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Latest comment: 10 years ago by Mpaulson (WMF) in topic Ungrouped discussion


Privacy and free speech

Can this be enforced while respecting privacy?

I appreciate Wikipedia's attempt to curb intentional propaganda. However, how can you determine with any reasonable degree of accuracy whether an edit was a vandal, paid propaganda, an individual who is honestly unaware of his/her bias, or otherwise? Once this determination is made, how deep does the investigation go and how quickly? This is a very slippery slope. On the one end, it is very easy for privacy rights to be violated on minimal evidence, on the other we have the issue of not being able to enforce this (making it essentially a joke). I don't participate a lot on discussion pages, so I do not know much detail about Wikipedia's policies operations or regulations. But this is the major issue that I see. -- Previous unsigned comment by User:

Elsewhere on this page, the issue of sockpuppets was raised, and I think it's an apt comparison. This is the same dilemma, really. Can we actually enforce a policy to prevent someone from operating multiple accounts, or sneaking onto a project by using a new account in order to evade a ban or a block? If the editor in that case is careful, the painful truth is no, except for some happy accident (a checkuser uncovers a sock while investigating some other account this editor is using) they'll likely never know.
So just like the sockpuppet policies, this policy would take effect if the editor admits to being a paid editor or reveals it in some way. Just as a project may allow someone to declare an alternate account under the right conditions, editors would be allowed to be paid editors under the right conditions. Privacy rights are a concern with sockpuppets too, because it's all about identity (are you the same person as so-and-so). But I think that the English Wikipedia manages well enough to balance privacy and enforcement (for example, a checkuser doesn't disclose any personal information revealed in the course of an investigation, and doesn't link an editor's account with their IP). We could find a similar balance here. I've dealt with conflict of interest cases for years (both to help good editors with a COI and to stop the disruption of bad editors with a COI) and it's a fine line to balance privacy with identifying a potential problem, but it's possible. -- Atama 20:40, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
To oppose a proposal because it can't always be enforced is common in many aspects of life. However, I have yet to come across anyone anywhere saying "We should not have a law against burglary, because in every country in the world the majority of burglaries go unpunished, as the burglar is not caught". Of course we won't always know, but that is not a reason for not having the tools to deal with it in those cases wheere we do know. JamesBWatson (talk) 21:26, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
And how are you going to "deal with it"? By outing the target? The target is already out or wouldn't be a target! Which leads me to my real concern: "deal with it" really means directed harassment of some sort consequent to the outing as opposed to just creating the possibility for outing.--Brian Dell (talk) 23:30, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
How it's dealt with would be up to the individual projects. Paid editors who fail to provide disclosure could be asked to follow these guidelines, and if they refuse, may be banned and/or blocked as a result. This can be done on an individual basis (per editor/account) or a wider basis, such as when the Arbitration Committee at the English Wikipedia banned any editing coming from the Church of Scientology. And that brings up another kind of deterrent that may arise from implementing this... If a company employs paid editors that violate WMF's rules, and the media gets wind, then that could result in bad PR for the company involved. And such articles would make the project look good (for fighting back against corporate shills) at the same time. -- Atama 00:01, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
So outed paid editors should simply be banned unless they previously self-outed? This should go into the proposal. If this doesn't go in, I'd say my point about an absence of consequences remains. The "media getting wind" suggests that the problem may at least partially take care of itself without our involvement. Or do you think we should, as Wikipedia, be actively leaking user details to the media without user permission?--Brian Dell (talk) 02:50, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
How would this be enforced? It appears that an admission is required by the paid editor (however that is defined). I doubt anyone would be so naive as to do so, it'd be like marking "Yes" on an immigration form when asked if you intend to commit a terrorist act. This proposal seems to be little more than arse covering by Wikipedia to at least appear to comply with the laws of the land - which is fine if the legal team believes this is prudent. It certainly won't deter paid editors, and I think characterizing it as anything else beyond a pre-emptive legal defense jeopardizes the credibility of all other seriously debated rules. -- 00:10, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Yet, editors on Wikipedia identify themselves as paid editors already. The proposal may deter some from disclosing that information because they would be required to disclose information to be allowed to edit, but it may encourage others because it provides a path for them to make "approved" edits. Consider two beaches... One has a sign that says "No Swimming After Dark", and another has no sign whatsoever. The beach with a sign is implying that swimming during the daylight is allowed, and may encourage swimmers as a result. But bottom line, to say nobody would ever disclose that they are paid editors is simply incorrect because that happens already (I sometimes even collaborate with them just to check the viability of their contributions). -- Atama 00:33, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

What about NSA and people who can't speak freely?

Doesn't this amendment take it for granted that everyone can freely state who they are and where they work? What happens when the information you contribute is sensitive material? Doesn't that then make the information contributed to wikipedia restricted to safe material? If you live in countries that practise censorship how do you contribute information that could be seen as dissent? Most of today's news is about countries who want to control their people. What about information then? Misinformation is dangerous, however tackling it with the contribution of personal information makes the amount of information contributed restricted. What if their employers do not like the contributions? Do they not have to consider this question now? If employers use facebook to judge their employees then this information can be used in the same sense. Tackling it this way restricts the contribution of information; effectively making it more biased and uninformed. 19:20, 22 February 2014 (UTC)Privacy

IANAL, but the terms are about contributions for which you receive compensation. If you work for NSA and NSA pays you to edit Wikipedia, you have to disclose it. If NSA pays you, but not to edit Wikipedia, nothing changes. Should the terms themselves clarify this better? --Blaisorblade (talk) 21:39, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
As the previous commenter mentioned, I believe you are misinterpreting this amendment. It does not say everyone has to disclose their employer when they contribute to Wikipedia. That's a little ridiculous. It's saying if you are being paid to specifically write something, you have to say who is paying you to do so. Jaardon (talk) 00:41, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Suppose I am employed by Company X or Government Y, and my duties include an informal expectation of promoting my employer's Internet presence. Suppose I am ambivalent about my employer, and, if given the chance to speak freely as an anonymous editor, would be inclined to edit frankly—perhaps to the point of whistleblowing. If I am required to identify myself as a paid agent of my employer—thus exposing myself to my employer's scrutiny—will I not feel more inclined to toe the company line in my edits? —Matjamoe (talk) 04:41, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Covert disinfo agents would never disclose that fact. On being outed, how about allowing anonymous editing that's flagged in the edit summary as such? 09:21, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
In effect it is impossible to properly enforce this amendment(how would you identify advertisements and doesn't this rely heavily on honesty?). Even if it was it would have to be universal(for any chance of enforceability everyone would have to disclose their details) but even so if someone lied about it it would still be unenforceable (too many users, too many legal procedures; cross-country laws).

What I was pointing out to was that most people can't disclose just any information without considering the impact this may have have on their lives if they were to give out personal information (in the event that everyone disclosed their details.) Personal information is also sensitive material for most users (who they work for, etc.) so having to give this away would deter them from using wikipedia. 12:01, 23 February 2014 (UTC)Privacy

The hole in this argument is as follows: suppose the NSA, CIA or some other government agency wants to bias Wikipedia. (actually, poor Third World countries are more likely to do this; in the U.S. the CIA directly controls media members thereby altering what Wikipedia must cover by altering out sources in a way that we can't readily counter) They hire a legion of shills to go through and tone down some things, hype up others. What happens? Eventually some Snowden turns up and leaks the program, either in full or glorious detail, or just as a vague allegation. The next step is that they say that sure, they had some people... but "we did nothing wrong". Well, now Wikipedia can say these people violated the Terms of Use. Now I'm not saying that some federal prosecutor is really going to go after these agencies and their people for some kind of trade violation, at least not if he doesn't want to be found accidentally hanged while masturbating, but the point is, it increases the relative cost, thereby shifting the cost-benefit analysis at least slightly in our favor. Wnt (talk) 14:37, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

What counts as compensation?

Data privacy & what constitutes compensation

Are there any data privacy concerns around requiring this kind of disclosure, especially in the EU? What about the potential facilitation of stalking, where a stalker might use the nexus of a wiki identity with an employer or affiliate to establish identity?

What if someone works in an outreach position at a university, or as an educator in some field, and contributes as part of their job but doesn't receive compensation specifically for editing? I'm thinking about the various Wikipedian in Residence people, teachers who may contribute as part of teaching students to contribute or classes using Wikipedia content as course material, health outreach personnel who make contributing health information in their native language part of their job description, etc. Are these examples where disclosure of employer etc. would be required? Nathan T 00:12, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

@Nathan: I do not think this is really a data privacy issue -- the privacy regulations usually require notice and consent, but you are allowed to disclose information about yourself. If a user's employer does not consent to being disclosed, then they should not engage in paid editing. Stalking and harassment are not allowed under the Terms of Use, and projects have additional policies on the topic (such as WP:OUTING on English Wikipedia). As to the second question, users should disclose if they receive payment for their editing. In fact, Wikipedians in Residence usually explain their affiliation on their user page (consistent with this provision), and exemplify some of the best practices for transparency and disclosure. Thanks, Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 02:04, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi Stephen, I think you may be missing Nathan's point regarding stalking. Yes, of course stalking is against the TOU, but that doesn't mean that certain unwholesome individuals won't do it anyway (indeed, I can think of a few examples off the top of my head where it has happened). We shouldn't make it easy for these sorts of people to find out real-life details of those they're in disputes with, as the potential for real-life consequences can be significant, TOU or otherwise. Craig Franklin (talk) 12:23, 20 February 2014 (UTC).
Wiki Projects were never conceived to host paid-for contents; we don't ask ordinary users to disclose their data, since they produce what we ask them to produce. But paid contributions are out of the Projects' scope, ideally no one should make them; if someone still wants to test it, it's at his own risk. --g (talk) 01:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Craig, thank you for clarifying. I responded to this point a little further below, in Unintended consequences of disclosure, since it was raised again. Thanks, Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 01:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Student assignments?

There's a huge page on Wikipedia regarding student assignments. If students are being graded for edits to Wikipedia, would that count as compensation? Would the students need to declare their affiliation with the school or the teacher? 5reided (talk) 04:47, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

I created my Wikipedia account just for this question. In a university classroom about British Literary History a few years back we were instructed to make a good edit to Wikipedia and explain what contribution to British Literature we made to Wikipedia. Like 5reided has asked, is a grade considered compensation and must it be disclosed?

I would not consider a grade to be compensation requiring disclosure under this amendment. A grade is not usually understood to be "payment" for the student's work in a class, and my understanding is that grades are not a frequent source of problematic conflicts of interest (please correct me if I am mistaken). If this is a point that should be clarified further, we could include it in the FAQ under What do you mean by “compensation”?. Thanks for the question! Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 20:07, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I'd agree. If the school teacher concerned was employed to make edits while in the classroom (for example, while demonstrating editing to the students), however, that would clearly seem to be a paid edit that would need to be disclosed. Hchc2009 (talk) 20:30, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Personally, I wouldn’t object to a teacher disclosing the edits he or she made to the sandbox as “paid.” I see no reason to require him or her to do so. Neither do I see a way to ensure that he or she complies with such a requirement, should it make its way into the ToU. — Ivan Shmakov (dc) 20:42, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
...Apologies, I should have said at the end, "...would need to be disclosed under the proposed amendment". I don't think that this amendment is the right way to go, btw. Hchc2009 (talk) 20:54, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I respectfully disagree with Hchc2009 when that user said, above, If the school teacher concerned was employed to make edits while in the classroom ... that would clearly seem to be a paid edit that would need to be disclosed. It is NOT a paid edit in that the payment has nothing to do with the content specifically; the payment is for instructing students in using a tool, not for the act of creating content. The essential difference is best summed up by the motivation of this TOU amendment: to avoid undisclosed potential conflicts of interest which may bias the content of Wikipedia in favor of, or to the benefit of, the entity providing the compensation. There needs to be a connection between the payment and the content. If the content generation is ancillary or secondary to the primary purpose, which in the example is "teaching how to edit articles on Wikipedia", then there is no reason to believe the specific content being created would potentially be biased. It is only when there could be a potential for biased outcomes in content creation as a result of the compensation, that would trigger the disclosure requirement. By analogy, operating a typesetting machine and changing the layout of an editorial piece in the local newspaper would not require one to reveal an affiliation with the subject matter of the editorial, whereas editing the content of that same editorial for style or tone might be questionable without revealing your connection to the topic at hand. To go further with the student analogy, editing an article about British Literature would not be a paid edit; editing the article about the university where the teacher was employed, now that would require a disclosure!JoGusto (talk) 13:06, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Jo, the ammendment at the moment simply says "you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia Projects for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation." As written, that makes no distinction between a contribution for the purposes of instruction versus a contribution for the purposes of adding content, nor indeed does it make any distinction about the motivation behind the contribution. The intention behind the proposed ammendment may well be different, but that's not what has currently been drafted. 14:07, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Types of edits that are affected

AfD type discussions

I think it should also be a requirement that it get disclosed in any discussion forums where the articles future is discussed.... Gnangarra (talk) 23:23, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Gnangarra - The amendment does cover paid edits on the talk pages, so I think this scenario would be covered in many situations. Geoffbrigham (talk) 00:59, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I think this proposal is fair if the price is minimal for editing pages, e.g under £2.50 GBP per edit would be fair and raise revenue for the site and on top of that not discourage users from using the site altogether.

I'd rather not have the amendment, because Wikipedia is a Free Encyclopedia, which means free from all aspects. This amendment, when passed, will make it a Pay-to-Edit Encyclopedia, which does not agree with its WHY- to provide information free to the public. We can't keep info up-to-date for free if this amendment is passed.

User from Bangladesh

User from Bangladesh; I think you misunderstand the purpose of this amendment. You will not have to pay to edit. However, if someone ELSE is paying YOU to edit, you have to disclose that information. ONUnicorn (talk) 21:42, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


I also think that a disclosure should be made when editting articles about competitors or topics that could be considered as promoting the client. For example adding a links to the "list of Encyclopedias" or topic "Free culture" when the client is WMF. Gnangarra (talk) 23:32, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Gnangarra (again): The amendment would cover such edits if the user was being compensated to make those edits. Geoffbrigham (talk) 01:00, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes it does, see the Questions section of the proposal. --NaBUru38 (talk) 18:56, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
As Geoff and NaBUru have explained, if you work for company X, and they pay you to edit the article about company Y, then you have to disclose this conflict of interest, according to the new terms-amendment. Similarly, if you are paid by politician-or-political-organization X, and you edit the article about politician-or-political-organization Y, then you again have to disclose this conflict of interest, per the new amendment. However, a more interesting question (one that may not be solvable with this amendment) is the case where a person is paid by an employer/politician/organization, but they are not explicitly instructed by said employer/politician/org to "edit wikipedia" as part of their job-description and/or managerial-guidance.
  Here is an example of what I mean. If the politician tells the staffer to "make my public-image on the internet look better whilst you blackball my political opponents" but does not mention wikipedia explicitly, can the staffer in question weasel out of the new amendment to the terms of service? I would like to see this type of situation made perfectly clear. If you work for corporation X, and you are paid a salary of $100k/yr, and on your "lunch break" you make edits to the article about the company and the products, plus articles about the competitors and their products, then you ARE engaging in paid contributions. This is difficult to make into bulletproof legal language, however. Rather than make a concrete suggestion now, I leave that task as an exercise for the reader. ;-)   — 02:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

How does this affect researchers?

Would e.g. the research worker will be able to edit the articles of Wiki from your field only as paid user? Because he gets a salary also for the popularization of science. How the foundation officials want to decide whether the scientist is reading the article due of his mission or for the money. --Piotr967 (talk) 16:18, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't think this proposed amendment would apply unless it was part of the researcher's work responsibilities to edit Wikipedia. Maybe we could maybe include some FAQ that makes clear that editing on general subject areas of interest by professors and researchers would not be covered. Would that make sense? I would be interested in people's views on that. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:54, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
There are researchers in industry, also. In some fields, such as some areas of electronics, a good part of our best content comes from there. But it does not matter who adds the material; it matters what the material is that they add. An unaffiliated person adding sponsored medical research without realizing it can do as much harm as someone from the company. DGG (talk) 18:50, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi DGG - I think you are making fair points. I guess it depends on how important it is to address the potential conflict of interest when one is paid for editing. This amendment is not intended to label paid editors as necessarily bad, but, as recognized elsewhere, there is a motivating factor that money provides in our world that sometimes compromises objectivity (which scarce community resources must be employed to correct). I believe fair disclosure neutralizes that effect, and frankly helps paid editors who are operating in good faith and accordingly to community rules, like NPOV. We also spell out some reasons to address this in the terms of use here. Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond so constructively. It is really helpful as we think this through. Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:59, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
we've already seen questions about wikipedians in residence. is there a distinction between paid and unpaid WIR? is there a requirement to disclose lunch at an editathon, since it is "money, goods, or services". a de minimus might be useful. i agree it's the COI, not the pay. Slowking4 (talk) 19:19, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Hey Slowk! as you know I've had several light lunches at the Smithsonian at GLAM editathons. I don't see a problem there that needs disclosure for at least 2 reasons. 1) they didn't tell me which articles to write, much less what to say in the articles. 2) "de minimus" definitely applies. OK, I really loaded up on the roast beef sandwiches one day - but it was still under $15 worth! :-) Perhaps we could include something on de minimus in the FAQ? There are so many questions along this line that I think it just distracts from the real issues
Paid WIRs are a more serious question. Non-paid WIRs of course have nothing to disclose under the proposed change - but most of them do anyway. Most paid WIRs also disclose that they are paid - all of them that I know. Most also stick to the talk pages, which makes it totally cool with me, but requires disclosure under this change. Perhaps something could be written into the FAQ about "'WIR' editors supervised by GLAM and similar Wikiprojects should disclose their status on their User pages, but in general are not considered to be paid editors"? Smallbones (talk) 21:28, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure that a "de minimus" approach would work. $15 may not be a large amount of money for most people in the US (or the UK), but it is, for example, a reasonable sum in many other parts of the world (I suspect it is about three times the average hourly rate of pay in India, for example) or potentially to particular individuals (for example someone in the UK living close to the poverty line). Given that we don't know where editors live, or their personal circumstances, I'd recommend any proposal like this has no minimum threshold for disclosure - just go for total transparency. Hchc2009 (talk) 10:04, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

i grant you, whenever you start talking ethics, you quickly get in the weeds. i don't mind disclosing every lunch or prize, but others have expressed a deterrent effect. when you're a social media staffer, why bother with all the wikidrama? such ethical absolutism harms wikipedia. WIR's have displayed good disclosure, and upaid WIR's have exactly the same conflict as the paid ones. and they get bitten just the same. by elevating ethical norms into terms of use legal code, the foundation is raising the stakes; it's unclear to me to what benefit. it's ammunition for a lawsuit, but the unintended effects are bad, we have already seen the wikihounding. Slowking4 (talk) 15:43, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Real and hypothetical examples for discussion

(cross-posted, with edits and additional material, from an En-WP discussion a few months ago, here)

In considering an updated policy or TOS provision addressing paid or COI editing, we need to make sure that it addresses the types of situation that frequently come up in this area, and does so in a way that accords with how we want these situations to be handled, and with common sense. Below are some hypothetical situations—but mostly derived from actual situations I am aware of over the years—in which an editor could be accused of having a paid interest or COI. How do we want to address them? Does the proposed TOS addition do so well, or how might it be changed to do so better?

Of course, given the specific proposal at issue here, the expected answer to all these situations would be along the lines of "make the disclosure." However, each incident could be looked at from the point of view of "is it realistic that editors in this position will do that, and do we need them to?" In some instances below, the answer is probably yes; others may be more borderline.

(Note: The examples refer to "Wikipedia", but could apply with minor tweaking to most if not all projects.)

Five examples

Example 1:
I am an experienced Wikipedia editor, perhaps an administrator. A friend is an author who has published several novels that are still in print. He does not have a Wikipedia article, and would like to have one. Knowing that I'm active on Wikipedia, he asks me to create an article for him. He gives me information about his background and books to include in the article. There is no question in my mind that the author meets the applicable notability guideline. May I write the article? Do I have to disclose anything if I do write the article? If my friend offers to take me to dinner to thank me for agreeing to write the article, may I accept? 06:32, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Example 2:
I work at a university library. The library contains archival and manuscript collections of the personal papers of dozens of historical and literary figures, which are of interest to scholars. Our collections are underutilized, and we would like to have more visitors use them. I want to add a short paragraph to the Wikipedia article of each person whose papers our library holds, mentioning that his or her papers are at our facility and providing a link to the online finding aid. May I do so?

Example 3:
I'm the public relations manager for one of the two daily newspapers in a mid-sized city. The other newspaper has a well-written Wikipedia article, which was created several years ago. My newspaper, which has about the same circulation and level of prominence, does not have an article. The owner wishes it did. What are my options?

Example 4:
I'm the mayor of a small city. I have a Wikipedia article, but it's a couple of years old and seriously out of date. I post on the talkpage asking if someone will update my article, and I provide neutral, verifiable information to update it with, but after a few weeks, no one has does the updating. May I update it myself? If I'm not supposed to but I do anyway, what happens? What if I am the mayor's paid campaign manager, or the city's public relations manager, instead of the mayor herself?

Example 4A:
Same as example 4, except instead of a mayor, I'm the President of a Fortune 500 company, or her media assistant.

Example 5:
I'm in the marketing department at a large law firm that has an existing article. A famous lawyer joins our firm. Can I edit the article to mention this increase in our ranks? What if I am the famous lawyer myself? A member of the lawyer's family? One of the lawyer's clients?

Discussion of examples

If I'm not mistakes, there are rules already for most of the cases.

The example 1 isn't related to paid contributions. The same could be said about non-profit volunteers. Now that should be dealt with. --NaBUru38 (talk) 18:55, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

In all cases except #1, I think that common sense, our desired outcome, and the proposed changes to TOU line up. There should be disclosure.
Case 1 is the canonical "I'm just adding NPOV material and not getting anything for it" case. In practice, I'd think this case is incredibly rare. First, if you're really not getting anything for it, the proposed change in TOU doesn't affect it. I'd go so far as saying if all you got was a cup of coffee and a danish ($10 at NY prices), then you need not disclose. The dividing point on what's "too much of a 'payment'" should be common sense and handled on an individual case basis, but I'll say that a $200 dinner (again at NY prices) would be too much and would have to be disclosed. I'll also say that admins should stay as far away from paid editing as possible - they should even declare the cup of coffee. Smallbones (talk) 19:26, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Re: #5 - Wiki is not the same as LinkedIn. Personnel announcements belong on job sites. If a single attorney is truly notable, they will likely have their own page already, with a mention that they are employed at Fizzywig & Whatsit on that page, linking back to the firm; the firm will have a link to their website in External Links that will (or should) list their attorneys in detail. If it is something along the lines of "Johnny Comelately, prosecuting attorney on the Hoover Dam collapse trial, joined the firm in May 2014", that would seem to be acceptable. What I've seen is various attorneys (or marketing, relatives, etc.) using the pages to promote their upcoming public office campaigns by getting hits for their websites and not necessarily being of any other note, or firms sensationalizing their services or importance. Disclosure should be required for anyone or thing potentially "selling" themselves or goods to the casual reader who may not know better. LovelyLillith (talk) 23:33, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I think case #1 wouldn't even count, but I do think most or even all of these should be allowable provided the usual "verifiable sources" rule is followed.-- 08:32, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
The amendment doesn't prevent people from editing any pages. The Mayor/CEO/PR agent/Lawyer just has to indicate on their user page or the Talk page that they are the Mayor/CEO/PR agent/Lawyer at firm. Honestly, this amendment is designed to reveal whether an article is managed by someone whose job is to check Wikipedia daily, and edit it. 21:09, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Two scenarios

Let's say I am Acme Widgets and I want to expand the article about my obscure little widgets company. I hire User:Contractor for that purpose.

Example 10. User:Conractor posts in the Wikipedia Reward Board, soliciting contributions to help bring up Acme Widgets to Good Article status, offering payment in cash or barnstars or contributions to one's favorite charity. User:Subcontractor does the work, gets a lovely barnstar or $75 as compensation. What are the disclosure requirements for User:Subcontractor? As I understand these rules, User:Subcontractor is under no obligation to disclose anything, yet he is working at the behest of a company, with the contractor serving as "cutout." There is no practical difference between User:Contractor making these edits and his inducing User:Subcontractor to do those edits.

Example 11. User:Contractor recommends text on a Talk:Acme Widgets subpage, making all required disclosure. User:Tool cuts-and-pastes the text into the article, or makes a few insubstantial changes and puts the text in the article. What is the disclosure requirement for User:Tool? As I understand it, there are none. Yet those changes go into the article just as they would if they were put there by the COI editor. Indeed, the COI editor gets praised for "following the rules."

