Swiss Papers: another scandal on Wikipedia in French

Playing Wikipedia is a very addictive and time consuming activity that doesn’t make any money. In theory … Nevertheless senior wikipedians know that personalities or companies give importance to their Wikipedia cards and this was publicly debated during WikiCon2012. After failing to edit Wikipedia themselves, those persons or companies are now ready to pay for professionals to appear in a favourable light. As they have much later admitted, Racosch associates’ started inserting paid editing since at least December 2014 on behalf of the company Romande Energie (more than 90% of the text). For a company, getting cash out is a problem; Paying an invoice issued by a company for « promotion » or « consultancy » activities is more convenient. The only element still to create was a company to transform the time spent playing Wikipedia into a lucrative activity.

On February 25, 2015, while wikipedians are still traumatized by the revelations of the « Overblogleak », three senior members of Wikimedia Switzerland (WMCH) solve the problem of the remuneration of their paid editions by registering the private limited company Racosch at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Canton de Vaud, Switzerland. The bylaws are very vague:

Racosch Sàrl, Lausanne, avenue de la Gare 22, c/o Stéphane Coillet-Matillon, 1003 Lausanne, CHE-230.626.317. New Limited Liability Company. Articles of Association: February 25, 2015. Purpose: The Company’s purpose is to provide public relations services; Its natural clients are associations, companies, companies and individuals (for full purpose see bylaws). Obligation to provide ancillary services, preference or pre-emption rights: for details, see the bylaws. Share capital: CHF 20’000 [$ 20,000]. Managing partners with individual signature: Coillet-Matillon Stéphane, from France, in Lausanne, with 98 shares of CHF 100, Chairman, Ray Nicolas, Arzier-Le Muids, with 51 shares of CHF 100, and Schütz Frédéric in Chavannes- Near-Renens, with 51 shares of CHF 100, both from Geneva. Publisher: Swiss Official Files of Commerce. Communications to partners: in writing or by e-mail. According to the declaration of February 25, 2015, the company is not subject to an ordinary review and waives a limited review.

Creating such a business does not happen on a whim. It is the fruit of a personal evolution of three people who, for a time, believed to be encyclopedist’s 2.0 then realized the project’s editorial deadlock and finally realized that there was an advantage to be taken. Let’s have a look at these three profiles.

The actors

Stéphane Coillet-Matillon, l'administrateur Popo le chien, du temps où il avait encore la foi lors d'une cabale romande (11 mai 2007) CC-BY-SA-2.5 Auteur: Ludovic Péron aka Ludo29.

Stéphane Coillet-Matillon, the administrator Popo le chien, when he still had faith, at a Wikipedia meeting in French speaking Switzerland (May 11, 2007) CC-BY-SA-2.5 Author: Ludovic Péron aka Ludo29.

Stéphane Coillet-Matillon comes from Lyon (France) and settled in Switzerland. After a master in biochemistry he moved to political sciences at the Geneva University. His first professional experience was with the law firm Bär & Karrer; he then worked for the cigarette maker Philip Morris (public relations) for 6 years. In 2013, he took a sabbatical leave to study Chinese. His career at Wikipedia began officially on January 21, 2005; His first contributions are naturally without any source; He is co-opted administrator only a year later. Popo le Chien (Puppy the Dog, his profile name) faithfully serves Wikipedia and presents a brief reading to the World Summit on the Information Society organized by the United Nations in Geneva on May 18, 2008. Having gained the whole trust of Wikimedia, he is named bureaucrat on August 15, 2008.

A small bad taste incident occurs on his journey : on January 27, 2010 he uploads a bold video called « Hitler and the election on Wikipédia.fr » which reveals an extremely critical attitude towards Wikipedia:

« We have 40% 2-line articles about arseholes who are hitting a ball. […] It is necessary to know if we aim at an encyclopedia or an annex of France Football. […] There are days when I really feel to do social work with those who do more discussions than contributions. Saint Jimbo pray for us! […] When I think I might be quietly updating infoboxes or flip all those copied lists from Pokémon.com. […] Let’s have someone erasing the Wikipedia page: do not hesitate! If one looks for me, I’ll be on Knol. […] You can block my sock-puppet too. »

Disenchanted? Lucid? He could have paid dearly for this … He is nevertheless co-opted at the Arbitration Committee in March 2010 but does not renew his candidacy in September 2011. His declared activities on Wikipedia fall sharply from January 2012: barely 89 edits in 2012 , 76 in 2013, less than 500 per year since; He also closes his blog Le choix du chaos (Opting for chaos) opened in 2008 and devoted to Wikipedia but continues episodically on CHwiki (his last post is no shortage). He gives up his administrator and bureaucrat privileges in January 2012. Drop of motivation in connection with the overwhelming account made in his January 2010 video? The great inquisitor on Wikipedia in French suspects him of having another main account since then without saying which one; His faithful right-hand man even files a request for IP address verification which naturally remains without continuation.

