Talk:Astroturfing/Archive 3

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Terribly biased, should be removed from Wiki

This article is not even remotely balanced. It is clearly a smear against the political right. Clearly a biased article. (talk)centervoter —Preceding undated comment added 23:04, 11 March 2011 (UTC).

I disagree inasmuch as politically left-leaning citizens around the world do not engage in "astroturfing" so naturally we would expect to see Wiki coverage of the phenomena to be naturally biased to cover the far right. Alternatively the Wiki page would benefit from updates describing left-leaning incidents of astroturfing if you can find any. Damotclese (talk) 22:19, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Persona Management Software

There is a brief mention of the Bush administration soliciting "Persona Management Software" with which to "astroturf" social networks, YouTube, mainstream media "letters to the editor" et al. in an effort to push and legitimize a right wing theofascist agenda.

I would recommend that the citation and comment be stricken and removed since that behavior is not something that is normally considered "astrotrufing" and might better be described as government-run "sock puppetry" -- two entirely different things. (And I see that there is an existing entry on Sock puppetry.)

Instead it would be better to create a new Wiki page covering Persona Management Software (which does not currently exist) and perhaps provide a "see reelated pages" which link to the new page, and a citation to the Bush regime's solicitation provided there. (My opinion, any way.) Damotclese (talk) 22:16, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Oh, I see that other people consider that "astroturfing" as well: (talk) 23:11, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
If you are referring to the US Air Force Solicitation Number RTB220610, note that it was added to on 22 June 2010, under the Obama administration. Mojoworker (talk) 00:01, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
No I'm refering to documents seized by the Anonymous collective during the HBGary exposure wherein the Bush regime activly solicited the creation of software to create literally thousands of sock puppets to try to make it appear as though fascist ideologies were generally supported by actual citizens rather than by corporate criminals and theocracy-driven cultist politicians. It's not something I consider astroturfing. It's a kin to astroturfing but it's sock puppetry. Still, we need a detailed Wiki entry for Persona Management Software. Damotclese (talk) 21:12, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Note to explain why Political section is NPOV?

I'm seriously starting to think we may want to add an explanatory WP:REFNOTE to the Political section so that the POV discussion might not come up as often. I'm not sure how to word it however... Perhaps something such as: "This article may appear to have a POV, however reliably sourced counter-examples seem to be scarce or non-existent. Please see the discussion on the Talk page." Thoughts? Mojoworker (talk) 20:43, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Political section POV

I've added a POV tag to the political section as it only lists one side of the US political spectrum as guilty of astroturfing, which is bias. If people believe that this is not in fact bias, but reflects fact, then that claim needs to be stated explicitly, and with a reliable source (WP:RS) as reference. Please resolve this following Wikipedia policies for WP:POV. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a shill for either political party. Box2112 (talk) 08:11, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

I've removed the POV tag from the political section as it does not list just one side of the political spectrum as guilty of astroturfing. If you believe one or more of the many sides of the political spectrum are not being fairly represented, and examples exist for those sides, please add them. This article is edited by editors of all political persuasions, and if you believe the article does not convey fact, then that claim needs to be stated explicitly, and with reliable sources to back it up. Xenophrenic (talk) 08:45, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't see any reference to any US political party except "Republican". Is there one? If not, that's the point. The comments on this talk page also indicate that the article has a problem here, and needs some work on it to address these concerns. (That's what the tag is for ... :-) )
By the way, please look again at the WP:POV policy, and the tag message: "The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved." Reverting without seeking consensus is in violation of Wikipedia policy. You mustn't remove someone else's tag like that. Also see WP:OWN :-). Box2112 (talk) 18:25, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I've searched for more reliably sourced examples that aren't "Republican", besides the ones already in the article, and I don't see any. Perhaps there aren't any, but my resources aren't as extensive as those of other editors. Until you produce sourced proof that there does exist examples from other US political parties besides "Republican", then we will have to abide by what the available sources tell us. As of this time, there is no "POV" issue.
Also, I'm quite familiar with Wikipedia editing policy. While I realize that you have only been here for 2 days, and have less than 2-dozen edits, I should still caution you against frivolous use of tags. Your first application of the tag was not accompanied by the required Talk page justification. We'll chalk that up to your inexperience. Your further reinstatement of the tag has only been accompanied by your personal opinion here, instead of an actual dispute supported by examples. In fact, you haven't produced a single example. Therefore, I have removed the unsupported tag. Xenophrenic (talk) 20:59, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The Government section I added in February regarding HBGary Federal and the US Air Force describe astroturfing by the US Government under the Obama administration. So I think that the article has more balance than Box2112 might think. I agree with Xenophrenic: if you find there are other examples for any US political parties, Republican or otherwise, then feel free to add them. Don't be lazy and just stick in "POV" and "fact" tags in articles and expect someone else to do the "dirty work" of article improvement for you... Mojoworker (talk) 21:57, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Just clarifying so no one misinterprets my meaning: in the above posting, I'm only referring to Box2112 when I explicitly referenced them by name. In both instances of the word "you", I'm using the word generically to refer to any editor and not singling out user Box2112. Thanks. Mojoworker (talk) 23:25, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The purpose of adding a tag is to highlight a problem so that people can work on it. It's not a mark of criticism, you know; it's a marker to encourage improvement.
It's obvious that there is a POV problem with this section, just reading the talk page. In fact I learned about this article by reading a blog which was attacking Wikipedia as a whole as biased, and instancing this section of this talk page. When you look at it, and see one, and only one, political party mentioned, that looks biased. And finally, I'm not a Yank and I don't know squit about your politics. Nor do I care. Others will have to fix the problem. But this section is a problem, and denial isn't the answer.
By the way, deleting the tags others add in this manner is contrary to Wiki policy. Tags should be removed AFTER agreement is reached, not because people don't agree with them! Box2112 (talk) 09:42, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
The feeling is here and elsewhere that it's biased. I can see why: the section is insinuating that only one side of the US political spectrum is astroturfing. Now I don't know (or care) whether this is so. But if it IS so, then the article should say so, explicitly, with a reliable reference for the statement, rather than insinuate it. If it is not so, then the article shouldn't give that impression, explicitly or implicitly. The article MUST address the perception of bias -- not to do so damages wiki. Box2112 (talk) 12:34, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, we need more than a "feeling" when editing Wikipedia articles. We also need more than an off-Wiki blog that claims there is bias. If you have reliably sourced information that conveys what you are asserting, please present it. As for only removing tags "AFTER agreement is reached", that isn't exactly Wikipedia policy. When editors are motivated only by their feelings, (or by non-RS 'blogs', for instance), then "agreement" isn't likely to ever be reached. For that reason, we must defer to what reliable sources tell us, or else we end up with what is commonly known as a driveby tagging:
Drive-by tagging is strongly discouraged. The editor who adds the tag must address the issues on the talk page, pointing to specific issues that are actionable within the content policies, namely Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons. Simply being of the opinion that a page is not neutral is not sufficient to justify the addition of the tag. Tags should be added as a last resort.
Once again, can you please direct us to reliable sources that support your assertion? Xenophrenic (talk) 18:21, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
I have removed the POV tag and added a section with several references to an Indiana University study. All of the egregious examples cited in the study were promoting conservative policies or candidates. Mojoworker (talk) 18:32, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
The following copied from WP:ANEW. Mojoworker (talk) 03:57, 26 April 2011 (UTC) : Mojoworker, that sounds like the right sort of thing to be doing (and the sort of thing I had in mind originally -- I'm not a Yank, you know, so I *can't* actually do it myself, and don't care about your politics anyway). I think we have to face it -- the article DOES look POV. So what can be done? What I felt (and suggested) was that, if so, we need to come right out and say "this is something only done by (whoever ... you tell me the right wording)" and reference it reliably. Or perhaps say "the study by XYZ could only find examples of astroturfing by ABC". The great thing about that is that the latter is a fact. It can't be POV to say that. Wouldn't that cover the issue? Box2112 (talk) 22:12, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that was the idea when I added the study. I don't know if we can go quite as far as saying "the study by Indiana University could only find examples of astroturfing by conservatives", because the journal papers don't really say that. More like "In the papers documenting the study by Indiana University the only examples of astroturfing were by conservatives". Mojoworker (talk) 03:57, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
I think that is the right way to summarise that -- the report only referenced conservative (is that the same as Republican?) candidates etc, and so the sentence is fair. Not sure it helps remove the impression of one-sidedness, tho! And we still have the basic problem that anyone reading this section will see political bias (as the talk page itself makes clear).
Is perhaps the answer to simply remove the bit about "Republican party operatives" right at the top? Is that the bit that really pushes the bell for most people reading? It could be as simple as that, you know. Box2112 (talk) 22:28, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, for the most part, conservative = Republican. And your wording is fine by me, unless we want it to be a statement as above, but then it should maybe not be a bullet point, but a note. The part about "Republican party operatives" looks pretty well documented, so I don't know what the rationale would be for its removal... I searched for reliably sourced examples of astroturfing done by Democrats, liberals or the Green Party but could only find stuff from some blogs. The Government section that I added in February that accounts actions done under the Obama administration (democrat) can be moved up to the political section if everyone thinks that will add more balance. If anyone else can find anything reliably sourced that they think adds balance, then add it to the article. It almost seems like the following argument -- admittedly taken to absurdity: "How come this article only discusses life on Earth? There are seven other planets in our Solar System alone. This obviously isn't NPOV so I'm adding the POV tag!" Mojoworker (talk) 03:57, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
I finally found something over lunch today and added an example of astroturfing by Britain's Labour party in 2005 general election. But I'm not a Brit, so I don't know if I have the terminology correct. That probably still won't satisfy everyone, but that's all I found and for now, I'm not lookin' any further. Mojoworker (talk) 20:43, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

I recently added an example involving astroturfing by some Democrats, which seems to be something people have been asking for, which was removed my RedPenOfDoom because we already have "too many examples" and didn't use the word astroturf. Based on the article it clearly seems to be astroturf and considering the desire expressed here to maintain NPOV I would argue if there are too many a 1 sentence Democratic example is not what should be eliminated. So I added it back in. Obviously I don't want to start a revert war, so if RedPenOfDoom could comment here first it would be appreciated. Pmw2cc (talk) 02:47, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

If this is the article from which you're drawing "an example involving astroturfing by some Democrats", perhaps you could explain the aspect in which this appears to be "astroturfing" to you. Regards, AzureCitizen (talk) 04:07, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
The cited source does not indicate that "astroturfing" occurred. That it "seems to be astroturf" to you is not sufficient, unless you, Pmw2cc, qualify as a Wikipedia-compliant published reliable source. The text also contained a number of obvious errors and inaccuracies (such as calling the group "republican-friendly" when it is bipartisan, and doesn't claim to be "republican-friendly"), which prompted me to look closer at the cited "source". It turns out to be a commentary piece by a Republican campaign promoter from Novus, not a journalist, and as such is not a reliable source for assertion of fact. That text has now been removed multiple times; the first time it was removed, a proper reliable source was requested -- and still has not been provided -- so the inappropriate text has been removed again. Xenophrenic (talk) 04:10, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Tea Party redundant weasel-worded list format possible attack

I don't have access to the proprietary source, so I can't say what was said in it. What I can say is that "some people claim that..." is frowned upon, even if that's the way it was phrased in the source, a "good source" doesn't excuse nonconstructive material taken from that source, the earlier bullet point about FreedomWorks seems to cover it, and should we even have a list like this? This isn't TV Tropes. The only reason I can see for keeping this is to accuse the Tea Party, the entire Tea Party, of being astroturfed, which needs more support than "Rasmussen and Schoen claim that some claim..." Twin Bird (talk) 19:21, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Or maybe the source I found said exactly that. That nancy pelosi said the movement was. The purpose is not to defame any precious tea partiers, but simply to document what has been said, and recorded in secondary sources as important. The source wasn't nancy pelosi, and you'd know that, if you'd looked at the link. Reliable sources, can, in fact, document what is being said, even by people who are not, in and of themselves, considered reliable sources on the subject. i kan reed (talk) 19:36, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I left Ikanreed's citation intact, and restored the Rasmussen/Schoen book citation as well; the latter describes in considerable detail the various charges of "astroturf" levelled at the Tea Party, and some of the reasoning behind them, even while attempting to cover the grassroots aspects of the movement as well. Xenophrenic (talk) 20:06, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't have the problem with the sourced claims that the Tea Party movement is an example of astroturfing, but what is the relevance of the Rasmussen poll? This poll only asserted the perception of 26% of respondents that Tea Party = Astroturfing, but whether those beliefs are based on facts or personal convictions/opinions is not clear.
In other words: Why is this poll relevant?
It is certainly not evidence either in favour of or against whether the Tea Party is an example of astroturfing, so I would suggest to remove the poll results, since their only relevance appear to be in relation to the meta-question of whether 'the public' percieves the Tea Party as astroturfing.
Mojowiha (talk) 08:36, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Why was this related to the political activities of the Koch family removed (see bolded text)?

* The 2011 anti-union drive in Wisconsin led by Governor Scott Walker has been criticized as, in part, an astroturf campaign by Americans for Prosperity, which is supported by the Koch brothers.[1]

This seemingly contradictory comment was left by the reverting editor: "remove statement proved false. It _possibly_ could be rewritten to note that the claim of the Koch brothers involvement is unverified.)". How can it both be false and unverified? This excerpt is from political activities of the Koch family ...

According to Mother Jones Magazine, Koch Industries' Political Action Committee gave to Scott Walker's November 2010 gubernatorial campaign, its second-highest donation;[2] in office, Walker proposed a sharp reduction in public sector union bargaining rights, leading to the 2011 Wisconsin protests. In February 2011, the New York Times reported that Americans for Prosperity had lobbied for Walker's proposed bill.[1] Because of the campaign contribution, David Koch became a symbolic target for the protests.[3] (talk) 04:54, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

It may have been the second-highest donation, but it was only 3% of the total. We can attribute the false statement to Mother Jones, if you wish. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 05:42, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
You are repeating the (don't recall the name) of the fallacy; that if A supports B, and B supports C, then A supports C. We all know it's a fallacy, so that "A supports C" requires a specific reliable source. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 06:12, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
What is your source for "3%" of the total? (talk) 19:41, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Actual campaign funding reports, previously in Walker's article. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:17, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Art, are you talking about this excerpt? ...

