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Should Wikimedia modify its terms of use to require disclosure?

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By Smallbones and Pete Forsyth
About a week ago, the Wikimedia Foundation proposed to modify the Wikimedia projects' terms of use to require disclosure of an editor's employer, client, and affiliation if they are being compensated for making the edits. We have asked two users, one in favor of the measure (Smallbones) and one opposed (Pete Forsyth), to contribute their opinions on the matter.
The views expressed in these op-eds are those of the authors only; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. Editors wishing to submit their own op-ed should email the Signpost's editor.

Smallbones: no commercial editing

Smallbones has been an English Wikipedia editor since 2005 and contributed thousands of photos to the Wikimedia Commons.

A week ago it looked like paid editing was ready to take over Wikipedia. The public relations firm Wiki-PR had been banned for employing hundreds of editors, possibly including our own administrators, to make thousands of edits, taking in perhaps a million dollars. But several editors argued that such a ban could not be enforced, and that we must "assume good faith," even of obvious advertisers. They argued that the problem was simply "point of view" editing, and that it could be dealt with easily, by just editing out the bias. Some even argued that we should get rid of our Conflict of Interest guideline.

The situation has now completely changed, with a proposed addition to the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use, which says that all paid editors must disclose their paid edits and who paid for the edits. It does not ban paid editing, require the outing of paid editors, or allow harassment of paid editors. How could anybody disagree with that? Whether you agree or disagree, your opinion is welcome on Meta.

The proposed amendment would stop future edits by Wiki-PR and similar firms by letting volunteer editors know which articles the advertisers edit, thereby making it easier to check whether the paid edits follow our rules, and change or remove those edits if necessary. The advertisers would have to identify their paid edits to avoid legal action. The only people directly affected would be unethical advertisers who would no longer be able to slip in advertisements on the sly. Paid editors would be indirectly affected as their pool of customers dries up.

Still, I would like the requirements to be stricter, including prohibiting commercial editing of articles by or on behalf of businesses. There would be little difficulty in enforcing this ban. An advertisement, however indirectly, almost always suggests that a specific business placed it. These businesses, including the clients of the Wiki-PRs of the world, would be responsible for the editing of their agents.

Ads are already prohibited on Wikipedia and have been from almost the beginning. First we prohibited link-spam, editing by organizations, and meat-puppetry. Then we prohibited advertising and promotion, and finally marketing and public-relations content. The firm MyWikiBiz was banned in 2006. Every six months or so a new firm is found to be advertising and is usually banned.

Advertisers have often ignored our policies and guidelines. The conflict-of-interest guideline is scoffed at as "unenforceable". Apparently, these rules are too vague and changeable to be taken seriously. Enforcement of the rules by administrators and the Arbitration Committee has been shamefully lax.

By putting the prohibition in the Terms of Use, rather than in each project's policies and guidelines, enforcement is possible by the Foundation's legal team. The prospect of a slam-dunk legal decision going against them will remarkably improve advertisers' understanding of our rules.

The worst aspect of paid editing is how it changes our community. Paid editors are notoriously difficult to work with, ganging up on volunteers, defending their biased edits to the bitter end, wiki-lawyering until our policies and guidelines seem to have no meaning. Paid editors don't engage in collegial discussions of their edits. As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" As paid editors increase, they change the rules to make paid editing easier, which encourages new paid editors and drives volunteer editors away.

I'm not a lawyer but let's cover some legal basics. Advertising and marketing include any communication from a business to a potential customer that may result in a sale. Omitting the source of the communication is deceptive advertising, which is illegal almost everywhere. A German court ruled that editing on Wikipedia by a firm was illegal, even though the firm disclosed the edit, because the disclosure on the article's talk page wasn't conspicuous enough. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates most advertisements in the U.S., prohibits any business communication that may result in a sale unless there is clear and conspicuous disclosure of the advertiser. The FTC is now explaining and enforcing their rules on Internet advertising, as are the European Union and the U.S. states of New York and California.

Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/Templates/Paid advocacy 2012–14 These governments would likely prefer not to have to enforce their rules directly in an environment as complicated as Wikipedia, but I'm sure they will if we don't enforce our rules ourselves and provide guidance to advertisers. "No advertising, no paid editing of articles by businesses" would be remarkably good, concise guidance. It would be best if the individual Wikimedia projects were to enforce the rules, taking into account the quirks of each individual project, but enforcement by the Foundation is better than no enforcement or enforcement by a government agency.

