Requests for comment/Interlinking of accounts involved with paid editing to decrease impersonation

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The following request for comments is closed. Given the lack of closing after the second request (dated 11 December 2017 by Rentier), I am making this close as an uninvolved editor, as I indicated.

Statement of issue

The issue that the proposal seeks to address is that of paid editors falsely claiming to be particular established Wikipedians, Wikipedians in good standing, or Wikipedians with certain rights and abilities. There are sites such as Fiverr and Upwork where they advertise for work editing Wikipedia.

The proposer claims that sites such as these would be willing to remove accounts making such false claims. The proposal is therefore to require paid editors to provide a link on their Wikipedia user page to any accounts that they operate on external sites like Fiverr and Upwork.

The intention then is that where there is no link from the Wikipedia user page, it would allow us to ask external sites to take down accounts that make what would be visible as a false claim.

Analysis

There are currently 88 supports (plus 1 duplicate) and 34 opposes. That is a 72% support rate, but the arguments are more important than raw numbers.

Most of the supports can be presumed to be "per nom", although Jytdog makes the point the burden involved is comprable to what the organisations at en:Wikipedia:Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms already do. In addition, some sympathy was expressed with opposers who had privacy concerns.

The oppose votes, on the other hand, raised several different, well expressed concerns. I'll try to summarise some of these.

Fae has concerns that there would be a requirement to keep these proposed links indefinitely even if a paid editor ceases to edit for pay. But also a concern that if the period were time-limited, having too short a period would open up the possibility of abuse. The propose suggested that there would be a time limit, but it seems clear that the exact period after paid editing had ceased would need to be determined.

Andy Mabbett expressed a concern, echoed by others, that a side-effect of the requirement might be to victimise innocent editors who are being impersonated on external sites. When being impersonated, having to then defend oneself against suspicions is already problematical; this proposal could be used as an additional "stick" by accusing an editor of not linking to an external account, when it does not actually belong to them.

Bilby makes the point, echoed by others, that a link such as is proposed would force a paid editor to link to their personal information on an external site, despite their preference to edit pseudonymously on Wikipedia.

Ajraddatz notes that there is a convention which expects something like 80% support to establish clear consensus.

Other opposes seemed to be based on venue (meta rather than each individual Wikipedia) or the supposition that it would be unenforceable.

Conclusions

Nobody argued that there was no problem with paid editors making false claims on external sites. Evidence of the problem was presented and I find consensus that the issue should be dealt with if possible.

Some of the opposes were related specifically to the implementation of this proposal, rather than its principle.

In raw numbers, the proposed wording enjoys a super-majority of support, albeit short of a raw 80%. However, I would not be prepared to give much weight to opposes with weak reasons such as "paranoid witchhunt". I find that some of the oppose arguments to be sufficiently weak that, based on strength of argument, there is a consensus in favour of the proposal.

Nevertheless, there are some concrete concerns with significant rationales that need to be addressed in the implementation of the proposal. I recommend that there be supplementary guidelines produced to:

  1. specify the minimum time period that a link has to be maintained after an advertisement for paid editing has closed (and I would suggest a period of perhaps seven days);
  2. make it clear that on-wiki accusations of "failing to provide a link" without evidence is considered harassment and is thereby sanctionable;
  3. make clear to paid editors that Wikimedia's commitment to support pseudonymous editing does not extend to disclosures made on external sites that we require paid editors to link to.
I understand that the close will not satisfy all parties, nevertheless I hope that a way forward now exists that most can live with. I am happy to discuss my reasoning in further detail on the talk page should anyone wish to. --RexxS (talk) 00:06, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
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Statement of issue[edit]

We commonly see paid editors pretending to be established Wikipedians in good standing when they are not, or even impersonating specific Wikipedians.

Proposal[edit]

We require those involved with paid editing on Wikipedia to link on their user page to all other active accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing business.

This means that, should we discover an account on a site such as Fiverr or Upwork which state they are involved with paid editing of Wikipedia, however there is no account on Wikipedia that discloses that account, then we can more easily get these types of sites, some with whom we currently have good relationships, to remove those accounts. This will help those here who are being impersonated to stop the impersonation.

Example of a case[edit]

Here we have a Wikipedia user page of an undisclosed paid editor who claims to be in compliance with our policies and TOU. They do not mention that they are paid, are using socks, have been community banned, or the intermediaries they are using for paid editing. His simple EN page is still live and he remains unblocked there.

Here is one of their Upworks profiles where they say they are "fully in compliance to Wikipedia policies and terms of service" which of course they are not. Here is their Guru profile where they also claim they are following the rules.

Here we have a video of theirs on Youtube where they misuse our trademark to promote their business. As they are not in the USA it is a tough case for legal to deal with.

Here is where they were community banned by the EN Community in 2013.

How will this proposal help with the above case? While a Wikipedia user page would need to link to the Upworks profile in question. As one does not we would have an easier time getting Upworks to take down this profile which is in breach of the TOUs of both our sites.

Comments from legal[edit]

Hi all, popping in to help provide some clarification on the Privacy Policy issue. The key part here is at the beginning under "What This Privacy Policy Does & Doesn't Cover" where it states that it applies to "our collection and handling of information about you that we receive as a result of your use of any of the Wikimedia Sites." The "our" in that quote refers to the Wikimedia Foundation. A community policy that asks individuals to link to an account such as this proposal wouldn't be covered by the Privacy Policy because that's not the Wikimedia Foundation collecting private information. -Jrogers (WMF) (talk) 00:41, 20 September 2017 (UTC)[1]

Support[edit]

  1. Support as proposer. (P.S. note that this RfC is not a formal WMF effort) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:24, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  2. Support makes sense. Pundit (talk) 15:25, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  3. Support Jcc (talk) 15:38, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  4. Support Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 15:52, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  5. Support David Gerard (talk) 16:12, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  6. Support with comments below Smallbones (talk) 18:20, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  7. Support --Vituzzu (talk) 18:25, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  8. Support Definitely makes sense. Tanweer (talk) 18:49, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  9. support--Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 19:11, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  10. Support makes sense imo. I suppose that it will be the same rule for all wikipedias languages, and probably all WMF wikis ? --Framawiki (talk) 19:42, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  11. Support Support - sensible proposal. – Ajraddatz (talk) 20:09, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  12. Support Support with the proviso that this only applies on WMF wikis that have disclosure of paid status as a requirement (so not Commons or other projects that have chosen similar alternative policies on disclosure). TonyBallioni (talk) 20:48, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  13. Support Kudpung (talk) 21:48, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  14. Support good proposal, with comment below GastelEtzwane (talk) 21:56, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  15. Support, probably with some wordsmithing per the discussion below. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:41, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  16. Support--Nattes à chat (talk) 00:29, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  17. Weak support This sounds like a great idea, and if we could actually require (and automatically enforce) this then that would be great. However, I can't see how we could automatically check this (so the burden is still on editors/the WMF) so I think that this is more of a guideline that we would like to see people follow, rather than a requirement. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:37, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    BTW Upworks appears to be willing to work with us on semi automated enforcement tools. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:02, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    This sounds like a good step forward! Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 01:05, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  18. Support Confirmation is an obvious requirement that applies to things like IRC/Cloaks#Obtaining a cloak. I don't want someone claiming to be me with no redress. Johnuniq (talk) 00:49, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    User:Johnuniq thanks. Interesting to see that we are already doing this for IRC cloaks :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:28, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  19. Support This is actually much closer to a silver bullet for the undisclosed paid editing problem (the part of it that gets facilitiated through Upwork and similar sites) than most people voting here seem to realise. Rentier (talk) 00:54, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  20. Support Pharaoh of the Wizards (talk) 04:17, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  21. Support. MER-C (talk) 05:06, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  22. Yes definitely. My name is not dave (talk) 07:07, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  23. Support. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 07:09, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  24. Support if I understand this correctly, anyone claiming on one of these sites to be an experienced Wikipedian will need to have a declared account on wiki. This is a good step. We may in future have issues with people offering ambiguous terms such as "profile protection" and "online biography editing" but wikipedia is the obvious search term and this should help there. WereSpielChequers (talk) 08:41, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  25. Support Roxy the dog (talk) 10:49, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  26. Support implementing this will grant more recourse for editors being impersonated, as from what I have seen on Upwork, there are dozens of freelancer claiming to be well established ( many claim to be admins, as that is what clients request in their job postings) Wikipedians.--SamHolt6 (talk) 16:10, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  27. Support I briefly spoke to Doc James about this at Wikimania. I essentially see this as an extension of the requirement to disclose paid editing. While I do not think this will affect all that many paid editing cases, it will limit to a degree the places in which undisclosed paid editors advertise their services. Mkdw (talk) 23:16, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  28. Support A good proposal which risks very little in terms of adverse effects. CFCF 💌 📧 14:31, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
  29. Support Darylgolden (talk) 03:18, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
  30. Support Timawesomeness (talk) 05:09, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  31. Support of course as we discuss the same problem on dewiki as well - -jkb- 21:11, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  32. Support for transparency. --FocalPoint (talk) 21:22, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  33. Strong support I thought that paid editing was not allowed at all. They changed policy by creating exceptions? Of course those exceptional editors should declare by whom and for what their edits bring them money and/or other benefits. Klaas `Z4␟` V:  21:48, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  34. Support. It would clearly avoid many conflicts of interest. Good proposal. 1l2l3k (talk) 22:08, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  35. Support Good proposal for transparency. That makes a lot of sense. --►Cekli829 05:21, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  36. Support. This kind of measure protects users from being impersonated and helps monitor Wiki accounts involved with paid editions, which is something I consider necessary. Sabbut (talk) 06:41, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  37. Support --Jojhnjoy (talk) 06:49, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  38. Support Support, but with the same caveat as TonyBallioni (i.e., this doesn't apply to Commons and a few other WMF projects).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:51, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  39. Support Support It's a minimum. Pages where a paid editor has contributed should be marked as so clearly for readers. Un historien (talk) 07:35, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  40. Support Support --Papuass (talk) 07:38, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  41. --Thibaut120094 (talk) 07:46, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  42. Support Support Can be useful in some cases. I see no risk (including for privacy). Jules78120 (talk) 10:53, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  43. Support Support Support for additional protection from impersonation. --Emain Macha (talk) 11:21, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  44. Support Support --Guise (talk) 12:19, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  45. Support Like tears in rain (talk) 14:00, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  46. Support Support --Sargoth (talk) 16:07, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  47. Support I have thought about this a long time. I am sympathetic to what Bilby and others have written about this being burdensome. However making these kinds of links is actually routine for good faith paid editors; it is one of the things that pretty much every signatory to the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms does already. This is already a good "white hat" practice and one that should be propagated and made policy. (I could actually see some people objecting to this on the theory that it is on-project advertising, and am somewhat surprised that no one has said this). But bottom line is that multiple good things flow from this, and it is not an unreasonable burden to place on people who want to make money in the real world by exploiting the value (eyeballs) that the volunteer community has created.
    To be clear the multiple good things are:
    (1) For consumers, they will be better to able to differentiate "white hat" paid editors who actually follow the ToU from "black hat" paid editors who don't
    (2)For marketplaces like Upworks, the management of which would like to avoid enabling people to violate our policies, it gives them something actionable to work with
    (3) For good faith paid editors it helps differentiate them from blackhat paid editors, increasing the benefits of following policy and levelling the playing field with those who cheat
    (4) For WMF communities it will enable editors to better monitor good faith, policy compliant paid editing and shut down "black hat" paid editors.
    --Jytdog (talk) 18:11, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  48. Support Support Cedalyon (talk) 18:59, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  49. Support more transparent --Ghilt (talk) 19:49, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  50. Support --BallenaBlanca (talk) 20:39, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  51. Support This will not solve all related problems, but it's a start. A year ago I would have said the problem of paid editing has increased to totally unacceptable proportions, but by now it's become an emergency. Anything that looks likely to help should be at least tried. DGG (talk) 02:42, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  52. SupportMedgirl131 (talk) 02:47, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  53. Support - in principle. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 05:25, 19 September 2017 (UTC) (still support - · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:47, 27 September 2017 (UTC))
  54. Support
    ⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 11:43, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  55. Support I'm eager to find out who among us has been duplicitous. Chris Troutman (talk) 14:22, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  56. Support Worth a shot. Yunshui (talk) 14:53, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  57. Support --İncelemeelemani (talk) 20:21, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  58. Support Support better late than never --Swapnil.Karambelkar Swapnil.Karambelkar (talk) 17:35, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  59. Support A reasonable proposal that may help. --Worldbruce (talk) 23:51, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  60. Support Support, I agree --Suyash Dwivedi (talk)
  61. Support Support, Yes Dyolf77 (talk)
  62. Support Support --DCB (talk) 18:54, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
  63. Support Support--Rufet Turkmen (talk) 14:38, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
  64. Support Support: Better proposal to crack down impersonation. KGirlTrucker81 (talk) 01:06, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
  65. Strong support - Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:35, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
  66. Strong support Chico Venancio (talk) 00:36, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
  67. Support, good idea. Coretheapple (talk) 17:02, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
  68. Support Of the opposes, I only find Bilby's relating to potential privacy concerns to hold much weight, but I think this is negated to a large extent by the fact that nobody is forced to be a paid editor, nor to disclose personal information on their profiles on other sites. Of the profiles I've looked at over the years, I can't recall often seeing information that would link them to a real life identity. Echoing DGG (and the opposers who say this is unenforceable) this will by no means solve all of our problems, but it is most definitely a step in the right direction. I've reported users to various freelancing sites and provided clear evidence that users are already blocked or are socking only to be told that this isn't their concern and that their ToUs are not infringed (incorrectly IMO). It would help greatly if we had a clear rule such as this that would make it black and white as to whether paid editors were following our ToU or not, and in turn whether the freelance sites' ToUs are also being broken. We should also consider the effect that the claims that freelancers make about being experienced editors has on their customers who are unwittingly being deceived and probably are not even aware of our disclosure requirements. Smartse (talk) 20:24, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
    I cannot understand Bilby's concern. The proposal is that if a website offers paid editing with a statement like "I edit Wikipedia as Jimbo Wales", then Jimbo's user page has to link to the off-wiki statement to confirm the claim. The only penalty for failing to provide that link is that the website may be asked to remove the paid editing advert because it contains an unverified claim that might involve impersonation. This proposal would have no effect if the advert did not claim to be written by an identified editor. Johnuniq (talk) 04:09, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
    If that was the issue I wouldn't be concerned. The issue I have is that people are being asked to link to their profile on job sites under this proposal. Their profiles list their names, locations, employment history, short biographies, education history and typically contain photos.
    The "impersonation" is a bit of a missnaming on Doc James' part. The target here isn't really someone off-wiki claiming to be a particular editor, but someone claiming to have a certain amount of experience on-wiki, such as having created 50 articles and made 5000 edits. It would have been better described as misrepresentation, rather than impersonation. - Bilby (talk) 04:42, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
  69. Support Support. --ツ regards. Dyveldi ☯ prat ✉ post 09:36, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
  70. Support Paid editing leads to damaging the spirit of volunteerism on Wikipedia as I had learned from one of my friends User:AbhiSuryawanshi. Hence I support this proposal which will help to find out paid editing so that appropriate actions can be taken. Thank you. -- Abhijeet Safai (talk) 06:23, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
  71. Support. It seems like action needs to be taken on this. Paid editing does not have to be bad per se (I wish more NGOs for example would allow their staff to edit Wikipedia pages in their work time), but anything dodgy, hidden or misleading needs to be stopped or made as difficult as possible. EMsmile (talk) 10:35, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
  72. Support.--Dmartyn80 (talk) 06:39, 29 September 2017 (UTC)
  73. Support. A small change, but every blow against the paid-editing behemoth is a good thing for Wikipedia. Andrew Lenahan - <FONT COLOR="#FF0000">St</FONT><FONT COLOR="#FF5500">ar</FONT><FONT COLOR="#FF8000">bli</FONT><FONT COLOR="#FFC000">nd</FONT> (talk) 14:27, 2 October 2017 (UTC)
  74. Support. A good idea that might have at least a small impact on one of Wikipedia's persistent problems. Tdslk (talk) 02:42, 4 October 2017 (UTC)
  75. Support Support I think this has a good chance of working towards calling out paid editing.  FITINDIA  13:09, 7 October 2017 (UTC)
  76. Support, makes absolute sense. Stifle (talk) 15:57, 9 October 2017 (UTC)
  77. Support Support, excellent idea and about time. Seraphimblade (talk) 21:13, 10 October 2017 (UTC)
  78. Support Support --Andreas JN466 23:14, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
  79. Support Support --Steinsplitter (talk) 16:36, 15 October 2017 (UTC)
  80. Support Support About time this is done. —SpacemanSpiff 04:57, 25 October 2017 (UTC)
  81. Support Support Good idea to reduce impersonation, more transparency will benefit us all. --Lrq3000 (talk) 19:39, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
  82. Waek support. It may be a positive step for Upworks specifically, but I am skeptical it will have any effect on other sites. For example, I know of one LinkedIn profile that advertises paid editing services (contacting other LinkedIn accounts with offers to write their articles or rescue articles from deletion), the user is banned on Wikipedia and still creates numerous sockpuppets, but LinkedIn has declined to take any action on the basis of their user violating some other site's TOS. So I view this RFC as "mostly harmless", may be a positive in the case of Upworks but ineffective otherwise. Anachronist (talk) 23:34, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
  83. Support Support on general principle, as well as potential leverage with freelancer websites. Note: I myself consult on paid editing matters, though FWIW I've never used one of these sites. WWB (talk) 12:18, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
  84. Support Support I originally closed this as "no consensus". There was a protest below for various reasons that I should not have closed. Since I read everything, and I am not going to be an outside close to the discussion, I feel that I am free to take a side. Below I posted comments about the barriers to which I perceived to enacting this proposal. I read and re-read, and talked the matter over with people. I support the proposal fully. My biggest concern about this issue is still that various people say that paid editing either rarely happens or if it does, then it is helpful. I believe it happens, and it happens a lot, and that it so rarely helpful that saying "never" is a fair estimate. Despite the lack of hard data, I am convinced that paid editing is a really serious problem and we need to address it. I have considered the potential disruption that this proposal could make and am not persuaded that the likely costs outweigh the likely benefits of further recognizing the problems associated with paid editing and pushing back. Some people have said that the paid editing problem is for WMF staff. I think that the WMF is paralyzed by lack of community support on the issue, and when the community comes to consensus in ways that expresses wishes, then WMF support and other technical fixes can follow. We have the potential here to work with partners at other websites because reputable websites do not let other reputable websites engage in cross-platform abuse. If a hiring board is obviously posting jobs for anti-wiki behavior, then anyone should be able to alert that hiring board about abuse. There is no ambiguity about what sorts of behavior are and are not acceptable. I am doubtful on one point, and that is whether non-English Wikipedias have a paid editing problem. English Wikipedia has a horrible problem; perhaps other languages do not, or want to set their own rules. I do agree with limits on this proposal to make it for English-language paid promotional job postings because that is where the complaints are. Blue Rasberry (talk) 02:30, 29 November 2017 (UTC)
  85. Support Support Late to the party, but I wholeheartedly support this. LovelyLillith (talk) 18:23, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
  86. Support Support Have been following the discussion to see if there are any surprises but no, this is a commonsense way to apply our policies and identify and deal appropriately with the non-disclosers. Bri (talk) 01:10, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
  87. Support Support This will help! Alexbrn (talk) 14:50, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
  88. Support. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 18:04, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
  89. Support Support Petersmillard (talk) }}
  90. Support Support --Jojhnjoy (talk) 12:08, 30 March 2018 (UTC)