I think that you have two gaping loopholes that you have to fill, for otherwise these TOU changes will have little effect. As it is, these TOU changes make no meaningful disclosure to the reader that the articles they are reading were stage-managed by the subject. Coretheapple (talk) 16:55, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

"you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia Projects for which you receive compensation" is a reasonable minimum. If User:Tool is being paid they will need to disclose this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:59, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
As an occasional "tool" editor for editors with a COI, I usually disclose changes I make which were suggested by a editor with a COI in the edit summary: "COI draft replacement" or "COI suggested changes implemented" or such. But ultimately, I view myself as the "owner" of those changes, accountable for what they say and the way they say it. Gigs (talk) 17:05, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
As I see it, according to these rules paid relationships have to be disclosed on whatever type of page is involved. So User:Contractor would have to disclose; as would User:Subcontractor. If User:Tool was paid, he'd also have to disclose. Core is likely worried about quid pro quo tools, i.e. you place my COI edits and I'll place yours. I don't think lawyers would be fooled by this - quid pro quo tools are paid editors and must disclose. But Wiki editors love to wikilawyer, so perhaps it can be made clear here that quid pro quo editors are considered to be paid. It's important to keep the new TOU simple and clear, but perhaps Geoff can respond to see if he thinks this addition is really needed. Smallbones (talk) 18:06, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Is it worth it to say that compensation need not be monetary? Or is that overcomplicating the issue? -- Atama 18:52, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I think that would help. But just to address Smallbones' point (and I appreciate his bringing this page to my attention), what I had in mind was a situation we've seen frequently, in which PR people or paid editors make extensive suggestions on talk pages, even to the point of drafting text, waiting until a willing User:Tool comes by to execute them. There is no practical difference between the PR person making these changes and finding someone to do them. The outcome, from the reader's and Wikipedia's standpoint, is the same. Coretheapple (talk) 19:24, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

As a non editor but frequent user of Wiki I have to agree with the above - the proposed TOU changes will make no meaningful disclosure to the reader, which appears to be the purpose of the changes. If you want to make a change that is meaningful to your readers and your public reputation, you would need to require paid edit disclosure be made on the page where the paid edits appear. Otherwise you are simply fulfilling a legal requirement and not actually addressing the issue in a meaningful way. One alternative to this would be to introduce (and make public) a procedural document that outlined a flagging and review process for people who make a paid edit disclosure on their edit summary or user page such that the disclosure and the data to which it relates would be reviewed by an objective third party. But the TOU change you propose is not strong enough in itself.

So I understand your view, but I do think the proposed amendment will serve a role, as I explain here. And the proposed amendment still always allows Wikimedia projects to put in place greater restrictions on paid editing, including even a ban on paid advocacy editing, for example. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:56, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

More hypothetical examples

Following NewYorkBrad's section above. In considering an updated policy or TOS provision addressing paid editing, we need to make sure that it addresses the types of situation that may come up in this area, and does so in a way that accords with how we want these situations to be handled, and with common sense. Below are some hypothetical situations. How do we want to address them? Does the proposed TOS addition do so well, or how might it be changed to do so better?

Of course, given the specific proposal at issue here, the expected answer to all these situations would be along the lines of "make the disclosure." However, each incident could be looked at from the point of view of "is it realistic that editors in this position will do that, and do we need them to?"

These examples are taken from here, with some editing.

A. A pharmaceutical company adds information to a Wikipedia article about one of its products that is essentially identical to the sales information it distributes to medical professionals and consumers. Smallbones (talk) 18:46, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

COI. You're writing about the thing you're selling. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

B. A company makes negative edits to articles about its competitors. Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

COI. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

C. A restaurant owner posts a Wikipedia article about her restaurant containing referenced and unreferenced material, including an unreferenced mention of "delicious apple pie." Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

COI. You're writing about the thing you're selling. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Would it make any difference if the restaurant owner (or employee/contractor) attempted to write an unbiased article about the restaurant? (For example, a hired search engine optimization (SEO) firm might want to push a different website lower in a Google search?) Smallbones (talk) 18:46, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
COI. You're writing about the thing you're selling. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Would it make any difference if the article were about a non-profit organization rather than a for-profit business? Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).
COI (eg imagine Mozilla writing about itself). Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

D. A company edits an article about itself, but does not pitch its products or services. Rather it extols the company's public service spirit, and its environmental record, in "corporate image advertising". Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

COI. You're writing about the thing you're selling. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

E. A company's public relations firm does not add text to an article, but removes text others have written,. Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

COI. You're writing about the thing you're selling. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

F. An OTC drug company has "discovered a new disease" and researched the effect of one of its products on the disease. The company's research on this new disease has not been published in a medical journal, but was reported on in a large metropolitan newspaper which cited the company's research report. A company researcher writes and posts a Wikipedia article, citing the newspaper report but not mentioning the fact that the research was funded by the company. Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

WP:NOT. Go to Wikinews. Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Discussion of examples

E. It depends what text. We have clear rules on en:wp about what can definitely be removed, a large grey area, and some clear rules about what should not be removed. Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

...? Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

F. On en:wp would not necessarily fall under the ToU, but would fall under both CoI and MedRS. As I understand it MedRS would fail the reference, and without that the whole article would be likely to be deleted. Rich Farmbrough 23:05 20 February 2014 (GMT).

...? Gryllida 01:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
In each case IMHO the new ToU would require disclosure, which is what we want. Requiring disclosure by a non-profit (under C) might seem a bit extreme to some, but it is only disclosure that we're talking about here. The rules mentioned by Rich Farmbrough are requirements over and above the disclosure to be required by the ToU. Smallbones (talk) 18:46, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Who thinks this is problematic? Is this needed on smaller wikis?

I also question this as a basis for making any kind of decision. Someone needs to do some real science on the problem and then find out what the data have to say about it: find out what percentage of articles are affected by compensated authors, how many are actually inaccurate or slanted, what the community perception actually is (based on formal survey data), etc.

I question this base for the propsal. The issue has come up on en:wp, and in discussion on Wikimedia-I there seems to be very different views on this from other language versions, specillay from the middle sized ones or smalle ones.

I am defintely against this proposal as a general amendment. It will stop many potential good contributers and make the number of contributers to dwindle even more. And on smaller verions it can mean we will come below critical mass of contributers. On sv:wp we have had no real prolem with this issue. if we think it is a potential COI that can be problematic, we ask the user if he has a special reltion to the subject he/she is contributing to.--Anders Wennersten (talk) 05:52, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Nearly all of the core content policies on en, and likely on other Wikipedias are concerned with the integrity of the information we publish. Neutrality, verifiability, BLP, sourcing, etc. Our integrity, or at minimum, the perception of it, is damaged if we do not have a solid policy regarding paid editing. The practical problem is likely less on a smaller Wiki, where there are both more neutral resources to review edits, and there is less appeal to abuse the Wiki because of lower search engine relevance. But without a policy, the reputation of all projects will be damaged. This is an even bigger risk to long term participation in my opinion, since no one neutral will care to edit a discredited Wikipedia that has begun to be viewed as a forum for corporate shills and advertisers. Gigs (talk) 16:58, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
You express a lot af percettpion I do not share. Our integrety sytands strong independ if this policy come into place. Our reputation will not be harmed, on teh co0ntrary a policy like this Will harm or reputation. And the participation rate will go drasticly if this was to be implemented in svwp. We have a strong and frutiful cohabit that produce a lot of good and neatrla aticles.--Anders Wennersten (talk) 18:21, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm still not clear - is this a real problem that people are actually complaining about, or is it just a potential problem? The consensus on English Wikipedia from the 3 votes taken just 4 months ago seems to be that this is not a problem there, as they decided against enacting such a policy. If you agree that the problem is largest on large wikis, then why do you think it's a problem generally when the consensus among people actually editing the largest wiki is that it's not a problem? 0x0077BE (talk) 20:37, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Please excuse my bad English, but I will try to add some comments regarding the proposal. I partly agree with Anders Wennersten, this seems to be an issue on English language version on Wikipedia, on the Norwegian Bokmål/Riksmål version the bigger problem is that a lot of articles that should be written, or expanded, are not. Will this amendment make that easier?

It also seems that most, if not all of this is covered already in our rules for neutrality, verifiability etc. Reading through parts of the Terms of Use (which I have never read before) I came across that I am not allowed to post child pornography. What about detailed blueprints for chemical weapons, or nuclear warheads? As far as I know both are bad & forbidden in all countries. It seems that the Terms of Use is very much suited for a lawyer, US-centered standpoint. We have some basic rules and as Less is more I believe we should keep to it, if at all possible.

So instead of adding this clause the whole Terms of Use should be shortened, going from covering every small possible problem to basically tell the users our few basic rules and then explain that you should behave, as if you were "in the real world", if not you will get yourself into trouble. Ulflarsen (talk) 19:06, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Anders, I take rather the opposite view. I think paid editing holds potent dangers for damage. Speaking only for myself, if I as a volunteer thought I would need regularly to engage paid contributors in POV issues, I would question why I should devote my time and energy to it. Corporate sponsorship always has the potential for overwhelming individual efforts. What's more, I don't come to Wikipedia as a reader in order to view the best advertising. Any interest I have in obtaining information gravitates naturally to neutral and trusted sources. My perception is that corporate motives are often suspect, too often and too suspect to be worth trying to disentangle the credible from the incredible. My opinion is that the most powerful interests have other forums in which to make testimonies, but Wikipedia serves a different function. We already have policies regarding conflict of interest, as we must. Paid conflicts of interest have potential to be entirely destructive if not subject to constant scrutiny. This policy (or something like it) provides a necessary regulation, a means of keeping balance even under pressure. And it will serve well to help editors see and weigh the balances in the many less obvious circumstances, such as those listed in the hypothetical examples section above.
Ulflarsen, I do appreciate that the situations faced by Wikipedia in other languages can be quite different. And I generally like the idea "less is more" in the sense that more is never better if it is unnecessary. I also yield to your point about legalism and its influence in the U.S. - all too unfortunately true. But I think this policy proposal is about a different (and equally unfortunate) influence: the power of money to shape and communicate information. This also is something we deal with daily in the U.S.; marketing and lobbying are pervasive. Beware that its influence can reach across political boundaries much more quickly and more easily than any legal or official matter. It can penetrate national borders readily; it generates political or legal issues only later, after influences have begun to be felt. I tend to view the English Wikipedia as a front line for dealing with these effects where they are most powerful. But if they are not addressed here, I believe they will affect Wikipedia throughout in other languages as well. Evensteven (talk) 19:59, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Anders, Ulf: thank you for your very serious, thoughtful comments - they are causing me, at least, to think very hard. Believe it or not, I also agree about the creeping influence of legalism - it is unhealthy, and I wish we had better tools to address this problem. :/ At the same time, whenever a project gets large and becomes high profile, it will face the problem of commercialism, regardless of where it is. We tried to craft this to give communities a fairly simple, minimal tool to help deal with that problem - trust me, if we'd wanted to write something much longer or more complex, we could have! We thought this approach would be inoffensive in small communities while giving a good tool to larger communities; maybe we need to recalibrate that a bit but I still think it seems like a fairly good basic approach. —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 00:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

POV problem statement

This all starts with pure POV!

We plan to ask the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees to consider a proposed amendment in our Terms of Use to address further undisclosed paid editing. Contributing to the Wikimedia Projects to serve the interests of a paying client while concealing the paid affiliation has led to situations that the community considers problematic. Many believe that users with a potential conflict of interest should engage in transparent collaboration, requiring honest disclosure of paid contributions.

Who is "we"? To criticise anonymous edits but don't declare who is behind this all here makes all not really trsusfull. "the community considers problematic" - is this so? Who is "the" community? Where the initiators know this? "Many believe that" - "many" Who are "many"? And how many are "many". All in all pure POV. But at the end all will work this way - it is not important what we as community will sa. Mister Wales states since longer time what's here wanted. He will decide at the end - so why this transparent democracy game? Marcus Cyron (talk) 19:16, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I guess the "we" is the WMF legal department. This is a consultation similar to other community consultations that we have had, and we actually do listen to feedback and often adjust language to respond. We are attempting to summarize at a high level what we have heard in the discussions around paid editing, but of course are happy to hear different views on this. Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:58, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
And you think, the WMF is neutral? I don't think so. At the end the board will decide. And mostly Mr Wales made his point very clear. Sorry, that I now can't belive, that we as community have any chance to influence something. And at the end the problem still stays. Theres never stated at the site, who wants to change something. At the de:WP such a proposal would never has a chance. People who want to do such things have to say, who they are. And as long ou want, that other people do things openly - you have to be open by yourself at first! At the end I see only, that there were a moment bad press in the USA - and then all have to change? The important thing always was the NPOV and the free license. As long as authors work under these rules, nobody has to declare something. But the WMF treies a longer time to kill everything, the Wikimedia movement was in earlier times. From a free project, to a Freedom of the Foundations grace. And the WMF really wonders about losing authors? Really? Or is this for real the fear of losing some money for the Foundation? I would bet on the last option... Marcus Cyron (talk) 13:00, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree it is about POV. In striving to attain a neutral point of view (NPOV) Wikipedia has very correctly placed small obstacles in the path of those who would deliberately edit with bias. It is widely recognised that those with a conflict of interest (COI) are most likely to undermine neutrality in decision-making. In courts and committee deliberations a person with a COI is required, often under threat of penalty, to disclose a COI and in some instances is required to recuse himself from participation in a meeting. Any person editing Wikipedia who is aware of a COI should similarly declare that conflict, and if the COI is bad enough, she should not edit at all.

I support the premise that edits made under an incentive of a reward are potentially not neutral, specifically because the incentive of reward may lead an editor to purposefully introduce bias that will promote or discredit some entity. So, in the interests of maintaining NPOV, which is crucially important for the reputation of our encyclopedia, I do agree that all paid contributors should make a public statement disclosing that they are rewarded for their work by a party which they must name.

Craigallan.za (talk) 21:18, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Legality and legal implications

Common carrier status

Would this proposal impact Wikipedia's common carrier status? Common carriers must carry their content on a nondiscriminatory basis, without exercising any control over content. Hesperian 11:15, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

My preliminary analysis is that this is not problematic for this amendment. Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 21:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Stephen. Hesperian 01:29, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Not sufficient to be legal in EU

In the article [1]:

"The company in question had argued it had made its conflict of interest as a market competitor explicit through a comment on the article's talk page. However, the court struck down this argument, saying the average consumer who uses Wikipedia does not read the discussion pages. Significantly, the court did not distinguish between problematic and acceptable contributions. The judgment was explicitly based on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, valid throughout the European Union."

so, although WMF would allow paid contributions in that way (a statement on your user page, a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.), according to that sentence paid contributions are illegal in EU. So, the solution is a template in the article, or would be illegal, am I right?--Temulco3 (talk) 16:51, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't know if illegal is the correct word, but you raise a valid point that talk page or edit summary disclosures probably do not satisfy the EU disclosure requirements. Gigs (talk) 17:01, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
As I see it, the proposed amendment only sets out a minimum requirement, while underscoring: "[a]pplicable law . . . may further limit paid contributions or require more detailed disclosure." We also address this point in this FAQ. So a company who has additional legal requirements within its jurisdiction must comply with those requirements, and, if the processes and policies of a Wikimedia project site do not permit legal compliance, that company should not engage in paid editing (as a legal matter). This would be true, as I see it, whether or not this amendment became part of the terms of use. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:26, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Bravo, Geoff. Glad to hear you say that. Jimbo has even said that undisclosed paid advocacy appears to be illegal. Or at least that's how I interpret the gist of his comments on UPAE legality; I'm not quoting him. --Elvey (talk) 10:47, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
Temulco3, I agree that the talk page and especially the edit summary disclosures are the weakest. But if the WP policy is weaker than applicable EU law, then surely the standard of the EU law prevails there? Personally, I tend to reject the edit summary disclosures as being too weak in general (and too restrictive of space for proper disclosure). The talk page disclosure I regard as minimal - almost an "ok we can try it but if it doesn't work well it will need changing". The most straightforward approach is on the user page, and that is really what I would favor. Evensteven (talk) 20:26, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The EU did not state that it was illegal to require disclosure. Instead, they said that posting in your talk page is not sufficient for EU rules for disclosure. Wikipedia may determine its own standard as it is not related to the EU. 22:08, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
It would be an egregious breach of faith to suggest through the ToU a practice which would leave a significant percentage (perhaps a majority) of those affected liable to lawsuits "just because we can". Rich Farmbrough 22:25 20 February 2014 (GMT).
We try to write these so that they apply globally - not just to every place, but to every user. So, for example, in the US, different rules apply to sponsored speech by corporations and by non-profits (since the FTC is not allowed to regulate non-profits). We could try to list out the different rules for every single place and combination of facts, but that would be a multi-year project. :) Instead, we tried to provide a common-sense baseline that will help communities enforce their own, appropriate rules. Hope that helps clarify. —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 00:33, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
We should however keep at safe distance from external competitions, we just can't be involved in such legal complications: what we ask for here is honest and not-for-profit edits, the rest should be kept far from our door. If the policy de facto allows some, it could only be in such a manner that we absolutely don't get troubles in exchange. An eventual involvement of WMF because of third parties' unfair commercial behaviours, would be terrible. When in doubt, I'd say, let's directly forbid paid editing. --g (talk) 01:30, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I think this is a completely valid view, and indeed Sue Gardner has taken a strong stand against paid advocacy. The terms of use have prohibited for more than two years misrepresentation of one's affiliation; the proposed amendment explains ways to disclose an affiliation honestly. But that same amendment underscores that "community and Foundation policies, such as those addressing conflicts of interest, may further limit paid contributions or require more detailed disclosure." So I believe the projects are still able to ban paid advocacy editing if they choose. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually, the FTC IS allowed to regulate non-profits, sometimes, per this law firm commentary on California Dental Association v. FTC. Plus, a non-profit is, after all, a particular type of corporation; it's a contraction of "not-for-profit corporation", no? --Elvey (talk) 10:47, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Details on why people support

General support

I generally support this proposed change in the TOU, but we should take this opportunity to make the prohibitions on paid editing as strong as possible. Nothing I add below (in several individual sections) should be taken as meaning that I don't support the proposed change as is. I just think we can do better.

1st, the possibility of disclosing only on the edit summary may make following paid editing very difficult, so the following change should be made:

'"You must make that disclosure in at least two of the following:

  • a statement on your user page, listing all pages where you have made paid contributions
  • a statement on all talk pages accompanying any paid contributions, (strike "or")
  • a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions."

Smallbones (talk) 18:26, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

IMO, it should at least ALWAYS have the third one. 23:12, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
It's clear that the proposed amendment is not perfect, nor is it the end-all be-all solution to enforcing accountability for paid edits. Perfect solutions rarely exist and are never necessary. That said, I strongly believe that ALL THREE of the above methods of disclosure as suggested by Smallbones should be required for any type of edit for which the editor receives compensation. The larger community can decide whether a given scenario seems harmless or not, e.g., whether paying people to edit for grammar and typos in an article about General Motors promotes the commercial interests of that organization. However, it MUST be clear to even the most casual reader that paid edits were made in order for this type of open community policing to be effective. I also don't think it matters whether the compensation comes in the form of direct pay, exchange of services, charitable contributions, or otherwise; it all amounts to the buying of influence, which IMO should be thoroughly scrutinized under any and all circumstances.--Soundslikedelicious (talk) 18:08, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I may have some comments to do in other threads. But in general, I also support adding this restriction to the Terms of Use. --NaBUru38 (talk) 18:49, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The proposal also has my support. Accassidy (talk) 18:51, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I've seen this kind of thing in effect for particular paid editors at the English Wikipedia and it has worked pretty well, so I fully support this addition. -- Atama 19:14, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I also support the two-disclosure rule. Evensteven (talk) 20:47, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree with a more stringent policy involving two out of three places of notification. This would result in making it more difficult to obfuscate paid edits. -Thunderforge (talk) 21:19, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't know if an anonymous reader's opinion matters here, but I support this policy. If anything, I think that paid edits to public articles should be disclosed as such in footnotes ("this content paid for by ____"), much as sources are supposed to be cited. There needs to be accountability, or at least awareness, of any use of Wikimedia projects as advertising and potential propaganda and misrepresentation platforms for corporations, businesses, governments, political parties, religious groups, etc. 19:40, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
"An anonymous reader's opinion" does matter here. Too often Wikipedia editors ignore reader's opinions. The opposition to this proposed change in ToU is a perfect example of how some editors here put their own interests above the reader's interest. Smallbones (talk) 22:26, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Absolutely. Pages edited by so-called paid contributors should reflect this, such as, "This page has been edited by X, e.g., University of Notre Dame Athletic Department, Committee to Re-elect the President, etc." RaqiwasSushi (talk) 20:30, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I see the page-level disclosures as problematic in that the entire page then looks as though it is advertising/lobbying or some such. What of the other contributions to the page? Besides, entire pages of this kind of material don't belong in an encyclopedia at all. We need to address paid editors and paid edits individually, in order to keep all articles neutral and content balanced. Evensteven (talk) 20:47, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
As I said below, it's neither necessary nor helpful to put a notice on a page that the content has been modified by a paid editor. If there is a dispute about whether or not content should be removed or altered because it was placed by an editor with a conflict of interest, that's what a COI tag is for and that process is already being done (and has been in place for years). The point of the tag is to warn the reader that the material they're reading is being disputed, and why. When neutral editors are satisfied that the content is okay then the tag is removed. There's no reason to put a permanent black mark on an article because a paid editor once contributed to it. I wouldn't have a problem with a new "paid editor" template being applied when a paid editor's contribution is being reviewed or disputed, but again that template should be removed once any dispute is resolved, and really a COI tag would probably work anyway. -- Atama 21:21, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

If paid editing is to be allowed at all (we feel it is a very bad idea) the articles that contain paid edits should be labeled clearly as such in the title in big red letters: "THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PAID CONTENT". Also the actual paid edits themselves should be in a different color font so even a casual reader will see that there is something unusual about this content and will understand that it is paid content. It would be much easier to just ban it outright; it looks to us to be a naked attempt to monetize Wikipedia by making it more useful to what are essentially commercial advertisers. IWPCHI --IWPCHI (talk) 22:10, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I was leaning this way originally, i.e, requiring a distinctive banner at the top of an article calling attention to the fact that it contains paid content, but shifted my stance for basically the reasons outlined by Evensteven and Atama in the previous two posts. The fact that a page contains some paid content does not make the entire page an advertisement nor does it invalidate the remainder of the content. I'm not entirely opposed to requiring that paid content be distinguished with a different color or font, but I'm also not sure that it is necessary or that it wouldn't primarily serve to degrade the clarity and readability of the article.--Soundslikedelicious (talk) 18:22, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  • i also express my general support for this. but my view is that only the name of the payor needs to be disclosed on each paid contribution that was made. i see this as the only relevant information that we need. 22:28, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi All. Thank you for support and suggestions. Smallbones, your suggestion is an interesting one. The proposed amendment is meant to set a minimum bar by which individuals who receive compensation for their edits must meet. It does not prevent individual projects from imposing stricter standards. That said, we are interested in hearing what others think about this topic. Mpaulson (WMF) (talk) 01:17, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

General SUPPORT sorry I have changed my mind: agreed that notice should appear on article page, but color change or "sponsor"-name on or in article is ripe for abuse. PAID FOR BY COCA-COLA--just no. That would be abused as an advertisement. Have it so that any paid editors who edit an article will generate a tag on the article that says, :THIS ARTICLE INCLUDES CHANGES BY A PAID EDITOR. Also make it easy to find in history or talk page what that change was. 01:29, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Actually, your point is brilliant, maybe far beyond what you can see:

1. The proposed solution is like using a club to kill an ant. 2. It really is just to stop the IPs of companies of editing their own stuff, which may not be harmful. 3. but it indicates the need for the commitment, interest, intent and motivation for edits.