It's up to us, Wikipedia's volunteer editors. Let's get rid of commercial editing and advertising on Wikipedia.

Pete Forsyth: there are better ways of combating unethical paid editing

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, a company that "provides consulting services for organizations engaging with Wikipedia and other collaborative communities." He has been editing Wikipedia since 2006.

An effort is underway for Wikimedia to codify a principle that has been a cornerstone of my Wikipedia training and consulting practice, Wiki Strategies, since our launch in 2009: essentially, that certain conflicts of interest must be publicly disclosed.

Focused community consideration of this principle is long overdue, and I applaud this effort. Undisclosed conflicts of interest pose a significant threat to Wikipedia. Action is needed. Why? Because of things like this:

Last month, a company offering Wikipedia services proposed establishing a business relationship with me. The founder spoke at length about the importance of dealing with Wikipedia ethically; he proudly contrasted his approach with his less scrupulous competitors, like Wiki-PR, who use sock puppets. But then he described his international network of Wikipedia editors: 20% disclose their role.

80% do not disclose that they are under contract.

While he may sincerely wish to treat Wikipedia ethically, this person is dead wrong to believe his approach is ethical. He fails to see the dissonance. Adopting a new policy would highlight that problem in an unambiguous way, supporting the Wikipedia community's efforts to confront and fend off unethical approaches. So the proposal, at its core, reflects a good idea.

But a TOU amendment is not the way to accomplish those goals. While it may be a good fit for Wikipedia, it may not fit other projects, like Commons or Wikisource, as well. If a museum were to pay someone, for instance, to upload their CC-licensed files to Commons, does a lack of disclosure constitute a real problem? Perhaps; but I'm inclined to say it doesn't. I'm skeptical about a provision that would define worthwhile contributions to our shared vision as violations. We should avoid outlawing good behavior.

The better path is to establish local policies on projects that need them, such as English Wikipedia. A Board-passed amendment is an unnecessarily top-down approach. If the problem mainly pertains to Wikipedia, why wouldn't the Legal department simply propose to Wikipedia (in various languages) that it adopt local policies? The discussion would be healthy; I believe policies would pass. Why ask users to go straight to the Board of Trustees? The proposed action is out of step with Wikimedia's system of governance; I don't see any compelling reason for it to be done this way.

Regardless of how a policy is established, the way we announce it is important and delicate. We owe much of our success to our broad invitation to participate in the Wikimedia vision. Our concerns about conflict of interest are justified, of course; but we should keep in mind that we frequently benefit from alignments of interest. For instance, museums sometimes upload thousands of public domain images. Companies sometimes draw attention to articles about themselves that have become badly outdated. Such efforts bring us closer to fulfilling our vision. Any announcement of a transparency amendment must be worded in a way that respects the good faith and the contributions of many independent organizations.

Finally, although it is stated that disclosure is a minimum requirement – that is, a necessary condition for ethical engagement with Wikipedia – some readers will incorrectly conclude that disclosing a financial interest is sufficient, putting too much stock in this minimal step. We must not take too much satisfaction in a policy change like the one proposed, but remain attentive to the need to articulate Wikimedia's ethical needs in a wide variety of scenarios.

Regardless of whether this amendment passes, undisclosed conflicts of interest are toxic to the Wikipedia community, and make it difficult for us to fulfill our vision. What can we do to address the problem?

What should the Wikimedia Foundation do?

Staff members have been hired into positions that require engagement on Wikipedia, with minimal ethical or practical guidance on how to go about it. This includes me (in 2009), and the problem remains: in 2014 a WMF employee prominently left her position after a dispute over her Wikipedia editing. While many facts of that dispute are (properly) invisible to public review, surely the organization must bear final responsibility for such a substantial misunderstanding.

In addition, WMF has at times given bad advice to other organizations about how to engage ethically with Wikipedia. That should never happen, given the wealth of resources and expertise available to them in our community.

Maintaining an ethical approach to Wikipedia engagement demands constant vigilance and diligent self-inquiry, going far beyond mere disclosure. WMF has great influence over the thought and behavior of its staff, contractors, funders, service providers, and business partners. That influence should be consistently put to good use.

What should the English Wikipedia community do?

What should people paying or earning money around Wikipedia do?

Many of us are passionate about Wikipedia's success, and also spend or earn money relating to Wikipedia. We should be proactively building a shared understanding of Wikipedia ethics.

