Gregory Varnum wrote:
>The Wikimedia Foundation entered into a short-term contract with Go Fish
>Digital to conduct a search engine optimization (SEO) audit on Wikipedia.
>They were contracted to provide information needed by the Audiences
>department to improve how our sites communicate with search engines and
>services which provide data to devices like artificial intelligence (AI)
>assistants. Overall, SEO performance is a strength of our projects, but
>we were able to identify areas for improvement, and the audit was helpful
>for Audiences to more effectively focus their efforts. During discussions
>about Wikimedia values and activities that were held in selecting the
>vendor, they did not disclose anything which raised suspicion, and we
>failed to identify this specific concern and question them about it more.

This is particularly bizarre since Google has, for years, special-cased
its handling of Wikimedia wikis. As far as I know, the standard Googlebot
crawler is not used for Wikimedia wikis, so it's very strange that a
standard "search engine optimization" company would be hired. Go Fish
Digital's online reputation management work is very prominently featured
on its Web site (, so I'm curious how the most basic
check by someone in the Audiences or Legal departments missed this.

>The Foundation's Legal department received the proposal after it had been
>approved by Audiences and drafted a contract for this agreement following
>standard procedures. This included a privacy review, which resulted in
>the inclusion of extra privacy and security protections in the contract.
>Their activities did not involve reputation management services, and they
>did not request or receive access to any Wikimedia user data. The
>contract concluded last month.

Will anyone from the Audiences or Legal departments be commenting on this
incident? Will anyone be outlining what steps will be taken to prevent a
repeat of this incident?

It appears that Go Fish Digital has whitewashed its own site, removing
"Wikipedia" from its list of "primary platforms that define your online
reputation" at <>.


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