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IBM Employees Caught Editing Wikipedia

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the primary-sources dept.

IBM 112

An anonymous reader writes "Corporate employees editing Wikipedia articles about themselves or their employers sometimes commit major violations of Wikipedia's "bright line" against paid editing, devised by Jimbo Wales himself, to prevent 'COI' editing. (Consider the recent flap over the firm Wiki-PR's activities, for example.) Yet the Wikipediocracy website, run by critics of Wikipedia management, has just published an article about IBM employees editing Wikipedia articles. Not only is such editing apparently commonplace, it's being badly done as well. And most bizarrely, one of the IBM employees is a Wikipedia administrator, who is married to another Wikipedia administrator. She works on the Watson project, which uses online databases to build its AI system....including the full text of Wikipedia." Reading about edit wars is also far more informative (if less entertaining) than reading the edit wars themselves.

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CN (3, Funny)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 8 months ago | (#46218099)

"(if less entertaining)" [citation needed]

Re:CN (-1, Offtopic)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 8 months ago | (#46218333)

I'm lost? What does the FP have to do with Beta? All FP must be about Beta, right?

Is there an exception for Wikipedia meta-articles?

Re:CN (-1, Offtopic)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 8 months ago | (#46218479)

Well... "meta" is "beta" with an 'M'.

In similar fashion, "Slashdot" is "fuckbeta" with an 'S', an 'l', another 's', an 'h', a dot...

Re:CN (1, Offtopic)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 8 months ago | (#46218647)

Well... "meta" is "beta" with an 'M'.

Fuck Meta?

Well, the really interesting thing about beta... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218489)

The interesting thing about Beta is that it shows all comments by default. This gives us a really effective vector to protest it. If the first thread in every article covers how much the community hates beta, then as soon as any potential advertisers to whom Dice is trying to market this horrible, horrible thing visit, they will see the dissatisfaction right up front. Meanwhile, back in classic, the moderation system will hide these comments and we can have our conversations in peace.

It kind of highlights another reason that Beta is not ready for prime time, how the people who wrote it don't understand how the community works and are completely incapable of developing a solution that will keep us here.

Re:Well, the really interesting thing about beta.. (-1, Flamebait)

mmell (832646) | about 8 months ago | (#46219749)

Or the rest of us can stick with Classic and filter out the 'fuck beta' meme until you fucktards stop spamming the board.

BTW, I like the new look. It looks a lot like their mobile browser page. I can't wait until the mentally challenged stop posting 'fuck beta' and go back to beating their wives and molesting their kids.

Re:Well, the really interesting thing about beta.. (0)

uncqual (836337) | about 8 months ago | (#46220813)

The "new look" is great for those who prefer whitespace to content. But, of course, why would anyone be browsing /. if they really cared about content so perhaps there's at least some logic to the new layout facet of Beta.

And, no, I won't contribute to the spam by saying "fuck beta" as that would probably cause me to lose Karma.

TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gundam (4, Interesting)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 8 months ago | (#46218113)

A lot of people browse the web while they are working. I can understand that there could be a conflict of interest when people are editing topics which are biographies of themselves or their own employers. But as long as they are not deleting facts they don't like and are adding actual information that other people may not have easy access to I do not see how that is a problem.

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218169)

But as long as they are not deleting facts they don't like...

That's exactly what they're doing.

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (1)

magarity (164372) | about 8 months ago | (#46219224)

Are they deleting facts they don't like or opinions they don't like? Editorializing can be subtle, for people who know what to look for. Or it can be in your face if you aren't so clueless as to be able to see it.

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219438)

Are they deleting facts they don't like or opinions they don't like?

According to TFA, that does happen. Although mostly their edits seem to be marketing fluff that quickly goes out of date (much like the stuff on their own website).

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (3, Interesting)

Ghostworks (991012) | about 8 months ago | (#46220423)

Except that's not what the article accuses them of. The article mainly accuses them of editing badly.

For those who didn't RTFA, here's the high points:
* IBM was huge in computing, so why is it so poorly represented (in terms of article count, total kB of text, and editing quality) on Wikipedia, the self-appointed online repository of all human knowledge?
* people at IBM seem to be editing IBM-related articles, but not in any kind of organized way. (The article actually chastises them for FAILING to have any kind of organized method.) Mostly it's people editing articles about themselves or things that they have worked on.
* The person who worked on the Watson project is and admin on Wikkipedia, married to another editor and edited Wikipedia articles while on the job for IBM. (Almost as if she were passionate about it or something... and working on a project where her computer barfed up nonsense when it parsed a really poorly written article....)
* the three shadiest things that they mention are 1) a guy who created an article about an IBM award/title he won; 2) an editing fight about the relevance of a book that linked IBM to the third Reich (which went through the usual Wikipedia channels and ended up in favor of keeping the article); and 3) The guy who started BASH.org (and who happens to be at IBM) arguing that the page was relevant and should be kept (again, usual Wikipedia channels, this time not in BASH.org's favor)

So basically what we have here are the notions that:
* even relatively obscure people probably shouldn't edit articles about themselves to avoid bias (which strikes me as silly for biasing things hard in the other direction)
* that IBM needs to tackle Wikipedia in an organized way to make up for the lack of interest by anyone outside the industry in preserving this huge chuck of history...
* unless it stays away altogether, because they already have a huge company history page on their website.
* and that IBM-ers should not touch the articles that they are most likely to have specific knowledge on...
* ...or for that matter any article, no matter what they happen to find odd if they found it while at work.

like most fights on and about Wikipedia, this is a tempest in a teapot by people who do a poor job articulating whether the collaborative encyclopedia of all human knowledge is actually suppose to be any of those things and why.

