Microsoft Offers Blogger Money To “Fix” Wikipedia Errors?

Filed as General on January 29, 2007 6:42 pm

When it comes to marketing your companies image as “good,” Microsoft seems to fail miserably within this department. It seems that Microsoft, upset about certain inaccuracies within Wikipedia, is paying blogger Rick Jelliffe to sift through and correct the “technical errors” that appear on everyone’s favorite Wiki. Is it me, or does anybody sense a potential conflict of interest here?

(Australian IT) MICROSOFT is in the doghouse with Wikipedia doghouse as a result of offering to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced encyclopedia website.

Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, but founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. Paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.

“We are very disappointed to hear Microsoft is taking that approach,” Wales says.

Although not 100% accurate, what makes Wikipedia stand out is the amount of useful information one can find, allowing you to research a topic in more depth than any general search engine could provide. Even Google seems to rely heavily on Wikipedia in order to find useful info, as it often appears in the search engine king’s top ten spots.

But if one is able to pay people to change information on Wikipedia, (regardless of topic) then how will anybody know whether or not information regarding any subject is neutral or slanted towards a specific company, industry, political party, etc.?

Although bloggers are entitled to make money (as we all have to eat), the question of being paid by a company to “correct” errors on a public wiki sounds a bit alarming. Rick Jelliffe’s weblog is already picking up some discussion, and Rick seems fairly active defending himself against naysayers, as well as gaining a few allies regarding Microsoft’s “money for accuracy” deal.

Whether or not Jelliffe’s deal with Microsoft holds merit or is another PayPerPost scheme, the blogosphere will have to decide. But as far as I can tell, this move may lead towards Wikipedia’s content being slanted towards the highest bidder, rather than attempt at producing trustworthy articles striving towards neutrality.

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