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

There isn't a "3%". Art, where directly is this "Walker's article"? (talk) 20:47, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Again Arthur, what is your source for "3%" of the total? (talk) 20:48, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, Art, where is that 3% reference? Remember Wikipedia:No original research. (talk) 02:28, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Has the relevant material been restored to the article? This is clearly a case of revert-and-run. i kan reed (talk) 13:18, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
In the comment of August 13, the hit-and-run anon provided an even more distant chain of support, which seems to be what was actually alleged by Mother Jones:
Koch Industries PAC supported RGA. RGA supported Walker, but mostly as independent expenditures.
It is true that contributions to the Walker campaign creditable to Koch total less than 3% of contributions to Koch, but that appears not relevant. When a reliable source reports or repeats the funding fallacy I mentioned above, it's comments should only be reported as attributed, and only if the source provides the information as written. If the source only notes that B supported C, and A supported B, in an article about C, then we should note that, but not in the same sentence unless the source did. It still seems irrelevant to Walker, and the link [[2011 Wisconsin protests|2011 anti-union drive in Wisconsin]] is contrafactual; the protests were against the anti-union drive. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:29, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Truth. (talk) 21:31, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

List vs. prose

In response to the {{prose}} template that was added yesterday, I've made a bold first attempt at converting the lists to prose. The lists were really getting too large and out of hand... The article could still use a lot of copy editing help. Mojoworker (talk) 18:39, 12 April 2012 (UTC)


How many examples do we need? after all most of it is derived from accusations from political opponents. Also, it appears many people misapply the term to any time the rich and the powerful support a movement. Also, a lot of sources seem to be blogs, even first party sources. A large part of the problem is the accusation is often leveled by opponents in an attempt to discredit the other side. Anyway, is there a difference between millionaires funding a political movement and fake letter writing campaigns? Tinynanorobots (talk) 19:19, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps instead of examples, which implies that all the listed are without a doubt examples of astroturfing? Most are really examples of groups being accused of astroturfing. I am not sure there is an precise enough definition of astroturfing or grassroots in order to definitively list some of these cases as astroturfing. I also noticed there is not a source cited for the definition given here. Tinynanorobots (talk) 19:27, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
better than a specific list (which yes is excessive and nearly impossible for Wikipedia editors to determine which are notable and important examples and which are just trivia and false accusations ) is a third party meta analysis of the phenomena. -- The Red Pen of Doom 12:24, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

Microsoft has used astroturfing on several occasions. I think one "grassroots" campaign was launched around the release of the "haloween" documents. Electron9 (talk) 13:36, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Ellie Light and Anti-Romney Hecklers

Ok...the absolute last thing I want to do it start a flame-war. And I also want to make absolutely certain that this article maintains a NPOV. As I've stated on the Barack Obama talk page although we all have our own opinions, they (my own included) absolutely do not belong in Wikipedia or in articles.

However, I noted a clear absence of "Ellie Light," a reference (and facts) are here:

" The person identified as Ellie Light had been corresponding from that e-mail address to The Plain Dealer since last week, when the newspaper's Web site,, disclosed that someone using the name Ellie Light was duping newspapers nationwide. "

To be sure, the writer of these letters has every legal right to do so; however when similar letters are sent to various other newspapers (each claiming to have a local address) that's astroturfing.

It could be (and is) argued that every single Tea Party protest was astroturfed. Oddly, those who loudly denounced it remain strangley mute when we learn this: (A quick caveat - this is Buzzfeed and I'm not convinced it is 100% reliable.)

However, if what they're saying is true it should make many people's alarm bells ring.

Here's my point (I can hear somebody say "finally!") There is too much hypocrisy on both sides of the political divide. Perhaps Edward "Ted" Kennedy (may he rest in peace) said it best when he said "Problems won't be solved without first talking about them with depth and passion. Let's not make some joke of the Bill of Rights. Let's make so certain that we listen to all viewpoints, especially those with which we strongly disagree. Free speech for everyone Al, regardless of ideology."

--Dr. Entropy (talk) 23:32, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Ellie Light isn't astroturfing; it's simply spam. Claiming to live at different locales in order to get your message in print, signed with the same name, in as many papers as possible can be criticized for other reasons, but not for being astroturf.
As for protesters and hecklers admitting up front that they are getting paid to deliver a counter-message at these events, that also is not astroturfing. Now if they were all claiming to be a spontaneous, unrelated group of protesters unaffiliated with any coordinating organization or backer, then you might have an astroturfing case, but these guys make no secret that they are there on behalf of "Good Jobs Now". That's not astroturf. Xenophrenic (talk) 02:10, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree. Astroturfing occurs when someone does not disclose their financial connection in order to give the impression of a grass roots effort. So long as that connection is disclosed, it's not astroturfing. This kind of "white lie" is basically very common - I'm surprised it made any media hay. To include it among a list of history's most prominent and well-known astroturfing cases, we should look for something covered in substantial depth by many sources. Corporate Minion 15:03, 20 September 2012 (UTC)


I might take a shot at improving this article soon. One thing I notice is that it covers astroturfing from a presumed political perspective, but astroturfing occurs any time someone posts an endorsement of a product without disclosing their affiliation with the subject.

For example, one form that is ubiquitous is posting self-written reviews on Yelp or consumer review sites. Cautious legal teams will even forbid employees from tweeting about their work, without disclosing on their Twitter handle that they work for the company.

Some feel that when you offer a prize for someone to tweet how awesome your product is, this is a form of astroturfing, since thousands of Twitter users have tweeted in exchange for payment, without disclosing that payment. Other times, posting negative reviews on a competitor anonymously can be a form of astroturfing.

Would anyone object if I created a separate article on "Examples of astroturfing"? and moving that over? with a summary on this page and a "see main article" Corporate Minion 18:52, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

Presumably there are 3 categories of examples in this article: Political, Business and Government. Political ramifications do seem to pop up in each of those categories though, don't they? I don't doubt that additional categories could be filled, and I don't have an objection to creating an external list. A small, diverse handful of clear examples should remain here, and the rest moved to the list article with a pointer to them. That would take a load off, and might entice editors to spend more content-improvement time on the actual concept of astroturfing. Just a warning, however: Such a list is likely to be frequented by editors inserting not bonafide examples of astroturfing, but thin allegations and accusations, in an attempt to score points against the subject. Happens here all the time, between competing corporations, political factions, etc. Xenophrenic (talk) 21:46, 9 September 2012 (UTC)
What you suggest is a good approach. I will be bold on trying to thin the list to the most notable examples, while moving the others to a list article. My knowledge rests mostly with the Business side of astroturfing, so I may make poor judgements in the other categories. Corporate Minion 17:21, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
I just got word that I am going to be very busy for a while, but I will come back to it. I found some documents on the history of FTC's regulation of astroturfing, which I think will be immensely helpful. Corporate Minion 19:09, 10 September 2012 (UTC)
I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm not sure that the examples should have been split. We generally only split pages when they are too long (> 100Kb) which this never has been. I agree that the examples had become too long and much of it is poorly sourced but splitting it off is only likely to make it worse in the future as there are now 2 places for people to add content. I would prefer that we concentrate on improving the list of examples that have received lasting coverage in this article and ensure that everything is adequately sourced. SmartSE (talk) 12:21, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I would prefer we do the necessary trimming and summarizing before putting it in. On a separate note, we have an article on front groups, which is a form of astroturfing and a large number of the examples are of front groups. Any suggestions on how to handle? Corporate 14:26, 11 November 2012 (UTC)


