Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2019-12-27/From the editors

Caught with their hands in the cookie jar, again: You can buy "cleaners" but you might not come away clean.


Our regular Editor-in-Chief, Smallbones, has been taking a well-deserved holiday around publishing time. Staffer Bri has filled in this month, and has approved the content of much of the December issue. Smallbones approved the content of this column.

In the latest addition to the long series of Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia incidents, The Wall Street Journal has written an article showing how a public relations firm has operated for years "cleaning" articles for paying clients. We have covered this WSJ article briefly at In the media, and examine their claims more closely in a Special report provided by Newslinger.

The community has faced this issue before, as documented in the article Wiki-PR editing of Wikipedia. Several community discussions about paid editing were held, including the 2014 Terms of Service change which required paid editors to declare their status for proper community oversight of their contributions.

Wiki-PR and its successor companies are community banned. The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) sent them a cease-and-desist letter in 2013,[1] yet the activity of Status Labs on English Wikipedia has continued; can we now consider those avenues to be ineffective? What is the WMF's next step?

This issue also has more reports of the use of Wiki pages as a battlefield for political viewpoints between UK newspapers. Other credible reports in the media this month are related to the biography for a US presidential candidate by one or more possibly connected people. Some of these details have been suppressed from our In the media report while under development, and we can't provide our readers as much information as we would have preferred. We wonder if the seemingly accelerating pace of these incidents will merit more changes in the future, by the community, the WMF, government regulators, or all three in concert.

In addition to the above, we have regular coverage of new content, readers' interests, on-Wiki discussions and debate, tech and research – as well as a touch of whimsy for a lighter side of the community. We hope you enjoy all of it and look forward to hearing back from you in the reader comments.


  1. ^ See WMF blog and Signpost