Examples of Bias in Wikipedia: Paid Editing

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Wikipedia claims to be edited by volunteers rather than by paid editors who are pushing the point of view of their clients.


Historically, Wikipedia did not give much coverage to the Paralympics, because most paralympic athletes did not receive much independent media coverage and hence did not satisfy Wikipedia's notability test for having articles in its online encyclopedia.[1] However, in 2011, the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) issued an Request for Proposal to pay someone to write a history of Australia's paralympians.[2] The original plans was for the resulting document to be published as a book. Instead, a team, which included the President (who was also then serving on the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee) and Vice President of Wikimedia Australia, won the contract and decided to post their work on Wikipedia. As a result, the APC hired one of them as a "Wikipedian in residence" and they also organized a competition to encourage volunteer editors to write about paralympians called "Wikimedians to the Games" offering as a prize two trips to London to cover the 2012 Paralympic Games.[3] The contest did not draw many entrants nor generate much content. Most of the content was generated by the paid writer instead of by volunteers. At the last minute, they proposed a new combined Olympic/paralympic competition.[4] Apparantly, the two people who are going to London to cover the Paralympics are the paid writer and her significant other.[5] Their "wikinews" coverage gained about 300-400 readers, worldwide.[6]

In December 2012, there was a separate funding controversy as these individuals travelled from Australia to Colorado in the United States to photograph and write about a skiing competition for para-sport athletes.[7] They sought $4,635 in funding from the Australia Wikimedia Chapter for their trip, but started the trip before hearing a reply and pressed their funding claim while already on route. If Wikipedia relies upon secondary sources, it is not clear why they should fund amateur photographers and journalist to travel to para-sport events on the other side of the globe. Nor was it clear why one of the thousands of Wikipedia volunteers in the United States could not have covered the event in Colorado instead of a three-person team from Australia.

United Kingdom Parliament

In March 2012, a British non-profit journalism organization called the Bureau of Investigative Journalism uncovered that members of the UK Parliament or their staff had made almost 10,000 edits to Wikipedia, and that almost one in six members of Parliament had had their Wikipedia article edited from IP addresses tracing back to Parliament.[8] Many of the edits removed unflattering details from during the controversy over parliamentary expense accounts.[9][10]


This nation, as well as the small Welsh town of Monmouth, hired Roger Bamkin who was a trustee of Wikimedia UK and the former chairman of its board. Although his primary task was to post QR codes around those locations to link to Wikipedia articles, he also edited articles relating to Gibraltar and Monmouth on the English Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation and its UK chapter launched a joint investigation of this conflict of interest on September 28, and Bamkin has resigned as a trustee.[11]


In January 2012, four new editors registered with Wikipedia and started to make edits only on the Vonage article[12] removing unfavorable facts and adding promotional materials. This was noticed by a Reddit user,[13] which was then cited on the Wikipedia article's talk page. Although the biased edits made by users with names like "VonageAdmin" are now being cleaned-up, the edits persisted for ten months.[14]


  1. In April 2013, a marketer sent out unsolicited emails claiming to "have a Wikiepdia Admin on staff who can get your pages up and keep them up. He is also very good at fixing client's pages who have gotten slandered online. Get in touch for more details. Our price is $2,500." Wikipedia did not investigate the claim.[15]


  1. Wikipedia:Notabiity (sports). Retrieved on August 30, 2012.
  2. Paralymic History Request for Proposals (PDF). Retrieved on August 30, 2012.
  3. Wikimedians to the Games. Retrieved on August 30, 2012.
  4. "Olympic/Paralympic WikiCup?", June 28, 2012. Retrieved on August 30, 3012. 
  5. "Covering the Olympics/Paralympics live and in person for Wikipedia and other WMF projects", July 22, 2012. Retrieved on August 30, 2012. 
  6. User:LauraHale. Retrieved on August 30, 2012.
  7. http://www.wikimedia.org.au/w/index.php?title=Proposal:Paralympic_Winter_Sports&oldid=8387
  8. Wikipedia. "MPs Wikipedia pages 'changed from inside Parliament'", Telegraph, March 9, 2012. Retrieved on August 30, 2012. 
  9. Wikipedia: ‘Bob Crow, The Lord of the Rings and Notable DJs’: TBIJ. Thebureauinvestigates.com. Retrieved on August 30, 2012.
  10. Eddie Wrenn. "MPs and their staff make 10,000 changes to Wikipedia pages in bid to hide embarrassing information | Mail Online", Dailymail.co.uk, March 9, 2012. Retrieved on August 30, 2012. 
  11. "Wikipedia parent launches ethics probe into influence peddling scandal", Daily Dot, October 3, 2012. Retrieved on October 11, 2012. 
  12. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vonage&diff=475805081&oldid=469974275
  13. Did Vonage try to sterilize its Wikipedia article? (October 9, 2012). Retrieved on October 11, 2012.
  14. "Did Vonage attempt to whitewash its Wikipedia page?", Daily Dot, October 9, 2012. Retrieved on October 11, 2012. 
  15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest/Noticeboard/Archive_63#Paid_editing_with_a_twist