“A software engineer in Australia has said he was offered payment by Microsoft to edit certain entries in the Wikipedia online dictionary, opening a heated debate about the ethics of such a move,” Nancy Gohring reports for IDG News Service.

Gohring reports, ‘Rick Jelliffe, chief technology officer of XML tools company Topologi, said he will probably accept a contract from Microsoft to edit Wikipedia entries on ODF (OpenDocument Format) and OOXML (Microsoft Office Open XML), competing document format standards.”

“In a blog posting on the O’Reilly Web site, Jelliffe said he recently received an e-mail from Microsoft saying that the company wanted to contract someone ‘independent but friendly’ for a couple of days to provide ‘more balance’ on Wikipedia concerning the ODF and OOXML formats. Jelliffe said he rarely uses Microsoft products and does not imagine he is viewed as a Microsoft enthusiast,” Gohring reports.

Gohring reports, “His disclosure unleashed a heated debate about the ethics of a company paying someone to edit Wikipedia entries, and the effect such payment has on the credibility of the site. ‘From now on we should take the Wikipedia entry on OpenDocument with a grain of salt,’ wrote Daniel Carrera, an ODF developer, in an e-mail.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Doug” for the heads up.]
Even forgetting all of Mafiasoft’s ugly history, anyone who saw the ridiculous over-proliferation of Zune-related “enthusiast” websites before the device was even available – and still hobbling along today with so few of the ill-fated Zunes in use – should not be surprised by this move from Microsoft, the king of astroturfing.