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219340)

A lot of people browse the web while they are working. I can understand that there could be a conflict of interest when people are editing topics which are biographies of themselves or their own employers. But as long as they are not deleting facts they don't like and are adding actual information that other people may not have easy access to I do not see how that is a problem.

You keep using that word "facts".

The real problem here is treating Wikipedia like an iron-clad hack-proof source of facts. It is far from that, as educators have clearly defined for a very long time now by not really ever fully accepting it as a valid "source" of factual information.

Therefore anything within Wikipedia is construed as opinion at worst, and semi-educational at best. The term "facts" should be used very loosely in the definition of Wikipedia, since those facts are steeled through crowdsourcing, and are only somewhat controllable, and obviously able to be manipulated.

This is the nature of holding your encyclopedia in electronic form. Deal with it, and learn to define Wiki for what it is, and what it isn't.

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 8 months ago | (#46220267)

Dude. If I have a biography which includes the date or birth, family names, and work history do you want anything more factual than that?

Re:TheAgriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gun (0)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 8 months ago | (#46220473)

I guess Wikipedia wants contributors who have "chosen" to be "liberated" from work, per the CBO's language.

... in other words, people who live off tax payers.

First Post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218133)

Whoo Hoo

Watson: the ultimate wiki-bot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218157)

The War of the Machines begins on Wikipedia, after Watson, tirelessly reverting edits to pages, becomes self-aware.

A meta thread about edit wars? (-1, Offtopic)

drjuggler (1121225) | about 8 months ago | (#46218197)

Screw beta!

Re:A meta thread about edit wars? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218371)

Screw beta!

I'm starting to think that Slashdot's plans to change are correct because it looks as though Slashdot has turned into the old Digg and the rabble on Reddit is hanging around here also.

Re:A meta thread about edit wars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219332)

Aren't you supposed to be taking the week off or something?

PR in, garbage AI out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218199)

If they're using the wikis to program the future of AI... and it's apparently chock full of bullshit... will the first androids be bullshitters?

Re:PR in, garbage AI out? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 8 months ago | (#46219735)

Well, they can replace the lawyers. It will feel the same, no soul or the like...

Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218225)

What matters is transparency. You can't prohibit people with bias from editing the truth in a "truth by democracy" project - you can only hint strongly to them that they need to better hide their true identity. But you could, if you wanted to put an ounce of scholarly rigour into Wikipedia, make it so that people reveal their biases. There is nothing wrong with IBM employees contributing toward an article on IBM, as long as everyone knows that the perspective is that of an IBM employee - similarly, there's nothing wrong with someone who has invested time and emotion into some political view or war or comic book, as long as they are clear on their opinions.

The first worst thing about Wikipedia is that editing it is about a tenth as productive as editing just about any other online resource, because you have to continually fight to maintain high standards. The second worst thing is that it tries to pretend that you can eliminate biased people, rather than acknowledge that bias exists and tackle how to be open about it.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 8 months ago | (#46218443)

So long as what people are adding is verifiable, who cares who they are? The only way to bias a Wikipedia article while remaining verifiable is to delete stuff, and that's where the wars tend to happen.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (3, Insightful)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 8 months ago | (#46220337)

So long as what people are adding is verifiable, who cares who they are?

Well, in my opinion, the only way to really fix Wikipedia would be to allow expert help -- and in many cases, that may actually benefit from having someone with intimate knowledge of something.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia policies discourage experts from contributing (sometimes by official policy, sometimes just by the attitude of frequent editors). It's really more like the Wild West... with some bizarre lawyer-like class running everything.

The only way to bias a Wikipedia article while remaining verifiable is to delete stuff, and that's where the wars tend to happen.

That's not true at all. The "verifiability" requirement is probably one of the most broken elements of Wikipedia, next to the "notability" criterion. Not that facts shouldn't be verifiable: of course they should be, and of course reputable sources should be used. However,

Verifiable != True

Nor should we think that verifiability is some sort of useful proxy for truth. There an important reason why people tend to swear in legal proceedings to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Stating "facts" without context is useless. I can tell you that the "deadly chemical" X has been found in a number of snack foods, for example. But what does that mean? Normally, people don't actually mention things unless they are notable, so the fact that I mention this seems to mean that there must be a greater significance. It seems to imply that someone put that chemical in snack foods, or that the manufacturer used contaminated ingredients, or that the manufacturer didn't do adequate screening and quality testing, or something else bad.

But what if I now add the facts: "Chemical X occurs naturally in soil, groundwater, and most food items at a rate of 10 ppb. In the snack foods in question, chemical X had a concentration of 0.02 ppb."

Now, all of those implications seem way off-base, no? Not only did we make an incorrect assumption from a true statement, but we actually assumed the opposite of what is true: apparently, whatever the manufacturer is doing, they are actually producing a safer-than-average product. But the concentration is still non-zero, as it is in almost all food products.

You see this sort of thing on Wikipedia all the time from people with agendas, and from people who are just ignorant of the larger context.

Particularly in low-profile articles on obscure topics (like the humanities), you'll often see citations and quotations from scholarship that is 50 years old and from a book that isn't even on the topic of the article. Yes, it was "published" in a "reliable source" perhaps even in a book by a major university press, so it meets quite high standards of "verifiability," but it's not particularly representative of scholarship or what most people know to be true.

