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Press Releases

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New German study on PR in Wikipedia

By Marvin Oppong

The case of Sarah Stierch has once again demonstrated that paid editing remains an issue with Wikipedia – not only in the English Wikipedia, but also in the German Wikipedia, the second-largest worldwide. Otto Brenner Stiftung, the scientific division of the German trade union IG Metall, the largest individual trade union in the world, published my study on covert PR in Wikipedia entitled “Covert PR in Wikipedia – companies set their sights on the knowledge of the world”.

Jimmy Wales with German Wikipedia book

The results of the study: PR and manipulation are omnipresent in Wikipedia. Not only companies, but also associations, federations, political parties and individuals are trying to improve their public images by editing the online encyclopaedia’s articles, in a number of ways. Intervention does not stop any of this effectively. Manipulation attempts were made in topics such as nuclear power, the history of companies, controversial political issues, cases of individual misconduct and the pharmaceutical industry. Whether multinational groups, Scientology members or the case of the PR agency Bell Pottinger – there are many instances of people trying to shed a new light on facts and figures. Additionally, the reported cases of covert PR in Wikipedia might only be the tip of the iceberg.

A copy of the study can be ordered free of charge from the Otto Brenner Stiftung website or downloaded. On the website relating to my study you will find all the reactions to this publication plus a download link. My research provoked fierce reactions in the German Wikipedia community. Some critics argued that my study had some “weak points”, was a “nonsense product” or was mere “entertainment journalism”. Other commenters, however, maintained that the issue of “PR in Wikipedia” was important, and they questioned

…continue reading New German study on PR in Wikipedia

Business as Usual

By Gregory Kohs

This blog post is one of a five-part series of investigative reports by Gregory Kohs, documenting conflicts of interest among individuals and organizations who have financial ties with the Wikimedia Foundation.

The first report is The Thin Bright line The second report is Wikipedia donors feel entitled to more than a mug or a tote bag The third report is Business as Usual The fourth report is Wikipedia’s Friends With Benefits The fifth report is Look who’s visiting the WMF

In previous weeks, Wikipediocracy uncovered the fact that many of the larger financial donors to the Wikipedia project have been modifying the purportedly “neutral” encyclopedia to reflect favorably on their own stories. Our investigative research was picked up by a very active thread on Slashdot, then followed by a feature story in The Daily Dot.

Thus far our research has centered on Wikimedia Foundation donors that one might describe as “mid-level” in their contribution amounts – ranging from $5,000 to $70,000. Today, our analysis turns to one of the largest donors ever to the so-called charity that operates Wikipedia. We’re talking about the Ruth and Frank Stanton Fund, or Stanton Foundation, which is a charitable trust set up by the former head of CBS and his wife, to carry out his philanthropic wishes in perpetuity. In 2008, the Stanton Foundation wrote a check for $860,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation. This donation would be increased to $1.15 million, and then followed in 2011 with another $3.6 million gift to support Wikipedia. We believe that no other single entity has given more money to the Wikimedia Foundation than the Stanton Foundation.

Because the Stanton Foundation is a bit mysterious, some background may be helpful to the reader. In 1991, former head of CBS Frank Stanton set up with his

…continue reading Business as Usual