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MyWikiBiz, Author Your Legacy — Sunday January 21, 2018
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Kitty Pryde: A company called MyWikiBiz was banned from writing/editing Wikipedia articles because they wrote articles for pay. And in the past lots of companies/individuals have been embarrassed in the news for editing their own entries. That is, if the person who hires you from Big Company X takes your article and posts it to wikipedia, there is a program that tells wikipedians that someone at a Big Company X IP address added/edited an article about themselves. (source)

Well, Kitty has quite a few things wrong here. As the founder of MyWikiBiz, though, I'm used to it. MyWikiBiz entered Wikipedia under the bright, disinfecting sunlight of full disclosure, before the "WP:Conflict of Interest" policy existed. Jimmy Wales had an immediate problem with the business model, despite the fact that a "Reward Board" existed on Wikipedia, and still exists today. After talking with Wales for at least 25 minutes on the phone, he came up with a compromise that he felt would tolerate paid editing.

I would write articles for clients, release them ON MY OWN WEBSITE under the terms of the GFDL, then if an independent Wikipedian felt the content was suitable for Wikipedia, it could be scraped in, under the terms of the GFDL.

Well, a couple of months after that (and about 7 articles published on my site and into Wikipedia this way), the Wikipedians upgraded their new "Conflict of Interest" plan from "guideline" to "policy". It contained some provisions that I understood to be a bit more lenient, actually, than what Wales had set up for me. So, I e-mailed Wales to ask him to clarify, and also pointed him to an article about Arch Coal that I thought served as a good example of how I was writing articles which were being copied into Wikipedia.

Now, it so happened that Arch Coal, as I wrote it, was not a "paid" editing job. Neither the Arch Coal company, nor its agents, had any idea who or what MyWikiBiz was. I was writing for practice. But the moment Jimmy Wales looked at it, he went bat-shit insane. He deleted the article with prejudice, calling it "PR puffery" and "corporate spam".

Well, other more rational folks took a look at the deleted article, and they concluded that it was actually a rather decent, humble description of a coal supplier (the second-largest in the United States), which was previously missing from Wikipedia (Fortune #630, or so, if I recall). These unbiased editors felt it would be better to have it and keep working on it, than to just maliciously delete it from Wikipedia.

Wales insisted that it be re-written from scratch, though, and that's when one of his henchmen, Guy "JzG" Chapman, a rather hot-headed character himself (if you look into his patterns of abuse on Wikipedia and other Internet message boards about cycling), set to his "re-write". Thing is, he basically just plagiarized my original work by rearranging words and changing the pitter-patter of sentences here and there. It's fairly obvious this is what was done.

So, after the Wikipediots all dusted off their hands and congratulated themselves on "ridding" Wikipedia of this vile paid-editing-article-that-they-didn't-even-realize-was-voluntarily-written, MyWikiBiz remained indefinitely blocked, because Jimbo rarely admits to a mistake. He imagines himself to be about 98% perfect. Anyone who disagrees is likely to be labeled a "troll". It is a fearsome epithet, indeed!

After several months, Jimbo decided that maybe, just maybe, he had been an ass with me. So, he unblocked my account. He encouraged me to come back to edit his encyclopedic playground, but others of his minions suggested that if I do, choose a new screen name. One to have a bit of pride in my work, I agreed, but I chose the name "Zibiki Wym". Get it?

Anyway, I set out making nice, friendly, constructive edits about things like the Czech Air Force, performance artist Liz Cohen, and the M-105 state highway in Michigan.

Thing is, some vindictive user with whom I'd never interacted suddenly came along and proclaimed in public space on Wikipedia that Gregory Kohs "has given misleading information to journalists that was published in the mainstream press", and that I deserved to be blocked again. I couldn't be trusted! This was really strange to me, since she used the word "journalists" (plural), though I had only ever been written about by one AP journalist named Brian Bergstein. And I certainly didn't recall ever lying to him. So, I questioned this "User:Durova" queen if she could support this claim of hers with some evidence. Her "evidence" was that she thought she remembered seeing something to this effect recently written up in the Wikipedia Signpost (an amateur news source published on Wikipedia). When I pointed out that nothing had been written about me in the Signpost in many months, and certainly nothing to that effect EVER, I suggested that what she said could be considered libelous.

Well, within a few hours, I was permanently banned AGAIN, this time for exercising "legal intimidation" (that is, typing the word "libelous" in a public space against some anonymous character who had libeled me).

Around that time, Guy "JzG" Chapman returned to antagonizing me, reminding the world on another website that he, and he alone, had rewritten the Arch Coal article "ab initio", from scratch. Of course, he was lying. JzG even went so far as to DELETE the original edits with his admin tools, to mask the provenance of "his" article. This was so offensive, even Jimmy Wales had to eventually step in and restore the original edits. What JzG had done was not only unethical and cheap, it violated the terms of the GFDL license to make the honest attribution history disappear that way.

As time went by, I watched a number of interesting things on Wikipedia. I watched Jimmy Wales hire a 24-year-old community college dropout to work at his for-profit Wikia, Inc., knowing that this young man had lied to everyone on Wikipedia about being a multi-degreed theology professor. Then, Wales appointed this same liar to a seat on the Arbitration Committee, Wikipedia's highest authority, short of the Wikimedia Foundation itself. When called out by a Pulitzer-winning journalist about this, Wales said he "didn't really have a problem with it". I then saw the Foundation quietly terminate the employ of a multi-count felon they had appointed to the post of Chief Operating Officer. Later, I saw Jimbo privately ask my same old buddy Guy "JzG" Chapman to sanitize the article about Rachel Marsden, just a matter of hours before Wales would meet Marsden in a Washington Doubletree hotel to boff her. JzG was certainly happy to serve his master.

You know what, though? Recently, Jimbo finally had a change of heart. He apologized publicly for much of the garbage that he put me through.

So, people ask me, "How could you be so unethical to have wanted to write Wikipedia articles in exchange for payment?" My answer, in light of all that I've described above, is... Statistics don't lie. Even as recently as November 2008, I've written articles for payment (for clients I deeply trust not to spill the beans) that magically find their way to Wikipedia. In all, I've written 12 articles under the MyWikiBiz byline that have found their way into Wikipedia. Some were for pay, others not. Here is the telling statistic, my friends:

I ever only divulged the provenance of three of those articles. Two were deleted almost instantly, never to be seen again. The other, Arch Coal, was deleted, then restored in plagiarized form, then the plagiarism was covered-up, then about two years later, I got an apology from Jimmy Wales.

The other nine articles are all happily existing in Wikipedia, being edited and improved upon by the volunteers. It's a thriving state of common development, the way Wikipedia was intended to be. Isn't that testimony of the benign foundation of my entirely all-too-controversial experience on Wikipedia?

So, what's evil, then?

Paid editing?

Or the "free" and "open" community that rejects it, plagiarizes it, and blocks and defames its author?

-- Gregory Kohs MyWikiBiz 20:17, 24 January 2009 (PST)