Someone with an agenda on a topic can really skew things this way. An article has citations to 5 scientific articles published in credible journals claiming X -- well, it looks like X is true. But almost every area of knowledge has some disagreement. What if there are actually 100 articles on the same topic that claim not-X, but they just don't happen to be in Wikipedia? The only person who becomes aware of this is the rare Wikipedia editor who does a search of the scholarly literature in some obscure field. Otherwise, articles can exist for years claiming things that are obviously not true. (In fact, given the propensity for scholars to exaggerate claims and implications in their own research, it's quite easy to even find 5 articles that don't even have data to prove X, but nevertheless assert X to be true in their discussion sections... while there might be 25 articles actually on topic out there which refute X.)

So yeah, there are loads of ways to skew an article by providing "verifiable facts" from "verifiable sources." Experts with an agenda could easily manipulate things this way. And the only people who generally can tell are other experts familiar enough with the context to know that the "verifiable facts" are actually incredibly misleading.

The fact that "verifiability" is NOT a proxy for truth (or even a proxy for current consensus of experts) is one of the many reasons why Wikipedia is fundamentally broken without some sort of mechanism for expert review.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 8 months ago | (#46222585)

Wikipedia is fundamentally broken without some sort of mechanism for expert review

As anyone who has every been near a university will tell you, an encyclopaedia is not a primary source, at best it is a pointer to them. Primary sources are not facts and science does not claim to be the truth, it only claims to strive for it. Technically "facts" do not even exist outside of an axiomatic system such as maths.

All this adds up to "life is messy", best to keep an open mind but not so open that your brains fall out.

Re:Truth and verifiability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46224921)

Actually verifiability, and * not * truth, is what you want in an encyclopedia.

The Truth(TM) can be changed and disputed, or slanted by a writer who claims to be "an expert" ----- or maybe in some fantasy world, all experts will agree, get it right, and never slant or cover up findings to suit their desired findings, or modify them under pressure from employers or peers.

Clueless readers can always be misled, fringe views will generally be excluded, but otherwise - forget it. Oh, and experts generally want to get pay for their work. And who exactly are "experts" going to be, on a whole bunch of non-academic topics?

In Wikipedia's model, we aren't relying on some deity-like person to get it right. Instead, we're made self-reliant. As long as what's written can be checked against a source by any member of the public, an * informed * member of the public, or a capable researcher, media writer, professional, or legislator, who wants to check and assess for themselves what the reality is behind the claim, and how accurate it is, is empowered to do so.

Its not always the case, but as a rule, mass empowerment ultimately seems to pay off better on average than centralized control. The more "important" and widely focused a topic, the more likely that is and the faster it tends to happen, too. Of course it's an average process, anyone who knows Wikipedia or expert dialogs can show exceptions. But on average, it seems a better way to disseminate to the public, the knowledge that experts produce.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

Pfhorrest (545131) | about 8 months ago | (#46225287)

There are actually Wikipedia policies to address exactly the kind of example problem you give here, such as the Undue Weight policy. Just because an assertion is verifiable doesn't automatically warrant its inclusion in an article, if including it would bias the article in some way, by making the verifiable assertion seem more important or significant than it actually is, which is what is happening in your example.

Another such policy is the one on Synthesis. You can't take a bunch of verifiable assertions and string them together into an argument or narrative to make an original point of your own. E.g. "An A is anything which is B and C.[1] x is B[2]. x is also C[3]. Therefore x is an A." That would be synthesis and thus prohibited, even though the first three statements are all reliably sourced and the last is a simple, uncontroversial logical inference from them. Someone else has to have strung those assertions together in that way in a reliable primary or secondary source. Even if you left off the conclusion, the second and third sentences would still likely be undue weight in an article about As, unless some reliable source had notably talked about x and whether or not it is an A.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

Kensai7 (1005287) | about 8 months ago | (#46218577)

"What matters is transparency. You can't prohibit people with bias from editing the truth in a "truth by democracy" project..."

I agree. I think the prohibition policy has gone a tad too far. Everyone in the end is biased, as he or she changes the topics he or she is interested in changing. I won't change topics I don't care or have an opinion. After all, I am not alone in these edits, that's what other users and editors are for in a community project.

I guess Obama cannot work on editing an article in Wikipedia cause so much is passing through his hands. :p

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

drjzzz (150299) | about 8 months ago | (#46218901)

...The second worst thing is that it tries to pretend that you can eliminate biased people, rather than acknowledge that bias exists and tackle how to be open about it.

Doesn't the fact that Wikipedia "tries to pretend that you can eliminate biased people" necessarily include that they "acknowledge that bias exists"? Full disclosure: my bias is that I love Wikipedia (and send them money every year).

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

thekohser (981254) | about 8 months ago | (#46219099)

You send money to a "non-profit" tax-exempt organization that (according to their own Form 990's) can only muster spending about 52% of donors' money on actual program services, with the rest going into wasteful overhead and a "rainy day" slush fund that earns about 1% interest per year? Such a pitiful waste of money that the Wikimedia Foundation really does not need.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 8 months ago | (#46222729)

You are obviously too young to remember middle class parents going onto debt to buy their family a set of encyclopaedia. - By that standard a $50 donation to WP is excellent value for money.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (1)

thekohser (981254) | about 8 months ago | (#46223593)

I grew up with a set of 1961 World Books, which were then replaced by a brand new 1977 set. I think I'm not "obviously" too young, but I'll accept your compliment regardless. Your point is a bit misguided, because the Wikimedia Foundation is a tax-exempt non-profit with a duty of care to wisely spend the tax-deductible money that donors send their way, on the assumption that the money will be spend to help preserve and improve the free encyclopedia. Right now, very little of the dollars are even being spent properly on anything at all, much less on things that will improve the encyclopedia. For example, several million have have been spent over the past two years on a WYSIWYG editor interface called "VisualEditor". It is an utter failure. When it was installed on the English Wikipedia, the community revolted and wrote a patch to ignore the install, which forced the Foundation to throw up its hands and remove the extension. Money down the drain. Your notion that donating $50 to "WP" (it's not really going to "WP", but to the paychecks of "WMF" bloated staff) is an "excellent value" is like saying stiffing the waitress at your local diner and instead giving the tip to the owner of the restaurant is a better way to express how much you enjoyed the meal there.

