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

 

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15 Comments on Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to WikiPR

Hassan 11 months

Vpn

Part Deux 11 months

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?

Tilman Bayer 11 months

Thanks, Benny – we added the category.

benny 11 months

Well done!

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

Themfromspace 11 months

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

Anon 11 months

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

Kate Dircksen 12 months

Are you aware which snake may be the longest?

Ian Farquhar 12 months

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.

Atethnekos 12 months

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

Konveyor Belt 12 months

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

Shawn 12 months

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

Yannis 12 months

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.

Davebo 12 months

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

Karl M. Bunday 12 months

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.

Smallbones 12 months

Bravo!

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