Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fighting Wikipedia's sockpuppets

A few weeks ago the Daily Dot came out with an article entitled The battle to destroy Wikipedia's biggest sockpuppet army. You should read it. It's pretty fascinating, if not riveting, and details the lengths some companies and organizations go to promote their agenda on Wikipedia.

For example:
Thanks to Histolo2
By September of this year, the investigation talk page included over 900 edits from more than 50 authors. It had unearthed 323 user accounts as confirmed sockpuppets with an additional 84 suspected. The only other known sockpuppet network of this size and scope was the case of Bambifan101, a still-ongoing investigation that located 236 suspected and 249 confirmed accounts. In other words, this was one of the largest—if not the largest—discovered sockpuppet networks in Wikipedia history.
That's pretty serious. But it makes sense if you think about it. Wikipedia is free, so many consider it a free bulletin board for their companies or ideas or themselves. And as sockpuppetry gets more advanced, the problem is likely to get worse. The article even talks about self-promoting articles using fake citations, which requires the editor to have knowledge of the way Wikipedia works and the time to create an article with the facade of a real one.

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