These kinds of schemes are either busted and laughed at, or they work and we never hear about it. The art of disinformation will become even more specialized as the Web develops. In a world of viral marketing and electronic social networks, word-of-mouth has become more powerful than ever. It’s not too far a stretch to believe there are a lot more of these shenanigans going on than we know about.

Microsoft Corp. landed in the Wikipedia doghouse Tuesday after it offered to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced Web encyclopedia site.

While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.

“We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach,” Wales said.

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an open-source document standard and a rival format put forward by Microsoft.

Why didn’t Microsoft appeal directly to the Wikipedia editors if it truly felt it was an error? One irony here is that some feel it was IBM planting any negative information. HA.

  1. Kendall Brookfeld says:

    This seems like just another side of the shameless politicization of not just Wikipedia but lots of other web “references.” And no one is more political than the cults of open source and Apple (witness the comments on this site regarding the French and German pressure on Apple to open up iTunes).

    That Microsoft has to pay people to sleep with it is pathetic, but on the other hand there is a lot of other disinformation out there.

  2. Mike Caddick says:

    If the articles were legitimately inaccurate, then why the hell shouldn’t MS have them changed??
    If there was an entry about me I’d be a bit annoyed if people had knowingly added fake info about me to the wiki page too!

  3. Sundog says:

    2. I agree, I never use Wiki BECAUSE I want information I can depend on, and I just dont trust it.

  4. Kishore says:

    The comment from the guy from Microsoft who contacted Rick.


    [Please use embedded links or, long links break the site formatting. – Ed.]

  5. Spooof says:

    Doug Mchugh stepped up and set the record straight. This seems to be backed up my the wikipedia folks so there is nothing more to see folks… move along.

    PS this is a great example of how people jump on bits of information and blow it up into a conspiracy theory.

  6. sheva says:

    this sort of undercover advertising is old news, just look at apple

  7. Smartalix says:

    The problem is how to prevent it or at least supress it. The Web is chaotic enough without information warfare going on in the background.

  8. Greg Allen says:

    Anyone know of Microsoft violated the the Wikipedia user agreement?

    If not, it should be in there — that government and corporations (or their paid employees) are not allowed to participate in wikis without clear disclosure — or maybe not all all.

    BTW — wouldn’t it be a joy to see MS sued for violating a user license!

  9. Brian says:

    Oh come on, this is nothing new. Does anyone honestly think that MS is the only company doing this?

    And sue for MS for violating wikipedia’s EULA? God some people are desperate.

  10. Greg Allen says:

    >>And sue for MS for violating wikipedia’s EULA? God some people are desperate.

    Well, desperate to see MS finally get hoisted on their own petard!

    Their little “Fascist Lite” license agreements where they force you to sign-away all your rights by opening an envelope have been a pisser for years and are getting more pisser-ier with every upgrade.

    So, yeah, I would love to see MS get sued for violating a user agreement!

    Do I think it will happen? No. It would be sweet, though.

  11. Mr. Fusion says:

    #11, To see MS hoisted on their own petard would rank just one notch below great sex in my book. I say that for exactly the same reasons you mention.

    Need I say Great Point Greg?

  12. william says:

    Stop bashing Microsoft. You’re jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts. Microsoft was 100% open and transparent about what they did. They did the right thing.


    [Please use embedded links or tinyurl!!  –  Ed.]

  13. Not Mr. Fusion says:

    #13, OK, And I’m completely open about using a pirated version of MS XP. I didn’t pay for it, and of course, don’t have any intention of paying for it.

    Feel better now?

  14. Greg Allen says:

    #13 william

    Is MS paying you to advocate for them here? We know they do that sort of thing! ;-0

  15. James says:

    9, are you aware that Sun Microsystems did sue Microsoft for violoated a contract over Java, and won? Infact, thats one of the reasons .NET was pushed so hard. Microsoft added Java codes that were Windows specific (which completely goes against everything Java is about) and Sun hit them for roughly $1.6billion (IIRC) and forced MS to stop packaging Java with their products. Not the exact deal, but close enough.

    In fact, microsoft has been sued many times and it has changed nothing. What are a few petty lawsuits to a company that nets $30-40billion annually.


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