« Wikipedia fait le trombinoscope des parlementaires européens » ©F3 Alsace 6 février 2014. Lors du WIKI loves Parliaments : European Parliament le 4 février 2014.

« Wikipedia makes the facebook of the European PM’s » ©France 3 Alsace, Feb. 6, 2014. During the WIKI loves Parliaments : European Parliament, Feb. 4, 2014.

On the eve of the European parliamentary elections in May 2014, he organized a photo shoot in the European Parliament. It is well known that this type of event is not only used to take pictures to illustrate Wikipedia. What is discussed off-the-records is the contents of the articles about the Parliament members and general politics. « How do I improve my Wikipedia page?  We can discuss about it Mr Delegate.« And so on. Everything has a price, no?

« Wikipedia fait le trombinoscope des parlementaires européens » ©F3 Alsace 6 février 2014. Lors du WIKI loves Parliaments : European Parliament le 4 février 2014.

©France 3 Alsace, February 6, 2014.

In a more coded language, Catherine Trautmann (EU PM, former minister for culture and former mayor of Strasbourg) declares : « Enabling parliamentarians to be better known and present, thanks to Wikipedia, in the election campaign, is a very nice initiative. »

Despite his very weak commitment in the mainspace, who knows by which miracle Stéphane Coillet-Matillon is chosen member of the Wikimedia Switzerland board in March 2014 and is even named interim executive director for more then a year. This gives him the opportunity to meet the guru Jimmy Wales :

Le plus beau jour de la vie de Stéphane Coillet-Matillon ©Twitter

« Jimbo leaves the stage. Seeing him was the most beautiful day of my life; I shall never wash my eyes again. » ©Twitter

After seeing the backstage of Wikipedia, he is now breaking in the « bank » … In a December 2015 interview with the Swiss radio he begs for donations to Wikimedia while he criticized the very same calls on his blog. During the Wikimedia Switzerland general assembly on April 2, 2016, despite the questions about Racosch, Gabriel Thullen (aka GastelEtzwane) and Frédéric Schütz felt that he would have been re-elected to the board without any problem if he had stood up; but he declared that he would rather devote himself entirely to his new business.

On May 20th 2015, responding to a debate concerning his blocking, Popo le chien writes without a frown: « Given the price I am paid (nothing) for contributing [… Racosch was created just three months earlier] and speaks about « not grounded sock puppett accusations – maintained despite my denials (I believe that fundamentally and therefore well defamation) […] ». On June 5, 2015, Stéphane Coillet-Matillon, aka Popo le Chien, created at least one new sock puppet Leo Fischer that he renamed Pplc on March 30, 2016 … when the Racosch affair was about to be revealed to ordinary wikipedians.

Nicolas Ray, du temps où il avait encore la foi, brandissant son arme d'administrateur lors d'une cabale romande (1er déc. 2007) CC-BY-SA-3.0 Auteur: Oblic.

Nicolas Ray, when he still had faith, waving his administrator weapon during a Swiss get-together (1st Dec. 2007) CC-BY-SA-3.0 Author: Oblic.

Nicolas Ray aka Manoillon comes from the Geneva region and is part of a profession that literally took control of Wikipedia: computer scientists. His professional career crosses that of Stéphane Coillet-Matillon: after two years in a computer company, he works from July 1998 to March 2014 for the cigarette maker Philip Morris. Member of the Green Liberals party he is elected to the Arzier-Le Muids Municipal Council in 2011 (he is the main author of the Wikipedia article about this town) and does not hesitate to go trolling the competitors’ pages while denouncing the manipulations of the Wikipedia records of Swiss politicians in the media on June 10, 2015 (after lamenting in 2007 that this was the weak point of Wikipedia).

