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Wikimedia sheds shilling editor

Seven year veteran off to edit new pastures
Fri Jan 10 2014, 14:45

ONLINE INFORMATION DATABASE Wikipedia has parted ways with an editor after she was found to be making paid edits for clients.

This is not the done thing at the Wikimedia Foundation, and in a statement it said that it had no option but to remove her, despite a long standing relationship.

"I'm writing to let you know that Sarah Stierch is no longer an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation," said Wikimedia senior director of [Programmes] Frank Schulenberg.

"The Wikimedia Foundation has recently learned that Sarah has been editing Wikipedia on behalf of paying clients, as recently as a few weeks ago. She did that even though it is widely known that paid editing is frowned upon by many in the editing community and by the Wikimedia Foundation."

The result was her expulsion, and Schulenberg suggested that this was a sad end to a good run with the organisation. He added that it would be nice if people played nice at this sensitive time.

"The Wikimedia Foundation values Sarah a great deal. She has been an active Wikipedian since 2006. She is committed to increasing dialogue between cultural institutions and our projects. She has worked hard to increase the presence and voices of women and other minorities in our projects, and she is a warm welcomer of new Wikipedians. Her work in Program Evaluation has been important and necessary. She is a good friend of many of us," he added.

"Everybody makes mistakes, and I would like to believe that the Wikimedia movement is a place of forgiveness and compassion. And so I ask you to respect Sarah's privacy at what is surely a difficult time for her, and to join me in wishing her every future success."

Wikimedia had purged some editors last October and called on companies and organisations to not engage sock puppets to blow smoke up their edits.

"Being deceptive in your editing by using sockpuppets or misrepresenting your affiliation with a company is against Wikipedia policy and is prohibited by our Terms of Use. We urge companies to conduct themselves ethically, to be transparent about what they're doing on Wikipedia, and to adhere to all site policies and practices," wrote Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

"The Wikimedia Foundation is closely monitoring this ongoing investigation and we are currently assessing all the options at our disposal. We will have more to say in the coming weeks."

Stierch was exposed by a blog post and a note on the same Wikimedia mailing list. µ


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