Wikipedia hit by "pay for entry" scandal

Two trusted Wikipedia types are editing Wikipedia pages and facilitating front-page placement for paying clients.

According to CNET, Jimmy Wales is furious. After all it is one thing to make worthy people disappear because you have a chip on your shoulder about their fame, it is another to make unworthy people appear because you know someone who is a Wackypedia editor,

Roger Bamkin, trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation UK, whose LinkedIn page describes him as a high-return-earning PR consultant, appeared to be using Wikipedia’s main page “Did You Know” feature and the resources of Wikipedia’s GLAM WikiProject to hawk Gibraltar – which is his client.

In August, Gibraltar was featured as a Wikipedia DYK front page feature an astonishing seventeen times in two to three days. It got more publicity than the Olympics.

Jimmy Wales wrote a stiff missive saying that it was wildly inappropriate for anyone in an official role to take payment from customers in exchange for securing favourable placement on the front page of Wikipedia or anywhere else.

However, at the same time, Wikipedia community members exposed a PR-strategy Wikipedia page editing business run by GLAM editor Max Klein.

Klein runs a consulting business called “untrikiwiki” which has the aim of using a Wikipedia article to guaranteed a top three Google hit.

He said that he had worked out how to bypass Wikipedia’s ‘conflict of interest’ editing and has made more than 10,000 edits over the last eight years.

Wales said that he was unaware of this case, and hadn’t had time to look into it, but if it was true then he will be “extremely unhappy about it”. “It’s disgusting,” Wales said.

Part of the problem is that there is no Wikimedia UK policy against “paid editing” for Wikipedia pages, though Jimmy Wales has said that paid editing is against Wikipedia values and policy.