer for almost twenty years.

Why?

Because the producer became extremely successful and admired, even a household name for a time, while the stalker achieved nothing.

So he dedicated the entirety of what passes for his life to endlessly badmouthing the producer and trolling on every forum he can find.

Wikipedia has repeatedly banned him and his various accounts, but the relentless obsession is just too much to overcome: He always returns in some new guise or other, until that's banned and he creates another.

These are the kind of people who will always defeat every good intention.

They have nothing better to do.

Surprise! (5, Insightful)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 6 months ago | (#45175677)

Capitalism! Freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one!

This problem will only be solved after the workers have expropriated the bourgeoisie and established their proletarian dictatorship!

Re:Surprise! (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#45175899)

The US Supreme Court ruled that money is "free speech", so those with the most money get heard the most.

Re:Surprise! (0)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45176019)

How does what the US suffers from apply to the rest of the World?

Re:Surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176181)

With aircraft carriers and army soldiers.

Re:Surprise! (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45175989)

Put guillotine in there somewhere and Ill go along.

Re:Surprise! (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 6 months ago | (#45176725)

Capitalism and Guillotines! Freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one!

How's that?

Re:Surprise! (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45176793)

LOL Pretty good, though i am reminded of the time in history when the French got a little carried away with their executions.

Re:Surprise! (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 6 months ago | (#45176103)

Mod parent up. Only after a global revolution where the scum are hung up (and/or shot) shall things start to get better. The trick, and this is difficult, is to make sure that new scum don't rise. I.e. it had better not be a Leninist revolution, rather, make it an anarchist one thanks.

Never Kirk (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175699)

Shatner's persona of The Negotiator is not Captain Kirk, and Priceline have never used Kirk as a spokesman.

Re:Never Kirk (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 6 months ago | (#45175979)

Of course not. And no one watching the adverts thinks of Kirk each time they see him. And the folk who pass Shatner in the street, they don't yell Captain.

I'm not sure what world you live in. Presumably not one the USS Enterprise ever reached. For the rest of us, and most fortunately for Shatner's bank balance, he will always be inextricably linked with Kirk - whatever role he plays.

does it do that? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175713)

Fortunately, the Wikipedia community has strong mechanisms in place to deal with this, from the famous cry of [citation needed] to the rigorous checks and standards put in place by its hierarchy of editors and admins.

[citation needed]

All sorts PR companies are highjacking Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175755)

Just read the bios of a lot C/D-listers. Longer and more detailed than the leads of respective TV Shows/movies, and it's their first gig. We do learn that they were Romeo (or Juliet) in high school, though. It's a PR company.

Same as it ever was (4, Insightful)

tutufan (2857787) | about 6 months ago | (#45175765)

Not sure that this is really new. The page for C++, for example, is regularly scrubbed of any critical material. At the moment, there is just one negative sentence, indicating that "C++ is sometimes compared unfavorably to [some other languages]". Whether that is an unbiased and appropriately detailed statement of the totality of current objective C++ criticism is left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:Same as it ever was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175843)

Although I expect abuse like this to occur, that seems like a less-than-ideal example, and I think it is far more likely that hardcore C++ zealots/fanboys are scrubbing the material than ad agencies. C++ has no major corporate backer/"owner" like, say, Java has with Oracle, so I don't see where the major motivation would come from.

[citation needed] doesn't help (5, Insightful)

MLCT (1148749) | about 6 months ago | (#45175791)

There is no point placing any stock in [citation needed]; these are PR companies. If someone challenges what they are adding to wikipedia with citation requests they will issue a press release, get questionable "newspapers" (i.e. trade papers, promotional puff periodicals etc.) to pick up the press release (normally it is verbatim) and then back slam that on the wikipedia text as a citation. A lovely circular piece of work that ensures the promotion continues.

One way to minimise their PR efforts is to create significant Streisand effects on their work. But some PR companies are so desperate that they would probably even be delighted with that.

Re:[citation needed] doesn't help (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 6 months ago | (#45175999)

The other extreme is true, too... Any random moron can slap [citation needed] and dozens of other tags into an article. It takes almost no effort, and there are no consequences for the idiot doing it without putting in any effort of being completely misinformed. Meanwhile, tracking down citations is obviously significant work in the best of cases. So some high quality articles have [citation needed] or [dubious] tags all over the place, left there for years. While some horribly slanted articles with only a few bad sources have no obvious indication of any problems.

