PR firm accused of editing Wikipedia for government clients
An article published on May 10 on Odwyerpr.com written by Greg Hazley documented a "sparring match" between Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and public relations firm Qorvis partner Matt Lauer. Lauer, who is not related to the Matt Lauer of the US' Today show, disputes Wikipedia's guideline discouraging public relations firms from editing articles on their clients, saying "This inane policy would violate the basic tenets of even the most partisan of small-town newspapers or the most crooked court rooms. This dangerous policy violates the fundamental rules of reporting, of debate, and of discussion."
Wales responded via Twitter, saying "Your complaints are deeply dishonest to the point of being embarrassing."
Lauer's firm, Qorvis, created several sockpuppets to try to "whitewash" the pages of his clients. There was a thread about this on Wales' Wikipedia talk page regarding Qorvis in February which referenced a sockpuppet investigation into the matter. When it was confirmed, Wales suggested to Lauer that his clients should fire him for his misuse of Wikipedia.
A previous article in the Daily Dot detailed some of Wikipedia's "voluminous" evidence against Qorvis—though Lauer denies that it is true—and continued to slam Lauer:
Remember Lauer's claim that some creatively slanderous Wikipedian had written that CEO Michael Petruzzello was known as the "Super Gypsy among the Washington elite?" The Daily Dot discovered that the edit was actually made by the exact same Qorvis IP address listed above: 184.108.40.206. Either inside jokes from Qorvis staffers were leaking on to Wikipedia, or the "Super Gypsy" really is Petruzzello's nickname. Regardless, the fact that Lauer omitted this key information from his blog post shows that either he's either [sic] being dishonest or is ignorant of what his employees are doing on Wikipedia. Either way, it calls into question everything else Lauer has said about Qorvis' activity on the site.
The O'Dwyer article concludes with a comment from Wales stating that in his experience, which he describes as "comprehensive", people who are paid representatives are bad editors who insert biased information and that they do it because "that is what paid advocates do." Still, despite Wales' strong words, Wikipedia's conflict of interest and paid editing guidelines are purposely vague, and attempts to strengthen or weaken them have faced strong resistance.
Can Wikipedia predict the stock market?
A report conducted by researchers at the Warwick Business School has concluded that a trading strategy based on the frequency of views would have yielded up to a 141 per cent improvement over a random strategy. IT Business of Canada wrote about the report. Their article commented that:
While basing a trading strategy solely around such data is likely a risky proposition, it is an interesting real-world case study of big data in action, and how publicly accessible information on group behavior can be used to make better and more informed decisions.
The report found that using Wikipedia from late 2007 to 2012 may have "provided some insight" into how the market was going to perform, but said that no such relationship exists between views of Wikipedia articles on actors and filmmakers.
The report can be viewed in its entirety via Nature.com here.
Tom Waterhouse, seen here with his wife in 2011, was the subject of a news story this week revolving around his staff's alleged edits to his Wikipedia article.
Australian bookmaker and COI: The Wikipedia article on Tom Waterhouse, who is described there as a fourth-generation bookmaker and businessman, came into the public spotlight this week after the Age, an Australian newspaper, published an article detailing his staff's alleged involvement. While Waterhouse is quoted as saying that "I've only asked them to make sure [the content] abides by what is legal," the newspaper detailed efforts by several editors to remove well-referenced information.
Rachel Johnson factual error: A brief article in the London Evening Standard commented that Rachel Johnson's Wikipedia page had a factual error and that, when she tried to correct it herself, she received a rebuke from administrator Orangemike. The error has now been fixed after the implementation of a reliable source. Mike commented to The Signpost that he was not contacted by the paper prior to their running the story and that he left the "usual warning" about conflicts of interest.
Wikipedian featured: The Oregonianpublished a feature on Wikipedian Jason Moore, who lives in Oregon. On Wikipedia, he is known as Another Believer. (Editor's note: Jason gave the Signpost permission to disclose his real name.)
Track Wikipedia edits live: TheAtlanticCities.com released an article announcing the creation of a live map tracking from where in the world Wikipedia edits come. The map, which can be viewed here was designed by two programmers and uses geographic locations of IP addresses to generate its data.
Basketball player called "faggot" on Wikipedia: The Huffington Postpublished an article with a screenshot of this diff before the revision was deleted. The revision showed an edit that read, "He just revealed he is a faggot!" The Huffington Post obtained the screenshot from Queerty.com, which in turn received it from an "eagle-eyed reader".