Oppose[edit]

  1. I would support if it were stated to be not retrospectively applied, be time-limited and inapplicable to clean-start users who have made good faith attempts to comply with policy. It seems unfair to force a user to forever declare themselves as a paid editor and link to their "corporate" accounts if they happen to have been employed to do so years ago; we do not require ex-WMF employees to do this. I suggest there is a reasonable time-limit of one year after paid edits have ceased. -- (talk) 15:58, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
    User:Fæ this is for people still involved in paid editing. If a person is no longer involved in paid editing than they should not have accounts on Upworks / Fiver still offering to do paid editing of Wikipedia should they? Does adding "active" address your concern?
    Also this is about linking to "Accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing". Most corporate account will not fit this description. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:01, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
    It's too implicit. Paid editors need to remain responsible for their contributions for a relevant period, not "vanish", shuttle between apparently unrelated non-paid and paid accounts, or be allowed to pretend it never happened 5 seconds after their last paid edit. If that were allowed, then regularly contracting paid editors could refuse to make any public statement between periods of engagement, even if for the same employer. Anyway, something to sort out the details in the Comments section if a further rewriting is being suggested. -- (talk) 16:17, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
    I am not sure I understand your concern. What is too implicit? This is only putting in place the requirement to interlink accounts that are currently involved in paid editing to prevent impersonation of Wikipedians. It means that if one puts up an adverts that says "I am Fae and I will write article for you for 1000USD", if the Wikipedia account of Fae does not link to that advert, we can assume that advert is impersonating you and more easily request it be taken down. If someone was previously involved in paid editing and has removed all the adverts they had up than no linking is required per this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:26, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
    "vanish", shuttle between apparently unrelated non-paid and paid accounts, or be allowed to pretend it never happened 5 seconds after their last paid edit - unfortunately, , this is precisely their MO. There's not much we can do about it except make more rules so when we find them being broken we can react better. Kudpung (talk) 00:02, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    Thanks James, Kudpung, I know you both and respect your views, so would swap to neutral if the vast majority of votes were not supports. However, the proposal does not actually say what James says here, nor would its implementation resolve the other issues that Kudpung alludes to. I'm also concerned that virtually the only real project that gets targeted this way is the English Wikipedia, and having this vote on meta seems misplaced. A better starting point would have been to establish an English Wikipedia consensus, then make a global one later when the knots were teased out. Oh, and I'm sure you've thought about this, but being paid while misrepresenting your identity as someone else is identity theft and is covered by the law in all countries where paid editors are likely to receive their money. If the WMF or someone else were really serious about this, go sue someone as an example and to get plenty of positive press attention. -- (talk) 13:56, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    Not sure suing people is the best way forwards. Often the accounts on Upworks do not have any clear identity attached to them. And why would they give us at the WMF private data? Additionally often these folks are overseas. Not sure this is a great use of funds when we can just assume that account are unconnected unless the person in question explicitly connects them. Just because something is the "law" in some country does not mean the legal system is particularly interested in perusing enforcement of said law. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:43, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  2. Oppose Oppose This will only lead to wild goose hunts with nearly no real benefit. Problem no 1 is that you have no way to verify that two accounts on two different systems is controlled by the same person. Not even if the two accounts seemingly is involved in editing the same article, and not even if they seems to have the same user name. You must start with creating systems that allow identification and tracking of users, and as of now no such systems exists on Wikipedia. The only outcome of the proposal would be stalking and alienating users. It is quite frankly, not a good idea. — Jeblad 23:54, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
    I think you are misreading what is being proposed. Let says a Fivver account is claiming to be you and offering to edit Wikipedia for pay. Yet you have not linked to that Fivver account on your Wikipedia user page. With this proposal we can ask Fivver to take down that account more easily and thus prevent the impersonation of you. P.S. both we and Fivver have policies against impersonation. For those involved with paid editing our TOU already require that they list the intermediaries through which they work, so nothing changing there. We are not trying to verify that "two accounts on two different systems are controlled by the same person" only the person who controls those two accounts can do that.
    Impersonating other people is a big issue, not a minor one as you try to make out. It is a form of harassing long term editors and drives volunteers away. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:27, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    You can reformulate this as impersonating someone, but it is still the same – only worse. The proposal would then be to make claims about impersonations done on an external site, with no real evidence. — Jeblad 01:00, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  3. Oppose Oppose Gordo (talk) 07:41, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    I'm regretfully opposing this for now because there was a very similar proposal made within the last 12 months on en.wiki to require paid editors to disclose their accounts on other sites that was rejected by the community. Unfortunately I am unable to recall where the discussion was, and until I can review that, I can't support a proposal that is using what in my experience is a rare occurence (impersonation) to force all paid editors to link to their accounts on other sites. Once the discussion can be found and opponents have been made aware of this then I would be happy to reconsider. Smartse (talk) 12:11, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    Have looked and been unable to find it either. If anyone can link to any prior discussions that would be appreciated. Have already posted notes about this RfC to wikimedia-l and the EN village pump. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:24, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    User:Smartse have found the prior discussion here. User:TParis commented. Legal (User:Slaporte (WMF)) also said "On my work with the Wikimedia legal team, we have found a few platforms that are quick to remove posts that violate their terms of use. The terms of use for Fiverr, for example, say that they may remove Gigs that violate a third party's terms of service (eg, they will rove Gigs that violate Twitter or Facebook's rules, and could do the same for Gigs that violate a Wikipedia policy). These sort of policies may have some variability from site to site, but it's helpful from my perspective to have clear and simple written rules, even where it may not be guaranteed to be enforced 100% of the time"Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:19, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
    @Doc James: Sorry about the delay in responding here. I was obviously mistaken about there being a lengthy discussion about this before as you, I and Jytdog have all searched for it and produced nothing more than what you've linked to above. Smartse (talk) 20:12, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
  4. Oppose Oppose Unworkable in practice; and unlikely to have the effect of aiding "take down" actions that is claimed. This specific proposal is badly worded, and over-reaching, as discussed below. Likely to be harmful to, for example, Wikimedians in Residence (such as myself). Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:20, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    How would it harm WiRs? Do you know of any who offer to edit Wikipedia's articles for pay on Upworks while trying to hide the Wikipedia account they are using? Most WiR are above board and closely follow the rules.
    This will actually help honest WiRs who do follow the rules as it will hopefully cut down on "black hat" editors. It will help people who want to hire a WiR not be mislead. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:36, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    The Foundation has also made it clear that most of the work done through GLAM and Wikipedian in Residence are not considered paid conflicts of interest. Mkdw (talk) 21:54, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
    consider the chilling effects of incidents such as this one [2] i have had to wiki-splain to a GLAM what is up with this COI questioning by editors less reasonable than you. need to consider how the tools will be used and abused. Slowking4 (talk) 01:49, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    WiRs, from institutions that share our goals, are not paid editors per our TOU. The accusations in that case were inappropriate and I said as much. Just because we allow, and in fact welcome, disclosed WiR does not mean we must allowed undisclosed paid promotional editing by banned accounts pretending to be users in good standing. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:08, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    There is no excuse on for WiRs on Terms of use - a page on which the word "residence" does not appear. Perhaps you can give us a URL for where this exclusion specified? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:31, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Sure that is easy User:Pigsonthewing here Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:49, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    On the contrary, that reiterates that paid WiR are covered by the requirements of WMF policy: "If you are a compensated Wikimedian in residence, for example, you must note what GLAM organisation is paying you.". Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 11:53, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
    The context there is very clear (please follow the link Doc J gave you) - that's the only disclosure required for a W-i-R. (A) Wikipedian in Residence who is specifically compensated to edit the article about the archive at which they are employed should make a simple disclosure that he is a paid Wikipedian in Residence with the archive. This would be sufficient disclosure for purposes of requirement. Surely you're not against a W-i-R posting e.g. I am a Wikimedian-in-Residence at the XYZ Museum. Would there be any advantage to anybody to have a W-i-R operate in secret? Of course not. Smallbones (talk) 14:26, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    "Would there be any advantage to anybody to have a W-i-R operate in secret?" Straw man. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 19:26, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    No that is a serious question. Are you saying you want to allow WIR to operate secrete side paid Wikipedia editing businesses? I do not believe this negative activity exists to any extent so I did not add it to the lists of beneficial effects of this proposal. But if you believe we have a bunch of WIR operating secrete paid Wikipedia editing businesses than that is only more of a reason to support this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:53, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    The question to which I responded was very much a straw man. The one you ask, which is different, is indeed not - but it is an attempt to put words into my mouth. Don't do that. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:38, 23 September 2017 (UTC)
    "Do you know of any who offer to edit Wikipedia's articles for pay on Upworks" Were the proposed wording upon which were asked to comment specific to Upwork, your question would be relevant. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:28, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Not sure what you mean? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:49, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  5. Oppose Oppose This asks editors to link to personal information contained in their CVs, which are typically included in their job profiles, and goes beyond what is expected by the disclosure requirements. To meet the current requirements, editors need to provide their employer and client. To meet this, editors will be linking to their online job histories, (whether it is related to Wikipedia or not), real names, photos, employment histories and locations of residence. This degree of self-outing is substantially more than currently required, and more than the community has ever supported. - Bilby (talk) 17:22, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  6. Oppose Oppose As unworkable and unenforceable. Furthermore, I oppose the manipulative attempts to undermine local enwiki consensus by abusing the Meta processes, where less enwiki attention lies, to force policy on enwiki. Why is it always the COI warriors here abusing this process? Why does their inability to gain local consensus never satisfy them? I retract that comment, Doc is not one of the typical 'warriors'.--TParis (talk) 20:08, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  7. Oppose Oppose Their right for privacy outweighs our desire to snoop around on the internet. Just let the WMF handle paid editing initiatives. And what about projects that do allow paid editing without disclosure? Natuur12 (talk) 22:16, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
    Already specific for Wikipedia and thus does not include Commons. Which other projects were you thinking of? By the way this RfC is about supporting the WMF in handling paid editing initiatives and this proposal has been discussed with legal already. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:20, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
  8. Oppose Oppose Citation: We commonly see paid editors pretending to be established Wikipedians such as here. The link does not work and the proposer did not disclose the dimension of the problem. Commonly means nothing. I cannot understand that the described situation - someone creates a fake account elsewhere and asks for cash - requires a policy that forces all paid editors to disclose their accounts on other platforms. If you find someone pretending to be User:Cimbail and asking for cash, just leave a message on my discussion page. If I don't see your post for months, this would be my problem. After all, I would be the person "impersonated". And, by the way, I don't see any problem with paid editing, unless the paid author breaks the rules, does something that is verboten, or runs into a conflict of interests. Most paid editors won't bomb their business with POV-pushing, religious or political weirdness, edit wars or personal attacks. And they have to write good articles, or their business will fail. --Cimbail (talk) 23:50, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
    "And they have to write good articles, or their business will fail." Don't you mean: "they have to write articles that will satisfy their client"? This is the goal of a paid editing activity, don't forget it. (While the goal is, for volunteers, to write an encyclopedia, following the 5 pillars.) Jules78120 (talk) 00:01, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    Their "job" is often to get a non notable / barely notable and promotional article through all our checks and balances. They unfortunately succeed a lot. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:14, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    (1) As for now, I still have not enough information about the extent of the problem. I am not prepared to support a requirement that forces a considerable number of honest contributors to disclose personal information, to kick out a very limited number of foul players. And it is indeed personal information, as those paid editors usually don't run big businesses. (2) OK, with yesterdays edit I had the paid writer for a multi-billion-dollar fortune in mind, who is indeed required to write high-quality articles. The community would rapidly stop any misinformation in high-profile articles. As far as the less important stuff is concerned, I am convinced the community will discover any false information and correct it - sooner or later. Any promotional bullshit is at permanent risk of being deleted or turned into the opposite. That will not protect us against every author disrespecting our goals. But, again, I can not see a dimension of the problem that justifies the proposal in question. (3) Well, some of the links provided here lead to closed Upworks pages. Seems closing down these pages was possible without the proposed rules. (4) The proposal is about non notable / barely notable and promotional articles? OK, just strictly enforce our citation requirements: no edits might be saved without proper citation. This would greatly reduce the problem, and it would give an overall boost to Wikipedia's quality. --Cimbail (talk) 17:14, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    On EN WP the estimate of the number of articles involved is in the 100,000s. With respect to check user cases, some have estimated that over half are related to undisclosed paid editing cases. The COI notice board is very active. We have a couple of dozen active companies involved specifically in paid editing of Wikipedia with many having multiple staff.[3] So a substantial issue.
    You claim "a considerable number of honest contributors". I have only come across a handful while I have come across 1000s of dishonest accounts. Can you provide evidence for your statement. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:40, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  9. Oppose Oppose Requiring users who post a paid editing advert claiming they are editor X to verify they are indeed editor X makes sense. The proposal, as currently worded, goes further and requires paid editors who wouldn't want to identify themselves to link their accounts. That seems unjustified. (And also unenforcable.) --Tgr (talk) 03:05, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    So how would you achieve "requiring users who post a paid editing advert claiming they are editor X to verify they are indeed editor X" And what about those who claim they are Wikipedians in good standing when they are not? Legal at the WMF believes this will help with enforcement. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:09, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    By writing it into the terms of use, as you propose. And then asking freelancer sites to remove all adverts where the user identifies himself as a Wikipedia editor but there is no link back from the editor's user page. There is no reason to request such a link when the paid editing ad does not claim that the user is an established Wikipedia editor, though. --Tgr (talk) 08:36, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
    If the ad is not an offer to edit Wikipedia, but to write an essay or create a twitter page, than yes I agree no link is required. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:01, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
    @Doc James: so there are three options:
    1. The ad references a specific editor ("I am User:Foo with one zillion edits and I will write your biography for $$$!"). This is pretty clearcut. The user has chosen to make their identity public and has nothing to complain about. Also the policy will protect users from impersonation.
    2. The ad makes vague claims without specifying anyone ("I am an experienced admin on English Wikipedia"). Now paid editing without disclosure is against the ToU, and consequently advertisements playing on that are as well, but the advertiser could create a paid editing account, with the appropriate disclosures, and claim that they are an established editor (without telling who exactly). That's not against the ToU.
      In this case the proposed policy does not protect anyone from impersonation but arguably still protects the would-be employer (who probably can't verify the claim on their own) against false claims; and maybe the reputation of the Wikipedia community in some sense, which might be harmed by the public claim that high-level users are engaged in low-quality paid editing.
    3. The ad makes no claims. Ie. an established editor creates a sock account for paid editing, makes the disclosures on the sock account (but not the primary one), and does not divulge in the advertisement or the sock description that they are an established Wikipedia editor. For an external viewer, this is not really distinguishable from paid editing by a non-established user hence there are no impersonation or reputation issues. The proposal gives no reason why disclosure on the main account should be required in this case, and there are obvious reasons why it shouldn't be required (harassment etc).
    My opinion is that the proposal makes perfect sense for #1, it's more borderline but still a good idea for #2, and makes no sense for #3, so it should be rephrased so that it does not cover that case. (Maybe that's already the intention but it's not very clear - does "those involved with paid editing on Wikipedia" refer to those accounts or those users?) --Tgr (talk) 19:57, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
    This proposal is just to require disclosure by the WP account doing the paid editing. Whether or not all accounts used by a paid editor are required to be connected is another question. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:56, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
  10. Oppose Oppose The proposal is badly worded. There are concerns about it not working as meant and I cannot easily verify the effects. --LPfi (talk) 07:50, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  11. Oppose Oppose potentially privacy problems. Mathis B (talk) 09:08, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    @Mathis B: Hey! Which ones? Everybody is free to participate to Wikipedia as a volunteer, anonymously. If people want to do paid editions AND to advertise it saying they are Wikipedians, it's their problem, and no one forces them to put personal information online (where they are advertising their business). Jules78120 (talk) 10:57, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    @Jules78120: I agree on the form, but it can be a problem for independant contractors who have their personnal adress and phone number public on websites like societe.com. Mathis B (talk) 11:15, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    Ok, I understand. But as I said, imho, it's their problem. We guarantee people that volunteers (people who are on Wikipedia to improve it, not to make money and satisfy a client) can be anonymous, that's all. Furthemore, if their personnal adress or phone number are already public and linked to their "advertising profile", it's not because of Wikipedia, and these information are already available. Jules78120 (talk) 11:22, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  12. Oppose Oppose Goodwill edits highlight and expand topics required by society on its current development level, instead, you will advocate lots of promo-trash on pages. Also, be ready to forget Google top ranking. Let it be undercover with speed deletion of promo-trash, leaving pr-agencies de jure aside. Alex Khimich (talk) 09:15, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    Assuming you're not so comfortable with English, would you wish to elaborate? I read your !vote for long but that precisely made nil sense! Regards:)Godric on Leave (talk) 13:38, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    Mechanisms to deal with COI / ghostwriting / etc are one of the requirements of being a high quality source. If we do not deal with this problem we should and likely will have our reputation harmed and thus could lose some of our google ranking. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:17, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  13. Oppose Oppose TZivyA (talk) 10:53, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  14. Oppose Oppose paranoid witchhunt. Marcus Cyron (talk) 12:24, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  15. Oppose Oppose Not Wikipedia's business. That site is the one who needs to add link to wikipedia user page not wikipedia because all doubtful actions are on their side. --Igel B TyMaHe (talk) 14:11, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  16. Oppose Oppose Too many unnecessary rules wil kill Wiki Sg7438 (talk) 14:32, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  17. Oppose Oppose Policy on conflict of interest differs considerably between projects (Wikipedia editions). The proposal may be suitable for English Wikipedia – i don't know since I don't contribute to English Wikipedia – but clearly not for all Wikipedias. Unsigned by User:NH
  18. Oppose Oppose I don't think the proposal is relevant to the problem. The problem announced here is that there are some people impersonating active users when advertising paid editing. The relevant solution would be: 1) asking these users to confirm (remember good old days when you were asked to confirm that the Meta account really belongs to you?) 2) asking to take down the ad if it is an impersonation indeed. The proposed solution actually means that we want people disclose their paid editing even if done from a completely separate account, which should be managed by local rules like w:en:WP:SOCKNickK (talk) 15:24, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  19. Oppose Oppose Too many unnecessary rules will kill Wiki and not necessary/relevant for our small version.Yger (talk) 16:06, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
  20. Oppose Oppose This proposal won't fix anything (as explained above), and will penalize honest paid editors (sometimes seasoned wikipedians) doing a good job improving articles following Wikipedia rules. I'm sorry, but seasoned Wikipedia editors can potentially be a big help for helping any companies, non-profit organizations, individuals, or entities improve articles on a given topic, by following the standards of Wikipedia (and the fact they're paid doesn't really matter from a content's quality point-of-view). We get it all wrong here, from the beginning. --Deansfa (talk) 17:50, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
    1) why would an honest paid editor not want to link to their site? How can any editor who wishes to conceal such information be considered honest?
    2)the overwhelming majority of paid editing produces unsatisfactory articles. We used to say, and still should say, that if the company or person is really notable , one of our tens of thousands of active unpaid volunteers will know about it and write an article. The only reason to even tolerate any paid editing is that in practice we can not prohibit it, and it is better regulated in the open than hidden. DGG (talk) 02:40, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  21. Oppose Oppose. I think it's completely unenforceable and simply burdens those who are already playing by the rules anyway. Those who aren't won't give a rat's ass if we pass this. If impersonation of users is a real problem, then we should address that as standalone and not wrap it up in the paid editing debate. I've also seen a couple of assertions that this process will involve WMF legal, or that they've been consulted but do not see any of them commenting on this page and Doc explicitly called this out as not-a-WMF-initiative. Which is it? 😂 (talk) 04:57, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Already linked to once above but here are some comments by legal again.[4] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:49, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  22. Oppose Oppose. With Bilby, Andy Mabbett and Cimbail. It still is pretty unclear what exactly the actual problem is. Unless this is clear for everyone and every project effected, the cost of connecting private data from platforms like Upworks with Wikipedia accounts is just not affordable and probably not effective. I would also suggest it is not in accordance with our privacy policy and I haven't read anything which tells that this has been properly checked. Alice Wiegand (talk) 21:55, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    "not affordable"? Why would their be costs? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:18, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    It's a german phrase, a metaphore. I wasn't aware that is doesn't work in english. It's too much of our values and principles we would give to get something from which we don't know if it helps to solve a problem which is not described in a way that Wikipedias beyond en.wp understand what this all about. (See for example german comment below and the discussion at de.wp.) Alice Wiegand (talk) 22:25, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Ah, you are referring to non financial "costs". Yes EN WP is hardest hit by the issues of undisclosed paid promotional editing, and thus these issues are of greatest immediate concern to this community. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:34, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    So why isn't this an en-wp RfC rather than a proposal to be implemented in any Wikipidia? Alice Wiegand (talk) 22:38, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    While the paid editors would then simply claim that while they do paid editing they do it on a language other than English and disclosed in non English. They will than argue that they need not provide a link and thus are not in breach of our policies and thus should not have their account removed from Upworks / Fivver. Not only did I not want this loophole, but the TOU are here on meta.
    Additionally we have other values such as independence (from the subject matter we write about) and being free from advertisements. Or at least disclosure of paid editing / advertising. Currently we are not doing well in upholding these values on EN WP. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:43, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
  23. Oppose Oppose The Wikimedia communities have no right to make rules outside their projects. Stepro (talk) 23:02, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    This is a rule for on Wikipedia, it is not a rule for outside projects. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:06, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
    Are my English abilities really so bad? "on a site such as Fiverr or Upwork [..] these types of sites, some with whom we currently have good relationships, to remove those accounts" - I understand you want to remove accounts outside of our projects. Here you wrote the opposite. What do you really want? As you may noticed some (maybe many) users on de-WP don't understand your request. Stepro (talk) 21:29, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
    This is not a request for a change in activity outside of Wikipedia. This is a request for a change on Wikipedia (ie requiring linking to the ads). With respect to requesting Upworks take down accounts, we already do a bunch of these every month for infringement of our trademark. This is just a slight extension of that. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:04, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  24. Oppose Oppose First, the proposed wording is ambiguous and vague. I read it to mean that paid editors must disclose all the Wikipedia accounts they use (which I'd have no problem with) but it looks like it means that paid editors must disclose any account anywhere on any site through which they do paid editing. Those sites could include social media, which would mean requiring an unacceptable (to me) level of personal disclosure. Second, I am unconvinced that the proposal solves the stated problem of impersonation - which I believe does happen but I do not know how widespread the problem is, or even if it is a major problem. Without evidence that the scope of the problem justifies this particular solution, I cannot support it. Come back with some data on the issue, several potential solutions instead of just the one, and clear and precise wording and I'm much more inclined to support. Ca2james (talk) 04:09, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
  25. Oppose Oppose, mainly because I don't actually understand the wording of the proposal - it's very unclear. I don't think Meta is the proper venue for this kind of discussion - I think this is more appropriate as a project-level conversation (some Wikipedias might want this, some might not, and it's largely an English Wikipedia problem that we're trying to solve here - presumably even if this passes, individual projects can opt out). And I would prefer to see the proposal explicitly address Wikimedians in Residence rather than creating yet another rule that gets GLAM partners worried. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 06:06, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
    It is a multilingual problem so it might be best addressed here. For example, a multinational company might post an ad for articles in English, French, German, and Spanish. Or even a local Swiss company might post for 4 language versions. Each language version might have trouble dealing with the 1 article in its purview, but when all 4 are considered, the conclusion can be much easier. As far as getting GLAMs mixed up in this, I don't see how, it is certainly not aimed at them. Do they advertise on Upworks? Smallbones (talk) 02:29, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
  26. Oppose Oppose. The statement of issue is weak and doesn't really lay out what the problem is. I can't see how the proposal would have helped the example case. Mr Ernie (talk) 12:56, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
  27. Oppose Oppose all other active accounts "accounts" is hard to define. This may mean any editor who accepts any form of monetary compensation is de facto disallowed from mentioning such work anywhere on the Internet, causing the aim of increasing transparency to backfire. Also echoing Bilby's points. Feminist (talk) 14:56, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
    That is not what it is saying. What it IS saying is that if you are advertising editing services for pay you must link to that advertisement. This does not mean you need to link to any discussion you have of your WP work.
    This is also saying that advertisements for pay are tolerated as long as they are linked to. So in fact it does not even disallow advertising of paid WP editing services. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:14, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
  28. Oppose Oppose Reference to WiR should be explicit not implicit in such a move. --Joalpe (talk) 14:12, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
    Not sure what you are looking for? WiR are required to disclose and generally do an excellent job of it. For example here is the disclosure by User:Bluerasberry[5] If a WiR where offering additional paid services via Upworks to edit Wikipedia for pay not sure why they would not want to disclose? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:40, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
  29. Oppose Oppose, per above. —DerHexer (Talk) 15:28, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
  30. Oppose Oppose, Meta shouldn't be trying to make rules for specific projects such as Wikipedia without some clear constitutional settlement. For example, there's increasing friction between Wikidata and Wikipedia and some suppose that the English Wikipedia is sovereign. If there's a Meta rule then this should apply to all projects, not just Wikipedia. And introducing bureaucratic rules through the back door may have unintended consequences. For example, there's a contest which has just been launched on English Wikipedia with Amazon vouchers as an incentive. Paid editing, right? And there was an interesting experiment in which articles about advanced chemistry were written by experts in the field. They were paid in some fashion for their services and so that's paid editing too, right? Andrew D. (talk) 08:08, 1 October 2017 (UTC)
  31. Oppose Please stop support per Tgr this is technical impossible. --Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 08:45, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
    Actually it is technically very easy. This tool was much much more difficult.[6] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:43, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
    Actually that tool is broken by design. Anyhow, the example is totally moot as the tool has very little in common with what is asked for in this RfC. — Jeblad 11:04, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
  32. Oppose Oppose Lets see if I follow this, an editor commits fraud off-wiki, there's a new wiki-rule against that so we get to go on witch hunts for the suspected rule breakers in out midst, when we think we've found one it's just like a SPI, the account is banned and we feel safe again. I'm against policies that reach off-wiki based on suspicion, accusations based on an arbitrary rule to get control of other editors we treat with bad faith. Not at all what I expect from a community working together. Dougmcdonell (talk) 23:55, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
    No that is not how it works. It does not result in the banning of WP accounts but helps with the removal of advertising by those impersonating or not following our current rules. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:12, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
    How it works now - "impersonating" (as sock puppets do) will result in a block or a ban and not following COI rules, usually earns a block, being asked to delete a page with no other sanction is not the likely outcome of this new rule and I remain opposed to it until the consequences are spelled out much more clearly.Dougmcdonell (talk) 22:41, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
    This is about requiring ads that promise paid editing to be link to from a Wikipedia account to verify their legitimacy. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:44, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
    The consequences of this are primarily offwiki. Users who advertise paid editing outside Wikipedia and identify their user handles in those ads will be required to state that in their user pages. That would prevent impersonations offwiki, as it will allow us to clearly demonstrate that the ads violate our policy. This is primarily not about onwiki behavior, but a way to prevent impersonation of editors offwiki. Chico Venancio (talk) 14:29, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
    Just to clarify, there is a bit of confusion over the use of the term "impersonation". This isn't about targeting people who are impersonating particular editors, in part because that almost never happens, and I'm concerned that saying "impersonation" is misleading people. This is about targeting people who say "I am an editor on Wikipedia" without proving that by linking to their off-wiki details from their on-wiki account. It doesn't matter if they provide a username or not when they make that claim, or if they provide identifiable details or not, just that they claim to edit Wikipedia. - Bilby (talk) 22:27, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
    Actually it is about both. I have seen example of people saying I am admin X when they are not. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:41, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
    Be that as it may, by "impersonation" you simply mean "claiming to be a Wikipedia editor", not "claiming to be editor X", although naturally the former would encompass the latter as well. - Bilby (talk) 23:21, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
  33. Oppose Oppose First define what “paid editing” need, note that you don’t actually need to receive money to be a “paid editor”, a simple accusation of being “a spammer” just because you have a preference for a link 🔗 means that you have “an obvious COI”. So what makes a COI? Well, let’s look at me with Andrew West/BabelStone, I requested an image from him, I used his website as a reference in 4 (articles), and I wrote this. According to many like the “spam-fighters” en the ArbCom I have “an obvious COI” with this subject and requesting someone to upload images to Wikimedia Commons makes you “a paid editor” only because I also used sockpuppets even if at no time the sockpuppetry ever concerned encyclopedic content but everyone knows that every sockpuppeteer is a paid editor. 🤨 Obviously don't don’t have to get paid in money 💴, the word “paid editor” is just an excuse to get useful sites blacklisted. “Paid editing” in its current definition means that you like a subject and add sourced content relating to that subject and ask those people to upload images to Wikimedia Commons, it should be redefined to exclusively mean people who get money 💴 for their edits, and even then I wouldn't want to support this witch hunt 🧙‍♀️, seeing how the mere suspicion that I am “an obvious paid editor” means that no-one is allowed to use a source on any wiki related to that subject, even if it was placed years before I even used it. Obviously w:nl:Geschiedenis van Chinees muntgeld tijdens de Westelijke Xia this article is “spam”, and adding reliable references to content is “spamlinking” and if you research something via Google or Microsoft Bing the websites you use make it “an obvious COI” and if you pay $ 20,- of your own money to buy a book 📚 and ask the author to donate some images to Wikimedia Commons you're obviously “a paid editor” because giving money 💴 = being paid. 😑 No other website would define the term “paid editor” as this. Sent from my Microsoft Lumia 950 XL with Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile 📱. Also, who cares where the content comes from? As long as it satisfies WP:NPOV, WP:NOTABILITY, Etc. I wouldn't be opposed to them as free knowledge is more important than if It's acquisition was free or not. This witch 🧙‍♀️ hunt against paid editors just hurts the encyclopedia more than it benefits, and constantly removing references and sources from articles only benefits the witch hunter, not the WP:READERS. --Donald Trung (Talk 🤳🏻) (My global lock 😒🌏🔒) (My global unlock 😄🌏🔓) 09:27, 2 November 2017 (UTC)
  34. Oppose Oppose - Content added by any editor should be evaluated based upon existing GNGs. Good content is good content no matter who puts it in. We have paid editors adding relevant and valuable content. The information added to WP by people who are paid can be limited simply by a careful evaluation of the content. All we will be doing is driving paid editors into developing a system or method that will be more successful in getting their clients' information into WP. Notable people ask me all the time to create content about them. They might buy me a cup of coffee. YIKES! Now I am in trouble. If you read the biographical content I have added, you will find that it meets GNG and the cup of coffee had no influence on its creation. That is why a 'no paid editor' is a policy that is too fuzzy for me. WP 'guidelines' are creeping into being more and more restrictive. We see a problem, create a guideline and POOF - problem fixed. This will be the first step to create a new policy that will characterize Wikipedia as being the the encyclopedia that anyone can edit - as long as you don't make some money. This may be offensive to some editors but there are really two kinds of editors - ones who add content and the other consists of those editors who watch the ones who add content. Not everyone can contribute content for all sorts of reasons. But this is most definitely the case here: Those who can't or don't add content have no way to become a paid editor, do they? The opportunity of becoming a paid editor won't be offered to them, will it? Hence the effort against paid editing will be most strongly supported by those editors that don't add (much) content. Since they can't get paid for their contributions, neither should you. Best Regards, Barbara (WVS) (talk) 14:28, 1 December 2017 (UTC)
    To comment on that last point, people are hired to both write, remove well referenced content that they payer does not like, and "protect" articles. So their are jobs for all, not just content writers. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:04, 1 December 2017 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