Just one of many problems WP isn't dealing with.

Re:[citation needed] doesn't help (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#45176043)

One way to minimise their PR efforts is to create significant Streisand effects on their work. But some PR companies are so desperate that they would probably even be delighted with that.

Part of the reason there isn't much of a Streisand effect here usually is that in the common case, honestly nobody cares about these articles. A PR company writes an obvious fluff piece about some obscure internet portal or logistics company or for-profit university. If someone on Wikipedia catches it, they might try to tone it down or even delete it. But most of the time: 1) nobody even sees these articles; and 2) it's barely really worth the effort.

If a PR company tries to fluff up a politician's article who's engaged in a high-profile race, or some energy-industry PR people edit an article relating to climate change, or the Turkish government hires a PR firm to edit the page on the Armenian genocide, then people will notice and care. But nobody reads the thousands of articles on obscure companies. The minus side is that they're usually crap articles, but the plus side is that they are relatively uninfluential crap: all they tell you is that some small company exists and thinks it's great, and they get a handful of views from Google. Usually they are not even really linked from other parts of Wikipedia: when the PR companies try to insert spammy links from other articles that people do read, that's when these fluff articles are caught.

Re:[citation needed] doesn't help (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 6 months ago | (#45176299)

> One way to minimise their PR efforts is to create significant Streisand effects on their work.

Perhaps this is why they are changing 10s of thousands of pages recently -- to tire out the other editors.

Bad, bad stuff (4, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 6 months ago | (#45175795)

What these companies do is serially violate Wikipedia policies while padding with fluff or outright lies. I'm not against paid editing itself, and a few people do it without problems, but the more known companies have methods they use are purely deceptive and they cause a great deal of expense and problems because of the thousands of sockpuppets they create, and the hit and run methods. They are not doing this in an open and honest way, whatsoever.

Trust me. If I know anything, this I know, and I know it first hand from actually working the SPI cases.

Re:Bad, bad stuff (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175935)

Kind of like the way some corrupt people violate laws and terms of use preventing them from ciruclating published material without the consent of the publisher and author, or downloading material from these illicit sites?

I know the drill.... Flamebait (aka not "Politically Correct /.")

Barefaced corruption of Wikipedia (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175809)

https://www.wiki-pr.com/services/

The most outrageous part of this is that Wiki-PR claims to have Wikipedia admins on their staff, not just normal editors. There is one, and only one response to this - find out who they are and remove their admin status immediately.

Als, some excerpts, as this stuff has to be seen to be believed:

"We respect the community and its rules against promoting and advertising." - Claims the advertising agency whose following services completely revolve around image management and promotion of corporate interests.

"Don't get caught in a PR debacle by editing your own page." - As if having an advertising firm editing it for you through a network of paid-for eds/admins looks any less corrupt and underhanded.

"We've built technology to manage your page 24 hours a day, 365 days a year." - Blatantly working against the Wikipedia rule against asserting page ownership.

"That means you need not worry about anyone tarnishing your image - be it personal, political, or corporate." - Possibly the worst admission, goodbye balanced articles, goodbye controversy sections, hello censorship and whitewashed articles.

Though the abuse of an open platform for informing the public is to be expected, what is surprising is how blatantly these people are advertising their corruption of Wikipedia.

Re:Barefaced corruption of Wikipedia (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 6 months ago | (#45177085)

Seems reasonable to think that they could server both the interests of their client while still being kept in check by the community. Having some Wikipedia admins on staff would actually make a lot of sense. At least it's better than not having any, and finding out the stuff you're creating and editing has violated some rules after the fact.

As for the page management and preventing people from tarnishing a client's image, that alone doesn't imply page ownership. There's nothing wrong with removing mud slinging from an article when it isn't true or backed up with facts and references. Now if they are claiming to keep a page clean from all negative information, even if it's true, then there are problems. But the system if pretty self-correcting in that, because people will notice.

Yes, there's certainly room for abuse, but again, the whole Wiki system is inherently transparent and pretty self-correcting. It's not like Washington politics, where deals and policies are made in back rooms, and the only recourse we have is to vote people out in a few years or flat out riot.

Snowden's Wikipedia Entry - Changed to "Traitor" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175817)

Someone in Washington DC recently edited Ed Snowden's Wikipedia entry, and changed it to call him a "traitor", as opposed to a "leaker" or "whistleblower". RT has the story: http://rt.com/usa/snowden-wikipedia-senate-traitor-116/

Remind me again (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 6 months ago | (#45175825)

why we're supposed to keep sending money to Wikipedia in order to to prevent it from becoming an advertisement platform.