Summarized as follows:
[Commitment: Improve culture of information]
[Interest: Accuracy]
[Intent: Improve discussion]
[Motivation:Further discussion in a significantly different direction]
I have not ever been paid for editing an article, and mostly do it for two reasons:
1. To improve accuracy in a way, that all the others editors seem to be missing
2. To show how ridiculous easy it is to show how misinformation creeps in, and people accept it as the truth.
  • I so not support this proposal, as it is:
Useful only for some sort of lame detective work, and does not address fundamentally the betterment of Wikipedia, or does not address it in a way that improves the wiki, my view is that it allows another justification for removing accurate information.
Tagging articles as including content by paid editors is unworkable, IMO, unless it is automated by a bot. Suppose User:PaidEditor changes a paragraph and I make subsequent changes to the same paragraph. Does the article still contain PaidEditor's changes? Searching history to see who changed what is far too time-consuming. Peter Chastain (talk) 06:58, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
This sort of tagging is a form of vandalism. And here's what would happen if this ill-conceived rule were put in place: Paid Editing Companies A, B, and C pay employees 1 through 100 $5 each to make minor spelling and grammar changes to thousands of pages, with thousands of flags for "paid editing" for things like United States of America, Jimmy Wales, Republican Party (U.S.), democracy, ad infinitum. This proposal is extremist and very, very easily sabotaged. Carrite (talk) 16:37, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I support this language. I would add that if identifying in the edit summary is sufficient, this should be expedited with a check box in the edit window, "CHECK HERE IF YOU HAVE A FINANCIAL CONNECTION WITH THIS TOPIC" or some such wording. Then the edit summary could auto-mark (COI EDITOR) or something and their contributions could be very easily scrutinized. I actually think this should be a required thing in addition to a talk page or user page declaration, but the current language is satisfactory for now, from my perspective. Carrite (talk) 16:29, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Disclosure on the edit page should be a requirement for any paid edit; I would like to see some way for paid text to be identified within the article (who wants to have to read edit histories when all you wanted to do was look up a quick fact?), but I can't think of a way to do it that doesn't bring up all sorts of other problems. "Paid For By XYZ Corp." is a doorway for advertising within articles just waiting to get kicked open. Different font faces or colors can be overridden by accessibility software. Some percentage--I don't care to guess if it's high or low, but I'm confident that it's non-zero--of paid edits will be perfectly legitimate ones, and/or so minor (like spelling and punctuation corrections) that COI isn't a consideration. And deletions have no real way to be identified without putting something intrusive in the document to indicate that something isn't there anymore.
I consider the proposed TOU change to be a start, not a fix. I agree something stronger is needed; however, it's possible that may have to be on the enforcement side and not the disclosure side, or some other solution. Trdsf (talk) 00:55, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I simply want to lend my voice as one of support in that Wikipedia is one of the few unadulterated outlets on the web. Legal language aside, set the basic principle and keep it moving and leave it to the courts (which I generally trust) to decide. Tquinn8 (talk) 23:12, 23 February 2014 (UTC)Tom Quinn

- I certainly support the proposed changes. Paid editing not only presents a conflict of interest situation, it is obviously a situation where content may be entered into articles which the editor him(her)self does not even believe. this completely countervenes the purpose of Wikipedia.

If yet stronger changes become proposed, I would almost certainly support those also. I would probably be unhappy with weaker changes.

Mesmer1944 (talk) 21:31, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Details on why people oppose

Various oppose

Oppose "undisclosed"
-- 22:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)To the question of Use Terms of Use/Paid... the "undisclosed" part of this is the troublesome part to me. This seems to be a de facto ad. As such, I would think it should be clearly noted that it is paid. As to content, we as readers then can take this information and acknowledge it. However, since the bulk of this will come from industries, one can assume that they will NOT admit to negatives, albeit in mild form. So, as stated, with "undisclosed" editing, I oppose this.-- 22:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)VinDec28052

This discriminates against paid editors, unpaid editors can be just as biased

Saying that because non-paid groups/gangs can equally damage Wikipedia content, and unless all are taken care of we will not do anything about paid posters is like saying unless there is a cure for some X disease, i will not take medicine for some Y disease. Why not first cure wikipdia from the paid posters. Slowly and surely there will emerge ideas on how to protect wiki from other manipulators. Further the list of how and for what reason people will manipulate information will keep increasing as people discover newer and better ways of doing damage. So I think its best that step by step wikipedia must also begin defence against manipulation. 18:55, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

I strongly agree that paid bias is no worse and is often less than many other biases. Which means that this prosposal made is worthless, itself is biased against monetary value (as opposed to other values gained), and will do more harm than good! The only important aspects of Wikipedia articles are that they are self-consistent, non-contradictory with other articles, present the information as clearly as possible and as much as possible present all differences of opinion and evidence related to the subject of the article. The only way that I can see to ensure that this is always the case is constant reading and editing of articles to remove errors and to add such divergences. Discriminating only those who are paid to edit articles will not accomplish this, no more so would than requiring editors to divulge race, sex, gender, age, religion or political affiliation. Paulwakfer (talk) 19:49, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

People can have any number of motives (e.g. personal affinity for a product they enjoy using, ideological support for a political candidate, etc.) that give them what might be deemed a conflict of interest in editing Wikipedia, but for some reason people make a bigger deal out of it when the person is getting paid. Why is it worse to make edits for monetary gain than for non-monetary gain? It still comes down to personal gain.

The problem isn't gain, it is accuracy. If a product has earned your personal affinity by making you enjoy using it, that is a sort of objective information, whether your "bias" is disclosed or not. Inaccurate edits made by individuals can be balanced by counter edits from other individuals, although some pages are obviously kept "clean" by someone with an interest. Being paid to pump a product, or suppress information about a product, medicine, chemical, person or corporation will tend to be biased in one direction. Companies are springing up whose activity will be devoted to "controlling branding" on the web, making the current internet system of customer reviews useless in the near future. A company can devote time and energy that swamp unpaid editors. If we keep equating the spending of money with free speech, we are ignoring an obvious distinction and making it harder for people who are not supported by a corporate entity to exercise freedom of speech. The freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of your neighbor's nose, so to speak, and paid content in the intellectual commons destroys the commons for everyone else.Outis123 (talk) 19:43, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
The risk is that someone will hold a direct stake in something that violates w:WP:COI without actual euros/dollars/yen changing hands. Articles about websites, in particular, are bad for COI editing by the authors of those sites. For instance, an unpaid administrator on w:Wikia editing our article on w:Uncyclopedia, which forked a little over a year ago, is in just as much of a COI as any random paid Wikia staffer - but technically isn't paid editing. Perhaps we need to mention explicitly in the paid contributions policy that it applies in addition to any local COI policies to be clear? K7L (talk) 18:53, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Paying someone money to post content is a form of speech, just as buying your own computer and using it to post content is a form of speech. Why discriminate against the former, while allowing the latter? What is so great about personally editing Wikipedia, rather than using your time in a way that's a better fit with your comparative advantage, and then using the proceeds to hire an editor? It's just another form of specialization and division of labor; there's nothing inherently sinister about it.

Buying a computer to access the web allows you to access the web. Paying someone to do the same multiplies your capacity to access the web and impinges on the speech of those who are working as mere individuals. Outis123 (talk) 19:43, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

COI policy should probably be repealed in its entirety, because it boils down to an appeal to motive. People say, "Your edits are bad because you have a personal interest in the matter" when actually the edits could be perfectly good, and even superior to the edits that would have been made by a person who didn't have a personal interest in the matter. Edits should be judged on their own merits, not on the merits of the editor. Leucosticte (talk) 18:51, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree 100%, Leucosticte. An encyclopedia should rely on sources and neutral POV, rather than trying to divine the "motive" or "conflict of interest" of its editors, which is not only impossible, but unnecessary and even Orwellian. No editor is free of motive, whether or not he is paid for his edits. The propose policy makes everything more complicated and creepy. If the CEO of Exxon wants to clandestinely edit the article on global warming, then as long as his edits respect the rules, are well-sourced and neutral in POV, then it is preposterous to judge his edits on anything but their own merits, or to make him disclose his "interests," as if any human being on the planet could possibly spend time editing an online encyclopedia without having "interests." What next, should we all be forced to disclose our ethnicity, sexual orientation or preferences, income level, religion, and BMI? After all, all of these attributes certainly affect our "motives." Please Wikipedia, do not follow the rest of Web 2.0 down the abyss of the abolition of privacy. It will be your death. Retrocar66 (talk) 17:57, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't particularly think of paid editing as immoral or something. Maybe it should just simply be accepted, but fraud should of course be noted. George Slivinsky (talk) 19:05, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
To Leucosticte: You could equally say that judges in the justice system can have personal opinions and biases, so therefore they should not recuse themselves when there is a financial or other relationship-based conflict of interest. But that is not how the world works. Society recognizes financial and relationship-based conflicts of interest as a particularly intractable situation, above and beyond normal biases and personal opinions. Gigs (talk) 20:50, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
It's a little different when
Leucosticte, this proposal does not address the merits of any editor. The motivations of an editor, however, can come under scrutiny, even when there is no matter of pay. Conflict of interest needs to be declared, and accepting some form of compensation for edits creates an immediate interest that conflicts with Wikipedia's requirement of neutrality. The issue is not free speech either, as WP is not a forum for personal beliefs. As for "comparative advantages", they also do not belong in an encyclopedia, but in marketing material. Personal comparative advantages and interests and biases are addressed (and opposed) in a number of ways on WP, including WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS. Evensteven (talk) 21:07, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I wasn't talking about putting information about comparative advantages in the encyclopedia, but rather about people using information about their comparative advantages to decide whether it would be a most efficient use of labor to personally edit the encyclopedia or to delegate that task to someone else, with money possibly changing hands during this process. Also, the link to RIGHTGREATWRONGS leads to a page about original research; a paid editor doesn't necessarily put forth original research, nor does an unpaid editor necessarily refrain from putting forth original research. Leucosticte (talk) 20:43, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Of course there are other reasons why an editor may have a conflict of interest or a bias, but that is not reason for not taking action agaisnt this reason. It's like saying "We shouldn't have a law agaisnt burgalry, because tehre are other crimes that are just as bad or even worse, and we shouldn't discriminate against burglars." JamesBWatson (talk) 21:12, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that is the point. Paid editing is a way of achieving a goal, where "money talks". Other methods of editing reward perseverance, technical skills, having ample time to spend, research ability of facilities, social skills, and wikilawyering. If the editing goal is cromulent with the goals of the encyclopaedia then the type of "amplifier" used is irrelevant. And the same applies if it is not. No-one should be consistently breaking NPOV without community intervention.
The question we must ask here is this: Would a pseudo-legal requirement to declare paid editing materially assist the community in preventing harm to the projects, and if so would the assistance outweigh any problems caused?
Rich Farmbrough 23:41 20 February 2014 (GMT).

While there may be many reasons for an edit to be suspect, payment is an all-too-obvious factor for an unlimited quantity of suspect edits. Hence a "flag" is appropriate, possibly indexed, allowing review. I feel a standard boilerplate on the user page is appropriate, plus a "flag" on compensated changes (A "$" would be sufficient where editing contracts were one at a time. It IS discrimination, but the good kind. Are we go for "paid edits"?(MartinGugino (talk) 03:12, 22 February 2014 (UTC))

Oppose - From PR Perspective

As a senior manager of a PR company, I have been monitoring the situation with paid editing for a while. This dates back to the Wiki-PR issues last year. I am not a registered user (until now), but because of my job I need to understand it in depth and advise clients. I have major concerns about what this will do. The new proposal in effect is singling out COI, which is a great start. However where it seems to go wrong is focus in heavily on paid editing, which in my personal opinion is overkill. Paid editing isn't the problem, the COI laws are. People with ANY conflict of interest can do as they please as far as I'm concerned on Wikipedia, which causes huge problems for everyone in the community. Answer me this - how many times have you seen an edit war due to COI's bickering, without declaring they have a COI? Then compare this figure with how many times you've personally had problems with a paid editor. COI in general will be much higher.

Now for the reality check. I've read this page thoroughly and there are some great views. However, there are others who simply do not understand 'the real world'. Changing the terms of use on a website will not stop corporations from doing as they please. Let's look over the last few years as an example. One of the largest british newspapers closed its doors after allegedly phone tapping everyone from celebrities to kidnapped children (see News International phone hacking scandal) in order to be first to a story. Then theres the banks from the financial crisis of 2007, who pretty much pushed the entire world into recession for their own profits. The small companies aren't the problem or minor celebs, it's these companies who need convincing.

I feel from Wikipedia's perspective they could learn a lot from the saying 'keep your friends close, and your enemies closer'. At the moment there is a them and us attitude or at least seems to be. The PR industry and paid editing firms need to be consulted on this, maybe even behind closed doors so honest discussions can take place. Without the criticism of the entire community.

If Wikipedia moves forward with this, I would like to make a prediction. One off edits from accounts or IP addresses on pages will increase. For the simple reason this will scare the living daylights out of people and small time companies/paid editors who don't want to be caught will feel thats the only way. Unless the larger companies are embraced who carry out paid editing, this will become an even 'darker art'. You'll see more 'freelance wikipedia editors' popping up, and more will do this on the side to earn some cash from credible accounts. I don't understand how that will help anyone. It'll just make certain pages and paid editing situations much harder to manage or monitor as users will do everything in their power to avoid been associated as a paid editor. Currently, its easy to spot a paid editor, if this moves forward I predict you won't see more paid editors due to declarations, they'll simply become invisible.

Onto the proposal itself, I'm concerned about how the community as a whole will react to this. Paid editors have already mentioned that certain edits and pages they've worked on are 'watched or stalked' by certain editors. I think by focusing on COI and not just the paid editing side of things, would result in a more open community with less editing wars and controversy. Not only this, Mr. Wales supported the way BP added to their Wikipedia page. How was this form of editing received in the press? Not very well if you ask me, they got pulled apart for trying to edit their environmental record.

I think this needs some work before it becomes feasible.

As it is , I already look at any article e about an organization, commercial or non-profit, with the intention of removing bias and promotionalism whether from the organizations;s PR department, an outside paid editor, or a fan.
As I've already pointed out above (somewhere), the pay itself is not the central issue (I agree that far). But the influence that the pay generates is a problem. I grant that perfectly good and reasonable editing can be done for pay. So can completely unreasonable and subversive editing. (And both can be done without pay also.) The problem is that corporations are not editors, nor are they people. (The US Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over that matter, only over the law, about which I refer readers to Mark Twain.) In the past, encyclopedias have always been produced within some economic/commercial framework that made the effort possible through compensating those who did the work. Certainly it can be done. That is not the question here.
It's partly a question of culture. Some people enjoy making contributions (somewhere/here) freely, without concern for pay. They are not interested in becoming attached to yet another corporate structure. Nor are they interested in having to interact with corporate structures. As long as it remains person to person, it is, well, personal. And personally, I find dealing with corporations generally to be highly impersonal and quite regularly unpleasant. It's no wonder to me that they need PR departments. It's not the personal interactions with employees, understand? It's the wall of corporate policies and requirements that make demands and introduce hurdles and pressures and close doors and ... [rant discontinued]. The point is that as an individual editor, the joy of contributing goes out of the atmosphere as soon as one has to start dealing with entities instead of people. Sure, Wikipedia has its problems, and some that can kill the joy too. And yes, I don't really know that this proposal is going to do a lot to address the problems we're facing. But to be sure, paid editing is not part of the culture here. If it becomes so, or becomes accepted, the culture will change. Will Wikipedia end up being a good encyclopedia then? Perhaps, perhaps not. It depends on whether or not the corporations can manage to root out spin and whitewashing and all those other detractors to credibility. They might be able to, and perhaps not. That's not the point either. The point is that if they participate (through paid editors), the culture of Wikipedia will change. And the replacement culture will drive out those who do not wish to participate in it. It's anyone's guess what will remain.
It's well within the resources of a business consortium to create some sort of online encyclopedia of its own, with (or without) some of the open characteristics of Wikipedia in which to do the work. If businesses have such an interest, why do they not put their resources to that task? Invading Wikipedia's culture and method will continue to invite criticism and resentment from individuals who have already found an interesting and constructive environment in which to make a difference. Is the Internet so small that there cannot be two encyclopedias? What's more, the differences in the culture that would produce them will likely produce strengths in the one to address weaknesses in the other, and the world will be better off for having two rather than one. And if corporations put more effort into being compatible with the vast variety of individuals than they put into their public images, they would present a much more attractive face to the world. Evensteven (talk) 02:03, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

No. Less regulations, more freedom.

I can't believe u even mention anything from FTC - those people are useless. It's OK if advertisers make money off of their writings. We can correct an article if it's too flagrant. Dk pdx (talk) 19:06, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Can we judge it by its own merits rather than declare it as poisonous because of its source? -- Atama 20:46, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
We cannot judge it unless we know the background facts. That is what disclosure is about. Advertisers do not write encyclopedias. And judging too soon is a personal mistake that one can correct. Evensteven (talk) 21:12, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
That's totally fair. I don't object to that one bit, in fact a discussion about what instigated this proposal is both reasonable and helpful. But to dismiss it because it was at least inspired by feedback from or policies written by the FTC is not helpful. -- Atama 21:15, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
OK then be fair and require ALL editors to edit under their legally accountable name. Either we need the "background facts" on all editors or we don't.--Brian Dell (talk) 23:23, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Advertisements are about as useful as blogs. They should be removed if not verifiable. Articles that are written as advertisements should be locked and edited. Privacy should not be compromised for this because if they could advertise where there should have been fact then they can certainly lie. 19:05, 22 February 2014 (UTC)Privacy
  1. What is "FTC"?
  2. It may be OK if advertisers make money from their writings, but that does not automatically mean that it's OK for people to dishonestly hide the fact that their editing has the ulterior motive of promoting the intterests of a business, organisation or person, which is what this discussion is about.
  3. "We can correct an article if it's too flagrant": yes, but if it isn't "too flagrant" it can slip by unnoticed. JamesBWatson (talk) 21:16, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The Federal Trade Commission is a consumer protection group and independent US agency that put forth guides on digital disclosures for advertisers, and since the Wikimedia servers are in the US, they have jurisdiction over what happens on Wikimedia servers (I assume, I'm no lawyer or other kind of expert in that area). I first got wind of this kind of thing here which may provide some helpful background information. -- Atama 21:27, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
To very slightly oversimplify: the FTC has jurisdiction over what US companies do anywhere. They don't have jurisdiction over WMF (because we are a non-profit).
It might help to use a "traditional" media example: if you were a US company, and bought an advertisement in a newspaper, and the advertisement violated an FTC rule, the FTC would go after you, not the newspaper. So we're not worried about the FTC coming after us in this case. Hope that helps clarify. —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 01:13, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification LuisV. -- Atama 02:07, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Questions of context

Future of User Base

Do you think this will have an effect on further decreasing the user base of editors?

>implying this is a bad thing -BitterMan (talk) 18:24, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
There will likely be two effects here, going in opposite direction on the number of editors
  • Decreasing the number of paid editors and their socks (which will be good)
  • Increasing the number of non-paid independent editors, who dislike the nastiness that is very common among paid editors (also good)
Though both changes in the editor base would be good, the 1st effect (a decrease in the number of editors) will likely predominate in the short run, and the 2nd effect (an increase in the number of editors) will likely predominate in the long run. Smallbones (talk) 18:53, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure that paid editors are more likely to be nasty than unpaid CoI editors. Certainly being nasty is not an effective strategy for a CoI editor of any type - and we should ensure that it remains that way. (The situation with other editors is more variable, which is where the community fails to have a consistent standard.) Rich Farmbrough 20:00 20 February 2014 (GMT).
My experience is that the nastiest editors on Wikipedia, by far, are paid editors. Are you familiar with Mr. 2001? I think I'm limited by the rules in giving more specific examples. Smallbones (talk) 20:24, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I am not, is he still editing I wonder? Rich Farmbrough 22:50 20 February 2014 (GMT).
Yes, he is still editing despite being banned multiple times (including his sockpuppets) for clearly biased paid editing as well as general nastiness. Surprisingly enough, he has shown up below, using his best known name. BTW, on rereading this, it looks like I may have been trying to imply that you were Mr. 2001, which I did not mean at all to imply. Sorry if there was any confusion. Smallbones (talk) 00:59, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Uh... BitterMan, don't forget that the constant decrease in the population of editors is caused by many factors - in my case (and many people around me IRL, or on online social places), it's deletionism, and how it's exploited by a few users who spend their life on Wikipedia to force their views on what the world and Wikipedia should be. With that system, Wikipedia ends up being the encyclopedia of the Wikipedians, and the Wikipedians only - whoever spends the most time on it, gains the most influence and power, and decides what stays and what is deleted. I have a pretty decent knowledge of some very specific parts of a culture (that influenced a much larger culture and industry later), but I don't want to spend months (if not years) to force my way in, or use cheap tactics (recruiting an army of "contributors", only there to vote for my articles and edits - I saw it happened and work several times), so I quit. Several of friends/contacts irl and online told me a very similar story. I don't think this amendment will really hurt the user base of editors, it will just force paid editors to be more accurate and back up their claims/edits with serious source. -- 15:59, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Rule creep: What are the goals

There are a number of reasons that this ToU change (which I have much sympathy for) might be advanced. It is not clear, though, that the change necessarily addresses the issues it might be intended to. For example reputational issues for the projects are not well addressed (see the BP case - where much bad press was garnered, although this ToU would have been fully complied with - and indeed other cases of engineered bad press for the projects). The question of legal issues, though redounding upon the utterer of the statements rather than the Foundation or Community also seems moot. Indeed, by demanding disclosure, the Foundation may be making a rod for its own back in terms of not only record keeping, but liability for ensuring that disclosure is monitored and vetted in a sensible way (effectively the Foundation is proclaiming that all paid editing is declared).

I am very concerned that these types of rule creep miss the fundamental principles that Wikipedia and the other projects are founded upon. In this case "Is it a good edit?" If the edits are good, we should be happy, and that is an editorial decision. Where organisations or individuals have attempted to abuse the projects they should be prevented from doing so, regardless of their remunerative status (see, for example, the Scientology case). This is far better achieved by an active editing and reading community than by ToU requirements, which, frankly, are unlikely to be read by most users, less likely to be adhered to by those that create problems, and still less likely to be enforceable.

Rich Farmbrough 20:23 20 February 2014 (GMT).

Jimmy Wales: "There is a master plan to ban paid advocacy editing."

On Jimbo Wales Wikipedia talk page, Mr. Wales announced that this amendment is "the first step from the board in banning paid advocacy editing of all kinds."[2]

He later confirmed this intent by saying that "There is a master plan to ban paid advocacy editing."[3]

Why isn't the WMF Legal department being transparent about the true purpose of this proposed amendment?

Who has access to this master plan? What does it entail? Why does only Jimmy Wales seem to know anything about it? And why is there not a single mention of the master plan in this proposal? Just Cause (talk) 19:12, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't know of such a plan. Note that Jimmy was responding to a commenter on his talk page, who first used that phrase. I believe it was a figure of speech indicating that people who care about the projects are thinking about systemic ways to discourage paid advocacy. That has been true for years, and you can see the discussions about how this might happen on the English and German Wikipedias (see the 'further reading' links above), where this is an ongoing issue.
Advocacy -- in the sense of 'promotion of a biased view and suppression of notable opposing views' -- is unwelcome on all projects that uphold NPOV. Paid advocacy is distinguished by the scale and leverage of the problem: wealthy clients can hire large numbers of contributors to continue an editing or astroturfing campaign for years. While there have been efforts to limit this, it is not easy to do so in ways that don't also limit constructive contribution.
To my knowledge, the legal team has been transparent and precise in drafting this proposal. It is what it appears to be: an effort to clarify how contributors can avoid misrepresenting by omission their affiliation, if they are paid to contribute. This aligns with US and EU guidelines on fair commercial practices. It is not clear to me that this would limit advocacy any more than current project policies do. SJ talk  03:47, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, Wales deserves a break there, he was obviously being figurative. But Sj, to be fair, the transparency has also been a bit foggy. This is not to help contributors. It's for WMF legal to have a new weapon to go after Wiki-PR and similar. For or against, that's what it is. The further effect is that paid editors will be put in a bind of either hanging a target on themselves, which will have disfavored ones relentlessly hounded until they are driven off since it's not worth the hassle or slip up and give their attackers enough ammunition for a ban, versus not disclosing to avoid the grief and then being hammered for terms-of-use violation. Again, whether one believes that's a good thing or a bad thing, it's the result. Part of the reason there's a lot of confusion in this discussion is an unwillingness among many to be blunt about it, and then using phrasing that's very easy to misread as a "safe harbor" for paid editors. Again, that "safe harbor" misreading is completely mistaken, but it's an understandable mistake to make from the way the amendment is being justified as somehow intended to be beneficial to some paid editors (the ethical ones, of course). In the current environment, it's laugh-out-loud ludicrous to imply this is going to help anyone who falls under it. At best, it won't hurt people in WMF-approved cases like the GLAM projects, since they're not for banning. But those outside such approval are going to be considered fair-game. Once more, favor or oppose this, it would be useful to avoid any implication that it's something else. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 23:50, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Diskussion in anderen Sprachen / discussion in other languages

Im Artikel steht: "Übersetzungen in die deutsche, französische, spanische, italienische und japanische Sprache sind ebenfalls verfügbar; die Gemeinschaft wird ermutigt, den Änderungsvorschlag auch in andere Sprachen zu übersetzen und zu besprechen." Wo findet die Diskussion in den anderen Sprachen statt?

