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Wikipedia Used For Apparent Viral Marketing Ploy 201

jangobongo writes "An article over at BoingBoing discusses what appears to be a viral marketing ploy appearing in a Wikipedia entry. Quote: "Someone has apparently abused collaborative reference site Wikipedia in a viral marketing campaign for a BBC online alternate reality game." "
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Wikipedia Used For Apparent Viral Marketing Ploy

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  • wikipedia problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashdotnickname ( 882178 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:51AM (#13319893)
    Not to gang up on wikipedia but as anyone else spent time doing random page jumps? I was surprised how many self-serving pages are out there, often looking like resumes for people of seemingly little fame or encyclopedic value... not to mention the suspiciously POV pages authored mainly by one author.

    Seems like there's a larger problem out there that wikipedia needs to address. Certain aspects of human nature (coupled with the security of relative anonimity) are going to be tough to filter out from such an open project like theirs.
  • No news is bad news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djkitsch ( 576853 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:04AM (#13319928)
    I'm sure it's occurred to many other Slashdotters, but this is probablly the best kind of press Wikipedia can get.

    This, along with the London bombing coverage [] in Wikinews [] last month, is an excellent example of the power and self-healing of MediaWiki sites.

    You can rant and rave about misuse, and I agree, but this is evidence in favour when the critics talk about how a community-edited encyclopedia can never be a reliable information resource.
  • by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:07AM (#13319934)
    Wikipedia says all over it that anyone can edit and that it is not a "reliable" source, so this is not a big deal.

    I see the larger problem with Wikipedia in that it is run by a millionaire, Jimbo Wales, who has said he manages it according to the philosophy of Ludwig von Mises. And the powers-that-be who have a hand in shaping rules, what content gets in, which users get banned, follow on some level from this.

    While anyone can contribute, in a democratic fashion, there is a counter-force to this, in the same manner that the US is a democratic republic, with a counterforce of an authoritarian financial hierarchy, with landlords and tenants, moneylenders and debtors, company owners and workers. In the same manner, while anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, the "cabal" as they themselves mockingly call it, headed by Jimbo Wales, and with his various lieutenants in Arbcom (the Arbitration Committee), on the Mediation Committee, as bureaucrats, as admins, exercises a great deal of change over things, and points in the direction things will go.

    There is a project on Wikipedia whose premise is that the English Wikipedia users are mostly from England and its former colonies and they have a certain view of the world. Plus demographically the users are generally people like me, white male professionals from the US and whatnot. Wikipedia says it is "neutral point of view" on topics like Palestine and Israel, the US vs. the USSR and that sort of thing, but that's BS. But anyhow the "counetring systematic bias" project mainly works on things by spending time writing articles about stuff most white male professionals from the US don't spend much time thinking about, like culture in Burundi and stuff like that.

    Wikipedia does very well in it's top categories of mathematics and science, because most everyone is on the same page about these things. Wikipedia completely falls apart in terms of neutrality with things like the John Kerry and George W. Bush pages. They are not neutral. And it has not gotten better, and I am not Panglossian about the worsening situation, unlike the Wikipedia core group. It is obvious to me that the main categories that experience massive edit wars and fights like history and society, will eventually break off into different wikis. The most hardcore John Kerry people will go to one of the wikis, the most hardcore Bush people will go to another wiki. Then these groups might draw more people. This has already happened to some extent. And I tell people - don't bang your head against a brick wall. See how these things will not work out for you on Wikipedia, then go check out a wiki encyclopedia run by either a conservative (wikinfo []) or by liberals (dkosopedia [] or Demopedia []). And if all you're interested in is looking up articles on Wikipedia in quantum mechanics [] - well then, you'll probably be happy with Wikipedia. And I'm sure all the non-political people would love to see all the fanatic Air America listeners and Fox News watchers leave (actually that's being mild, communists and fascists are the real ends of the extremes that exist on Wikipedia).

  • Nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Icephreak1 ( 267199 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:12AM (#13319940) Journal
    Well shit, now that the Wikipedia entry has been Slashdotted, I bet the game's producers are beyond giddy. Perhaps the game's producers submitted this Slashdot story to begin with.

    - IP
  • Why (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smallguy78 ( 775828 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:16AM (#13319948) Homepage
    If it's an 'online alternate reality game' what benefit would there be to the BBC, in having a viral marketing campaign? There's no advertising revenue gained from attracted a lot of new (mostly nerds) to their website.
  • by citizenc ( 60589 ) <> on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:41AM (#13320002) Journal
    It's interesting to start at the original entry [] and then progress through the various versions. You can really see the Wiki editorial process at work.
  • by daniil ( 775990 ) <> on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:45AM (#13320006) Journal
    It also highlights some of the problems with community-edited encyclopedias. First, if you look at the article history [], you'll see that it's been edited something like five hundred times in the course of the past three days, vandalised in many cases (I wonder if the last ones were due to the Slashdotting?). Secondly, he overwhelming reaction of the community to the creation of such an entry about a fictional character seems to be "Delete! Delete!" which is really stupid (it's a lot wiser IMO to keep it in its current state, noting the controversy over the creation of the entry).

