CalTech Student Releases Tool For Hunting Wikipedia Spin Jobs

In Vote On the Most Shameful Wikipedia Spin Jobs, the Wired Blog Network reports that Virgil Griffin, a Caltech graduate student, has released a Wikipedia Scanner search tool that identifies edits by corporate IP block. Just type in the name of a corporation to see what sort of anonymous Wikipedia edits have been coming from their network. As I write this, Diebold, Scientology, Dow, ExxonMobil and Disney are the top rated spin jobs.

What does this mean for search marketing professionals?

  • If you are involved in reputation management, you’ll want to make sure your clients aren’t diddling their Wikipedia pages. They shouldn’t whitewash criticism, nor should they decorate articles with public relations fluff. Ask them to write this into company policy, and have them appoint one person in the public relations department to deal with any Wikipedia problems using the methods described in The Right Way To Fix Inaccurate Wikipedia Articles.
  • It might not be a bad idea to use the tool to see any rogue employees have done spin jobs unknown to management. Your clients’ official representatives could demonstrate good faith by using the article talk page to identify problem edits. That may help them avoid a potential backlash.
  • Have your competitors been spinning articles? While it would be a conflict of interest for you to “de-spin” the articles yourself, you can certainly identify problems on the relevant talk pages. Say who you are, and ask neutral editors to fix the articles.

As social media becomes more advanced, the leading sites will develop better ways to monitor the integrity of user generated content. If you’re a career search marketing professional, you can’t afford to get caught astroturfing. While tricks may work for a while, sooner or later you’ll regret your cleverness.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Search Engines: Wikipedia | Search Marketing: Public Relations


About The Author: has two degrees in computer science from Yale University and is a founder of Hochman Consultants, an internet marketing company, and CodeGuard, a computer security service.

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  • misstery

    Totally agree that there should be a company policy for dealing with online reputation management, not just for Wikipedia but all blogs, social sites, review sites and so on. There is an almost infinite number of places a company could be mentioned and it should certainly be tracked, monitored and responded to in an informed, outreaching manner. Wikipedia is the big story today but there’s also conversations about companies and products happening daily all over the place, many of which can actually be responded to on the site.

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