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Microsoft Offers Cash for Wikipedia Edit

     
2:09 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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[usatoday.com...]

Microsoft landed in the Wikipedia doghouse Tuesday after it offered to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced Web encyclopedia site.

While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.

"We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach," Wales said.

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an open-source document standard and a rival format put forward by Microsoft.

2:16 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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mustn't monkey with the wiki ..

so will Bill fire the person who thought this was good idea? ..must be a front runner for the PR Darwin award

2:34 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Online Reputation Management is an up and coming job category. Microsoft may have gotten caught, but for every one that's exposed there are a hundred others "reviewing" their own products, posting in forums, tweaking wiki entries, and who knows what else.

It will be amusing if it turns out that the articles considered inaccurate by Microsoft were indeed written or edited by someone from MS enemy IBM (as MS alleges).

3:16 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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First their backdoor trojan install of IE 7 through "auto-updates" and now this... Microsoft is getting desparate.
3:31 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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so will Bill fire the person who thought this was good idea?

Heck no! He's probably patting him the back for the great idea. He just got caught, that's all. And if you think M$ is alone in this type of thinking, you are being rather niave.

Eutopias, online or otherwise are a fantasy. Public interest is waning in Wiki and all you will be left with are fanatics and people looking to capitalize on it. Between these two groups, wikipedia will go the same path as DMOZ.

3:46 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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And if you think M$ is alone in this type of thinking, you are being rather niave.

Moi? naive ..dont be silly ..:)

corse they ( almost any company with a PR dept )are all doing it ..and have been for years ..on blogs and reveiw sites and everywhere that it might work .."they" try to tag spam the hell out of here every once in while ..

but only MS leave such a great trail of footprints away from the scenes of their efforts to hype their products ..and my monkey ref was deliberate ..this has the unsubtle hand of the dancing whooping steve all over it ..if Bill " lost" him ..MS would go up a few notches in the eyes of many and would feel less of the need to try to do this stuff ..

<slightly OT >BTW ..the best example of how to do it subtly and not get caught is probably the way google have the BBC fawning over every word that comes out of their PR dept and manages to get G praised as a "new way of doing business " and "not interested in profit" in the BBC's programming from the business progs to the tech progs on the world service ..there are times when it's hard to tell from listening wether the radio is broadcasting from the UK or the plex PR depts water cooler ..not surprised at all that they are linking up ..some of the the BBC journalists appear to be getting payment from California already </slightly OT>

edited bad formatting tags :)

[edited by: Leosghost at 3:47 pm (utc) on Jan. 24, 2007]

4:00 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I hope that no one is surprised that companies are paying to post on wikipedia. This is no different then paying for links, press releases, blog posts, etc...
4:10 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In 1992, IBM employees were offered prizes to "hawk" OS/2.

An article by Paul B. Carroll from the Wall Street Journal titled "IBM Is Offering Workers Prizes to Hawk OS/2" published March 27, 1992 explained the issue.

IBM offered employees incentives including medals, IBM software, hardware and cash. The incentives depended on how much effort each IBM employee spent on OS/2.

In return, IBM asked employees to approach everyone with brochures and talking points with praises of how OS/2 was the right solution.

Is this repeating again using a different medium and different product?

4:34 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>>"We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach," Wales said.

Someone is disconnected from reality. People get paid to work. This person was doing a job - cleaning up a mess at Wiki. Who is going to clean up for free on Microsoft's behalf?

They probably hired someone to look around and correct "facts" appearing on Wiki. What's disappointing is that Wiki's response. They should be thankful that someone cares enough to actually correct all of the mistakes they've got on their website.

5:35 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Brooker said Microsoft had gotten nowhere in trying to flag the purported mistakes to Wikipedia's volunteer editors, so it sought an independent expert who could determine whether changes were necessary and enter them on Wikipedia.

That seems like a viable course of action to me.

Wales said the proper course would have been for Microsoft to write or commission a "white paper" on the subject with its interpretation of the facts, post it to an outside website and then link to it in the Wikipedia articles' discussion forums.

That would of course had a more favorable outcome than making front page news at WebmasterWorld. ;)

5:48 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Who is going to clean up for free on Microsoft's behalf?

Wikipedia's stance is probably that they want people cleaning up on Wikipedia's behalf, not on the behalf of the subject of any particular article.

Since Wikipedia holds it's articles to a "Neutral Point of View" (NPOV) standard (among others), clearly they should be suspect of any content submitted by someone with a direct financial stake in making particular edits.