[7] I didn't know it was this blatant (in terms of selling their services/souls if they have any)...agree w/ above proposal--Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 13:30, 2 September 2017 (UTC)

That page used to say that "Andrew C." was an admin. There is an editor here who used to be an admin by that name but I think this upworks account is just impersonating the person as they say this is not them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:38, 2 September 2017 (UTC)

This should be an RFC, not a Meta RFC, no? --MF-W 14:17, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

Thanks Excellent point and will move. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:40, 3 September 2017 (UTC)

The first of your two examples is a dead account; the second is a sign-in page. {also, to emit valid and accessible HTML markup, please only indent your first reply, to any uninedented comment, with one colon]. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 15:59, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

Ah cool. Good to see upworks finally took down the account that appears to have been pretending to be an admin on EN WP. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:02, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  • What does interlinking mean exactly? Can you show us an example of a profile which is interlinked in this manner? Gamaliel (talk) 17:21, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
    • It means that the owner of a WP account involved in paid editing would link to the Upworks account through which they do paid Wikipedia editing work. For example whatever account this person is using would need to contain a link to this Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:48, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
  • On first reading this seems to say that they link in the advertisement to their user page here. While the current wording might do it, if there are other concerns about wording, I'll suggest:
In order to enforce the Terms of Use prohibition on impersonation, we require those involved with paid editing on any WMF project to link on their user page to all active accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing services, or use to respond to such ads. In the ads themselves, and in responses to such ads, the editor should link to his user page on the WMF project where he is most active.

Note that this is not regulating the content of other websites, only regulating the actions of Wiki users who wish to make paid edits here. Smallbones (talk) 18:20, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

Would be happy with that wording aswell. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:41, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
James, would you be open to wording that takes into account that some local projects do not require disclosure of paid status (Commons for one). Perhaps something like On projects where disclosure of paid status is required to comply with the terms of use. might fix it. TonyBallioni (talk) 19:16, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Commons TOU redirects to the meta TOU.[8] Were does it say that commons does not require disclosure of paid editing? We still want to prevent impersonation of commons editors. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:44, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Commons has a alternate disclosure policy at commons:Commons:Paid contribution disclosure policy it is listed at Alternative paid contribution disclosure policies. TonyBallioni (talk) 19:54, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
While we do say "on Wikipedia" and Commons is not a Wikipedia. While Commons has a policy on disclosure not being needed for paid editors I would imagine they would be against impersonation. But agree at this point we should leave them out. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:03, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
For the moment, The Wikimedia Commons community does not require any disclosure of paid contributions from its contributors. But that may change in the future now that the Wikipedia community is waking up to the problems caused by undisclosed paid editing. Wikimedia Commons could, for example, just require disclosure and set no other restrictions. We should start with Wikipedia and remain flexible enough so that other projects can jump on the band wagon at any time. GastelEtzwane (talk) 21:55, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, but this would be a global policy. I'm all for stricter policies on paid editing, but we shouldn't be writing a global policy only for Wikipedias. Keeping it broad by making it apply to all WMF wikis that require disclosure would make it so that if Commons decided to require disclosure in the future, they would automatically have this policy if they made the switch. I think that is a positive thing that also allows local communities to decide how to deal with this issue if they want to. TonyBallioni (talk) 00:17, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Wikimedia Foundation itself are using Upwork. How do you plan to handle that? How do you plan to verify that some people have a legitimate use of an account on Upwork? How will you try to figure out who do paid editing and who tries to help people? How do you plan to connect an user account "wild-rabits" on Wikipedia with an account on Upwork? Are you Harry Potter with a magic crystal ball? Yes I see the problem with Upwork, there are a lot of people there crying about help with their pages. Rather than going after those that help them at Upwork, try to make a working community at Wikipedia that help them! — Jeblad 00:06, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
They are NOT offering to edit Wikipedia for pay. Two things are required (1) The account on Upworks needs to be offering to edit Wikipedia for pay (2) There needs to be no link from WP to the Upwork account in question. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:30, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
How shall you be able to connect the dots? How shall anyone at Wikipedia be able to make such a claim on another site? It is not illegal to say that someone do some kind of work, but by your proposal someone shall make claims about impersonations at Upwork because the page at Upwork say they are wikipedians? If I say I am "Doc James" then I impersonates you. I do not impersonate you by saying I am a doctor. — Jeblad 01:22, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Is it illegal to pretend one is someone else? I am not sure but regardless it is against our terms of use. People are claiming that they are specific Wikipedians not just generic Wikipedian. They also claim they are Wikipedians in good standing when they are not and thus misleading their customers. We get a lot of complaints about this via OTRS. This is like people pretending they are medical doctors when they are not (that I do know is illegal by the way). Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:35, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
(aside) It is illegal to take money under false pretenses, e.g. a false name. It's called fraud. Of course, if you can deliver on *all* your promises, nobody might care what your name is. As a practical matter, almost all undeclared paid editors are claiming to do something that they can't do - create or edit an article according to our rules. Smallbones (talk) 04:07, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Feel free to prove it wrong that anybody can create an account and start editing at Wikipedia. — Jeblad 13:25, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
No, it is not illegal to pretend you are neither doctor or medical doctor. Both are illegal in some jurisdictions. The world is slightly bigger than wherever you are at any given time. To many errors, I will not waste more time on this. — Jeblad 01:48, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

Why can't an user being impersonated just request the other account to be taken down himself if they use their username? Amqui (talk) 03:09, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

Often sites like Fivver want proof that the account on their system is impersonating you. Or what if the account is impersonating a no longer active admin (which we have had)? Most people do not know how to determine if a WP account is active or not. It took a few years of reporting to get Upworks to take down an account impersonating a mostly retired admin. With this I will be able to say "this admin account did not link to this Upworks account offering to edit Wikipedia for pay, as we require this this account is impersonating this person and in breach of both of our rules" Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:17, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
How is a user even supposed to know if he's being impersonated? Kudpung (talk) 11:06, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
Agree that is another issue. If I came across someone impersonating you and you do not have email turned I, I used to have no way of letting you know. Know we explicitly allow the posting of job ads so things are better. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:39, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

The Upwork profile linked above is set to private so I don't see much information besides a name, a title "Senior Wiki Editor", a requested pay of 50$/h a location and this Youtube video. So, I don't see any claim that this person is claiming to be a specific Wikipedian. Maybe there is a screenshot documenting that? Could you share it? --CristianCantoro (talk) 11:11, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

The other profile of someone impersonating a retired admin has finally been taken down after a number of reports (more than three) over a few years. The take down was in the last few days. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:32, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
  • @Doc James: Can you provide more details on opening up official channels to deal with this through Upwork that you eluded to here. That would appear to be a considerably more precise route to deal with the problem of impersonation and if they are happy to work with us, we wouldn't need this proposal in the first place. Obviously there are the other sites, but I think upwork is our main source of problems. If sites are completely unreceptive to us reporting problematic users then this proposal would also be unenforceable. Smartse (talk) 16:32, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
    • Upworks is willing to help us as long as such support has consensus and is simple on their side of things. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:07, 14 September 2017 (UTC)
      • What of all the others? PeopleperHour for example? Surely you need all the freelancer websites on board, not just a handful including Upworks? Gordo (talk) 07:58, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
        • Upworks is the largest from what I understand. No you do not need all freelancer websites, you simple need to start with one. The others will likely follow along aswell after some time. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 12:05, 15 September 2017 (UTC)

I have a lot of time for people trying to stop paid editing. But this makes it nearly impossible for anyone to try and engage in paid editing while still meeting the rules. This is not simply a request to link off-wiki accounts to on-wiki, but to link personal information, including real names, occupations, education and biographies, to on-wiki accounts. This was not the intent of the changes of the ToU, and goes far further than anything that has been supported on en.wiki in the past. We don't even ask this of checkusers or arbcom members.

I am not aware of more than a couple of current en-wiki paid editors who operate within the ToU. We've created an environment where it is far easier and more effective to ignore the ToU in order to engage in paid editing, and almost every editor that I've seen who tried to follow the terms has ended up surrendering and just ignoring the rules. Almost none of them stopped paid editing - they just stopped editing openly. Adding a burden this great on paid editors who want to follow the rules will almost certainly ensure that the only paid editors we have will be those that either are new, and therefore don't know what to do, or those that are choosing to hide what they do. We won't stop paid editing, but we will stop people from doing so openly, making it very difficult to manage the problem. - Bilby (talk) 08:00, 15 September 2017 (UTC)

Bilby, you should try spending an hour or two at NPP. Those who do it openly are only the tip of a large iceberg. Probably 99% of it is underground anyway. At least 20% of the new articles which are so correct we can't delete, have all the hallmarks of paid (or salaried) editing. The only way to stop it would be to ban it altogether and be more systematic in sorting those obvious paid pages. Unfortunately, paid editors of the kind who advertise their services or subscribe to job agencies have exploited our 'declared paid editing policy' to be a licence to practice - like having passed a bar exam or putting the yearly state road tax sticker on the car windshield. Kudpung (talk) 08:54, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
The community has never supported a total ban on paid editing - there was so much reluctance to provide any limitation, that it took an RFC off en.wiki to get any action through with the disclosure requirements. But even if they did, banning all paid editing doesn't help - all it does it make it invisible. We cannot stop paid editing, as the desire for companies and others to have pages is too great, and they'll keep paying people to do it whatever happens. We should be trying to manage the process, not ban it, but the environment we've created makes that incredibly difficult. Placing nigh-impossible demands on those who try to engage under our rules only makes it that much easier for those who refuse to follow the rules to profit. Which is why we're in the current position - as you say, 99% is underground, but killing the last vestiges of editors willing to meet the disclosure requirements will only have the effect of making 100% underground, most of which will continue to be undetectable. What we need is to make disclosure and editing within our rules more appealing rather than less. - Bilby (talk) 09:19, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
Of course you'll never get paid editing banned completely - every RfC is populated by hundreds of paid editors and others who don't seem to mind dedicating their free time so that others can make money out of it. A few more years and it will be all paid editors masquerading as volunteers. It's happening already (proven) - some of them have got Autopatroled and New Page Reviewer rights, and even OTRS access. We don't know the names of the admins - yet. Kudpung (talk) 09:29, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
Which is my point. If you can't stop it, you need to focus on management. We're going the other way - neither stopping it, nor managing it, but making it progressively harder for editors to edit for pay in an ethical and open manner, and making it substantially more effective and rewarding to engage in undisclosed, hidden and unethical paid editing. - Bilby (talk) 11:27, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
And this is about managing it. This will also result in removing some of those who do not disclose to make it more worth will to disclose. By the way you do not seriously think that most of the details on sites like Upworks are true do you? People make much of it up. Some use real names but they are no their own, same with pictures, etc. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 12:03, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
Bilby, as Doc James says, this is about managing it. But perhaps not in the way you would prefer - FWIW there are no ethics or deontological honesty whatsoever in people exploiting for money a project that has been built on good will and voluntary work by others. Kudpung (talk) 12:15, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
Doc James, the sort of person who writes a fake profile on Upwork is not the sort of person willing to disclose on Wikipedia. This targets those willing to do the right thing, and will have almost no effect on those who aren't. What it will do is force those people engaged in paid editing openly to publicly reveal more personal details than we ask any other editor to reveal, no matter what their responsibilities on Wikipedia are. We will demand more of them than Checkusers, OTRS, Arbcom, or pretty much any editor. And in return they get to have their edits targeted. Why do you think this is more appealing than simply using socks and never disclosing that you are being paid? Given a choice between revealing personal information and opening yourself up as a target, and just using throwaway accounts, the throwaway accounts is the far more profitable stance.
Kudpung, this is why we can't manage paid editors - the idea that there is no means through which they can act ethically on Wikipedia forces them to engage in deceit, rather than trying to act within policy. But whatever your views, those do not match the consensus on Wikipedia. - Bilby (talk) 12:26, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
But they are the type of person who is happy to impersonate an established Wikipedia, which from my experience make up a significant proportion of undisclosed paid editors. Once again we are talking about preventing harassment of established Wikipedia and improving the situation for those who disclose paid editing (by limiting their unethical colleagues). If we do nothing about "non disclose" why would those on the ethical edge disclose? I think we can all agree that asking nicely has not worked.
With respect to personal information on Upworks, it appears you have not looked much at that website. There is very very little personal information about those buying and selling jobs. Typically no more than one finds on Wikipedia. People do not say who they are, just what they are willing to do (like edit Wikipedia for pay). Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:00, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
You are asking all paid editors to link to their profiles. Those who are impersonating established editors won't be the ones outing themselves by providing the links. Those willing to try and work within policy will be the ones forced to reveal their personal details. The only outcome of this proposal will be to further reduce the percentage of paid editors willing to try and work within policy.
As to the personal information, surely you know better than that. A typical Upwork profile contains the person's real name, photo, region (city and country) where they live, a short biography, education levels and where they attended, employment history and any other experience, along with a link to every Upwork job they have ever taken. This is not "very little personal information", and is certainly more than what one finds on Wikipedia. I'm not sure why you would say otherwise, especially given that you've seen these profiles before. - Bilby (talk) 13:16, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
There is typically little to no personal data on Upworks. This will allow us to have the impersonators accounts removed. This will give a significant boost to those willing to work within policy as their accounts will remain on Upworks while those who do not will likely be removed or will need to hide the type of work they do.
There is no evidence that these are peoples actual pictures, there is no evidence they are from were they say they are. All that is likely true is that they will do Wikipedia editing and that is all those who hire them care about. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:32, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
a) Your statement "there is typically little to no personal data on Upworks" is clearly false. If nothing else, a person's real name, photo and location is far more than what we ask editors to publicly reveal on en.wiki, and that is the minimum people include in their Upwork bios. You must be aware of this, so I don't know why you are saying otherwise. In fact, on en.wiki, we specifically recommend that editors "consider carefully before creating an account in your real name or a nickname which might be traced to you, as these increase the potential for harassment, especially if you edit in controversial subject areas".
b) You are missing my point. You are asking for all paid editors to link to their details off-wiki. Yes, those impersonating established editors (although I'm not sure what you regard as impersonation) will have fake information. However, those people will not be providing a link, for obvious reasons. Those who are editing in good faith, though, and are trying to edit within policy, will also be asked to provide a link to their details. Those people are not impersonating other people (or they wouldn't provide the link), and therefore will be linking to genuine information about themselves. You will force those who are trying to edit within policy to out themselves. - Bilby (talk) 14:10, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
As appears to be usual we disagree. Paid editors are already required follow the TOU. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:44, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, they are required to follow the ToU. I've never said otherwise. - Bilby (talk) 22:48, 15 September 2017 (UTC)
If you oppose this idea, what measures would you support to enforce the TOU? Or are you against any measure to enforce the TOU? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:18, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
I have no problems with enforcing the ToU. I just wish to see it done within the exiting policy framework and expectations of the community. That said, what you are doing here is not to enforce the ToU - it is to address an off-wiki problem of a small number of paid editors claiming expertise that they may not have. The proposal is not to prevent them from editing without disclosure, but to prevent them from making certain claims off-wiki. - Bilby (talk) 07:09, 23 September 2017 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
It will achieve a bit of both. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:03, 23 September 2017 (UTC)

Not really. The ToU requires that people disclose their affiliation with their client. Requiring a link to details off wiki about the Wiki doesn't assist with this - it just adds another barrier to disclosure. The reason you've described for doing this has nothing to do with the ToU. - Bilby (talk) 21:53, 23 September 2017 (UTC)


Impersonating users, fix the problem the right way[edit]

It is said several times that this is about users being impersonated on external sites. Groups can't be "impersonated", only persons can. That imply that all arguments about external users saying they are "wikipedians" is not enough, the external users must make active attempts to masquerade as a real user on Wikipedia. It is possible to impersonate a user on Wikipedia because the authenticity of a user on Wikimedia is too weak. We don't solve that by creating rules we can't enforce, we solve that by creating systems that makes it possible to authorize external accounts. In particular, dead accounts should be marked as such, and it should not be possible to use them for authorization of external accounts. Marking of dead accounts should kick in after a month or two, make it longer if necessary, and should strip the account of all elevated rights.

Note that proper authentication and authorization against external sites would imply a much broader discussion, and that it would not necessarily imply public disclosure of private information. You can be authenticated without being identified, but you can't be identified without being authenticated. A discussion about trustworthy disclosure of information will also be necessary, especially information that leads to identifiable information about a person being disclosed, but without even a working concept of what a user constitutes on WMF-sites it will be difficult.

As this RfC stands I can't support it. Do the right thing, don't create a mess. — Jeblad 16:21, 16 September 2017 (UTC)

Individuals are also being impersonated. But agree most of it is misrepresentation. We do not allow non physicians to pretend they are physicians in nearly all jurisdictions globally. We as Wikipedians in good standing also do not want those not in good standing to pretend they are us as it tarnishes our reputation. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:59, 16 September 2017 (UTC)

Question. Mr. Bad advertizes his services somewhere and asserts he is, in fact, Doc James. Then ... what? Retired electrician (talk) 22:00, 17 September 2017 (UTC)

Anyone who comes across the ad can check my user page, see that a link to the ad is not listed, and request that the hoster of the ad remove it (with legal at the WMF cc'ed). One of the biggest market places (Upworks) is already willing to work with us on this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:13, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
So the proposal is that paid editors have to link to the specific profiles they have on other sites. That's.... Not clear from the wording of the proposal itself. I understood the proposal to require paid editors to disclose all Wikipedia accounts through which they do business. Ca2james (talk) 03:55, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

Is it possible for someone to transcribe the relevant content of the Upwork profile referred to in the statement of issue? It's required to have an account in Upwork to be able to access the page, and I just don't feel like having to create an account just to get a better context of what we're talking about. Thanks. Sabbut (talk) 06:34, 18 September 2017 (UTC)

Expanded here Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:45, 18 September 2017 (UTC)


How big a problem is undisclosed paid promotional (UPE) editing?[edit]

This is a hard number to accurately measure as those involved are trying to hide what they are doing.

  • Number of articles written in this manner has been estimated by some in the 100,000s on EN WP*Some CUs on EN WP estimate that about half of cases reported at SPI pertain to UPE*The majority of large sock farms are related to UDP
  • It represents a substantial number of emails at OTRS
  • The en:WP:COIN noticeboard has seen about 5,000 comments in the last year[9]
  • We have dozens of full time companies, some with multiple staff, working in the area[10]
  • Upworks gives more than 1,000 accounts related with Wikipedia work in some way[11] (and that is just one of many sites like this and legal requests take downs of accounts already on a regular basis)
  • Fiverr also has plenty such as this who specializes in link spam. https://www.fiverr[.]com/murloc/link-your-website-to-relevant-wikipedia-page?context&context_referrer=search_gigs&context_type=auto&pckg_id=1&pos=3&ref_ctx_id=392af882-da91-4cd4-95b2-c53fa73d041c&funnel=9cbc871c-2048-4306-bf2e-b67e1370241b

But basically UPE is consuming large quantities of volunteer time. And frequently it is succeeding on pushing advertising into Wikipedia as it is swamping the checks and balances Wikipedia has in place to address it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:08, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

ok - how about a coffee house for UPE. what you really need is ten kevin gormans, so pick them and train them. Slowking4 (talk) 21:40, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
But how big a problem is paid editor impersonation of Wikipedia editors? If this proposal is about dealing with paid editors impersonating Wikipedia accounts, then that's the metric that's needed. If this proposal is really about managing paid editing (and the impersonation thing is not the actual primary rationale for this proposal), then it would be better to just state that up front. Ca2james (talk) 04:31, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Some is impersonation of specific Wikipedians others is misrepresentation as a Wikipedian in good standing. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:11, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
These statistics seem a bit over the top - part of the problem we have when discussing this is the tendency for the rhetoric to go a bit far. Paid editing is a serious problem. However, I'm having trouble with the 100,000's of articles claim. Is there anything to back that up, or is it just "estimated by some"? An easier one to check is the "Upworks gives more than 1,000 accounts related with Wikipedia work in some way". This is sort-of true - there are roughly 1100 accounts returned when you search for accounts using "Wikipedia" as the term. The problem is the "related with Wikipedia work in some way", as most of those are not offering Wikipedia editing services - they show up because of things like taking a job to collect data from Wikipedia; offering to do research using Wikipedia; or getting a job which contains a link to a Wikipedia article as an example of a logo the client likes. Out of the first 100 hits, after you get past the first 50 or so, almost none are offering Wikipedia editing services in their profiles. Of those in the 100 that do offer Wikipedia editing, and would therefore fall under this proposal, most do not claim any specific qualifications or experience on Wikipedia - they just have a tag saying "Wikipedia", or state that they have "experience editing Wikipedia", and aren't likely to be misrepresenting themselves. 13 of the accounts claim to have specific experience on Wikipedia, such as "created 40 articles" or "over 20,000 edits".
In the end, I think about 6 or so of the accounts returned by the search may be making unrealistic claims about their editing experience; none appeared to be impersonating a specific editor. I found that to be lower than expected, as I thought there would be closer to 10-20 editors claiming specific Wikipedia experience. However, it seems that with the increased activity in targeting these accounts, many are now set to private and can't be checked. I'm not sure how that would affect this proposal, but I guess if the profile isn't public, it makes no difference if they provide a link or not, and this proposal won't help.- Bilby (talk) 00:10, 24 September 2017 (UTC)
I think it is fair to assume that most COI edits that show some knowledge of WP syntax are more likely to be paid editing than a naive attempt by the company (which also counts as paid editing under our COI rules, but is not the focus of this discussion). Since most articles on organizations have some degree of COI, we are indeed talking about hundreds of thousands. (Paid editors will not only start an article, but also add to existing ones) Using another approach at estimating the problem, we are discovering rings of UPEs at increasing frequency, and most rings have at least 100 articles to their discredit. We have also seen explicit efforts by those running firms for declared paid editing to avoid disclosing their work by assigning it to individual employees or contractors, who may or may not declare. My guess of the proportion of paid edits at NPP is higher than Kudpungs, and the proportion at AfC is at least 2/3. DGG (talk) 16:46, 14 October 2017 (UTC)
I think when you are defining paid editing as "any COI edit where they know what they're doing" the definition has become so broad as to be valueless. The point here is that this measure only targets paid editors who advertise online through Upwork or similar freelancing sites, and there the numbers are relatively low. I'm aware of the rings of UPEs, having also caught many, but 100,000's is going to be a thousand such rings, which is well beyond what we've seen.
It is a problem. But the type of paid editing being addressed is here is being exaggerated, which risks inappropriately broad responses. I'm concerned because the paid editing panic is leading to responses that risk both being ineffective in regard to the problem and damaging to the projects. - Bilby (talk) 02:14, 15 October 2017 (UTC)

Proposal needs to notified crosswiki[edit]

A proposal such as this needs to be notified crosswiki to each of the "Project:VillagePumps" if we wish for it to be a global policy. I would also suggest that we would look to put some banners out and about to bring forward other debate. Otherwise it runs the risk of being an English Wikipedia proposal with enWP contributors setting crosswiki policy.  — billinghurst sDrewth 22:10, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

user:billinghurst Sept 17th 2017 messages were left at all the locations listed here. Translations have also begun into other languages. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:54, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

What happens next?[edit]

Though it might still be too early to say, this looks like it will pass. Could somebody review the procedures on Meta to say how it will be closed and when. Then what happens if it is passed? Will it have its own page linked somewhere under policy? Will we be able to tweak that page without restating the whole thing on a new RfC? (Of course there will be a new RfC, but how can changes be made?)

