How People Are Able To Buy Biased Wikipedia Articles

Ethan
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THE BLACK MARKET

$400 to a $1000. This is how much you can make per article by writing about banks, presidents, and other notable figures on Wikipedia. That’s why teachers told us not to trust what we see on Wikipedia. After all, anyone can change it. But, have you actually ever seen someone edit or change a Wikipedia article. I know I haven’t.

But somehow, there’s a Wikipedia article about virtually any topic that you can think whether that be President Calvin Coolidge's pet raccoon or fluid mechanics. In fact, according to a Wikipedia page, there’s a total of 58 million Wikipedia pages. Traditionally, these articles are written by super-dedicated volunteers. 

Steven Pruitt, has apparently made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles


People who strongly believe in the free sharing of information like this guy. This guy, Steven Pruitt, has apparently made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles all for no compensation. He says that the idea of making it all free fascinates him, but not all Wikipedia writers are quite as noble. 

Here’s the thing, the influence of Wikipedia has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. Nowadays, the information found on Wikipedia is often taken as gospel because oftentimes you don’t even know that it’s from Wikipedia. Take voice assistants for example. Whether you're asking Alexa, Google, or Siri, much of the information you’re consuming is directly from Wikipedia. The same thing is true for ChatGPT as well which has been trained using the entirety of Wikipedia. 

In fact, companies use Wikipedia so much that Wikipedia’s parent organization, Wikimedia, has actually started charging companies for using Wikipedia, and their first customer was none other than Google themselves. This in itself has raised concerns about how these big tech companies can exercise control over Wikipedia, but more importantly, this has added an indescribable amount of credibility to Wikipedia. 

All of a sudden, writing for Wikipedia isn’t just a case of contributing to some online forum. It’s a case of defining the truth as what you write will be repeated by billions of voice assistants and generative AIs around the world. I think you can see why this would be an extremely valuable resource to push a certain narrative. Welcome to the black market of Wikipedia.



PUBLISHING AN ARTICLE

Writing Wikipedia articles to push a certain narrative can be super lucrative, but getting into the business isn’t all that easy. According to teachers, publishing articles is something that just about any random Joe can do but that’s completely false. In fact, the process of publishing to Wikipedia is extremely hard and long, especially for new accounts which is where probably you’ll have to start. 

It turns out that Wikipedia is one of the only services that we all use on a regular basis but don’t have an account for. 

PUBLISHING AN ARTICLE ON WIKIPEDIA


Anyway, once you create a new account, you’ll be greeted by the above page which is basically a dashboard to track your social credit on Wikipedia. As you can see, I have none but this is where you’ll have to start if you wanna get into publishing actual articles. Wikipedia will suggest a bunch of articles for you to make small edits to in terms of spelling, grammar, and tone. You’ll have to edit at least 10 pages before you unlock publishing functionality but if you don’t wanna seem sus, you likely want to make hundreds if not thousands of edits before writing full-on articles. 

Once you build up this Wikipedia credit congratulations, you can finally start writing your very own articles and publish them into the ether. Wait, never mind, it’s not that easy. Even after you build up social credit on Wikipedia, you can’t just publish articles. Or I guess you can but it doesn’t actually get published when you press publish. 

Instead, it gets added to a massive cue of over 4,000 articles waiting to be published. It usually takes about 6 months to get through this cue after which your article will go through a rather arduous verification process. The number one factor that Wikipedia is looking for when approving articles is notability. No amount of fancy writing or editing will get you around this requirement. In fact, Wikipedia deletes and rejects over 200 articles every single day because they lack notability. How do they determine notability? 

Well, it comes down to how many independent articles already exist regarding the subject. Corporate press releases and websites do not count as notability for obvious reasons. Wikipedia is looking for at least 3 high-quality sources that contain substantial discussion about the topic. A simple mention is not sufficient. They’re also scanning for any sort of evident bias or narrative that you’re trying to push. 

These rules are already pretty stringent if you’re writing about an organization or event. But if you decide to write about a person, the scrutiny increases severalfold. The reason is that Wikipedia wants to avoid libel and slander which was notoriously common back in the early days. In fact, at one point in time, Wikipedia claimed that Tony Blair, the former prime minister of the UK, worshiped Mr. Small Mustache. 

Nowadays, this wouldn’t fly because each and every line about a living person has to have a direct reference. If it doesn’t, it gets removed even if it's accurate. And all of that is just scratching the surface of Wikipedia’sverification process but if you’re able to get through the gauntlet, well now you’re in business.



PAID ARTICLES

Unlike the process of publishing an article, Paid Articlesfinding people who are willing to pay for an article isn’t that hard. For obvious reasons, companies and people of interest are incentivized to write articles about themselves to increase their notoriety. But, this is something that most people and organizations avoid doing themselves because of the repercussions. 

