Audio

Wikipedia launches 'sockpuppet' probe into edit-for-pay users

CBC Radio's Day 6 takes a look at the investigation into allegations that thousands of Wikipedia pages have been edited by a public relations firm.

PR firm comes under scrutiny as Wikipedia investigates page edits

Wikipedia is investigating reports that paid PR writers are putting a promotional spin on things like company profiles.

The non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia is investigating claims that as many as 12,000 pages appearing on the free encyclopedia website have been edited by a public relations firm.

Wiki-PR sells itself as "the easy way to accurately tell your story on Wikipedia" and claims to know enough about the rules governing the free online encyclopedia to prevent administrators from reversing its edits.

The Wikimedia Foundation recently suspended more than 250 alleged "sockpuppet" user accounts, named for a style of marketing that specializes in reputation management, and suspected of manipulating Wikipedia pages for a price — although it's not clear if these accounts are associated with Wiki-PR.

For the most part, anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, but additions or changes tend to be published or approved by a group of administrators.

U.S.-based Wiki-PR offers to create, edit and manage pages on Wikipedia, and media reports say it's getting around the administrators.

For more on this story, listen to the Day 6 interview with freelance journalist Simon Owens, who has been writing about Wiki-PR for the Daily Dot.

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