First sentence here is an amazingly good definition. Corporate Minion 01:37, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

You should read Alphascript_Publishing#Wikipedia_content_duplication. Although it's good that we got something right :) SmartSE (talk) 20:22, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Do you mean to say the book is just a lift from Wikipedia? I was wondering if it was free-game to use it word-for-word. Corporate 23:02, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
Yep that's right and yeah it's totally legal, we even encourage it, but it can cause the worst examples of citogenesis when people find them on google books. (We have Special:Book where you DIY). SmartSE (talk) 12:13, 11 November 2012 (UTC)


I meant AF, not Army, in edit comment. That one's been there for a while and an objection was raised by Corporate Minion as for inaccessible reference. I've since verified the reference through archive and added the link. It is not explained why tobacco one is retained, but this one is removed. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 22:23, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

To start with, can you please re-add the content you object to being removed, rather than reverting the entire edit? Corporate 23:08, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Ethics section

Do you know when the PRSA etc. began to specifically prohibit astroturfing? If they do, how come so much of it goes on? The section also cites this from the NYT but I'm not sure it should - it seems to be arguing that a specific thing that someone called astroturfing wasn't actually astroturfing and so was ok, but here the author links to the article and makes it clear that he thinks that astroturfing in the traditional sense "is genuinely over the line". If it's to be be kept I think we need to provide more context about exactly what he was talking about. SmartSE (talk) 11:58, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

A few thoughts, but largely personal opinions and OR:
  • Very few PR pros are PRSA members, the code of conduct is largely just for show, etc., but I would presume the first code of conduct in 1954 prohibited "deceitful communications" even if the term "astroturfing" didn't exist yet. I can't take PRSA's enforcement of its conduct seriously, when in 1993 they hosted a speaker that presented on how to use advertising spend to manipulate major news organizations. In my opinion that's a form of astro and PRSA encouraged it.
  • The differences in opinion you bring up is something we need reflected in the article. There is blatant astroturfing like fake blogs and front groups, but the there's things like offering a free trip to the bahamas if you tweet how great we are. I would certainly like to see much more of this kind of debate documented in the article.
  • So far I've read a few sources that say astroturfing is so prolific, because it is difficult to enforce and the FTC only pursues the most egregious cases. As a matter of OR, the most common justification is that your competitors are doing it and so must you to compete. Corporate 14:04, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

George Manbiot blog..

Do you guys feel that this source fulfill the expectation of WP:RS? It is posted under blog section, which means that it is the opinion of the author, as opposed to the collective opinion of the newspaper. Blog vs Editorial is explained here (yes, I know it is a blog.. although i'm discussing it in talk page, not writing in the article) . I don't find that his opinions are considered acceptable reliable source. Comment? Cantaloupe2 (talk) 10:03, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Many newspapers use the blog format to publish their writers' opinion pieces; see WP:NEWSBLOG. In this case it isn't WP:SPS and it isn't as though The Guardian is merely a blog hosting space. We should, however, make clear that these are George Manbiot's words, not The Guardian's per se (which I've already addressed). -- Gyrofrog (talk) 14:53, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
More like guest reporting than op-ed. His page says he has experience as an investigative reporter and sources like this are often best in particular to present different viewpoints on a complex and nuance issue.
On the other hand, in my opinion the US Air Force window shopping for astroturfing software is something "likely to be contested" and we should be more cautious about WP:RS when editing in contentious areas to avoid smearing subjects with gossip.
We do not indiscriminately remove content that is not sourced to the absolute highest standards, but I think in this case if the allegations are true, other sources should be easy to find, and we should take on that task of verifying the fact as responsible editors. Corporate 01:56, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I retagged the partial sentence quotation of Manbiot. He was discussing about software program that can create virtual persona so one person can pretend the contents made by one person are made by different people. He commented on the software meant to perpetrate sock puppeting hence "Software like this has the potential to destroy the internet as a forum for constructive debate.". It's improper synthesis to turn that to read "According to George Monbiot, astroturfing could "[D]estroy the internet as a forum for constructive debate."Cantaloupe2 (talk) 02:25, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
I took out the instance where it was used for the US Air Force. The article itself seems to go to a broken link as validation and I cannot find other sources. It may be true, but because I am uncertain, I err on the side of avoiding smearing the US Air Force with mediocre sources. Corporate 02:36, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Re-inserted, along with reference. Also fixed the aforementioned improper synthesis Cantaloupe2 (talk) 03:18, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Cool - because this instance is not covered in substantial depth by multiple sources, I hesitate on whether it is notable to be included in a list that needs to be carefully pruned to keep the most significant examples, but this is fine. The Examples section could use a lot of work in general anyway. Corporate 03:29, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Late int he day: George Monbiot is a well-known and widely quoted Leftist commentator. His views are considered significant in the UK but of course only as an articulation of a certain viewpoint. If he says it, it is generally significant, whether right or wrong. Guy (Help!) 00:08, 27 December 2012 (UTC)


Relevant portions transferred from Corporate Minion's talk page: Cantaloupe2 (talk) 23:19, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Regarding articles we have both contributed such as astroturfing I have noticed that you've made many edits to it no explanation of what you're doing nor do you leave any comments on talk page regarding what you do. Please leave edit summary, thank you. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 18:30, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

Hi Cant. I should have remembered you were invested in that particular Air Force example. In my view, even after SmartSE's improvements, it might be better placed in the List of astroturfing cases article, as it doesn't appear it's gotten substantial attention. In comparison, tobacco astroturfing and political puffing in China each have dozens of mainstream press articles and are even the topic of academic study. Some of the other ones I added, the sources commented that they were of substantial historical significance.
One thing to keep in mind is that we use sourcing for two things; one is to establish the facts, but the other is whether it deserves inclusion. The latter is particularly important for a section like this. If we included every example of astroturfing that we can verify, it would be 100 pages long, so we summarize and include the most historically significant examples. The significance of the example is based on the volume and credibility of sources and the standards we set depend on the situation. In this case we can expect a very high bar, because there are just so many examples we could list, hundreds I'm sure. Corporate 19:44, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
One thing that needs to be done is combing through the List article closely to evaluate which are truly important and re-incorporating those select few. For all intensive purposes that article is basically a storage area, because I wasn't prepared to comb through it right away. Corporate 19:46, 10 November 2012 (UTC)