Writing articles about yourself is strictly prohibited as that’s a clear conflict of interest. If Wikipedia’s reviewers sense that a given article was written by an affiliate, not only is the article taken down but the topic is flagged making it even harder for future articles to be published about the topic. This is why many companies turn to a professional albeit shady service that specializes in this art. 

Such businesses have a team of Wikipedia editors with a bunch of social credit to push articles that clients want. One such business is Wikipedia Thrive. Their pitch on the main page is literally “Hire CertifiedWikipedia Consultants and Claim the Fame”. There are certain parts of the page that almost make the page seem legit. 

For example, they claim that they do exhaustive research and utilize domain experts to get authentic information. But, just below that you run into statements like this. Our certified Wiki experts have complete command of the exhaustive wiki guidelines, so they can get approval on the first run. 

PAID ARTICLES ON WIKIPEDIA


Now, why exactly would a legitimate article be worried about getting approval? Obviously no reason at all. The reality is that the entire site is designed to convince customers about why Wikipedia pages are so important, even more important than Google, and why clients should invest in creating a page that will surely get approved. 

From an outside perspective, this is obviously super sketchy but the thing to keep in mind is that the people who are looking for this service are indeed looking for something sketchy so it works out perfectly. I mean, according to their stats, it looks like business is booming. 


Wikipedia Thrive apparently has 15,000 edits, 6000 live profiles, and 50,000 satisfied clients. Even if we assume that each client was only charged $100, we’re talking about $5 million in revenue. But, that’s honestly lowballing it. 

Way back in 2015, a freelance writer named Mike Wood claimed that clients pay him $400 to $1000 per article. So, 8 years later, that rate has likely only gone up. Even at $400, we’re talking about $20 million in revenue. At $1000, we’re talking about as much as $50 million in revenue and that’s just this one business. There are dozens just like them. 

WikiExpertsInc


This one company called WikiExpertsInc for example is apparently ranked as the #1 Wikipedians company. They claim to have published 4900 articles for 3400 clients over the past 10 years and their motto is “YourGlobal Fame Is Just One Call Away!” Some other businesses include Wikicounselor, wiki-native, wikiconsultancy, wiki-consultant, American wikieditors, and Lumino just to name a few. Some are more sketchy than others but none are as sketchy as a true white glove service.



BENDING REALITY

Bending Reality Most of the businesses we’ve covered so far are definitely sketchy but they're not full-on propaganda machines. They’ll simply cherry-pick sources that support a given narrative and write articles using these sources. But, some more white glove services will just go ahead and create the sources themselves which brings us into the world of paid media. Getting paid media itself is not that hard. 

There are legitimate ways to make sponsored posts and/or get press releases featured on sites like Forbes and CNBC. But, the problem with these avenues is that Wikipedia doesn’t accept sponsored posts or press releases as valid sources. So, ironically, getting a Wikipedia page is actually harder than being featured in mainstream media. To get into Wikipedia, not only do you have to be featured on such websites in a substantial manner but you have to be featured in a seemingly natural and independent manner. 

This is where PR agencies like Spynn come into play. The way this works is pretty simple. These companies basically have a bunch of connections with writers who work at these outlets and they pay them a fee to cover certain topics. Spynn has connections with the following outlets. Theoretically speaking, the writers are the ones who control what ends up getting published but this really just comes down to the ethics of the given writer. There are obviously gonna be writers who are willing to post anything for the right price. 

At Spynn for example you can get one story on Yahoo Finance or BusinessInsider for $1000. They’re so confident in their abilities that they even offer a money-back guarantee. For $3000 a month, they can get you into 6 publications within 3 months, so it’s really $9000 in total. And finally, for $5000 a month, they can get you into 12 publications within 3 months, so for $15,000 in total. 

Spynn has been able to generate $30 million worth of revenue within just 2 years of launching.


Let’s just say that this business is also booming as Spynn has been able to generate $30 million worth of revenue within just 2 years of launching. It looks like there are a lot of egomaniacs out there desperate for publicity and attention. Anyway, if you’re looking to get into Wikipedia from nothing, you probably wanna opt for the enterprise package, so we’re talking about 15 grand. After that, you’ll also have to pay a thousand or so for the Wikipedia article itself. So, we’re talking about a total of 16 grand. That’s the price to get into Wikipedia without any prior notoriety. 

But, just because you get your Wiki article posted doesn’t mean that you’re safe. Once an article is posted, Wikipedia will continue to monitor the interest on your page and other writers will be able to suggest changes to the page. If your page doesn’t get much interest and no one suggests any changes, that in itself will be a red flag.After all, what type of person who’s featured in 12 publications within a matter of 3 months gets only 7 views on their Wikipedia page. No man at all. 

Wikipedia bots are constantly on the lookout for such pages. In fact, they take down 1,000 such pages on a daily basis. So, if you wanna keep your Wikipedia page up, you’ll have to start paying for bots to view your page. But, that’s simply the price you have to pay if you’re trying to buy your way to fame as the black market of Wikipedia


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