After what was probably a thrilling investigation full of Deep Throat-style clandestine meetings and dramatic e-mail threads, Wikipedia has banned 381 accounts for—as Mashable puts it—“charging or accepting money for their contributions, without disclosing the information.” Basically, that means these accounts were being paid to say nice things about certain people on Wikipedia—which is allowed—but they were doing it without telling anyone, which is basically the Wikipedia equivalent of payola. In the site’s parlance, these accounts are called “socks,” which is short for “sock puppets,” and they’re usually used so public figures and companies can clean up their own Wikipedia pages without having to worry about “the truth” or “the rules.”
Wikipedia also deleted 210 articles created by these now-banned users, which it says were “related to businesses, business people, or artists” and were “generally promotional in nature.” They also “often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations.” However, because Wikipedia is apparently very cruel, the site doesn’t seem to have officially announced what specific topics the deleted articles covered, so we have no way of knowing which poor, approval-starved business people felt the need to pay someone to say nice things about them on the internet. Should we just start guessing? Was it you?