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Wikipedia for promotional purposes?

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By Ral315
This article was first published 15 years ago on August 22, 2005, eight months after The Signpost was founded. It may be the first Signpost article about paid editing, but certainly hasn't been the last. An earlier article, Outside groups targeting Wikipedia spur fears about bias, published February 7, 2005, a month after The Signpost's first issue raised similar questions about conflict-of-interest editing and canvassing.S

Twice recently, television organizations have been accused of attempting to use Wikipedia for promotional purposes. The BBC recently added articles on Jamie Kane and Boy*d Upp, a fictional character and band existing in a BBC alternate-reality game. In another incident, G4's Attack of the Show program, to commemorate an appearance by Jimbo Wales, created User:Attackoftheshow, a user page which was used primarily as a sandbox for interested viewers to edit, raising questions over whether the usage was permissable or not.

Jamie Kane

On August 12, a new user created an article about Jamie Kane, asserting that the fictional star of a boy band was real. The article was quickly tagged for speedy deletion, then taken to VfD. Uncle G and other editors changed the article, expanding it and making note that the band was fictional. The VfD subsequently failed, though a series of unsigned and unregistered users attempted to vote.

Later, an article on the fictional band, Boy*d Upp, was created by an IP address inside the BBC, assumed to be a BBC employee. This article was also tagged for VfD, and was deleted, then redirected to Jamie Kane. BBC confirmed that an employee had written the article, but denied that it was meant to promote the game:

"The first posting was simply a case of a fan of the game getting into the spirit of alternative reality a little too much. The follow up posting was made by a fan of the game who happens to work in the BBC (where we've been beta-testing for the last month). This was unauthorized and made without the knowledge of anyone in the Jamie Kane Team or BBC Marketing. To confirm: the BBC would never use Wikipedia as a marketing tool."

Attack of the Show

On August 16, G4 aired an interview with Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales. They created a user page for the show, where viewers could edit as they pleased. Vandalism ensued, and just a day after the episode aired, and over 1200 edits after the page was created, the page was protected. As of press time, the page is still protected to deal with vandalism.

Tony Sidaway protected the page immediately after it was created, but Jimbo unprotected it and instructed administrators to leave it open, because he had already talked with G4, and authorized the move.

Issues with using Wikipedia for marketing

From Wikipedia's point of view:

From the marketers point of view the Wikipedia is a difficult choice:

Possibility of marketing spam in the future?

This raises the legitimate question of whether marketing spam may be a problem in the future. While this is a common occurrence on Special:Newpages patrol, a more confusing type of spamming such as the Jamie Kane articles may occur, where many users may be confused over whether the article's content is real, fake, or even vanity. Perhaps what is most reassuring is that all three pages were quickly found and taken care of. Nevertheless, this is a problem that may occur again in the near future.

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If they'd known then how much effort would be involved in the next 15 years against it, it might have doomed the project! Nosebagbear (talk) 19:19, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Well, that's the way of most pioneering efforts that succeed against all odds, isn't it? When you look back at everything that went into it and consider how many times along the way it could've easily all fallen apart with the eyes of your modern-day self, the idea of choosing to face all of that would be understandably daunting. Fortunately for every one of those long-odds success stories, people on the starting line of such things rarely know just what they're getting into! -- FeRDNYC (talk) 22:06, 30 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Quite sinister your description, Mr. Blue, of professional paid agents abusing Wikipedia just because they can without much risks. But I'd guess that's possible and real. Nevertheless I'd say in normal editing days I don't even think about that, I'm just not that paranoid. But OTOH the possibilities are still creepy. -- Just N. (talk) 16:08, 5 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]


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