It's clear that this will apply to all paid editors on WMF projects under the ToU, but how will it affect the projects? Do they enforce this or does some global bureaucrat enforce it? It does look like it's mostly self-enforcing or enforced by the ad sites themselves. But say we find that there is no link on any Wiki to the ad site, who informs them? And if the ad site doesn't remove the offending account - is there anything we can do?

I'm not saying we need a specific enforcement provision built into this, just "How are these things usually handled on Meta?"

Pinging @Doc James and MF-Warburg: (MFW simply because he made a good technical suggestion above regarding Meta's rules) Smallbones (talk) 17:36, 15 September 2017 (UTC)

Needs to be open at least a week. Will get further input from legal once closed. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:03, 15 September 2017 (UTC)

In regard to the legal issue, how does this relate to the current privacy policy, as this will require some editors to provide personal information in order to contribute? - Bilby (talk) 01:32, 16 September 2017 (UTC)

No one is forcing anyone to do paid editing. Simple solution, stop editing for pay if you do not want to have to disclose editing for pay. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 02:45, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
This change will require people who wish to engage in editing for pay - which is a permitted behaviour so long as they disclose - to publicly provide personal information in order to edit. I would like to know if that is compatible with the privacy policy, as currently we state that people do not need to provide personal information in order to contribute to Wikipedia and the Free Knowledge movement. I think it is a fair question. How about we just see where it sits? - Bilby (talk) 03:02, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
You are requesting an opinion from the legal team? Contributing to Wikipedia in exchange for money, however, is not a guaranteed right. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:06, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
I am not saying that it is a guaranteed right, and yes, I'm asking for an opinion regarding how this works with the existing policy. What I am saying is that we have never, at any time, insisted that any editor publicly link to personal information about themselves in order to contribute to Wikipedia. If this change is accepted, it will be the first time we have ever asked that of an editor. Given that we've always said that editors do not need to provide personal information in order to contribute, and given that we even explicitly recommend that they do not do so, I'd like very much to know how this sits with the current privacy policy. - Bilby (talk) 03:53, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
While they can simply not edit for pay. And not advertise editing for pay. Than no personal / professional data or otherwise required. But lets see what legal says. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:06, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
(EC) "This Privacy Policy only covers the way the WMF collects and handles information." The WMF would not be collecting the information linked to by the paid editor, nor would the WMF be releasing it to anybody. Also the privacy policy is about non-public information collected by the WMF. This proposal is about public information voluntarily posted by paid editors on another website. If the paid editor is afraid that the information he is publicly making available on the other website should not be generally available, then all he needs to do is remove some of the information he publicly posts on the other website. In short our privacy policy has nothing to do with information publicly posted voluntarily on other websites by paid editors which is not collected by the WMF. Please read the privacy policy before you invoke it Smallbones (talk) 04:21, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
From the privacy policy:
"We believe that you shouldn't have to provide personal information to participate in the free knowledge movement. You do not have to provide things like your real name, address, or date of birth to sign up for a standard account or contribute content to the Wikimedia Sites." [12]]
Please read the privacy policy before accusing me of not reading it. :) Bilby (talk) - 04:36, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
Immediately above the section you quote and in the same box is
"This is a summary of the Privacy Policy. To read the full terms, click here.
Disclaimer: This summary is not a part of the Privacy Policy and is not a legal document. It is simply a handy reference for understanding the full Privacy Policy. Think of it as the user-friendly interface to our Privacy Policy."
And of course the current proposal does not require anybody to provide "your real name, address, or date of birth"
You should read the section What This Privacy Policy Does & Doesn't Cover thoroughly. Smallbones (talk) 13:20, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
I quoted the relevant section. It isn't part of the summary. It states that users do not have to provide their real name, address or date of birth to contribute to Wikipedia. This proposal will change that, by requiring some editors - those who are being paid - to link to personal identifying information about themselves which will include their real name and where they live. It places a new burden on them which does not apply to anyone else who is contributing to Wikipedia. This may be fine with the existing policy. But I think that it makes sense for this to be clarified.
Personally, I would like to fight paid editing without sacrificing core principles of Wikipedia. But I understand and respect that there are those who disagree with me. Either way, it seems very reasonable to clarify that this sort of change is acceptable under policy. - Bilby (talk) 13:32, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
And of course the current proposal does not require anybody to provide "your real name, address, or date of birth". We should just ping @Slaporte (WMF): and he can tell us if it violates WMF's privacy policy. I can imagine that it might possibly be the case that WMF legal would not want to comment until they see the final policy. In that unlikely case, should we agree that we'll both just formally ask WMF legal to provide an opinion then? And, of course we should wait, say two weeks after the proposal is passed, to actually implement this to make sure that the advertising paid editors have a chance to know what is being required of them. We would have to publicize it widely of course.
I'll add that this is the type of information that is already required through the ToU paid editing section as an "affiliation" though that requirement is not clearly understood by paid editors (that's obvious because none of them that I know of declare affiliations). An affiliation is not exactly an employer or a client, but is closely related. The ad sites are how the editors make contact with their employers or clients. The ad sites don't actually legally pay the editor, but they do in most cases make some sort of guarantee or promise to take steps if the editor is not paid. In some case, if I remember correctly, they actually process or monitor the payment. We might as well ask WMF legal if this situation fits the ToU definition of "affiliation", but I'm sure it does. Smallbones (talk) 15:18, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
In some case, if I remember correctly, they actually process or monitor the payment -- Yes: Upwork, for instance, requires all payments to go through their payment processing system. This is strictly enforced. They only release the money to the freelancer several days to a week after the client has marked the job as completed. Moreover, a freelancer cannot legally work off-platform with a client they found through Upwork (for the first 24 months) without paying an opt-out fee. Rentier (talk) 18:52, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
Yes, and if they are acting as a go-between between the editor and employer/client, or taking on part of the role of the employer (like paying the employee), then they are clearly an affiliation, if not technically the employer or client. Smallbones (talk) 20:23, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
The proposed requirement is that they "link on their user page to all other active accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing business". The focus here is Upwork. Linking to their Upwork account will link to:
  • Their real name
  • A photo
  • The area (city and country) that they live
In addition, this will typically include:
  • Employment history
  • Education history, including institutions
This is not the same as revealing how they are affiliated with the client, that they were paid through Upwork, who the client is, or who their employer is. This goes substantially further by linking to personal information about the editor. We do not ask this of any other editor in order for them to contribute. In fact, we specifically state that editors do not need to provide this information under policy, and specifically recommend that they do not provide this in order to avoid potential harassment. Accordingly, I would like to know if requiring people to link to this information in order to contribute would be a violation of the privacy policy. - Bilby (talk) 23:33, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
Let's not exaggerate. The employment history, the education history and the last name can always be hidden by the freelancer, and it's possible to get away without a photo in the profile. Which leaves the first name, the first letter of the last name, the city and the country, which are only visible to registered Upwork users after signing in. Rentier (talk) 00:03, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
I'm listing what is typically provided, and what we will be asking that they link to. In some cases they provide less than that - a partial real name and the region they live in - but even the absolute minimum is less than what we ask editors to provide, and more than we recommend that they provide. - Bilby (talk) 00:12, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
As an example, I am linking to three randomly selected profiles of Upwork workers - [13] [14] [15]. Each has a photo, partial or full name, short biography, employment history and education. These are the typical profiles that we would be asking people to link to in order to contribute. - Bilby (talk) 00:17, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
Non of those are offering WP editing services for pay. So no none of them would be required to be linked to. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:25, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
I chose them at random. They are typical profiles that we would require people to link to. - Bilby (talk) 00:55, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
A profile with visibility set to private won't show up in the search results. If you search, you will only find profiles with everything displayed. Many have hidden profiles and only reply to ads. Rentier (talk) 00:31, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
If the profile is invisible, this change in policy will not fix anything. If the profile is visible, the change in policy will require a link to their personal information. - Bilby (talk) 00:55, 17 September 2017 (UTC)

Was this proposal already advertised widely? --MF-W 14:22, 16 September 2017 (UTC)

Not via that list. Has been distributed via Wikimedia-l. Can you take care of that MF-W Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:57, 16 September 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, it has been a while since I last sent a massmessage and I currently lack the time to reacquaint myself with it. I only wanted to point out it out because I was pinged. --MF-W 01:45, 17 September 2017 (UTC)

Do I understand it right, is this RFC meant to be made effective on all projects? If yes, I strongly recommend to inform and include much more people, especially from non-english projects, than only the few interested readers on wikimedia-l. Alice Wiegand (talk) 13:06, 17 September 2017 (UTC)

User:Lyzzy Just Wikipedias. Am working on the mass message to other languages. Message send. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:47, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
dewiki has got it and is quite neessary. -jkb- 21:27, 17 September 2017 (UTC)
In Village Pump of nlwiki as well. Good point, Alice! Klaas `Z4␟` V:  04:45, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Ich verstehe kein Wort, finde es aber prima, daß anscheinend und möglicherweise projektweit wirksame Änderungen zumindest im Hinterzimmer diskutiert werden. --smial (talk) 09:17, 18 September 2017 (UTC)
Transl.: I don't understand a word, but I think it's great that apparent and possibly project-wide effective changes are at least being discussed in the back room. Kudpung (talk) 01:17, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

Statement by legal[edit]

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Hi all, popping in to help provide some clarification on the Privacy Policy issue. The key part here is at the beginning under "What This Privacy Policy Does & Doesn't Cover" where it states that it applies to "our collection and handling of information about you that we receive as a result of your use of any of the Wikimedia Sites." The "our" in that quote refers to the Wikimedia Foundation. A community policy that asks individuals to link to an account such as this proposal wouldn't be covered by the Privacy Policy because that's not the Wikimedia Foundation collecting private information. -Jrogers (WMF) (talk) 00:41, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

Just to be clear, the policy also states "You do not have to provide things like your real name, address, or date of birth to sign up for a standard account or contribute content to the Wikimedia Sites". How do I read that in relation to the second statement? If a user is required to provide their real name in order to contribute via a link to their personal details, does that conflict? - Bilby (talk) 07:46, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
The text is "We believe that you shouldn't have to provide personal information to participate in the free knowledge movement. You do not have to provide things like your real name, address, or date of birth to sign up for a standard account or contribute content to the Wikimedia Sites." These are not standard accounts run by volunteers. These are not people freely participating in the open knowledge movement. These are paid editors most of whom are undisclosed, operating sock farms, and have previously blocked accounts. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:45, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
These are standard accounts by people contributing to the project. They are not checkuser accounts, or administrators, or arbcom members. Just typical accounts used by people to freely add content. Why they are adding content is irrelevant. - Bilby (talk) 21:44, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, Bilby, I have to disagree. Your opinion is of course your prerogative. IMO, you are wrong here though, paid editors are definitely not normal accounts. Whether their activity has been quasi 'legalised' by a clause that demands them to declare it, they are absolutely not in harmony of the fundamental principal of unpaid volunteer contributions, and that makes them alien to it. What they might be contributing might be irrelevant, but being paid for it is not. Please also see the statement above by Jrogers (WMF) which you appear to have missed. Kudpung (talk) 02:52, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
The wording is in relation to a "standard Wikipedia account", which is a normal account with no special permissions. A paid editor would still be given a normal account. Using a standard account, there should be (under policy) no need to provide personal information beyond, presumably, an email. I have no hassle if people see paid editors as a curse on Wikipedia, but this is not about why someone contributes, or who the person is, but simply the requirements for a standard account on the projects.
Jrogers' statement was important, but it seemed to contradict this aspect of the policy. I can see ways in which the statement and the policy can work together, but I'd like to clarify how he sees this line being applied. For me, it is a big step to go from saying that on one needs to provide personal information in order to contribute, to saying that some people need to provide it, and I would like to be sure that the step is acceptable under policy. - Bilby (talk) 04:14, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
These are not standard accounts run by volunteers. These are not people freely participating in the open knowledge movement. These are paid editors most of whom are undisclosed, operating sock farms, and have previously blocked accounts. Provided that it does not conflict with, negate, or lessen global policy, the individual projects can introduce any measures they wish which they consider to be a sharpening of rules. In the interests of protecting Wikipedia from abuse, some rules may need to be made that require connecting paid editors with their activities and if we reach a consensus tat requires them to identify themselves for an activity that is not conform with the basic philosophy of Wikipedia, it would be admissible. Whether a token toleration of paid editing has been expressed in some form or another or not, paid editing, IMO, is an unethical abuse of our philosophy and I am at loss to understand people who do not see paid editors as a curse on Wikipedia. Equally, any paid editor not wishing to conform to such requirements has something to hide more than their identity - such as for example those trusted with advanced rights that could assist them to avoid scrutiny of their articles. Kudpung (talk) 05:48, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
That's all great, but it is a radically different interpretation to what I see the "standard account" being a reference to. I would like clarification on this. - Bilby (talk) 11:25, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
I think that is an unnecessary splitting of hairs. Most of us here know what we are talking about. Kudpung (talk) 16:47, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't see it as splitting hairs. You and I are interpreting the policy differently, and the difference is quite fundamental. To me, this proposal is a significant change in how the projects work, as we have never previously requested that any editor - paid or otherwise - publicly link to personal details in order to edit. I see it as important enough a change that I'd like to make sure that there is no conflict with the statement in the privacy policy that you do not need to provide such information to contribute with a standard account. I can see ways in which this would be consistent with that policy, but IANAL, so I'd like to be certain. - Bilby (talk) 23:02, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

Example[edit]

Please see this Upwork profile. I have saved a pdf on my google drive here in case that is taken down.

This person says of themselves:

Top Rated Wikipedian!

I'm proud to be an Wikipedian. I have over 5 years professional experience of Wikipedia article publishing, Restoration & Syntax mark-ups. I'm a member of AFC and recent changes petroller in English Wikipedia and a Rollback Admin.

I'd like to help you with - Wikipedia, SEO and Marketing!