His wikipedian career began on January 10, 2005 under the « pseudonym » Nicolas Ray with which he was co-opted administrator on April 12, 2006. He then obtained a transient renaming to Nicoray (which should not be confused with the former administrator Nicolas Raymond). It is at that time that he seems already involved in paid editing, for example his protection the article on the Swiss business group Migros. A dialogue with an employee of this group leaves no doubt:

Congratulations for your work on Migros, I feel we’re going to do something good with this article! Something else, if we organise a WP-Romandie get-together-day on 22 September you are of course welcome if interested. Nicolas Ray September 3, 2007 at 11:39 am (CEST)

Oh, thank you for pointing out this meeting but unfortunately, as you now know, I work for Migros, and who speaks about big business, says work on Saturday. Moreover it is inventory day on 22 September. Thanks anyway ! Kestral September 3, 2007 at 11:45 am (CEST)

Uh uh … by rummaging the meta pages, I just learned that you have to ask an admin to rename a page! (Remembers to have renamed Migros => Federation of Migros Cooperatives without asking anyone …) Kestral September 3, 2007 at 12:31 (CEST)

Normally you can rename it yourself … Except if the target page already exists … Too bad for the 22. Can’t you even come and eat the fondue with us in the evening? Nicolas Ray 3 September 2007 at 12:54 (CEST)

I need to see if my girlfriend works that night, if so, why not, but inventory + moving from Lausanne to Geneva, it’s likely to be late … For now I’m really involved on WP-Romandy, I will edit if circumstances allow me. Kestral September 3, 2007 at 13:05 (CEST)

The Racosch partners will regularly return to the Migros Group pages.

Nicolas Ray breaks with Wikipedia on January 10, 2008 and abandons his administrator’s privileges after yet another dispute with a novice  and a new outburst against the mediation committee, leaving this message :

The reasons for this departure? A big, very big, too big exasperation. So irritated of all these frustrated people willing to do anything to get here recognition that they are unable to get in real life. […] especially exasperated with the foolish pedants, known or unknown, registered or anonymous, who know better than anyone what is right or wrong, good or evil, what you need to do or not to do, what you should have done or not have done and so quick to let you know.

No risk that I suddenly start to criticize and fly into rage about Wikipedia : I believe in this project, I’m absolutely convinced that a long and glorious future is promised to it. The idea is good, the basics are good, people come and go. […]

Wow ! What an accumulated resentment against the Wikipedia game and its players! His leave lasts … two weeks. He sneaks back in on January 25, 2008 under the pseudonym Manoillon and is sponsored by his old accomplice Ludovic Peron (Ludo29) who is not unaware of the past of this « newbie ». He will even temporarily recover his administrator tools from May to October 2011 thanks to the support of … Popo le Chien, his partner in crime business!

A member of Wikimedia Switzerland, he managed to have his wife [name remove per request of Maman MaMouth] hired as Administrative Assistant (from September to December 2014 0.2 FTE), then « Administrative Manager » (0.7 and 0.5 FTE since January 2015). It is her only professional experience. This is the midst of nepotism. Thank you kind donors!

Frédéric Schütz, membre fondateur de Wikimedia Suisse en novembre 2012. CC BY-SA 3.0 Ludovic Péron aka Ludo29.

Frédéric Schütz, membre fondateur de Wikimedia Suisse en novembre 2012. CC BY-SA 3.0 Ludovic Péron aka Ludo29.

Frédéric Schütz aka Schutz studied biology, mathematics and especially computer sciences. He is teaching and research master at the Centre for Integrative Genomics (Faculty of Biology and Medicine) of the Lausanne University and a statistician at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Oh irony, he criticizes the cigarette lobby who has long employed his friends …

He started on Wikipedia in English on March 3, 2004 and on the French version on December 18, 2004. He is no big editor but is co-opted administrator on Wikipedia in English on August 15, 2007. His editing drops down on both projects in 2010 and one counts only 500 edits since 2012.

He is a founding member at Wikimedia Switzerland in May 2006. He is the French-speaking spokesperson as of 30 June 2011 and then vice-president of the association from September 2013, becoming secretary to the general assembly of 2014 and re-elected on April 2, 2016 with a comfortable margin (27 votes / 32) despite the revelations on Racosch. On a 2011 video, he was not hesitating to call for donations: « Wikipedia will remain free and without advertising », but not without paid infomercials …

On August 21, 2015, Frédéric Schütz uses an old trick that all Wikipedians know: he creates at least one sock puppet (Wicodric) that he leaves inactive until 11 February 2016, when he uses it for paid editing.

The Racosch gang has at least one other member in freelance support: Imogen Hitchcock. Her professional career crosses that of Stéphane Coillet-Matillon and Nicolas Ray at the cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris for which she works from September 2007 to March 2015 in the public relations department. In July 2015, she founded Beaumont, a consulting firm based in Lausanne. Racosch writes in their testimonial page: « Working with Imogen is a real pleasure – she’s sharp, quickly understand the issues and works fast. I was particularly impressed at how hard she tries to understand her clients’ mindset and identify their specific needs. » This is so nice …

$ $ $ $

So we have three veterans who have, at one time or another, come to a point of disruption and disillusionment on « the greatest project of humanity« . They master the subtle cogs of the infernal machine, had the main control tools at their disposal, both editorial and financial. They are perfectly familiar with the Five Pillars, the usages and customs of Wikipedia.

And they have no morality.

After all, promoting cigarettes or pseudo-encyclopedic infomercials … what’s the difference?

Marketing

In order to develop a new business such as Racosch, it is first and foremost necessary to make it known in a targeted way. In May 2015 the three partners set up their website racos.ch (they are also owners of racosch.com). The events organized by Wikimedia Switzerland are a great way to attract people and to say a little word about Racosch and ways to « improve » a Wikipedia article. That is not enough, of course; It is also necessary to reach the PR professionals.

On April 16, 2015, Stéphane and Frédéric presented a workshop at SwissMarketing Vaud entitled How to make a good relationship between Wikipedia and Marketing? : « During this workshop, we will look at the backstage of the website […]. You will leave with good practices so that you can quietly insert information that is valuable to the public. » And above all you will leave with the business card of Racosch in your pocket 😀

On May 14, 2015 Stéphane runs a conference ironically titled How to make peace on Wikipedia ?: « How is the future of a controversial article determined? Who mediates in conflicts and watches over the principles of neutrality of the encyclopedia? What are the methods of writing and evaluating the content of articles?« 

On September 9, 2015, Stéphane Schütz and Nicolas Ray participate to the Net-Academy Camp 2015 in Nyon (the electoral district of N. Ray), « a day of deep immersion in the contemporary social web« . They present the smart way to « showcase a business or product« . Edith Page, the co-founder and director of this training in digital communication and social networks institute, also founded In-fuseon, a PR agency specializing in Cleantechs. She wrote a few weeks later the chronicle Succeeding your company Wikipedia page in a Swiss magazine specialized in PR: « Benefiting from a Wikipedia page about your company is one of the undisputed digital PR techniques to increase your natural referencing and be systematically indexed on the front page of the almighty Google Search as well as on the Facebook search engine. » She concludes: « In short, getting your business page on Wikipedia is not a matter of chance. You have three solutions: you get to the task using the help space proposed by Wikipedia, you train with professionals or you call in experts » … mentioning Racosch of course.

Frédéric Schütz (Racosh) et Stéphane Coillet-Matillon (Racosh) à l'Hôtel de la Paix, Lausanne 25 nov. 2015 ©Facebook

Frédéric Schütz and Stéphane Coillet-Matillon representing Racosh at the Hôtel de la Paix, Lausanne 25 Nov. 2015 ©Facebook

On November 26, 2015, representatives from Racosch participate to a seminar on crisis communication organized by the Société Romande de Relations Publiques (Romandy Association for Public Relations) at the Hotel de la Paix in Lausanne. There they meet again Karin Devalte (Romande Energie) with whom they are in business relationship since December 15, 2014 as Nicolas Ray confesses later on a subpage of his user page.

On March 30, 2016 in San Francisco Sétphane Coillet-Matillon presents Kiwix during a conference called Breaking Barriers: New Frontiers of Connectivity and Access. Who is paying the trip? Not Racosch … He is accompanied by Adele Vrana, Interim VP of Partnerships at the Wikimedia Foundation that is organising the event.

