Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to WikiPR

On October 21, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) issued a statement from Sue Gardner, our executive director, condemning the black hat practice of paid advocacy editing and sockpuppeting on Wikipedia. The statement followed widespread press coverage of an investigation undertaken by Wikipedia’s volunteer editor community into more than 300 sockpuppet accounts that were alleged to belong to a public relations firm. In Gardner’s statement, she noted that the “Wikimedia Foundation is closely monitoring this ongoing investigation and we are currently assessing all the options at our disposal.”

To assist in the assessment, the WMF retained Cooley LLP to review and investigate allegations that a company named Wiki-PR has been engaging in paid advocacy editing, in contravention of the Wikimedia Foundation’s website Terms of Use. While the WMF and Cooley were investigating this question, the Wikimedia community banned Wiki-PR and anyone receiving financial benefits from Wiki-PR from editing until certain conditions were met.

Today, Cooley LLP, on behalf of the WMF, sent the cease and desist letter below to the CEO of Wiki-PR, demanding that Wiki-PR “cease and desist from further editing the Wikipedia website unless and until [they] have fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.”

We will continue to closely monitor this situation and provide further updates in the coming weeks.

Matthew Roth
Spokesperson, Wikimedia Foundation

 

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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Bravo!

This is long overdue. That a “public relations” company makes selling paid editing of Wikipedia articles a big part of its book of business is appalling. For the future development of Wikipedia, it will be important to be on the lookout for thousands of examples of “volunteer” promotional editing by quack healers, sellers of unvalidated tests and unproven equipment, and promoters of crazy ideologies. Improving the verifiability of Wikipedia with reliable sources will be a long-term slog, for which the conscientious volunteer editors who rely on reliable sources need more encouragement and support.

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Well done! The last thing we need are paid shills ruining the integrity of what we’ve all created.

I wasn’t aware that the way Wikipedia’s very permissive copyright and trademark policies are written allowed for a cease-and-desist letter, but I’m certainly glad that they do. Good on you, WMF; this is the best possible way to tackle editing by scum like this.

In the spirit of openness, can we see a list of articles that they or their puppets have edited?

Hooray! It’s good to see the WMF take a stand on such a divisive issue.

Re:Shawn, spirit of openness
You may be interested in the long-term abuse page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Long-term_abuse/Morning277

Kudos for taking a stand against these cockroaches.
Unfortunately, like cockroaches, they scatter and hide when light is shone upon them. But they won’t stop being cockroaches. I suspect will not be the end of the matter.

Are you aware which snake may be the longest?

I don’t see what is wrong with this practice.

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Thanks for taking action on the matter! What those folks did was incredibly damaging to Wikipedia’s integrity and reputation.

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Well done!
(Note: this blog should be categorized in [[Category:Legal]] too)

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Thanks, Benny – we added the category.

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Is anyone concerned that Cooley LLP has been fiddling with their own Wikipedia article, much the same way they tell Wiki-PR not to fiddle with Wikipedia?

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