If this policy passes, that person will either disclose that they are editing for pay and will interlink their own accounts, or we can work with Upwork to get that ad taken down. And once they interlink, we can look at whether it is appropriate for that person to be editing for pay and to have NPP or AfC reviewer privileges. Jytdog (talk) 00:03, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

A user may have a separate account with advanced rights that they do not use for paid editing, and a separate account without advanced rights that they use for disclosed paid editing. There might be legitimate reasons why they would not want to interlink these accounts (say, they edit controversial topics from their volunteer account and their real name is disclosed in their paid editing account). What you mention (losing an AfC reviewer privileges for the mere fact of paid editing and not for violating guidelines) might be another legitimate reason — NickK (talk) 17:27, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
If one is using the existence of special abilities tied to one's "volunteer" account to get work for their "paid editing" account, those two accounts are not exactly separate. In fact they are more or less undisclosed socks.
If one is just pretending to have those privileges, they are being dishonest and harming the reputation of Wikipedians. Neither is a good situation. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:53, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
In the first case, I agree that they are more or less undisclosed socks, but I do not agree we must make people disclose them. Many projects have policies like w:en:WP:SOCK, they never say that sock puppets are completely forbidden (at least not those I have read), instead they impose limits on their usage. Given that paid editing seems to be a problem for English Wikipedia, it might be legitimate to amend the English Wikipedia policy and request paid editors interlink their volunteer and paid editing accounts if they advertise paid editing. However, this requirement may not be reasonable for other projects.
In the second case, this is much more harmful for the reputation of the people who lied in their CVs and for platforms promoting them. If Upwork or similar platforms are willing to collaborate with us, it might be a good idea to ask them to check the identity of those who claim to have advanced permissions to make sure these platforms do not advertise people who lie — NickK (talk) 22:42, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
IMO the first case is an illegitimate use of socks if they are not explicitly connected.
With respect to the second point, unless we put in place what is suggested in this RfC Upworks will not have any ability to confirm these claims and will simply continue to take peoples word. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:05, 19 September 2017 (UTC)
@Doc James: Thank you for the details. As far as I see, this problem is specifically related to Upwork (no other website was mentioned here), and this is specifically related to English Wikipedia (I tried to look for profiles of people editing German or French Wikipedia on Upwork but did not find any). I do think this should be managed by English Wikipedia locally, it don't think it's a good idea to make WMF amend the global policy for an issue that is enwiki-only — NickK (talk) 12:51, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
@NickK: The problem is not limited to enwiki, examples: [16] [17] [18] Rentier (talk) 13:52, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
@Rentier: Are we speaking about the impersonation problem? I don't see any here. On the other hand, I do see a problem with the second profile: he claims to create articles in multiple wikis, will we require him to link accounts in each and every wiki or will he be able to choose a wiki himself? Either is impractical: in the first case a user may be blocked only for the mere fact he mentioned a language (say, he did not perform any paid editing in zhwiki but gets blocked for not linking accounts there), in the second case we may have to check all wikis to find the interlink — NickK (talk) 15:23, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
It is easy to make a tool that checks all wikis for a url. In fact I am fairly certain we have one already.
So yes link required and than tool will check all languages. Not at all impractical. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:32, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
What if they use different accounts for paid editing in different wikis (let's say that second user does paid editing as Oleksandr in enwiki, as Олександр in ukwiki and as 亞歷山大 in zhwiki) and have they use direct links (e.g. w:zh:User:亞歷山大) instead of URLs? It does not sound illegal, and I am not aware of any good tools to monitor such links. I have a strong feeling that we are trying to insert some form of monitoring of paid editors into our privacy policy while it does not really belong to that policy — NickK (talk) 09:51, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
Why would this go in the privacy policy and not the paid editing policy? The links are to be to "upworks" etc. They are not WP links. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:21, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
@Doc James: Could you please clarify: under all other active accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing business you mean Upworks accounts, not Wikimedia accounts? I thought we were speaking of the latter — NickK (talk) 15:57, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
This proposal is to require linking from the Wikipedia account of the paid editor to the upworks accounts that they use to advertise paid Wikipedia editing. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:08, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
OK, now it is clear, thanks. Please consider improving the wording as it is ambiguous (I thought that an "account" can only mean a Wikimedia account in our context) and not general enough (paid editing can also be advertised via independent websites, such as here) — NickK (talk) 09:57, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
Yup and requiring links to these independent sites would also be good practice IMO. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:35, 22 September 2017 (UTC)
While Upwork does not verify credentials such as degrees or employment history, and they certainly don't verify Wikipedia privileges, their Marketplace Quality Team is very receptive to concerns involving violating the rules of other websites. Rentier (talk) 23:11, 19 September 2017 (UTC)

Another Example[edit]

The EN:WP User INLINETEXT who exposed the Vipul paid editng network, was indeffed soon after he opposed William Beutler's proposed COI edits on Robert A. Mandell. Then Wiiliam Beutler apparently invited an Upworker/Wikipedian to insert that disputed text. How does this RfC address such cases of operating "within the WP:PAID policy by passing off Upworker coolies as neutral/uninvolved Wikipedians."? 103.30.143.51 08:33, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

This RfC only addresses two issues
1) It decreases the ability of those offering paid editing services on sites like Upworks to impersonated Wikipedians or misrepresent themselves as WPians in good standing
2) It will improve disclosure as required by the TOU for those involved in paid editing
So I this case that upworks account would be required to be linked by some account to their account on WP. As that Upwork account claims to have over 12,000 edits to the EN WP one could verify this if this passes and make sure proper disclose had occurred or more easily request to have the Upworks account removed. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:41, 20 September 2017 (UTC)
I hate to continue an off-topic discussion, but: the accusation by an IP editor from WikiInAction is false. All of my efforts to find editors who can respond to requests are visible on-wiki via discussion pages. I have no control over who actually responds, and as far as I could tell then, the editor who helped on Amb. Mandell's page did so in good faith. WWB Too (talk) 15:38, 11 October 2017 (UTC)
WWB_Too is being economical with the truth. He has been canvassing conflicted editors for his paid edits and using them across muiltiple paid editing assignments. WWB_Too should retract his personal attack to malign me as being from WikiInAction. 101.57.254.37 01:25, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
WWB_Too is openly misusing WMF's Trademark by using 2 domains like THEWIKIPEDIAN.NET and THEWIKIPEDIAN.COM to promote his paid editing business. Why is WMF Legal not prosecuting him to get these 2 domain names cancelled ? 101.60.253.221 03:11, 12 October 2017 (UTC)

Closing this RfC[edit]

It has now been open for 30 days. What are the next steps for summarizing and closing this? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:56, 12 October 2017 (UTC)

Come up with a practical proposal to stop the menace of paid editing and admin / arbcom accounts linked to paid editing. The biggest menace afflicting Wikipedia's credibility is "paid editing". If this passes, the divide between how paid editors and volunteers are viewed/treated, will be moved ever closer to resembling an apartheid system. This proposal isn't about increasing the already negligible number of paid editors who willing sign up to be second class citizens by complying with their disclosure rules, it is about how to more effectively root out and eliminate the vast majority of paid editors who have figured out that it ain't much fun wearing that yellow star, and so choose do it covertly. To quote a prominent Wikipedian in that discussion.....
A few more years and it will be all paid editors masquerading as volunteers.
.....and this proposal only makes that even more likely. 101.60.253.221 03:14, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
  • @Doc James: since this affects more than one language edition of Wikipedia, it might make sense to post a closing request at Stewards' noticeboard to see if an uninvolved steward would be willing to close it. I'm not a frequent user on meta, but to me this would seem equivalent to posting on admin noticeboards seeking closure on the relevant Wikipedias. TonyBallioni (talk) 17:31, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
  • Very unclear proposal. It's not even clear what guideline or policy this proposed sentence would be part of: no idea how one could assess the consensus required or implement anything. --Nemo 20:00, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
    • It could go in a number of places (possibly the TOU with the rest of the paid editing requirements). Will ask legal about this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:47, 14 October 2017 (UTC)
    • The obvious place for this to go would be in a meta-policy entitled "Interlinking of accounts involved with paid editing to decrease impersonation" with one sentence of content:
We require those involved with paid editing on Wikipedia to link on their user page to all other active accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing business.
The consensus here is clear and has been for a long time. How to implement this? This is almost as clear - we need software that will search for links on all Wikipedias to accounts at Fiverr or Upwork. If there aren't any such links we simply inform Fiverr and Upwork that the required links don't exist and please delete the accounts that are advertising for jobs on Wikipedia since they are breaking our rules (which is contrary to their rules). I believe the software should be easy enough to find, if it doesn't already exist. Who exactly is "we"? Really anybody who wants to do the search - but I suppose the community can work out for itself who should do it with what software and how often. I'll suggest that the first couple of times we relay the search results to WMF legal and they can relay the request to Fiverr and Upwork and get any feedback from them on how to do it in the future. After the first few times WMF might say to the community "this looks like a good way to do it. Please take care of this on your own from now on." In short volunteers working together as usual on Wikimedia projects, but in this case having a brief consult with WMF legal because implementation will likely go through Fiverr and Upworks legal department. If F&U follow their own rules, then there is nothing else the community here has to do.
I do suppose that individual Wikipedia's might want to add a notice that this is happening in their own policies and guidelines. They might require additionally that the links for articles in their language be placed on their language Wikipedia. But if they don't, that's ok too. It will actually be enforced by F&U, not by us. Smallbones (talk) 02:25, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
This is going to be hard to use. The plan is to go to Upwork and say "we can't find proof that this person is an editor on Wikipedia, therefore kill their account". Our inability to show that a connection exists is the claim of wrongdoing, aka proving a negative. It is so much better to say "here is proof that this account belongs to a banned editor", which is a much more effective direction to take. - Bilby (talk) 11:15, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
For those who think this is to difficult to use, they simply do not need to use it, as after all most of us are volunteers. As someone who was very much involved in the developing of the more complicated tool, CopyPatrol, I think this one will be very simple to develop and use, especially in comparison. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 11:54, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
The tool isn't the difficulty - making the case that a person must be in violation of our rules, because we cannot find proof that they aren't, is tricky. But maybe you've already discussed this with the Freelancing sites and have their agreement? - Bilby (talk) 11:59, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
Yes that is correct, I have already discussed with some freelancing sites. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 12:06, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
To be honest, I'm having a hard time believing that you approached Upwork and gained their agreement to specifically block Upwork accounts that don't provide a link from a Wikipedia user account. But if that's the agreement, it will be interesting to see who effective this proves to be on the dozen accounts to which it might apply. I'll be watching with interest. - Bilby (talk) 12:52, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
You would be surprised regarding the number of organizations who like what we do and are happy to work with us. The prior bot is based on a donation from the for profit Turnitin for example. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:01, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
No, I would not be surprised - why do you think I would? But these freelancing sites are organisations that make money from people conducting paid editing, and you will be asking them not only to turd down those profits, but to do so on the basis that you believe an account is acting against policy because you can't prove that they are acting within policy. It is a hard sell, and will address, at best, a very small group of paid editors, who will then simply hide their Upwork accounts. But I guess we will see. - Bilby (talk) 21:27, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
"...editors, who will then simply hide their Upwork accounts" - don't matter: this is the problem of the free wiki, we must live with it and it costs us a bit work to discover such "hiden" accounts; but it is not the reason to apologize this misbehaviour and misuse and to declare it free. This is my experience since 2004. -jkb- 22:54, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
It isn't an excuse to explain misbehaviour. It is a comment about the effectiveness of the approach - Bilby (talk) 00:45, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
  • The question of whether or not this is going to be easy or hard to implement is not particularly relevant here, in my opinion. There is a clear consensus in favour of the proposal put forth by Doc James. The question of how we implement it, which James and others have some ideas on how to go about, is a question moving forward, not now. We have reached an agreement in principle on something that should be made a global policy on the various Wikipedia projects. How to enforce it is the next question we need to answer, but it does not need to be answered now. This is similar to how we go about on most major policy changes: we reach agreement to do something amongst a large group and then working from that consensus smaller groups work towards the practical solution. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:12, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
If that is how we generally work, it is an error. You need to have some idea about how an change can be implemented before agreeing to the change. But it is a moot point. - Bilby (talk) 00:45, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
Agreeing on principles under which to operate and then moving forward to the practical implementation makes sense in many circumstances as well, especially when working in a consensus-based decision making process. A recent example would be en:wp:ACTRIAL where we agreed on the goals and worked through the implementation process along the way. Thus far, it is working out pretty well. TonyBallioni (talk) 01:27, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
Principals are great if they can be practically implemented, but a lot less valuable if they can't. Anyway, as I said, this is moot. If we're stuck with then we're stuck with it. Whether or not it can make an impact is not something that matters at this point. - Bilby (talk) 03:49, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
Enforcing rules against sock-puppetry is hard and sometimes impossible. Your argument, is like arguing we should get rid of rules against sock-puppetry as they cannot be perfectly enforced. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:00, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
No, my argument is that we shouldn't come up with new rules that won't work at all. But as I said, it is moot. - Bilby (talk) 08:07, 18 October 2017 (UTC)

Reverted non-admin closure[edit]

I have undone the closure of the discussion by Bluerasberry. As someone who supports the proposal and has rather strong feelings about it, it is not for me to argue why there is a consensus for the change, but a good close must clearly explain why there is/isn't a consensus, taking into account the substance of the arguments rather than just the numeric counts. Bluerasberry failed to explain how over 70% support and heavily divided opposition (the most popular argument against had 6% of the votes) whose arguments were mostly refuted over the course of the discussion amounts to a lack of consensus. The close should really be done by someone entrusted by the community to make such judgements. Rentier (talk) 15:22, 2 November 2017 (UTC)

I support Rentier's reversion of the close. The consensus of support can't be ignored. We do need a trusted admin or bureaucrat to close this. Smallbones (talk) 18:50, 2 November 2017 (UTC)
Had requested one Oct 12, 2017. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:03, 2 November 2017 (UTC)
  • I support the close reversion because numbers do matter, and there needs to be an exceptionally strong reason not to enact a proposal that has been widely advertised and translated and has over 70% support. Consensus is not a vote, but requiring policy based reasons to make a policy is circular logic, and it really is the only possible way this could have been closed as no consensus. Supporters have less of a burden to explain why they support since the proposal itself does that. A support !vote should simply be interpreted as I've seen the opposes, and they aren't convincing. That is a perfectly valid reason for supporting a new policy, and one equally as strong as "but how will we enforce this!" is an oppose. I appreciate Rentier's diplomacy in his above statement, but I do feel it is necessary to make the point that policy RfCs are much more like a vote than anything else, and we've far surpassed a supermajority on this. TonyBallioni (talk) 21:01, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
RfCs are about consensus and the strength of the respective arguments, not about raw numbers. - Bilby (talk) 22:44, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
That is the typical response when there is a clear consensus in a policy RfC by people who oppose the policy strongly. The issue is that for RfCs setting what the policy should be at some point it does become a numbers game, as the en.wiki page on not counting heads makes clear. It is actually impossible to provide an existing policy based reason to enact a policy change: requiring that is circular reasoning, and is typically what people mean by strength of arguments. While comments such as I love paid editors, and we should let them run free and violate every policy or I think everyone should have to scan their passport before they edit should be discounted, in the end, if an overwhelming majority of people support a proposal for sound reasons, it is intellectually elitist and opposed to the spirit of collaboration on Wikimedia projects to say that the views of a small minority of editors that have been rejected by the community are so strong that they are enough to derail the thoughts and concerns of a significant supermajority of users who have commented.
"Not a vote" is overused to mean something it was never intended to mean: that we discount numbers. Numbers matter, but are not sufficient in themselves for consensus. In this case since there is no strong reason to discount a significant portion of the support votes, there is only one possible way this RfC can be closed in my opinion. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:03, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
No, "not a vote" means that it is not a vote. I must admit that I'm uncomfortable with a closure being reverted by the side that disagreed with the closure without prior discussion or informing the person being reverted, but either way, a closure should always be conducted on the basis of consensus, whatever that may be. If you are correct and you have the stronger argument, it will be closed in your favour. - Bilby (talk) 23:08, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
No. Sorry, that is not what it means. If there is a major advertised RfC and there is overwhelming support for one position, we don't discount it simply because the other side thinks that their reasoning is better or even because the closer thinks it is better. If one side had a sound argument with over 90% support in a well advertised and attended RfC, we would call it consensus even if the 10% had an argument that would stand up better in an academic philosophy class. ~72% is not 90%, but it is well past a supermajority, and the reasoning of the arguments is sound. The consensus here is clear. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:20, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
"If there is a major advertised RfC and there is overwhelming support for one position, we don't discount it simply because the other side thinks that their reasoning is better or even because the closer thinks it is better." This is what "not a vote" is about. Not relying on numbers, but looking at the arguments. Either way, it is better to leave this to the closer than to try and tell them how to close the RfC. Only someone neutral can determine how this should be closed - not either of us. - Bilby (talk) 23:26, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Pff, nobody is ever neutral. People read the idea or the discussion and they form an opinion about it. Our use of the word "consensus" is a bit of a farce. That said, I'm not sure that there is broad enough support to implement this. Typically, global proposals should reach the 80% mark to be implemented (see past votes on global sysops among other things). This proposal isn't even close, sitting at 71% instead. I am also personally concerned with some unclear elements to this RfC: 1) what projects does the proposal apply to? Doc James says it is just for Wikipedia (enwiki? other wikipedias?), but if that is the case there need not be a Meta RfC for this. 2) the opposition raises concerns that this move would not help anything and just force paid editors further underground. What is the counterargument for that? – Ajraddatz (talk) 23:36, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
The two points were discussed already: 1) All Wikipedias (per Doc James' comment on the RFC page) 2) Upwork - the biggest enabler of undisclosed paid editors that the rule is aimed at - does and will continue to take down profiles of freelancers who demonstrably violate Wikipedia's rules. Some argue that the lack of interlinking will be impossible to prove - which is obviously false since a list of interlinked Upwork profiles is trivial to create. If the offending profiles are taken down, there will be no underground editing. The argument against does not hold water. Rentier (talk) 00:20, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
"If the offending profiles are taken down, there will be no underground editing." Why would this be the case? - Bilby (talk) 02:07, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
One cannot really create a massive amount of SPAs on Upwork (every new profile must be manually approved) - so I don't see how it would be possible to maintain an undisclosed paid editing business of any significance. I am only speaking about underground paid editing facilitated by Upwork (and similar sites). Whether its possible that both editors and clients move off Upwork -- I don't think so, because disclosed paid editors will have a massive advantage in visibility. If the change is enacted and enforcement works as I envisage it will, an undisclosed editor will only be able to maintain an Upwork presence if their profile is completely hidden (thus unavailable to invites and search) and only for a short period of time - because even hidden profiles are identifiable through the jobs they bid on. This level of sleuthing may make some uncomfortable, but as far as I know it does not break any rules, and personally I'm fine with it. Rentier (talk) 13:41, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
The change is to include "We require those involved with paid editing on Wikipedia to link on their user page to all other active accounts through which they advertise paid Wikipedia editing business". If they have a hidden profile, not only won't we know that they are engaged in paid editing, we won't be able to claim that they are advertising paid Wikipedia editing services - because, if the profile is hidden, by definition they aren't advertising. Most of the paid editors who are aware that we know of their Upwork accounts have already hidden their profiles, yet they seem to still be getting work. If we make it so that anyone who includes Wikipedia editing skills in their profiles are removed, all we'll do is send more business to those that don't make such advertisements. - Bilby (talk) 14:41, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
If the wording does not cover hidden profiles, that's a loophole that should be fixed. Even so, if all the proposal does is to force all undisclosed paid editors to hide their profiles (and remove Wikipedia from their headline), it will give a boost to the disclosed editors, will it not? Clients will be more likely to select them and their profiles will become stronger. I quickly checked a small sample of past jobs - roughly half of the clients do send out invitations, which can only be sent to visible freelancers. Rentier (talk) 15:27, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
That isn't a loophole - this is intended to stop people advertising themselves to be Wikipedia editors when they aren't. If they aren't advertising that they are Wikipedia editors because they don't have a profile, then this proposal has nothing to do with them and isn't intended to target them.
In regard to invitations, they don't need to be advertising Wikipedia services to get an invitation - anyone who has completed a Wikipedia job will appear when you do a search even if they don't advertise themselves as such. So the first step from an Upwork freelancer is to remove any specific claims to be a Wikipedia editor, and they can still get an invitation without advertising. However, the reason you found those jobs is that they weren't limited to invitation only - all of the past jobs you just found were open to anyone to apply, whether invited or not, and whether they have a hidden profile or not. If they were invitation only you wouldn't have been able to see them.
Finally, you would be correct about disclosed editors getting more work, expect that it doesn't work out that way. Disclosed editors are far less likely to be successful with their contracts, and will now face the added burden of having to reveal personal details. Clients will choose between someone who claims to edit Wikiepdia but has bad feedback, and someone applying for the job with good feedback and a successful portfolio but who doesn't advertise. They'll pick the latter. - Bilby (talk) 15:47, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
Then it will still be possible to make these false claims covertly. I think it would be more in line with the stated goal of requiring "Interlinking of accounts involved with paid editing to decrease impersonation" if the new rule covered all Upwork accounts.
If they remove any specific claims, instead presenting themselves just as a writer, but their job history shows exclusively or almost exclusively Wikipedia editing jobs, and they continue to bid exclusively for Wikipedia editing jobs, that counts as advertising Wikipedia editing services in my mind.
At the moment, the market is almost completely dominated by undisclosed editors. In my opinion, the change would give the disclosed editors a more level ground to compete (if we don't cover hidden profiles, we clearly won't remove all underground editing). It is possible that you are right and the new steady state would be no different than the current one (I don't see how it could be any worse). But I think that with careful implementation this would work well. Profile content is important when bidding for jobs and clients are more likely to hire freelancers they have invited. Some support from WMF's legal would be nice to remove the worst offenders - many of whom are clearly linked to multiple ToS violations. I don't see having to reveal the small amount of personal information as a significant burden for someone who uses Wikipedia to conduct a business. Some might even like the extra visibility.
With regards to reducing impersonation/misrepresentation vs dealing with undisclosed paid editing, I'm mostly interested in the latter even though it is perhaps only a side-effect of this initiative. The two often come together, and measures against one tend to also affect the other, so I don't really see much tension here. Rentier (talk) 15:03, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
I'm going to let this sit, even though I do not agree that this will help disclosed paid editors. However, I will say that if this proposal was really intended to target anything other than impersonation, then failing to mention that was unethical and misleading. - Bilby (talk) 23:41, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
As for the second point, I'm not entirely convinced. The crux of the opposing arguments is that there would be no way to prove that the connection is legitimate. The proposal seems aimed at preventing impersonation (is that a problem?), but how would we be able to distinguish between a legitimate user being impersonated off-wiki and a paid editor that didn't know about the policy to connect accounts, or chose to ignore it? What if the paid editor's username on Wikipedia is Ajrtest1, but on the other site is Ajrtest2? I don't see any good answers to those questions. As for forcing paid editing more underground, some opposes suggest that paid editors may not want to reveal personal information on Wikipedia. Being forced to link their accounts would reveal more personal information, and so the concerned paid editors could be incentivized to ignore the rules and pretend to be volunteers. Now, the majority of the people who voted don't find these reasons compelling, but I don't think the opposition opinion here can just be dismissed. – Ajraddatz (talk) 01:14, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
I'm of firm opinion (based on substantial interactions with Upwork's Marketplace Quality Team) that once the change has been implemented, it will not be possible to maintain a profile on Upwork and similar sites (whether that profile impersonates someone or not) and use it to solicit Wikipedia editing jobs without disclosing it. Yes, it will require the freelancers to link to a profile containing some degree of personal information (at minimum the first name, initial of the last name, city and country) - but the question is not whether this will force the freelancers to go underground (it will not be an option if I'm right regarding the enforceability), but whether we want to require paid editors to reveal this information. I think the consensus answer is "yes" - based not only on this RFC but also on similar ones on enwiki, for example we already allow posting links to freelancing sites in the course of COI investigations. With regards to your specific example, Ajrtest1 will have to provide a link to their Upwork profile, say, upwork.com/fl/Ajrtest2. If we see the Upworker upwork.com/fl/Ajrtest2 performing paid Wikipedia editing jobs and no Wikipedia account has posted a link to upwork.com/fl/Ajrtest2, we report upwork.com/fl/Ajrtest2 to Upwork who take the profile down (from experience, they will normally issue a warning first, allowing the freelancer to fix the violation). This automatically takes care of the problem of impersonation - Upwork profiles claiming to be a specific editor get removed if they are not interlinked. Rentier (talk) 01:36, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
Noting, of course, that there are virtually no Upwork profiles claiming to be a specific editor. I really wish this hadn't claimed to be about stopping "impersonation" as that is such a minor issue that it never needed a policy to fix. What it is really about is people saying "I'm been a Wikipedia editor for 6 years", and requiring them to provide a link from their WP profile to prove this claim. - Bilby (talk) 02:07, 4 November 2017 (UTC)
  • I wasn't trying to start another debate over the merits of the proposal here. I was trying to point out that the opposition has fair arguments that we cannot simply discount, and that the proposal did not reach the 80% mark usually required of new global policies. I voted on the RfC, so I won't close it myself, but I think that "no consensus to implement" is a fair result here, even if a non-admin closed it. – Ajraddatz (talk) 19:56, 5 November 2017 (UTC)