Re:Wikipedia is utterly broken anyway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219400)

I meant to say "acknowledge that bias exists everywhere", i.e. that everyone is biased - even if, as one other poster noted, the bias is limited to only editing articles of interest.

Funny idea (2, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#46218327)

I just got this crazy idea. You know those videos in YouTube where Hitler gets worked up about something and there's various fake subtitles people have crafted over that clip. Make one where Hitler discovers Slashdot Beta.

Re:Funny idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218413)

I just got this crazy idea. You know those videos in YouTube where Hitler gets worked up about something and there's various fake subtitles people have crafted over that clip. Make one where Hitler discovers Slashdot Beta.

Unimaginative, derivative comedy is also my favorite kind.

Re:Funny idea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218467)

Those aren't fake, and Hitler is really pissed about Beta.

Re:Funny idea (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 8 months ago | (#46218473)

you're a moron.

Re:Funny idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218483)

And risk making Adolf Freaking Hitler a sympathetic figure???

The problem is? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#46218355)

The brief article outlines that some IBM employees are major Wikipedians; some other IBM employees have edited IBM Wikipedia articles; IBM's Wikipedia articles are bad, but they are not a neutrality issue; he author thinks that some anonymous editors might be IBM employees but doesn't show as such.

I'm not sure where the problem is arising here. If Wikipedia had a blanket ban about people in IBM being senior members, or IBM people editing IBM articles. Of all the problems to highlight on Wikipedia this is one of the most nonproblematic one could find.

Re:The problem is? (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | about 8 months ago | (#46219194)

They should stop everyone who works (for money, fame, bitcoin, flooz, notoriety, et whatever) from editing wikipedia. That's the only way people will stop writing silly, pointless articles like this.

Re:The problem is? (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 8 months ago | (#46219372)

Rise of the Planet of the Neckbeards!

Re:The problem is? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 8 months ago | (#46222485)

"..the Wikipediocracy website, run by critics of Wikipedia management, has just published an article". - Tells you all you need to know. There have been dozens of alternate WP's started by people who could not have their own way on WP, conservipedia was probably the most famous and that was purely for it comedic value. They do this because the have no idea how to work with people who do not share the same opinions, the quality of their alternate sites reflects that problem.

You can't prevent all bias. (2)

areusche (1297613) | about 8 months ago | (#46218411)

There is only so much bias you can remove from certain articles. Especially when this is a massive crowd sourced project. In all honesty, I trust the large amount of people who frequent these articles to help keep astroturfing to a minimum. You'd think by now, people would be good at critically looking at a piece of information and being able to identify the bias of the writer.

On a completely random side note, the value wikipedia provides for FREE is immense. Trust me, it is one of the best resources we have and the citations can help me find other details and continue reading if I so wish. If I was forced to go back in time to the 1500s and could only take one thing, I'd take this http://www.good.is/posts/wikip... [www.good.is]

Re:You can't prevent all bias. (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#46218599)

If I was forced to go back in time to the 1500s and could only take one thing, I'd take...

...a time machine.

Experts in subject (3)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 8 months ago | (#46218439)

I get how there's going to be bias, but I think it is OK for someone to write an article about themselves to start it. Or in a company's case, to correct factual errors or give a history of the company.

Re:Experts in subject (1)

Zeromous (668365) | about 8 months ago | (#46220329)

This is just another hit piece of Slashdot.

Re:Experts in subject (1)

Zeromous (668365) | about 8 months ago | (#46220343)

Oh the irony of being unable to edit my post

>This is just another /insert tech company name here hit piece on Slashdot.

Re:Experts in subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46221177)

Did you think the preview was just for shits and giggles, asswipe?

Re:Experts in subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46221953)

Nah, it's ok to fact-check an article (even about yourself), but it's never ok to start an article about yourself. If you're notable, somebody will start one; if nobody does, consider it an important lesson in humility.

This is really about Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218487)

Many of the articles about living non-celebrities, and the organizations they're a part of, were clearly written partly or wholly by the people themselves.

Is that bad? If there's too much brochure-speak ("one of the most talented XYZ's of his generation") it is, but what if it provides useful background info?

Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (4, Interesting)

hydrofix (1253498) | about 8 months ago | (#46218509)

Just like with the Linux kernel, it's a high time the Wikipedia community gave up the futile resistance to paid editing. It's already happening, and denying it is only embarrassing with "revelations" like this IBM case. What goes to the whole Wiki-PR debacle, turns out all the company was doing was correcting errors, libel and defamation [businessinsider.com] that anonymous Wikipedia editors hiding behind pseudonyms and IP addresses have been adding to Wikipedia.

As it stands, Wikipedia is essentially an anarchy where anyone can publish all sorts of lies and propaganda, and companies like Wiki-PR are needed so that those, who are damaged by misinformation that anonymous Wikipedia editors publish, can hire neutral editors to fight the anonymous hoaxers. Wikipedia's own volunteer community has been since long overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of vandalism and biased information added every minute, and only the most obvious cases of misinformation and fraud are ever caught. But instead of celebrating the work that Wiki-PR was doing for the people and companies who have fallen victim to the terror of Wikipedia misinformation, the company behind Wikipedia instead chose to demonized Wiki-PR to media and threatened to sue them.