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Pete F.

I'm glad we agree so much on what the problems are, but your proposed solutions are pretty wishy-washy. Just navel-gazing really. Something needs to be done now. Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:48, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]

  • Smallbones states the following: "no paid editing of articles by businesses". If we are going to have such a rule, then we need to be able to enforce it. How can that be done with anonymous editors? I have no idea of who Smallbones is, maybe he is paid by one of our competitors to work for keeping paid edits out of Wikipedia so they do not loose market share? It seems to me that we already have various rules that cover this problem, what we need is not more rules, but more voluntary contributors. Ulflarsen (talk) 09:18, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
That's incorrect, Smallbones. It will be the editor violating the TOU, not the company. It will be the editor who will be banned, not the company. And remember that lots of people who will fall into the "paid editing" category will be article subjects and those representing BLP subjects, who clearly have an interest in what the article says. There's this massively incorrect perception that this will affect only articles about companies, but that's dead wrong. Of course, those accused of being paid editors (it will be a great way of silencing opponents) will be unable to prove they aren't receiving some benefit. What motivation will there be in having neutral editors go into battlefield articles? Ah well, I'm sure you'll all work it out. Risker (talk) 06:13, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
      • i am ready to declare my smithsonian tie, saylor beer, national archives chocolate (since there is no consensus about de minimus); where would i do that ? (talk) 17:48, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
        • Actually there is broad consensus about de minimus. Please don't make up problems where they don't exist. Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:01, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
          • actually, i'm kinda with you, and i look forward to your enforcement of de minimus against the more than one editor who expressed a zero tolerance. but where do the ip's declare their interest? by having a policy that can't be complied with, are you not escalating the drama? (talk) 18:06, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]
            • There are 3 places where disclosure can be made, according to the ToU amendment: 1) in the edit summary, 2) on the article talk page, and 3) on their User page. This seems a bit too loose for me - somebody determined to hide his paid edits could make it real difficult to track by spreading them around on different edits, I'll suggest the first 2 then. Of course, unless that was a $100 tie, you wouldn't need to disclose anything (just ask at WP:COIN if there is something you consider iffy). You might even consider getting a User account so you can disclose in all three places! Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:29, 28 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]

We are all paid editors

The proposed amendment to the Terms of Use of all Wikimedia sites, and its position that anyone receiving or potentially receiving a benefit from editing a WMF site, has the unintended consequence of deprecating the tens of millions of hours invested by millions of editors across hundreds of projects. The proposed amendment deprecates reward as a reason to edit. But there is not a single editor who has made good-faith contributions to a Wikimedia project who did not receive a benefit, extrinsic or intrinsic. In fact, the lack of intrinsic reward such as recognition of the value of one's work is often a key reason that editors leave the project.

Everyone, regardless of any other benefits that may come, starts out with the intention of making edits that they feel will make Wikipedia better. They create articles that they think will make it more complete, they fix errors in articles, they copy-edit, they remove vandalism or biased information. As they become more skilled, they participate in recent changes patrol, they take articles through audited content processes, they clean up copyvios, they evaluate new articles. Some do it for the pleasurable altruism of making Wikipedia better, or for the warm feeling that they get in sharing useful information; these are intrinsic rewards. Some do it because they gain stature within the community: as a respected editor, a helpful resource person whose opinion others seek, as an administrator, or someone with other advanced permissions indicating community trust and respect. These rewards are very powerful motivators, and they are no less important or valuable than a modestly increased bank account.

Hundreds of Wikimedians over the last 5 years have obtained gainful employment as a result of their participation in WMF projects: whether as a member of WMF staff (the current roster includes at least 60 people who were WMF volunteers before being hired, all the way up to the executive offices); as a paid GLAM intern (dozens so far, and increasing all the time); by including their volunteer work on a WMF project in their curriculum vitae, particularly when applying for positions within the tech or nonprofit industries. Hundreds more have obtained grants, scholarships, or other benefits from the WMF or a chapter because of their track record as a Wikimedia project participant. A recent WMF initiative sent out T-shirts to Wikimedians recommended by their peers. Many Wikimedians have participated in edit-a-thons and other activities where they receive gifts or other forms of recognition for their work. These are all Wikimedians who have received reasonably anticipated benefits from their work on our projects; not only that, they received compensation with "money, goods, or services".