The close and reversion[edit]

I attempted a close on 1 November. Rentier peformed a reversion, saying "rv non-admin closure. please have an admin close it, preferably one who doesn't get paid for editing wikipedia".

Rentier and Smallbones endorsed the reversion. I volunteered a close which I thought was a fair compromise, that if the "support" side were to make some rather minor concessions then I did not see great opposition on the other side except for the smaller details. I wish that participants in these discussions did not have to see them as winner takes all, high stakes votes, and instead the closes to these things could lead to compromises and mutual understanding with even the "winners" giving something to the less popular opposition. It is possible for either side to win and still recognize merit in the other side's concerns. In this case especially, I will reiterate that I did not observe the opposition complaining about the fundamentals, so this seems like near 100% support to me except in the details. I do not think that the details are without limit or never ending, and instead, I think that nearly all concerns on all sides could be answered.

I wish to push back a little on Rentier saying "rv non-admin closure. please have an admin close it, preferably one who doesn't get paid for editing wikipedia". First, I was not aware that one of the powers of Meta:Administrators is closing discussions or being the last word in disputes. I wish that the Wikimedia community would avoid imagining diplomatic powers in the poor administrators. Administrators are supposed to be no big deal, and more like janitors who do functionary roles. I think that it would be best to let anyone who can follow process to attempt to do mediation wherever they wish to volunteer. If a couple of people say that a close was inappropriate then that is fine. I do not like anyone saying that admins are the designated power brokers and whereas they can settle policy, other people's voices are less authoritative. The authority should be in consensus, and not in the closer's voice, or the admin's voice, or any other individual's voice.

I also want to push back on Rentier saying that getting paid for editing Wikipedia is a bar from peer to peer engagement in Wikimedia governance processes. I have been a paid Wikipedian in Residence since 2012, so yes, I get paid to edit Wikipedia. Maybe it is not said enough, but all Wikipedians in Residence get harassed continually and all accumulate stalkers on and off wiki as a consequence of the community's hate of paid editors. I would like to assert that not all paid editing is the same, and that it is quite easy to differentiate a paid Wikipedian in residence at a nonprofit institution sharing information in a field of expertise versus a paid commercial editor promoting particular companies, individuals, and products. There are not many Wikipedians in Residence who would dare to even speak up in community discussions because getting noticed just increase the likehihood of getting another stalker. If there really is community consensus for Wikipedians in Residence to stay out of community discussion then I could obey that, but what I dislike is the cloud of shame and hostility that some users try to place around some of Wikipedia's best institutional partnerships. Rentier - if you feel deeply that I am out of line, then I would like to talk to you more by voice or video to understand you. I probably should not have closed this discussion, because it does relate to pay and that confuses others, but I honestly did not see how this relates to me because I do not consider myself or other staff Wikipedians as being like pseudo-anonymous scammers for hire like are being discussed here.

I wish that somehow the community could help better define boundaries. I agree with Fae that former and current Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors routinely initiate, participate in, and guide community policy discussion without disclosure. I wish that there could be some policy and guidance for how all kinds of "approved" paid editors like WMF staff, chapter staff, Wikipedians in Residence, and people in similar positions can engage with proper disclosure and in a way that everyone finds helpful. I do not think that barring these voices is productive, but also, there needs to be an accounting of it. The current system is to say "now I am wearing a paid staff hat" or "now I am not wearing a paid staff hat" which is results in inconsistent outcomes and confusion. Personally, I always have one identify for myself and no hats, and I think that is the best policy.

Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:26, 6 November 2017 (UTC)

You say "make some rather minor concessions"? I have no idea what that means and what those would involve? We already give one sides "votes" twice the weight of the other, they should not be getting more than that. Some involved in the discussion have, as far as I am aware, never seen an effort to enforce the TOU that they like.
No one within our movement should be subject to threats of legal attack or threats of violence. Those who are willing to push back against undisclosed paid editing also get a more or less continue stream of threats of violence and threats of lawsuits and it really sucks.
I agree not all paid editing is the same. WiRs are specifically excluded from the TOU which makes this clear. My concern with your close is not that you are a WiR at an NGO, it is that it ignored the position of a super-majority. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:21, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
Doc James I am here by your invitation to comment and much against my natural inclination.
  • Firstly, let me observe that the problem of "paid editing" is essentially on the English Wikipedia, and so this "meta" discussion is in actuality only being commented (and vote stacked) by denizens from that toxic Wikipedia, and therefore its outcomes should not be imposed on other Wikipedias as policy obtained by consensus. You have no consensus here.
  • Secondly, the better European language Wikipedias, like the German Wikipedia, do not have this paid editing problem because the legal fiction of Article 230 of some US law does not apply to it and since the European law is well obeyed over there and as the WMF is eqaually well aware of the legal and financial consequences of disobeying it.
  • Thirdly, it appears to a veteran, and quite disgusted, Wikimedian like myself, who incidentally was Arbcom banned at the English Wikipedia for my "black-and-white" approach to paid editing and for "doxxing" paid editors who were link-spamming, that this RfC is undoubtably being proposed by you to strengthen the hands of the disclosed paid editor organised lobbies who are being increasingly hired by big PR to do the dirty work for them.
  • Fourthly, there are no half-way measures like WP:PAID possible, you cannot partly implement WMF's Terms of Use for paid editing (being half a virgin) and leave out the most important bit. If any Wikipedia article contains even the smallest bit of disguised/covert/stealth editing originating (directly or indirectly) from the article subject it must be PROMINENTLY DISCLOSED to your readers.
  • Fifthly, it seems that whoever on high is embedding notoriously sockpuppeting paid editors like Raju Narisetti to WMF's Board clearly needs a policy fig-leaf to drive away the unpaid volunteers (who have built up Wikipedia) so as to replace them by disclosed paid editors acting as sock-puppets for Big PR and fully snatch away this very lucrative "community" property. Inlinetext (talk) 19:57, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
Yes I mentioned it here
If you wanted to propose ending all paid promotional editing I would imagine you would get a fair bit of support (including from me).
I am very much in support of disclosure to our readers of all paid editing. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:32, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
It appears to me that you have either not read the WMF's Terms of Use, or having read it are obfuscating the issue with this irrelevant proposal.
  • The ToU clearly envisages conflicted editing by an employee / agent of company 'Acme' so long as such user declares their affiliation on their user page or in an edit summary (subject to applicable law and local policy). Inlinetext (talk) 04:01, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Do you seriously expect the WMF to uniformly enforce their Terms of Use on other websites when they don't even do it for their own websites when complaints are made to WMF ? Inlinetext (talk) 04:01, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
Doc James You say you do not know what minor concessions I recommend. They are in the close:
  1. Publish some data about the extent of the problems of paid editing in Wikimedia projects - I even started this at en:Wikipedia:Measuring conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia
  2. Solicit the endorsement of community supported paid editors - I appreciate your speaking up that "WiRs are specifically excluded from the TOU which makes this clear" but I read a lot of fear here in this discussion from that demographic. I am biased on this one because I got paid editor bashed for attempting this close.
  3. Limit the scope of the proposal to certain Wikimedia projects - I do not understand the background to this, but perhaps German Wikipedians feel threatened somehow that this rule is harmful to German Wikipedia? Perhaps this should be a rule for English Wikipedia and select other projects. I am not sure what the issue is here.
  4. Make a guess and report the expected Wikimedia community labor burden of enacting this proposal. - Perhaps German Wikipedia and perhaps others are anxious that this rule is going to bring unwanted, unproductive problems which will be a labor burden on their community of editors. It seems to me like the key negotiation here is that external, non-wiki websites are offering their staff labor for tools on their own websites. If you could state outright how much wiki community volunteer labor you are requesting through this proposal - 0 hours? 100 hours once? 100 hours monthly? - then that could allay fears. If it happens that this proposal places no labor obligations on the wiki community, then an addendum which says "This proposal should not be enforced if it consumes more than x hours monthly from each of y volunteers" might comfort people who are worried about this becoming an obligatory time sink.
I tried to offer something here to both sides. The support side should take it as a victory that I did not read any opposition to the idea that "if impersonation happens, then that impersonation is a problem, and requiring disclosure is a good way to counter it". I read only support for that idea and no opposition. The opposition that I perceive is for the premises on which the proposal is based like whether paid editing is a problem, or whether the wiki community can enact the proposal without harming good Wikimedia contributors. I read consensus to do something if there is a problem, and I do not see opposition for anyone to seek the benefits of addressing the problem in the way proposed, but I do see fear of unintended side effects of this proposal. I wish that the proposal could be amended to allay those fears.
I think that you are correct to read either a supermajority of support for the proposal, or unanimous support, or total lack of opposition for the proposal itself, but at the same time I think that the side issues which various people are raising here merit addressing. Maybe the next closer can take this and go with it. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:05, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
  1. Publish data? We have plenty of data at WP:COIN, WP:SPI, WP:NPP, OTRS, etc. For those who support undisclosed paid editing there will never be enough evidence to change their mind as their livelyhood is based upon not seeing the evidence.
  2. WiR have ALWAYS been explicitly excluded from the paid editing TOU as long as they are not writing about the organization itself per here. Yes those who support undisclosed paid promotional editing try to stir up fear that it will affect WiR, it will not, they are not the problem we are trying to address.
  3. The proposal has always been limited to Wikipedia. The problem with undisclosed paid editing is occurring in more than just English. A number of paid editing companies work across half a dozen languages. This is for all WPs to prevent the loop hole of the undisclosed paid editor claiming they only work in a non English language.
  4. I am not requiring any volunteer to do anything they do not want to. People who are already working in this area believe that this will significantly decrease their workload.
  5. You state "I wish that the proposal could be amended to allay those fears." What are you suggesting instead of this proposal? It is so easy to shoot down ideas, please proposal a better one. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:04, 9 November 2017 (UTC)


I think it's fair to just close this as "no consensus" and no more frills to the closure. The proposers can open a new RfC with a more limited scope and see if they manage to get less opposition, no need for a single closer to broker a consensus. --Nemo 19:53, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

"Less opposition" meaning what? A supermajority set at 66% is standard. Changing the goal post because it was meet is simple not cool. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:09, 9 November 2017 (UTC)
There is no such numerical threshold. For a decision which aspires to affect projects in all languages, for instance, it's important to make sure that support comes from a wide spectrum of projects/languages and that intense opposition from specific projects or languages is absent or otherwise addressed. Nemo 16:08, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
As I said above, the usual threshold for new global policy is actually 80%, in line with the usual threshold for being granted global rights. – Ajraddatz (talk) 16:37, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
This got 78% and passed so no not really.[19] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:49, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
Of course, as with all our discussions, there is leeway around the 80% mark (itself just a practice). See the global sysops vote for another example of this. But this proposal is far off the 80% mark. – Ajraddatz (talk) 16:50, 11 November 2017 (UTC)

Text of the reverted close[edit]

No consensus to enact the proposal. There are 80 in support and 32 opposing.

Closing discussions is difficult and subjective. If anyone has comments on my close then feel free to critique it on the talk page. Discussion has run for about two months, September-October 2017. I think that there is enough information here to identify some next steps. In my opinion this has been a hopeful discussion where the opposition requested some compromises which, if advocates organized it, could lead to future support.

It stands out to me that in the opposition, no one outright opposed the intent of the proposal in the sense of saying that problematic cases of paid editing and lack of disclosure were irrelevant. So far as I can see, there is consensus among all conversation participants that everyone supports the idea of individual Wikimedia projects, mostly English Wikipedia in this case, to be able to identify paid editors especially in disruptive situations. The opposition is not against the intent itself, but rather against unintended side effects including disrupting other people's activities on wiki.

Of the ones opposing, I categorized and counted these rationales against:

  1. This will lead to harassment of good editors - 13 people total
    1. attempts to enforce this will fail and lead to false accusations, including being the cause of impersonation and harassment - 7
    2. this proposal would be the source of hostility against community supported paid contributors, including staff Wikipedians at institutions (Wikipedians in residence, etc) - 6
  2. This is a disruptive unnecessary rule change - 21 people total
    1. we should not increase the current paid editing disclosure obligations - 5
    2. there is not evidence that paid editing is a problem significant enough to merit a disruptive rule change - 5
    3. different Wikimedia projects should be able to adopt their own rules, but this proposal is universal - 4
    4. different Wikimedia projects have their own problems, and the problem described is not significant enough in most projects to justify a disruptive rule change - 5
    5. addressing this problem is not a Wiki community priority and instead community attention should be directed to other problems - 2
  3. the Wikimedia community should not address this issue - 7 people total
    1. no way to enforce this - 5
    2. this problem inherently directs the wiki community to do volunteer oversight of non-Wikimedia projects, which the community should not do. Perhaps the WMF should do staff management of off-wiki activity. - 2
  4. This proposal does not align with Wikimedia culture - 7 people total
    1. this particular proposal has ambiguous wording and as stated should not pass - 4
    2. conserving the existing rules is a priority and we should not consider changing them - 2
    3. WMF staffers should be the model of disclosure; we should not ask more of others than we do of them

Here are my recommendations for anyone who is advocating for this proposal and wants to carry it to the next steps:

  1. Publish some data about the extent of the problems of paid editing in Wikimedia projects. There is widespread belief that making policy changes would be disruptive, and many people are saying that they cannot justify the disruption without some data to establish that there is a problem worth addressing. Make estimates (educated guesses based on opinion following community discussion) of the following information and publish it with community conversation:
    1. How many paid editors exist?
    2. How many fail to disclose?
    3. How often is there a disruption caused by the kind of paid editing described here?
    4. How many Wikimedia community volunteer hours go toward cleaning problems caused by this kind of paid editing?
  2. Solicit the endorsement of community supported paid editors, like highly active Wikipedians associated with chapters or Wikipedians in residence and their networks. There is fear that this proposal will harm some of the Wikipedia community's collaborations with expert institutions.
    1. Ask Wikipedians in residence whether or why they would be fearful of this proposal
    2. Acknowledge the ways in which the Wikipedia community scrutinizes or harasses paid editors also are causing stress to Wikipedians in residence
    3. Consider reaching out to the Wikipedians in residence user group - Wikimedians in Residence Exchange Network
    4. Somehow support or point to a broader survey about harassment of highly active Wikipedians like chapter affiliates, W
  3. Limit the scope of the proposal to certain Wikimedia projects. Perhaps this proposal might only apply to English Wikipedia for now, which seems to be the focus of discussion. Perhaps in some Wikimedia projects paid editing is not a problem at all, and is invited. Otherwise, make the proposal something less pressing than a global rule for all projects.
  4. Make a guess and report the expected Wikimedia community labor burden of enacting this proposal. Compare the expected cost to the expected benefit. How many Wikimedia community volunteer hours would be consumed by engaging in this proposal's activities if it were enacted? I think some brief estimates based on a small conversation would be sufficient here. I perceive confusion about how much community involvement this project should take, and clarifying whether this is a rule which would closely affect a few, or dozens, or hundreds of users would be helpful.

