Has Wikipedia become a platform for astroturfing

Advertising on Wikipedia: fake accounts uncovered

A network of fake accounts has now been uncovered on Wikipedia, which was apparently linked to advertising in the encyclopedia. In total, there should be over 300 accounts, as administrators announce. These "sock puppets" specialized in creating Wikipedia articles for a fee.

First suspicions

As Heise reports, the network already attracted attention last year, because noticeably "advertising-related entries" were found on Wikipedia from the "Morning277" account. The deletion of one of these articles was even initiated by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales himself. The author has not been seen since then.

Unchecked entries

Similarly worded articles then caught the eye of an administrator in the summer who checked the relevant users. Over a hundred suspected cases were registered as a result. In order to adhere to the standards of Wikipedia despite the advertising spelling, the users are said to have used numerous tricks. Links to reputable offers such as CNN were placed, which then led to further advertising entries. The articles were also overlooked by administrators for a long time because they did not appear in the lists of new additions: The users created the articles on their user pages and then moved them to the platform.

New guidelines planned

The company Wiki-PR, which is behind it, is said to have charged between 500 and 1000 US dollars for an article. Wiki-PR also charged its customers a monthly fee for monitoring and possible restoration. Freelancers worked on the sites for low student wages. Wikipedia is currently working on guidelines that will regulate the handling of paid writers so that neutral information is guaranteed. (red, derStandard.at, October 11, 2013)