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Incorrect Grammar[edit]

I changed the sentence "the plastic surgery company, Lifestyle Lift, ordered their companies" to "the plastic surgery company, Lifestyle Lift, ordered their employees", since Lifestyle Lift does not hire companies. (talk) 22:21, 18 October 2009 (UTC)


Final sentence: "This practice is illegal in most, if not all, states" is very US-centric. Can anyone add info on the laws of other countries? NathanV 10:53, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Would appreciate that too.

I've rewritten this section, because the previous version didn't describe shills (instead, it described people who pretend to be something they are not, but such people are not shills unless they conform to the definitions given elsewhere in the article). The new version does indeed describe true shills on message boards, i.e., people who promote products, services, opinions, etc., without revealing their own conflict of interest in doing so (such as the fact that they work for a company that products a product they are endorsing). — Agateller 11:49, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm not going to remove a whole section, but the new one "Shills on message boards" doesn't conform to what I understand by "shill". If someone makes up a bunch of BS about their qualifications and pretends to an erudition they don't have, heshe is just a liar. A shill is someon who *seems *neutral, but is actually not. But I could be wrong, so I'm just leaving a comment and someone else can yank the section if this makes sense. Mateo_LeFou

The section that talks about the message board shills needs to stay. Yes, shills try to appear neutral even though they are not. Shills belong to a class of liars who are either hired or motivated for business, political, scientific, social, or religious purposes and propaganda. Hence, the shill mentality is perfectly applicable to message boards as well, and is commonly hypothesized by the internet community to be rampant in many public forums, especially those types of forums that advertise certain products or forums that offer a wide variety of topics which concern government, religious, scientific, social and political issues. Justin Alvarez Jr. 08:46, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

I understand your point. What I think is missing from the concept of a message board shill is the existence of preliminary trust in the speaker, based on the fact that some *third *party vouches for himher. Some scenarios: Let's Suppose I think that global warming is bunk... 1) I go somewhere public and deliver a completely made-up lecture based on phony evidence and fake credentials and try to convince people that it's bunk. all I am is a liar. If I'm paid for this, I'm just a liar-for-hire. 2) If the same lecture is underwritten, promoted, and staged by, e.g. the Republican Party, or an automobile manufacturer, all I am is a partisan, or mouthpiece. 3) If it is underwritten by "The Committee for the Advancement of Geological Inquiry" it *sounds like an objective, scientific discussion. People infer that it (generally) conforms to scientific methods, peer review, etc. And they place a certain amount of trust in the event because of that. If it turns out that the CAGI is wholly owned and funded my an automobile manufacturer, and the methods of inquiry were not scientific, we have a genuine shill.

The message-board "shill" is more like case 1. Nobody thinks that posting a message -- in itself -- establishes any credibility. Trust is created as a writer says things that other people confirm. Even if I go to the extensive trouble of building a website for a phony organization, or journal, and transcripts for a non-existent college, there is no third-party joining in. Shilling must always have a touch of consipracy to it, an abuse of trust. People might think "well, if it's at, it must be true" but nobody thinks, "well, if it's on a message board, it must be true." Mateo_LeFou

Good point. Perhaps message boards aren't the prime venues in which genuine trust can be effectively abused. What do you think about renaming the section to "Shills in the internet"? I'm sure there are a handful of high profiled websites on the internet that may be vulnerable to an abuse of trust. Although there is already a section called "Shills in auctions" which mentions online auctions, I think the prospect of renaming "Shills on message boards" to "Shills on the internet" would allow for a more in depth section which would include online auctions. Thoughts? Also, here are 2 source I found about internet shilling:

- Justin Alvarez Jr. 12:26, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

I have renamed the section "Shills on the Internet" as suggested above. My experience has been that many shill who appear on message boards, blog comments etc. also have their own web site. I don't think these various activities can be clearly separated.

