by Val Halla
The Vandals are coming! And this time they’re after your wallets.
It’s a new form of insidious spam and like its inbred email cousin, it’s staggeringly stupid.
People are vandalizing “Wikis” in an attempt to get free advertising for their business.
First, what’s a wiki?
If you’re not familiar with this little web phenomenon, you should immediately dig in and learn. “Wiki” (pronounced “wee kee”) is Hawaiian for “quick.” And quick it is. The word is used on the Web for a page that *anyone* can edit.
When I first heard of this concept I immediately thought “there is no way it will work – it will be utter chaos” but the mass proliferation of wikis and their clear success have proven me wrong.
The medium lends itself to some amazing ideas. For example, the “wikipedia” project is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It’s surprisingly accurate and useful.
Alas, as with all great things on the Internet, there are forces out there ready and willing to muck it up for everyone.
A “wiki vandal” is someone who goes to a wiki and posts erroneous information. Sometimes this is for fun (like posting your boss’s phone number and sexual habits under a wiki entry about “bondage” – hehe), sometimes it’s for damage (like totally erasing an entry just because you are bitter about life), and sometimes it’s for advertising (like editing an entry with links to your bazillion dollar business “op*ortunity.”)
Luckily, there are people out there watching the wikis who will change erroneous information quickly. However, sometimes the vandalism is hard to catch and it sticks.
Now, if the wiki vandals were smart, they’d create a relevant encyclopedia entry about themselves and link to it from other wiki entries.
Do it relevantly and intelligently enough and it may just stick and bring you some appropriate attention.
But, of course, we’re talking about spammers here, and there is already an encyclopedia entry for “Down’s Syndrome.”
Related article: Encyclopedia For Journalists, By Sree Sreenivasan on Poynter.org
Val Halla researches Internet Marketing Oddities. You can be
alerted when she discovers something odd enough and important
enough to merit your attention when you visit her site