One of the biggest problems with Wikipedia since The Popularity began has to be the paid editing of articles on corporations, private colleges, the bios of any living person, and so on. As with most things Wikipedia, paid editing breaks their rules on conflict of interest but it happens so much, all the ever-shrinking army of editors do is ban the most egregious cases.
One such case is Wifione. He/she/it/they was banned a month ago or so for being a sockpuppet army of paid editing, though knowing socks, Wifione will re-emerge with another lame pun for a handle and a slightly-different IP. So who were "they"? One of my sources thinks Wifione was possibly a former Wikipedia admin called "Nichalp" who was also "Zithan" and the Zithan account was a paid editor (which was banned in 2009, and Nichalp lost IP oversight privileges.) Whatever the username, the paid editor was allegedly a University of Mumbai electronic engineering graduate named Nicholas Alphonso who now lives in Australia. He started appearing online in 2002 at the age of 19, possibly using a college computer. But there are complications with that claim of ownership, because it turns out Wifione had more predecessors, all of them from India. But first, who were they allegedly working for?
The Indian Institute of Planning and Management is an MBA school based in New Delhi, with 18 campuses across India, that has been in operation since 1973. It's a father and son affair; the founder is Malayaenda Kisor Chaudhuri, the "honorary dean" is his son Arindam. The IIPM has been ruthless in censoring its online critics in India (Cory Doctorow called it a "diploma mill" in a 2013 BoingBoing post), though it and Arindam Chaudhuri were censured last September by the Delhi High Court for "misleading students" into thinking it had the power to issue Bachelors of Business Administration or Masters of Business Administration qualifications (i.e., they were unaccredited by Indian standards.) Worse yet, the IIPM was claiming it had been recognized by a Belgian "International Management Institute" that had been set up by the Chaudhuris, an "institute" that is not even legal in Belgium. As of this writing, the Wikipedia article on the IIPM has been locked for "new" or unregistered users so that "sockpuppets of blocked or banned users" can't edit the article.
So now we get to the repetitious part of the article, listing all the alleged former Wikipedia handles of Wifione. Thanks should go to Eric Barbour and some others for the legwork......
First there was "Drnoamchomsky" who came and went in 2005. Edited in a fake claim about IIPM using subscription-only Business Week as a source, was found out. This account identified itself as being a part of IIPM (".....Other institutes don't organize any lectures - we do.") The Wikipedia userpage has been scrubbed by somebody from the www.chomsky.info site for "impersonating" noted linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky.
Next was the more open "Iipmstudent9", which as finally blocked in February 2007. There was no pretense of being unassociated with IIPM ("Yes, this id [sic] is used by multiple students from the New Delhi campus. We were not aware this was against Wiki policy, and have agreed to get new accounts for each of us.....we're looking to protect our institute's interests.....unsubstantiated allegations by bloggers on a Wiki page make our institute look bad!") Was kicked out for threatening Wikipedian "MakrandJoshi" with a visit from the Mumbai (Bombay) Police for allegedly revealing his identity. Also edited from IP address 18.104.22.168. On September 8, 2006, signed as "Mrinal", who later became true separate account.
During the same time but separate were "Iipmalum" and "Dipali Sakhare." Iipmalum used the same IP address as Iipmstudent9, Sakhare was an employee of Arindam Chaudhuri. She was involved with setting up the PR division of a company called Planman Consulting, whose webpage calls it "an IIPM initiative". Iipmalum was autoblocked in 2007.
"Mrinal Pandey" had "her" user page created on Christmas Day, 2006 by Iipmstudent9....whom she denied being (....."For the sake of clarity :-) I'm not iipmstudent9 or whomever the person is".....November 29, 2006.) She made the November statement from the IP address 22.214.171.124. That address was one of nine used by Mrinal; one of them (126.96.36.199) is the IP of a journalist named Mr. Onkareshwar Pandey, of The Sunday Indian. Which is "associated" with IIPM and Arindam Chaudhuri (i.e. Chaudhuri owns it.) Mrinal was indefinitely blocked in 2008 for using 43 accounts to edit IIPM related articles. No worries; Arbcom unblocked "her" a year later, she changed her name to "Empengent", and blanked her user page. "MakrandJoshi" and Tarantino of the Wikipediocracy board watched her online activities for years. Either O. Pandey is Mrinal, or Mrinal is somebody else (office assistant? girlfriend?) using that last name for editing ID purposes. In any case, they work directly or indirectly for the Chaudhuris.
More minor accounts were: "Dean.A.Sandeep" who appeared and disappeared on March 31, 2009; he wanted page protection. "Suraj845" was never blocked, worked with Wifione, still around in 2013. There's also "Carlisle Rodham" with a blanked user page.
"MakrandJoshi" stopped following Mrinal in 2010 despite threats to his property and life; I guess seeing people constantly get away with their schemes must have been too much to take.
List of Wifione Sockpuppets (no links, aforementioned in bold)
Ravindra Sing Rawat
Joshua Artgobain Benedict
Accounts Fastmovement through Articlexpert were all minted 11-27-08; all were blocked on 12-1-08.
Account Newsexpert began the next wave 12-18-08.
Account Deverma began editing IIPM article after protection ended 1-5-09.
After this post was linked to the Wikipediocracy board, Tarantino wrote this: "Wifione isn't Nichalp. We know who both are." If you actually do, please tell, so that they can be shamed out of paid-editing of Wikipedia or anywhere else online and popular.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
.....this blog isn't dead yet. I've been busy elsewhere, and the truth of Wikipedia is that it isn't going to dissapear shortly. Jimbo may want bits and pieces to vanish, but if the Internet could find the 1993 "The IRS War is Over" Scientology video, anything can be found.
Watch this space for new posts shortly.
Watch this space for new posts shortly.