Re:Remind me again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175885)

why we're supposed to keep sending money to Wikipedia in order to to prevent it from becoming an advertisement platform.

You are so right! Why, I was researching cephalopods and there in big letters was "Octopuses Drink Coke!".

Re:Remind me again (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 months ago | (#45177255)

why we're supposed to keep sending money to Wikipedia in order to to prevent it from becoming an advertisement platform.

Because the reason these corporate PR scumbags can subvert Wikipedia is because they can outnumber the unpaid structure in place to prevent it.

The only solution is to make Wikipedia stronger, more able to pay people to keep order and prevent a bunch of thugs from engaging in these edit spam attacks.

Corporations do not have morals. They are unable to discern fairness or truth or even order. If they can achieve even a small gain via destruction, even destructive of valuable social institutions, they will do so without remorse and without hesitation. They are golems with only one directive: to gain via any means necessary.

This is ultimately the one flaw in the rule of corporate protection of personal liability. In a family-owned business, there are people - there is a guy - who can feel bad or have other people get in his face to make him feel bad. There is no such mechanism in the corporate entity.

And if you can see the damage done to a social institution like Wikipedia by corporate interests, can you really doubt that they are doing exactly the same thing to our most important social institutions, such as government, family and community?

Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175865)

Any information in Wikipedia always needs to be checked against a creditable source. Its always been known that information in Wikipedia is open to bias and misinformation. How is this news?

Worse case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175871)

This article is more about a crappy PR firm claiming to write articles for you (but which usually get deleted). If you want bad, look at anything involving Monsanto. Looks like they have a bunch of people changing their articles and using them to attack critics. Hey, I actually got (accidently) involved in the Morning277 case mentioned in the article. Closest to newsworthy for me in a while. All the articles involved use the same 3 sites, designed to use names that look credible.

We marketers ruin everything (5, Funny)

j0el (154005) | about 6 months ago | (#45175931)

As a long time marketer I can assure you that we ruin everything. email spam, ugly banner ads, interstitials, SEO manipulation, retargeting, on and on. We do it because it works. Even paid twitter followers work. Robocalls work. Blatant sex works (works really well). When Congress gets involved all that happens is we have to pay lobbyists to make sure we can get around any laws or regulations. When we find ways to make you aware of our clients or their products, when we find ways to make you like us, when we find ways to make you engage with us, even if the response is a very low percent, we will do it.

Stop me before I annoy you again.

Re: We marketers ruin everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176085)

That's why I think all you people are liars until proven otherwise. Offended? Tough shit!

Re:We marketers ruin everything (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#45176437)

Blatant sex works (works really well).

I am skeptical. Convince me.

Re:We marketers ruin everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176697)

What if the % of people so pissed off that they actively avoid a product or service due to its abusive advertising, outnumbers the % of extra revenue from being noticed more. This is why people like you are the dogshit on my shoe, but also about as intelligent.

Laugh (5, Interesting)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45175933)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki-PR [wikipedia.org]
"this article may meet Wikipedia's criteria for speedy deletion"

Lets all make an effort to not only keep the Wiki-PR article, but to include any *FACTS* we find that show what Adam is up to.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict-of-interest_editing_on_Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
You really need to see who it is trying to get the articles changed, some of the biggest criminals around.

Adam "anything for a dollar" Masonbrink
“We write it. We manage it. You never worry about Wikipedia again.“
Really?
What were they worried about the truth?

So Adam wants to cash in on subverting one of greatest assets on the Inet.
Show him how you feel about that.

Re:Laugh (3, Funny)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 6 months ago | (#45177033)

So Adam wants to cash in on subverting one of greatest assets on the Inet.

So, in other words, an asset subverted by an asshat.

All this shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45175981)

I couldn't really care less about the company PR.
The same shit happens with basement virgins who doggedly guard their precious articles even if they aren't related to corporations. The pendulum swings both ways, but obviously more towards the paid interests.
My real beefs with wikipedia are these: people who argue about stovetop vs. hob and people who need to write portmanteau in every 3rd article.
Please sit down on a railway before an oncoming train. Please and thanks.

which is carnivel no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176021)

lol poosecks!! da gr8 matin ritwels of da diplodicus!!! LO...

Just A Thought (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#45176061)

Why not have the vendor write about their product as though it was a scientific experiment. With such things, "Best In Class" edited out; instead identification of what class the product is in. One could refer to it as the "Star Trek's Vulcan Test", if its logical, and unemotional, editing passes. It won't stop the grinning show offs, but it will cause them to stay on topic.

A possible idea is that modifiers not be allowed. Another test is that schematics have to be downloadable for third party verification. Given todays lawful upholdings of copywrites, trade marks, licences, and patents; this shouldn't be a problem.

readable (5, Interesting)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#45176071)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2013-10-09/News_and_notes [wikipedia.org]

As one disgruntled Wiki-PR employee is reported as writing: "The warning flag was when I was told not to mention Elance or work for hire." Those who work for Wiki-PR have indeed gone to extensive lengths to hide their activities on Wikipedia. This has included altering their habitual behavioral patterns, frequently changing their IP addresses (apparently to avoid being caught by the "checkuser" tool), and bypassing the normal gatekeeping process by which editors police new submissions to the English Wikipedia. One practice appears to exploit a loophole by creating a new page as a user subpage before moving it into the mainspace, where Wikipedia's regular articles are located. This "bug" was actually first reported in 2007 with the prescient warning: "creating articles in userspace before moving them into mainspace seems to me a sneaky way of avoiding scrutiny from newpage patrollers." Checkuser has also been sidestepped through the company's use of remote and freelance employees, who can operate from a large number of IP ranges.

Open Letter to Wiki-PR (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 6 months ago | (#45176079)

How about if you turn your corporate web site into a public Wiki just like Wikipedia? We'd love to help you improve your corporate image.

Agreed! (4, Informative)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 6 months ago | (#45176099)

I agree with this post entirely. I first noticed this several years back, when I was researching the background of faux historian (frequently appears on PBS's non-news hour), Michael Beschloss' wife,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afsaneh_Mashayekhi_Beschloss [wikipedia.org]

Note that nowhere in the entry does it mention that Mrs. Beschloss was a former employee of the Carlyle Group (which in point of fact she was).
I became suspicious about this and noticed an extraordinary number of former Carlyle Groupers had excised that from their background and history. Most peculiar . . . .

Re:Agreed! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 months ago | (#45176955)

I became suspicious about this and noticed an extraordinary number of former Carlyle Groupers had excised that from their background and history.

Just how did you determine that they were former "Carlyle Groupers?" Is there some special IP address block allocated to former employees of the Carlyle group?

Embrace... (0)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 6 months ago | (#45176175)

Wikipedia needs to embrace that companies want to get their products on a website with that much traffic - AND they want to control the content. I have been asked by my employer to get products/services/brands on wikipedia and I have experienced the annoying editors taking down items because it was on a copyrighted web page or source, or stating it was advertising, or other things. I even tried to be partial (maybe that's just impossible). I get it; they don't want blatant marketing drivel on a fact based site.

Embrace it or lock down who gets to modify your site. Locking down modification would be the worst thing wikipedia could do. So give employers a section or specially flagged pages that they can put whatever they want on it. Hell, charge for it and get rid of those banners begging for money.

Maybe at some point they can move on to extend, and then...

Re:Embrace... (4, Insightful)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 6 months ago | (#45176215)

> Wikipedia needs to embrace that companies want to get their products on a website with that much traffic

No we don't. It's one of the most successful web sites on the planet, and arguably the most successful example of collaboration in human history. Why would we possibly want to change that?

Pushback (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#45176851)

Wikipedia needs to embrace that companies want to get their products on a website with that much traffic

No we don't. It's one of the most successful web sites on the planet, and arguably the most successful example of collaboration in human history. Why would we possibly want to change that?

Exactly. It really annoys parts of Corporate America that they can't get their way on Wikipedia. That's a good thing.

I've encountered paid editing a few times. Carnival Cruises really, really wanted to make all the references to their various disasters (the Costa Concordia sinking, the Costa Allegra fire, the Carnivale Tropicale fire, the Carnival Splendor fire, the Carnival Triumph fire (ship adrift for four days), etc.) go away. Big editing battles. Finally the paid editors were kicked off.

There are a few individuals with promotional editors for their own bio articles. Michael Milken, the "Junk Bond King" who did time in a Federal pen, tried very hard to keep himself from being labelled as an ex-con. Nassim Nicholas Taleb has had people trying to keep the poor financial results of his hedge fund out of the article. Vivek Wadwa, who's heavily into self-promotion, put his grad students on pumping up his reputation, and seems to have an in with Jimbo Wales. It's an ongoing headache, but usually the good guys win.

Re:Embrace... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#45176393)

Don't take Madison Avenue money.

Even with its own segregated advertising section, the leverage that marketers will gain over Wikipedia management will become irresistible. Its the camel's nose under the tent. Demands from the money source will increase to merge the real content with phony article-formatted ads. Do it or else the money will stop.

More linkbait BS (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 6 months ago | (#45176209)

Did anyone bother to read the article? Don't bother, it's shite. It consists entirely of supposition and equivocation.

Only one actual example is offered, and this example demonstrates the company in question is utterly incapable of controlling the process, the article in question was quickly removed and remains deleted.

The rest is entirely arm-waving about the "scale of the problem" and "perhaps tens of thousands of articles" being involved. Various quotes from uninvolved people who's opinions add nothing of substance, and then a laughable comment from the Wikimedia Foundation that effectively says "not our problem" because it isn't.

Terrible, terrible writing.

This is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176217)

This is nothing.

The Croatian Wikipedia (hr.wikipedia.org) is under COMPLETE CONTROLL of far-right ultra-nationalists and historical revisionists.

It's terrible and embarassing not only for Croatia BUT FOR ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA TOO.

Re:This is nothing (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 6 months ago | (#45176903)

I've used Google translate to watch the latest 50 entries but I couldn't see any outright problems. Although I'm pretty sure it's likely you're right, one or two examples would really help in this case.

Easily solved problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176465)

Wikipedia can easily solve the problems caused by PR firms like WikiPR. All they need to do is create and/or edit the wikipedia page for WikiPR to just "A shameless fraudulent company who claims to be able to control your company's image on wikipedia, but can't even control their own." Lock the entry, then publicize it.

Game over.

Wikipedia as a credible source ?!?! (0)

Archfeld (6757) | about 6 months ago | (#45176475)

Not even close. Wikipedia is a decent starting place to see if you are even in the ball park regarding things but a credible, citable source, not in my book, nor in the eyes of any instructor I've ever dealt with. As a possible solution, articles that have been touched by a PR firm should be marked as such and flagged as potentially unreliable. I honestly think that Wikipedia should be treated as an encyclopedia and NOT contain any entries to companies, corporations or services beyond a reference to a site that the entity maintains themselves, and if said entity attempts to alter such an entry they should be locked down and IDENTIFIED as bad-wiki citizen.

fagorZ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176559)

may 3e 4urting

Have editor -- will unravel (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 6 months ago | (#45176625)

Negative publicity can take it from there.

Facts are malleable, statistics are... -- well you've heard
that one before I'm sure.

It's not just the PR companies... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 6 months ago | (#45176757)

It's not just the PR companies... there are many people who just hover over a topic and make sure the topic reflects their viewpoint, regardless of whether their viewpoint is substantiated. That's why I stopped contributing to Wikipedia, I've had edits (complete with citations) reversed with no given reason other than the hoverer did not like the tense of a verb I used.

Re:It's not just the PR companies... (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 6 months ago | (#45177071)

Similar here. I used to work hard to clean up articles, add citations, and so forth, all carefully inside the rules & guidelines only to have my work reverted either without reason or (based on the reversions) because it wasn't slavishly praising the subject. Or even worse, work hard on an article, then see it deleted as "non-notable" (this commentary [highprogrammer.com] covers it well) because an editor & buddies uninterested in the overall topic hadn't heard of it. I don't have the energy to fight with them, and finally decided to do little more than tag articles/sections as needing work for various reasons.

Graph analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176843)

This is why the people who care about openness, truth, and freedom for ordinary citizens, and who shun censorship and manipulation of opinions need to start using the weapons of the oppressors against them. The consolidation of masses of personal data from facebook and other sources is becoming a powerful weapon of oppression. But what is to stop the consolidation of known data on the oppressors? As centralised entities they are fundamentally constrained in how they hide their identities (at, least until 'chinese water army' tactics start to become commonplace). I envisage a giant NSA-like graph search like tool, where feeding it an IP address will give you a listing of past activity and suspected links to governments, corporations, and known spies and shills.

When you find them you block not just (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45176987)

the subnet but the entire network

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