The article mentions the discussion in other languages - where can i find these discussions? --LichtStrahlen (talk) 09:23, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Moin LichtStrahlen, wie immer bei LCA-Konsultationsverfahren kann der jeweilige Textvorschlag auf der jeweils verlinkten zentralen Diskussionsseite - in diesem Fall diese Seite - in allen gaengigen Sprachen debattiert werde. Das ermoeglicht einerseits die thematischen Faeden zusammenzuhalten und erleichtert andererseits den Uebersetzern die Mitwirkung. Beste Gruesse, --Jan (WMF) (talk) 09:28, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Bitte einfügen, wer WIR ist: WMF legal department/ein Vorschlag der WMF Rechtsabteilung. --Wir sind (talk) 09:44, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Die Frage stellte ich schon weiter oben unter der Überschrift "POV". Offenbar handelt es sich um die Rechtsabteilung der Foundation, die hier die Grundwerte der Wikipedia mit Füßen tritt. Wie immer nach schlechter Presse in den USA kommt bei Herrn Wales, der um Spendengelder fürchtet, Aktionismus auf. Noch schlimmer - das geht das weiter an die Gardner'sche Foundation, die nich nie gezeigt hat, daß es sie scheren würde, was denn die Community geht. Wer diese ominösen Leute sind, die angeblich laut dem Antragstext so viele Probleme haben und sehen, wird ja nie erklärt. Aber man will hier ja eh nicht wrklich Feedback. Zumindest kein der eigenen Initiative widersprechendes. Typisches Foundation-Fegenblatt. Marcus Cyron (talk) 13:25, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Da würde ich nicht so sicher sein, das das "Legal Team" eigentlich ganz allein auf die Idee gekommen ist, so eine Sache in die ToU rein zu bringen. Just sayin'. notafish }<';> 16:47, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Unter "Geltendes Recht" ist bitte welches Recht zu verstehen? Dceonline (talk) 10:07, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Natürlich US-Recht. Die WMF kümmert doch eh kein anderes, es sei denn, es könnte dach mal teuer werden. Marcus Cyron (talk) 13:25, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Nicht ganz. Der Entwurf nennt auch europäische Gesetze, welche die Diskussion betreffen. Es gibt aber offensichtlich keinen europäischen Präzedenzfall, etwa ein Statement von einer europäischen Kartellbehörde. Ich habe den Eindruck, der Entwurf betrifft uns ebenso wie die Amerikaner. - Dragon Legacy (talk) 14:49, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Dies ist ein Erweiterungsvorschlag der Rechtsabteilung fuer die Nutzungsbedingungen. Mithin sollte klar sein, dass "wir" auf das Anwaltsteam referiert und die anwendbaren Rechtsordnungen die im zu erweiternden Dokument angegebenen sind ("Sie für Ihre sämtlichen Beiträge, Bearbeitungen und Weiternutzungshandlungen nach dem Recht der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika sowie anderen anwendbaren Rechtsordnungen (darunter gegebenenfalls denjenigen des Landes, in dem Sie leben oder Inhalte betrachten bzw. bearbeiten), verantwortlich sind.") Gruss, --Jan (WMF) (talk) 15:37, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Das Problem der mehrsprachigen Diskussion

This page is clearly not working for multilingual discussion. Out of two hundred comment sections and four hundred votes, we have two short sections in German, one in portuguese, two manifestos by the same user in french-and-english, and one comment in Japanese noting how hard it is to contribute to this all-English page.

An interim option: having a separate talk-page for each of a few major language groups (de, en, es+it+pt, fr, ja, pl, ru, zh), and one talk page for all other languages. You can transclude all of the non-en talk pages onto a single page for easy review; but that lets readers and writers from those languages immediately find and talk to one another about the proposal. (A reason to have each of those language-specific pages on Meta is that cross-wiki transclusion doesn't yet work.)

We could also ask language-ambassadors from each language (starting with the translators) whether there is discussion on their home wikis. And we should make it easy for them to find very-short versions of FAQ and Q&A sections that they can translate for their own talk pages. SJ talk  09:06, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Well, I already have put a different German system in place with Southpark (linked in the section below) but in general and based on past experiences of consultations I am in favor of keeping what we got for the time being. As far as I can tell, this is very much a German-English issue when it comes to mobilization and mushrooming the number of Meta pages dealing with it tends to stir up confusing among the occasional visitors already troubled by navigating Meta as it is. --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 14:59, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
Nutzungsbedingungen zu bezahlten Beiträgen
Weitere Diskussion in DEWP.

Does this only cover deceptive practices?

Forgive me in advance if this is a daft question, but IANAL.

Is this amendment intended only to cover deceptive practices (such as deliberately concealing or misrepresenting one's affiliation)? If it's intended to stamp out things like WikiPR's stealth editing on behalf of paying clients, then I'm all in favour of it. However, I do worry that good faith contributions by employees and volunteers for GLAM institutions may also be covered, and that's not a good thing. Can I be given some assurance that this clause isn't going to be used to swat a librarian or museum curator who thinks they're doing the right thing by uploading some pictures of items in their collection, but is not aware that they need to make a full declaration of their affiliation, with the full force of the WMF legal department? Basically, punishing deliberate deception I am fine with, punishing honest mistakes or omissions I'm not.

Also, will previous contributions be covered, or only contributions made after the date this is included in the TOU? For instance, would a GLAM employee who made edits at the behest of their employer in 2013 be required to disclose this affiliation now in 2014? Craig Franklin (talk) 12:35, 20 February 2014 (UTC).

I don't think it's a bad thing to include GLAM, and I think it's necessary in order to have a coherent policy. As with most things, we shouldn't be punishing good faith efforts that happen to break a rule, we should just tell the person about the rule and how they can not break it in the future, whether GLAM or otherwise. GLAM outreach people should educate on this topic as well, the same way they educate about all of the other intricacies of Wikipedia such as licensing. I have seen some GLAM outreach editors making pre-emptive disclosures on en:WP:COIN even without a foundation-wide policy, and I think that's a good thing. Gigs (talk) 16:39, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Common sense is common sense. If you're willing to come down hard on good faith contributors who make a mistake without any prior warning or guidance, you have a bigger problem than this amendment. You'll already be driving away contributors. -- Atama 16:41, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi Craig Franklin, your question is completely legitimate and smart.  :) Like all provisions of the terms of use, we would work constructively with members of our community who are operating in good faith consistent with the mission and traditions of our movement. In this case, if a community member failed to comply as an oversight, we might provide a gentle reminder, for example. :) We might be less forgiving with respect to companies and firms actively hiding their paid editing from our volunteer community and doing this in knowing violation of the TOU, since such actions put an unreasonable, unacceptable burden on our volunteers who help ensure our projects meet the highest standards. I personally would see such deceitful activity asbr>I suppose it could be argued that editors should be expected to declare any potential COI of this sort. But that might be both impractical and undesirable. In particular, one would scarcely want to discourage direct editing of articles by academics who only have a theoretical (borderline) COI. But where to draw the line... Perhaps a few more words are necessary as to what sort of services (or goods) are intended? MistyMorn (talk) 19:13, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi MistyMorn. Yes, I've thought a bit about this and I see your point. In the end, I think it will not be possible to find a perfectly exact formulation, which is a fault of language in general. But maybe there is a better phrase. I would be interested in hearing other phrasing proposals that might address your concerns, if you have time. Otherwise, I will continue thinking about this to see if there is a way of tightening the language. Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:05, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi. Hmmm, maybe other more legally-savvy contributors have some suggestions? MistyMorn (talk) 20:09, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I suppose a possible approach could be to provide a few well-chosen representative examples of what would and would not be considered "paid editing" in terms of received services, goods etc (though I have no idea of the legal implications of this). —MistyMorn (talk) 20:46, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I like this idea. We could include more examples in the FAQs. I'm putting it on the list of changes to make this week. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:22, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I'll preface this by saying that I like the proposal here, and see it as well-worded and balanced. But I have a related question about defining "compensation". Let's say that an editor owns stock in a company. They are not in any way employed by the company or otherwise affiliated with it. If they were to edit the page about that company, they might be in a position to benefit materially if the value of the stock were to increase (or if they prevented the value from decreasing), but that isn't really "compensation" as it is defined here. My reading of the proposed language is that disclosure would not be required; is that correct? Furthermore, someone might own, for example, a mutual fund that has holdings in a company, and in good faith not even know that the company is held in the mutual fund. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:47, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I would like to hear from others, but I think you are right: the proposed amendment would not cover this. My concern is having a definition that is too broad and rendered ineffective accordingly. My rough reasoning: if the definition solves 70% of the challenge, I think individual projects can address the remaining scenarios in their own COI policies as appropriate for that project. I'm just concerned about having a block of legalese text that nobody understands, and, as a result, implementation becomes problematic. Your point is a good one, though. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:22, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

No, please. We're talking WP policy here, not a legal document. Enforcement is by the community. Just make the policy cover the general ground. Evensteven (talk) 21:15, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

The definition is partially based on the concept of consideration (though not as comprehensive). I think this is an interesting point, but to ensure better clarity (as discussed above), I might not go that route. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:22, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually we are talking a legal document. And a very long (overly long) one at that, partly modelled on the topsy like ToS's of a thousand other websites, and only somewhat ameliorated by community involvement. Rich Farmbrough 23:46 20 February 2014 (GMT).

I agree that this is vague and subject to interpretation, but from a different angle. One's employment affiliation is usually unambiguous. What seems more vague to me is if mere employment constitutes presumed conflict of interest or if editing Wikipedia needs to be part of the job description. For scientific and technical entries one would expect the most up to date profiting unfairly from the reputation of our sites due to the hard work of our volunteers.

I am following the conversation about GLAM, and want to reflect on and discuss internally some comments made so far. But maybe I can underscore that, as presently foreseen, the disclosure requirement for GLAM participants who are paid to edit our projects would be fairly minimal: the disclosure may be on one's user page and it may simply be a reference to the program that is compensating the GLAM member for their editing. I tend to agree with Gigs that that disclosure makes sense for a few reasons, including the promotion of our GLAM initiatives. Indeed, in putting together this amendment, we studied the GLAM initiatives and found them to be a model of fair disclosure. I would of course be interested in any draft language that may address the GLAM concern, if anybody has ideas on that.
This specific proposed amendment would not be retroactive, so it would not apply to past edits. (Of course, we would have no say on violations that might run afoul of other provisions of the TOU, laws or community policies that are independent and already in place.)
Thanks for the helpful and thoughtful questions as we think through these issues. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:57, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure what the "punishment" would be, over and above those actions that the community would normally take to protect the project in question. Rich Farmbrough 22:22 20 February 2014 (GMT).
In appropriate egregious cases, WMF legal could send cease and desist letters, seek injunctive relief, and even ask for damages in court. That might be appropriate, for example, when a company is intentionally violating the terms of use repeatedly, is putting unreasonable burden on our volunteer administrators and check users, and is motivated financially to circumvent community policies and hide their practices. Geoffbrigham (talk) 00:42, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I would be inclined to welcome identification of paid editors on behalf of GLAM -- for example, edits to articles on art glass by someone employed by the Toledo Museum of Art are coming from someone working for an institution with a particular reputation in that area. And while the TMA has a vested interest in protecting their reputation, that's going to be best done by presenting the best scholarship, not the best spin. The difference between corporate and advocacy paid editors and GLAM paid editors is that the latter are representing organizations that are in the "business" of the preservation, study and maintenance of access to correct and accurate information, rather than in the privatization and "management" of and profiting from it.
Furthermore, while (for examples) Coca-Cola might have a financial interest in sharpening a criticisms section on Pepsi's page, what possible benefit is there for an editor from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to go after, say, the Air Force Museum at Wright-Paterson AFB? Certainly I will agree that there is competition between GLAM organizations for visitors and donors, but it does seem to be of a different nature than corporate competition for customers, or advocacy competition for supporters.
And I would like to know if someone from the Toledo Museum has been tweaking their own page to obscure or soften critical information, same as I would like to know if someone from Governor Kasich's campaign staff has been doing so to his page, or someone from Goodyear has been doing theirs. I don't think it's likely, but it's not impossible, and inclusion of GLAM in disclosure may be a suitable disincentive.
So I think including GLAM in disclosure is a good thing for the community, and for the GLAM editors -- I'd feel better knowing edits are coming from someone representing an organization that is responsible for the study, maintenance, conservation, and dissemination of the relevant material. Unlike corporate and advocacy edits, the employer in this case generally has an interest in ensuring that the changes they make are the most accurate, not the most favorable. Trdsf (talk) 19:30, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Rewording and revisions

Rewording this amendment to benefit the 'AVERAGE USER'

While this point has been brought out throughout this debate, I think that it is important enough to warrant a section of it's own.

The proposed amendment includes the following clauses, detailing the potential 'methods of disclosure'.

      a statement on your user page,
       a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or
       a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.

While the proposed amendment does state the above as methods of disclosure, these would NOT be immediately obvious to the casual user of Wikipedia (of which there are many). A big chunk of the population who do use Wikipedia as their 'go-to' encyclopaedia do not have a thorough knowledge of computing (i.e- They are not 'Tech-savvy').

As such, it would be in the best interests of those users that paid benefactors be required to disclose these 'sponsored edits' in a much more prominent manner.

I would suggest something along the lines of the following

  • a different formatting or style for the text comprising the SPONSORED EDIT
  • a disclosure upon the page (viewable by all) that this article has section edited by a PAID CONTRIBUTOR.

In addition, as mentioned elsewhere, we really do need a strong way of enforcing this amendment. But, for a start, the amendment in itself is a good step forward. Else, if we choose to 'embrace' these undisclosed paid edits or recognize them as the norm, this would undoubtedly lead to major repercussions in the future. After all, most exploits in today's legal system didn't develop overnight, but rather through systematic abuse of loopholes and the like throughout the ages. So, on a closing note... kudos to those who proposed this amendment.

I agree with this goal. Not yet sure about details of exactly how to show it but it needs to be easily visible to everybody. This is the same as the topic below on EU "disclosure" law, which (at least in this case) is based on common sense. Alan24 (talk) 12:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps we could introduce something along the lines of an 'accuracy rating' as well (where verified wikians, who have proven themselves to be solid, true to form editors can vote on the accuracy of an article). This solution is just an early draft and would need several edits in order to be truly viable (and prevent unscrupulous editors/ corporations from beating the system and abusing it). -- 14:18, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I also believe that while this may be similar to the EU law section, this issue warrants it's own topic (separate from the legal justification for putting this). It is as mentioned above, common sense. -- 14:21, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Mostly no -- I agree that the edit being paid for is what should be obvious rather than the whole article be suspect, but not as an article appearance thing since (a) readers are not going to know that <diff text> means paid and there will be no easy / obvious way to discover that, and (b) the article will wind up a helter-skelter of norm words <paid word> plain <paid word> <word paid by diff company> ... and when a non-paid person redoes a section it all becomes plainword. Markbassett (talk) 15:11, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Paid Contributor provides a clear message than the details of who paid, which could be obscured with all manner of organization names, like The Foundation for a Better American Understanding of this Patriotic Issue.

Text that need to be flagged as "PAID", for the reader, should instead be deleted. (MartinGugino (talk) 03:47, 22 February 2014 (UTC))

The user who wrote the beginning of this section above called for more prominent identification of paid edits. While I agree that such edits should be easily visible, I think it is very important to do so in a uniform way. I propose that we add a checkbox next to the "Minor Edit" and "Watch this page" options to include a "paid edit" checkbox. If we put in a checkbox, then the mediawiki software can intelligently identify those edits and list them up. Furthermore, I think we should require the disclosure be in just one place, s users don't have to fish around for it: The disclosure should be on a user's own user page, specifying what the financial interest is. So if you were paid by a law firm to edit a law firm page, you check the box when you edit the page, but you don't check the box when you edit other pages. If you are a business owner and you edit your own page, you check the box if you edit that page, and so on, but not on other pages, and so on. --Rustyfence (talk) 04:20, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Restate amendment in simple english

About me:

I am not a serious contributor to this site, although, I use it every day without fail. I have never donated money to it. I love this site and cannot imagine life without it.

I believe the amendment is in all good faith to stop "bad people" from doing "bad things" and I will not comment in the discussion topic on whether it is a good idea or not. I only suggest that the current wording of the TOU Amendment are too complicated and too similar to the legalese double speak used in government/corporations and other failing institutions.


Before I continue with my suggestion, I will point out that you may argue against what I suggest by saying "why do they not come to the discussion page" and this would be a fully rational and expected question to ask. I believe in wikipedia and what it does, I believe that wikipedia makes the world a better place and I also believe that wikipedia is one of the most humanlike technologies in existence.

Human beings do not talk like this: "These Terms of Use prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation"

They talk like this: "Wikipedia and its user base will do everything in its power to stop people who want to misinform others"

The latter may be slightly too "stupid" to be used as a final version, but I only wrote it like that to illustrate my thoughts.


Hopefully by now you have realized I suggest we must simplify the introduction page and change the wording into plain english. I suggest this because more users then ever before are using this site, those users are not the kinds of people who usually get involved in anything and they are not the kinds of people who go to university. The page has been up for 12 days, since 11 February, and it will be up until, I believe, March 21. All of these new users will slowly come onto this page, attempt to read it and many things will happen after their attempt at reading it; they may give up because it is too complicated and not take part, they may misunderstand the wording and vote against something that they would have supported, they may misunderstand the wording and vote for something they would not have supported, they may get fed up trying to understand and do something destructive or do nothing at all.

The intro page is not completely clear and most users will not have the desire to come and read through the gigantic Talk Page, many of them may vote without bothering to go through the whole talk page to figure out what is going on. I see people asking questions such as,

Does the proposed amendment include spouses and other family members?

How will this be enforced?

Can it even be enforced?

Clearly these people do not understand what is going on and it looks like less than 500 have voted, most of those voted in the 2 days before I posted this. Soon many more will come to this page, attempt to read through the introduction, look at the talk page and immediately lose the desire to read it and finally they will either leave and not contribute or worse they will contribute not knowing what they are doing. In fact, I have spent a little over an hour going over the talk page and I feel as confused as when I had to choose between gore and bush, that is a bad thing.


Let us be a beacon shining for the rest of the world, as wikipedia is supposed to be, as I believe it is, help edit the introduction page for the amendment to speak to a human as a friend would. A friend who is telling another being what is going on and why it is happening. It must tell them in a very short sentence in clear and small words what is going on and why it is happening. It should be less than a few paragraphs at the bottom, it should probably be named summary, restating the entirety of the FAQ in short sentences that will keep people with 5 second attention spans from going cross-eyed. It must address the questions that have been asked in the talk page

Note: I am sorry if I broke any rules or edited this incorrectly, I usually do not take part in anything and am simply adding what I believe is a necessary addition.Peoplez1k (talk) 06:12, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Proposed rename and revision: Focus on COI, not payment

Please rename the amendment to "COI amendment" with content as follows:

COI contributions without disclosure
These Terms of Use prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud. To ensure compliance with these obligations, you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia projects for which you are in conflict of interest, including but not limited to you:
  • receiving compensation from an interested entity
  • representing an interested entity
You must make that disclosure in at least one of the following ways:
  • a statement on your user page,
  • a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or
  • a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.
Applicable law, or community and Foundation policies, such as those addressing conflicts of interest, may further limit paid contributions or require more detailed disclosure. For more information, please read our background note on disclosure of paid contributions (XXX FIXME)).


Some people have COI without receiving compensation, for example, volunteer members of a non-profit. Some other people edit in free time at their work, which is paid editing, but not conflict of interest unless they write about the product their employer sells.

Gryllida 01:55, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Disclosure and notification

There should be a single place to make the disclosure - any form or disclosure, monetary or otherwise. The disclosure instance should then be traceable by way of it being associated with a tag of some form that links the components of the disclosure - its type, value, the user, what its for, etc... Then the one disclosure instance can be seen not only in context with relevant information, but also summarised and tabulated for analysis. Otherwise there is just some wishy washy statement made, these all add up and cannot be traced.... It could work with a small button. Click it and a disclosure form pops up and a 'footnote' that is really a 'disclosure' note is logged as a small symbol or point even in the middle of text or near it without being too intrusive.

Another way to disclose: via a signature

There are situations where regular wikipedians get paid for certain edits over a certain period of times. It would be god if they could add the brief employer detail (or a brief information on payment) in signature. And remove that when they do regular edits. --Rahmanuddin (talk) 18:31, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Rahmanuddin. This is a good point. We had a previous internal draft that said the disclosure could be in the signature line as a parenthetical reference - something like "Joe Smith (Acme Corp.)." But some projects don't allow that practice so we ended up not including it in this draft. If you or others have views on this, I would find that interesting. Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:10, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Geoff, I recently started a discussion on the en OTRS noticeboard that I hoped would be the first step toward changing the "promotional username" policy on en. Unfortunately no OTRS volunteers have commented on it as of yet. If we can get OTRS on board, I think we can do the change. Please see that conversation because an interesting exchange regarding corporate copyright issue that could use your feedback is there. Gigs (talk) 20:47, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
This is also an interesting approach for marking individual article edits. I would consider it to be beneficial to require the signature disclosure for any paid edit. Evensteven (talk) 20:53, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I have suggested below that we might want to add a fourth way to disclose. Something like: "any other similarly effective method of disclosure permitted by the project in which the edit or contribution takes place." Maybe that is a possible solution - at least for the projects that allow signature line disclosures of affiliations. Geoffbrigham (talk) 06:09, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
The promotional user name policy (whereby users who include their company name in their account name are instantly blocked and asked to come back with another user name that makes no reference to the name of the company they are working for) has always been one of the main obstacles to transparency. It really needs to go, fast. Andreas JN466 20:44, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
That username policy is one that only a few wikis have, and I also see it as an obstacle to transparency. We should revisit & get legal input on a set of related policies: not allowing role-usernames (something done purely for legal reasons), not allowing group accounts (ditto), and not allowing company names in usernames (a hybrid of this idea and ideas of promotion). SJ talk  06:43, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Add a fourth way to disclose

I believe this amendment lacks a very obvious way to disclose the kind of COI mentioned in it - which is in the edit itself, i.e. adding relevant information to the page itself.

Of course, on Wikipedia that wouldn't work, because that project doesn't want such notices in its articles. I am thinking of contests such as Wiki Loves Monuments. If a user wins a prize there, they technically fall under this amendment because they've received something for uploading a file to Commons. Fortunately, the WLM wizard adds a "this file was uploaded as part of WLM" template, which should be sufficient. Otherwise you'll be "criminalizing" everyone who wins a prize there but forgets to note that fact on the file talk page. That is clearly not what anybody wants to do. darkweasel94 (talk) 00:11, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Darkweasel - Above I made a suggestion that we might want to include a 4th bullet in the proposed amendment. This is my comment reproduced here:
I will want to discuss a bit more with my legal team, but I think I would be open to a 4th bullet that gives discretion to the project on how to disclose; that said, the project would not have the option to eliminate such a disclosure requirement (as could be explained in an FAQ). Maybe something like this: - any other similarly effective method of disclosure permitted by the project in which the edit or contribution takes place. Geoffbrigham (talk) 05:24, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if that would address your concerns. Geoffbrigham (talk) 01:14, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I think it would fix this issue. darkweasel94 (talk) 10:27, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
OK, thanks. Let's give it a few more days so I can see what others think. I appreciate your raising the point. Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:45, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Amongst the welter of ideas, some of them very thoughtful, here is one that is readily actionable. Thank you for suggesting it Darkweasel94, and thank you for spotting it Geoff. This approach could be applied to the file description pages of uploaded media generally. Some Commons image attributions (I remember some concerning cosmetic surgery) are so keen to disclose affiliation that they amount to being promotional. I see no way towards requiring disclosure without the risk of it being promotional as well. Thincat (talk) 16:49, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Create a "Paid Editor" user attribute

I think a better solution would be to add a "paid editor" attribute to the user preferences with multiple text fields, one for each employer. This would allow an icon to be added automatically next to a user's signature rather than a written explanation after each entry. Clicking and/or hovering over the icon could bring up the details entered in the attributes text field. Though I personally don't feel it would be necessary to specify which employer contracted for the edit in the case of multiple employers as I suspect that would be obvious in most cases, a check-box for each employer could be presented when "save page" is pressed. This would also cover instances where paid editors are doing unpaid edits on their own (they would select "none").

Additionally, I would like to see the "paid editor" icon at the top or bottom of any page that has been contributed to by a paid editor, and clicking on this icon should bring up a list of all paid editors and their employers for easy reference. I believe this would also satisfy instances such as the "Unfair Commercial Practices Directive" example given under "Illegal in EU" topic subheading posted earlier today. KADC "Be unreasonable." (talk) 21:28, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Interesting ideas, KevinADCarter. Given our other technology priorities at WMF, I doubt we will be able to develop anything like this immediately unfortunately. This is why the proposed amendment tries to list existing possibilities within our present technology for disclosing honestly one's affiliation. That said, your proposal is creative and intriguing. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:38, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I had, if I'm understanding Kevin right, the same basic idea. I sign my edits unless its a grammar correction or something equally mundane; it would be easy enough to add, say, a currency symbol after the four tildes to indicate "I was paid for doing this edit".

