Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/12/wikipedia_cash_for_spam/

Jimbo Wales: No one can make money from Wikipedia...

...except me. And maybe this spammer

By Cade Metz

Posted in Media, 12th June 2009 04:05 GMT

A longtime Wikipedia admin has been caught editing the online encyclopedia in exchange for cash. But the Wikicult can't decide if that's a problem.

Earlier this week, someone noticed a post to an online job marketplace where an entrenched Wikifiddler was advertising his Wikiservices. "Besides technical writing, I also am an accomplished senior Wikipedia administrator with several featured articles to my name," read the post, which has since been changed. "If you need a good profile on Wikipedia, I can help you out there too through my rich experience."

The job site actually shows two cases where the admin was hired to edit Wikipedia - here and here. And as a result, it would appear that article edits were at least begun, including those here and here.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales was promptly notified with a public Wikipost, and an army of Wikifiddlers proceeded to search their Wikisouls, asking whether the so-called "Cash for Spam" offer undermined their efforts to maintain an encyclopedia with a "neutral point of view."

For many, the answer is "no." You see, as it seeks to build a "neutral" encyclopedia, the Wikicult is also intent on creating some sort of Web 2.0 utopia where you assume that every anonymous fiddler will gladly police themselves.

"If a paid editor is going to be editing, they should be following the PRSA code of ethics," writes someone calling themselves Hipocrite, "specifically the parts about avoiding deceptive practices and revealing the sponsors for causes and interests represented."

Jimbo disagrees with this Wikilogic, arguing that paid edits would certainly undermine the site's credibility. Back in 2006, Wales famously shot down a fledgling paid-edit outfit known as MyWikiBiz, which was forced to reinvent itself outside of Wikiland.

"It is not ok with me that anyone ever set up a service selling their services as a Wikipedia editor, administrator, bureaucrat, etc.," he writes. "I will personally block any cases that I am shown. There are of course some possibly interesting alternatives, not particularly relevant here, but the idea that we should ever accept paid advocates directly editing Wikipedia is not ever going to be ok. Consider this to be policy as of right now."

But some cult members have complained that in voicing his disagreement, Jimbo has undermined the site's commitment to Wikidemocracy. You see, in Wikiland, no one person is allowed to set Wikipolicy. And that includes the cult's self-proclaimed Spiritual Leader.

Some have also pointed out that whereas Jimbo frowns on individual editors making cash from the free encyclopedia, he has no problem doing so himself. Wales makes upwards of $75,000 for each of his Wikipedia-centric speaking engagements. And it's no secret he has dreams of turning the Wikimedia Foundation into a for-profit operation.

Then there's that time he had Wikipedia edited in exchange for sex.

But this is Wikiland - where such self-contradiction isn't a contradiction. Wales has vowed to block anyone who edits Wikipedia for money. But someone was just been caught doing so. And the vow is still just a vow. Presumably, the site's credibility just took a hit. ®