By on March 15, 2012

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.”

Depending on who you ask, the IP number either points straight to Daimler or to an obscure

Looking a little further, one finds out that appears to host just about any Daimler site, from, through to If I would have to find the whitewashing Wikipedia editor, I would start looking among the ranks of my in-house IT-folk.


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23 Comments on “Daimler Stirs Wikipedia Hornets’ Nest, Gets Stung Bigtime...”

  • avatar

    I understand (I guess) Wiki’s concern about professional editors as we wouldn’t want a professional politician’s history being groomed and manicured but…..

    Doesn’t this almost by definition make any wiki entry entirely an amateur’s opinion? Is that a good thing? Maybe the Britianica is giving up too soon.

    • 0 avatar

      Wikipedia is a popularity contest, not a information source. It’s handy for unimportant trivia, but I wouldn’t trust anytihng from there for anything serious.

      Note that blindingly conspicuous in absence from this tale is any mention of whether the disputed edits were accurate. If ever there was a place where a common misconception could take root and be self-sustaining, it’s wikipedia.

  • avatar

    I agree, without a standard or ‘authority’ like a Britannica, in the future it would be much simpler to rewrite history provided you could do it in a discreet way. So in this case, a Daimler employee sought to I presume remove a Daimler reference in an Eichmann article, since he was um, quite evil. What if the Daimler employee were more savvy, and routed his change request through a couple proxy servers, the moderators may have not flagged it in the first place.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, Britannica is an “authority” on everything. One small group of editors who do not allow the public to edit their articles is sooooo much more reliable than another larger group that allows editing -at least up to a point.

      I don’t know the details but it’s sounding as if some Daimler hack removed something less than flattering, thus the problem.

  • avatar

    Stirring up a hornets’ nest on Wikipedia means nothing. You can stir up a hornets’ nest by creating a new article about a subject Wikipedians don’t understand. You can stir up a hornets’ nest by updating low-priority articles with information a Wikipedian is not familiar with.

    Even if Daimler have done something bad, fire and brimstone from Wikipedia is merely a sign that you’ve dared to click the edit button. Don’t even dream about creating templates to circumvent longhand php code. You’ll end up in front of a firing squad.

    • 0 avatar

      Dare to change something and the Wiki monster will eat you lol.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. This will blow over faster than all those stories of Chrysler workers drinking & smoking pot on their lunch breaks. (And it should because it isn’t a big deal, as opposed to something that actually is harmful to their product.)

  • avatar

    Ah, Wikipedia. The source of so much unintentional humor:

    Also, Jimbo Wales eats babies.

  • avatar

    I have written before in these blogs about Daimler’s “ethical challenges”. It has forever soured me on anything to do with them. “Dumbler” is becoming a much more appropriate name for this corporation.

  • avatar

    I was looking for some production figures for the Excel and found this entry:

    To say it doesn’t tell the story of the Excel is an understatement. Any US resident older than 35 probably knows more about the Excel than this article contains. Was it someone other than a Hyundai employee that removed all context from the Excel’s wikipedia page?

  • avatar

    Not to mention that the Holocaust was not limited to “about six million people”…pretty much all accounts indicate that more like 10 million people (I’d italicize the word people if the edit would allow) lost their lives in the death camps…

  • avatar

    The Daimler “paid editor” was just following orders.

  • avatar

    Even an internet newbie should have known enough to do that at home.

  • avatar

    My own experience with editing Wickipedia:

    1. I discovered one of the oldest houses in Massachusetts, and added it to such a listing on Wickipedia. It was still there a few years later. I haven’t checked lately.

    2. There’s a rather obscure and very ugly city in southern France named Rodez. I bicycled through there years ago, in a bicycle trip around southern France. Around the same time I edited the oldest houses in Mass, I edited the Rodez entry to reflect on its aesthetic challenges. I did this around midnight, which would have been around 6AM in France. I checked five minutes later, and my edits were gone.

  • avatar

    “daimler employee”

    the picture caption is decidedly piquant

    i think TTAC broke the news on the Quant family and BMW and that 1939-44 unpleasantness… its good this site doesn’t shy away from these things

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Seems there are always censors, and stories spun for political interests. Finding real truth can be very difficult. When in doubt, look at data, not opinion of what the data means. That does require a lot more work.

    As for the comment,.”..anyone who has professional knowledge of the subject matter is being pilloried…”
    Isn’t that the norm out here?

  • avatar

    TTAC editors get all fussy when I point out on Memorial Day that the US was a large part of Germany’s war effort in terms of GM building enough Opel Blitz trucks for Operation Barbarossa, but at least they don’t edit my posts.

    Or do they?

    I love Jack Baruth!

    • 0 avatar

      The Opel Blitz was one, but there was the Ford BB, too.

      I doubt, however, that GM was a “large part of Germany’s war effort”. What is large, in a well-organized, oppressive, war-mongering society like that?

      Each and every person, profession or company in Germany between ’33 and ’45 was “part of Germany’s war effort”, by design. Any productive work, whether it was hair-cutting, farming or engineering, was meant to be that, even KZ inmates, prisoner of wars could not escape.

      So, what would we have done then?

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I remember reading somewhere many years ago an article about various firms work for the German war effort during WW2. They claimed that the Ford management in America communicated with and coordinated openly with their German subsidiary until well into 1944 ,long after the US entered the war . After the war was over , according to this , Ford , GM among others received money from the US government to compensate them from losses sustained during the bombing of the Third Reich.Of course in their defense with or without their cooperation these facilities would have been producing war material. And probably the behavior of various US and British banks was even worse.

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