Of course the closest I've come to getting paid for an edit so far is a guy kept me supplied with cold beer and cheese sticks while I worked on an article, so this isn't going to affect me much. But it should be made simple to do for those who will need to reveal it, on the principle that easier compliance brings more compliance.Dismalscholar (talk) 05:26, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Well it's true that if we accept "paid editors" only to bring them with more editing rights than other regular editors, we are going in the wrong way.
For me the term "paid editor" should be meant only to bring them access to editing at least equal to those with enough money, or to bring online some contents that are highly desirable but that would otherwise be missing completely if nothing else was done to bring them online (for example, due to lack of money to finance the project in small libraries, museums or cultural institutions, or because these documents also need restoration before being scanned and brought online for better conservation (e.g. old photos, endangered movie films, deteriorating books because of moisture or chemical effects in bad quality modern paper and oxydating inks...).
If is acceptable to pay even more for helping restorung the oldest and rarest endangered documents than it is to take new photos of monuments existing today.
Some articles are really complex to write as it requires deciphering lots of sources, possibly translating them, and requires lot of time to search various sources, find contacts to check various things. Some of these contacts will occur offline, in real life, or by phone, sometimes by costly postal mails or official paper procedures, and sometimes we need to pay a few pennies just to get access to a copy of a document (because this payment also helps preserving them in the public store).
The contributor may need to pay for his own transportation to te place where the document will be consulted, or the snapshot taken. All these efforts may exceed what a regular user can safely donate alone, and if he decides to work in team, the team will require coordnation and organisation that also needs some startup financial boost to start working efficiently with practical means of communication adapted to their real conditions of work for their common topic of interest.
So let's see the initial payments only like the initial seed or fertilizer that will allow later to collect and renew the experience without even needing more money: the user or group will already have enough interest to work efficiently that he will continue in good conditions and will interest other people ready to join them to share this topic of interest.
For this reason, payments for individual contributors or on isolated topics should not be renewed, unless the contributor demonstrates that more work is needed and really requires more funding, and also demonstrates that the initial payment was both productful and enough efficient compared to other similar projects working with similar conditions.
The programs evaluation toolkit should then become a mandatory part of the work that needs to be completed along with the work directly related to the topic. Both works do not need to be completed simultaneously, but the delay between them should not be excessive, and individual workers should at least produce a report at most 2 months after the planned end of their project, or 2 months before renewing their demand, so that this report can be scrutinized (and questioned) in time without forcing the project to stop for too long (and loosing its supporters).
We want to avoid excessive bureaucracy, yes, because it also generates its own cost taken on other projects. That's why we should automate most of this bureaucracy so that it won't take lots of efforts and time to complete it. As long as it remains a few percents of the total efforts of the project, it is worth the efforts invested to do it, because it will also allow wasting lot of money in inefficient projects. In rela lige we call this "management", it is unavoidable and in fact necessaryt for full transparency and coordination of efforts, and in fine to produce MORE contents, or contents with better quality, or to interest more people by allwing the work to be split and reviewed by more people to correct undetected errors (every one makes errors, even the best experts). verdy_p (talk) 00:28, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
The (mandatory) Paid Editor user attribute should automatically add the notation "Paid editor" to all edit summaries. That would allow people like me, who see ourselves as "quality control" editors, to use automated tools (perhaps similar to en:wp:STiki) to look at edits by paid editors. The user attribute should be in addition to a more informative disclosure on the user page. Peter Chastain (talk) 07:44, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I haven't done bot development, but would it not be possible to simulate something like this by, say, having a "Paid Editor" template on a userpage that bots look for? Otherwise, I think this is a pretty nice idea that could help resolve the inevitable issues between paid-to-make-better and paid-to-astroturf. --Viqsi (talk) 15:21, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

User page disclosure ineffective

I feel like putting it on their user page shouldn't be an option, How many users even visit editors user pages? I know that I've only been to like 5 people's user pages, and I feel like allowing paid "shills", to whatever effect they're individually shilling should be out in the open, put it in the edit comment I say. Bumblebritches57 (talk) 07:38, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

YES. The detail should go on user page but some tag should be required in any edits to flag motivation ( other than simply improving WP ) may be present. 08:02, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

and/or, affiliation

Without going into the proposal as a whole (where I'm not yet convinced either way), I would like to discuss the following: "you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation". Two issues:

  1. What does 'affiliation' mean in this sentence? I thought I had a good knowledge of English, but I would have no idea what my affiliation would be
    Good question. It would be the company or person associated with you and the edits you are making for compensation who may not be your employer or client. For example, if you own a PR company, you need to disclose your client and your PR firm. Some may argue that you are not technically "employed" by the PR firm, but you are "affiliated" to it. That said, I understand if these sounds too much like legalese, so, if you have a better formulation, I would be interested in hearing it. Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:42, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  2. Should that 'and' not be 'or'? Suppose I work 3 days a week for company X, and in the other time am a freelance writer, sometimes writing Wikipedia articles for companies. The way it is written now, it seems that if company Y pays me to create some page, I have to mention all of company X, company Y and my affiliation (whatever that is). Surely there is no need to divulge company X in that case? - Andre Engels (talk) 10:37, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
    No, I don't believe so, Andre Engels (but it is a good question). You only need to reveal the employer, client or affiliation associated with the paid edits. So, if only company Y is paying you to edit, you need to only disclose company Y. The use of the word "and" requires you to disclose your employer, client and affiliation, but only if those three are associated with the paid edits. Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:42, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I would like to see a wording that includes a direct affilation without monetary payment. The wording should, imo, include unpaid edits made on demand i.e. by companies' interns/trainees, as well as self-portrayals. --Martina Nolte (talk) 20:24, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Disclosures: Not a lot of use

As a Wikipedia user, I don't see how any of the three proposed disclosures (user page, talk page or edit summary) is going to enable me to identify paid-for content while I am reading an article. 20:48, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

... remember also that content on many talk pages is shunted off into archive after a while, at which point it becomes effectively lost except to anyone specifically looking for it. 21:11, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
We don't want to advertise paid-for content, nor should we. Presumably, the paid-for content is being vetted by neutral editors to be sure that it complies with policies and guidelines, and that in particular it's not unduly promotional. In which case, why poison the article with a notice that a paid editor was involved with it somehow? -- Atama 21:13, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
You want paid-for content to be disclosed, yet you don't want readers to be aware of the disclosure? That doesn't make any sense at all. 23:48, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree entirely with the IP editor. Atama's comment, if not disingenuous, is naive in the extreme. Even utterly blatant promotion sometimes goes undetected for years, and more subtle examples, skillfully camouflaged by professional spammers, can be very hard indeed to detect. JamesBWatson (talk) 21:30, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Then why not put a banner at the top of each Wikipedia site with a disclaimer that any page could have been edited by a paid editor, because they can easily fly under the radar. What does that achieve except to delegitimize the whole project? Am I naïve to think that I should waste my time when anything I do is potentially undone by sneaky paid advertisers? I hope you see the uselessness and damage such tags will bring. Fortunately, I know that there's no chance of ever having such silly notices (and to think that it could happen is naïve in the extreme). -- Atama 21:52, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
These two problems (promotion and spamming) are very real, and are part of the QA issues facing us. I don't see a convincing case that the proposed ToU (or indeed an article tag - which the IP did not suggest) will realistically help with these issues. The biggest benefit from the ToU is to the declared paid editor who can demonstrate "clean hands" - and perhaps the movement can say "we tried a ToU". But in terms of actually fixing problems, rather than making the "right noises" I have my doubts about the efficacy of this proposal. Rich Farmbrough 21:58 20 February 2014 (GMT).
I agree Rich, to an extent. Not to bring this up forever, but I'll go back to the sockpuppet issue. Having a policy against misuse of multiple accounts doesn't prevent it from happening, nor does it catch everyone who does it. And admittedly, we have better tools to catch sockpuppets than to catch paid editors (a financial checkuser sounds disturbing). But it encourages paid editors who want to work within guidelines and edit with transparency, and gives better tools to sanction paid editors who violate those guidelines and get caught. I don't think it fixes the problem but I think it can still help. -- Atama 22:03, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree that a provision in the terms of use is never a complete solution. But it does provide guidance and protection for those who do want to engage within the rules in good faith. Also, if there is a truly bad outside player that is maliciously hurting the projects with deceitful paid editing, we may want to consider litigation after the community discovers this player. A terms of use provision can help make a stronger case. Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:18, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
"Truly bad players" will almost certainly fall under the existing section "You agree to comply with the final decisions of dispute resolution bodies that are established by the community for the specific Project editions (such as arbitration committees); these decisions may include sanctions as set out by the policy of the specific Project edition." - though the scope for litigation might still be very curtailed, the additional term of use will make no difference. Rich Farmbrough 00:51 21 February 2014 (GMT).
(Incidentally notice how this could be reduced to "You agree to comply with the decisions of dispute resolution bodies established by the community for the specific Projects." Rich Farmbrough 00:53 21 February 2014 (GMT).)

Details on why people think this is not strong enough

In my opinion, this is an unacceptably weak response to the problem. The proper response would be to ban all paid editing completely. Paid editing is corruption of the data, and data corruption has no place in a public database. Period.

I generally support User:Redpossum's view immediately above, and think that the following TOU should be added (perhaps in a separate section):

All commercial editing in articles by or on behalf of a corporation or business is prohibited.

Smallbones (talk) 18:15, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Wholly in support of Smallbones. — Ineuw talk 18:28, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. Let us vote on banning "all commercial editing in articles by or on behalf of a corporation or business", and eventually ban ALL compensated contributions. Yankhadenuf (talk) 20:44, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree somewhat, in spirit. I don't like the idea of an editor who is paid by someone else to make particular edits. It is essentially meatpuppetry, and in a way it turns that person's account into a kind of role account, where they're not editing for their own personal sake or opinions but on behalf of someone else (most often multiple people). It's not literally a role account, you should be dealing with a single person who the account represents, but some of the reasons why role accounts are forbidden or restricted will come into play.
But I can't wholly endorse this. Partially because I've worked with open and honest paid editors who've done good work at the English Wikipedia. They may represent the minority but I dislike seeing them restricted. Another problem I see is that I don't think we'd be able to get support for that. The current proposed amendment is something of a compromise between fully allowing paid editing and fully banning paid editing. The last problem I have with this is that I think that the benefit in having this amendment is that it will encourage paid editors to disclose their actions so that we know who we're dealing with, and banning paid editing won't stop it, it will just ensure that those who do it are very careful about hiding it. -- Atama 18:43, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I just added "in articles" (hope User:Ineuw doesn't mind). I actually have no problem with paid editors stating their views on talk pages or user pages - as long as it is disclosed. Smallbones (talk) 19:00, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I understand where you're going with this. It's much like the English Wikipedia conflict of interest guideline which considers most COI participation at talk pages to be non-controversial but warns that edits to the actual content may be. I'm worried that too many people may not grasp that concept and think that we're banning them from every aspect of the projects. In many cases it may end up as a de facto ban anyway, because if they're not allowed to edit content at all they'll move on. -- Atama 19:12, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I disagree with this simply because it's entirely plausible for someone to be paid to edit and to do so in a manner completely compliant with Wikipedia policies/guidelines. Samwalton9 (talk) 19:13, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
And I think that's so rare a case in practice in the business sector that the possible benefit of those edits is overwhelmed by the biased edits that we can avoid by just banning the whole practice. Somebody who is paid to edit legally owes his loyalty to his employer, not to Wikipedia's mission. In any case of conflict between the two, he must follow his employer's interest. So maybe he can make what appear to be NPOV edits, but if it turns around and NPOV editing go against his employer's interests, he must stop editing (and the employer would stop paying him in any case) and we'll be left with his employer's POV. Smallbones (talk) 19:55, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Smallbones, I noticed your change of heart further on :-). But I still strongly believe that a simple and absolute declaration would eliminate the kind of convolutions that take place in simple straight policy issues such as this. I know that it's an essential part of human nature and tradition to keep people occupied discussing issues forever and ever and examine them from every angle but, this has been rehashed before. This is the very kind of weakness in decision making that's being taken advantage of by commercial interests to manipulate the conversation to their advantage. I would be most content if there exist a few places on the web free and clear of commercial manipulation. Wikimedia.org is maintained by member donations and it could keep itself completely commerce free, as I believe was a fundamental intention from the beginning. What changed? — Ineuw talk 19:28, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree that a simple and absolute declaration would be better, but there is a case for trying to achieve the possible rather than the perfect. I especially agree with your statement about donations - which are being made to a charity - so cannot possibly be used to further the interests of a commercial business. If any board members are reading this, I'd like them to re-read the sentence above.
I also think that putting hidden ads and PR in articles is completely immoral (selling something by deception - but that's just my morality), unethical by the standards of recognized PR associations, and in many, many cases (90%+) illegal. That refers to articles, not talk pages. I view paid editors as falling into about 10 different categories. Some of them are the most cynical SOBs I've ever come in contact with (think about what happened poor Sarah who took $300 - and who did it to her). Some are just confused about our rules. Just clarifying our rules here will help them (I'm thinking about the coffee shop with about 15 seats in Pasadena that had an article on en:WP for about 3 years - I'm not kidding about this). Others are trying to be ethical businesspeople, but have a natural POV - we just need to set out the rules for them in a straightforward way. I don't mind these folks editing on talk pages if it is disclosed. They may even help us in combatting the worst actors. The standard objection to banning them outright is the "right of response" - what happens to a business that employs 100s of people if pure libel appears in an article and nobody notices? Actually this "right of response" thing is usually overstated - we do have methods of dealing with that, and most businesses have good access to the media even if we don't deal with it. But I can sympathize a bit. All I'll say is that these "ethical businesspeople" need to help us in the process of keeping out the other paid editors, or they'll likely get categorized in with the rest. Smallbones (talk) 20:19, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I am sufficiently suspicious of commercial interests that I tend towards the same strength of opinion as Smallbones. But I also agree with Samwalton9, and see outright prohibition as being too heavy-handed, at least to start. Besides, let's not forget that not all paid editing may be commercial in origin. See the hypothetical examples section above. Evensteven (talk) 20:37, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
donations - which are being made to a charity - so cannot possibly be used to further the interests of a commercial business. Erm.. well what about the fact that Google and Facebook both mirror Wikipedia to increase their revenue? Moreover many commercial businesses interests are furthered by Wikipedia articles, or actions of the Foundation. Rich Farmbrough 22:46 20 February 2014 (GMT).

I agree that it's not strong enough. There's nothing to prevent the foundation from prohibiting all paid editing. However, we all have to keep in mind that the Foundation is the primary victim of paid editing, as it deprecates the value of the Wikipedia brand and potentially impedes fundraising as well as the reputation of all concerned. Thus if the Foundation is willing to settle for disclosure then that is a decision that it made and it has to live with the consequences of implicitly tolerating and even sanctioning paid editing. We volunteers are here to pursue a hobby while this is their livelihood. If they want their project to be infested by paid editors, diminishing the value of their property, who are we to argue? Coretheapple (talk) 20:47, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree 100% with Smallbones. There is no earthly reaon why anyone would ever pay for an edit on Wikipedia other than they they think the edit promotes their interest, and editing to promote someone's interest is totally contrary to the whole spirit of Wikipedia. (Yes, I know the usual defence about someone working for an organisation who, as part of their job, is asked to make a few minor factual updates on the company's Wikipedia article. However, that situation can be dealt with in other ways than paid editing of Wikipedia articles, such as a request for an edit.) I have nothing but contempt for anyone who abuses Wikipedia by trying to use it to promtoe the point of view of a business, organisation, or person inorder to gain money. However, to be realistic, we are not going to get a ban on paid editing, mainly because of the fact that whenever the suggestion is raised, all the professional spammers who earn make a living by posting spam to Wikipedia come out of the woodwork and oppose the suggestion, and under the heavily flawed "consensus" model that Wikipedia uses, their corrupt views receive as much weight as the views of legitimate editors. That being so, the currently suggested, pathetically weak, proposal is a step forward, and should therefore be supported. JamesBWatson (talk) 21:06, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I also agree with Smallbones on this one. All commercial editing should be prohibited. Nobody should pay someone to edit Wikipedia, that goes against everything Wikipedia stands for. This website is for amateurs only - no professional editors. Once someone gets paid to edit, their employer will expect (sooner or later) favors and revisions. Kndimov (talk) 21:34, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

There is no earthly reason why anyone would ever pay for an edit on Wikipedia other than they they think the edit promotes their interest, and editing to promote someone's interest is totally contrary to the whole spirit of Wikipedia. Not so. You will see paid editing at en:Wikipedia now in the shape of a Typo Fixing Competition. Rich Farmbrough 22:31 20 February 2014 (GMT).

We agree with smallbones' outright ban on paid editing: it should be banned outright as paid commercial propaganda poisons the well of information with corporate lies. Think of what would occur with articles on global warming or new pharmaceutical drugs. Consider this alternative: if this paid editing is to be allowed, it should be clearly visible to any reader that these are paid edits and they should be in a different font color than the rest of the article. The article should be labeled clearly in big red letters in the title that "THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PAID CONTENT" so every reader can be aware of the potential insertion of biased or outright false material. Now wouldn't that sort of openness make Wikipedia look to a casual observer like a cesspool of corporate lies? The more paid edits you had, the worse it would look. Your credibility would drop to zero. It would destroy Wikipedia. It would be much better to just ban paid editing outright.  :[[User:IWPCHI|IWPCHI] --IWPCHI (talk) 22:01, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I admit a flat ban is tempting but certainly "corporation or business" is too limited. It should perhaps read "corporation or business, organization, government, person, group, religion, movement or community". Even then I doubt it would be either more or less effective than our current policies on POV, notability, undue weight and significance. Rich Farmbrough 22:41 20 February 2014 (GMT).

Um. Isn't all of the above what WP:COI is for? Also, remember that this isn't just about the English Wikipedia; paid edits could be much more welcome on other projects. —SamB (talk) 00:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I think its not strong enough, but that banning Paid contributors completely might not work or be the best option. Perhaps the rules should state that Paid parties should do 'Two out of Three' rather than 'One out of Three' of the things to inform others that they are paid. ZMD123 (talk) 12:29, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Agreed with Smallbones. InverseHypercube (talk) 04:00, 24 February 2014 (UTC)


Thus if the Foundation is willing to settle for disclosure then that is a decision that it made and it has to live with the consequences of implicitly tolerating and even sanctioning paid editing. We volunteers are here to pursue a hobby while this is their livelihood. If they want their project to be infested by paid editors, diminishing the value of their property, who are we to argue?

I pulled this out because I think it is important to understand that this proposal is not the Foundation "settling" for anything. As Sue said in her statement on paid editing, we think paid editing is a very serious problem. This proposal is not a change in position on that. But we also realize that this question is difficult and complex for the community (as the many good faith comments about small communities and GLAM suggest). Lots of people have very differing opinions on what is the best thing to do here. So we thought it would be a good idea to take a simple, straightforward approach: in the terms, make quite explicit how to disclose, so that communities can enforce their own rules more effectively, and in the FAQ, make quite clear that local legal rules may go much further. I agree it would be better to miraculously cause the community to reach consensus on a much stronger approach, but in the mean time, this is a strong step forward, not a step back.
(I also want to say that it is not "our" project - we're just stewards, caring for something much, much bigger than us. We did this because we think it is the right thing for the project, not because of any risk to WMF.) —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 00:56, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
What's the evidence for their being a serious problem? What empirical, data-driven research has been undertaken? Because this seems to me like a hysterical reaction to the "serious problem" of having been portrayed as foolish, impotent, or otherwise bumbling in a very few media reports. So again, please direct me to the data that supports claim that paid-editing is such a serious problem that it is "threatening" the "brand" (to quote another). Please quantify the "loss" being incurred due to paid-editing as well. Thanks. Azx2 (talk) 09:51, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Sure. We've lost several SPIs who burned out because of the Morning277 investigation, and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours that could have been spent editing were instead spent tracking down hundreds of accounts and thousands of bad edits. That's large, direct, and quantifiable damage to the health of the project, and it is just from one network of paid editors and sock puppets. And to be clear, it was not "a very few media reports" - I don't have the exact count off hand, but I seem to recall it was 2-300 media reports, across dozens of countries. Exactly how much damage those cause to our brand is not quantifiable, and much of the media coverage was positive - but where it was positive, it was positive exactly because we said we were fighting the problem aggressively.
It is of course hard to provide "hard data" about total number of edits, percentage of paid, reverted edits, etc., specifically because paid advocacy editors don't disclose who they are! But if you have a suggestion on how to get quantified data that would satisfy you despite that lack of information, please let us know - I think it would be interesting and informative. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 21:01, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Paid editing by academia and paid editing by commerce are two different things. Paid editing by an academic institution should be allowed after full disclosures have been made; however paid editing by commercial interests should be banned.

Ungrouped discussion


hello everybody! oui bien sur le contributeur qui agit pour le compte d un interet particulier et est remunere pour cela doit pouvoir etre distingué de celui qui agit, en principe, dans le seul interet de la diffusion de la connaissance. Cette distinction devrait pouvoir etre faite au premier coup d oeil, peut etre par un ajout automatique d un symbole particulier au nom d utilisateur ? En effet dans la proposition actuelle il faut se rendre sur la page utilisateur pour avoir connaissance du caractere "mercenaire" de la contribution. Un meme contributeur, salarie d un grand groupe, par exemple, pouvant intervenir tantot dans le cadre de son travail, tantot pour son propre compte, il conviendrait que ce signe distinctif attache au nom d utilisateur puisse etre mis ou retire à chaque contribution. Tout ceci dans une quete d ideal, bien sur, puisque il est bien certain qu il s agit là d un domaine ou les faux nez sont nombreux --Zanatan (talk) 08:06, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

google - Une distinction peut-être avec un nom d'utilisateur distinct qui est basé sur le nom de société lorsque la société a une édition personne serait à première vue être plus compréhensible. Je voudrais également possible pour une personne d'utiliser leur nom d'utilisateur et l'écran d'édition ont une case à cocher de payer pour cette ou payés dans le champ si un signal sur les articles qui ils se sont payés seraient spécifiques et ne disparaîtra pas comme un profil de données peut changer.

- - A distinction perhaps with a separate username that is based on corporation name when the corporation has a person editing would at first glance be most understandable. I would also want it possible for a person to use their username and the edit screen have a checkbox of paid for this or paid in field so a signal on which articles they got paid would be specific and not go away like a Profile data may change. Markbassett (talk) 17:30, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Disclosure options: Need to give projects flexibility

We need to add a 4th bullet-item:

  • any other method of disclosure specifically permitted by the project in which the edit takes place.

This will allow the various projects to adopt future techniques such as allowing a "paid editor" bit that links to [[User:username/paideditordisclosure]] or some such without having to go back to the Foundation to amend this document.

It would also allow specific projects to say "we don't require public disclosure, a letter to OTRS is all that is needed" or even "we don't care about paid editing, no disclosure is required."

By allowing projects who want to deviate from the "default" 3 options to go through a formal project to do so, it will prevent this policy from being seen as being "shoved down everyone's throat just because a large number of projects and/or the larger projects want it."

I would have no objection to the Commons not being allowed to take advantage of this line-item as its files are used across many projects. Davidwr/talk 22:02, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Davidwr - This is a thoughtful comment. We considered this but in the end we decided that we needed clarity, simplicity, and uniformity in the terms of use since this provision would apply in large part to outside organizations and their clients. We are looking for a simple approach with transparent instructions. To be clear, the misrepresentation of affiliation has been a violation of the terms of use for more than a couple of years. This proposed amendment simply provides guidance on how one can truthfully represent their affiliation to avoid running afoul of that provision. The proposed amendment does recognize that individual projects may impose additional requirements beyond this proposed amendment: "Community and Foundation policies, such as those addressing conflicts of interest, may further limit paid contributions or require more detailed disclosure." Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:33, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I would like to second Davidwr's suggestion — the ToS should allow projects the option of permitting OTRS disclosure under certain circumstances, such as those that could unintentionally exclude good faith efforts via technicality, or those that might be assumed to unnecessarily compromise the personal safety of someone. This sort of exception does not require any degradation in comprehensibility — it can be easily incorporated in a minimal, straightforward fashion.   — C M B J   03:19, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I will want to discuss a bit more with my legal team, but I think I would be open to a 4th bullet that gives discretion to the project on how to disclose; that said, the project would not have the option to eliminate such a disclosure requirement (as could be explained in an FAQ). Maybe something like this: - any other similarly effective method of disclosure permitted by the project in which the edit or contribution takes place. Geoffbrigham (talk) 05:24, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
While I would prefer to give projects the ability to "opt out," I'm okay with just giving them the ability to substitute "similarly effective methods of disclosure" as long as "similarly effective" does not imply "public" disclosure of real-life identities. The personal safety issue that CMBJ raised was among the reasons I made this proposal in the first place. Davidwr/talk 20:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I believe disclosure on Commons has typically been on the "File:" page itself, e.g. using templates or categories, instead of any of the three places required by the proposed amendment. I think this practice also makes more sense than any of those three places, because the "File:" page is the most likely place for anyone to look (with the User page being a very distant second). So IMO this 4th bullet would be useful for Commons. It certainly should not exclude Commons. --Avenue (talk) 09:00, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Concerns about personal information and safety issues were also raised by Brion VIBBER up above, under #Are anonymity & pseudonomy now lost? and one of the solutions I suggested was #Email to OTRS, so this goes hand-in-hand. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 20:20, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Clarity for organisations and possible impact for organisations that pay?

