Did Microsoft cheat the system?

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TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: I was reading some facts about Davos this morning on Wikipedia. You know, the communal web encyclopedia. Just about anyone can edit the entries. Well, a published report says Microsoft offered to pay a software engineer to edit some things on Wikipedia. These entries were apparently about Microsoft and its competitors. Steve Tripoli has more on this.


STEVE TRIPOLI: Microsoft never responded to our request to verify the alleged payment. The report quoted the engineer who says he received the offer.

But Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says that if Microsoft did make the offer, they're out of bounds.

JIM WALES: We consider that to be very unethical. A better approach would be to simply come and join the general discussion openly and to not edit Wikipedia for money, but rather to participate in the dialogue.

Wales says only unbiased editors should change entries. Others can speak up in the Wikipedia discussion section.

Mike Hoyt of the Columbia Journalism Review says this points up a problem with open-source information.

MIKE HOYT: It seems that a vulnerability of open sourcing is that interested parties can push their stuff in and pay to have stuff pushed in. Which sort of violates the spirit of the whole enterprise.

Wikipedia's volunteer editors are on guard for that. But founder Jimmy Wales admits the safeguards are not airtight.

I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.

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