Wikipedia and Link Spammers – A “How-to” Guide

I recently witnessed someone at placing dozens of links to his own website. It’s not all that unusual for someone to place a link to their own website on the Wikipedia site, but generally the links get removed. The unusual facts of this case are the amount of links placed, dozens, and the fact that those links led to pages filled with unorginal content. So, I thought I’d follow the story, and write up an article on how to successfully publish content you’ve copied from other sources and get Wikipedia to link to it.

The first thing I did was place a couple of links to my own site on a handful of those pages, to see what admin would come out of the woodword. I got GraemeL. So, I posted a message to him asking why he removed my link, but not the dozens that the other guy listed. You can find that conversation here. This brief exchange resulted in GraemeL removing the dozens of links the other guy placed. End of story, right? Nope.

Another Wikipedia admin, Joe l, got involved at that point. The link spammer, Bobby, protested for his right to place links to his scraper web site wherever on Wikipedia he thought appropriate. He had a receptive audience in Joe l. Let’s examine the reasoning that Joe l used to justify reinserting the links. He states that it’s the same thing “as say adding los alamos to every chemical element page.” Really? The Los Alamos National Laboratory website is now on the same level as a website that copies word for word content from the best known publication in the industry, which is still in print by the way. GraemeL asked for proof that he has “permission to publish the extracts from the red book, or the book is released under some form of free license.” The response to that was “The grading standards are just that, grading standards, they don’t fall under copyright as they are subjective.” Well, that’s certainly a novel interpretation of copyright law.

But, the greater lessons learned her for future link spammers are. 1. Get yourself a few helpful edits under your belt. It seems that admins there are much more receptive to link spammers who appear to be contributors. 2. Get a “friendly” admin to back you up. It seems that other admins are unlikely to reverse the decision of another admin, even when evidence of stolen content is clearly given. 3. Don’t add the actual content into the Wikipedia, that just defeats the whole reasoning behind getting your link in the first place.

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