The not-so-free encyclopedia: Wikipedia blocks 381 accounts over cash-for-edits scams

© Gary Cameron
Wikipedia has banned 381 editors and removed 210 articles involved in “sock-puppet” scamming, where editors demanded money for posting and promoting certain content on the online encyclopedia.

The scheme worked through scam accounts which contacted the editors after proposed changes had not gone ahead, and offered to make the edits – but for a price.

The "sock puppet" accounts made themselves look legitimate: They made initial small changes to show the potential clients, but then asked for more and more money in order to preserve the changes.

“The person making the contact would usually claim to be an experienced editor or administrator” to make the story even more credible, according to the community post.

The scammers charged each user about $30 per month.

Two hundred and ten articles were removed from the website as they were “generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations”, according to a blog post by the Wikimedia Foundation.

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The edits made by the "sock puppet" editors were similar in nature, leading investigators to suspect that there was a single group behind all the entries.

The scam is referred to within the Wikipedia community as "Orangemoody," named after the first sock puppet account identified, Business Insider reported.