This feels a bit to me like the prostitute and punter debate, and with all the focus on paid editors (prostitutes), I wonder if we are missing the other half of the problem.

Many organisations still have no idea that any of this debate is going on at Wikipedia and are not familiar with the principles here. This means they don't see what they are doing as problematic. I can think of two very recent examples where organisations assumed they had total ownership and total rights over their page until it was explained to them. I don't necessarily see this as their failure – both seemed to be acting in good faith – but ours in communicating principles. Wikipedia is the exception and not the rule – most organisations routinely pay and expect to pay everywhere else. The number of new articles on AfC created by editors who blithely name themselves after the company they are writing about also suggests the message hasn't permeated. Most of these articles are not created with any intent to deceive – self-evidently – since the user name is so blindingly obvious.

So perhaps a two-pronged publicity drive if the amendment is made, in which we address both editors and organisations. It’s never going to be easy for the marketing/PR junior at the organisation or its agency to reason with the powers that be if we only hint at what they shouldn't be doing, so there needs to be a clear and highly visible explanation from Wikipedia of the ground rules for companies and paid editors.

And even if we do spell it out, if it's a toss up between incurring the wrath of the boss who pays you or the wrath of Wikipedia that doesn't, which would you choose? Outside the current debate parameters I know, but I’d like to suggest that possible ramifications for the organisation itself might help publicise the pitfalls of undisclosed paid editing more effectively than simply focusing censure on the editors. I've no idea what is morally or legally acceptable but arguably it should be a tad stronger than the current advice and typical 'connected to the subject' banner so that it focuses minds on the potential reputational risks of paying for writing and editing. Libby norman (talk) 20:51, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree. This particular policy is targeting only the individual editor, which is fine as far as it goes. But the issues are larger, and additional policy to address the payors of the editors is needed. WP need not accept any obligations wrt organizations or any impact on them from the way they spend their money. But WP needs to defend itself against the influence of money generally to distort its goals. The issue of paid editing has potential for legal ramifications that the foundation itself must address because they will never be within the editors' ability to control. Evensteven (talk) 21:30, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
A publicity campaign to get this across to companies is a great idea. There might be some arguments that this would decrease the perceived reliability of Wikipedia, but I believe that it would increase our perceived reliability: We recognize that there is a problem and are taking steps to address the problem. This is similar to the BLP problem brought up by Sigenthaler (sp?) in 2005 (?) This actually marked a major increase in our editorship and perceived reliability. A major triumph for Wikipedia in the intermediate and long-runs. This change in the ToU would mark a similar triumph. Smallbones (talk) 21:42, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The need to help well-meaning people and organizations understand the basic rules is one reason we wanted to be explicit in the terms of use on how one should represent their affiliation. Many may not read the terms of use, but organizations who engage in paid editing are more likely to do so. I am not sure if these organizations or their clients understand that there are also potential PR and legal ramifications as well, which is why we link to FAQs that explain these risks, namely this section and this section. The prominent placement will hopefully increase awareness somewhat. And I agree that a larger publicity campaign may also be useful. Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:06, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

What if you work for $SUBJECT

I know of instances where employees of a company (not mine, I hasten to add) have been given time to edit subjects related to the company, including the company's article. It seems to me that this would be covered, as paid editing time is a form of compensation, but it's not explicitly clear. JzG (talk) 21:08, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

If I understand your hypothetical correctly, I believe you should disclose your employer. The Terms of Use already prohibits misrepresentation of affiliation; this amendment simply sets out the acceptable methods for disclosing that affiliation truthfully. In your hypothetical, the company is paying the employees during the given time. So that affiliation needs to be disclosed. The proposed amendment tells you how. I hope that helps, and feel free to correct me if I misunderstood anything. On your other point, I am not optimistic that we can craft language that clearly governs every hypothetical, but I feel the language here is probably clear enough to cover this situation. If you have better language to propose, I would definitely want to consider it. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:52, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

My company and personal pages on Wikipedia are both junk. I have not edited because of conflict of interest concerns, and this just increases the concern. It would be nice to have clear way of addressing this issue. RonaldDuncan (talk) 21:30, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I already disclose my employer, and that I am who I am on my talk page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:RonaldDuncan is this enough to be compliant with the current and new policy? RonaldDuncan (talk) 21:34, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I'd say that "paid editing time" is clearly compensation, but if others think it isn't clear we should make the wording clear. You would have to declare every edit IMHO. Smallbones (talk) 21:45, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
RonaldDuncan - I believe your user page is sufficient disclosure under the proposed amendment (assuming you are linking to it in your signature). Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:54, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Guy, in the instances you're aware of, do you know if the employers had control or oversight over what the editors had written? This is just personal curiosity, I don't think that fact makes that any less a form of paid editing (since even if the employer isn't telling you what to write or enforcing that you are positive, they could and there would at least be the implication that you're supposed to make edits that improve the company's image, otherwise why are they paying you). -- Atama 21:59, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Far too vague about what being paid means; likelihood of harassment of good-faith real name editors; additional bureaucracy

I have several problems with the proposal as it stands:

  • It does not clearly explain how to determine whether one is being "paid to edit Wikipedia". For instance: I am a professor at a university that pays its faculty to perform teaching, research, and service. Here "service" can mean many things including taking part in campus governance as well as professional peer reviewing. I have chosen to interpret my editing on Wikipedia as part of that service, in the sense that (for instance) I disclose it in my regular performance reviews. However, my employer exerts absolutely no control about what I edit and would not care if I stopped. Does that make me a paid editor? Is that an adequate reason to force me to disclose my name?
  • The language "Many believe that users with a potential conflict of interest should engage in transparent collaboration, requiring honest disclosure of paid contributions" is a non-sequitur. *Everyone*, paid or unpaid, has a potential conflict of interest of some sort or another. Why is the word "paid" part of this sentence?
  • As someone who edits under my real name, I have occasionally experienced workplace harassment (such as phone calls to my department chair and, in one case, a formal complaint to the governing board of the 10-campus university system that employs me) by editors who disagreed with my edits. Is it going to become expected that every academic who wants to participate in Wikipedia must be willing to be subjected to this treatment?
  • Has anyone weighed this added burden on editors to know and follow additional rules, to have their real-world identies outed, and to more easily run afoul of these new rules, against the repeated claims that we need to be more welcoming of new editors?

Basically this feels like venue-shopping to me: the discussions of the same proposals on the English Wikipedia led to a lack of consensus, so the proponents of these measures are instead taking it here where they hope fewer people will be on their guard. The fact that the proposal doesn't explicitly say "you have to provide your name" is of no help to people for whom naming their employer and looking at their interests is enough to identify them. None of the problems raised by the English Wikipedia discussions have been fixed, and indeed this proposal is worse in several respects. —David Eppstein (talk) 22:11, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

  • The proposed wording on what "paid" means seems clear enough to me. Natural language, of course has its limits. If you have a better wording, please suggest it.
  • Nobody has to provide their real name. Since you already provide your real name, you might consider retiring that name, and editing under a new name.
  • I don't think that professors have any worries about editing articles - even on the "university's time" - unless their employer (on campus or off) has told them to edit specific articles or topics.
  • The WMF clearly must do something now - as paid editors are now saying that they have some sort of right to edit on Wikipedia, and the general practice of hidden advertising is exploding across the entire web. See e.g. en:Astroturfing. "Forum shopping" has nothing to do with it. Paid editors very obviously participate in this type of discussion. Even if there are only 1% of all editors who do paid editing, we should expect 100s if not 1000s of paid editors to show up in these discussions and in effect say "Wikipedia should allow me to continue making money here." I don't take that type of "contribution" to be at all convincing, and sooner or later I think the Board will recognize that. In fact I think they already have. They've got serious questions to consider involving protecting the WMF and the movement from liability and really protecting the whole idea of Neutral Point of View. We need to let them do their job and give them our real opinions on the matter; without saying that we have to consider paid editors' opinions on an equal basis. Smallbones (talk) 00:31, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I find it notable that many editors like David here and myself who disclose their legal names on Wikipedia are amongst those who have reservations about this proposal. I think the benefits of this proposal are largely theoretical and drawbacks concrete and under appreciated. The proposal is not clear whether paid editing means just being contracted to edit Wikipedia specifically or includes all public relations types who on their own initiative turn their attention to Wikipedia. What's going to happen here is that the most upstanding of these people will provide maximum disclosure as to their income sources and will be rewarded for this with maximum harassment, especially from individuals who themselves hide behind anonymity.--Brian Dell (talk) 00:12, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I am an editor whose real-world name and identity are fully disclosed, and who has been subjected to a couple of different kinds of harassment because of it. Nonetheless, I wish to disagree very strongly with Brian about the absolute necessity for this rule, or an ever stronger one, if we are to retain any semblance of credibility in this world of paid placements, infomercials, and Citizens United legalized quasi-bribery. --Orange Mike (talk) 01:59, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Because hijacking the whole project to serve the interests of Google with the SOPA blackout did wonders for the project's credibility, I suppose. Some pro-business angles might actually restore some perception of neutrality to a project that is notorious for pushing a left/libertarian POV.--Brian Dell (talk) 02:56, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I too have concerns, not just for professors but for the religious, for members of the armed forces and for anyone who receives an income. As the proposal stands, it creates a climate where contributors are actively encouraged to violate Assume Good Faith, and ascribing motivations to edits and encouraging contributors to make accusations of bad faith, COI editing. This creates a highly toxic editing climate, which we can see from the Chelsea Manning case that went to ArbCom and the related controversy. Advocates of certain positions had people seek out personal details on their lives. The type of information sought out would not be allowed in a Wikipedia article about the individual, but could be used to discredit the user. Accusations of a financial incentive to promote a certain position took place during the Chelsea Manning case with the implication that members of the military were acting as spokespeople to promote a government position. (Similar accusations were also made about people on the opposing side of the issue, with related COI complaints.) Others face similar accusations on a regular basis while editing English Wikipedia, with the text of the edit not being examined for its alignment with local policies regarding acceptable content on Wikipedia. Instead, accusations of COI editing are used to undermine the body of their work. This proposal should include Terms of use/Harassment and outing amendment which details about what non-personally disclosed details about a user may be shared by other contributors on pages hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, methods for dealing with disclosure of non-public information (such as employment details) on Wikimedia projects that would actively discourage people from refusal to interact with just the text, and details about how the WMF will support its user base who comply with this policy while making edits that comply with pillars on Wikipedia and BLP but are targeted for harassment by Wikipedia users. --LauraHale (talk) 12:16, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

@Smallbones: If the wording is so clear, explain why I still can't figure out (and you didn't clearly answer) whether it would apply to my own case. You said "professors don't need to worry" but that is not the same as what I would like to see: a clear statement (within the policy itself) that it does not apply to people who edit during paid time or on subjects of their paid expertise, but whose edits are neither subject to employer/client approval nor a direct financial conflict of interest (such as edits about a company one owns).

@Orangemike: I agree that edits paid for by the subjects of the edits are a big problem, but your reasoning smacks of "We must do something. This is something. Therefore we must do this." Every change has a cost as well as a benefit. I fear that the cost of this change may be a significant barrier to entry for an important class of editors. Personally, I see many people involved in the push for this policy making little distinction between spammers and collateral damage and (despite using my real name here and believing my contributions to be non-promotional) it makes me feel unwelcome. Now consider that I'm an English-WP administrator with years of experience here and tens of thousands of edits, and try to imagine how much more intimidated someone with useful expertise but less time on the project might feel at seeing all this. —David Eppstein (talk) 07:19, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Against Wikipedia ideals?

Copied from content page PiRSquared17 (talk) 22:12, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Weird ideas. They go against the traditional Wikipedia ideals -- transparency, democracy. Why ruin anything that has worked so well, so far? smilesofasummernight Smilesofasummernight (talk) 21:24, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

@Smilesofasummernight: Thanks for your concern - we agree that it is very important to treasure and take care of this thing we've built together. I have two key points in response to your concerns:
1) We think the proposal is quite in keeping with ideals of transparency, since it shows exactly how to be transparent about edits.
2) It is not clear that things have worked well- organizations have abused our transparency and we hope this will help stem that problem.
Hope that helps explain - happy to discuss more if you want. —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 22:49, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
@Smilesofasummernight:, I translate this for you ;): Thanks for your concern - but we are not really interested in what you have to say. We only act here as we would be interested what you Wikimedians have to say - but for real - we do not care! So shut up, write you're articles, so we as Foundation can collect the donations at the end of the year, that pay our wage! We do at the end still what we want! :) Marcus Cyron (talk) 13:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Marcus, honestly your translation paints an unfair picture. :) We have a strong tradition in the WMF legal department to engage in real interactive community consultations on multiple policies - both large and small - over the last few years. We have made hundreds of edits to those drafts in response to community feedback, and we have foregone initiatives because of community concern. This is no different: let me assure you that many points raised in this discussion have prompted internal conversations on how we can improve language in the proposed amendment or clarify scenarios in FAQs. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:57, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Agree with smilesofasummernight this would lead to discrimination. Without privacy noone will be able to contribute whatever information they want without thinking about the consequences(if paid means that people will have to state their professions). On the other hand if paid means to bring in experts then wikipedia will go the same way the wikipedia junior went. 18:59, 22 February 2014 (UTC)Privacy
I suppose some of this comes down to how malicious you feel this kind of self-interested editing is. I see it as sort of akin to vandalism - its editing done without the intent to improve the article objectively, its done to change it in a way that skews how people see things outside of wikipedia. Ottawakismet (talk) 19:26, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

"Tony Stark"?

Can we please have a document that doesn't have "funny" pop culture references in it? Thank you. — Scott talk 22:15, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

@Scott Martin: Hi Hex. This was changed here. Would you prefer Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Tony Stark, or a non-superhero name? PiRSquared17 (talk) 22:19, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
A typical placeholder name would be fine with me. How about "Jane Doe"? It would be refreshing for it not to be a male name, for once. — Scott talk 22:43, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Fine with me. Feel free to change it (unless WMF objects for some reason). PiRSquared17 (talk) 23:28, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The ed17 has modified this: diff. PiRSquared17 (talk) 00:11, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Great. I didn't realize that non-WMF people were allowed to edit this, otherwise I would have done so myself rather than complaining about it. — Scott talk 11:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
No objection to changing the name -- as long as it's easy to understand! Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 00:17, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I !vote for "Peter Parker", since it's actually an employment, paid, conflict-of-interest example -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 01:20, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Seth is right. No real people.  :) Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:00, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

3rd party payors

As the operator of MyWikiBiz, I manage a small stable of paid editor affiliates who are under signed terms of non-disclosure with MyWikiBiz. Suppose I may contract with, for example purposes only, RealVu company to create a Wikipedia article about their company, or to improve an article about a product category in which they engage, such as Viewable Impressions. When I sub-contract that work to an affiliate editor, they would be required by this TOS amendment to disclose that some of their editing may be paid for by MyWikiBiz, but not required to disclose that RealVu is the end client, correct? I would be fine with that, because most of my affiliates are long-standing Wikipedia editors, so my clients would not be that much more "exposed" by the disclosure association with "MyWikiBiz" -- because the affiliates are editing dozens of other Wikipedia articles about different companies and various business-related topics, so it would be very difficult for any one company topic to be singled out as "paid". To be more specific, if RealVu hired MyWikiBiz to author content on the Viewable Impressions article, and I only told my affiliate that they are to improve the article about Viewable Impressions (without ever mentioning RealVu), there is no way for the end reader (or even the paid affiliate!) to know if MyWikiBiz had been hired by RealVu, or C3 Metrics, Comscore, or AdYapper, would they? I'm fine with that! Is Philippe Beaudette and/or the WMF Legal team that is speaking for "we" the people okay with that, too? -- Thekohser (talk) 22:40, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

After a while, what I would also do is start offering long-standing editors $5 a month for them to write on their User page, "I am paid by MyWikiBiz to publish Wikipedia content." Every month that they leave that up, they get another $5 from me -- even though I won't actually be sending them any additional paid content work. That way, every single one of their edits will come under "paid editing" suspicion and scrutiny, until that "I am Spartacus" moment finally dawns on everyone who backs this amendment, that when you're looking at scores of Wikipedia editors in good standing who appear to be "paid by MyWikiBiz", you'll pull your hair out with the realization that you can't figure out which ones are really editing for pay versus those who are just being paid to post the notice. (Brilliant in its deviousness, I know. I specialize in these diabolical plans.) -- Thekohser (talk) 22:48, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Kohs, you've seen how broad the community ban on ENWP that passed against Wiki-PR was, right? If you did something like this, I'd have no problem suggesting a similar c-ban against anyone affiliated with MyWikiBiz, and suspect it would pass. I doubt many respected Wikipedians would be willing to risk a siteban over $5 a month. Kevin (talk) 04:23, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Gorman, you are saying that if a Wikipedia user like Cla68, with 29 Featured Articles, and 7 Good Articles to his credit decides to place a comment like "I am paid by MyWikiBiz to publish Wikipedia content" on his User page, your knee-jerk reaction will be to community ban him from Wikipedia? That's what it sounds like you are saying, and this is one of the reasons the insanity of Wikipediot culture is so off-putting to knowledge specialists; but thank you for highlighting it so clearly. -- Thekohser (talk) 14:25, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
The obvious way to defeat this plan would be to require editors to disclose which pages they're paid to edit, which seems like a good idea regardless. For that matter, I don't see nearly as much of a problem if the MyWikiBiz subcontractor doesn't know who's ultimately paying… if they're sticking to Wikipedia policies & guidelines, as you claim they would, it shouldn't be substantially different from the Reward Board. There is still the concern that you could say "Improve the Viewable Impressions article, and, oh, I wouldn't mind if you were favourable to RealVu, wink wink, nudge nudge"… but disclosing at least the basics ("paid by X to edit Y") seems like a better situation than the present one with no disclosure requirements. {{Nihiltres|talk|edits}} 15:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Wow, I agree with Nihiltres! Thing is, this proposed amendment to the TOS doesn't (yet) say that editors must disclose which pages they're paid to edit. Also, what if the command to the editor from the buyer is... "Please use this money to improve Wikipedia in the most time-efficient manner, in the following areas: (1) Notable companies headquartered in Doral, Florida; (2) Notable companies involved with viewable impressions." The editor would satisfy the request most efficiently by creating an article about RealVu, but he wasn't paid to create an article about RealVu, was he? -- Thekohser (talk) 16:26, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
There are clearly loopholes, but if someone's going to get that legalistic in an effort to circumvent the spirit of the rule, they might as well ignore the ToU and not disclose anything in the first place, since nothing changes about detecting paid editing. The update's no panacea. {{Nihiltres|talk|edits}} 01:30, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Nihiltres, are you aware that the "spirit of the rule", according to Jimmy Wales, is to ban all paid advocacy editors? -- Thekohser (talk) 19:21, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Under the ToU your meatpuppets would, I think (you might like to check), be required to follow EN:WP policy, which is considerably more restrictive about CoI editing. I doubt your $5 scheme would get very far, indeed it might amount to the uttering of false documents, in the event that anyone took up your generous offer. Rich Farmbrough 22:57 20 February 2014 (GMT).
There is no "policy" regarding paid editing or conflicts of interest on English Wikipedia, Rich. The $5 scheme has nothing to do with falsehood, because the editors would, in fact, be paid to publish those nine words each month on Wikipedia. Nice try, but both of your arguments are losers. -- Thekohser (talk) 02:47, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Under this ToU your sockpuppets and meatpuppets would be required to disclose their client (RealVu or whoever), not just who they were hired by. Their failure to do so would give us the ability to block them as they should have been blocked long ago. --Orange Mike (talk) 02:06, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Re-read the proposed amendment, Mike: "your employer, client, and affiliation". For my affiliates, I am their client. My client is not their client. What would you say if the client was Renaissance Books, and they've run out of employees to doctor their Wikipedia article, and they need to hire a service like mine? It would be okay in that case, correct, given your past performance for that particular employer? -- Thekohser (talk) 02:47, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
How would that work? If MyWikiBiz pays me to do some editing task, and gives me a brief, then my only employer is MyWikiBiz. Surely I cannot be required to disclose something that I do not know. Perhaps MyWikiBiz has been hired by a publicist, who also has a client, and so on. It would be quite naive to expect all of these commercial relationships to be spelled out to the lowest link on the chain, the wiki editor. It just isn't workable. 03:03, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. This discussion has really helped me make up my mind that acceptance of any paid editing on Wikipedia at all is a bad idea. Evensteven (talk) 04:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Well, that's one conclusion, Steven. Another more rational conclusion would be that any limitation on paid editing at all on a project that "anyone can edit" and anonymity is welcomed and "outing" is prohibited... is a bad idea. -- Thekohser (talk) 11:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
The nature of your business, and your destructively-exploitive "suggestions", strongly imply that your ability to shamelessly and anonymously promote whoever pays you is your bottom line, not the value of the information contained in Wikipedia. You have changed my mind, too, in reminding me that people like you are actually real. Corona688 (talk) 20:27, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
You may have inferred an ability to shamelessly and anonymously promote, but it was not implied. I've said about a hundred times, my company's editing on Wikipedia is to create neutral and documented encyclopedia articles, not to promote a subject. No matter how many times I say it, though, Corona, there are people like you who lack the intellectual rigor to try to understand how that is possible. I am reminded that there are people who are actually beyond education. -- Thekohser (talk) 19:19, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

This is the situation I am most worried about since it seems fairly easy for the advertising/public relations industry to generate insulating layers, and the "or" part of the disclosure proposal would seem to allow paid editors to just refer to some kind of generic entity on their userpages. Yesterday I edited an article (about artificial ski slopes) that was almost certainly generated by an advertising or public relations professional (i.e. a paid editor). I can see conflicting concerns--both that the not-very-good article might not have appeared without the paid editor's involvement, but also that cleanup took other editors' time (I removed about 2/3 of the bias, and then another editor removed a little more, but it still doesn't meet wp standards IMHO). Months ago I encountered another probable instance of paid editing, presumably by some type of agent of the Skadden Arps law firm. That was a lot more sophisticated, changing a new partner's page (Peter Fitzgerald) to mention his new affiliation, but give the impression that he was still a public servant. The trouble is that the FTC doesn't have the time or resources to take action on most of these instances, especially not the sophisticated ones (frankly, the entire Skadden Arps article seems scrubbed compared to another law firm, Hunton & Williams, or maybe that one just got caught with its hands in the cookie jar, so as to speak). Then I noticed that the repeatedly scrubbed and always problematic Dalkon Shield article doesn't mention the McGuire Woods law firm involved in initial document destruction, if my memory serves me right...). Right now, I don't have lots of time to research this matter, nor can I go about correcting every massively messed up article. Still, I'm inclined to suggest that the paid editing appear both on the page being edited, and on the userpage. Oops, thought I was logged in and don't have time to figure out the link issue between wikipedia and metawiki.Jweaver28 (talk) 13:39, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

question about incorporating local policy (from Wikimedia-l)

On wikimedia-l, Nathan asked:

Is there a way to incorporate the local policy by reference into the TOU, something like "The Wikimedia Foundation requires that all users being paid to contribute follow the disclosure, conflict or related applicable policy on each project where said users contribute."? Might that be a solution to establishing a binding policy with legal weight, without superseding local intentions?

Local policies are mentioned in the amendment ("community ... policies ... may further limit paid contributions"), but the idea is that the ToU sets a minimum and local policies can only get stricter from there. Note that when drafting the current ToU, my understanding is that we decided against specifically incorporating local policy into the ToU as a result of community concern about that. Hope that helps explain it. —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 23:19, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

But well, this is exactly the problem I see. Why set minimum policies that basically coerce certain wikipedias/communities into changing their editing local policy to accommodate a set of rules that only certain people in the community agree to in the first place? There has never been a clear consensus on this, one way or the other. notafish }<';> 11:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Delphine (Notafish) -- extremely astute observation. It's as if the WMF has not carefully considered what its project communities actually desire. -- Thekohser (talk) 16:30, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm leaning towards oppose, help me to better understand this.

