Wikipedia Founder Defended Site's Systems after Extortion ScamAdded: Wednesday, September 9th, 2015
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Jimmy Wales backed Wikipedia’s systems for detecting and dealing with abuse after an extortion scam. The latter led to many Wikipedia editor accounts being blocked. The founder of the online encyclopedia said the blocking of nearly 400 Wikipedia editor accounts for “black hat” editing in order to extort money from people and businesses only proved that Wikipedia’s systems for detecting and dealing with abuse were working.
Over 200 Wikipedia articles created by deceptive accounts (dubbed sock puppets) were removed after they were found to be approaching businesses and individuals in attempt to demand payment for creating pages about them and protecting them from being negatively edited. The accounts pretended to be senior Wikipedia editors.
Jimmy Wales explained that an investigation was launched into some suspicious behavior uncovered by the community, and the Wikipedia team managed to solve the problem by banning this cluster of accounts. While admitting that it is not great that things like this happen, it is obvious that an open platform like Wikipedia would inevitably attract people trying to break its rules or extort money.
In the meantime, tackling paid advocacy editing remains an ongoing battle for the service. Two years ago, Wikipedia blocked over 250 user accounts for demanding payment for writing articles without disclosing their commercial motivations. Jimmy Wales also explained that the Wikimedia Foundation was exploring closer relations with some of the websites where people market such services. This did not mean a crackdown on all commercial activity around the online encyclopedia, because there are legitimate activities like offering consultancy on how best to approach its community.
The recent investigation and wider debate about undisclosed paid advocacy are in some ways similar to a controversy over edits to articles relating to online campaign Gamergate. This emerged in the beginning of 2015 and saw several editors banned from correcting those and related topics.
Today Wikipedia announced the blocks of deceptive accounts, and this move is intended to send out a different message about its ability to protect the neutrality of its content. Wikipedia’s founder announced that he decided to be quite public with it to get the message out: everything about Wikipedia is free.
Wednesday, September 9th, 2015No comments
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