On June 16, 2016, the Racosch associates come back to the Société Romande de Relations Publiques for a marketing conference : « Join us and discover some aspects of this encyclopedia and understand with concrete examples how the the business and PR world can use and benefit from this unmatched visibility during this workshop followed by a diner cocktail during which you will have the opportunity to exchange [your business cards] with the specialists in this field [Racosch]. »

Confidences and recruitment

On June 1st, 2015 Stéphane Coillet-Matillon and Frédéric Schütz announce to the Wikimedia Switzerland board the creation with a third associate of a PR company without mentioning the name Racosch, neither the fact that it already edit Wikipedia. It seems that some folk have been aware about the ins and outs of this « PR company » but not everyone says Gabriel Thullen, another board member at that time. Though the directive on conflicts of interests from Wikimedia Switzerland says this: « Since conflicts of interest cannot be avoided […] » (with such an opening statement we’re already gone astray) […] « Anyone having a permanent conflict of interest should not be a member of the Board or the Executive Management » This is crystal clear: when you’re managing a PR company that edits Wikipedia for money, you may not run Wikimedia Switzerland. People involved must inform the president (Patrick Kenel) or the vice-president (Frédéric Schütz). We can’t determine if the president was made aware; as for the vice-president or the ad interim executive director, they were precisely the Racosch associates. Of course, this so-called announcement had no consequences but will later make people believe to transparency.

On August 15, 2015 occurs a get-together in Geneva with participants such as the administrators Moumou82 (Mourad Ben Abdallah, former Wikimedia Switzerland president), Pymous (Pierre-Yves Mével), Vigneron (Nicolas Belett Vigneron), Kelson (Emmanuel Engelhart), Floflo (Florian Pépellin) ; former administrators Yann (Yann Forget), Popo le Chien (Stéphane Coillet-Matillon), Agamitsudo (Benoît Prieur, then member of the Wikimedia France board); and newbies Nattes à chat (Natacha Rault) or LaMèreVeille (Marie-Pierre Vidonne) from the Swiss Women Biography project who benefit from a Wikimedia grant.

Between « old from the old » people relax and whisper confidences, something you would refrain to do if there wasn’t a solid collusion forged in old Wikipedia battles. So the Racosch associates speak about their company with some reliable partners in crime such as Vigneron or Ludo29 (Ludovic Péron) but not with everyone. Natacha Rault and Marie-Pierre Vidonne who joined Wikipedia recently are too new for being totally corrupted ; their loyalty to the mafia has not been tested yet, they are kept in the dark.

So what is the purpose of this open disclosure ? A sudden honesty stroke ? A recruitment manoeuvre actually. Being senior players, the Racosch associates know that the fate of a Wikipedia card depends over all on the good will of the gang interested by it. The Five Pillars and rules are applicable only for those who have faith in it. Everything there is function of the power balance between assiduous players. It is therefore necessary to form a gang to resist effectively and discreetly to the attacks without having to mobilize an army of sock puppets, easy targets for CheckUsers investigations.

The breadcrumb or the wikihounding

Nattes à chat (Natacha Rault) and LaMèreVeille (Marie-Pierre Vidonne) are preparing a writing workshop on notable Swiss women. This project is well received at Wikimedia France but causes reluctance on the Swiss side where one fear a « feminisation of Wikipedia ». As the workshop begins all the new editors start receiving numerous negative remarks from a « very active Swiss wikipedan » … Nicolas Ray, aka Manoillon !

As any wikipedian, even newby, Natacha and Marie-Pierre start a wikihounding, cross Racosch in their research and realise that the two other associates are also board members at Wikimedia Switzerland they recently joined ! As they question them to understand how they separate their unpaid editing from the paid ones, they are being told they change hat according to the person they are talking to. Unless they are authentic bipolar all this stinks conflict of interest …

Slowly pushed back out of wood

On February 26, 2016, Natacha Rault discusses the Racosch problem with Jules Xénard, aka the administrator and oversight Jules78120, employed by Wikimedia France and sponsor of the WikiMOOC (you have to see his stiff neck video on DailyMotion). « This was the first time I heard of experienced Wikipedians making paid contributions, so I researched Wikipedia from their pseudonym » wrote later JulesDo we really have to believe in this naive ignorance? However the wikihounding of this senior wikipedian is well under way and the advertorials and the associated sock-puppets are quickly outed: Mido watches (Swatch group), Pictet bank group, Debiopharm.

Jules then contacted his colleague administrator Kimdime, « one of the wikipedians I trust, to get his opinion on the matter. He advised me very rightly to first contact the parties involved in order to try to solve the issue with discretion.«  Between the lines one understands that Jules does not trust all the wikipedians and that he prefers to wash the dirty linen behind closed doors. In these circumstances, the e-mail exchanges on 29 February, 2 and 12 March naturally lead to nothing.

Affluence record à l'assemblée générale de Wikimedia Suisse. À gauche, on distingue Iolanda Pensa, Mourad Ben Abdallah, Ilario Valdelli et Micha Reiser. CC-BY-SA-4.0 Mauro Cassina (aka cassinam)

Record attendance at the General Assembly of Wikimedia Switzerland (usually about thirty people). On the left are Iolanda Pensa, Mourad Ben Abdallah, Ilario Valdelli and Micha Reiser. CC-BY-SA-4.0 Mauro Cassina.

Meanwhile Wikimedia Switzerland holds its general assembly on April 2, 2016. Natacha Rault, Marie-Pierre Vidonne and Gabriel Thullen (the board member kept in the dark at the June 1, 2015 meeting) are present and intend to discuss the Racosch issue.

Gabriel, who had repeatedly raised the issue of paid editing during the 2015 Swiss federal elections and had called for investigation in the Wikipedia in German, French and Italian, now understands why his proposals have remained dead letters: two board members were already involved in paid editing. « The reluctance of the Swiss Board to tackle the issue of paid editing is only an indication of a deeper problem within the chapter. Lack of transparency, confusion of roles and conflicts of interest have all contributed to shifting the chapter core activities away from its primary mission which should be the support of local volunteer editors. If editors are now paid to edit instead of volunteering, will it not affect the way in which voluntary work is perceived? This attitude goes directly against the values ​​and culture of Wikipedia. »

Frédéric Schütz et Stéphane Coillet-Matillon lors de l'assemblée générale de Wikimedia Suisse, 2 avril 2016. CC-BY-SA-4.0 Mauro Cassina (aka cassinam)

Frédéric Schütz and Stéphane Coillet-Matillon delighted at the Wikimedia Switzerland general assembly, 2 April 2016. CC-BY-SA-4.0 Mauro Cassina (aka cassinam)

The WMCH general assembly is being held in bad circumstances. Starting relatively late, the discussions focus on voting problems with more votes than participants … Moreover, in order to avoid harming anyone from Italian, German and French speaking communities, the WMCH debates are held in English … It is not sure that everyone there has a good understanding of that language. Stéphane Coillet-Matillon and Frédéric Schütz (Nicolas Ray is absent: it’s his birthday) play low profile and systematically downplay their paid contributions.

The irreverents are faced with gullible wikimedians who stand behind those in whom they placed their trust. People starving, the delicate subjects are skipped and everyone goes to swallow a pizza in the middle of the afternoon. Next time WMCH would be better off ordering sandwiches and conducting the debate to the end

Lunch des membres de Wikimedia Suisse après l'AG du 2 avril 2016. Les frondeurs Natacha Rault (aka Nattes à chat), Marie-Pierre Vidonne (aka LaMèreVeille) et Gabriel Thullen (aka GastelEtzwane) font la moue. CC BY-SA 4.0 Auteur: Muriel Staub (aka MurielDamiana)

Lunch party of the WMCH members after the general assembly April 2, 2016. The irreverents Natacha Rault (aka Nattes à chat), Marie-Pierre Vidonne (aka LaMèreVeille) and Gabriel Thullen (aka GastelEtzwane) make the pout. CC BY-SA 4.0 Author: Muriel Staub (aka MurielDamiana). NB: B&W is from the photographer.

After this bitter failure, the irreverents have no choice but to go public. Private Jules takes the duty by setting foot in the Bistro (Village Pump) on April 6, 2016, without revealing any name of course. This is the privilege of the IRC insiders gang.

The Racosch method

In the wondrous Wikipedia world, full of wikilove, in « the greatest project of humanity« , one knows how it goes … to get someone to cough up some cash!

