Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost/2020-09-27/Special report

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  • What exactly does any of this have to do with Trudeau? – bradv🍁 23:05, 27 September 2020 (UTC)
    • If I understand the article correctly, Trudeau received money for making speeches from this non-profit, when the more expected result is that he would make speeches so a designated non-profit would receive money. This does not make either party look good. Considering that this non-profit had hired someone to attend to "improving their brand image" (as the jargon goes), this really makes this non-profit look shady. (IMHO, the best way to repair their brand image would be to do good things, & many more of them -- but I'm not a brand manager so what do I know?) -- llywrch (talk) 23:16, 27 September 2020 (UTC)
      • 1st Trudeau was my entre into the topic. And it proceeded Trudeau, WE, sockpuppets, Percepto, others so perhaps I overemphasized Trudeau. But I couldn't leave him out. One of the main points here is that Percepto is not afraid to get involved with fairly important folks, like WE. And why is WE being investigated, and why are they closing down in Canada? the Trudeau investigation.
      • 2nd, it was Trudeau's family that got about C$300,000 in speaking fees over about 4 years. Digging into it, I was rather shocked that it was so low. But I guess each country has it's standards. BTW did you hear about Trump's taxes? About $750 per year. Now that's too low! Smallbones(smalltalk) 23:56, 27 September 2020 (UTC)
        • WE Day Canada was held on July 2, 2017 on Parliament Hill, the day after Canada Day celebrations for Canada's 150th anniversary, which garnered WE a huge amount of publicity and so is an entry point for many Canadians. But it also has nothing to do with paid editing by publicity firms hired by WE. isaacl (talk) 01:10, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
          • I guess I wasn't clear about my "entry point". I started my investigation with the Trudeau-WE connection, but of course concentrated on Trudeau. It wasn't about paid editing for me at that point. Then I got a tip and stated concentrating on WE and things moved much faster. But I was always thinking about the Trudeau connection as I worked. There is some logic to that. What's more newsworthy a) Jane Doe sends a photo of herself to Commons or b) Ghislaine Maxwell sends a photo of herself to Commons? Like it or not b) is a news story, a) isn't. Smallbones(smalltalk) 02:39, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
            • Yes, I understood what you meant. My point was that different people can have different entry points, and those entry points may or may not end up being relevant to the final story that gets written. In my opinion, the illuminating aspect of this story is the details of the type of edits made by a given group of paid editors for their client. The clients of that client don't play a role in this, as the edits were not related to them. isaacl (talk) 06:18, 28 September 2020 (UTC)

it doesn't mean a story must include the author's entry point. It was a BAD BAD bad idea to disclose how sockpuppet investigation works and how the paid editors were sniffed out. Next ones will smarten up . Staszek Lem (talk) 23:29, 27 September 2020 (UTC)

I appreciate the fact that editors and administrators discovered, investigated and broke up this undisclosed paid editing operation. But maybe it would have been best to save this as a low visibility essay, recommended to trusted editors with a sincere interest in fighting undisclosed paid and COI editing. An old essay comes to mind: Wikipedia:Don't stuff beans up your nose. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:31, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
Reminds me of a zeroday. They kept it quite while searching for replications then announced it once it had been neutralized. The benefit of informing is the whitehats also learn from it. -- GreenC 00:21, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
Not quite the same—no loophole or behavioural pattern was described, just a mistakenly pasted filename. "Keep a look out for out-of-place text that reveals something about the editor" is pretty generic. isaacl (talk) 00:49, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Excellent piece. -Indy beetle (talk) 03:12, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Its Interesting the Signpost should affirm my theory on UPE & Sockpuppetry five days after I wrote this on my Userpage. Overall this is a good piece but I am not too pleased that our inner workings & the manner in which they were nabbed has been made public knowledge thus making evasion easier and nabbing UPE twice as hard than it currently is. Celestina007 (talk) 13:32, 28 September 2020 (UTC)

Tiny critique: I had to read the part about Trudeau's mother twice, to infer that she was paid by the WE charity. The article just states she was paid to speak. Maybe a small edit there is in order? For the rest I agree with User:Indy beetle calling this an excellent piece. Since I started reading the signpost I've been impressed every time about the quality of the special reports! Dutchy45 (talk) 16:04, 28 September 2020 (UTC)

  • @Dutchy45: Thanks for the suggestion - I added "from WE" above. And special thanks for the other kind words. That type of comment is the only way that I am paid to edit Wikipedia. Smallbones(smalltalk) 19:00, 28 September 2020 (UTC)
  • +1 for a gripping report and well done to all involved in in the investigation. --Deeday-UK (talk) 22:14, 29 September 2020 (UTC)
  • I strongly agree with Cullen328. This should be kept on the back-burner, out of sight. Now we just enabled them further. Their trade body, institute of learning, slack group whatever are no doubt reading the Signpost, looking to pick up scraps, that improves their methodology and insider gossip. Excellent report. scope_creepTalk 12:14, 30 September 2020 (UTC)
  • This investigative piece is impressive. I commend Smallbones and the Signpost staff for presenting the investigation of this paid-editing scandal as well as the results. This type of coverage enhances Wikipedia's claim to being a trustworthy resource. Acknowledging the internal investigation is good. The article is much stronger for this choice—its creditability is enhanced.
No secrets were divulged—to the contrary—Wikipedia is shown strongly protecting its users from articles manipulated by unscrupulous reputation management firms. How often can we see oligarchs, a head of state, a corrupt charity, and a shady publicity firm tied together by hard working, unpaid journalists at an encyclopedia. More often, I hope. I know this Special Report will inform the way I look at "reputation" type articles. Please make this a series.
@Staszek Lem As to secrets exposed, shady operators get caught, not because they do not know the investigators' methods; but by the conviction they are too smart to get caught. Think Sherlock Holmes or 60 Minutes.
The more detailed coverage of paid editing the better. — Neonorange (Phil) 08:21, 2 October 2020 (UTC)

Easy way to help: go to WP:AFD and be liberal with voting delete for articles that are likely COI magnets (like companies, products and borderline politicians, businessman and celebrities aka VANITY-seekers). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 06:40, 29 October 2020 (UTC)

In the media: Wikipedia probe exposes an Israeli stealth PR firm that worked for scammers. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 16:41, 1 November 2020 (UTC)

      • Quite the laugh that someone who calls themselves Sawbones, and doesn't post under their real name, has the gall to talk about hidden agenda editing. The "WE Scandal" description is inaccurate, filled with false information and logical leaps. It is partisan and ignores WE's substantial and detailed defence of itself and its operation. The writer accused Bill Morneau of a conflict of interest even though the Canadian ethics commissioner cleared him of a conflict. What this piece, and the edits of Wikipedia's WE entry show, is how Canadian Wikipedia editors and admins have become utterly partisan, unaccepting of any challenge of their version of political events, and havemade it impossible for those smeared by certain elements of the media, and of Wikipedia itself, to mount a defence, — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2607:FEA8:BF60:6AA:8081:B1A5:5430:24EA (talk) 17:48, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

I'm moving the latest comment to the bottom of this section, as it's the usual place new comments are posted on Wikipedia. As far as me accusing Morneau of a conflict of interest, I'll just quote the New York Times article linked in the sentence following the one where I mentioned that Morneau had a conflict of interest.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, whose daughter works in the charity’s travel department, also apologized on Monday. “I did not recuse myself from the discussions on this topic and, given the fact that my daughter works for the organization in an unrelated branch, I now realize I should have in order to avoid any perception of conflict,” he said in a Twitter post.

Smallbones(smalltalk) 17:24, 5 November 2020 (UTC)

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