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On Microsoft Paying People to Edit Wikipedia

First, a bit of full disclosure.

I've done contract work for Microsoft. I've never been "on the payroll" but certainly I've made money from Microsoft. (several years ago) And I'm typing this on an XP powered laptop. Having said the above, I'm far from a Microsoft fanboy. I'm using Firefox and I'm near certain my next laptop will be a MacBook Pro. I also use many flavors of Unix/Linux and I use/write Open Source software.

If you've missed the kerfuffle, Microsoft ruffled a few feathers when it offered to pay a blogger to edit some Wikipedia entries. Specifically the entry on Office Open XML.

My initial reaction was one of shock and anger. "'Typical' Microsoft," I thought. But after reading the whole thing, I just can't muster any outrage about this. Apparently, there where legitimate factual errors in the entry and MS wanted them fixed. -- I see no harm in that. (proper)

Of course this is, like many things in life, where the PR aspect of it is the problem not the actually offense. Microsoft got caught Astroturfing. That was wrong and just dumb. Sending an offer like that to an external person with no NDA was a PR blunder worthy of HP.

But where is the foul?

Everyone agrees Wikipedia should be as accurate as possible. In this case if there where genuine errors, (which there where) then they should be fixed. Frankly I wish MS would appoint the head of the OOXLM unit to contribute to the page personally. Then everything would be above board.

Microsoft says they tried to contact Wikipedia but got no reply so they tried to hire someone. That simply is not good enough. That's why it's a Wiki. The edit button is there for a reason. All they needed to do is get a MS employee to sign in with a real name and a MS email address and let them contribute as long as it is factual. Problem solved.

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Comments (1)

I think Microsoft has enoug... (Below threshold)

I think Microsoft has enough web sites of their own for documenting their file formats and expressing their views. They shouldn't edit pages about them on Wikipedia.