It is obvious that I should have left more edit-summaries. The edit in question actually did have a summary, but it just said "trimming" and I also responded promptly on the Talk page. However it is much more productive to fix the problem and focus on the article.
Cant, I will respond to your comments from other pages here. It is not reasonable in the context to argue that we are both editing in the same dozen articles by chance. However in this particular case it would be natural for you to take an interest in the subject. Following editors around in a collegial manner is acceptable and a good thing. And it is natural if an editor deletes your work for a discussion to ensue. The line that was crossed repeatedly was when deletions and editing privileges were used to attack an editor, rather than improve an article.
As I have said many times, if you can be WP:CIVIL, WP:AGF, avoid battlegrounding, etc. I am happy to discuss the issues on my Talk page. The most important thing is that these discussions aren't a way to "win an argument" or attack me, but to improve articles and as editors. Corporate 23:36, 10 November 2012 (UTC)
This is the same with everything. Have a look at list of other things. You'll have the same question of why some examples should be included while others not. Look at examples of SUVs. Why include model, A and Z, but not the 24 models in between? or why should the A and Z stay?
As commonly encountered in WP:CORP discussions, notability is not based on quantity of coverage. I say the fact that USAF was considering something is notable enough for an inclusion here and it has stayed there and remained stable for some time. I could oppose the examples you added just as easily because quantity is not the indicator. I oppose to removal. If you're adamant about removing it from main article, then its time that you seek RfC for UNINVOVLED editors input without recruiting editors of your choosing to advance your position.
One discussion I was involved in was that things surrounding technology topic will likely have more online retrievable references while scandals of similar magnitude involving not so mainstream companies won't have as many WP:GOOGLEHITS. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 23:19, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
WP:IINFO and WP:DISCRIMINATE are both relevant. Whether it's promotional or negative, we don't include every detail that is verifiable, only that which is necessary to cover the subject well. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of examples of astroturfing that could be verified, but there are some like astroturfing in China, by tobacco interests and for global warming that are more important than others. I'll probably trim some of the ones I added as well eventually, while adding others, depending on where the research and sources take me. Corporate 00:40, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I've never used RfC before, but I'll go ahead and set one up as requested. Corporate 02:22, 12 November 2012 (UTC)


Some stuff from the list of astroturfing article I need to cull through


Tea Partier Tim Phillips commented to Politico that "For a long time, the left called us Astroturf and it was demonstrably untrue...".[6] During bouts of political in-fighting, Tea Party factions have even derided other Tea Party factions as Astroturfed, due to their funding and organization by Republican interests.[7][8][9][10]

  • The "Brooks Brothers riot" of November 2000, which had been billed as a "spontaneous grassroots uprising", has been cited as an example of astroturfing by US Republican Party operatives.[11][12][13][14][15][16]
  • During the campaign for the 2005 general election, Britain's Labour party activists wrote letters to newspapers and posed as 'local people' to greet Tony Blair.[17]

Also in 2005, schools and political party organizations in the People's Republic of China starting recruiting paid-per-comment bloggers countering unfavorable information on websites, bulletin boards, and other internet-accessible sources; they are collectively known as the 50 Cent Party.[18]

In August 2006, a science journalist for the Wall Street Journal[19] revealed that a YouTube video, "Al Gore's Penguin Army", which was claimed to be an amateur work, in fact came from the computers of DCI Group, a Washington, D.C.-based PR firm whose client list includes ExxonMobil and General Motors. (See Al Gore's Penguin Army video controversy.) This hoax was discovered when journalist Antonio Ragalado noticed that the YouTube video was the first sponsored listing when he performed a Google search for Al Gore. The fact that someone paid to have the alleged amateur film promoted was in itself suspicious.[20]

In August 2009 Greenpeace revealed a leaked email from the American Petroleum Institute (API) in which its members, oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhilips are urged to send employees to 'Energy Citizen' rallies aimed to mobilize resistance against the Waxman-Markey climate change bill.[21] Also in August 2009, FreedomWorks, a corporate and individual-funded conservative political activist organization, and 60 Plus Association, a self-described "conservative alternative to the AARP", played an instrumental role in organizing health care reform protests at a large number of Democratic legislators' town hall meetings. Health care reform proponents have labeled FreedomWorks' efforts as "astroturf", because they use millions of dollars in corporate funding to support conservative "tea party" protests.[22][23] Newsweek has stated that the organization has issued instructions and tactics on "how to make the demonstrations look homegrown".[23] A FreedomWorks representative disputes the classification of this as 'astroturfing', saying, "there always needs to be some kind of organization — we provide the organizational backbone."[22] The AARP has described 60 Plus Association as being a front group for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.[24] Also in August 2009, Washington DC-based lobbyist firm Bonner & Associates acknowledged sending forged letters in opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

If you are suggesting that many of the examples in the article need to be removed, I agree with you, especially those that are contentious in any way. This is an encyclopedia not a campaign vehicle. Martin Hogbin (talk) 20:00, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
  1. ^ a b Eric Lipton (2011-02-21). "Billionaire Brothers' Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute". New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros". Mother Jones. 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  3. ^ Continetti, Matthew (April 4, 2011). "The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics". The Weekly Standard. 
  4. ^ Rasmussen, Scott W.; Schoen, Doug. Mad As Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System. Harper. pp. 132–136. ISBN 978-0-06-199523-1. 
  5. ^ Ashbee, Edward (2011), Bewitched—The Tea Party Movement: Ideas, Interests and Institutions, The Political Quarterly, doi:10.1111/j.1467-923X.2011.02175.x 
  6. ^ "The Tea Party Takes on Occupy Wall Street – Politics". The Atlantic Wire. October 13, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ How Did CNN Get Hitched With a Tea Party PAC Anyway?; The Atlantic Wire; September 12, 2011
  8. ^ Tea Party Prepares for Televised GOP Debate; NPR – Talk of the Nation; September 12, 2011
  9. ^ Party Foul! Tea Partiers Eat Their Own in Bitter Internal Feud; TPM Muckraker; November 12, 2009
  10. ^ Who Speaks for the Tea Party?; Time Magazine; July 22, 2010
  11. ^ The Miama Herald; August 8, 2009 The return of the Brooks Brothers Brigade?
  12. ^ NPR; August 4, 2009 Health Care Debate: Myths Vs. Facts
  13. ^ Salon; November 28, 2000 Miami's rent-a-riot
  14. ^ New York Times; Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman; August 6, 2009 The Town Hall Mob
  15. ^ Wall Street Journal; August 4, 2009 White House Brushes Off Health-Care Protests
  16. ^ Rachel Maddow (August 4, 2009). "Reviewing the history of fake conservative protests". MSNBC. Retrieved August 17, 2009. 
  17. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (May 22, 2005). "How Labour used its election troops to fake popular support". The Observer. London, UK: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  18. ^ Bandurski, David (September 3, 2006). "China's Guerrilla War for the Web". Far Eastern Economic Review. 
  19. ^ Regalado and Dionne Searcey, Antonio (August 3, 2006). "Where did that video spoofing Gore's film come from?". Wall Street Journal. 
  20. ^ Episode Two Fake Grass and the Cyber City. September 23, 2006. Retrieved 2006, September 29.
  21. ^ Greenpeace uncovers "astroturf" campaign to challenge US climate bill, BusinessGreen, August 17, 2009
  22. ^ a b Ben Smith (August 21, 2009). "The Summer of Astroturf". Politico. Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  23. ^ a b "The Browning of Grassroots". Newsweek. August 20, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  24. ^ Pulling Strings from Afar : Drug industry financing pro-drug industry groups, AARP Bulletin, July 3, 2006