Tens of thousands of editors work in areas that are within the scope of their personal expertise, and much of that expertise comes from their working life. This is true whether they're prostitutes or physicians, scientists or educators, game developers or archive curators. As a community, we often seek out these editors to assist in developing and improving our content in the areas where they are subject matter experts. We do this, regardless of the fact that some of them may focus on matters that could theoretically (or actually) impact on their funding or employment. Indeed, some educators expressly include Wikipedia in their classes, and many archivists and curators have "Wikipedia" in their job description.

And yes, some people edit specifically because they will receive a financial reward. Their edits undergo the same level of scrutiny as everyone else's. Their new articles still need to meet notability standards, and if they are written in a promotional manner, they will be tagged or even speedily deleted. Their edits to articles will be tagged in the same way as that of any other editor if they blank a section or modify certain types of information. Many of them have made an honest effort to behave in a very transparent manner in order to better interact with the community, only to find that they're belittled, marginalized, ignored, and even subjected to abuse; others have been treated with a reasonable degree of respect, although with (likely appropriately) increased scrutiny. But how many thousands of times have we seen article subjects (or people working on their behalf) abjectly abused because they've edited with a "COI" to correct errors or remove vandalism or BLP violations in the articles about them? How come so many of the articles that we're fairly certain were created by "paid editors" over the last few years have been kept because they're not inherently inappropriate; that is, they meet notability standards and are not obviously advertising?

In reality, we have long had the mechanisms available to us to make paid editing unattractive or unnecessary. More careful curating of existing articles and a more centralized and responsive process for article subjects to point out errors and bias would go a very long way in addressing one of the main "COI" editing issues. Clearer, more stringent, and strongly enforced notability standards will reduce the temptation to create articles for marginally notable organizations, products, and people. That, and getting over the notion that paychecks are somehow less respectable than the rewards that other Wikimedians receive for their work, will get us back to the reason we're all here. We need to remain "the encyclopedia anyone can edit". Risker (talk) 01:22, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

"We are all paid editors" is simply not true. You might be a paid editor, but I am not.
Of course there are intrinsic rewards for editing, but equating those rewards with being paid is just wrong. Being paid changes everything. "He who pays the piper calls the tune."
I've heard this myth about paid editors being harassed many times, but find it hard to believe. My experience is that paid editors simply will not let their work be edited without harassing the independent editors who try to edit the work. Then the paid editors cry "harassment!"
We will remain "the encyclopedia anyone can edit". Paid editors under the proposed amendment will just have to identify their paid edits and their paymasters. That's all the amendment requires. Smallbones(smalltalk) 16:42, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
You are a paid editor, Smallbones, by the examples that the WMF put forward. You have received tangible benefits. And geez, it doesn't feel very good to have to hear that, but it's exactly how this policy is going to play out on this project: anyone can call anyone else a paid editor and not have to come up with a single bit of evidence. We are all paid editors. You really do need to get a new metaphor, that piper one is really tired and not at all appropriate, given the fact that the majority of paid edits are *exactly the kind of edits that we want here*. I saw lots of the articles that were attributed to Wiki-PR, and frankly they were better than what a lot of Wikipedians wrote, were on more notable subjects, and the Wikipedians who descended on them usually made them far more biased and non-neutral. You're really really downplaying the fact that anyone who's received a benefit of any kind for specific editing or for editing in general, will need to declare it. The WMF can very nicely say "no, no, we don't mean you", but that's actually not up to them. It will then be up to the individuals in the project who interpret the TOU and enforce it. There is absolutely no standard of proof required to "prove" paid editing, and most importantly, it encourages people to go searching all over the net to "prove" that an opponent is a paid editor. It will require registration of anyone who might possibly be considered a paid editor by the broadest description (remember, "a meal or beverage" was included in the examples). Oh, and the only sanction is banning. Risker (talk) 17:40, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
And as an aside, for those who are emailing me and saying that they agree with my position but that by April 13th (when the next Board meeting ends) the TOU will be amended as proposed: I keep being assured that the ship hasn't sailed yet - and I do actually have title to some swampland in Florida.... I also know that it will have zero effect at all on paid editing. None, whatsoever. People who believe in following the rules will do so, and will be on the receiving end of an extremely negative editing experience, as we can see by Smallbones' characterization of "paid editors" as a group, but they won't be the problem. Those who have been ignoring the rules all along will just keep ignoring them. What's the worst that can happen to them? Their account is banned? This is supposed to be a threat? Risker (talk) 17:47, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I am not a paid editor. Quit making things up. Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:15, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]


Let's look at a typical scenario where someone thinks another editor is a paid editor. I'll note that I've seen pretty much this exact situation at least a dozen times in the last two years, so it's not an outrageous one at all.

