For your information to distribute - have you seen this article culled from slashdot about Walmart knobbling wiki? I find this very sinister - I thought Wiki could guard against this sort of thing. If verified marks an important development, though hardly surprising.
http://www.whitedust.net/article/55/Wal-marts_Wikipedia_War/ By Richard Demsyn (Fri, 28 Apr 2006 12:37:58 +0100) For up to two years Wal-mart lobbyists have successfully waged a war against a fair viewpoint on Wikipedia's Wal-mart page. Although the Wal-mart page was originally highly critical of Wal-mart, it has slowly shifted to a very positive perspective. Although Wikipedia maintains a 'Neutral Point of View' (NPOV) policy, the Wal-mart page is highly biased. Additionally, all criticism has, contrary to policy, practice, and the general opinion of those concerned, been moved to a Debates Over Wal-mart section. Even that page has noticeable resistance to negative points of view about Wal-mart. My query into Wal-mart and Wikipedia started on Friday, April 14. I went to the page to find information on Wal-mart's union issues in Quebec, which had been a large issue in the media here. I found just one small entry on a timeline, saying '2004: Wal-Mart employees in JonquiÃ¨re, Quebec, Canada vote in favour of becoming the first unionized Wal-Mart in North America. Five months later, Wal-Mart announces that it would close the store, citing poor sales.' The corresponding page, Debates over Wal-mart, has no mention of the issue, or even Quebec at all. I found it very curios that such an important and popular issue was barely discussed. My first reaction was to think that Wal-mart, one of the largest and most powerful capitalist enterprises in the world, has lobbyists progressing the Wikipedia page into propaganda. Trying to be wary, I took some time to gather information and discuss the theory with others, and found nothing contrary to my original impression, and only evidence supporting it. Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopaedia. It uses a model of information where anybody can contribute. Although this leads to some vandalism and some disinformation, almost always an accurate and knowledgeable viewpoint prevails. The project has brought thousands of intelligent people devoted to its cause. The model is effective enough that my own user page was once vandalized, and then fixed by another user a single minute later, without me knowing for another three months. Rarely has there been enough interest in spreading disinformation to cause a lengthy disruption to an article. We usually see that contained to very controversial political issues, such as the page for President George W. Bush, particularly around the 2004 election. We've also seen numerous edits by US congressional staff. However, nothing I've seen before has been has been this bad: on an article so large, often visited, and been so successful so long after being discovered by the NPOV folk at Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page Wal-mart was originally small and haphazard. Starting in February 2004, there was a sharp increase in edits to the page. In September, 2004, the edit number ballooned, and since then has continued to grow. There has been a lot of work by Wikipedia regulars to bring fairness and quality to the article, but an equal disruptive force has been caused by lobbyists. Now, the page will have over a dozen edits on any average day. My own short experience with this article makes a fair example. After bringing up discussion on the topic in Wikipedia's generally IRC channel, a fellow user, Bogdangiusca, who had fought for a NPOV on the article as far back as May 1, 2005, added a totally disputed tag. This tag would mean that anyone visiting the page would see a red block at the top indicating that 'The neutrality and factual accuracy of this article are disputed'. This tag was removed the next day. The person who did so then defaced Bogdangiusca's user page with a long paragraph demanding that Bogdangiusca stop any contribution to the Wal-mart page. The user claimed to be an employee of Wal-mart and lamented, 'So why don’t you just keep to what you know and allow those that do have facts about walmart to create an accurate picture of walmart for the world.' This pattern has been repeated over and over again about the Wal-mart page. Many users struggling for a NPOV have had their pages defaced, and defacers have in the past been banned. So who are the lobbyists, and what do they look like? Unfortunately it is very difficult to prove that any one user is corrupted, let alone paid for this by a particular company, especially with only a few days of research. Sorting through thousands of edits and user contribution pages is not an easy task. A lot of these edits are done by anonymous users, just IPs to me. Some others actually have logins. Usually these accounts have very few edits other than on the Wal-mart page, and they have either blank user pages or simple statements. Sometimes they just edit out sentences that aren't favourable to Wal-mart. Sometimes they add more propaganda to the page. Sometimes they will follow an unfavourable mention with a revert, possibly back through several edits to a pro-Wal-mart addition. The simple fact that there is a separate Debates over Wal-mart page is incriminating. This isn't an accepted Wikipedia policy. In other articles contrary opinions are still embedded, even if at times the page will link to secondary articles on smaller topics if they cannot be explained in full on the current page. Any reference articles will be read less than the main article, so despite a link on Wal-mart to Debates over Wal-mart, the debates page will be read less. Even then, it is currently introduced with the following view: 'From a financial standpoint, Wal-Mart is one of the most successful corporations ever; the company has generated a total return to shareholders greater than 180,000% since its initial public offering. Academic research, business leaders and trade publications praise Wal-Mart for benefiting consumers by lowering prices and increasing Overall productivity.' Like many successful businesses, however, Wal-Mart is a target of much criticism. Critics, such as trade unions and environmental groups, state that the company's success derives from business practices harmful to employees, local communities, the economy and the environment.' After all analysis, Wal-mart is clearly 'point of view'. The page is highly supportive of Wal-mart, and lobbyists will not allow anything contrary to last. It reads like a propaganda piece. It is unprecedented that such support would come from random, untainted users. The support is aggressive, unfair, distributed, and over an extended period of time. The only conclusion I can make is that Wal-mart has used its economic power to hire lobbyists who as part of their job use Wikipedia to spread disinformation for the benefit of Wal-mart. This stands as a powerful strike against the very integrity of Wikipedia. *  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walmart *  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPOV *  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debates_over_Wal-Mar *  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4695376.stm *  http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wal-Mart&oldid=48427864 *  http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Bogdangiusca&oldid=48551041 *  http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wal-Mart&action=history http://www.whitedust.net/article/55/Wal-marts_Wikipedia_War/ -- ------------------------------------------------------------- "When the multitude detests a man, inquiry is necessary; when the multitude likes a man, inquiry is equally necessary." Confucius, Analects (circa 6th century BC) Or more pertinently: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin _______________________________________________ Futurework mailing list Futurework@fes.uwaterloo.ca http://fes.uwaterloo.ca/mailman/listinfo/futurework