German Wikipedia bounties

German Wikipedia introduces incentive scheme

Until now, the only rewards Wikipedia contributors have received have been the positive feelings that altruism generates and the admiration of their peers. That may all be changing on the German Wikipedia, which has introduced a system whereby people may offer a bounty to encourage the creation or improvement of articles.

The German word for bounty, kopfgeld, literally means 'head money', but the scheme is more likely, say its proponents, to involve the transfer of a small gift such as a CD or a book. Examples of offers so far have included drinks at a forthcoming Wikipedia meetup in return for articles on streets in Berlin, a free weekend on a South Tyrolean farm for an article on the municipality of Sexten, and the altogether less materialistic offer of a good article on the Oslo T-bane metro in return for five good pictures of the T-bane uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons.

A number of German blogs and media sites have noted the appearance of this system, which has already been credited with the creation or improvement of several articles. In several cases the 'exchange' has been more in the nature of one article for another, without needing a transaction outside of Wikipedia. These share some common aspects with the game of using WikiMoney (now largely defunct), but the idea appears to be taken more seriously this time.

Controversy

The scheme is enjoying something of a baptism of fire, however, and has generated strong disapproval from some Wikipedianer who feel it contravenes the wiki spirit. It was initiated on 6 July, but on 18 July Dickbauch nominated the scheme for deletion, saying that the concept was 'diametrically opposed' to the principles of a wiki.

The deletion vote has already attracted strong views on either side of the debate, with those voting delete fearing the beginning of the end of Wikipedia if the scheme continues and forecasting very negative effects of a 'commercialised' wiki. One user said that the project could do without people who would only share their knowledge in return for something.

On the other hand, supporters of the system have said that it does not go against the fundamental principles of building an open content encyclopaedia with a neutral point of view, and that anything which encourages the creation of excellent articles and the improvement of Wikipedia must be a good thing. The debate looks set to be a lengthy one, and will continue until 25 July.

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