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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

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


60 Responses to “Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to WikiPR”

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  1. Hassan says:


  2. Part Deux says:

    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?

  3. Tilman Bayer says:

    Thanks, Benny – we added the category.

  4. benny says:

    Well done!

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

  5. Themfromspace says:

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

  6. Anon says:

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

  7. Kate Dircksen says:

    Are you aware which snake may be the longest?

  8. Ian Farquhar says:

    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.

  9. Atethnekos says:

    Re:Shawn, spirit of openness

    You may be interested in the long-term abuse page at

  10. Konveyor Belt says:

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

  11. Shawn says:

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

  12. Yannis says:

    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.

  13. Davebo says:

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

  14. 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.

  15. Smallbones says: