Propagandapedia

Did you ever wonder what press release writers do in their spare time? Given Autodesk’s recent trademark litigation with SolidWorks and related efforts by Autodesk to trademark “DWG”, and given the fact that US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark examiners are known to use Wikipedia during their research, it doesn’t take an evil genius to realize that a little subversive editing here and there might be helpful to the corporate cause. So, I decided to use Wikiscanner to go spelunking through the labyrinth of Wikipedia editing history to see if I could unearth any nuggets.

It didn’t take long to find some interesting edits. For example, in the edit history for “SolidWorks” you can see that someone from an Autodesk IP address changed “and has since been copied by others like [[Autodesk Inventor]]” to “and is now part of the midrange CAD market along with [[Autodesk Inventor]]”. Eventually this changes to “and is currently a leader in the ‘midrange’ CAD market”, and from that to “It is currently one of the most popular products in the 3D mechanical CAD market” with a citation to a SolidWorks web page as evidence of the claim.

I expected to find plenty of quid pro quo, but I have to say, either SolidWorks’ press release writers are a lot sneakier than Autodesk’s, or they have a lot less free time. According to this list of edits from SolidWorks IP addresses, there haven’t been any edits made to Autodesk entries since about March of 2007. In October of 2006 someone from SolidWorks changed a few things in the entry for “Autodesk Inventor”, but then things appear to have cooled off considerably.

So what about “DWG”? The entry for “AutoCAD DWG” contains this edit from an Autodesk IP address made in January of 2007, but not much since. Two months later, someone from Autodesk changed “for that reason they constituted a consortium ([[OpenDWG]]) to develop open tools to access DWG data” to “for that reason they constituted a consortium ([[OpenDWG]]) to reverse engineer Autodesk’s technology and access DWG data”. Since then, things have been fairly quiet on the “DWG” front.

My conclusion is that blog posts like this one from Franco Folini at NOVEDGE Blog may have resulted in more strict internal controls being instituted over the editing of Wikipedia content. I have no doubt that it still goes on, but covertly enough to provide plausible deniability.

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