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Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation? 
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Unread post Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Interesting Kazakhstan related post on Jimbo's talk page. Worth reproducing in full:
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Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation

Hello Jimbo,

I found myself interested in a man named Alexander Mirtchev after reading an article about the enablers of the dictatorship of Kazakhstan in the United States. I did some research and found that Mr. Mirtchev has been investigated for money laundering (in an article by the Wall Street Journal[1] ) and has been identified as the dictator's "point man" in Washington DC. I cited the Wall Street Journal (twice), Der Spiegel, Forbes, and The Human Rights Foundation as my sources. But this is only the beginning of the story.

My edits were almost immediately removed by a brand new user. We went back and forth debating the content of the article, but after a while, I lost interest—I do have a job after all and I can't spend all day arguing on Wikipedia. When I came back to check on the page a couple months later, I noticed that the page looked like a blatant advertisement. I also noticed some similarities between the half-dozen single-purpose accounts created to edit his page.

I launched a sockpuppet investigation on the 31st of January[2]. The results came back positive, and the CheckUsers were able to identify several other accounts that edit on the same IP address. After reviewing the contributions of some of the usernames identified, it became clear that these were all sockpuppets of the PR company Qorvis.

In case you are unfamiliar, this is from Qorvis's Wikipedia page:

"In early February 2011, three of Qorvis's partners left the firm disgruntled by compensation; however, they later attributed it to the company's controversial work with foreign governments. A former employee, Don Goldberg, who represented Saudi Arabia and Halliburton while at the firm, was reported as saying, 'I just have trouble working with despotic dictators killing their own people.'"

Some of the usernames involved:

RachelleLin edits exclusively Alexander Mirtchev, a man accused by the Wall Street Journal of laundering money for the dictator of Kazakhstan[3] and a man who directs the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan — also, a known client of Qorvis[4]
RichardBr2 is just a weak attempt at sockpuppetry working for the Mirtchev page.
Msgolightly212 is another editor that adds puffery to Mirtchev's page and removes anything negative, no matter how well sourced.
Harriett888 edits exclusively Qorvis's page, removes all negative information, and hid the negative information he/she couldn't remove under the Bahrain section at the very end of the page.
Sacoca edits exclusively Tom Squitieri, an employee of Qorvis.

I understand you are familiar with the ethical blindness of PR firms like Bell Pottinger[5]—a company to which Qorvis subcontracts some of its dirtiest work[6] including covering up the actions of Bahrain and Yemen. This is not the first time Qorvis has been caught editing Wikipedia[7]

I am a huge fan of the Wikipedia project and I would hate to see it corrupted by lobbyists and PR firms, hoping to erase the evils done by dictatorships. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. KazakhBT (talk) 22:40, 26 February 2013 (UTC)


Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:10 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
I have added this to the Kazakh WP notes. Qorvis keeps popping up in unexpected places.

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Mirtchev (represented by Qorvis) is an "independent director of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund of Kazakhstan", which is the organization that funds WikiBilim, which is headed by Jimbo Wales' Wikipedian of the Year 2011.

That was easy.

So, if Jimbo goes after Qorvis, he's going to be a thorn in his own side.

:popcorn:

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Mirtchev (represented by Qorvis) is an "independent director of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund of Kazakhstan", which is the organization that funds WikiBilim, which is headed by Jimbo Wales' Wikipedian of the Year 2011.

That was easy.

So, if Jimbo goes after Qorvis, he's going to be a thorn in his own side.

:popcorn:


The fact that the sole funder of Wikibilim and the Kazakh Wikipedia is the Kazakh government, appears to elude Wales.
Quote:
Isn't Qorvis connected to WikiBilim, headed by Jimbo's choice for Wikipedian of the Year in 2011? I would be interested in Jimbo's take on Kazakhstan's editing of Wikipedia, not just in English, as he apparently has some kind of personal connection with the issue. Cla68 (talk) 05:17, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

According to google there is no link between Qorvis and Wikibilim. If you have other information, please present it in a separate thread, as I'd like to keep this thread focussed on Qorvis.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


He then "hatted" that conversation with a falsehood.

Quote:
To avoid a useless conversation, I'm hatting one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken, we should discuss the issue in a separate thread so as to not divert attention from the Qorvis issue--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


This is one of those cases where he's either being dishonest, or he's simply not very bright. The fact that the Kazakh government funds all this stuff via its sovereign wealth fund is not in dispute, by anyone. Dictatorships that are lucky enough to have things like sovereign wealth funds routinely direct some of their assets towards purely political goals and projects -- in this case, Wikibilim and the Kazakh language Wikipedia it controls.


Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:16 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
DanMurphy wrote:
thekohser wrote:
Mirtchev (represented by Qorvis) is an "independent director of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund of Kazakhstan", which is the organization that funds WikiBilim, which is headed by Jimbo Wales' Wikipedian of the Year 2011.

That was easy.

So, if Jimbo goes after Qorvis, he's going to be a thorn in his own side.

