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By Andreas Kolbe, Adam Cuerden, and Bri
Firms offering Wikipedia editing services – including several who are banned – are looking for customers

We're banned! Hire us!

Startupguys.net has a piece on the "Top 10 Wikipedia Page Creation Services to Look for in 2023" that acknowledges the conflict-of-interest guideline and then goes straight on to recommend hiring a business. It's this kind of stuff that the paid editing policy was created to address ...

Several of the firms recommended by the article (or is it an advertisement?) are fronts for ABTACH Ltd, who are community banned. The fronts are listed at WP:PAIDLIST. – B

In brief

A toaster. Not invented by Alan MacMasters, whatever you may have read on Wikipedia



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Doesn't WP:DENY apply to articles and not the Wikipedia namespace? Also, wouldn't it be beneficial to state firms that are WP:NOTHERE? – The Grid (talk) 16:41, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • These sorts of adverts are up all the time and we certainly don't and would not report on them all, but revisiting the subject from time to time seems like it's within the remit of The Signpost and raising community awareness that the problem isn't solved. If we followed WP:DENY at all times, then we couldn't discuss malfeasance in order to stop it. Also, it's not clear whether the author and/or publication is connected to the banned entity or whether they knew that those firms were banned. ☆ Bri (talk) 17:11, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Barkeep49: My understanding of WP:DENY is that it refers to shitposters and lulz-cravers like Willy and Jarlaxle, hence the DFTT illustration and the lead ("true vandals and trolls [...] seek recognition and infamy"). It seems implausible that an edit-for-hire firm would be motivated by lulz -- indeed, if that were the case, why would they ask for cash on top? Honestly, being publicly denounced in a newspaper seems like the worst possible outcome for such a firm, as they generally trade on claims to legitimacy. jp×g 19:22, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • (EC)I'll mostly repeat what Bri said: if we can't write about paid editors, how are most Wikipedians to know that this type of advertising of paid editing services are constantly out there soliciting peope with false claims? How can we fight this type of paid editing if we can't expose it? I'll add that WP:DENY is an essay, not a policy or even a guideline. A year or two back we had a series in this column about magazines like Entrepreneur writing self-promotional pieces on how you can write your own Wiki-articles about yourself (or if that seems too complicated just contact the authors). So, @Barkeep:, I'm not trying to put you on the spot, but how would you suggest that we report on this type of paid editing? Smallbones(smalltalk) 19:26, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I am guessing you'd like to hear what I say @Smallbones not Barkeep. I asked a question. A pointed question but a question. If I had wanted to suggest what I think the Signpost should do I'd have said it. It wasn't clear to me what made this particular UPE worthy of Signpost coverage when everyone seems to agree every UPE is not worthy. @Bri who actually wrote the item makes an argument that makes sense and answers the question I asked. The sense I get from you and @JPxG is a circling of the wagons rather than an actual interest in having a conversation and since I wasn't trying to start a conversation but rather get a question answered (which I have now - thanks again Bri) I'm going to move on. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 20:41, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • (Another EC!) Almost every time we do an article on paid editing we get somebody complaining that we're doing something awful, often based on some wildly original interpretation of Wikipedia's rules. So please forgive me if I was a bit defensive. I really am interested in how you think The Signpost should cover this subject. So if you want to send me an email and discuss it privately, please do. For general interest, I'll just add in the text I typed before the edit conflict.
  • I'll also add that last week a long-time Wikipedian forwarded me an email that they had received offering similar services. After checking out the website, I suspect that it was from the same firm that was advertising in the article above. The website gave a Wall Street address that turned out to be a rent-a-mailbox/phone number space. They guaranteed acceptance of an article for anybody (in about 5 out of 7 times that the issue came up in their text). A friendly helper asked to chat and said that I could remain confidential (after I asked). If you read closely they wrote that they'd write articles for other websites to serve as "reliable sources" here. The web-site text was not written by a native English speaker. So by exposing this, am I giving these "service providers" hints on how to avoid getting caught on Wikipedia? I doubt that they know enough about Wikipedia to check this space, but if they got themselves a real address, and they quit guaranteeing article acceptance, quit promising confidentiality, quit writing phony off-Wiki articles, and hired native English speakers to write their text, I would consider that to be a good thing (but bad for their business). All it would do is raise their costs and drive away customers. So how can we help drive away customers from these crooked-as-a-dog's-hind-leg con-men? Just expose them. Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:50, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Also, anyone reading The Signpost probably isn't in the market for paid editing, and I believe Wikipedia nofollows all links. Risk almost certainly is overwhelmed by benefits. For comparison, last issue (maybe the one before), I spiked a story about how Wikipedia was supposedly censoring cryptids because the only way to read the person's argument was to buy his book. That felt like a high chance of sending profit towards a non-notable crank. Adam Cuerden (talk)Has about 8.2% of all FPs. Currently celebrating his 600th FP! 21:45, 20 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]





       

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