What's really worrying, is that Google gives Wikipedia a "boost" in its search rankings. So for example, any hoaxer can easily use Wikipedia to publish misinformation about people, products and companies that they don't like. Then anyone searching Google for the name of the person, product or company are immediately served the Wikipedia page on the subject. This page is often full of misinformation and propaganda, while those concerned (like the employees of the said company or the person being defamed himself) are forbidden from correcting the article. Previously, Wikipedia admins were satisfied with just banning those fighting the misinformation under the "conflict of interest" doctrine. But now, the company behind Wikipedia has demonstrated that they are ready to sue you if you want to correct the lies that are being distributed through their platform.

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219202)

I'm not sure if you were going for irony, but this post sounds like the average promotional article on Wikipedia. I would flag this as POV lacking reliable sources (the one link you provide is merely paraphrasing the claims from the primary source).

ANYONE can delete unsourced or improperly sourced material. There is absolutely no rule against a company (and especially a person, because biographies are held to the strictest levels of verification on WP) editing their own articles to remove unsourced claims. If there is a persistent attack by a vandal they can even request that the page be locked down (only requested edits with proper NPOV and sourcing can be made by an admin) which alleviates any obligation to continually monitor the page. In fact, companies and individuals ARE allowed to edit their own articles so long as their edits meet the same standards that all content on Wikipedia must meet: verifiability in reliable sources and appropriate weight given to each topic within the article. The problem is that when people do edit their own articles for any reason other than cleanup, they tend to get into promotional mode and the COI becomes apparent. They tend not to provide sources and instead indignantly try to circumvent that requirement with "I'm the guy, who would know better than me?" And they also tend to try to remove material that is properly sourced, saying things like "This is private, nobody needs to know this and it isn't relevant to my career."

In short, if people would _follow the fucking rules_ that Wikipedia has made fairly clear, they could edit their own articles as much as they pleased. But most people think that when they are editing their own article, they should somehow be exempt from those rules, or they think that because some rule is now affecting how they want their own article to appear, that the rule must therefore be unfair and indefensible. And that's when things tend to blow up, not because Wikipedia is doing anything out of the ordinary, but because people think they are exceptional.

Bottom line? Before you comment on Wikipedia's COI policies, go to Wikipedia and _read their fucking COI policies_ and stop spreading your lies.

See what you've done here is written a pro-Wiki-PR hit piece full of misinformation about how Wikipedia actually works. This post would not pass muster at Wikipedia, who ironically holds a higher standard to verification of information than you do. You are the anarchist that you mention in your post, because you'd probably have no problem adding this garbage to an article if you thought you could get away with it.

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#46219356)

I'm not sure if you were going for satire but "Wikipedia, who ironically holds a higher standard to verification of information than you do." is laughable in the extreme. Wikipedia is rife with crap.

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46223469)

I don't disagree that Wikipedia has a lot of crap on it. However, it seems like you and OP are even more full of it, which in the end is what makes Wikipedia's standards "higher", not "high". Pay attention to word choice.

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (1)

hydrofix (1253498) | about 8 months ago | (#46222147)

ANYONE can delete unsourced or improperly sourced material.

"Yes, welcome to delete the false information that we're publishing about you/your company. Oh, you work for that company? Let the ban hammer sing!" COI (Conflict Of Interest), i.e. someone editing an article where they have a stake at play, often means in practice that the user is banned within microseconds, if there are any anonymous editors with differing opinions. The guideline page [wikipedia.org] itself says "Paid advocates are very strongly discouraged from direct article editing, and should instead propose changes on the talk page of the article in question". The admins have even set up a noticeboard [wikipedia.org] , where anonymous editors can report people they suspect of having "COI".

In short, if people would _follow the fucking rules_ that Wikipedia has made fairly clear, they could edit their own articles as much as they pleased.

This is classical Wikipedia style arrogance. What you are essentially saying, is that Wikipedia will default to publishing blatant misinformation and propaganda added by anonymous and/or pseudonymous editors with impunity. If you happen to disagree with a mispresentation of your person, your company or your product published through Wikipedia, you must jump through numerous hoops and face the newcomer-hostile "Wikipedia community", who will first demand you read through several 10+ page guidelines, manuals and policy discussions. Then, you will need to contact an admin, who might live on a different timezone, to have the page actually modified. And you had better declare your COI on your user page, too. There might be other hoops to jump through as well – just for clearing lies and misrepresentations published on Wikipedia that happen to concern you. And if you at any point make even the slightest of a mistake, you and your whole company (under the "sockpuppet rules") are easily banned from Wikipedia forever.

Why would any sensible person who has better things in life than reading Wikipedia manuals and guidelines ever even try correcting the pages? The hostile and self-proclaimed meritocracy make Wikipedia a truly kafkaesque experience to all outsiders who don't happen to be wiki-nerds or willing to become one. Paid editing, exactly what Wiki-PR seems to have been doing, would be the easy way to make Wikipedia more neutral by allowing companies to hire editors to remove at least some of the blatant propaganda that Wikipedia is currently full of.

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46223289)

You made the argument that Wikipedia is an "anarchy". Now you're saying they have too many rules. Which is it? Your self-serving backpedaling and selective interpretation to suit your own argument goes to show why YOUR experience on Wikipedia has been bad, namely that you are a biased and self-serving editor.

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (1)

hydrofix (1253498) | about 8 months ago | (#46223555)

You made the argument that Wikipedia is an "anarchy". Now you're saying they have too many rules. Which is it?

At what point do you think in a real-world anarchy would be overtaken by the power-hungry, nihilistic individuals seeking to establish an aristocracy of the competent [wikipedia.org] , and be turned into a walled garden of the like-minded only? But wait.. did I just describe Wikipedia? No way...

Re:Wikipedia needs MORE paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219637)

hire neutral editors

Thanks, I needed a good laugh.

This page is often full of misinformation and propaganda, while those concerned (like the employees of the said company or the person being defamed himself) are forbidden from correcting the article.

This is blatantly false.

So for example, any hoaxer can easily use Wikipedia to publish misinformation about people, products and companies that they don't like.

You mean any reputation company can easily use Wikipedia to publish misinformation about people, products, and companies that don't pay them, right? Although in reality, that's a pretty low-priority course of action when gaming search engines is much more efficient.

March of the 50-Cent Army (3, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | about 8 months ago | (#46218533)

So how about propaganda-style editing backed by PR operations with sovereign backing [wikipedia.org] ? For instance, articles involving China, where the 50-cent army runs rampant over the more obscure topics (in contrast, popular and well-known topics are usually well-defended, so only subtle alterations tend to get through).

It's not just Wikipedia -- they're likely present on any western media forums considered high-traffic or influential in the realms of policy (for instance, The Economist's comment sections), where they crap up threads and start flamewars to disrupt topics critical of the PRC. It's hard to distinguish them from posters which may merely be jingoistic bozos, but their abundance and stubborn persistence is unusual, compared with topics about any other nation.

Re:March of the 50-Cent Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218937)

Did you mean to post that at 11:36AM?

Not the main problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46218591)

The real problem on Wikipedia isn't the corporate employees, who vary widely in loyalty or level of corporate buy-in in any event, it's the fanatics. Whether about religion or politics or nationalism or comic characters, it's the obsessives who will put in 25 hour days to rabidly protect their fiefdom that ruin the place. The corporate employees at least go home at the end of the day, they can't match the energy and determination of the fanatics.

Edit, but disclose (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 8 months ago | (#46218593)

Often they are in the best position and knowledge to contribute. Only thing I would ask for is disclosure so that others can watch and correct manipulation of pov.

Personally, I would not like to lose my freedom of expression to express my views on, say, finite element analysis or mesh generation just because I work for a company making commercial products in that area. But if I ever edit the wiki article of my employer, I would make damn sure everyone knows my background so that my biases conscious or unconscious are corrected.

Re:Edit, but disclose (5, Informative)

qbzzt (11136) | about 8 months ago | (#46218733)

This is pretty much IBM's policy. We're allowed to post about IBM, provided what we post is:

1. Non confidential (I can't tell you about the time machine we're building in the basement in Austin)
2. Not damaging (I am not allowed to be defamatory, for example - although I will say all of HP's employees who are black with yellow polka dots are habitual liars)
3. Clearly stated to be the opinion of a specific IBM employee, rather than the IBM corporation

It would be silly not to let IBM employees, for example, post about mainframes. A lot of the world's mainframe expertise is at IBM.

Disclaimer: I am an IBM employee, but these are my own opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of the IBM corporation in any way, shape, or form. Considering that IBM is not a natural person, I'm not sure if it even has opinions, beyond "money coming in good, money going out bad".

Re:Edit, but disclose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46220815)

I will say all of HP's employees who are black....

Sounds racist. Are you allowed to post about the 401K changes?

Re:Edit, but disclose (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 8 months ago | (#46221663)

The canonical slashdot response is supposed to be:

I am a HP employee who is black with yellow polka dots you insensitive clod.

Re:Edit, but disclose (1)

qbzzt (11136) | about 8 months ago | (#46222395)

You win.

Re:Edit, but disclose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46222907)

You're lying.

Re:Edit, but disclose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46224131)

I don't believe you

Re:Edit, but disclose (1)

qbzzt (11136) | about 8 months ago | (#46222365)

I don't know specifically about the 401(k), but frankly I don't care either. I don't put money in it - all the retail investments that are available will depreciate when as the baby boomers attempt to retire and realize the demographics don't support it.

Note: My opinion, obviously not IBM's.

Re:Edit, but disclose (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 8 months ago | (#46219007)

I would agree. While Autobiographical information is often one sided, it does often have far more information then someone else would have.

Re:Edit, but disclose (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#46219252)

I have long used the analogy that Wikipedia is like asking experts in a particular field. For the most part, you'll get accurate information representing the current state of the art. Sometimes, you'll stumble across an expert with bad data, or a conflict of interest, or another factor leading to him giving you incorrect information. You, as the reader, should expect this and seek verification of any questionable claims, but for obtaining a general understanding of an area of study, Wikipedia is good enough.

With that analogy in mind, why shouldn't you directly ask someone about their life and their work? Of course it will be biased, but it's more obvious than the random biases you'll encounter when asking others.

Re:Edit, but disclose (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 8 months ago | (#46219567)

Unfortunately, most experts have jobs. Worse, their jobs are often in the same field they're an expert on!

Anything an expert might say is biased original research.

Wikipedia editing is only for out-of-work journalists, school children, and neckbeards. Nobody else can be trusted.

Re:Edit, but disclose (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 8 months ago | (#46220175)

Mistake, Nobody else has so much time to revert articles, or maintain bots to do so, to support their bias. I gave up on wikipedia a long time ago, when instead of fixing the errors i made, all my edits were reversed.

Re:Edit, but disclose (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#46220915)

That's also more or less the actual Wikipedia policy, despite what the summary implies. There is no prohibition on people who are paid money also editing Wikipedia. In fact Wikipedia actively encourages it in some cases, such as trying to recruit more museum and library staff to contribute to Wikipedia.