I fully support the current wording "prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud." But I don't believe this necessitates enforcing explicit disclosure of paid contributions.

Perhaps I am merely unaware of the "situations that the Wikimedia community considers problematic". I've personally both revised edits and entered discussions with editors that were either compensated for edits or editing articles with a conflict of interest. In these cases, the edits were not congruent with WP policies & guidelines, but resolving these edit disputes were not particularly more difficult than dealing with any other manner of problem editor.

It seems to me that the only thing that matters is that an edit improves the state of the content and follows policies and guidelines. If that is the case, I see no need to know whether or not an editor is being compensated for contributions.

It feels like this suggests that a paid contributor should be held to different standards than a nonpaid contributor, and I don't understand this. An edit should be judged on it's own merits, not on the circumstances of the editor nor the motives of the editor that submitted it. Until someone can provide a counterargument, I feel that questions of identity and conflicts of interest should not need to be addressed unless an editor is being reported for repeated violation of policies & guidelines.

Further, I think that such detailed arguments would be beneficial to add to this article in order to justify the need for this new addition to the terms of use. I strongly believe it is insufficient to gloss over the impetus as "problematic situations".

I'd appreciate any responses that might help me better understand the alternate viewpoint. -Verdatum (talk) 23:29, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

A good question. It is one thing (and a good thing) to remind users that the Federal Trade Commission prohibits deceptive acts or practices and then try to suggest that this compels Wikipedia to demand some, but not all, users to disclose their income sources. This is a non sequitur.--Brian Dell (talk) 23:56, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
To be clear, I don't think we're suggesting that Wikipedia is "compelled" to do anything by the FTC - the FTC's rules apply to the companies who pay for edits, not to us. We're merely pointing out that FTC rules may also apply to American companies who are paying for edits. Hope that helps clarify that point. —LuisV (WMF) (talk) 00:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi Verdatum, when talking about "problematic situations," I was referring to situations like this one. I also think there are other benefits to including guidance in the terms of use, as I explain a bit more here. We'll be posting some other considerations that address your question more directly in a day or so. Geoffbrigham (talk) 00:10, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
The Morning277 affair was already against ToU, I believe. Rich Farmbrough 01:02 21 February 2014 (GMT).
That is my opinion, and, as I understand, significant and scare resources were employed by our volunteer community to investigate because the alleged paid edits were not transparent. This proposed amendment shows good faith companies how they can avoid misrepresentation of their affiliation by disclosure of that affiliation in three alternative ways. Geoffbrigham (talk) 01:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
That word "misrepresentation" seems to me the crux of the issue, hanging on the ancient ethical problem of when the lack of an affirmative declaration becomes implicitly misleading in context (of course, I'm sure you're well familiar with this overall issue in a legal context). Do Wikipedia contributors ethically carry some sort of implied warranty of non-conflict? non-payment? One might argue that's best-practices, but even so, does that justify making disclosure a terms-of-use requirement? -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 02:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Verdatum regarding the paid/unpaid contributor thought. If someone is making good faith adjustments, but are compensated to do so, is the standard higher? If someone points out a COI initially, again, will be that held to a higher standard? If a contributor works to keep a neutral voice/state the facts/not add flowery language, but is paid, will that make such a difference? Thank you.

*more* bias, please!

I cannot see this proposal making a jot of difference. I do not even care if it does. I want to read articles that lean towards polite criticism of any entities that might likely use paid editors to promote themselves or their material, *more* than I even want to read neutral articles. And if WP has legal funds available to draft the kind of stuff proposed, that those funds be used to defend critical grassroots editors - who are otherwise following WP guidelines - from institutions or their representatives getting overexcited about deletion or contradiction of their propaganda posted by suspect paid editors. Trev M (talk) 23:43, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Trev M! Thank you for your contribution to the discussion. With regard to your point about helping defend critical grassroots editors, you might be interested in reading more about our Legal Fees Assistance Program. One recent example of how this program is being used involves assistance to a Wikipedia user in Greece. Mpaulson (WMF) (talk) 00:12, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
What is "in a community ... role" exactly? Can users "in a community role" ignore Biographies of living people? Are they allowed to threaten family members of "unwelcome" editors? -- 23:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
The eligibility requirements include many examples of what we mean by a community role. The eligibility requirements also specify that eligible candidates must "[h]ave acted in compliance with the WMF Terms of Use, applicable privacy policies, and applicable community and Foundation policies", so no, they may not ignore the BLP policy or threaten people in violation of our Terms of Use. Hope that helps clarify! Mpaulson (WMF) (talk) 14:27, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I appreciate the answer, but it can be read as if it is allowed to threaten family members of opponents as long as the threats follow the Terms of Use. However, threatening family members is a kind of en:WP:OUTING, because the victim has the choice to either tolerate the threats, or to out themself (more). -- 22:47, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
My apologies if I was unclear. Threats, irrespective of what kind of user they are directed at, are violations of the Terms of Use under the "Harassing and Abusing Others" section. Mpaulson (WMF) (talk) 23:44, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Again, what if the threats aren't directed at the user, but against their family? Does that violate Biographies of living people? -- 00:32, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
The threats section is not limited to threats against other users, but "[e]ngaging in harassment, threats, stalking, spamming, or vandalism" in relation to WMF sites, so that included threats against users' families. Hope that helps clarify. Mpaulson (WMF) (talk) 16:49, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

something like this is sorely overdue

As a daily reader and occasional anonymous editor, let me say that absolutely the WORST thing about Wikipedia of late is the way large swathes of it are just turning into untrustworthy puff pieces, with anything negative relentlessly whitewashed. For anybody alive and active (and also various organisations and commercial entities), their Wikipedia page is likely to be converging with their Facebook page.

Not only should paid PR bullshit be stamped down on; there should also be a periodic (monthly?) press release detailing the worst offenders in attempted "reputation management", so that relentless whitewashing is actually more likely to create a "Streisand effect" and motivate editors to resist it. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:57, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your support! I don't necessarily agree that there are "large swathes" of Wikipedia where this is a problem, but of course, it is a concern. It would be interesting to see more active discussion of the Streisand effect, though perhaps the right place for that is somewhere like the sockpuppet investigation board? -LuisV (WMF) (talk) 00:08, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

New speaker here: I agree with the above view ('sorely overdue' / 'daily reader'). Transparency and disclosure is critical especially when big money tilts the playing field.

On a side note, I wish I understood how to "comment" other than to butt into someone's discussion here through 'edit'. I donate and support wikipedia so hope they will next time show us how to comment on proposed amendments as I don't think I'm doing this the right way.



REWRITE THE TERMS OF USE The wording is wrong. Withdraw the proposed Terms of Use and re-write it.

The wording sounds sweeping, all Wikipedia content will be swept clean, but the behavior actually being stopped is narrow.

CORPORATE SANITIZATION: The pages of large corporations on Wikipedia can be sanitized. Company employees edit the pages. In a corporation with 10,000 employees, it is easy to ask the next employee to edit the corporation's page, and the next and the next, to project the desired image.

GOODNESS, WE DON'T HAVE PAID EDITORS. The suggested change addresses "Paid contributions without disclosure", but employees are never explicitly paid to contribute to the Wikipedia, are they? And deletions are not contributions, they are removals, the opposite of a contribution.

Current wording is "any contribution . . . for which you receive compensation". A corporate employee does not have the title "Wikipedia Editor". At her corporation, she is not listed on the Wikipedia Staff nor as an employee of the Wikipedia Office, so clearly her salary, options and benefits package are not compensation for keeping the corporation's Wikipedia page sanitized.

Withdraw the proposed Terms of Use change and re-write it to include mandatory identification of any company employee making any changes on a page that anywhere mentions a company that employs her or in which her company has a controlling interest. I say a page that anywhere mentions the company because I have had problems with corporate sanitization on a whistleblower page.

PUT AN ICON ON THE EMPLOYED EDITOR PAGE ITSELF. I support an Employed Editor icon on any page that has had any editing by an employee of a company mentioned on that page. I support a User Attribute for any editor whose corporate employer is mentioned on any page she has edited. See above https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Terms_of_use/Paid_contributions_amendment&action=edit&section=31

I strongly object to this. Mere affiliation does not constitute receiving orders to bias the encyclopedia. Employees can also be in a good position to report the actual state of things (look at the legal tradition in the US of protecting whistleblowers, for example), and the projects ought to respect that. Direct compensation, not affiliation, should be the primary deciding factor in whether or not to require disclosure IMO, and (in my reading of same, at least) that's what the amendment currently says. --Viqsi (talk) 15:36, 23 February 2014 (UTC)


The Wikipedia has grown in prominence, but, unlike mass media in cable, TV, radio and journalism, it is not corporate owned.

(In actuality, the Wikimedia Foundation is a corporation, with a $50 million budget.) -- Thekohser (talk) 03:17, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
(Thanks, Thekohser, we all love Wikipedia for what it is. The journey to $50 million will continue to one hundred and 500 million. The culture -- our exceptional community -- once lost, will not return. Happy journey, watch your step!)Jerry-VA (talk) 15:34, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Here are some notes on current tools one might use to deal with corporate sanitization of whistleblower pages, the company's "home page", etc. I'm sure many people here are more familiar than I with how to use them. But is this the best support we can give volunteer editors? Are tools that evolved to cool and resolve disputes between individuals entirely appropriate for growing the scope and depth of page that a company with billions in revenues and thousands of employees wishes to harmonize with its mass media image? The current Terms of Use change, which is too timid and too narrow, must be seen in these terms.

Here are some Wikipedia tools for dealing with pages that are stubbornly sanitized by corporate employees.

THE FIRST LEVEL: REQUEST FOR "OUTSIDE REVIEW" Request for comment by other editors is described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment

A page for a corporation is sanitized repeatedly. How do you request an outside review? SUMMARY: Create a flagged section on the TALK page. 1. Open talk page, create a new topic on bottom with a section title of your choice. 2. Insert a Request for Comment (RfC) "template" immediately after your title.
. . . For corporations, this is the template: Template:Rfc
. . . For other templates, see the RfC page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment 3. Summarize the issue, what is being sanitized, whatever. 4. Sign with four tildes in a row as usual.

The RfC template triggers Wikipedia website robots to post your new section to the appropriate topic list that moderators (other editors) read. Editors sign up to get RfCs in their particular area(s) of expertise on the "Feedback Request" Service page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:FRS

Always make this post. For the sake of civility, all article-related disputes should be discussed on that article's TALK page, so just go ahead, and then add the Request for Comment (RfC) template (flag).


The next step up after requesting comments (RfC) from other volunteer editors is to Post an Incident Notice on the Administrators' Noticeboard. You'd better have some good data before you bother the community with a report here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:ANI

You write your notice right onto the Noticeboard page, which is long.


. . . {{subst:spa|username}} add this after the user's signature (do not replace the signature)
. . . {{subst:spa|username|UTC timestamp}} use this if the user did not add a signature

. . . For example, for an author named "Example": {{subst:spa|Example|03:07, 14 March 2011}}

This alerting label follows the author around, and should alert others reading TALK page discussion, for example. But the label does not change what the SPA person can do in Wikipedia Land in any way.

LABEL THE EDITOR AS HAVING COI, CONFLICT OF INTEREST https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:COI This is most useful if the contributions make inflated claims, bestow unwarranted praise or credit -- for example, a hotel/resort owner wishing to attract customers. But corporate editors often simply minimize or remove items that might provoke an inquiring mind to notice and pursue a dissonant view or an unsettling possibility.

The COI tag tags an entire article or article section, not an author. It produces one of those annoying boxes at the top of the article, that says: "A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia's content policies, particularly neutral point of view. Please discuss further on the talk page. (January 2014)"

The tags are:
Template:COI for the top of the whole article

Examples: Template:Multiple issues Template:COI=January2014
Capitalization does not seem to matter. The word "date" appears to be optional. It is unclear where the vertical bar (pipe) symbol goes, as it is shown both within a single tag, and as a delimiter between multiple tags.


To get an editor banned (one employee down, 9,999 to go!), it pays to document: --a conflict of interest, as discussed above --repeated erasures in an article (reversions of added text, even if not the same text) --challenges to the sources you cite --lack of sources for what **they** site; e.g., claims that her knowledge is obvious and you can look it up yourself.
. . .In other words, document any request, implied or otherwise, that **you** ought to document **her** statements. --failure to respond
"You say the quote you want to incorporate can be found in this 300 page pdf, but I've looked and I can't find it. Exactly what page is it on?") Failure to cooperate with such simple requests may be interpreted as evidence of a bad faith effort to exasperate or waste the time of other editors.

ALSO RAN: THREE-REVERT BANS in EDIT WARS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:EW https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_revert_rule#The_three-revert_rule Edit Warring (EW) is common with hurt egos -- page fixes are quickly put back again by an emotionally-aroused person. Corporate "ownership" and control of an article goes on forever, it is slower. Nevertheless, if you can document three reversions of your edits, each with an accompanying, civil TALK page explanation of why the info is relevant and documented, then you have "Editing War" data for other actions in defense of the page (see OUTSIDE REVIEW, and ADMINISTRATORS' NOTICEBOARD above). For sanitized corporate pages, it just may take a longer time with an opposition that may be slow, but never goes away.

The Wikipedia community's response to Edit Warring is the Three Revert Rule (3RR), which can ban a troublesome editor from erasing contributions to a page. However, erasing or "reverting" of page contributions must occur three times within 24 hours, so this is better for cooling down emotional editors than it is for stopping a standing corporate policy and the never-ending will to carry it out.

Although corporate page-sanitizers are unlikely to trip the Three Revert Rule's time limits, documenting repeated reversions (erasure of page extensions) entitles you to a listing on the ADMINISTRATORS' NOTICEBOARD for EDIT WARRING https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:AN/EW

DISRUPTIVE EDITORS MAY BE BANNED 10,000 employees, banned one per month -- are current Wikipedia policies optimal? Discussion of disruptive editing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Disruptive_editing

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO GLANCE AT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SPI The Sock Puppet (SP) page, in cases where multiple individuals act in concert to control opinion and approval for a page. Corporate control is usually different -- one employee plugging away, replaced by another, keeping the page sanitary for the long haul.

This ends a survey of Wikipedia tools for dealing with pages that are stubbornly sanitized by corporate employees.

IMHO, Wikipedia's tools that evolved to fight person-to-person edit wars are so weak, so burdensome and so slow against the relentless edits of large corporations, that we are driving voluntary editors away.

People edit pages that mention their current employer. I support automatic labeling of those persons, and the pages they have touched. It is not pejorative. This is sunlight. It provides a place for the best of the corporate historians to shine, and volunteer editors will work with them to show the breadth and scope of great companies that have changed daily life and the world's trajectory. Weak tools encourage suppression. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jerry-VA (talk) 00:22, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Just for the record, I have come-across batches of freelance (paid)work where the request is to view a WP article history, and report the two most recent change dates in the article history. So people are being paid to monitor WP edits for someone(s). Not really "paid"-editing if they are not changing anything, but pretty close. The way that I read the proposed TOS amendments, it looked pretty good as far as warning people who get caught violating the TOS that they will have no recourse when their company name is publicly embarrassed. FCC or FTC mention was good for legal--but maybe they should throw-in SEC? SEC is pretty tough on paid posters pumping-up stocks or businesses, I'm pretty sure that it is already against the law for an SEC company to sponsor posting any info anonymously? Or pretty close to it. On the good side-maybe there are some editors who could manage to use their WP editing skills to solicit or accept editing assignments if they formed a little union or trade-guild, they could even possibly check each other's work and promote a healthy use of paid editing while creating income? 01:52, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

In French wikipedia you have exactly this hidden behaviour CORPORATE DOMINATION nearly impossible to supress !!

The only way is to discuss freely the reality and to have the possibility of asking competent judges, even of a foreign country, to solve the discussion on valuable arguments. This is time consuming !!

This is not the case in wikipedia.fr They are driving voluntary editors away

I no more contribute to wikipedia.fr for this reason !!

WIKIPEDIA will not ban IP's who edit information to take fact out and put dis-info in. This amendment could mean nothing.

These people are paid or automated by AI. Monsanto has admitted to paying people 10 cents a post to spread positive propaganda about how you should eat GMO that's cells are full of pesticides. There are many articles on wiki that cant be edited because in a matter of seconds they are restored back even when the new info is important, new and cited with government studies or very well respected private researchers. An example of this is anything related to disease and conspiracy. Cancer is one, lyme disease is another. Both are great examples of this issue dive deep my friend and connect the dots. please respect my opinion and let this stay.

This experimental fact is true also in french wikipedia :

There are many articles on wiki that cant be edited because in a matter of seconds they are restored back even when the new info is important, new and cited with government studies or very well respected private researchers

paid or not directly paid, (retired conditioned by a life in their firm for example, or quasi religious thinking ) will not change this reality !!!

The only way is the possibility to appeal to independant specialized competent judges, even in a foreign country, who explain in details their judgements, in particular in the discussion .

Otherwise wikipedia remains with many errors never corrected, because many edit are supressed without any possibility to discuss what has been written with scientific proofs.

Translation : Traduction de mes différentes remarques:

Sur wikipedia France ce constat est très vrai :

Il y a beaucoup d'articles qui ne peuvent pas être édité ou amélioré, parce que en quelques secondes ils sont supprimés et restaurés à l'état d'avant, même s'il s'agit d'informations nouvelles et importantes, avec références scientifiques publiées dans des revues prestigieuses.

Payé ou non payés directement, comme des retraités conditionnés par une vie dans leur entreprise, ou des modes de pensée fanatiques, cela ne va pas changer ce comportement réel.

La seule solution est de pouvoir demander de faire appel à des juges indépendants spécialisés, compétents, même dans un pays étranger, qui expliquent leur jugement en détail en particulier dans la discussion. La discussion actuellement n'est pas une discussion sur les preuves et aucun appel n'est possible.

Par exemple je peux écrire plein d'équations incompréhensibles à 99% des lecteurs sans suppression, mais si j'explique de façon simple élémentaire, leurs conséquences pratiques qui dérangent des industriels, alors la suppression est rapide et sans appel, avec le contôleur wikipedia avouant même qu'il n'a pas lu, qu'il n'y comprend rien, et qui, en juge suprême, se moque totalement de vos protestations  !!

exemple diffusivité thermique avec ce censureur qui a laissé une belle bourde, vu qu'il n'y comprend rien du tout.

Pareille suppression et censure pour la géothermie qui a besoin de ces explications détaillées sur la diffusivité pour expliquer simplement comment on dimensionne les puits géothermiques de pompes à chaleur, qui en France sont souvent sous dimensionnés avec de véritables arnaques industrielles fort chères qui détruisent la confiance envers tous les installateurs de chauffage. Tout cela a été censuré par Lefringant sans possibilité du moindre appel considérant avec soin les faits réels. De plus d'autres explications détaillées sur géothermie ont été supprimées par un IP sans aucune raison à part qu'il cherche à bloquer toute information utile des lecteurs !! et rien n'a été rétabli !! géothermie est un théatre de combat intense d'édition à voir les suppressions !!

Pareil pour Moteur Pantone avec une énorme erreur interdite de corriger depuis 3 ans !! Titlutin est clairement récompensé !! Son travail de patrouille régulier est appréciable

Raz le bol et donc je ne contribue plus à wikipedia !!

J'ai demandé la suppression de mon compte mais alors j'ai découvert qu'on est inscrit à perpétuité à wikipedia !!

Aussi je ne me sers plus de mon compte, seule mon IP volatile sert .

The dumbest discussion of all time

This is the dumbest discussion I have ever encountered. There is literally nothing in the world less important than wikipedia. It is impossible to have a conflict of interest with something that doesn't matter. WHO CARES?

Beyond that, it is self-conflicting. By definition all statements made in wikipedia are supposed to be sourced. This whole conversation is entirely ad hominem. What difference does it make WHO makes the change--the question is whether it is accurate. Let's say famous person A hires me to keep an eye on their page. I notice A's birthdate is wrong so I fix it without disclosing I'm getting paid. What are you going to do, change it back to the wrong date because I didn't say who _____I_____ am? Are you beginning to see the stupidity of this discussion?

I know of no community in the world with a more overblown sense of their own self-worth than those who devote themselves to wikipedia. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 00:25, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

If indeed this is the dumbest discussion of all time, you spend quite a lot of time adding more stupidity. I think Wikipedia is one of the best ways for a lay person to get started on, let's say, organic chemistry. Most science articles are quite well sourced, unlike most History articles, where someone perhaps expert on the subject just writes without any sourcing. I most often come to Wikipedia to look for a list of sources on science - related subjects. That starts me off fairly well. I don't know any other source with so much unbiased information, but forget celebrities, anyway, for they don't matter for f**k's sake! Absolutely require transparency in any subject, anyway, because money is the most corrupting force in this world. DegreeofGlory (talk) 19:54, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I obviously disagree with your characterizations about Wikipedia and the value of community consultations, but you are entitled to your opinion, of course. If I may just address your hypothetical: By disclosing your affiliation, community members can review your edit to ensure against bias (like trying to make your famous person younger than she or he actually is). Your disclosure is also honest transparency and, depending on your established reputation as an editor, may even support the credibility of your edit. Geoffbrigham (talk) 00:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Was Jimmy Wales transparent with the community about the editing that he asked to take place on Rachel Marsden's biography in February 2008? No, he wasn't. He privately contacted OTRS by e-mail, so that the community decidedly would not be able to ensure against bias. Only Wikipedia insiders loyal to him were entrusted with ensuring against bias. Once the WMF gets its own house in order, then they may have the moral authority to impose these new ethics on the community. -- Thekohser (talk) 03:11, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
@Geoffbrigham - I will grant that you believe your statement regarding "may even support the credibility of your edit". But it's rather akin to a prosecutor stating that a criminal suspect voluntarily talking to the authorities in an investigation will impress them with honest transparency, and depending on established reputation of character, may even support the credibility of his/her story. Maybe it'll happen somewhere sometime in a very unusual situation - but the predominant wisdom is that a criminal suspect should shut up, as anything said can be used against him/her. Disclosing one's affiliation on Wikipedia is something like that. In a contentious situation, the occasions one gets points for honesty are far fewer than the times it is taken as a confession. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 14:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
This is an excellent explanation for why this is such a bad idea. Just like a suspect in a criminal case who is honest and admits anything may find it used against him, people editing in good faith who admit their affiliations may find their high-quality contributions opposed. Contrariwise, just as the suspect who exercises his right to remain silent won't get himself into additional trouble, this amendment won't hurt people who don't disclose their affiliations any more than they would be hurt under existing policies. JYolkowski (talk) 15:22, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 04:04, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Let's be frank with ourselves on this. The fact is, the kind of position taken by the IP is very, very common on Wikipedia. This TOU thing is a baby step to bring Wikipedia out of the Stone Age, and I suspect it is a baby step, and not something more meaningful, precisely because of the "COI don't matter" attitude coming out of Wikipedia editors. What strikes me about the COI debate, at least on Wikipedia, is how it illuminates the very worst aspects of Wikipedia: its detachment from the real world, its "ethics are defined by Wiki rules" tunnel vision, a pervasive "let's get on the gravy train" attitude, and the immaturity and lack of real-world experience of vast numbers of editors, some in senior roles. Coretheapple (talk) 01:23, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Good question and signing has affected some long term editors. First, to create a new section, just click the "Add Topic" tab at the very top of the page. To sign your comment, just type ~~~~ IF you have an account on Meta. IF you don't have an account here, it will show your IP address. I'd just type your preferred handle, e.g. MrGoodGuy and not do the ~~~~ thing. (though somebody might help to make sure the IP address doesn't get added later - Is there a technical fix for this?) BTW, thanks for your comment. Smallbones (talk) 01:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)


Even the best intentioned of COI editors will sometimes forget to identify individual posts. This could easily happen in they are interrupted by a phone call. The suggestion of role accounts with clear names will solve that, but otherwise certain of the options you give can be fantastical. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 01:08, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I have for some time felt that clearly labelled "role" accounts increase transparency rather than diminish it. Certainly, you know what to expect from User:CocaColaOfficial, don't you? Craig Franklin (talk) 09:52, 21 February 2014 (UTC).

Dealing with COI content

On Wikipediocracy there is a long-running thread which records the many conflict of interest contributions that can be found on en.wp, though presumably they are just as common elsewhere. Some people say that they find such COI edit just by clicking for random articles and checking them. Is the WMF going to do anything to root out such issues by employing staff to systematically hunt for COI issues? Or is this just a figleaf so that next time there is a huge flap the WMF can just pretend to have done something about it by pointing at the TOU? (I suppose you can also make the threatening letters from your lawyers more credible. But are you going to employ lawyers in future who have not themselves edited their own articles without disclosing their COI?)