PRSA as regulation material

The opinion of the PRSA has nothing to do with regulations. It certain does not belong in this section. Being that its an American organization and its a self-interest group for public relations personnel, it maybe WP:UNDUE. "The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the nation’s largest community of public relations and communications professionals.". Cantaloupe2 (talk) 17:47, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Why don't we wait for the RFC to close, then we can take it to the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard. In the meanwhile, I'm going to mosy on somewhere else. Corporate 18:20, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
So you put it back on without saying why or noting it in edit summary. I provided a reason why I objected to insertion. It was a recent insertion and I don't think there's a consensus. There is no RfC on this matter as far as I know. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 21:37, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
I guess we can keep RfCing everything if you want. Astroturfing is a topic regarding ethics in public relations. PRSA's code of ethics is almost more well-known than the corresponding laws. Neither PRSA's code of conduct, nor the FTC's astroturfing laws are realistically enforced, but naturally the reader would still be interested in knowing what they are. It may be "PRSA's opinion" just like it's "the FTC's opinion." One is enforced by law and one is enforced through membership. I find it hard to believe that readers wouldn't want to know the official stance of the PR industry on its own ethical (or lack thereof) behavior. Corporate 19:01, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
PRSA is an industry advocate. FTC is a regulatory body. That's the difference. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 19:11, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
And they are both organizations with a policy on astroturfing that readers would want to know. Corporate 02:22, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
House rules form voluntary club membership has no regulatory authority. Membership is not a regulatory requirement, and in-house rule infractions mean nothing outside their club house unless it also conflicts with rules of the land, which is the FTC in the USA. Undue credit towards some private organization.
This argument is going in circles. Because one is a non-profit and the other is the government doesn't make a difference in anything. The fact that they both have different means of enforcement and both fail at making any reasonable impact on deterring it is also not relevant. PRSA's code of conduct is well-known outside its membership base. I am not a PRSA member, but I am certainly familiar with their code of conduct. However, I don't think it's worth anyone's energy to continue such arguments, so I'll just do my best to carry on elsewhere. Corporate 18:01, 6 December 2012 (UTC)


The result of the discussion was keep, with some minor adjustments to the USAF paragraph.-- FutureTrillionaire (talk) 16:47, 30 December 2012 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

As requested by Cantaloupe2 I would like to request outside input on whether we should include the following in the article in the History of astroturfing. It is one of many historical examples of astroturfing that are currently included. The issue is choosing which verifiable cases of astroturfing are worthy of inclusion:

Version at start of RFC:

In June 2010, the US Air Force solicited for persona management software that would "enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms..."[1][2]

Version as of Nov 17:

In 2011 and 2012 there were several reports that the US Air Force was looking to purchase or develop persona management software that would help an individual manage a set of convincing fake identities. The $2.76 million contract with United States Central Command (CENTCOM), was ultimately awarded to Ntrepid Corporation, to develop the astroturfing software for the purpose of spreading pro-American propaganda in the Middle East, to disrupt suicide bomber recruitment and counter extremist propaganda.[3][2][4][5][6] This project "has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet".[6]

comments from involved editors

  • Delete as RfC initiator. The only significant coverage of the Air Force incident I have found is the guest blog in the Guardian. In comparison, other more notable cases of astroturfing - such as in China, by tobacco companies and to effect climate change discussions - have warranted substantial analysis and coverage. I am working hard to keep the section tight. WP:DISCRIMINATE + WP:IINFO Corporate 02:22, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
Move to keepundecided now that more sources have been found. Corporate 21:38, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep or scrutinize every single example included and determine why each one must remain. The burden of notability for an example within an article is not to the same level as a stand-alone article on the issue. This example has been in the article and remained stable for a while, so there maybe a consensus to let it stay. CM comments on mentions by multiple sources. I do not find it as valid rationale in selecting what to include or what not to include, because WP:GOOGLEHITS, though not official policy suggests quantity of online accessible sources is not the determining factor in notability. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 06:35, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Shakespeare On the side note, can you people comment on inclusion Shakespeare? It's :a fiction. Is it appropriate to call it as an example? Cantaloupe2 :(talk) 12:55, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep Shakespeare example. This is exactly the kind of example we do want! Our purpose is to describe clearly what the term means not to comment on real-world examples. Quoting Shakespeare helps us describe what we mean but does not involve us in any potential commercial or political conflicts. Martin Hogbin (talk) 11:18, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I have just noticed that the Shakespeare example is in the 'History' section. I agree that this is the wrong place. I think 'History' should come later in the article and be reduced in content to the mist significant events. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:39, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep I've added a couple of additional references to address CM's "significant coverage" concerns. Mojoworker (talk) 09:35, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
To elaborate, I think this is significant because it's being done, not simply by some random corporation or special interest group, but by the US government. Mojoworker (talk) 17:36, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment the relevant guideline to discuss is WP:WEIGHT. I'm not certain that this case of astroturfing is particularly historically significant as determined by coverage in sources (although the sources added by Mojoworker show it wasn't just a single story). However, this example is different from most in that we have the information about the contract being offered, both in terms of value and the capabilities required. This is seemingly very rare, and so I think that this provides information to readers that we can't provide from other sources. Considering that, I'm leaning towards keeping it in. SmartSE (talk) 10:08, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually this is very confusing. One story in 2010 says they hired Ntrepid. Computerworld appears to be describing the same thing around the same time period, but CW says they hired HBGary. The 2011 story says they are developing persona management software with Centcom. All three stories are about the military developing persona management software, so I have a hard time thinking of them as separate incidences. One thing is for sure, the military's astroturfing in general warrants inclusion. Corporate 13:27, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I took a crack at clearing this up. Even though these sources are all for separate incidences, I think it warrants inclusion as a topic about government/military astro in general. Also several sources linked to their original source, which I used to add the details about how astroturfing works in the Techniques section. Corporate 14:15, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it is a bit confusing. I've made a few corrections to the article. From the Guardian article: "A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom)" – Ntrepid is the California corporation and CENTCOM is the customer not the developer. After a careful reading, I think Computerworld got a bit confused as well – HB Gary bid on the contract, but when they imploded over the Aaron Barr anonymous/Wikileaks dust–up, the contract went to Ntrepid (see HB Gary#Astroturfing). And, it's pretty clear these are all talking about the same contract – the original solitation is numbered RTB220610 out of MacDill AFB, home of CENTCOM, and the details of the solicitation and the details in the Guardian article match up and the (now dead) link in the Guardian article references RTB220610. The article also says of the CENTCOM contract "Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill Air Force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command". Mojoworker (talk) 20:04, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
Excellent. Nice work!!!! Since they are all referring to the same incident - I think that incident certainly warrants inclusion, but I'm hesitant to include all the details about their shopping experience and the different vendors they evaluated. I would rather focus on the outcome (US military developing astroturfing software for use in the Middle East) Corporate 20:09, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Cantaloupe asked to discuss this section on the Talk page

