Wikipedia Doghouse for Microsoft

Posted on January 24, 2007

Microsoft has tried to buy its way around Wikipedia (or should we say Nofollowpedia). The Age reports that Microsoft is now in the "Wikipedia doghouse" after Microsoft employee Doug Mahugh offered to pay someone to edit an entry on Wikipedia.

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer - Rick Jelliffe, who is chief technical officer of Sydney computing company Topologi, based in Pyrmont - and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an "open document format" and a rival put forward by Microsoft.

Doug Mahugh, a technical expert for the Microsoft format, Office Open XML, has identified himself as the Microsoft employee who contacted Jelliffe requesting his services.

In a comment posted on the popular Slashdot technology website, Mahugh published what he said was an excerpt from an email to Jelliffe, detailing "what I asked Rick to do".

"Wikipedia has an entry on Open XML that has a lot of slanted language, and we'd like for them to make it more objective but we feel that it would be best if a non-Microsoft person were the source of any corrections," reads the email Mahugh apparently wrote to Jelliffe.

"Would you have any interest or availability to do some of this kind of work? Your reputation as a leading voice in the XML community would carry a lot of credibility, so your name came up in a discussion of the Wikipedia situation today."

The email also encouraged Jelliffe to disclose his deal with Microsoft in his blog at, and reassured Jelliffe that Microsoft did not have to approve any of his Wikipedia edits before they were made.

In this entry on Slashdot Doug Mahugh claims he contacted Rick Jelliffe directly and that "nobody from Microsoft PR contacted him." The email from Mahugh also tells Jelliffe to "feel free to say anything at all on your blog about the process, about our communication with you on matters related to Open XML, or anything else." This makes it all seem slightly less sinister but Microsoft still looks stupid for trying to circumvent Wikipedia. The Wikipedia entry for Microsoft's Open XML can be found here. Microsoft's Wikipedia bribe is currently the top story on Techmeme where it will probably remain for a while.

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