The working method simply takes example of the mafia. Threatening then extorting a « protection ». It was done so for the card devoted to the watchmaker Mido and originally created by a single-purpose account. At first Nicolas Ray (Manoillon) barded the card with {{reference needed}} in December 2015 and indicated in the edit comment: « Neutralization – formatting – very doubtful eligibility ». Chris a liege (an AFD monomaniac) mechanically proposes the article for deletion on December 9: one of the associates votes the deletion, the other the keeping. Racosch then contacts Mido and warns them of the « danger » while offering « protection ». Leo Fischer / Pplc « improves » the article and Manoillon changes his vote to neutral … The article is kept by Leo Fischer / Pplc, all clean: Mido paid.

For the advertorial on Debiopharm, there are more players. Manoillon and Wicodric, but also Emoso, a single-purpose account since August 2011, and Ibeldan, have been rewarded for the creation of the Jorge Cañete card and intervene in a very sporadic way, a sock-puppet or a straw man. Together they wrote more than 91% of the Debiopharm text.

©Migros/Racosch avec la participation désintéressée de fr.wikipédia.org.

©Migros/Racosch with the disinterested participation of fr.wikipedia.org.

To date, the Racosch associates have admitted the following advertorials:

  • Romande Energie, since December 15, 2014
  • Groupe Pictet & NPOV since July 18, 2015
  • Mido (montres) & Article for Deletion in December 2015
  • Mirabaud Group, since December 2015
  • Debiopharm (& AFD) since January 13, 2016
  • In vivo assisted fertilization (since February 22, 2016) on behalf of In Vivo Clinic
  • Leenaards Foundation, since April 11, 2016
  • Infomaniak, since May 2016
  • Association of Swiss Private Bankers, May 2016

We are not going to detail here the events for each card on Wikipedia in French or in English … It should be emphasized that these conflict of interest disclosures came very late and only after the denunciation by two newbies whereas at least 7 (ex-)administrators, some of whom are also board members of Wikimedia France and Switzerland, have been aware since August 15, 2015. This demonstrates once again the wikipedian’s and wikimedian’s merchant drift, the total lack of ethics and intellectual honesty, the shameless double-dealing practice which consists in chasing the newbies for lack of sources, neutrality or sock puppetry while they resort to exactly the same methods.

Any consequences ?

Don’t even dream about it! We’re on Wikipedia, a Sicilian village where all the inhabitants know who is doing what and keep their mouths shut (the omertà). Mafia practices are seen as inevitable and are in fact accepted with resignation.

Of course no CheckUsers investigations were undertaken for the involved accounts.

The wikipedians have meanwhile organized a so-called community-consutation, way of pretending that the community is doing something about the issue. Result:

  • Are the applicable terms sufficient? NO
  • Ability to be administrator, to express oneself in the community decisions (AFDs …) NO
  • What to do about paid editing in an article?
    1. Message « paid editing » on the editor’s User Page to identify himself (supposed to be madatory at present) YES
    2. Banners at the top of modified articles NO
    3. Hidden category to facilitate maintenance [[Category: Article under paid editing]] NO
    4. Creation of dedicated accounts (for example Mypseudo $, Mypseudo € or other) YES
    5. Indefinite block of paid editors NO
    6. Obligation to indicate on the article talk page that edits have been made in the context of paid work YES
    7. Prohibiting a paid account of editing an article for which it was paid (or rights limitation) YES
    8. No formal solution 9 COMMENTS

The most problematic in this « poll » is the wikipedian’s refusal to have the concerned articles tagged with an « advertorial » flag as it is done in the printed media. It seems that we are moving towards a relegation of this information on the pages of which the average reader does not even suspect the existence: the talk pages.

Epilogue

Thank you dear naive editor who spends tens of hours bringing for free content harvested on the web or (much more rarely) in libraries. Your voluntary and disinterested work is not lost for everyone. The administrators who censure you year-round and the wikimedians who collect the funds and then pack the money, make sure to transform your work into profit for them.

Wikipedia has become a packaging for advertorials.

Post-scriptum 2017 : one year later

The talk page of Popo le Chien has been cleansed with the complicity of Trizek/Benoît Evellin (employed by WMF) but archives can be found here … despite the clear willingness of S. Coillet-Matillon of not having a link displayed. The block logs of Popo le Chien and PPLC remain blank.

The talk page of Manoillon has been archived. The block log of Manoillon remains blank.

The talk page of Schutz has no record about Racosch. His block log remains blank in French or in English, same about his sock puppet. Frédéric Schütz is still board member of WMCH.