In June 2010, the US Air Force solicited for persona management software that would "enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms..."[21]

In my opinion this is just an explanation of what persona management is. It would be better for us to just leave it saying they were developing persona management software and explain what that means under techniques, without the original research. Corporate 14:29, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

I believe that we should retain the original USAF solicitation document, because it provides very through details of specifications desired for persona management software and it provides good reference. The contents in question is what was removed by Corporate Minion. This information has remained stably within the article for some time. Cantaloupe2 (talk) 01:43, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

comments from uninvolved editors

  • strongweak delete if there is only this source and this content. it is merely another example of "astroturfing exists" but absolutely no commentary or analysis showing how or why this is either a unique and unusual example or why or how this is a "textbook" example. All others that are also merely "it exists"should be removed as well. Trivial cruft. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:52, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
There are actually now five sources in the article for this content, and they've been there since November 13. It's an unusual example because it's being done by the US government and "has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet". Mojoworker (talk) 20:50, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree. It was a clear delete initially, but now that more sources have been found, it's a clear keep. Though the quote does come off as a bit of editorializing to me, but I won't contest it. Corporate 20:57, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
I have no problem with removing the quote. I think the article is better without it, but TRPoD requested "commentary or analysis" above, and I didn't want to WP:SYNTH anything. Also, Corporate, while your comments show you are now advocating a "clear keep", your vote above still reads "Delete as initiator" and the closer could possibly miss it. Mojoworker (talk) 21:26, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
the revised version is better, the sources are still iffy. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:52, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
ComputerWorld and The Guardian are iffy? Please explain. Mojoworker (talk) 07:58, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
In my view the best example of the type of case we would want to keep is how astroturfing has effected the public debate on global warming. In this case, the issue has been studied extensively by academics and influenced national policy. In comparison to that, the sources are iffy and the incident is not as well studied. Astroturfing is a topic with so many very highly publicized cases that our bar should be exceptionally high. I think it's fine how it is now, but I understand Red Pen's point. Corporate 18:53, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Delete As per The RedPenOfDoom. We are writing an encyclopedia. Everything in WP should be properly sourced; this does not mean that everything that we can source must to in WP. Martin Hogbin (talk) 11:15, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
  • neutral because it is also a good example of the used psyops-techniques used. BTW: more balance betwee USA-rest of the world is desired. The Banner talk 23:41, 22 November 2012 (UTC)
  • Neutral, with a tendency to include. @Banner: There are many examples in de:Astroturfing, from which I can translate one and include. Jesus Presley (talk) 09:44, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Certainly. If you have examples from de:Astroturfing of state sponsored Astroturfing in addition to the governments of China and the USA already included in this article, then please list them in a new section here so we can discuss adding them. Mojoworker (talk) 17:43, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
In some countries it's less prolific. The term "astroturfing" itself appears to be a US-centric term, though China may be the worst offender. The articles of the recent astroturfing case in Finland say something along the lines of "known as 'astroturfing' in the US" and identify it as the first major case of astro in Finland. Some more global coverage may just be about how it's occurring less often in certain places of the world. I think the example should be kept (barely), with proper weight, but not the sentence Cant insists on which cites some kind of RfP on a government website. Corporate 18:49, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Regarding foreign examples, I'd suggest one of these two. There is not much info to find in english, unfortunately.
  • Deutsche Bahn AG (former state-owned company) invested several mils. into forgery of letters to editors, blog posts, polls etc. to influence public opinion on strikes and the process of privatizing the company.
  • Campaign to improve the image of biofuels in the european union (connected to the introduction of E10 fuels), driven by "Verband der Deutschen Biokraftstoffindustrie e.V.", the national association of biofuel industry:
However, I must find some reliable english sources for those, which seems difficult. What would be your first impression on these topics? Jesus Presley (talk) 07:47, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
At a glance that looks like it may be a good one. If its significance is truly substantial there should be more coverage on it, but we don't need to include every source in the article. Corporate 17:55, 6 December 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ "Persona Management Software. Solicitation Number: RTB220610". Archived from the original on July 17, 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Monbiot, George (February 24, 2011). "The need to protect the internet from 'astroturfing' grows ever more urgent". The Guardian. London, UK. Archived from the original on February 23 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011.  Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Stephen C. Webster (February 22, 2011). "Military's 'persona' software cost millions, used for 'classified social media activities'". The Raw Story. Archived from the original on February 23 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24.  Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  5. ^ Darlene Storm (February 22, 2011). "Army of fake social media friends to promote propaganda". Computerworld Inc. Archived from the original on February 24 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24.  Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  6. ^ a b Fielding, Nick (March 17, 2011). "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media". The Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2012.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

State-sponsored online astroturfing

I propose that there should be an article or a section specifically about state-sponsored online astroturfing, or noteworthy allegations of such. The web brigades article used to be just that at the beginning of its life, but the examples from other countries like China were taken out of it under the rationale that it's a neologism and that "web brigades" only applies to the Russian example. Okay then, but this leaves us without an article about the topic at all.

How about a new article (or a new section on this page) called state-sponsored online astroturfing? It can mention the Russian web brigades, the U.S. Operation Earnest Voice, the examples from China and other countries (after all these years, there's certainly some information floating around). It can be a gathering-place for sources about it, even if it's something that hasn't been officially acknowledged by the state in question. Like this, for example. Esn (talk) 21:11, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't think we need to separate-out astroturfing from different types of organizations (government versus corporate), however, I would like to work on consolidating List of astroturfing cases here. It would be immensely valuable to readers to create something like List of front groups. It is very difficult to sort out which are or aren't, especially because the accusation of being a front group often comes from political opposition. And many Wikipedia articles on front groups themselves are written and controlled by the organization. For someone to create a well-researched and thoughtful definitive list would help the public sort out if an organization is legitimate. CorporateM (Talk) 14:43, 9 November 2013 (UTC)


Hi user:Gunshippolitico. I reverted your addition of an alleged incident of astroturfing by Peter George Peterson,[3] because the primary sources used were Sourcewatch and PR Watch, neither of which are reliable sources. Additionally, neither seem to actually confirm the actions he is criticized for is astroturfing or that it is one of the most notable examples of astroturfing in history to warrant inclusion in this page.

