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IBM Employees Caught Editing Wikipedia 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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IBM Employees Caught Editing Wikipedia

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  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @11:58AM (#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.

  • by hydrofix ( 1253498 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @12:35PM (#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 [] 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.

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @12:36PM (#46218533)

    So how about propaganda-style editing backed by PR operations with sovereign backing []? 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.

  • by Ghostworks ( 991012 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:17PM (#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 (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'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.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin