Wikipedia is again cracking down on contributors and editors that are violating its guidelines. The site’s editors have banned 381 accounts for charging or accepting money for their contributions, without disclosing the information — what Wikipedia calls “undisclosed paid advocacy. Wikipedia administrators announced they had blocked the accounts Monday following a weeks-long investigation nicknamed “Orangemoody.” The banned accounts were all identified as “sock” accounts, according to the site’s editors. Sock, short for sockpuppets, refers to people who maintain “misleading or deceptive” accounts. Wikipedia bans people from writing or editing articles about people or companies they are affiliated with so a “sock” account may be one that disguises the author’s affiliations.
In addition to blocking the users, Wikipedia editors deleted 210 articles created by the users of the now deleted accounts. Wikipedia editors deleted 210 articles created by the users of the now deleted accounts. “Most of these articles, which were related to businesses, business people, or artists, were generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations,” according to a statement from Wikimedia. “The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.”
Some of the banned accounts also belonged to editors who were being paid for their work who did not disclose this to Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not ban paid editors but it does require editors to disclose if they are paid specifically to write an article. “We believe that undisclosed paid advocacy editing is a black hat practice that can threaten the trust of Wikimedia’s volunteers and readers,” Geoff Brigham, general counsel for Wikimedia, wrote last year. “We have serious concerns about the way that such editing affects the neutrality and reliability of Wikipedia.” This isn’t the first time Wikipedia has had to crack down on suspicious contributions. Wikipedia banned more than 250 accounts in October 2013 after reports surfaced that PR agencies had paid contributors to write favorable articles.