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Wikipedia contributors decry pay for posts

Grant Gross | Sept. 20, 2012
A contentious debate has erupted on Wikipedia over questions about whether two high-profile contributors have been paid to promote articles on the site.

Wikimedia contributors brought up a second case of potential conflict of interest days after the first debate started. Wikipedian in residence Maximilian Klein, through a business named UntrikiWiki, advertised services for posting positive articles on the online encyclopedia.

"A positive Wikipedia article is invaluable SEO: it's almost guaranteed to be a top three Google hit," the UntrikiWiki site said before the consulting pitch was pulled down. "We have the expertise needed to navigate the complex maze surrounding 'conflict of interest' editing on Wikipedia. With more than eight years of experience, over 10,000 edits, and countless community connections we offer holistic Wikipedia services."

Wales, again, said he was unaware of Klein's case. "If what you say is accurate, then of course I'm extremely unhappy about it," he wrote to the contributor who pointed it out. "It's disgusting."

 

UntrikiWiki pulled the pitch after the controversy erupted. Starting immediately, the business will "not accept any paid conflict-of-interest Wikipedia editing work," UntrikiWiki said in a statement Tuesday.

The company advertised Wikipedia editing services but it has "not aggressively pursued it," the statement said. "We've never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia -- ever."

But the company also defended for-profit contributions to Wikipedia, "as long as it's approached in a transparent and ethical fashion.  

"We understand why it's a controversial issue, but we believe that it's a necessary and emerging field and believe that it's important that people with knowledge of Wikipedia's ecosystem move [into] it and establish standards that protect Wikipedia's integrity," the statement said.

Klein didn't answer a message seeking comment on the debate.

 

 

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