As for how trust is established, if we take the example of the (live) auction shill, trust is established based on the shill's own claim rather than by a third party. The same applies on message boards etc. A shill will often establish his/her bona fides by saying things that are demonstrably true and/or insightful so that the lies that follow stand a chance of being taken for truth. At least that has been my experience of them.

I added two paragraphs about shills working for governments. Both my examples are related to 9/11. I know that this makes the section look a bit too focused on one issue. However I can't think of another case where both of the opposing claims of shill activity have been made so clearly or where each case has been argued at such length.

I have added a paragraph dealing with potential for message board sponsorship by companies selling products related to the theme of the message board as a possible way to buying protection the identity of the company's shills, as a result of experiencing this personally, although the sheer secrecy of shill operations makes siting verifiable references for this impossible. 16 February 2007

Employees Are Marketing Shills?[edit]

I removed the following from the Marketing section...

Sometimes, shills also assume the air of hapless overworked employees, whining in their blogs that they are working their asses off to get the long promised vaporware out of the door, and that we should please, please, please stop bugging them about it.

...besides seeming non-NPOV, this looks like some fallout from the recent controversy regarding Electronic Arts' employment practices. Des Courtney -- 19:22, 15 July 2005 (UTC)


Did I miss the section that talks about infomercials?

Wikipedia self-reference[edit]

Given the growing importance of Wikipedia as a source of information it is no surprise that it too is targeted by shills. Naturally this creates a great deal of work for administrators and other contributors repairing the damage these people do.

Should this go, according to Avoid_self-references?

It seems that if the article got forked to a different site, the reference to Wikipedia would be out of context and without reason. If the article was being read elsewhere, nobody would be interested in how Wikipedia is targeted by shills. --- Arancaytar - avá artanhé (reply) 01:05, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

I see Wikipedia being used by shills all the time. Want to see where? Sam 06:38, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

In that case, Wikipedia is being mentioned in this context as a convenient example of an online encyclopedia, and it should be reformed to reflect this. ... "online reference works like, for example, Wikipedia ...". And even then it's still gratuitous. --- Arancaytar - avá artanhé (reply) 15:31, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Information about systems for preventing shills in auctions[edit]

...anything? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Palpalpalpal (talkcontribs) 15:14, 19 February 2007 (UTC).

McDonalds and Rap Music[edit]

I changed the wording from McDonalds "recently launched a project" to "attempted to launch a project" as the article that information was from was writtin in 2005. Itsmeiam 14:45, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Opposite of Shill[edit]

What is the word for the opposite of a shill? I'm asking for linguistic reasons for purposes of contributing to ths article, or possibly creating a new one. By "opposite" I mean a person (or group of persons) who pretend no association with the seller/group, but are paid by them to be antagonistic towards them. Examples include a political group I heard about who were having a protest, and they had members of their own group (or paid stooges) dress as an opposing group and "Counter-protest." The fake opponents acted rowdy and stupid, throwing eggs and shouting slurs. The idea was to make the opposing ideology look foolish and vicious, while the main group could weather it and look like intelligent, peaceful martyrs. Another more infamous example is the Gleiwitz incident of World War II, where German soldiers dressed as Polish soldiers and attacked a German radio station to give Germany and excuse to attack. Would such a concept we part of the definition of shill? Or is this another term/concept altogether? Legitimus 16:02, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

What you describe may fall under the topic of false flag operations. However, false flag incidents are typically military (or at least paramilitary) in nature, so I'm not sure it's worth mentioning in an article that focuses primarily on economic malfeasance. Cheers, Skinwalker 16:09, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
I think you're right. False-flag is a good term, that must what I was thinking of. But I see you're point. A civilian "false-flag" stunt has very little use in marketing and economics (the basis of "shill"). Legitimus 18:02, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

As an aside, this article is atrocious. I'm about to delete every unsourced and/or POV statement in it, which will not leave much left. Skinwalker 18:27, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

While some of your examples might qualify as "false-flag" (i.e.: Gleiwitz), a more general term for "opposite of shill" might be "Straw man". Although that term is most commonly used with "argument", it generally means something/someone that is set up for the purpose of being easily defeated or made to look bad. Originally: a human dummy made of straw for target practice using arrows, swords, and such. Note: A "shill" was originally a club/mace ("shillelagh" : big stick) -- So, I guess you could use a shill to knock down a straw man! ~Eric F (talk) 09:01, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Cleanup and references[edit]

The cleanup tag on this article was not accompanied by any specific citation of problems on this page, so I just did a bunch of copyediting based on WP:MOS and removed the tag. But I did add an "unreferenced" tag because the article cites no sources. A proper reference needs to cite specific information on any documents that include the facts from which our prose is derived, not just point to a website. I suspect some of the "external links" may be converted into proper citations. I'd be happy to advise anyone who wishes to try to do this. (I might eventually do it myself, but I'd rather help others learn how to do this — the old fishing vs. teaching to fish thing, ya know.) ~ Jeff Q (talk) 23:35, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Shills in legal casinos in the UK (and elswhere)[edit]

When mentioning shills as casino employees, I am not sure whether this would be legal in the UK. Casinos and bookmakers are not allowed to extend credit to customers except, through a loophole in the law, when the customer is not on the premises (this is discussed in A.P. Herbert's misleading cases). (A customer may pay by credit card-- but then it is the card provider, not the casino, that is offering the credit.)

It could be argued that an employee using the casino's money-- however fairly he is playing-- is betting on credit. I haven't much knowedge of this since casinos are pretty rare in the UK and I have never been in one-- one must have been a "member" of the casino for at least 24 hours to be able to play, so in practice it's not something one does on a whim.

SimonTrew (talk) 05:21, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

The Classic Usage[edit]

The classic use of the term is in regard to carnival and fairground games of 'skill' and chance and hucksterism. Any specific reason why that isn't addressed? (other than in the passing mention of three-card-monte, which is more in the nature of streetcorner hustling) Irish Melkite (talk) 13:37, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

A Real Stretch[edit]

The section on interrogation is a real stretch. In many years of working with both the law enforcement and correctional communities, I have never heard the term 'shill' applied to the practice described or the persons acting in that role - neither by those who would be the practitioners nor by those who would be its 'victims' - accused persons, prisoners, or convicts. Irish Melkite (talk) 13:43, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

I whole heartedly agree, the section on interrogation as well as the 'False Flag' Operation Northwood, puppet government and undercover operations pieces are ironically Shills themselves. It's obvious to me that this site has been infiltrated by a bunch of whacko 911 conspiracy theory trufers... peddling their religion wherever they can insert it as a 'related topic'. Initials OTS. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:51, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Dubious Content[edit]

In general, I have added the citations missing template, because there are many points made in this article with no citations whatsoever. Just trying to get it polished up. :-)

However, more specifically, I am removing this; it was just added 3 days ago, and it looks like an attempt to spread a particular, unsubstantiated viewpoint; not like anything that belongs on Wikipedia. Lacks neutral point of view, of course lacks citation. It was added by someone at IP

"An other type of shill found commonly in online forums works as a disinformation agent, spreading lies and propaganda in order to suppress the truth. Paid by government agencies and large corporations, they work to "debunk" alternative news, advanced technology, and conspiracies. These may be the most dangerous type of shills, because the threaten the advancement of understanding and truth, working to maintain public ignorance and protecting those who attempt to undermine the workings of a free society." Ikrieg (talk) 07:27, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

That last statement is quite dubious in that it is not encyclopedic, but rather POV. There are references around for some of the claims, such as the references to the US members of Congress editing their WP entries (which I might add to the article soon). But in general this article is poorly written and covers the subject with far too few references.--Senor Freebie (talk) 21:46, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

"Usually this takes the form of a show or network, such as FOX News,[citation needed] pretending to be offering news, when in fact they are simply repeating views offered by a political party.[citation needed] Journalistic ethics require full disclosure of conflicts of interest, and of any interference by other parties with the reportage.[citation needed]"

-It seems completely bizarre to make specific accusations against a specific news organization without claiming *any* sources whatsoever... not even some sort of opinion piece. This person might want to consider looking into Journalistic Ethics themselves... two wrongs don't make a right.

