Wikipedia blocks 'black hat' accounts

Wikipedia blocks 381 accounts for engaging in paid advocacy following an investigation.

Volunteer editors of the English version of Wikipedia have announced that they have blocked 381 user accounts for ‘black hat’ editing – the practice of taking payment to promote external interests via Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation, which is a  violation of Wikimedia’s Terms of Use.

On its blog, Wikipedia said that undisclosed paid advocacy did not happen often, but represented “a serious conflict of interest and could compromise the quality of content on Wikipedia”.

Editors deleted 210 articles created by deceptive ‘sockpuppet’ accounts, most of which related to businesses, business people, or artists. According to Wikipedia, “The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.”

Interviewed in The Guardian, Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales explained that the organisation had decided to go public about the issue in oder to get the message out: "If anybody emails you asking for money pretending to be Wikipedia, alarm bells should ring. Everything about Wikipedia is free."