Viral Marketing, Spamming and Censoring Wikipedia
Two stories about manipulating Wikipedia for commmercial and promotional purposes are floating around this morning. One is linked to a post on Boing Boing about viral marketers targeting Wikipedia entries for the planting of commercial info. The other is about Open Directory Project editors making sure that nothing negative is posted on Wikipedia about their handling of ODP.
GoogleBlogScope points to this entry on Boing Boing about how vulerable the Wikipedia is to viral marketing scammers, including England’s BBC Broadcasting. Apparently people at the BBC created fake Wikipedia profiles of make-believe pop-stars from a BBC “online reality game.” In response to the story one reader writes :
I can’t say who I am, but I do work at a company that uses Wikipedia as a key part of online marketing strategies. That includes planting of viral information in entries, modification of entries to point to new promotional sites or “leaks” embedded in entries to test diffusion of information. Wikipedia is just a more transparent version of Myspace as far as some companies are concerned. We love it (evil laugh).
On the other side, I love it from an academia/sociological standpoint, and I don’t necessarily have a problem with it used as a viral marketing tool. After all, marketing is a form of information, with just a different end point in mind (consuming rather than learning).
In a related story, Threadwatch is reporting that Open Directory Editors, who have come under some flak recently for extorting site owners by approving listings for a fee, are censoring the ODP article at Wikipedia – “which does carry a caveat saying the neutrality of the article is in question.” More from Threadwatch.