Wikimedia Foundation to PR Firm: Stop Meddling

The Wikimedia Foundation has sent a cease and desist letter to a public relations firm that has allegedly been collecting money to edit Wikipedia entries. Wikimedia is targeting Wiki-PR in a three-page letter accusing the company of violating its Web site's terms of use.

On Oct. 21, the non-profit Wikimedia issued a statement from Executive Director Sue Gardner condemning the black-hat practice of "paid advocacy editing and sockpuppeting" on Wikipedia. The rebuke came after press coverage of an internal investigation into more than 300 sockpuppet accounts that allegedly belong to a PR firm.

Wikimedia retained Cooley LLP to review and investigate allegations that Wiki-PR was behind the edited posts. During the investigation, the Wikimedia community banned Wiki-PR and anyone financially associated with the firm until certain conditions were met. Then, on Tuesday, the law firm sent the cease and desist letter to the public relation company's CEO, Jordan French.

Wikipedia Is Not for Promotion

Wiki-PR bills itself as a consultant for "thousands of people and companies on how to interact with the Wikipedia community." The company offers a cadre of services, including page creation and editing, page monitoring, page translation, crisis editing, and concept development. Wiki-PR isn't the only company to offer these types of services, but it is perhaps the most widely known.

Wiki-PR could not immediately be reached for comment, but its site makes claims such as, "the easy way to accurately tell your story on Wikipedia" and offers to "help you claim your top spot in Google search results."

"When outside publicity firms and their agents conceal or misrepresent their identity by creating or allowing false, unauthorized, or misleading user accounts, Wikipedia's reputation is harmed," wrote the Wikimedia Foundation's lawyer, Patrick P. Gunn of law office Cooley. "Sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry are especially harmful when used to disguise secret works of advocacy...

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