Using low-quality sources to negatively effect the reputation of an individual is also a significant WP:BLP problem. CorporateM (Talk) 00:24, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Hi user:CorporateM. 1) Please let me know your criteria for a reliable source. Sourcewatch and PR Watch are non-profit accountability organizations. If you'd like to include a description of organizations in the article, you're welcome to. 2) The sources in the section I added include: The New York Times, National Journal, Bill Moyers, an article from the newspaper the Gainsville Sun that is extremely relevant, and from the Huffington Post, which is used for other examples in the article. Why did you delete the entire section if you have an issue with Sourcewatch/PR Watch? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gunshippolitico (talkcontribs) 00:36, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
WP:BLP says to remove violations immediately and without discussion. The community takes these issues pretty seriously. PRWatch and SourceWatch are not reliable sources because they are advocacy sources, meaning their primary editorial mission is to push a certain point-of-view. I think Sourcewatch is also crowd-sourced? Proper sources must have editorial controls and fact-checking, and have an editorial mission to be neutral.
I think Huffington Post is probably a good enough source for his article itself. For this article though, the sources must not only be reliable for the facts, but must establish the incident as so significant it is an important event in the history of astroturfing. This article could go on for miles if it included a paragraph on every related one. A single sentence cited to The New York Times might do. CorporateM (Talk) 00:44, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Sourcewatch and PR Watch are run by the Center for Media and Democracy, which calls itself "national, independent, non-partisan public interest newsgroup". I don't think they have an overt position. Why do you think they are an advocacy organization? Also, I think Pete Peterson deserves to be mentioned, but he isn't the focus of the section. The focus is the very noteworthy examples of astroturfing by CRFB and its related organizations. I can try to reframe it so it doesn't seem to be about Pete Peterson. Gunshippolitico (talk) 00:53, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Check out Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Scroll down just a bit and on the right-hand side there is a search function where you can search for PRWatch and Sourcewatch to see prior discussions on whether they are reliable sources. Alternatively, you could start a new string at that board if you feel prior discussions did not show a clear-enough consensus. CorporateM (Talk) 00:58, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I can understand the justification for Sourcewatch as it is an open wiki. I will change out Sourcewatch references to the original articles mentioned in Sourcewatch. I did not see any consensus on PRwatch, which is not an open wiki, but a blog from CMD. I'm inclined to keep those in. Gunshippolitico (talk) 01:04, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
PRWatch says it is a "watchdog organization... investigating and exposing the undue influence of corporations and front groups on public policy..." Saying that corporations have undue influence (while I might agree), establishes an editorial agenda. We usually don't use blogs either, but especially not for contentious material about a BLP and even more so to establish an event as one of the major incidents of astroturfing in the centuries of history of astroturf.
I saw Cirt gave you a welcome tag and asked if he would chime in. Alternatively, if he doesn't respond, I'd encourage you to start a new string at the Reliable Sources Noticeboard to get input from others. CorporateM (Talk) 01:14, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
It's no longer a BLP on this page. There's one PR Watch source that is used in conjunction with another non-PR Watch source. If there's a consensus about PR Watch, I can remove them change the content a little. Won't have a big effect. Gunshippolitico (talk) 01:23, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Many of the other sources are also blogs and none of the ones I've checked (haven't seen all of them) actually say this incident was astroturfing. The whole thing should be removed. I would suggest however at least adding the New York Times source to the page on the person himself. When two editors have a different opinion, it's natural for each to merely become more entrenched in their position, which is why it's best to ask other editors for input. CorporateM (Talk) 01:55, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Okay, let's take this source by source, excluding PR Watch. One of the sources calls itself a "blog" (5) and it's a first-person account. Two are newspapers (and both articles were in print), one is a weekly publication, and two others are news sites. I understand you have your position, but "many" of the sources are NOT blogs, and several describe the astroturfing, and several describe the astroturfing while directly calling it astroturfing.
1.; National Journal, weekly magazine, establishes organizations and goals
2., New York Times, newspaper establishing private interests are not behind the organizations (i.e. they are not grassroots)
3., Gainsville Sun, newspaper; "These efforts are called "astroturf" because they only appear to grassroots.", which directly references Fix the Debt's astroturf mistake
4., Huffington Post, video clearly talks about astroturfing
5., Huffington Post Blog, first-person account of astroturfing incident
6., Bill Moyers & Company, details astroturf activities
Gunshippolitico (talk) 02:14, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I trimmed the sources that were guest posts, blogs, etc. and/or did not support the material in the article. The New York Times is obviously the most reliable, so I skimmmed through that one. However, it never says it is astroturf or a front group - The New York Times appears to position it as conflict of interest. I am prone to disagree with the NYT in this case. To think that lobbyists are holding two positions in conflict, rather than simply astroturfing, is hard to believe. For now I would suggest we put it on hold until one of us looks at a few other sources that are at a similar level of reliability as The New York Times. CorporateM (Talk) 03:06, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Global view

Commenting on the (unnecessary) adding of tags to the top of this article. While the concept of Astroturfing is not a uniquely American concept, the article already establishes that such activities are not legal in Europe, UK and Australia. That is contrasted with the United States, where current court decisions have made it legal which in turn has encouraged this activity. Therefore, a lot more of the current information about the subject will come from the US.

Now there could be a whole discussion of mass astroturfing in communist societies. The single party, mass acclamation elections, the great parades showing unified support are effectively Astroturfing taken to an extreme. The difference, to anyone with any powers of observation, is the Communist model is obviously, blatant and fake. The US model is much less obvious because of the surreptitious nature of its execution, again necessitating much more discussion and explanation.

The key question I have to ask is: will these tags serve to bring in additional global information, or does it just serve to make wikipedia in general and this article in particular look less credible. I don't think tags help and certainly do hurt the look and credibility of the greater wikipedia project. Trackinfo (talk) 22:17, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Can you provide a link to what you are referring to RE astroturfing being legal in the US? My understanding was that it is illegal in most industrialized countries, but a huge problem in the US, China and others - it is less common in Europe (I think). It's been a while since I contributed substantially to the article.
I agree on removing the tag - I almost removed it myself. It's possible the article does need a more global view, but to warrant a tag, the problem should be substantial. Every article is imperfect and it does not make sense to tag all of them. CorporateM (Talk) 22:28, 6 January 2014 (UTC)


This article originally had an excessive "Incidents" section that was mostly a magnet for poorly-sourced complaints. I moved it to the List of astroturfing cases while I culled through it for incidents that were of historical significance to include here.

Since I'm not sure I ever completely finished the task, I moved the article to Talk:Astroturfing/storage for anyone who cares to sift through it some more for additional incidents of historical significance. However, I think enough of the well-sourced stuff has been moved here for it to be better not to have that article.

CorporateM (Talk) 02:49, 17 February 2014 (UTC)


Came across a source that looks really terrific here. I wanted to store it on the Talk page here before I lost track of it. CorporateM (Talk) 16:17, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Hope you enjoyed the terrific source--I clicked on it and it is now missing. -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 00:31, 4 April 2015 (UTC) PS: Maybe a Google-search could find it again.
@Charles Edwin Shipp: The link works fine for me. I emailed it to you. CorporateM (Talk) 00:54, 4 April 2015 (UTC)


Are there any instances of left-wing or progressive organizations doing this? Could use some balance...GregRog (talk) 21:50, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Discussed previously – see Talk:Astroturfing/Archive_3#Political section POV. I found little at the time, but be WP:BOLD and add them and/or discuss here if you find reliable sources. Mojoworker (talk) 20:28, 26 April 2016 (UTC)