:popcorn:


The fact that the sole funder of Wikibilim and the Kazakh Wikipedia is the Kazakh government, appears to elude Wales.
Quote:
Isn't Qorvis connected to WikiBilim, headed by Jimbo's choice for Wikipedian of the Year in 2011? I would be interested in Jimbo's take on Kazakhstan's editing of Wikipedia, not just in English, as he apparently has some kind of personal connection with the issue. Cla68 (talk) 05:17, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

According to google there is no link between Qorvis and Wikibilim. If you have other information, please present it in a separate thread, as I'd like to keep this thread focussed on Qorvis.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


He then "hatted" that conversation with a falsehood.

Quote:
To avoid a useless conversation, I'm hatting one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken, we should discuss the issue in a separate thread so as to not divert attention from the Qorvis issue--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


This is one of those cases where he's either being dishonest, or he's simply not very bright. The fact that the Kazakh government funds all this stuff via its sovereign wealth fund is not in dispute, by anyone. Dictatorships that are lucky enough to have things like sovereign wealth funds routinely direct some of their assets towards purely political goals and projects -- in this case, Wikibilim and the Kazakh language Wikipedia it controls.



1. Alexander Mirtchev is the Independent Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Kazakhstan’s $30 billion National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna.
2. Samruk Kazyna sponsored WikiBilim's expansion of the Kazakh Wikipedia, with funding of $340,000 spent in part on paid editing (71 contracts signed), digitization of documents, and conversion of the licensing rights of the "official" state-authored Kazakh encyclopedia, so that it could be copied (largely verbatim) into the Kazakh Wikipedia. Samruk Kazyna awarded 100 laptop computers to editors for transcribing articles within a given time frame and written to "a satisfactory level".
3. Mirtchev is a client of Qorvis, who have been caught editing the Wikipedia article about him.

The connection seems pretty strong to me.

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Peter Damian wrote:
DanMurphy wrote:
thekohser wrote:
Mirtchev (represented by Qorvis) is an "independent director of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund of Kazakhstan", which is the organization that funds WikiBilim, which is headed by Jimbo Wales' Wikipedian of the Year 2011.

That was easy.

So, if Jimbo goes after Qorvis, he's going to be a thorn in his own side.

:popcorn:


The fact that the sole funder of Wikibilim and the Kazakh Wikipedia is the Kazakh government, appears to elude Wales.
Quote:
Isn't Qorvis connected to WikiBilim, headed by Jimbo's choice for Wikipedian of the Year in 2011? I would be interested in Jimbo's take on Kazakhstan's editing of Wikipedia, not just in English, as he apparently has some kind of personal connection with the issue. Cla68 (talk) 05:17, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

According to google there is no link between Qorvis and Wikibilim. If you have other information, please present it in a separate thread, as I'd like to keep this thread focussed on Qorvis.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


He then "hatted" that conversation with a falsehood.

Quote:
To avoid a useless conversation, I'm hatting one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken, we should discuss the issue in a separate thread so as to not divert attention from the Qorvis issue--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


This is one of those cases where he's either being dishonest, or he's simply not very bright. The fact that the Kazakh government funds all this stuff via its sovereign wealth fund is not in dispute, by anyone. Dictatorships that are lucky enough to have things like sovereign wealth funds routinely direct some of their assets towards purely political goals and projects -- in this case, Wikibilim and the Kazakh language Wikipedia it controls.



1. Alexander Mirtchev is the Independent Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Kazakhstan’s $30 billion National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna.
2. Samruk Kazyna sponsored WikiBilim's expansion of the Kazakh Wikipedia, with funding of $340,000 spent in part on paid editing (71 contracts signed), digitization of documents, and conversion of the licensing rights of the "official" state-authored Kazakh encyclopedia, so that it could be copied (largely verbatim) into the Kazakh Wikipedia. Samruk Kazyna awarded 100 laptop computers to editors for transcribing articles within a given time frame and written to "a satisfactory level".
3. Mirtchev is a client of Qorvis, who have been caught editing the Wikipedia article about him.

The connection seems pretty strong to me.

Or simpler still: "The man who holds the purse strings of Wikibilim and the Kazakh Wikipedia appears to have hired a PR and lobbying company to secretly whitewash the English language Wikipedia article about him. What might he be directing his employees to do at the Kazakh Wikipedia?"


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Jimbo says: "...one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken..."

Why doesn't someone tell him that he is mistaken?

Perhaps wait until Google crawls the page Qorvis is connected to WikiBilim.

(Furthermore, why is Google not returning this very thread in its search results for "qorvis wikibilim", despite those words appearing here for at least 14 hours now?)

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Jimbo says: "...one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken..."

Why doesn't someone tell him that he is mistaken?

Perhaps wait until Google crawls the page Qorvis is connected to WikiBilim.

(Furthermore, why is Google not returning this very thread in its search results for "qorvis wikibilim", despite those words appearing here for at least 14 hours now?)

The bot has been visiting and crawling everything, so I dunno why either.
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Jimbo says: "...one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken..."

Why doesn't someone tell him that he is mistaken?

Perhaps wait until Google crawls the page Qorvis is connected to WikiBilim.

(Furthermore, why is Google not returning this very thread in its search results for "qorvis wikibilim", despite those words appearing here for at least 14 hours now?)

That's a fascinating use of proof by Google search. How bizarre, Jimbo.

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Jimbo says: "...one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken..."

Why doesn't someone tell him that he is mistaken?


Done. I guess there are a few reasons to keep my Wikipedia account open.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Cla68 wrote:
thekohser wrote:
Jimbo says: "...one remark that appears to be in factual error. You can click to see my response. If I'm mistaken..."

Why doesn't someone tell him that he is mistaken?


Done. I guess there are a few reasons to keep my Wikipedia account open.

Jimbo's reply (emphases mine):

Quote:
(As I said above, I welcome this discussion, so I've editing remark to remove your false accusation of 'hiding the assertion'. I asked you to bring me information in a different thread so as to avoid hijacking the other thread, which is much more important.) This is a different topic and deserves a different thread. Let me see if I understand what you are saying. Alexander Mirtchev is a member of the board of directors of the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan, an organization with $78 billion in assets (not the $30 billion you mention) which amounts to 56% of the GDP of Kazakhstan. He is a client (in a personal capacity?) of Qorvis, who are accused (probably rightly) of inappropriate editing of Wikipedia. And that same sovereign wealth fund gave a grant to Wikibilim. And on the basis of this you are saying that Qorvis is liked to Wikibilim? I think that's a stretch. It's like arguing that the Wikimedia Foundation is linked to a PR company hired by an independent director of Microsoft (for example) if Microsoft has donated money to Wikimedia. We can expect that large grantmaking organizations will have members of their boards of directors with many connections to all sorts of things.

At the same time, let me be clear about several things. 1. It is wildly inappropriate what Qorvis appears to have done here and I strongly support acknowledging what appears to me to be an emerging community consensus that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with more firmly. 2. My own view is that we should clearly and passionately ban paid editing in the article space, and we should improve community processes to improve the ability PR people to participate appropriately through open self-identification and editing of talk pages. 3. Wikibilim should continue to make it clear that grants from any organization must come with no content restrictions. 4. The real issue with National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna is not what PR firm for one of their board members have done, but their close ties to an autocratic regime which has engaged in repeated and systematic human rights abuses. It's not wise to focus on the side issues. It's extremely problematic that Wikibilim has received funding from them, despite the fact that as far as anyone has been able to show, their money has com without restrictions, and again, not because of unrelated issues having to do with one of their directors.--[[User:Jimbo Wales|Jimbo Wales]] ([[User talk:Jimbo Wales#top|talk]]) 01:41, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
A 2009 Qorvis press release about Mirtchev describes him as follows:
Quote:
Dr. Mirtchev is President of Krull Corp., a Washington-based consultancy. He is also an independent director of Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund of Kazakhstan, and serves as senior economic adviser to the country's Prime Minister.

In 2009, that would have been Karim Massimov (T-H-L), whose picture adorns the WikiBilim website.

It's a tenuous link, perhaps, given that on the one hand we have a PR agency prettifying Mirtchev's Wikipedia article, and on the other hand, we have Massimov supporting the Kazakh Wikipedia—there need not be any direct connection between the former and the latter—but still, Wikipedia is clearly on the radar of the Kazakh leadership (or at least their PR agents), who see Wikipedia as something worth spending time on in order to upgrade the Kazakh government's image.

Independent reports that PR firms acting for the Kazakh government were "tinkering" with Wikipedia date back to at least January 2012.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation said a while back that Qorvis work for the Kazakh government:
Quote:
Kazakhstan is exhibit A in what HRF calls the “post-modern dictatorship.” The post-modern dictator doesn’t use firing squads to eliminate opponents, or operate vast gulags. He is subtle in cultivating a climate of fear, allowing some degree of free speech and private property. His goal is to avoid comparisons with North Korea or Cuba and to pass muster as an “evolving democracy” that is “undergoing reforms.” Post-modern dictators love the façade of elections—in Kazakhstan they are rigged from start to finish and recently provided Nazarbayev 95.5% of the vote. They often cooperate with the world’s liberal democracies on major issues such as “the war on terror,” all the while terrorizing their own people. [...]

In the case of Kazakhstan, the president-for-life and his agents are listed as having hired several firms to do his bidding: BGR Public Relations, Qorvis Communications, Global Options Group, APCO Worldwide, and Policy Impact Communications. Beyond these PR mercenaries, post-modern dictators also use individuals who do not operate as lobbyists, but rather as advisors and fixers. Tony Blair recently sealed a Kazakh contract for $13 million, wherein the former British prime minister is expected to “help buff Nazarbayev’s personal image internationally.” He subsequently doubled the windfall. Prince Andrew was considerably cheaper—his payoff came in the form of a £3 million real estate overpayment for his old house.

In Washington, DC Nazarbayev has employed the well-connected Alexander Mirtchev, a member of the Atlantic Council’s executive committee, senior scholar at the Wilson Center, and confidant to the former Singaporean dictator Lee Kuan Yew. According to a Wall Street Journal investigation, Mirtchev was paid millions to manage the enormous ill-gotten fortune of the Nazarbayev clan and help the dictator spy on opposition activists. In a separate investigation reported in The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department and the Manhattan District Attorney suspected that Mirtchev laundered money for a crooked Russian oligarch. The investigations appear to have stopped and the media trail goes cold as of 2008. Officially, he is on Nazarbayev’s payroll as a director of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund. Despite copies of payments to Mirtchev his lawyers deny all of the negative publicity and claim a conspiracy to besmirch his good name.

Article touching on the use of sockpuppets by PR companies, with a mention of Qorvis and BGR Gabara, another firm also working for the Kazakh government (watch the video!).


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Notice that when Jimbo says this:
Quote:
And on the basis of this you are saying that Qorvis is liked to Wikibilim? I think that's a stretch. It's like arguing that the Wikimedia Foundation is linked to a PR company hired by an independent director of Microsoft (for example) if Microsoft has donated money to Wikimedia. We can expect that large grantmaking organizations will have members of their boards of directors with many connections to all sorts of things.

...he conveniently leaves out of his analogy the condition that the Microsoft PR company would also have been editing Wikipedia to make Microsoft look better.

As always, he's a weasel.

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Cla68 wrote:
Done. I guess there are a few reasons to keep my Wikipedia account open.

No longer. You have just been indefinitely blocked (for an unrelated matter).


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Notice that when Jimbo says this:
Quote:
And on the basis of this you are saying that Qorvis is liked to Wikibilim? I think that's a stretch. It's like arguing that the Wikimedia Foundation is linked to a PR company hired by an independent director of Microsoft (for example) if Microsoft has donated money to Wikimedia. We can expect that large grantmaking organizations will have members of their boards of directors with many connections to all sorts of things.

...he conveniently leaves out of his analogy the condition that the Microsoft PR company would also have been editing Wikipedia to make Microsoft look better.

My thoughts exactly.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
For whatever it's worth, a guy who says he works for Qorvis (and I have no reason to doubt him) says it's not them.

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@bungdan This is not Qorvis. I am afraid you are confused.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
The Qorvis guy who contacted me has just written his own Wikipedia criticism (which he tweeted at me). He once signed up to edit Wikipedia as QorvisEditor (T-C-L).
Quote:
The Qorvis Communications article on Wikipedia can be a real yarn. The entry contains silly conspiracy theories, competitor-fed information, and false data from opponents of our clients. At various points in time, the article has stated that Qorvis retains robots, hires hundreds of Wikipedia editors, and that our CEO is known as “The Super Gypsy” among the Washington elite. These statements are quite obviously false—and damaging to our company, clients, and the public...

Within minutes of signing up, I was blocked by established editors for personally representing the interests of the firm—not for editing anything incorrectly, mind you. This action prevented me from having any direct interaction with any editor in the future, and thus prevented me from providing any first-hand information to any editor. This action also prevents any other Wikipedia editor from having a direct dialogue with the firm.

This inane policy would violate the basic tenets of even the most partisan of small-town newspapers or the most crooked court rooms. This dangerous policy violates the fundamental rules of reporting, of debate, and of discussion. Oddly, Wikipedia admits this, stating in its own terms that it is a “privilege to edit this privately owned website. Any legal right you may have to freedom of speech does not prevent us from enacting and enforcing our own policies and guidelines.”


He made a grand total of 5 edits to Wikipedia yesterday. Four to his talk page, one to the sockpuppet page that alleged that group of editor's worked for his firm. He wrote:

Quote:
*This is QorvisEditor, the official editor of Qorvis Communications. The handles identified above are not related to Qorvis Communications. If you would ever like to ask us directly please feel free to do so at "info at qorvis dot com"


He was blocked 11 minutes later for violation of the stupid username policy (paging Victuallers (T-C-L)). A few hours later his block was "upgraded."

Quote:
Since you have made the very strange decision to edit from an open proxy while insisting that you are not a sockpuppet, I have chosen to upgrade your block from soft to hard. You may now consider yourself blocked for abusing multiple accounts, I would advise the reviewing administrator to deny the unblock request. Someguy1221 (talk) 01:12, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


He asked for an unblock, but sadly his request was denied.

Quote:
Request reason:
The purpose of this handle is not to edit pages but to provide a direct link for questions that wikipedia editors may have

Decline reason:
This rationale provides absolutely no reason to unblock this account. Kinu t/c 06:00, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


Whatever Qorvis gets up to already on Wikipedia, if they haven't been doing what they're accused of so far, it seems they've been given little choice but to start. Wikipedia: A Cache-22 wrapped in an enigma of a paradox.


Last edited by DanMurphy on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Matt J. Lauer's blog post, The problem with Wikipedia, is here.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
HRIP7 wrote:
Matt J. Lauer's blog post, The problem with Wikipedia, is here.

Oh, shit. I put in the wrong link. Fixed it now. Thanks for catching it.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Quote:
Since you have made the very strange decision to edit from an open proxy while insisting that you are not a sockpuppet, I have chosen to upgrade your block from soft to hard. You may now consider yourself blocked for abusing multiple accounts, I would advise the reviewing administrator to deny the unblock request. Someguy1221 (talk) 01:12, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


I am developing a theory that on Wikipedia, the latest and greatest way to get rid of an editor with an unwanted point of view is to accuse that they're "editing from an open proxy", and then send them off to Ban-ville.

Excuse my French, but why the fuck would a CheckUser have been run on the QorvisEditor account? (Or, am I misunderstanding Someguy1221?)

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Quote:
Since you have made the very strange decision to edit from an open proxy while insisting that you are not a sockpuppet, I have chosen to upgrade your block from soft to hard. You may now consider yourself blocked for abusing multiple accounts, I would advise the reviewing administrator to deny the unblock request. Someguy1221 (talk) 01:12, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


I am developing a theory that on Wikipedia, the latest and greatest way to get rid of an editor with an unwanted point of view is to accuse that they're "editing from an open proxy", and then send them off to Ban-ville.

Excuse my French, but why the fuck would a CheckUser have been run on the QorvisEditor account? (Or, am I misunderstanding Someguy1221?)

CheckUser can prove nothing, and it's often used for fishing expeditions, no matter what the Wikipedia hierarchy may claim. It is, as you suggest, just a convenient way of constructing an excuse to get rid of an unwelcome editor.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
DanMurphy wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Matt J. Lauer's blog post, The problem with Wikipedia, is here.

Oh, shit. I put in the wrong link. Fixed it now. Thanks for catching it.

Jimbo has now also found the post (probably because Matt Lauer tweeted it at him):
Quote:
This response from Qorvis is relevant here - I'm travelling home today and I don't have time to look at this right now. If we could write up a solid NPOV summary of what Qorvis did, that would likely be very useful in terms of responding to them.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 11:18, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
I wonder whether Jimmy Wales is aware that Lauer said on Wikipedia (as QorvisEditor (T-H-L)) and Twitter that the blocked accounts are unrelated to his company, and whether the checkusers have any solid evidence (other than behavioural) to tie the accounts to Qorvis. If Lauer is right, then the only thing Qorvis have done is to come to Wikipedia to respond to allegations made against them (for which they were immediately blocked).


Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:06 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Lauer has sent out a press release:
Quote:
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Matt J. Lauer, partner of Qorvis Communications, LLC and president of Qorvis Geopolitical Solutions, highlighted emerging sourcing challenges for corporations, individuals and organizations when contributing to Wikipedia.

Lauer points out that by not allowing primary sources to contribute directly to the articles, the policy results in many articles on the site that are inaccurate or even blatantly false.

Lauer claims that by refusing to converse with primary sources, Wikipedia's policy violates the fundamental rules of reporting, of debate, and of discussion. Lauer stresses the importance of getting beyond the rumors of social media for Wikipedia to become a first-rate dependable reference site.

To read Lauer's post, click here: http://qorvis.com/blog/problem-wikipedia

About Qorvis Communications, LLC

Qorvis Communications is one of the nation's largest independent, integrated communications firms. Formed in August 2000, Qorvis provides its clients with expertise in the areas of public and media relations, advertising, public affairs, investor relations and financial services communications, grassroots campaigns, Internet-based campaigns, digital media strategies, online reputation management, and research and opinion surveys. For more information, visit http://www.qorvis.com, contact info@qorvis.com or follow us on Twitter: @qorvis.

SOURCE Qorvis Communications, LLC


Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:33 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
It would appear that the whole Cla68 vs. Russavia/Bibby flap gave Wikipedians permission to derail the conversation about Qorvis, and so Jimbo's key request will go unfulfilled, forgotten. Probably exactly what Jimbo wanted to happen -- it gets him off the hook.

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Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:51 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Thanks to Cla68 and a mystery IP editor, the Jimbo v. Qorvis issue just got interesting again.

:popcorn:

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Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:39 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Now Jimbo ups the ante, with a request to receive more information privately... "email me". Must be getting close to his Kazakhstani buddies, if he seems uncomfortable to keep this particular discussion out in the open.





Somewhat related, if Tom Squitieri (T-H-L) wasn't authored by Qorvis employee Tom Squitieri, I would eat my hat.

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Now Jimbo ups the ante, with a request to receive more information privately... "email me"...


Jimbo wrote:
...explain to me what happened could email me, and I can make the decision what to do about it.

Did ya hear that everyone, Jimbo's gonna take care of it. :bored:


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
HRIP7 wrote:
Matt J. Lauer's blog post, The problem with Wikipedia, is here.

Lauer laments in his blog that Wikipedia has said:
Quote:
...that our CEO is known as “The Super Gypsy” among the Washington elite. These statements are quite obviously false—and damaging to our company, clients, and the public.


That particular edit came from an IP address assigned to Hostname: gw20.qorvisnet.com.

:facepalm:

I think that this Lauer guy -- indeed, the whole Qorvis company -- could stand to sit through a 90-minute seminar on "How to Manipulate Wikipedia: Without Looking Stupid". For a fee, I'd be willing to present this to them, and then donate their blood money to a charity.

Dan Murphy, is Lauer a friend of yours, or just a contact you have?

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Matt J. Lauer's blog post, The problem with Wikipedia, is here.

Lauer laments in his blog that Wikipedia has said:
Quote:
...that our CEO is known as “The Super Gypsy” among the Washington elite. These statements are quite obviously false—and damaging to our company, clients, and the public.


That particular edit came from an IP address assigned to Hostname: gw20.qorvisnet.com.

:facepalm:

I think that this Lauer guy -- indeed, the whole Qorvis company -- could stand to sit through a 90-minute seminar on "How to Manipulate Wikipedia: Without Looking Stupid". For a fee, I'd be willing to present this to them, and then donate their blood money to a charity.

Dan Murphy, is Lauer a friend of yours, or just a contact you have?

No friend of mine and we've never spoken. He just contacted me on twitter.


Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:09 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
Somewhat related, if Tom Squitieri (T-H-L) wasn't authored by Qorvis employee Tom Squitieri, I would eat my hat.

Whoever Sacoca (T-C-L) is, he's been blocked as a sock of RachelleLin. Who was messing with the Mirtchev article.
Posted on the SPI more than a week ago:
Quote:
I'll go through each username to make the case.

RachelleLin edits exclusively Alexander Mirtchev, a man accused by the Wall Street Journal of laundering money for the dictator of Kazakhstan[5] and a man who directs the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan — also, a known client of Qorvis[6]
RichardBr2 is just a weak attempt at sockpuppetry working for the Mirtchev page.
Msgolightly212 is another editor that adds puffery to Mirtchev's page and removes anything negative, no matter how well sourced.
Harriett888 edits exclusively Qorvis's page, removes all negative information, and hid the negative information he/she couldn't remove under the Bahrain section at the very end of the page.
Sacoca edits exclusively Tom Squitieri, an employee of Qorvis.

As for all the other users and their edits, I can only assume that they are editing for clients or employees of Qorvis. This looks to me like a juicy story for a journalist... KazakhBT (talk) 20:49, 25 February 2013 (UTC)


Yeah, they're stupid. On both sides.

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
thekohser wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Matt J. Lauer's blog post, The problem with Wikipedia, is here.

Lauer laments in his blog that Wikipedia has said:
Quote:
...that our CEO is known as “The Super Gypsy” among the Washington elite. These statements are quite obviously false—and damaging to our company, clients, and the public.


That particular edit came from an IP address assigned to Hostname: gw20.qorvisnet.com.

Some interesting edits by to Upper Big Branch Mine disaster (T-H-L) by that IP. Let's see, who owns that mine? Massey Energy (T-H-L). Are they (by any chance) a client of Qorvis? Why yes, they are.

Makes you wonder what you'd find if you took a close look, doesn't it?


Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:56 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Malleus wrote:
thekohser wrote:
Quote:
Since you have made the very strange decision to edit from an open proxy while insisting that you are not a sockpuppet, I have chosen to upgrade your block from soft to hard. You may now consider yourself blocked for abusing multiple accounts, I would advise the reviewing administrator to deny the unblock request. Someguy1221 (talk) 01:12, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


I am developing a theory that on Wikipedia, the latest and greatest way to get rid of an editor with an unwanted point of view is to accuse that they're "editing from an open proxy", and then send them off to Ban-ville.

Excuse my French, but why the fuck would a CheckUser have been run on the QorvisEditor account? (Or, am I misunderstanding Someguy1221?)

CheckUser can prove nothing, and it's often used for fishing expeditions, no matter what the Wikipedia hierarchy may claim. It is, as you suggest, just a convenient way of constructing an excuse to get rid of an unwelcome editor.

Your right Malleus. The check user tools basically a crappy way to display a messy log that forces the user to try and interpret the garbage. If a user is very active like you or I was and particularly if they frequently edit from different places (Home, work, coffee shops, metro terminals, etc.) it gets extremely difficult to parse through and even easier to make the assumption that the editor is using socks or multiple accounts. In fact if 2 editors live in the same house and edit with different accounts the tool thinks its the same person, and they are blamed as sockpuppets.


Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:35 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Kumioko wrote:
Your right Malleus. The check user tools basically a crappy way to display a messy log that forces the user to try and interpret the garbage. If a user is very active like you or I was and particularly if they frequently edit from different places (Home, work, coffee shops, metro terminals, etc.) it gets extremely difficult to parse through and even easier to make the assumption that the editor is using socks or multiple accounts. In fact if 2 editors live in the same house and edit with different accounts the tool thinks its the same person, and they are blamed as sockpuppets.

If two people work for the same company, and hence share a proxy server, they're obviously the same person as well according to the infallible checkusers.


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Matt J. Lauer of Qorvis is our newest member.

Let's all give him our traditional Wikipediocracy welcome!

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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Zoloft wrote:
Matt J. Lauer of Qorvis is our newest member.

Let's all give him our traditional Wikipediocracy welcome!


Okay you get the tar and feathers while I keep him busy questioning his parentage...


Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:32 am
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Hi all, I joined up because I feel the best way to get answers is just to ask directly, which is part of the issue I have taken with Jimbo. The point of my piece is that anyone in the world can contribute to an article. This is unless one of two things happens: 1. The editor of the article could be a primary source of the article. 2. The source has a different POV than Jimbo or the majority of wikipedia editors. I just dont understand why there is a problem hearing from a different side. If the evidence is incorrectly sourced or wrong, other editors will take it out anyway. Everything is perceived as a conspiracy.

On our corporate IP address 1000s of people have used it over the years. Some of these people are disgruntled employees who want to call our CEO, "Super Gypsy," others are true believers who edit Wikipedia on their own volition. There was once a shared editing address that a bunch of employees had on their own, but that was used to edit everything from personal volunteer projects, to Harry Potter characters, to clients they may have had a POV on. They have not used that for a few years.

It is no secret that clients with challenges retain Qorvis. These clients are influential people and corporations with some allies and supporters. I am sure some of those people contribute to Wikipedia. And, really, why should they not be able to contribute...


Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:29 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
MattJLauer wrote:
Hi all, I joined up because I feel the best way to get answers is just to ask directly, which is part of the issue I have taken with Jimbo. The point of my piece is that anyone in the world can contribute to an article. This is unless one of two things happens: 1. The editor of the article could be a primary source of the article. 2. The source has a different POV than Jimbo or the majority of wikipedia editors. I just dont understand why there is a problem hearing from a different side. If the evidence is incorrectly sourced or wrong, other editors will take it out anyway. Everything is perceived as a conspiracy.

On our corporate IP address 1000s of people have used it over the years. Some of these people are disgruntled employees who want to call our CEO, "Super Gypsy," others are true believers who edit Wikipedia on their own volition. There was once a shared editing address that a bunch of employees had on their own, but that was used to edit everything from personal volunteer projects, to Harry Potter characters, to clients they may have had a POV on. They have not used that for a few years.

It is no secret that clients with challenges retain Qorvis. These clients are influential people and corporations with some allies and supporters. I am sure some of those people contribute to Wikipedia. And, really, why should they not be able to contribute...

Welcome on Wikipediocracy.


Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:35 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
MattJLauer wrote:
...which is part of the issue I have taken with Jimbo.

Matt, I'm happy that you joined Wikipediocracy. As the founder of MyWikiBiz (a paid editing service that targets Wikipedia) in June 2006, I have known Jimmy Wales fairly personally ever since a couple of high-pressure phone conversations we had in August 2006, and countless e-mail dialogue in the years since. I think I can save you a lot of time by sharing something about Jimmy Wales. In the back of his mind, he keeps a very important yet unwritten rule. In fact, it may be the paramount rule of all rules in Jimbo's brain, as regards Wikipedia:

"Nobody should personally profit financially from association with the English Wikipedia project or its contents, except for Jimmy Wales."

Therefore, because he (rightly) interprets that PR firms that engage Wikipedia on behalf of paying clients are personally profiting from that association with Wikipedia content, they are breaking the Most Important Rule. And they must be stopped.

Unless, that is, the PR firm or its principals are close personal friends with either Jimmy Wales or his new (third) wife, who is herself a PR professional. In those cases, Jimbo may gesture a bit with his hands or say a few words about "thinking carefully" about the lines between information and spin, but those PR firms will not receive his censure. Not surprisingly, Jimbo's wife's firm (Freud Communications) has been caught on multiple occasions manipulating Wikipedia to favor their own reputation or that of their clients; and even in one case, they asked Jimbo to stump for them on Wikipedia to showcase a real tear-jerker story about the firm's deceased executive, which he obliged to do.

You should see where I'm going with this. Jimmy Wales is the consummate hypocrite when it comes to influence and payment surrounding the English Wikipedia. (I emphasize "English", because so far, I have not seen Jimbo give two whits about profit-seeking that takes place on Wikipedias in other languages.)

I have extended an offer to Qorvis to come give a 90-minute presentation about Wikipedia to your senior management and front-line staff, because I believe that Qorvis is approaching Wikipedia in the wrong way, and it's making your company look bad. (Sorry about the "blood money" comment above. That was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek turn of phrase. Nonetheless, if we were to work out something, I would be donating my fee to a local food bank charity, because I'm not comfortable with my income being associated with some of your clients.) Regardless, there are ways by which you could continue to engage Wikipedia in a more intelligent and organized way, while simultaneously reducing by an order of magnitude the chances for embarrassing consequences that currently seem to beset your organization. The last thing any PR firm needs is a public dispute with Jimmy Wales. It's like mud-wrestling a pig -- you both come out filthy, nobody wins, but the pig enjoyed it. Please contact me privately if you wish to set up a presentation/talk.

- Gregory Kohs

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:36 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Thanks, Gregory. The point is well taken. We do not really engage Wikipedia with an official corporate policy. Anyone who edits it from work is probably doing it on a freelance or personal basis. However, we would most likely welcome an opportunity to hear from you and help us develop our thinking on this matter. You can reach me at mlauer@qorvis.com


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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Quote:
Hi all, I joined up because I feel the best way to get answers is just to ask directly, which is part of the issue I have taken with Jimbo. The point of my piece is that anyone in the world can contribute to an article. This is unless one of two things happens: 1. The editor of the article could be a primary source of the article.