  • New editor (NE) with fewer than 10 edits updates the infobox on the article of a large corporation, replacing 2010 data with 2012 data. The new data shows a larger profit, shareholder dividend, and the name of the new CEO and chair of the board.
  • Experienced editor (EE) who has 50 edits to the article, including authorship of much of the "controversies" section, comes to NE's page and says "You're obviously an employee of the company, please read the COI policy and refrain from making edits. I'm reverting your changes."
  • NE: But I just added more current information, which is publicly available on the company's website and their government filings! Nobody paid me!
  • EE: That's exactly what a PR flack would say. Like I said, you have anything you want changed, put a note on the talk page and after it's been reviewed by someone else, it might get added.
  • NE: But I'm not a PR flack! I was just reading about this company in Financial Times today, and thought this was good information. Why are you taking it out of the article? I even put a reference once I figured out how to do it!
  • EE: No, you're a paid editor, stay away from the article.

So....what happens next? Today, we have likely driven away a new and productive editor because someone else has exercised WP:OWN. Two months from now, does the account get banned? Do we put a tag on its userpage saying "Banned for deceptive editing"? Do we add that tag if it is an account using the person's RL name? Risker (talk) 18:04, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Bluff called, show me two of those "dozen times" Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:20, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Unlike some people, I don't keep lists of all the really poor behaviour I see on Wikipedia. As a former arbitrator, I saw so much of it that it would have become a fulltime job. I'll poke around, but if I feel it will be an unnecessary additional smack directed toward an editor, I won't include it. However, I just came across this example of supposed "paid editing" that was a straight-out vandalism revert with a username that would not only be legitimate on many other projects, but would be the preferred one on others.[1]

