Wikipedia is popularly known as a not-for-profit organization and it is precisely thhe philosophy that has helped Wikipedia become the largest encyclopaedia ever. However, what if all of a sudden we were told that a number of high-profile Wikipedia editors were using the service to make huge bucks? That seems to be the case with a Wikipedia trustee as well as a top Wikipedia editor.
Wikipedia’s ‘Did You Know’ page usually promotes new articles which are able to attract millions of views simply by being featured on the page. Many advertising agencies would want to put their client’s articles on the ‘Did You Know’ page simply to amass a huge online traffic.
While other ad agencies can only dream of it, a trustee of Wikimedia Foundation UK, Roger Bamkin, seems to have done that already. Bamkin has apparently used his position on the Wikimedia Foundation to promote articles related to Gibraltar. Why would he do so? Because he’s running a project in one of the towns in Gibraltar and had a huge personal stake in it.
When Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales was told about it, he responded in the following words, “It is wildly inappropriate for a board member of a chapter, or anyone else in an official role of any kind in a charity associated with Wikipedia, to take payment from customers in exchange for securing favorable placement on the front page of Wikipedia or anywhere else.”
However, the scandal doesn’t end here. Yet another of Wikipedians In Resident, Max Klein, was found to be using his influence in Wikipedia to further his personal PR profile. Klein has a consulting business called ‘untrikiwi’ and the description of his business states,
“A positive Wikipedia article is invaluable SEO: it’s almost guaranteed to be a top three Google hit. Surprisingly this benefit of writing for Wikipedia is underutilized, but relates exactly the lack of true expertise in the field. … WE HAVE THE EXPERTISE NEEDED to navigate the complex maze surrounding ‘conflict of interest’ editing on Wikipedia. With more than eight years of experience, over 10,000 edits, and countless community connections we offer holistic Wikipedia services.”
This essentially means that Klein is offering to edit the Wikipedia pages of his clients and assuring them that he would put them into a ‘positive light’ through his long-time expertise. Clearly, this is an ethical sin, given the fact that Jimmy Wales has always presented Wikipedia as a strictly not-for-profit organization.