Preventing article writers from doing their own research, particularly consulting primary documents or talking to subjects, is perverse to any journalist or academic.

But in some ways it is necessary given the bizarro-world nature of Wikipedia.

The website is not set up to ask itself "what should we do to get the highest quality articles?" as the first order of business (though many people don't realize this). Instead, the fundamental question is: "Our efforts to write encyclopedia articles must be open to contributions from anonymous people, who all share the same editorial standing, at all times. How do we manage the problem this creates?"

Since an anonymous, unaccountable person can lie with even greater ease than a named, accountable one, you end up with (this has happened) editors claiming they've spoken to someone and "confirmed" their views, while another person will counter that they actually spoke to the person and they said nothing of the sort. I might step in and confirm one or the other is right through research of my own but on Wikipedia "Dan Murphy, journalist" "lol29" and "Star Trek rulzzz" have equal standing and respect.

Or, people with political agendas take a primary source (say the first draft of a US bill) and make highly politicized, generally inaccurate claims about the meaning and intent of the document. Then people with a diametrically opposed agenda take the same primary source and draw conclusions of their own that, while 180 degrees away from the first group's effort, are still pretty much wrong (this has happened too, with great frequency). Experts to come in and set everyone straight? That is antithetical to the "everyone is equally competent to edit" BS that is the core of their ideology.

Of course, these problems are fixable. In a nutshell "editorial control."

But since that notion is rejected with horror, the perverse and strange array of rules will continue to metastasize, continue to make many of their articles a mishmash of he said, she said confusion, tittle tattle, and long outdated and erroneous press reports.


Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:01 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
And Jimbo dodges the bullet, for the second time.

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Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:29 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Article in The Daily Dot: PR firm accused of editing Wikipedia for government clients

Quote:
An American public relations company has been caught allegedly fluffing up Wikipedia pages for clients that include powerful governments from around the world. For Wikipedians, the case shows just how far the regimes and their Western proxies will go to manipulate their image on the sixth most popular website in the world.

Last week, Wikipedians uncovered a string puppet accounts they said belonged to the staff of Qorvis, a Washington D.C.-based company best known for massaging the public image of dictatorships from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.

In a scathing post published to the company's official blog, Qorvis partner Matt J. Lauer denied the allegations and ripped into the encyclopedia's editing policies, saying Wikipedia provides no avenue for article subjects to defend themselves against grievous errors and slander.


Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:45 am
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
DanMurphy wrote:
The website is not set up to ask itself "what should we do to get the highest quality articles?" as the first order of business (though many people don't realize this). Instead, the fundamental question is: "Our efforts to write encyclopedia articles must be open to contributions from anonymous people, who all share the same editorial standing, at all times. How do we manage the problem this creates?"


Yes, yes.

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Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:04 am WWW
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Peter Damian wrote:
DanMurphy wrote:
The website is not set up to ask itself "what should we do to get the highest quality articles?" as the first order of business (though many people don't realize this). Instead, the fundamental question is: "Our efforts to write encyclopedia articles must be open to contributions from anonymous people, who all share the same editorial standing, at all times. How do we manage the problem this creates?"


Yes, yes.


If I am able to attend the WMF "mania" conference in Hong Kong this year, perhaps I should address this problem along with the associated Jimbo-Kazakhstan COI issue. その うち わかる。(We'll see what occurs).


Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:21 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?


At the bottom of the article, there is an "UPDATE", with a link to a famous Wikipedia criticism forum.

I left a comment:
Quote:
It's rather hypocritical that Jimmy Wales would call for Qorvis to publicly apologize for manipulating Wikipedia to their advantage, when (as far as I know) Jimmy Wales has never once apologized publicly for the numerous, numerous times he has leveraged Wikipedia for his personal advantage. I'm not saying what Qorvis has been doing is morally upright, but for heaven's sake, Jimmy Wales has no standing to be meting out justice in this case.

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Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:57 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Ya I saw that. Too bad they didn't mention the name, so Cla would have his second source for a WP article about the forum. ;)

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Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:20 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
Shawn Zeller of Congressional Quarterly is writing a story on this very issue. i brought his attention to Wikipediocracy and this thread as most of you are on the cutting edge of bringing thought to this challenging concept. Hopefully, it will also bring attention to the important role of Wikipediocracy.


Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:18 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?
MattJLauer wrote:
Shawn Zeller of Congressional Quarterly is writing a story on this very issue. i brought his attention to Wikipediocracy and this thread as most of you are on the cutting edge of bringing thought to this challenging concept. Hopefully, it will also bring attention to the important role of Wikipediocracy.

Did you know that we are thoughtful thinkers here?
Thinking thoughtful thoughts...

Paraphrasing, and not too loosely, Jimmy Wales.


Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:20 pm
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Unread post Re: Qorvis and Wikipedia manipulation?

Wikimedia Foundation employee Steven Walling commented on Twitter:
Quote:
...when a scummy PR hack whines about Wikipedia, they are still in fact a scummy PR hack.


I wonder, was that tweet issued in his official capacity of a representative of the Wikimedia Foundation, or was that just his personal opinion?

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