    These two problems are really just different sides of the same coin: the first reactions to practically any news will be irrational. On news sites that allow the users comment on the news, there'll always be a billion people screaming bloody murder over anything, instead of giving it a couple of moments' thought. And the reactions to negative news are always the same: throw them to jail! Banish! Destroy! The same thing happened with this Wikipedia entry. Someone read about it on Slashdot and quickly vandalised it, thinking (well, not really thinking) that they'd be doing the community a favour by this. Of course the entry was restored just as quickly, but this doesn't make the problem -- that people do not realise that there are other ways of dealing with problematic things than just "shooting" them -- disappear.

  • Change indicator (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frans Faase ( 648933 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @06:11AM (#13320049) Homepage
    Wikipedia should introduce a "change indicator" that uses background colours to indicate which parts of the text of an article have been modified (deleted) in the past ten days.
  • Re:FP (Score:0, Interesting)

    by utnow ( 808790 ) <> on Monday August 15, 2005 @06:53AM (#13320120) Homepage
    Late breaking news! Somebody made a submission to Wikipedia containing false information intended only to drive links to their product! Surely there's a geek out there working on some cool hobby science project, OSS project, gadget, or gizmo... anything better than this?!? I can see tomorrow's headline. "Slashdot Member Expresses Doubt over Meaningless Headline"
  • by alfboggis ( 528706 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @06:56AM (#13320125)

    I had a look at the original page [] and decided this all smells a bit fishy...

    Jon_Hawk doesn't explicitly say he is unaffiliated with the BBC, in fact the only provable claim he makes is that he is a student. Big deal, like many companies, the BBC employ students.

    Even if this isn't a case of viral marketing, I am sure it must happen, as of the BoingBoing correspondents says: I do work at a company that uses Wikipedia as a key part of online marketing strategies...

  • Re:wikipedia problem (Score:1, Interesting)

    by TACD ( 514008 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @07:24AM (#13320178) Homepage

    So, did you edit those pages appropriately or mark them for deletion? Even a minor alteration bumps it onto the 'recently changed' page, where many others are likely to notice it and finish up whatever needs doing.

    If everybody who noticed these small problems put a similarly small amount of effort into fixing them, Wikipedia would be many times better than it already is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:22AM (#13320326)
    We created this project as an alternative to Wikipedia because we believe that there should be no limits in information.

    Wikipedia believes that information should be as accurate as possible.

    Good luck with that, given your policies.
  • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @08:56AM (#13320493) Homepage
    If I were a "viral marketer", I'd look at the results of this. Sure, the game achieved a sort of notoriety from the fake Wikipedia article. But that's certainly countered by the fact that very few Slashdotters are fourteen year old girls (their primary demographic), and those few fourteen year old girls are the next generation of geek chicks, probably not ideal candidates for playing some airheaded game about a fake boy-band.

    Meanwhile, they've brought their game to the attention of the Script Kiddie Brigade, and made their presence as a hangout four teenieboppers known to tens of thousands of (occasionally badly socialized) males.

    All this might be a fine reaction for some organization that was trying to attract the /. demographic. But in this case, I suspect that it will attract twenty pedophiles, a thousand troublemakers and miscreants, and approximately five people the marketers actually wanted.
  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:24AM (#13321028)
    But that's what's so useful about Wikipedia. I can pull up a reasonable summary of almost any random crap likely to come up in conversation and have a general knowledge of it and related subjects, as well as links to find more information.

    It gives a basic coverage of subjects that you'd normally have to look in very specific types of literature for, assuming you could even figure out what category of encyclopedia you'd need.

    If I need to know what an M1 is? easy, as well as other weapons of the era. What about who Lilith was? No need to know that I have to look under religious studies (or, more specifically, the apocryphal book of Enoch, in the extra-biblical Jewish mythology). Heck, as the parent demonstrated, the term bukkake, which almost no one who doesn't live on the internet has ever heard of, is quite reasonably explained.

    All these terms are from diverse areas and decently obscure, but you'll find them quite easily in wikipedia alongside "All your base are belong to us," the Tree of Sephiroth, and every pokemon character ever caught.

    So, I say, the more entries the better! I hope all those star wars characters are on there, because they aren't going to be anywhere else someone's likely to look for them.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright