Daimler has attracted the wrath of Wikipedia. An anonymous Wikipedia editor had “corrected” a harmless entry about Daimler’s lobbying activities. The edit was caught. The IP address was traced back to “a server of Daimler AG,” writes Der Spiegel. All hell broke loose.
What the editor did not know (or ignored) is that parts of Wikipedia have embarked on a witch-hunt for “paid editors.” Long standing policies that govern conflict of interest edits are being put into question, and anyone who has professional knowledge of the subject matter is being pilloried. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales even proposed an electronic ankle bracelet for paid editors that blocks them from editing Wikipedia. A monstrous RfC is in process.
The anonymous edit stepped into that hornets’ nest. The Wikipedia community slaughtered Daimler.
The anonymous edit was removed, reinstated, removed again. Edit wars broke out and could only be ended through an edit block. Slowly all the old dirt that could possibly be found about Daimler collected in the article. The article even was adorned with an unsourced claim that “Adolf Eichmann, amongst the responsible for the Holocaust of approximately six million people, was hired by the factory.” (Well, he was hired by a subsidiary in Argentina. If you want to update the German Wikipedia article, the source is here.)
The collateral damage even extended to the author of the Spiegel story: Two days before Der Spiegel broke the article about the matter, the author of the Spiegel article was banned from Wikipedia, for “abuse of E-mail.” Apparently, Spiegel author Marvin Oppong had contacted Wikipedia editors through Wikipedia while duly researching citations for his story.
If there ever was a counter-productive PR move, then it’s this one. Whitewash a little, get tarred and feathered.
Daimler needs to find the hapless editor and transfer him or her to Mongolia. However, according to Der Spiegel, Daimler cannot locate the perpetrator, for “reasons of data privacy.”
Looking a little further, one finds out that corpinter.net appears to host just about any Daimler site, from 125-years-of-automobiles.com, through dieter-zetsche.com to mbenzamg.com. If I would have to find the whitewashing Wikipedia editor, I would start looking among the ranks of my in-house IT-folk.