What is generally prohibited is: 1) taking money to write promotional articles or "clean" articles on behalf of their subject, like Wiki-PR was doing; or 2) making edits on an article where you have a clear COI, and failing to disclose your relationship to the subject of the article. In practice even #2 only really matters if they're biased edits that would cause someone to raise an eyebrow.

Re:Edit, but disclose (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 8 months ago | (#46222853)

COI isn't against policy, it is simply discouraged. I've participated in a number of policy discussions (as an admin) and tried to initiate a number of policy initiatives on the subject matter, but there is no consensus. Disclosure is a good idea, but in no way, shape or form is it required by policy. Knowingly adding bad material or inaccurate material (regardless of COI) is still prohibited.

Non-story (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 8 months ago | (#46218703)

In this article, I see a long list of IBM employees editing (often badly) articles about IBM. But the so-called "bright-line" rule appears to apply to people specifically being paid to edit Wikipedia. There's no evidence that IBM as a company even has any idea these employees are doing this, and none of them work for IBM PR or Marketing. (I really doubt IBM has any engineers with "sockpuppet Wikipedia" on their list of job responsibilities.)

I'm pretty sure just about every large company has interested employees editing articles about their employer, and there's no rule against doing so, as long as they aren't doing at the direction of their employer.

Re:Non-story (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 8 months ago | (#46218847)

It's also badly researched and factually incorrect, at least one of the so called IBM employees does not appear to have ever been an IBM employee.

Any idiot can submit content to developer works.

Re:Non-story (1)

thekohser (981254) | about 8 months ago | (#46219188)

Which one are you talking about, H0p3? Which of the "so called IBM employees" doesn't appear to have ever been an IBM employee. At Wikipediocracy, they will quickly correct or retract incorrect info in a blog post, unlike the spotty record on Wikipedia.

Re:Non-story (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 8 months ago | (#46219613)

I commented on the article/blog/bullshit itself.

Re:Non-story (1)

thekohser (981254) | about 8 months ago | (#46219173)

But the so-called "bright-line" rule appears to apply to people specifically being paid to edit Wikipedia. ...and there's no rule against doing so, as long as they aren't doing at the direction of their employer.

This is where you are wrong. If you quiz Jimmy Wales, who imagines himself the Sole Founder of Wikipedia, his "bright line rule" also applies to employees of companies seeking to edit about their own employer or about their competitors. They are not supposed to touch the article directly at all -- they are supposed to suggest their edits on the Talk page of the article. Now, that being said, most Wikipedians in good standing think this is a bizarre and unworkable rule that the Soul Founder dreamed up (and can't even properly follow himself). But, there are enough loyal (and dim-witted) followers of Wales who think that this rule actually exists, and that it's important enough to enforce -- maliciously, if necessary.

Huh? (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 8 months ago | (#46219587)

From the Wikipedia page on this rule: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

"Q: What constitutes paid advocacy?
A: Receiving a payment to promote the interests of a client or employer, as happens in the public relations industry and in the communications departments of many kinds of organizations, is a form of paid advocacy. The reason for doing this is generally to maintain a certain point of view about the client in the eyes of the public."

Front-line employees editing Wikipedia in their downtime or personal time are not being paid to "promote the interests" of their employer on Wikipedia. If "Jimbo" meant "all employees", I imagine he would have said so.

Now, I know that Jimbo didn't write that whole page, but I don't see a single statement on there supporting your view of this rule. Which makes sense, because the rule as you think it stands would, as you stated, make no sense.

Re:Huh? (1)

thekohser (981254) | about 8 months ago | (#46223687)

Sirwired, are you saying that a paid employee of a company that writes about that company on Wikipedia is not a "paid advocate"? How about a junior copywriter in the public relations department? How about a senior vice president for marketing? I think you're on a slippery slope when you try to make an exception for "front-line employees". Jimbo has clearly said, "The idea that we should ever accept paid advocates directly editing Wikipedia is not ever going to be ok. Consider this to be policy as of right now." And he said, "No editing of Wikipedia article space by paid advocates. There is absolutely no reason to ever do this - the talk pages, notice boards, wikiprojects, and OTRS provide ample opportunity for ethical engagement of Wikipedia. This is easy. The most common opposition to this comes from corrupt interests." You should take a look at this Wikipediocracy thread, then let us know which of those editors were "front-line" employees (exempt from any bright line rule) and which were PR and communications professionals: http://wikipediocracy.com/foru... [wikipediocracy.com] I believe you'll soon see that "front-line" employees are just as likely (if not more likely) to cruft up Wikipedia with promotional content as purely "paid advocates" are.

Then why doesn't the rule say that? (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 8 months ago | (#46224531)

The rule says "paid advocates", not "any employee". If the rule was meant to cover all employees, it would say so. It doesn't.

Yes, most employees in a marketing or PR dept. probably qualify as "paid advocates"; I never implied they weren't. When I said "front-line employees" I meant people like engineers, support reps, developers, service reps, etc.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46224597)

By your logic, does this mean anyone who benefits from government services shouldn't be able to edit government pages?

provenance (2)

markhahn (122033) | about 8 months ago | (#46219077)

let people perform whatever edits they want, but track the provenance of *everything*. let readers select some function of provenance as a rendering option, with the default being provenance of a pretty high standard of quality and non-conflicted-interest. letting people attach endorsements or upvotes is a pretty valuable kind of metadata anyway.

the problem seems to be the very idea that wikipedia should present a single, canonical version. absolutes are only found in faith, not the real world...

Re:provenance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46222803)

... select some function of provenance ...

That means we then have to rate contributors as either well-educated serfs who've suffered harsh reality, or bible-bashing fanatics who parrot narcissistic ideology. Which one are you? How do I know that's true?