On the other hand, you've not answered the question, either. How do you think that accusations of deception and paid editing are likely to be raised and addressed, and if you were a third party reviewing an accusation of paid editing, how would you resolve it? Risker (talk) 20:43, 3 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I am abandoning this line of discussion because everything I found was going to discredit some user or other, and I don't believe in doing that to prove a point. Some of the examples I found (mostly because I'd seen them and remembered them) were deleted and/or suppressed, some were just reverted, and there are still some out there on user pages. After investing so many years in trying to respect the privacy and personal information of our users, I can't bring myself to use those factors as weapons in a philosophical discussion. Specific individuals have already been targeted as a result of this debate (they know who they are) and I do not want to enable those who wish to discredit people just because of their beliefs about what is best for this project. Risker (talk) 17:34, 4 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • I very much agree with Risker. We should be judging content and not attempting to be Thought Police, conducting witch hunts based on speculation about the factors behind an editor's POV. Ultimately its destructive. There are a lot of POV warriors and SPA's out there that can be counted on to pull out the "paid shill" argument and maybe even drag you into COI review if you have the audacity to correct a violation of the sourcing rules or extreme non-NPOV text. Frankly, a few of them are admins. COI and paid editing rules are like handguns. It sounds like a great idea as long as you assume that they will only be used by the "good guys". But all of these problems can already be handled by the motivation-agnostic rules that are already in place, and we're all better off if the schoolroom is handgun free. Formerly 98 (talk) 22:56, 4 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
    • Risker has done a great job here, on Jimbo's talk, and on the Meta talk page, in highlighting the unfair way in which paid editors and COI editors are sometimes treated even now, without this disclosure requirement, and drawn attention to various types of poor behaviour in the Wikimedia community itself. Sphilbrick made a valuable contribution on Jimbo's talk page in demonstrating that Wales' "bright line rule" simply does not work. Even Jimbo Wales now seems to have – finally! – conceded that point, with his suggestion that the Wikimedia Foundation itself employ paid editors to respond in a timely manner to talk page requests from PR agents, companies and biography subjects.
    • Now, while I agree with almost every word Risker has said in these discussions, there is one point that remains unaddressed: according to the 2012 frankincense court judgment in Germany, EU law at least demands that companies disclose their involvement in writing Wikipedia articles about their business to the reader (see Signpost report). Risker's argument appears to be that the Wikipedia community should not promote compliance with that legal requirement because the community is too dysfunctional to treat paid editors with decency and respect. However, this seems back to front. What needs to change here is the Wikipedia community's attitude towards PR agents and article subjects. Article subjects and their representatives have a right to a fair hearing in Wikipedia, and readers have a right to know if subjects are writing their own articles.
    • And yes, Risker is right in that notability should be tightened, as most of the problems such as excessive positive or negative bias are observed in articles on companies and individuals that are of marginal notability to begin with. If you look at Wikipedia's articles in categories like management consulting firms or law firms, almost all of them read like straight advertisements, and were created by single-purpose accounts. Wikipedia is turning into the Yellow Pages, and people have begun to notice that, and absent disclosure to the reader rightly feel duped. Andreas JN466 05:08, 5 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
      • Hi Andreas. I have no opinion on the requirement for compliance; on English Wikipedia (which is, of course, the only real target of this proposal - nobody has any intention of applying it to Wikiquote or Wikisource), the overwhelming majority of businesses whose pages show up are American, and the servers are in the US; there's a jurisdictional issue that is way outside of Wikipedia's scope to resolve. All persons and organizations are expected to follow their local laws in addition to the US ones; that's already in the TOU, and we don't need special provisions for that. I admit I'm terribly tempted to load up Twinkle and AfD a LOT of marginally notable corporate articles right about now. :-) Risker (talk) 05:54, 5 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
        • @Risker, first, thank you for your excellent writeup above. I am pretty partial to your view; while I do strongly believe that the ethical thing to do is to disclose, I'm ambivalent about whether that ethical principle is something that should be codified -- mainly for the reasons you present. (Also because I believe that proactive transparency is important, and difficult to define precisely; one must disclose in a way that it's reasonable to expect that an interested colleague will notice.)
        • On your specific point above: "nobody has any intention of applying it to Wikiquote or Wikisource" -- that's something I brought up in my op-ed above. I think it's really important not to pass policy that is not intended to be enforced. If this is meant only to apply to Wikipedia, it should be clearly stated that in the ToU that it applies only to Wikipedia. Otherwise, it's a bad amendment. -Pete (talk) 06:57, 5 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
        • It's also worth noting that at present there isn't even a facility for compliance, as disclosures in article space – which is the only place a reader could reasonably be expected to see them, in the opinion of the German court – aren't allowed. Wikipedia simply accepts too many articles that no one but a paid editor could be bothered to write or look after in the first place, and for what – a few more articles to add to the total article count, a few more edits and editors, a few more page views? (Meanwhile, articles on many vital encyclopedic and educational topics that would actually be of use in promoting free knowledge in line with the Foundation's stated aims – helping the third world etc. – languish at stub-class or C-Class: poorly structured, written in inaccessible or didactically incompetent style, etc.) ´
        • If Wikipedia does allow businesses to author or edit their own articles, then disclosures to the reader should be made. While the legal situation in the US is less clear-cut for now (I don't think Smallbones will receive a proper answer to his FTC inquiry regarding US law on deceptive advertising any time soon, but full credit to him for asking the question), reader disclosure (not disclosure to other editors as per the current proposal) would clearly be the ethical thing to do.
        • Lastly, if WMF actually had a functioning mechanism to respond properly to article subjects' (i.e. businesses' and biography subjects') complaints and suggestions, as Jimbo has now proposed creating, you actually could forbid paid editing altogether, and pull the carpet out from under the entire paid Wikipedia editing and consultancy industry. There would no longer be any justification for it. And I reckon it would lead quite naturally to a tightening of notability criteria: because I doubt donors would be happy to see millions of dollars spent on WMF staff fixing and polishing the Wikipedia entries of management consultants and so forth (and the resulting lawsuits if the WMF employee refuses to do what the subject wants them to do). Wikipedia was not designed to be a business directory. Andreas JN466 08:33, 5 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  • I think it would best to have a policy that would mandate disclosure if the user is payed specifically for editing wikipedia, not just someone who works at the company can be considered paid editing, since they weren't actually being paid to edit Wikipedia itself (it could be considered unfair), but were simply working there, that would fall more appropriately under COI. it could of course ban users who promote their company but would not ban users who edit in good faith and follow Wikipedia's policies and guidelines when they creat an article by paid editing. Sincerely, --Yutah Andrei Marzan Ogawa123|UPage|☺★ (talk) 02:03, 9 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]


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