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Wikipedia bans editors suspected of being paid shills

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381 accounts believed to be "socks"--used by editors to make paid-for changes to the site--have been cast out.

A posting on the admin board explains how the Checkuser team exposed the dodgy accounts.

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There are 381 socks currently being blocked as a result of this investigation. All of the socks are linked by both technical data and behavioural evidence. The list of socks has been posted at Wikipedia:Long-term abuse/Orangemoody/Accounts. All of these blocks are checkuser blocks. They are being performed by EgressBot using a standardized block summary and user talk page template, so that reviewing administrators and editors will be able to identify that they are part of this group. A copy of the block summary and template is posted on the page listing the identified socks. Unblock requests can be brought to the attention of checkusers; this can be done by posting a link at the SPI talk page. It will take the blocking bot approximately an hour to complete all of the blocks; if for other behavioural reasons an administrator needs to block any of the accounts in the interim, the block will be superseded by the bot with the applicable summary and template. The same will apply to any accounts that have already been blocked.

The socks all exhibit at least one of the following behavioural traits:

"Article creation" socks create articles in draft space or user space mainly based on submissions to Articles for creation that had been declined, or articles that had been added to article space and deleted as being too promotional. These articles do not give proper attribution to the original authors. There are occasional variations to this process. Most of the articles created in this way have been moved to article space; a few are still in draft or user space.

"Helper" socks will usually complete a series of useless edits in order to be autoconfirmed. They then continue making gnoming-type edits that will periodically include the addition of spammy external links. Some of these socks also participate in Page Curation, and they will “mark reviewed” articles created by the other socks.

Examples of "useless edits" include adding {{italictitle}} or wiki-linking words like Asia and United States, or making minor formatting changes. The groups are not entirely distinct and some socks have acted as both article creators and helpers.

Here's the list of articles edited.

Top 10 Wikipedia articles containing the phrase "legend has it" and at least one cat

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Tory chairman accused of smearing party rivals' Wikipedia entries

Wikipedia says that Grant Shapps, the bullying, untruthful millionaire spam kingpin who chairs the UK Conservative Party is behind an account that vandalised the entries for senior party officials and edited out references to Shapps's spamming career.

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NYPD caught wikiwashing Wikipedia entries on police brutality


Anonymous users from NYPD's IP block have made questionable edits to the Wikipedia entries on high-profile police brutality victims including Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo.

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Wikimedia sues the NSA


The Wikimedia Foundation -- which oversees Wikipedia -- eight other organizations, and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit against the DoJ and the NSA, contesting the spy agency's program of mass "upstream" surveillance.

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Wikipedian corrects 15,000+ instances of "comprised of"

Bryan "Griaffedata" Henderson is on a mission to change every instance of "comprised of" to "composed of" or "consists of" -- and he's written a manifesto on the subject.

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Each day's top-viewed Wikipedia article in 2014

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What do Laverne Cox, Crimea, and Malware have in common? Each was a top-viewed Wikipedia article for at least one day in 2014.

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Senate IP address vandalizes Wikipedia to scrub "torture" from CIA torture report

An anonymous editor at 156.33.241.11 -- registered to the US Senate -- has repeatedly attempted to scrub the word "torture" from the Wikipedia entry from Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.

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Wikipedia: Deleted articles with freaky titles


"Cambodian scrotum theives," "Dating Rules From My Future Self,"Fake articles and entries in dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference books, lists, and directories as well as fictitious places, streets or other intentionally fake insertions in maps," "The Fax Machine Monster of Basildon,"

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Wikipedia bans Congressional IP address for transphobic vandalism (again)

A Congressional staffer, or someone with access to their network, has repeatedly modified Wikipedia articles to insert transphobic slurs, prompting the second month-long lockout for the Congressional IP address in less than a month.

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Brits trust Wikipedia more than the BBC, "serious" newspapers


According to a Yougov poll, 64% of Britons believe Wikipedia tells the truth "a great deal" or "a fair amount."

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Wikipedia's redesign prototype

Ed writes, "You know how every now and then a design studio releases a proposal for a redesign of Wikipedia? (there's a Wikipedia page listing them, of course)"

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Twitterbots that tweet anonymous Wikipedia edits from Parliament, Congress

The @parliamentedits account tweets anonymous edits to Wikipedia made from the UK parliament's IP block, and thanks to an open codebase, it's being adapted to watch other legislatures, including the US Congress.

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Anonymous edits to Norwegian Wikipedia from Norwegian government IPs


Here's Jari Bakken's collection of edits made to Norwegian Wikipedia from the IP range assigned to the Norwegian parliament and government offices.

Imagine how great it would be if all these Norwegian bureaucrats, wonks, officials and others declared their interest and made their efforts public, working with Norwegian wikipedians to improve the quality of the encyclopedia in the open.

Anonymous Wikipedia edits from the Norwegian parliament and government offices [Jari Bakken] (via Hacker News)

How Wikipedia can become a no-asshole-zone

Sumana writes, "I gave the opening keynote address at Wiki Conference USA last weekend, and told Wikipedians what needs to change to make the site friendlier and more hospitable. I mixed in wisdom from John Scalzi, XKCD, Hacker School, and the Ada Initiative. The transcript and a thirty-minute audio recording (Ogg) are now up."

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Jimmy Wales tells "energy workers" that Wikipedia won't publish woo, "the work of lunatic charlatans isn't the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'"


The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) set up a Change.org petition asking Wikipedia to make it easier to post crazy pseudo-science to Wikipedia, specifically information about "Energy Medicine, Energy Psychology, and specific approaches such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy, and the Tapas Acupressure Technique."

In response, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said "no," very emphatically. He told the petitioners that Wikipedia would continue to accept material published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, but would not "pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse.' It isn't."

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UC Berkeley gets its first Wikipedian in Residence

UC Berkeley has just appointed its first Wikipedian in Residence: Kevin Gorman, who has been a Wikipedia editor since he was a Berkeley undergraduate. Though some 50 cultural institutions -- libraries, museums and archives -- have Wikipedians in Residence, Gorman is the first to serve at an academic institution. His own work focuses on improving gender diversity and cultural diversity in Wikipedia editing, and he's assisting professors in crafting assignments that have students using and improving Wikipedia as part of their class-work.

When I was teaching at USC, I assigned my students to help improve Wikipedia articles by sourcing and footnoting facts in articles related to our lectures, and reviewed their contributions and the ensuing discussion in the articles' Talk pages as part of our weekly classes. It was a very satisfying exercise, especially as it ensured that the work of my students served some wider scholarly and social purpose, as opposed to term papers and exercises that no one -- not me, not the students -- would ever want to read after they were graded.

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