Further potential content[edit]

I'm going to draw up a list of well sourced additions to make. I'll be focusing on the state practice of shilling, where there is information available. I will not be making dubious claims as above and instead focusing on allegations and documented fact where available. I may also change the structure of the page. Do people think that it needs a definition vs. history section? With a history section we could list famous examples and this is pretty typical for a word.

Content I will probably add:

*  — Preceding unsigned comment added by Senor Freebie (talkcontribs) 23:38, 7 February 2011 (UTC) 
* Elements of
*  — Preceding unsigned comment added by Senor Freebie (talkcontribs) 15:46, 8 February 2011 (UTC) 
* Particularly information from this source
* Some of this mans claims
* Relation to a false flag operation
* Relation to a puppet regime, eg. that they often claim to represent their nation but actually represent another power
* Relation to state sponsored counter-revolutionaries / insurgents? This seems like perhaps a bit of a stretch.
* More later ... feel free to put stuff into a list for me that you want added.--Senor Freebie (talk) 22:05, 7 February 2011 (UTC)


The discussion in this section has some serious POV issues. The tone is dripping with contempt for the US media. Also needs references. (talk) 20:55, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

How would you go about getting a reference for something that no one would ever put in print or put their name to online? (This is a serious question, and one I've wondered often while browsing wikipedia) --Sephikus (talk) 22:28, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

I agree with the anon user that first made this comment. I think the words 'plant' and 'stooge' are derisive, not to mention uncited. If they are used, perhaps we should indicate that these 'often called' slang terms do have a derisive connotation. OR drohowa (talk) 14:26, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Legal / illegal examples[edit]

The example of a legal shill would make more sense if it were paired with an example of an illegal shill. ~Eric F (talk) 09:07, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Shills in the justice system[edit]

I would like to see a section in this article about jurors who might be "planted" with the intent to influence the verdict in a trial. (talk) 22:41, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

That'd probably be deemed as contempt of court, perverting the course of justice or even perjury. Mere Mortal (talk) 19:03, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia a shill?[edit]

Unsurprisingly, I see sites like this claiming Wikipedia is a shill, with the reason being that Wikipedia is deleting articles it doesn't like or something like that.--TemplarJLS (talk) 05:49, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Hi there. I think the issue you raise is covered, albeit categorically and not specifically, by the Internet section of this article, and also by the article Sockpuppet (Internet), which is linked from that section. If you have specific ideas to improve either article, they are welcome. There certainly are Wikipedia editors out there whose contributions are sponsored by companies (see this article, for example), much like there are on many forums and online communities throughout the Web. You can read more about how this behavior is addressed in the Wikipedia:Conflict of interest guideline. If you feel there have been conflicts of interest in the conduct of certain editors, you'll find information on that page as to how to report and investigate it. Ibadibam (talk) 22:47, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Business "shill"[edit]

Regarding this edit, which was repeated recently: The issue is not whether the material is factual, or even whether the writing needs improvement. The problem is that the section is entirely unsourced, and I can't independently find any sources that discuss this concept. It also doesn't appear to match the definition of shill, which is "a person who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization." (emphasis mine) What's described in the passage in question is a person who does have a public relationship with the person or organization. It certainly sounds like bad-faith business practices, but I don't see the connection to this article. Ibadibam (talk) 18:21, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

I agree with your reversions on that. I have no idea the source of that huge description of a business shill, nor have I heard of any examples. But it looks like the contributor should write a letter to a newspaper or get this onto her blog or something. While this may have happened once or twice, and these folks may be called shills, it hardly seems likely that we need to describe it here in such lurid (and generic) detail. Angelina, if you are watching this, why don't you write a letter to your attorney general or trade commission or board or minister of trade or something. I like to saw logs! (talk) 18:39, 25 March 2015 (UTC)