Thursday, December 08, 2011

Wikipedia's problem

A marketing firm is caught manipulating Wikipedia. The interesting bit is their response ...
BBC News - Wikipedia investigates PR firm Bell Pottinger's edits
... Lord Bell, chairman of Chime Communications, the owner of Bell Pottinger, said an internal review had been launched.

"I can't see any bad headlines for our clients," he told the BBC. "You won't find anybody, including journalists, who doesn't do exactly the same thing."...
"Everyone does it, so don't look at us."

I hope journalists will dig deeper into the state of Wikipedia and how the "pay-to-edit" problem will be managed going forward. I suspect there are are some reasonable answers, mostly building on Wikipedia's existing frameworks for managing malign edits. Problem is the same as the spam wars and the (new) voice-bot wars -- the costs keep rising.


Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of the voice-bot wars. What is this?

Also, regarding spam, a very interesting paper was published recently. They analyzed the entire spam food chain:

"Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain"

Among the interesting findings was (a) 1 in 12 million spam emails results in a purchase, (b) You can actually receive the product in question when purchasing via spam, and (c) Only a few banks are used for processing payments so that is the place where trying to battle spam might be most effective.

Anonymous said...

One way that wikipedia differs from normal spam is that spammers have a purely economic motive. When a public figure or organization edits their wikipedia entry they are in the more nebulous realm of trying to manage their reputation. So the techniques for fighting spam are less likely to be effective.

This is definitely an interesting (hard to solve, troubling) problem.

JGF said...

I remember that spam study. I suspect the same strategy is used for a lot of legal actions - go after the banks.

Voice bot wars: I added a link to that. LucyPhone is a business that fights bots with a bot (and human?) combo.