Undisclosed paid advocacy made Wikipedia ban 'black hat' accounts

By MoneyTimes

Sep 03, 2015 08:49 PM EDT

Wikipedia once again began cracking down on both editors and contributors who are violating its guidelines.

The editors of the site banned 381 accounts for charging or accepting money for their contributions, without the disclosure of information, which Wikipedia calls "undisclosed paid advocacy."

The administrators have announced that the accounts have been blocked since Monday following a seven-day investigation which was nicknamed "Orangemoody."

 All the accounts that had been banned were identified as "sock" accounts, according to the site's editors.  The sock is short for sockpuppets which refer to people maintaining accounts that are "misleading or deceptive." 

Wikipedia bans writers from writing or editing articles about people or companies whom they are affiliated with so a "sock" account might be the one that camouflages the author's affiliations.

Aside from blocking the users, Wikipedia editors also deleted 210 articles created by users of the now deleted accounts.

Most of these deleted articles were usually promotional in nature and related to businesses, artists or people in the business.  Articles were written had a biased information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations, as mentioned by the Wikimedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia in a Monday blog post.

Some of these banned accounts likewise belonged to editors who were being paid for their work but didn't disclose it to Wikipedia.  Wikipedia does not ban paid editors, all they ask is to disclose with them if they (editors) are being paid specifically to write an article.

"We believe that undisclosed paid advocacy editing is a black hat practice that can threaten the trust of Wikimedia's volunteers and readers," Geoff Brigham, general counsel for Wikimedia, wrote last year. "We have serious concerns about the way that such editing affects the neutrality and reliability of Wikipedia."

Wikipedia has been fighting against these so-called sockpuppet accounts for the longest time that is oftentimes multiple accounts used by just one editor to mislead and deceive other editors.  The content in the encyclopedia is created  then edited and maintained by a large number of voluntary editors. 

However, there has been proven limitations for the model such as enabling the editing of information by people who are being paid secretly by external interests to do so

Wikipedia editors should now comply with the requirements by disclosing their clients, employer or any affiliation from which they receive compensations.  Any editors with a conflict of interest are advised not to make any changes on the articles in which they would have an interest as a result.

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