Ideally, they would care only about the content submitted without judging the submitter's intent, but that's taking the "utopian" view. ;)

5:57 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Between these two groups, wikipedia will go the same path as DMOZ.

Looking at recent readership and unique visitors, that would be "From Strength to Strength"

I'm no wiki fan; much too open to abuse for me ... but wishful thinking won't kill it.

6:57 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Since Wikipedia holds it's articles to a "Neutral Point of View" (NPOV) standard (among others), clearly they should be suspect of any content submitted by someone with a direct financial stake in making particular edits.

Which is one reason why all their external links are tagged with rel=nofollow [en.wikipedia.org].
7:07 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is just DMOZ all over again.. when ever you allow humans to determine who gets in and who remains out corruption WILL occur.

Please none of this no follow tag nonsense

every webmaster undertands the importance of access to wikipedia .

I'll say it again..and again and again.. wikipedia results should NOT even be G, Y or MSN . Wikipedia is a competitor for the same search traffic ..

If wiki is so important let it stand own it's own ..quit sending them more traffic by allowing them to to saturate SE search results..

It is my opinion that WIKI has about 6 more months before the SE's wise up

7:23 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If microsoft has legitimate concerns regarding wikipedia articles, how can they point out these inaccuracies without being criticized by the blogosphere? Hiring a PR firm to go out and correct misunderstandings is nothing new and, if done responsibly, can be a good thing. granted that's a big if. there are a lot of critics of microsoft that tend to skew facts, tell lies etc.,
7:33 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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So... are there inaccuracies?

If there are, I think it's immaterial as to whether someone was being paid & who may be behind it - the fact of the matter is someone was trying to correct incorrect information. And I can sympathize with Microsoft; I've made edits to errors, only to have them reversed. (In my case, someone linked to an article on one of my sites. The anchor text reads "widget.com", while the link goes to widget.org. Twice I've corrected the anchor text; twice I've been overruled.)

Is anyone aware of the specific articles we are talking about?

> Wikipedia, DMOZ

In my opinion, Wikipedia was infected with DMOZ arrogance quite some time ago...

> Which is one reason why all their external links are tagged with rel=nofollow.

Took only three sentences before an inaccuracy popped up in that linked posting... <chuckle>

7:46 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"In my opinion, Wikipedia was infected with DMOZ arrogance quite some time ago... "

What a sucker the volunteer was for not taking the money. He was probably the only one.

I learned about human element of wikipedia last year. I spent a couple days editing a couple articles to include portions of my original source. I listed my site as a reference and had it blown out as a "conflict." The edit/source remained as I placed it on their site.

Good for MS on this one.

7:47 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The few times I have been to a Wikipedia Article I have considered them OK some worse than others but in general much better than using Search Engines to find what I was looking for so imagine my surprise when my daughter was asking about something for a school research project and I suggested Wikipedia , her answer was a revelation

" We are not allowed to use Wikipedia because there are to many facts that are completely wrong "

When I asked who said this , it appears that all the teachers who set research projects say this

steve

7:53 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Dauction is right .. its DMOZ all over again but this time much much worse.

Why the negative comments towards Microsoft? They are just doing what any other business would do.. attempting to correct inaccuracies or misinformation. Last time I checked, it's not illegal to subcontract copywriting services to third parties.

When you allow anyone to edit any document in something such as a "wiki", the opportunities for abuse and corrpution are limitless.

Since the wiki has been online, we have seen..

- relavant posts being removed by competitors.
- relevant exit resources being removed by competitors.
- relevant content being published by well intentioned writers who only find it's removed by competition.

We published some very useful significant comment in the wiki a few weeks ago without any external hyperlinks.. it was accurate verifiable useful information. Two days later, a competitor removed it. How does this type of activity better the web?

In my humble opinion, the wiki (which started with well intentions) is nothing short of a spectacular trainwreck.

Nofollow won't make any difference. When you allow any joe to waltz in and start deleting content, you allow for corruption and abuse. Sure the wiki folks can remove that user but then the user simply creates a new login under a false IP and the entire cycle starts again.

The solution is editorial control - moderation.. but that won't happen because the wiki is underfunded and not run like a profitable enterprise. The very design of the current wiki allows for a management nightmare. And have you looked at the help files or tried to figure out how to contact a manager or editor? The site is so overstuffed with ambiguous instructions that lead to more ambiguity.

