Wild East: Russian Business Conflicts Spill Over into Wikipedia

Jan 28, 2013, 06:36 ET from Wild East

MOSCOW, Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Russian business conflicts more often spill over into Wikipedia, according to Wild East, a business conflicts blog published by Russia! Magazine. Recently, Wiki editors have been seen taking progressively tougher action against users making biased changes to a Wikipedia article on Sibcement, a major Russian cement producer based in the Western Siberian city of Kemerovo.

Wikipedia is available in nearly 300 languages, with Russian version tied for the sixth place as the most extensive (alongside Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese), with approximately 950,000 articles, and more added every day. To ensure quality and reliability of information, numerous volunteer editors read articles relevant to their expertise, modifying and removing them if found severely lacking. These efforts have largely been successful. However, ru.wikipedia.org (the Russian version) may be losing this battle.

From mid-November 2012, the Russian Wikipedia has been the site of an all-out war between Wiki editors and Nljomu, a user purporting to be a 20- or 30-something Russian woman.

Experienced editors started noticed around that time the activities of new user Nljomu, who, immediately following her registration, started "correcting" articles about Russian cement major Sibir Cement. In November 2012, a Wiki administrator found that her actions constituted vandalism, as she was found to be deleting properly-sourced critical information and rewriting articles as "advertorial" pieces. Nljomu was warned that she would be banned for an extended time if she were to persist in her actions.

She became more careful after this, but was still fundamentally doing the same thing: promoting her customers and trashing their competitors. She also attempted to delete critical articles about Sibir Cement management, including Mr. Valeriy Bodrenkov, a former ranking law-enforcer. At approximately the same time, Nljomu wrote biased, sharply critical, and poorly sourced additions to wiki articles about Andrey Muravyov, one of Sibir Cement's co-founders and former President, who was instrumental in bringing the various Russian cement assets under SibCem's umbrella and was later ousted from his position and squeezed out from his shareholding, circa 2008.

Bodrenkov has been in a well-publicized feud with Andrey Muravyov over their various actions at Sibir Cement and their effect on the company. The parties' efforts to resolve it through Russian nationwide media have apparently reached a stalemate, and now anything goes, including sabotaging the principles of Wikipedia. However, Wikipedia's volunteer editors have pointed out to her that, being a people's encyclopedia, Wikipedia has to feature information that has been reported in other sources deemed reasonably reliable, and since "most of these sources report negative information, this has to go into the article. We only record what is out there."

"This is only one example that highlights the new ways of abusing Internet resources that is emerging in Russia. Similar issues are likely to crop up with increasing frequency. As many readers noticed, the business situation in Russia is becoming more and more turbulent, and we are thrilled to be covering it in such an interesting time," says Irina Pavlova, managing editor of Wild East.

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