Wikipedia has announced that it has blocked a large number of user accounts which were involved in so-called "black hat" editing.
This is the practice of undisclosed paid advocacy – in other words, setting up a Wikipedia page which is promotional in nature for a third-party, and secretly being paid to do so.
Obviously this violates about every principle of Wikipedia going, and volunteer editors rooted out 381 sock puppet user accounts which were guilty of this practice in total, banning them.
As well as the accounts, 210 articles created by said users were also stripped from Wikipedia.
In a blog post, Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, and Juliet Barbara, Senior Communications Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, noted: “Most of these articles, which were related to businesses, business people, or artists, were generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations.
“The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.”
This isn’t the first time large-scale action has been taken against those violating Wikipedia’s neutrality and conflict of interest principles. Back in the autumn of 2013, hundreds of accounts linked to the consulting firm Wiki-PR were taken down.