‘Sockpuppet’ edits to Wikipedia pages prompt investigation

A firm called Wiki-PR is at the heart of the controversy over notability standards and hundreds of accounts making edits favorable to client companies.

Ragan Insider Content

Potential abuse of Wikipedia’s decentralized nature—anyone can write or edit Wikipedia articles—comes with the territory, but the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that oversees Wikipedia, is investigating an apparent gaming of the system.

Over several months, Wikimedia investigators identified 323 users as “sockpuppets,” accounts created as fronts for people hired by or with a vested interest in promoting particular organizations. Several dozen more were targeted as suspected sockpuppet accounts.

Once was the user “Morning277,” who made 6,000 edits. Some of those edits used citations that purportedly linked to CNN, but actually linked to CNN iReport pages, which anyone can create.

Many of Morning277 and others’ promotional edits have been deleted, and quite a few pages have been taken down for not meeting Wikipedia’s notability standards—the rules that say something must meet a level of noteworthiness to warrant a page.

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