Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Microsoft tries to use Wikipedia as a PR tool

Microsoft has stooped too low this time. As if their operating system wasn’t bad enough, Microsoft (aka M$) has actually, get this, offered to pay a blogger (CNN) to edit technical articles on Wikipedia — to make Microsoft look and sound better.

Microsoft Corp. has landed in the Wikipedia doghouse after it offered to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced Web encyclopedia site.

While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.

"We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach," Wales said Tuesday.

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an open-source document standard and a rival format put forward by Microsoft.
So Microsoft wanted to bribe Wikipedia regulars and when that failed they hired a ‘professional’. It’s amazing how hard they tried to get around the Wikipedia moderators, and community as a whole too! I — like many others — love Wikipedia and this kind of stuff just makes me sick. In the past politicians (specifically people from various offices of the US House of Representatives) have edited their and other Wikipedia entries to make them look better, or their opponents look worse. Microsoft said they were trying to correct the alleged imbalance and bias against them in the Wikipedia articles… what a joke.

Anyway I thought it was an interesting story, considering how the user-generated and social communities are becoming important enough for politicians and big corporations to edit their entries (using the Wikipedia example) for their own public relations benefit.

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Ken said...

Wow...that is a new low in marketing. I'm not surprised though - I wonder who else is up to this...

clearthought said...

Yes, and this scheme actually worked to worsen Microsoft's PR, as illustrated in the fact that there are news stories about it.

So if politicians have already edited their Wikipedia articles to make them sound more favorable, corporate America is up next? It'll be interesting to see.