DMOZ is a miserable failure because of over moderation. Wikipedia will fail because of not enough moderation.

For those of you net-trepreneurs out there who are looking for fresh ideas, consider an wiki-style encyclopedia where you would allow anyone to submit content - but that content is edited by well trained editors with customer service training so that submissions aren't omitted without any regard for relevancy (dmoz style). And noone should be allowed to remove content without editorial control. Didn't we learn these lessons with regards to linking? (sorry if thats off topic but I am trying to make a point here). We learned in the past few years that links must be made with editorial control and never to allow a webmaster to create a link from your site to his or hers without editorial control.

Now we are seeing a repeat performance.. lack of editorial control with turn the wiki into a wild west where no rules are enforced.

I feel bad for Microsoft because they were simply outsourcing copywriting services like we all do.. Microsoft did nothing wrong. Shame on the media for blowing this up into more than it is. If anything, the media should be focusing on what a miserable mess the wiki has turned out to be.

We no longer post content to the wiki. It's exasperating watching someone with no knowledge of our expertise in specific market segments delete our highly relevant content submissions because they are competiting with us. The very openness of the wiki is it's biggest weakness.

Lets hope this incident is a wake-up to the folks who own and operate the wiki. If they don't get some sort of editorial control in place, the wiki will die a slow death just like DMOZ has.

8:25 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Looking at recent readership and unique visitors

Well, gee. I suppose when you appear on page 1 for every know search on the planet, your uniques would go up. But that does not mean that the people who are visiting are contributing. That is the key part. Masses do not do things for free for very long without some sort of WIIFM factor, which wikis have none of.

Wikipedia is loesing its flavor of the month status. I would like to see how it did with "unique visitors" without search engines. And as long as it gets all that traffic from SEs, nofollow or not, a larger and larger potion of Wikipedia contributors will have a vested ($$$$) interest.

8:27 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This story is overblown. The explanation by the person at MS seems perfectly reasonable. Here is what he said at Slashdot:

[yro.slashdot.org...]

8:28 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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" We are not allowed to use Wikipedia because there are to many facts that are completely wrong "

When I asked who said this , it appears that all the teachers who set research projects say this

The Register: Avoid Wikipedia, warns Wikipedia chief [theregister.co.uk]

[Jimmy] Wales [COfounder of Wikipedia] said that he gets about 10 e-mail messages a week from students who complain that Wikipedia has earned them fail grades.

"They say, 'Please help me. I got an F on my paper because I cited Wikipedia'" and the information turned out to be wrong, he says. But he said he has no sympathy for their plight, noting that he thinks to himself: "For God sake, you're in college; don't cite the encyclopedia," the journal reports.

9:01 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Wikipedia is great as a 'first call' when looking something up; it's a truly valuable resource, far more up to date and wide-ranging that any other encyclopedia, by several orders.

It's only a problem if you believe it.

[edited by: Quadrille at 9:01 pm (utc) on Jan. 24, 2007]

9:17 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"In my opinion, Wikipedia was infected with DMOZ arrogance quite some time ago... "

I couldn't agree more.

9:20 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You would think with the money that Microsoft has they would have hired someone better to spam ... geez, the good ones are good because they don't get caught.

I guess this is another reason why MSN Search and Live bite. MS is losing their edge.

As David Lee Roth sung, "Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now."

Cabo

9:30 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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when ever you allow humans to determine who gets in and who remains out corruption WILL occur.

quit sending them more traffic by allowing them to to saturate SE search results.

Dauction, how do you reconcile these two positions?

9:49 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Quit sending them more traffic by allowing them to saturate SE search results.

Don't link to the Wiki. ;)

10:27 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps this might also be a wake up call to some of the SE out there that decided Wiki in an instant authority on every topic. It's starting to collapse under its own weight and appears to be less interested in facts than policy.

Based on the response here, this move might come back to haunt Wiki. It certainly points out a lot of their shortcomings. I think the average Joe businessman or Josephine businesswoman would be shocked to hear Wiki's complaint.

11:18 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"In my opinion, Wikipedia was infected with DMOZ arrogance quite some time ago... "

I couldn't agree more.

Agreed again.

Also think that MS gets picked on when it was prob someone from a competitor paying someone to speak negatively about MS.

11:23 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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MSFT looks really bad, but let's admit that there are a lot of MSFT haters in the tech world. MSFT probably needed to do something since wikipedia is taken as gospel
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