Microsoft pays for ‘friendly’ Wikipedia edits

“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.

53 Comments

  1. So I was a little surprised to receive email a couple of days ago from Microsoft saying they wanted to contract someone independent but friendly (me) for a couple of days to provide more balance on Wikipedia concerning ODF/OOXML. I am hardly the poster boy of Microsoft partisanship!

    I think I’ll accept it: FUD enrages me and MS certainly are not hiring me to add any pro-MS FUD, just to correct any errors I see. If anyone sees any examples of incorrect statements on Wikipedia or other similar forums in the next few weeks, please let me know….

    Why not? Take the money and sic ’em, Rick.

    MW: “pay” – as in get some…for a change. You need it if you live in the big smoke.

  2. Yikes. honestly, what goes through their heads? these types of stories are almost always quashed by them before they get to the mainstream press, but wikipedia? that is for unbiased information purposes! i hate them, i am not using microsoft products anymore, and that includes office for mac.

  3. Not possible. Microsoft has a solid history of honesty, straightforward answers and fair play. They have <u>never</u> been motivated by ego or greed.

    “Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was called “evasive and nonresponsive” by a source present at a session in which Gates was questioned on his deposition. He argued over the definitions of words such as “compete”, “jihad”, “concerned”, “ask”, and “we”. BusinessWeek reported, “Early rounds of his deposition show him offering obfuscatory answers and saying ‘I don’t recall’ so many times that even the presiding judge had to chuckle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft

    Oops. Never mind.

  4. “independant but friendly”

    Great stuff! And what a wonderful euphemism for buying positive publicity – i.e. bribery!

    It reminds me of Nixon’s way of saying (back in the 60’s) he’d been lying up until now : ‘all previous statements are now inoperable’.

  5. MDN. You should read the article before you rattle off the same old anti-MS rant. He makes some good points in his blog posting. You complain about journalists not getting their facts right and spreading FUD with regards to Apple and then do exactly the same thing.

  6. If you’re going to quote, copy and paste: it’s “independent” and not independant.

    And I might as well address all the native English speakers who spell “definitely” as definately. I’ve seen it spelled wrong so many times that I’m afraid it might become accepted as common practice.

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