I'll say it again then (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46219208)

It's almost like a website that ANYONE can edit it a really, really stupid, bad idea.

Sounds like GOPpers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46219675)

They have destroyed Wikipedia with their destructive edits. It no longer contains facts. It only contains their hateful and racist propaganda. It's nearly impossible to find a page that still contains a fact. This is the type of future that those Republicans want for all of us.

Garbage (1)

apcullen (2504324) | about 8 months ago | (#46220379)

FTFA:

The interest in Power Computing products is mainly due to Apple’s use of PowerPC processors in its products in the 1990s, not due to the Wikipedians’ interest in IBM.

Interest in the power architecture has nothing to do with the fact that it's in millions of XBOX 360 and PS3 game consoles... it's really all about some products that Apple hasn't sold in 25 years.

And people wonder why nobody RTFA?

Re:Garbage (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#46220949)

Apple used PowerPC from 1994 to 2006, fwiw.

So what is the message here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46221057)

Only unemployed people are allowed to edit Wikipedia? Or people should not write about things they actually know about? Talk about drama in a teacup.

(What is wrong with the random fonts on slashdot? And the ridiculous amounts of white space? Who broke slashdot? What the hell?)

Funny considering their slogan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46221367)

They have the following built into their "corporate DNA":

Integrity
Intelligence
Innovation

They seem to have the "Intelligence" and "Innovation" parts nailed down, not so much the "integrity".

Re:Funny considering their slogan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46221397)

They have the following built into their "corporate DNA":

Integrity
Intelligence
Innovation

They seem to have the "Intelligence" and "Innovation" parts nailed down, not so much the "integrity".

More like a fail at the following:

        Dedication to every client's success
        Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
        Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

When the RSS feeds redirect to Beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46222577)

I'm using RSS to read the news, and it mostly keeps me off the beta. However, once in a while it will "try the beta again".

Does anyone know how to get RSS feeds that don't redirect to Beta?

What's wrong with it? (1)

RubberDogBone (851604) | about 8 months ago | (#46222589)

Disagree with wikipedia's snub of first hand info. Who better to know facts, sometimes, than the people who work at a given place?

I worked for a small volunteer group which eventually got a wikipedia page. A lot of it was bullshit because it was posted by people who were not actually involved and had no idea what the hell they were talking about. The org in question existed before most people had internet access, and even before you could just go get a .com domain name. Those early years have NO citable online links. They didn't exist. There was no WWW.whatever.org.

So I posted a lot of historical corrections, because I was fucking there. I know the early history. I know the later history. I know stuff the head people have forgotten.

After posting some useful corrections, Wikipedia crapped all over it, you know, because there are no citations for stuff that happened before the WWW was open for general public use. And a lot of it happened offline in meatspace. Even if there were online elements, all the early stuff was on servers that no longer exist. There is no longer a there there. But I still have all the old ugly HTML cause I wrote most of it. Before I got jaded and burned out and began hating. I was nice once. And naive.

Their editorial reversion and shootdown of actual facts ended whatever effort I'll ever make to contribute to wikipedia. If they think they know better, they can just cope with citable but factually incorrect garbage and that's fine. I won't donate a used fingernail to their fund raisers and won't feel sad if they collapse into a heap of dung for lack of cash.

Nothing they've got matters if facts don't matter. And without facts, they're just another blog. Funny, but can't be trusted.

Re:What's wrong with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46223871)

>Disagree with wikipedia's snub of first hand info. Who better to know facts, sometimes, than the people who work at a given place?

So you think that James Clapper should have the final say on the NSA article? Woody Allen should be able to edit his own article to state that he definitively did not molest Dylan? Or if you prefer, Dylan should be able to edit her article to state that Woody did definitively molest her? How about both, so that there are two conflicting versions of the definitive "truth" in the same encyclopedia?

Some people, for example comedians, might even have a vested interest in vandalizing their own article. I imagine an Andy Kaufman-like person might think it funny to edit his own page stating that he was a transsexual or something. One of the great ironies here is that the people who are most critical of Wikipedia are also the ones who seem to treat it as scripture. They don't seem to get that not everyone takes Wikipedia so seriously, and that some famous people might get a chuckle out of how much they could mess up their own page. Because, after all, Wikipedia is a thing on the internet that can be fucked with by anybody. Thus, these criticisms about Wikipedia not being able to deliver 100% objective truth are essentially self-parodying. How stupid do you have to be to even think that this is a possibility?

It doesn't need to be a malicious thing either. Most people don't possess perfect information about themselves. For example, I can't name every company that I own some kind of stake in because I bought a mutual fund. But if I were famous, some journalist might research my holdings, and discover that I have a stake in some company I don't even like, for example Apple. That person then publishes an article saying that I had a financial stake in Apple and that gets added to the wiki. Incredulous, I delete this because I never purchased Apple stock and I know "for a fact" I'm not an Apple stockholder. And yet in reality, because I had that mutual fund and they at some point picked up Apple, I would actually be wrong about myself even though I honestly believed in what I was saying.

The problem with allowing primary sources to make authoritative statements on their own article is that practically nobody (and even less so, corporations/institutions) can be trusted to present a neutral view about themselves and/or have perfect information about themselves. If the fact in question is controversial (as these edit wars tend to be) then the article's subject should really not be editing the article themselves, they should be making statements to the press and those statements will be reflected in the article as a claim.

Think! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46223071)

Already thought? Now write!

What Else Can IBM'rs do in Rochester? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 8 months ago | (#46223941)

The place is a ghost town of the once mighty IBM. Watson is the only game in town, and that's in New York.

Watchmen? (1)

NetNinja (469346) | about 8 months ago | (#46224783)

Who watches the Watchmen?

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