Account used to create paid corporate entries shut down

The Wikipedia account of a business selling its services in creating Wikipedia articles was blocked by Jimbo Wales, after a truce over the ethical concerns involved broke down. User:MyWikiBiz has been blocked indefinitely, and Wales deleted two of the articles created as a result.

The company, the brainchild of Pennsylvania marketer Gregory Kohs, announced in August that it was offering to create Wikipedia articles for companies, at prices ranging from $49 to $99 (see archived story). This caught Wales's attention, leading him to block MyWikiBiz temporarily. He unblocked the account after a phone conversation in which they discussed the possibility of Kohs "creating" articles by posting them on his own website, licensed under the GFDL. Uninvolved Wikipedia editors could then decide independently whether to transfer the articles over.

The following week, MyWikiBiz was blocked for a week after leaving comments advertising his services on Articles for deletion discussions (the comments were followed by emoticons, and Kohs says they were tongue-in-cheek). A request for arbitration was also made by Cyde, who observed that MyWikiBiz was also actively nominating articles about businesses for deletion, raising the possibility of a different kind of conflict of interest. The Arbitration Committee rejected the case, however, and Wales suggested that it was premature, noting that the conflict of interest policy was still evolving.

In September, an article was created about (not by Kohs, however), leading inevitably to a debate over whether to delete that. MyWikiBiz did not create any more articles directly, although at least one was created after being posted on his website.

Back to square zero

At the time of the original incident, Erik Möller (since elected to the Wikimedia Foundation board) had proposed and started a Wikipedia:Conflicts of interest page. After considerable development, this was marked as a guideline on Wednesday by Radiant! This apparently triggered the reopening of the conflict.

Kohs soon posted to the talk page, questioning the action on the grounds that Wales had called the proposal "absolutely unacceptable" in private correspondence. Wales said he was addressing the form of the proposal at the time, and because his own suggestions had been incorporated, he supported it as "a starting point for discouraging" people from "writ[ing] articles on behalf of companies for money."

Wales charged that Kohs was "trying to stir up sentiment" against him and misrepresenting the situation. Accordingly, he left a stern warning on MyWikiBiz's talk page. Kohs responded by telling Wales, "you, Sir, are now misrepresenting your very own thoughts about the efforts of" Wales then promptly blocked the MyWikiBiz account indefinitely, replacing the user page with an explanation and a warning to its potential customers. (Kohs's personal account, User:Thekohser, had already been blocked earlier.)

In addition to blocking the account, Wales deleted two articles produced by MyWikiBiz that Kohs had mentioned in his reply. However, one of the articles deleted, Arch Coal, had been copied from by another editor. This led the issue to come up for deletion review. Wales agreed that the discussion could proceed, although he called the article "a travesty of NPOV." The article was ultimately kept after a ground-up rewrite. Meanwhile, several more of the articles posted on were copied over by other editors after the situation flared up again.

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Don't know if you want to mention that deletion review concluded keep.

Relevant personal essays on the issue of being paid to edit Wikipedia include User:Jmabel/PR and User:LinaMishima/PaidEditing. -- llywrch 19:51, 10 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

"Meanwhile, several more of the articles posted on were copied over by other editors after the situation flared up again." - Can someone please point out what articles these were? Could the author please provide links? This is exactly why WP:COI in its current form just doesn't work. I have absolutely no idea how to track them, so far I only know of Arch Coal and The Family & Workplace Connection. - Hahnchen 04:43, 11 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I didn't provide links because I have little confidence about whether the articles will still exist going forward. However, you can certainly go to and find their list of wikified articles and start checking against Wikipedia. Note that I did not check all of the list, only enough to confirm that this was happening, and also some of the companies already had Wikipedia articles before, and their content wasn't produced by MyWikiBiz. --Michael Snow 05:43, 11 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I did check the MyWikiBiz website, but that's just making a mockery of the current procedure right now, as there are also listed articles which have been on Wikipedia for ages, and new articles, which we don't know whether he actually authored. Do you have links to any of the debates? - Hahnchen 15:15, 11 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Slightly misleading

The sentence "The article was ultimately kept." is slightly misleading as it is not a complete statement of the conclusion. The conclusion given here was "Subject notable, article completely rewritten to avoid conflict of interest issues.". Carcharoth 12:22, 11 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

No it was kept. As with any Wiki article it'll undergo improvement and additions, but MyWikiBiz's seed germ article still remains. - Hahnchen 15:11, 11 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Those paying for ed. services must realize that there is no necessary reason to think that the article will reflect their desired view. Whatever the paid ed. writes is always subject to community editing. A business may pay for an article, and the article may in the end prove that it is, for example, a diploma mill.
As an extension of this, paid eds. & their subjects also must realize that they have no right to insist the article be withdrawn, DGG 20:36, 17 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]


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