Orangemoody editing of Wikipedia

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On August 31, 2015, the English Wikipedia community discovered 381 sockpuppet accounts operating a secret paid editing ring. Participants in the ring extorted money from mid-sized businesses who had articles about themselves rejected. Nicknamed "Orangemoody" after the first account uncovered, it was Wikipedia's biggest conflict-of-interest scandal at the time,[1] exceeding the scope of the Wiki-PR editing of Wikipedia incident in which approximately 250 sockpuppets were found and blocked in 2013.

The story was reported by hundreds of English language and non-English language news sources, including Komsomolskaya Pravda, Le Monde and Die Zeit.[2][3][4] The editing was described by various media as "black hat" editors (Tech Crunch),[5] "dishonest editing" (PC World),[6] "extortion" (Wired),[7] a "blackmail scam" (The Independent),[8] and an "extensive cybercrime syndicate" (ThinkProgress).[9]


In 2015, administrators of the English Wikipedia blocked 381 accounts, many of them suspected of being sockpuppets of the same people, after a two-month investigation launched by Wikipedia editors.[10] More than 200 Wikipedia articles created from the accounts were deleted.[11]

Wikipedia's resulting investigation, named "Orangemoody" after the first account uncovered, found that sockpuppets had searched the site for deleted or rejected articles about businesses and individuals.[12] Many of the articles had been deleted for promotional content. The editors, some posing as Wikipedia administrators, would then extort[13] payment from the businesses to publish and protect the articles. Besides businesses, individuals were targeted, including Cuban musician Dayramir Gonzalez.[13][14] The scammers themselves may have been involved in the deletion of some articles.[8]


  1. ^ "Wikipedia's biggest scandal: Industrial-scale blackmail", The Register, September 3, 2015 
  2. ^ Саша ПЯТНИЦКАЯ (Sasha Pyatnitskaya) (September 1, 2015), "Англоязычная Wikipedia заблокировала более 380 редакторов за "корыстные" правки" [The English Wikipedia has blocked more than 380 editors for "selfish" edits], Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian) 
  3. ^ "381 comptes de Wikipédia bannis pour extorsion", Le Monde (in French), Paris, 2015-09-02, retrieved 2015-09-06 
  4. ^ "Wikipedia: Schutzgelderpressung in der Online-Enzyklopädie" [Wikipedia: protection racket in the online encyclopedia], Zeit Online (in German), Die Zeit, 2015-09-01, retrieved 2015-09-06 
  5. ^ Perez, Sarah (2015-09-01), "Wikipedia Bans Hundreds Of "Black Hat" Paid Editors Who Created Promotional Pages On Its Site", TechCrunch, retrieved 2015-09-06 
  6. ^ Ribeiro, John (2015-09-01), "Wikipedia bans 381 user accounts for dishonest editing", PC World, retrieved 2015-09-06 
  7. ^ Technology (2015-09-01), "381 Wikipedia "sockpuppet" accounts banned for paid promotion", Wired (UK), retrieved 2015-09-06 
  8. ^ a b Merrill, Jamie (2015-09-02), "Wikipedia 'rogue editors' have targeted hundreds of people in a blackmail scam", The Independent, archived from the original on 2015-09-14 – via WebCite 
  9. ^ Williams, Lauren C. (2015-09-04), "Wikipedia Editors Uncover Extortion Scam And Extensive Cybercrime Syndicate", ThinkProgress, retrieved 2015-09-06 
  10. ^ Moyer, Justin Wm (2015-09-02). "Wikipedia sting snares hundreds of accounts used for paid editing". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  11. ^ Dredge, Stuart. "Wikipedia founder backs site's systems after extortion scam". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  12. ^ King, Robin Levinson (2015-09-02). "Wikipedia bans users for not disclosing they got paid to edit articles". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-09-10. 
  13. ^ a b Weaver, Matthew. "Wikipedia blocks editor accounts linked to extortion scam". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  14. ^ Coolman, Robert (2015-09-05). "I Was Shaken Down by Wikipedia's Blackmail Bandits". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2015-09-06. 

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