Wikimedia Foundation Sends Cease & Desist To Wiki-PR

Chris CrumBusiness

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Last month, Sue Gardner, the outgoing executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, announced that over 250 Wikipedia accounts had been blocked or banned as editors investigated accusations of people being paid to edit and manage pages.

Wiki-PR is a company that has made a business out of doing just that. The firm was mentioned in Gardner's post, but had appeared in various news reports (notably one from the Daily Dot) even before that.

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation announced that it has sent Wiki-PR a cease and desist letter. Matthew Roth, a spokesperson for the Foundation, wrote on its blog:

To assist in the assessment, the WMF retained Cooley LLP to review and investigate allegations that a company named Wiki-PR has been engaging in paid advocacy editing, in contravention of the Wikimedia Foundation’s website Terms of Use. While the WMF and Cooley were investigating this question, the Wikimedia community banned Wiki-PR and anyone receiving financial benefits from Wiki-PR from editing until certain conditions were met.

Today, Cooley LLP, on behalf of the WMF, sent the cease and desist letter below to the CEO of Wiki-PR, demanding that Wiki-PR “cease and desist from further editing the Wikipedia website unless and until [they] have fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.”

In the letter, the Foundation tells Wiki-PR, "As we have discussed with you previously, we have come to the opinion that, based on evidence that we have to date, that agent(s) of your company have engaged in sockpuppetry or meatpuppetry to, among other things, make it appear as if certain articles are written by unbiased sources when in fact those articles are authored by Wiki-PR for money. As we have explained to you, this practice violates the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use...This practice also gives rise to a number of potential legal claims, including statutory and common law fraud, unfair business practices, breach of contract, and trespass to chattels."

"In addition to these practices, our investigation has also uncovered evidence suggesting that Wiki-PR may have confused correspondent(s) concerning its relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation. This concerns us given that the Wikimedia Foundation has sent you two previous letters charging prior misuse of our trademark on your site."

You can read the letter in its entirety here.

To this day, the title for the Wiki-PR homepage is "Wikipedia Writers For HIre".

Image: Wiki-PR

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.