*Scroll.in : Wikipedia bans editor for consistent bias in favour of Arindam
Chaudhuri's IIPM*

*Wikipedia has **banned *
user from editing entries on the English version of its site for
consistently making changes in favour of the controversial New
Delhi-headquartered Indian Institute of Planning and Management.*

*A user called Wifione repeatedly added positive statements to and removed
critical ones from the Wikipedia pages of the institute and its dean,
Arindam Chaudhuri, an arbitration committee of the free collaborative
online encyclopaedia found on February 13. At the same time, Wifione added
negative material to and removed positive content from the pages of Amity
University, its dean Ashok Chauhan, and the Indian School of Business in
Hyderbad, the committee found.  Wifione might also have been managed by an
older user who was banned in 2009, it added.*

*“Wifione edited…in a manner consistent with attempts to optimise search
engine results [for the institute],” said the report of the committee,
whose members are elected by the community of Wikipedia editors, which
includes all those who have made at least 600 content changes and have been
active in the six months before the election.*

*Wifione is the user id of an anonymous person who had been editing
articles about the institute since 2009. Wifione was also an administrator,
a user whom the Wikipedia community believes can be trusted with
adjudicating contentious changes and mediating discussions. These are
voluntary positions. Wifione gave up administrator privileges just three
days before the committee decided to take them away.*

*The Indian Institute of Planning and Management has been at the centre of
several controversies. The University Grants Commission does not recognise
its degrees, but it has nevertheless sued news organisations for pointing
this out. In September, the Delhi High Court rapped the institute for
misleading students and restrained it from applying the terms MBA, BBA,
management course, management school, business school and B-school to its
course offerings.*

*Arindam Chaudhuri, the institute’s dean and owner, did not reply to an
email that Scroll.in sent him. There is no evidence that Chauhuri or IIPM
were associated with Wifione.*

*Years of complaints*

*Anyone can insert Wikipedia entries or make changes to existing ones as
long as the person maintains neutrality, the online encyclopedia's main
founding principle. But bias is not always easy to determine.*

*If bias is hard to prove, the reasons for it, such as conflicts of
interest or commissions, are even harder to establish. Indeed, Wikipedia
focuses on ensuring its entries are neutral and does not usually delve into
the causes of bias.*

*“The basis for an investigation is only the evidence online on Wikipedia,”
said Tinu Cherian Abraham, a Wikipedia administrator in Bangalore. “So
whitewashing may be visible but personal motivations are hard to prove.”*

*For years, many users have been questioning Wifione’s editing of the
institute’s entry. Several people had even confronted Wifione on talk
pages, which are pages associated with entries on which the public can
discuss editorial changes. Many users attempted to restore what they
thought was balance, but several administrators, including Wifione, did not
allow them to do so.*

*In 2011, for example, Utkarshraj Atmaram, another administrator, pointed
out biases in Wifione’s editing, and lobbied for changes. But other editors
accused Atmaram, who was then a student at the competing SP Jain Institute
of Management and Research in Mumbai, of also being biased. Atmaram, who
uses his real name on the website, then withdrew from the editorial

*Another user called makrandjoshi persistently attempted to insert on the
institute's page references to unflattering articles about published in the
New Delhi-based monthly magazine, The Caravan, and other publications. But
administrators suspended this user for his aggressive focus on the
institute’s page and a possible bias against it. Administrators have the
power to suspend users for temporary periods to deter slanted editing.*

*Finally, in December 2013, the case caught the eye of Wikipediocracy, a
website that acts as a watchdog for Wikipedia. It wrote an explosive **post*
analysing all of Wifione’s changes. Several news organisations then wrote
about Wikipedia’s reluctance to address the issue. Still nothing happened,
probably because decision-making in Wikipedia is so dispersed and no one
has a big stake in pursuing such cases.*

*Finally, in January 2014, Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, took a stand
after users on his talk page informed him of the Wikpediocracy article. “It
would be best if he just doesn't come back,” **he said*
referring to Wifione. But it took another year for an arbitration committee
to convene to investigate the case.*

*Proxy editing*

*After its month-long investigation, the committee also found that Wifione
was linked to two other user accounts that administrators had earlier
flagged for bias.*

*One of these was Mrinal Pandey. In 2008, administrators had suspended this
user for a year for **running 41 accounts*
known in Wikipedia jargon as “sock puppets”. At least nine of those
accounts were actively involved in making edits on the Indian Institute of
Planning and Management page, the committee said, adding that it suspected
that Wifione was one of them. Wikipedia does not allow users to create
multiple identities for improper purposes.*

*Then in June 2009, an arbitration committee emailed an administrator named
nichalp saying that this user was behind another account that had accepted
money to slant several entries, but the committee did not name any person
or organisation.*

*Nichalp has revealed that he was a 26-year-old from Mumbai. He has been
editing on Wikipedia soon after its launch. But five months ago, nichalp
had marked his account as inactive and did not reply to the committee’s
email message. It **suspended*
nichalp’s administrator privileges and banned the proxy account.*

*Death threats*

*Discussions about content, carried out on talk pages, can turn nasty. For
instance, an anonymous user **posted*
a warning on user makrandjoshi’s page, saying that he might get death
threats for consistently speaking out against Chaudhuri’s institute.*

*In a unique case on the Marathi site, users who disagreed with an
administrator’s decisions tracked down his internet protocol address and
said they knew where he worked. The administrator resigned.*

*“I don’t blame the person for backing off,” said Abhay Natu, an
administrator on Marathi Wikipedia. “We do this work out of passion, but we
want no physical risk to ourselves or our families. Forget Wikipedia norms,
these threats go against social norms.”*

*He pointed out that bias arose not just from paid users. It could stem
from a desire to advance a certain socio-economic agenda or out of personal

*Another administrator of the Marathi site, who was not a native speaker,
incurred the wrath of the community for banning people who he felt were
causing trouble on edits. The rest of the community ganged up on him, and
made things so uncomfortable for him that he moved to English and other
foreign language Wikipedia sites.*

*“The community needs to be honest with itself,” said Natu. “It is
important to air our dirty laundry. Wifione’s case has come to light. But
there may be others that we don’t know about. People should not say that we
should keep it within the community because these are our people. That will
hinder Wikipedia’s progress.”*

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