Racosch is doing fine and continues to edit Wikipedia probably with undiscovered sock puppets or straw men. They even cover the German market now with the help of their partner Sucomo Consulting.

After these revelations WMCH held a first governance workshop on Jun 22, 2016; a second one was held on July 14, 2016 with the paid « help » of a so-called expert. The summary contains pitiful platitudes but the jewel is this statement:

« To have a conflict of interest is not a problem. »

Q.E.D.

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13 commentaires pour Swiss Papers: another scandal on Wikipedia in French

  1. Nicolas dit :

    Indeed 😀 … but one year too late!
    I’m following this new episode since the beginning. Like in any bad soap I’m afraid that the ending will be below expectations. One key element of this comedy is the fact that no one is (publicly) tracking the IP’s connected to the Racosch accounts.

  2. Nicolas dit :

    That’s interesting to know that Wikimedia Switzerland spent 15.000CHF on legal consultancy « because of Wikibuster » (among other topics if I well understood). If they are lacking some fund, they could ask a grant to Racos.ch 🙂

  3. Merci vielmal Wikipedia dit :

    Wikibuster quoted during the WMCH General Assembly 2017. Minutes of this meeting
    https://www.wikimedia.ch/renewal-wmch-members-board-20172018/

  4. beebop3 dit :

    page a consulter très régulièrement : https://www.google.fr/#tbm=nws&q=« wikipédia »

  5. Wikibuster dit :

    @Nicolas: Si en plus tu as de la réserve ça promet ! On entend déjà certains penser « Wikipédia c’était un projet super qui a été pourri par l’argent »… Eh bien non Wikipédia ça a toujours été pourri, dès son lancement.

  6. Nicolas dit :

    @Wikibuster 🙂
    Merci pour vos encouragements et surtout pour avoir initié ce blog. J’ai encore beaucoup de choses à publier et les futurs billets sont déjà enregistrés en mode brouillon. Il y aura d’autres traductions (des lecteurs trop impatients ont publié des traduction très bancales ici).

  7. Wikibuster dit :

    My tailor is rich ! Nicolas en recevant la notification de publication je me suis immédiatement dit qu’il fallait envoyer ce fantastique travail à Wikipediocracy mais je comprends que c’était prévu dès le départ. Awesome !! 🙂

  8. Nicolas dit :

    Hi Gabe,

    In French I tend to substitute « article » by the more sarcastic « fiche ». In English I hesitated between « card » and « sheet », finally opting for « card ».

    Stéphane is a very smart guy! Where can I find a comprehensive overview of the cost of Kiwix?

    Recently I came accross an ancient episode at WMCH/WMFr. Ludo29 aka Ludovic Péron, former administrator (privilege abuse), former board member of WMCH, owner of several sock puppets, went to Norway in 2010 on a 4 weeks journey accompanied by Inisheer aka Fanny Schertzer. This enjoyable trip was financed by Wikimédia France. One result is this « article » that remains a stub since 2008. Meanwhile Ludo took care of removing the funding quote.

  9. Gabe dit :

    Hi
    Thank you for translating your excellent article from last year. I will email a few suggestions for improving the translation (for example, I would use « article on Wikipedia » instead of « card on Wikipedia »). I now have to go over the text again.
    You might want to include the other money making opportunities available within the Wikimedia community: the different forms of project grants. For example:
    https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Project/Stephane/Kiwix/Offline_medical
    13’000 Swiss Francs (roughly the same amount of US dollars) for « project management »

    Just imagine:
    You get paid by Wikimedia to travel the world promoting Kiwix, the offline Wikipedia reader, and you get to meet a lot of very interesting people… These politicians or company representatives could possibly need a bit of help fixing up their Wikipedia entries, especially knowing that the articles will be frozen and impossible to change once the Kiwix download is made. Wow…

  10. Nicolas dit :

    Not yet. But that’s a good suggestion 😉

  11. Have you been in touch with the team from Arrêt sur Images (Daniel Schneidermann et co. have been following WP and the WMF for a while now)?

  12. Nicolas dit :

    Ceci est la traduction, à la demande de lecteurs de Wikipediocracy, d’un article publié sur ce blog le 4 juin 2016. Merci de commenter ici en anglais ou en français sur l’article d’origine.

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