Wikipedia editors disable 250 paid accounts

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In line with its campaign against “sockpuppetry”, Wikipedia editors have recently blocked hundreds of Wikipedia editing accounts that were paid.

In describing the effort, Wikimedia foundation director Sue Gardner said, “as many as several hundred” accounts belong to paid editors to promote services or products on the site. This is a blatant violation of the policies and terms of use of Wikipedia.

With this, Wikipedians who want to protect the project from non-neutral editing have banned or blocked over 250 user accounts, revealed Gardner, adding that Wikimedia Foundation takes the issue seriously and has been watching it closely.

The move follows earlier reports in Vice and The Daily Dot, which describe growing amounts of money going into paid editing of English-language Wikipedia pages. Both articles noted that Wikipedia editors primarily attribute the increase in paid edits to a firm known as Wiki-PR.

In an interview by The Daily Dot, four Wiki-PR clients revealed that they paid around US$500 to US$1,000 for written articles and another US$50 per month for “page management” services.

Meanwhile, a college dean that Vice spoke to paid US$1,500 to have a profile written. After the page was repeatedly deleted, the professor paid another US$800 for “media relations efforts” for 30 days.

In a Vice interview, Kevin Gorman, a longtime Wikipedia editor, said he does not mind if the paid editors “write articles about websites that sell erectile dysfunction pills” because casual users can easily identify them as spam.

“I’m much more worried about what happens when an unethical outfit manages to start getting major clients and start controlling articles that our average reader assumes are not written by corporate flaks,” he added.

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