Obviously there is tension on all sides of this discussion. I hope that the various interests can find a compromise to the mutual benefit of everyone. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:14, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

Toward a compromise on opposition due to lack of evidence[edit]

I am sympathetic to the opposition which claims that Wikimedians have not established evidence of a problem with paid editing. To answer that opposition I started an essay and presentation at en:Wikipedia:Measuring conflict of interest on Wikipedia. In that page, I say that the Wikipedia community does not have good information about how often COI editing occurs or the extent to which it is a problem or benefit. I argue that the Wikipedia community needs some data on this issue.

I am doing a preliminary survey requesting about 6 Wikipedia volunteers to answer a few questions. I am posting the survey to 3 boards, and I choose to post here because I think that getting a little survey information is relevant to this discussion and that this discussion here is relevant to measuring COI editing. Thanks if a couple of people could respond below.

I am not a data scientist, and I do not know how to design a valid social survey. Since this is wiki, as an amateur I am collecting some initial community thoughts as preliminary research. I want this survey data to help guide initial conversation and also to aid in asking around if anyone already has data of this sort.

Survey instructions[edit]

  • Note that a "conflict of interest editing event" is any Wikipedia activity where a Wikipedian interacts with someone doing conflict of interest editing. This could mean reviewing a new article submitted by a COI editor, or responding to a COI editor's request, or reviewing a COI editor's Wikipedia article edits
  • "The project" here refers to whatever the respondent chooses in point 1
  • To participate, you must self-identify as having experience interacting with conflict of interest editing events
  • Make educated guesses without doing additional research.
  • Finish the survey in 10 minutes. Try to give your current thoughts without investing much work in this experimental survey.

Please volunteer #1 edit here[edit]

  1. Choose any project of Wikimedia contributors in which you are a participant and which encounters conflict of interest editing. What project do you choose?
  2. What is your best guess for how often the volunteer team in this project oversees conflict of interest editing events?
  3. Imagine all the conflict of interest editing events you have seen in this project. Divide them into two groups, "acceptable or productive contributions" and "unacceptable or unproductive contributions". What is your guess for the percentage of conflict of interest editing events which are "acceptable or productive contributions"?
  4. What is your best guess for how many hours Wikimedia community volunteers spend in this project addressing conflict of interest editing events?
  5. Imagine that Wikimedians in this project with your level of experience provide 10 hours of support to other volunteer Wikimedians. What is your best guess of how many hours of "acceptable or productive contributions" Wikimedia is likely to get in return for that 10 hour investment?
  6. Imagine that Wikimedians in this project with your level of experience provide 10 hours of support to conflict of interest editors. What is your best guess of how many hours of "acceptable or productive contributions" Wikimedia is likely to get in return for that 10 hour investment?
  7. In 2017 Wikimedia projects have about 80,000 active editors. In terms of Wikimedia experience, where do you think you rank among editors? Bottom 20%, second 20%, third 20%, fourth 20%, and or top 20%?
  8. Please sign your username.

Please volunteer #2 edit here[edit]

  1. Choose any project of Wikimedia contributors in which you are a participant and which encounters conflict of interest editing. What project do you choose?
  2. What is your best guess for how often the volunteer team in this project oversees conflict of interest editing events?
  3. Imagine all the conflict of interest editing events you have seen in this project. Divide them into two groups, "acceptable or productive contributions" and "unacceptable or unproductive contributions". What is your guess for the percentage of conflict of interest editing events which are "acceptable or productive contributions"?
  4. What is your best guess for how many hours Wikimedia community volunteers spend in this project addressing conflict of interest editing events?
  5. Imagine that Wikimedians in this project with your level of experience provide 10 hours of support to other volunteer Wikimedians. What is your best guess of how many hours of "acceptable or productive contributions" Wikimedia is likely to get in return for that 10 hour investment?
  6. Imagine that Wikimedians in this project with your level of experience provide 10 hours of support to conflict of interest editors. What is your best guess of how many hours of "acceptable or productive contributions" Wikimedia is likely to get in return for that 10 hour investment?
  7. In 2017 Wikimedia projects have about 80,000 active editors. In terms of Wikimedia experience, where do you think you rank among editors? Bottom 20%, second 20%, third 20%, fourth 20%, and or top 20%?
  8. Please sign your username.

Comments[edit]

  • Comments here, thanks. I feel like the "support" !voters take for granted that others can guess what their responses would be to questions like the above. In fact, I think that the "support" side is observing things which the "oppose" side is not, and also, that the "support" side is not sufficiently communicating what it observes. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:38, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
I think this is an interesting and worthwhile set of questions, but it isn't really the issue under discussion here. I agree with Doc James and others that paid editing is a serious problem - I think we have a tendency to overstate it, but that doesn't mean that it isn't an issue. However, in regard to this proposal, the question is less about the seriousness of paid editing, and more about the seriousness of impersonation. If this policy is intended to prevent impersonation, then I'd like to know how much that happens, and to what extent this would be effective in stopping it. I'd also like a procedure to evaluate the policy changes after they've been in place, but as we don't seem to do that for any policy change, I can't see a process of evaluation being something that we'll ever undertake. In situations where we can't evaluate the success or otherwise of a change, it is doubly important to ensure that the decision making process is as well grounded as possible. - Bilby (talk) 07:06, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
@Bilby: I failed to communicate myself effectively here.
I see you write here that this proposal's creator intended for it to be about impersonation. However, I disagree with you that if the opposition goes off topic from the discussion the support team established, then the support side gets to dismiss the opposition. I attempted a discussion close here in which I said that I did not identify opposition which directly refuted the proposal, and instead, that the opposition is refuting some premises on which the proposal stands. I see opposition which is saying that paid editing is not even a problem. If the opposition wishes to challenge the premise rather than the proposal itself, then those challenges still constitute valid opposition to the proposal, and the support side should answer it.
"I think we (the support side) have a tendency to overstate it (the seriousness of paid editing's problems)" - I disagree with this, and instead feel that the support side has a tendency to understate what they feel. No one really understands community sentiment, but my guess is that people like Doc James think the problem is maximally bad (10 on a scale of 1-10) while at the same time are willing to enter debates with people who say that the problem is 1 or 2 (non-existent or not a problem). Personally, I think the reality is somewhere in between, and while I think the "maximally bad" position might be extreme, the "non-existent" position seems like obliviousness to me. It does not seem like too much of a compromise to me to work to establish that the seriousness of the problem might range from 3-10 instead of continually having these conversations where reasonable-seeming people can take the position that the problem's seriousness might range from 1-10, with 1 or 2 reflecting the evidence presented.
I disagree that a paid editing evaluation process needs to be well grounded as you say. We do not need exact measurements at this point in the conversation, because the point of contention is not "how much do problems happen" but rather "do problems happen". The only thing that I am asking the support side to establish is some kind of consensus that the problem seriousness is more than 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-10. Do you think that it is possible for a reasonable person, knowing what you know, to state that paid editing is not a problem whatsoever? If you do not agree with that, then what exactly do you know or have you seen? How is it possible for people to join these discussions with the premise that paid editing has no negative consequences worth addressing? I am not saying that we should exclude conversation participants with fringe ideas, but it would be helpful to identify what is normal to think and what is a fringe idea. Right now, saying "paid editing is only beneficial" is among the orthodox positions which it is possible to have. I do not like the dichotomy here where the extreme positions seem equal. I know that some evidence exists of some problems, but so far as I know there is no community statement or consensus on that evidence, and I think that it is fair for the "0 or 1" positions to request it. If you can establish the existence of modest problems with paid editing by conservative estimates, then you have answered a lot of the opposition which claims "no problem at all" and "no response needed to acknowledge this issue".
You opposed this proposal. Why are you here talking with me saying that you agree "that paid editing is a serious problem", but then somehow you say that the hundreds of lost community labor hours spent addressing intentional disruption from the nonsense workboard spam accounts does not merit the regulation in this proposal as a response? Do you oppose this particular proposal only, or have you just not seen the huge messes which result from workboard accounts, or otherwise what do you even want to see to be convinced that paid editing from workboards is a problem? I do not think the controversy here is about this proposal; instead, it is pinning people like you down to say one way or the other about whether a problem even exists and merits a response. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:51, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

I've just collapsed the above discussion thread. @Inlinetext: using Meta to continue your disputes from enwiki is not acceptable, especially when that involves making unsupported allegations against another community member. Back to the topic at hand, please. – Ajraddatz (talk) 04:43, 11 November 2017 (UTC)

Comments 2[edit]

Adding a new header to get rid of the less related discussion. — Jeblad 11:21, 12 November 2017 (UTC)

Enforcing this, is it possible at all?[edit]

I've been asking about this before and I'm still not convinced that this is possible. It seems to assume that the people involved will actively participate, and the external sites will do that too, and that should be sufficient to establish proper cross-linking of two or more accounts on two otherwise disparate systems. There are nothing that enforce such cross-linking, but if someone demands cross-linking on false claims it is not much a user can do to comply and (s)he will be blocked. A scenario is user Foo on Vulcan Wikipedia has a fight with user Bar, user Bar creates an ad page at the Klingon site http://shitworks.com claiming he is Foo and does paid editing and links to pages he claims are his previous paid editing. There are nothing about paid editing at Foos Vulcan page, and user Baz asks for confirmation. User Foo claims he has no page at ShitWorks, but Bar states he is sure Foo is actually the same user. Who wins the dispute? Will Foo be blocked at the Vulcan Wikipedia? Unless ShitWorks cooperate the dispute can't be resolved.

The situation arise because there are nothing with the accounts that makes them identifiable as one and the same user. What's more, there are no mechanism that enforces verification of the claim at the external site. It is possible to make something that work for a cooperating site, but it is not possible for a non-cooperating site. In short, we can't create a system that works from the external side, we must create systems that works from our side. If we should make a working system then we must identify the accounts doing paid editing on Wikipedia. We can't rely on actions done at an external site. Can we do that? Is there anything common for such accounts? The only thing that may work is sentiment analysis over a set of articles, it would probably be slightly more positive than usual, and it will probably do successive edits that reverts an article to a more positive revision, but that can easily be defeated. Patrollers will be detected as paid editors in such a system if they only patrol their own articles.

Assume we can make a "paid editor detector", if someone does paid editing, then what would be necessary for that user to do on our site? Assume a user is a doctor and is asked by a pharmaceutical company to write an article on Wikipedia. He is not paid for the article as such, but the pharmaceutical company covers his cost on a conference in Dubai. How should we know that? First of all we need some unique handle for identity, but our accounts are anonymous. Without identification, we can't track the person into the real world, and without that paid editing has no consequence. To be able to track the user we need that unique handle, alas we need verified accounts to be able to allow paid editing. Knowing who the editor is does not solve hidden payments, but it may make it possible to act on information about such payments. If we have verified accounts, then those can be cross-linked by cooperating external sites, and they can be linked with confidence. That will not solve the problem with the non-cooperating external sites.

The really hard case is when someone does not advertise the service on a cooperating site, which does not want to cooperate in identification, which operate several accounts, with their own individual profile and IP-address, and knows how to avoid detection and tracking. Perhaps they can be found with timing analysis as many of these users are bots, but the bot operators will probably try to mask the activity. Simple spelling fixes can be used for masking purposes, but that can also be a clue. The easy cases pose no real problem, except imagined ones.

I would really like to see the tools for this, with a proper error analysis, before such a policy are established. And quite frankly, I don't think such tools will work as we lack to many pieces and those we have will be too error prone. — Jeblad 12:13, 12 November 2017 (UTC)

This proposal HELPS "user Foo on Vulcan Wikipedia". If user bar creates a fake account at works.com claiming to be Foo
This policy will allow us to go to works.com and request that they take down the fake account pretending to be Foo.
So who wins? Foo wins as the harassment is removed by works.com!
This proposal is ONLY to facilitate our work with cooperating sites. It will have zero negative effect on those not involved with paid editing (as those people will not have accounts in other places advertising paid editing).
The proposal is not to have accounts here on Wikipedia blocked or banned. The proposal is only to help with removing dishonest advertisements that exist elsewhere. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 12:44, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, but this "The proposal is not to have accounts here on Wikipedia blocked or banned. The proposal is only to help with removing dishonest advertisements that exist elsewhere." is an imagined problem. My example is to show you why the proposed policy wont work, and if you read what I wrote above you will see it won't even work on cooperating sites. A bad faith editor can even use a legit account on a cooperating site to advertise his work and then use other accounts to do the actual editing. You will newer know it happen at all. — Jeblad 13:01, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
Well, in some cases it will work, but in those cases the external sites can implement a solution without waiting for a policy on Wikipedia. — Jeblad 13:41, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
The external site in question is waiting on us to pass a policy. They are willing to work with us. Could they do this independent of us? I guess. If we do not ask them to address this issue not sure why they would proactively though. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:34, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Its very enforcable: someone claims to be an experienced editor in an Upwork ad. This information is provided to local administrators at the appropriate forum in the local community. The article that was supposed to be created is created by an account where there is no link to the account they actually are and instead you have a redlink SPA. They get blocked for a violation of this global policy because its clear that they weren't folllowing it, and Upwork can be notified that they are violating Wikipedia policy and enforce it on their end. I have no idea why people don't think this is enforceable: it is dead simple. TonyBallioni (talk) 17:02, 12 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Note that I've removed more unrelated discussion (see Special:Diff/17429301). Let this also serve as a last warning to involved parties. A quick summary of Meta:Urbanity: civility and respect. – Ajraddatz (talk) 07:27, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
Meta:Urbanity is merely a proposed policy, so I'm surprised you rely on it to censor my observations on the mischief writ large throughout this present proposal. Inlinetext (talk) 04:17, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
Merely a proposed policy? It's a summary of the behavioural expectations of users on Meta, and is all very common sense. If you can't bring yourself to abide by basic rules of etiquette here then leave. – Ajraddatz (talk) 04:23, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
It's not been approved by the Meta body. I've been a Wikimedian since 2004 so you needn't presume to lecture me. Why don't you leave yourself if you can't stomach alternate points of view ? Inlinetext (talk) 11:09, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
  • As the description of this is, no it still does not make sense to me. With some supporting software it is possible, it would them imply cross-authentication, but it still makes no sense. — Jeblad 01:06, 27 December 2017 (UTC)

Break[edit]

Is this going to be closed at all ?! Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 16:47, 3 December 2017 (UTC)

@Doc James:-Is mass-pinging all uninvolved sysops going to fasten this up?Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 16:47, 3 December 2017 (UTC)
Excellent suggestion. Will do in a bit. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:48, 3 December 2017 (UTC)
Mass pinging:--@Ajraddatz, Amire80, Anthere, Avraham, Beetstra, Billinghurst, Bsadowski1, Courcelles, Danny B., DerHexer, EpochFail, Herbythyme, Jusjih, Kaldari, MF-Warburg, Mxn, MZMcBride, NahidSultan, Pharos, RadiX, -revi, Shanmugamp7, Snowolf, Stemoc, Tegel, Teles, Theo10011, Trijnstel, and Vogone:--Anybody uninvolved and willing to close this??Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 09:28, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
Easy answer: No. Please refuse from mass pinging again. Instead, please reach out to Meta administrators only on Meta:Requests for help from a sysop or bureaucrat. Best, —DerHexer (Talk) 09:51, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
Was posted on that page here Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:46, 8 December 2017 (UTC)
@DerHexer:--Easy reply:Please cross-check your facts before stating something.Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 05:00, 10 December 2017 (UTC)
I haven't said that it wasn't mentioned there yet. It should still only be the place to contact local administrators. Mass pinging is no accepted way on any pagep. —DerHexer (Talk) 08:08, 10 December 2017 (UTC)
I have posted a new request for closure. Rentier (talk) 15:14, 11 December 2017 (UTC)

Planning to close the RfC soon[edit]

  • There seems to be some uncertainty about who should close this discussion, and so far I think that RexxS is the only person who has expressed a willingness to do it. If there isn't a closure of the RfC by January 1st, which is one week from today, then I will boldly volunteer to do a non-administrator close on it, possibly in consultation with RexxS if he/she or someone else hasn't already closed this by January 1st. Regards, --Pine 20:50, 25 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Update: RexxS and I are discussing the close off-wiki. We are planning to review and discuss this RfC carefully before we announce our conclusions. I estimate that we will announce a decision in two to four weeks. We may post updates so that people can get a general idea of how the discussion is progressing. If neither of us posts an update by the end of January 10th UTC then please feel free to ping me to ask for an update. Happy new year. --Pine 04:33, 2 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Update: RexxS has made detailed notes about the discussion. I was planning to work on my own notes today but I had what should have been a small project today take much more time than anticipated. I still have this RfC on my agenda. Hopefully I will be able to work on it later this week. --Pine 02:26, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Update: With apologies to RexxS and others, I have had multiple unplanned problems added to my calendar this week and I already have a busy calendar for the next several weeks. I now think that I am unlikely to have time to adequately review this RfC in appropriate detail for the foreseeable future. Although I think that having multiple people involved in the close of this RfC would be wise, for better and for worse this may end up being a one person close by RexxS unless someone else would like to volunteer. Regrets, --Pine 06:17, 13 January 2018 (UTC)