There is no policy forbidding editing with a COI; on the contrary, there is a guideline that helps editors with a COI to participate without causing controversy. I've been helping COI editors on Wikipedia for years. -- Atama 02:03, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

What is the evidence that paid edits were being made?

Does Wikipedia have any evidence that paid edits were being made? The discussion here has presented both sides of the debate and that's good, but how is this issue out here all of a sudden? I'm new to Wikipedia editing but I'm not new to reading articles on Wikipedia and trusting the information here. Basically, is this just suspicion or speculation or fact? I'd like to know if there are any cases that confirms that Wikipedia edits were being compensated by third-parties.

Thanks. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bhetki (talk) 01:37, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

We know because editors on Wikipedia have admitted to being paid to edit articles. Some for the better, most not. Also, there are numerous places where you can see where you can find requests to edit Wikipedia for cash, and any number of news articles discussing the issue. Just do a web search for "Wikipedia paid editing". To start you off, read this article from CNET. To really get freaked out, look at Wiki-PR which is a business designed solely to edit Wikipedia for cash. -- Atama 02:01, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
For that matter, look a few paragraphs above this discussion, where the notorious Gregory Kohs admits to having an entire "stable" (terminology customarily used in discussions of prostitutes and their pimps) of paid undisclosed COI editors, and brags that he thinks he has ways of evading this block that will technically (in his notoriously limited moral interpretation of ethics) not violate the amended ToU. --Orange Mike (talk) 02:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Why is it "admits", Mike? I was simply stating a fact, and if anything, it's one to be proud of -- I've organized on a formal contractual basis a team of truly outstanding Wikipedia editors who comply with all content policies. I don't know why your mind is in the gutter with the prostitutes, but my Google search for "stable of editors" returns 26,800 results, while "stable of writers" returns 221,000 (more than twice as many hits as your "stable of prostitutes"). You also used forms of "notorious" twice in a very short paragraph -- it's doubtful your writing style would make the cut for inclusion in the MyWikiBiz guild. -- Thekohser (talk) 02:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Orangemike, "a stable of" is common terminology for a group who is directed or trained by a common person or organization, used in everyday writing in the real world. In news articles of the past few days, one can read about Lee Blessing’s play Chesapeake presents a stable of colorful characters..., a stable of iconic figures such as Mario, Donkey Kong and Samus..., the reigning MVP’s effort in 2013 spearheaded a stable of running backs..., and so on. The claim that it is "customarily used in discussions of prostitutes and their pimps" is a demonstrable falsehood, so if you plan to continue participating in these discussions, please be less vulgar towards other participants. Thank you. Tarc (talk) 13:07, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Well said. — Scott talk 13:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Bhetki, I can understand your confusion about why (if paid editing has been around since at least 2006 on Wikipedia) this push for a change in the Terms of Service is so urgent. The main reason probably is that the Wikimedia Foundation was recently highly embarrassed by one of its own employees taking money on the side for client-related Wikipedia content, without her actively disclosing that the work was compensated. Once the WMF gets shamed, then they want to spread the shame out to its "community". -- Thekohser (talk) 02:57, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hey Greg. What's your opinion of what (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:CorporateM) CorporateM is doing on Wikipedia: disclosing all of his clients on his user page? CorporateM and I have had our differences (sort of like saying "the Hatfields have had differences with the McCoys") but I have to give him credit for doing this. Don't get me wrong: I think that his business should be shut down tight, but as long as it exists, at least he is disclosing his clients to other editors. Coretheapple (talk) 05:21, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I think you mean "he is disclosing some of his clients". He's been asked some fairly direct questions on Wikipediocracy about his relationship with or connection between himself and Colin Warwick (User:Woz2) on the one hand, and Brian Halligan and HubSpot on the other. He refuses to answer. That said, you are talking to the inventor of the proposal that paid Wikipedia editors be allowed to edit whatever they'd like, as long as they follow content policy, and as long as they disclose who their clients are. That was how I launched MyWikiBiz in July 2006 -- every client would be fully disclosed. Jimmy Wales instantly had a fit about that, blocked my account, and started calling me on my cell phone. As I've said numerous times, once the WMF and Wales can get their own house in order, and see to it that the vendors they pay donors' money to are also following these rules of disclosure, then I'll be happy to obey their rules, too. But it has to start with them. No justice, no peace. -- Thekohser (talk) 11:54, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
CorporateM doesn't have to respond to every conspiracy theory conjured on Wikipediocracy. CorporateM posted to the thread, you guys refused to listen or assume good faith, and then you guys came up with more and more conspiracy theories. That's the sort of thread that one can legitimately quit. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 13:56, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Yep, I think Michaelsuarez has a valid point. Glad you agree with user page disclosure. Once we conquer disclosure to other editors, the next mountain to climb is disclosure to readers. Or better still, just ban paid editing completely. Greg we've discussed the Wales situation on the latter's talk page frequently and I don't think it has much bearing on whether disclosure is a good idea. Coretheapple (talk) 15:01, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Agree with sentiments from Coretheapple. Disclosure to fellow editors is nice, but only a baby-step towards something meaningful: disclosing on every page any edits that are paid. Imagining this unsightly disclosure in an encyclopedia should drive home the final point: we need to ban paid editing completely. Encyclopedias are sacred receptacles of unbiased facts. At least, they damn well should be. It's hard enough keeping articles neutral without the added pressure of dealing with edits and arguments by people paid to be here, or otherwise profiting from their work. Petrarchan47 (talk) 07:55, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

How does this apply to MediaWiki? What about small gifts

I like what you're trying to do with this. I think paid editing policies should be up to individual communities, but lying about motivations is not ok. However I'm concerned about some potential edge cases: Lots of people are paid to work on MediaWiki, many are paid by either the WMF or WM-DE to do so, but there are also occasionally some folks who make commits to mediawiki as part of their job, well working for somebody entirely separate from the Wikimedia movement. Well I would like to know who is paying whom for very active contributors (More out of curiosity then anything else. Paid contributing is much less of a COI here than in an encyclopedia), I think it is an utterly unreasonable requirement for the one-off contributorwho is upstreaming a bug fix from some third party company that uses our software.

For myself personally, once upon a time a Wikimedia contributor mailed me cookies in exchange for helping to fix a bug. Although I probably would have fixed the bug anyways, cookies are nonetheless a "good" I received in exchange for contributing, but I never publicly declared that I received said cookies. If this policy was in place back then, would I be in violation of it? What about people who hold wiki contents that have physical prizes? Would those be in violation of this as those are "declared", but often not in edit-summary, talk page, or user page. What if person A improves some article that person B likes, in exchange for person B converting some video of person A to ogg/webm (Exchange of favours between wiki friends). Arguably the two wiki-friends are exchanging services for contributions. Bawolff (talk) 05:38, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Also, what about micropayments? What if I have a Flickr button on my user page? What about reward boards? Say I'm paid for writing an article by an editor whose name is not public but I happen to know it; am I then legally required to disclose it? (What about a bounty board btw? Is a donation given to a charity of my choosing a "service"?) What if I am interested in some sensitive topic, and willing to pay editors to work on it, but can't risk being publicly linked to that topic?

Clearly a lot of thought went into this proposal, and I think it strikes the right balance as far as PR editors are concerned, but it casts its net too wide. Requiring all paid editors to disclose that they are paid is all right; requiring them to disclose the identity of the one who is paying could be a serious privacy concern in some cases. --Tgr (talk) 08:41, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Temporal evasion of visible disclosures

Having people post affiliation notices in edit summaries or on article talk pages when they make relevant edits makes sense. The edit summary is immediately available for whatever edit is involved, and the talk-page posting should be locatable in its history within a short time around the relevant article edit.

But there's a hole in this disclosure policy for anyone posting their affiliations on their user pages: Such affiliations are always temporary. Some paid jobs are probably only for hours, and every employee eventually leaves employer, one way or another. If I get paid by Company Acme to tweak their article, why can't I post this affliation before I start, do the editing, then remove the notice after their last payment hits my account, since I no longer work for them? Yes, it'll show up in my user-page history, but who's going to research a user page's entire history to ensure that what they've edited has never been at someone's behest?

What about someone who edits today and gets paid six months later? Or gets a nice vacation in Hawaii this March with a promise to "fix" an article in June? Perhaps we should amend this policy to insist on such affiliations being made as soon as they're established and left permanently visible on the user page, not just in its history, perhaps with time periods helpfully identified. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 07:55, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Enforcement is key

I did take a stance on this issue recently in The Daily Dot. I think that the change in policy may have positive effect, however the decisive factor will not, obviously, be how it is phrased, but rather how it is going to be enforced. I can imagine, for instance, permanent bans in the cases of undisclosed paid activities, as well as paid editions tagging/flagging (similarly to bots), or requiring special kinds of accounts (so that the whole community would review such edits much more easily). I think that all in all we are not going to eliminate bad faith paid editing, but perhaps we are going to allow some good faith paid edits in, provided that there are strong tools of community control over this input. Pundit (talk) 10:26, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I completely agree, but I wonder how effective bans are in practice. For example, Katy Perry had a troll on YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr (and likely anywhere else she has an account) that simply created a new account every time something was eventually done to block the current one. You can't ban IP addresses because you can unfairly freeze out libraries, free WiFi locations, etc., not to mention spoofed IP addresses through anonymous servers. E-mail bans only work for the five minutes it takes to sign up for a new Hotmail account and create a new Wikipedia profile. The real troublemakers probably contribute anonymously which is one reason why I'd like to see "anonymous" (i.e. non-account) edits done away with entirely.
Whatever the enforcement, those worst offenders who are unscrupulous enough to maliciously edit falsehoods into articles for pay are likely going to be more tenacious than some (I presume) angry teenager and will keep coming back every time something is done to get rid of them. Unfortunately, I think this self-identifying paid edit policy is only going to be followed by those who aren't a concern, but all things considered, an official policy addressing this issue is better than nothing. KADC "Be unreasonable." (talk) 12:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the observations. I agree that the proposed amendment is not a 100% solution, but I do set out a few reasons why the amendment might help here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Enforcement, yes, a critical issue, and it's especially not easy to avoid becoming heavy-handed. As for non-100% solutions, I also think it's worth considering that idea of shutting down IP-only edits. Even when it comes to other issues (like vandalism), the non-account sources provide the most edits likely to require attention from more experienced and regular contributors. And if someone at an IP contributes well and often enough, why is getting an account a barrier to that kind of activity? Or is the IP connectivity significant for maintaining anonymity under some of the more adverse circumstances in the world? Evensteven (talk) 00:57, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

How would we enforce this?

I don't see amendment being added into terms of use — alone — do any use. But in detail... what do you think of these three categories below?

  • -1: Rationale behind it being enforced
We could simply put an additional box into the article creation page (?action=edit for pages that don't exist) which asks to disclose motivations and affiliations. It could help somewhat. What benefit is there in formally requiring to do this where the identity of the author is simply not verifiable, it's not really possible to force him to admit COI if he really doesn't want? —Gryllida 10:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • 0: Impact of these groups (1-3)
Which one of these groups makes a larger load onto Wikimedia projects? —Gryllida 10:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • 1: "It looks like xe has COI but xe doesn't admit it"
Someone makes an article and says 'no' in response to all questions to disclose affiliation. Xir name is googleable and while identity can't be verified, xe doesn't admit COI. How do we react? —Gryllida 10:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • 2: "I can't see xir COI anywhere but xe is just dense, xe probably actually does have COI (although I'll keep working under assumption of good faith)" ====
Someone makes an article and says 'no' in response to all questions to disclose affiliation. Xir name is not googleable, xe doesn't admit COI, but is difficultly dense asking us to please write an article for him plz????!. How do we react? —Gryllida 10:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • 3: "Xe has COI but xe did not disclose it initially, we wasted several hours of effort to work on that article"
Would we block people who admitted COI after creating an article? If yes, how long after creating article? Would I be blocked if I did it a day after I wrote an article? 2 days after? 1 month after? —Gryllida 10:14, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi Grylida -Thanks for your interesting posting and idea on the article creation page. I do set out some reasons how I see this proposed amendment to be helpful here. I think you raise some interesting potential scenarios relevant to community enforcement. I do think - as with all our terms and community policies - we use reason and good sense in enforcement, especially in gray areas. As a practical matter, no policy can capture every possibility, but historically our community has generally exercised good judgment in the enforcement of the policies. I will be interested in monitoring this discussion to see what others say as well. Geoffbrigham (talk) 15:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

Having read the discussion, I strongly support the amendment. Given Wikipedia's vast influence, and the incentives for manipulating it, I'm surprised this policy hasn't already been adopted. Policies like this are widespread in, for example, medical research journals, and do some good, though they are not a panacea. Nothing is perfect, and we shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. As some have said, enforcement is key, but I think most of the enforcement will not come formally through the legal system, but informally through the consensus-driven Wikipedia community itself. Having this amendment as part of the terms of use will give Wikipedians an additional powerful tool to use against biased editing and attempts to use Wikipedia as an advertising platform. Now paid editors will have to try extra hard to be balanced, or their edits will be discounted by other users who know they are paid, and if they don't disclose it and are later caught, they will be subject to opprobrium, warnings and possible banning for repeat offenses. A professor has worried if he would be in violation for not disclosing his university affiliation. A reasonable answer, which I think most Wikipedians would support, is No. If he were merely editing an article on a topic of his professional expertise no disclosure would be called for. If he were editing article that takes a point of view, or seems to, on his own university, he would still not be a "paid editor" in the sense of the amendment, but it would be proper and prudent for him to disclose his affiliation under existing Wikipedia conflict-of-interest guidelines. Another user wonders whether the disclosure requirement will compromise the anonymity of Wikipedians who don't edit under their own name. It indeed may, but if one is making paid edits, one ought not also to have the right to hide one's affiliation, even if disclosing it makes it possible to guess one's identity. The existing policy against sockpuppets already represents a limitation on absolute anonymity.CharlesHBennett (talk) 16:13, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Email to OTRS

Can this also be an option added to the list of three things a contributor may do to disclose his affiliation with an organization? In my opinion, the three options so presented might be a bit... intrusive and rather public. Once you've put your name down anywhere on Wikipedia, it's hard to erase it even if you or the organization are no longer affiliated with each other, and in the worst case scenario, where either you, the affiliation with, or the organization itself goes down in flames, and you no longer want to be associated with the organization, you have no choice but to be remembered as such. Even if they might have some unreasonable policy about projecting a public image on Wikipedia. It's also quite a risk exposing your real life details related to an organization, makes it easier to narrow down who you might be. I'd much prefer the careful judgment of the OTRS people, or if they allow so the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee to handle these situations, and they know best how to handle sensitive data. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 16:33, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Also, I noticed that from Special:CentralNotice that this banner is set to run only for four days. Can we extend it a little to say maybe a week to get some further feedback? I just feel four days for busy people isn't enough time for reviewing and responding to this large change in the Terms of Use. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 16:33, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
English Wikipedia's official stance on paid editing has always been a bit murky, and there's no true consensus on allowing or disallowing the practice as far as I know. Of course, this revision to the terms of use may as well force the issue on Wikipedia and the community to actually revisit the issue. Here are some links to some discussions: Wikipedia:Perennial proposals#Paid editing, Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Paid editing, Wikipedia:Paid editing, and Wikipedia:Paid editing. Food for thought. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 16:33, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
While I think some editors have raised thoughtful concerns about the privacy implication, I do not see OTRS as a solution (speaking as an OTRS agent). I think the goal of the amendment is to make it transparent when an edit comes from an editor who is being paid to edit. If that editor files a report with OTRS, and I handle it, what am I supposed to do? Monitor every edit made henceforth by that editor to see if it is acceptable? That's not workable. The non-public nature of OTRS is workable when it comes to licenses, but I do not see how it works when it comes to edits. On the other hand, perhaps I have missed something, can you explain what you believe should happen if John Doe declares to OTRS than he is a paid editor, and then edits? --Sphilbrick (talk) 17:35, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
This change is merely to ensure that the section of the Terms of Use concerning misrepresentation are enforced, right? First, email to OTRS would link back the paid contributor to his employer(s), to ensure no fraud was committed. Second, Wikipedia policies about blocks cases of strong abuse like COI/promotional editing already permit blocking of such accounts based on behavioral evidence. But if there was ever a need to investigate a user account for abuse, particularly with NPOV, then the OTRS ticket could be referenced as relevant info by an OTRS agent should the disclosure become necessary/mandatory, for any situation. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 18:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
  • OTRS doesn't have anywhere near the throughput to handle COI disclosures getting routed through them. Since Wikipedia allows pseudonyms, even for paid contributors (eg., CorporateM doesn't go by his real name,) I don't think that requiring on-wiki disclosure has severe personal privacy implications. If the company paying for it is concerned about the company's privacy... well.. they can always choose not to pay editors. Kevin (talk) 04:30, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


How can you really know which contributions are paid, which are not? To me it seems like the failed "budget cap" in Formula One, which seems to be a good idea but utterly unenforceable. Alonso McLaren (talk) 17:15, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I have raised a few considerations on the purpose and need for the proposed amendment here. Your comment is a fair point but you raise an issue that, in different contexts, is true with many provisions in a terms of use to some degree or another. Also, our community is able to investigate, and we have examples where our community has enforced provisions of sock puppetry, for example, which is a tool for undisclosed paid editing at times. Legal options like cease and desist orders or even litigation in egregious cases are theoretically possible. As I noted above, this provision is also to help provide guidance to good faith editors - it is not only a negative tool to facilitate enforcement when bad players are caught, but it is a positive tool to provide guidance to editors who want to know the rules. I hope that helps answer your question. Cheers. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:49, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
It is unenforceable against any reasonably competent editor, for we will not be able to be certain they're a paid editor unless they tell us, though we may suspect it. In the enWP, we can't even ask them a question if they're a paid editor, or at least we cannot insist they answer. It will remove the incompetent, the nature of whose work is obvious, but we can remove them just as well on the basis of the content they add. It therefore privileges deceit, as long as it isn't stupid deceit. DGG (talk) 18:37, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Excellent point DGG; my own opinion is that we should be improving our ability to see non-neutral additions to pages, paid or not, in order to truly solve the problem of NPOV issues. Jeremy112233 (talk) 19:24, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
i agree, it's a perpetuation of questioning motives, rather than improving system, and outcomes. the clever editor will route around perimeter defense, and only be found ex post facto. the ratcheting up of negative reinforcement to include legal action, will not deter, but push further underground, i.e. public ip's. Slowking4 (talk) 19:33, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Misrepresentation - how to determine intention to deceive?

What if say I created a roleplay group on YouTube and wanted to "disclose" my affiliation as being part of some larger "company"? How do we determine, enforce, or judge anyone's intentions, as far as deception or misrepresentation goes? Is this just for play, or something else? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 17:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi TeleComNasSprVen - I'm afraid I don't fully understand your question. Can you explain a bit more please? To be clear, if you are not being compensated for making edits, you do not need to disclose under the proposed amendment. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
My mistake then. But if someone falsely claims to have been paid to edit (even though they haven't - for whatever reason - like say in a bet a with a friend) and/or then falsely claims affiliation, perhaps to a "company" they made up, what is the recourse on that? Should they still be allowed to edit? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 18:04, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Under the present terms of use, you are not allowed to misrepresent your affiliation ... and that has been the case for years. The community would decide what would be the best approach to address the situation - it might be a warning, a suspension, or a ban, I imagine. Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:06, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
or a firing. what if someone offers money to make "paid looking" edits at an editor's ip, and then creates the false accusation, drama. or sends in a fabricated screenshot of a paid relationship. can't prove the negative. doesn't the policy reward such bad behavior. Slowking4 (talk) 19:40, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

freedom of the press

This measure must not be approved. Freedom of the press is the most beneficial advantage on which we can all agree. To curtail this freedom would be a loss. The EU directive is poor guidance. We have, on this wiki site, the most simple and uncomplicated policy: "contributions may be mercilessly edited". This is the guarantor of wiki. We should be loathe to modify it.

I don't think you understand the proposal; there is no loss of freedom. The proposal is asking users to disclose when making an edit/contribution that they are compensated for, not limiting the ability to edit or make a contribution. --Tcxspears (talk) 21:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Editing while at work

Not to be a wise guy, but if somebody (not me, of course) edits while at work, doesn't that constitute "paid editing?" For example, Jane Smith works at Oscar Meyer and sometimes edits from work. However, Jane's edits are not on behalf of Oscar Meyer, and furthermore the subject matter in which Jane edits is not about, nor related to, Oscar Meyer. In that sense, I'll wager that there are many, many "paid editors" out there (but not me, of course) and wonder if the verbiage should address this. (On the other hand I don't believe it constitutes a conflict of interest, which I understand is the actual concern.) -- Gyrofrog (talk) 17:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Gyrfrog. In this scenario, the proposed amendment would not apply because you are not being compensated for the editing. If others feel confused about this point, we can add a new FAQ making this even clearer. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
That's how I read it too. You have to be paid _for_ the editing. But, there could be a lot of deniability about that e.g. "Yes, I'm a paid staffer of Congressman X but I was editing as a personal supporter." --Cahpcc (talk) 19:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
As someone who mainly IP-edits, in this case I think that requiring paid editors to log-in when (paid)-editing would be key. That could also prevent sabotaging competitors, (although against the proposed TOS-see identity), with purposely bad or foolish-looking edits being mis-attributed. I'm assuming that it would be OK for an editor to maintain a personal screen name/or IP edit, AND use a paid-identity? Also in the TOS-having it clearly marked on the user page, I like but it would have to be an identical notice in the same place so that readers could find it with one-click and not have to hunt for it (like upper left or right-hand corner so a quick look-see could tell you "yes" or "no". 19:47, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I can't see how you say the person is not being compensated for the editing. I edit Wikipedia at work. My job is paid. My job includes tens of activities. Sometimes, I decide that my role is to edit work-related articles. I am paid for anything I do for my employer, whether that's writing code or a "related task", be that locking the door when I'm the last person to leave or some other initiative I take such as editing a relevant article. Therefore, if Wikimedia would request me to disclose my employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia projects for which I receive compensation, I would understand that I need to disclose my employer, even if I never edit in the interest of my employer. --Chealer (talk) 20:16, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

What about somebody editing while at work, and whose job description includes improving his company's image on the Web at large? Wouldn't that be "paid editing"? A frequent case is that of interns being specifically ascribed the task of contributing some flattering article on Wikipedia about their employer. --Azurfrog (talk) 01:18, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, that is a different kind of thing. Evensteven (talk) 03:29, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

What about non-paid people with an agenda?

Pay is just one way that a person may have a conflict of interest on a Wikimedia project. Strong personal opinions (be they e.g. scientific, religious, political) lead to at least as much problems of the very same fundamental nature: a conflict between one's own agenda and Wikimedia's interest in building neutral information resources.

Inhowfar is the failure to disclose a paid agenda in particular any worse (from a neutrality viewpoint) than any other strong agenda that diverges from and clashes with WMF's goals?

Singling out paid editing in particular as the "core problematic aspect" of agenda editing is entirely wrong-headed imho. Whatever the agenda, any strong agenda which diverges from the community's sole interest in building neutral resources should have to be disclosed. Either that, or the project may as well continue to judge edits by their own merit. -- 18:08, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

To be honest, I prefer that Wikipedia judge a user by their contributions and not the motives behind it. Sure, motives may be one factor to take into account when judging whether their contributions could be deemed 'helpful' or 'unhelpful' towards building the encyclopedia, but it should not be the determining factor to judge user contributions by, let alone the decision to completely ban that user from editing at all on the site for failure of disclosing such motives. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 18:30, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
That's a valid opinion, but beside the point I was making. My issue is with singling out pay as the "motor" for a non-neutral agenda over other, potentially equally strong or even stronger root causes for non-neutral agendas.
Also, nobody is suggesting that contributions by paid editors be dismissed out of hand or that paid editors be banned outright. However, disclosing any non-neutral agenda (paid or otherwise) is definitely helpful for evaluating an editor's contributions and can actually help ease the tensions which inevitably arise from suspicions of agenda editing. -- 18:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I also have a beef with STUDENT editors. They are mandated to edit in some cases-not really voluntary there! EDITED BY STUDENT EDITOR should appear on the article page too. 19:49, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

The basic question seems to be "other stuff is a problem, why don't we fix everything at the same time?" It would be nice if we could fix everything at once, but that's just not the way the real world works. Let's fix the really important stuff first. Which brings up the other main question - "How far is the failure to disclose a paid agenda in particular any worse (from a neutrality viewpoint) than any other strong agenda that diverges from and clashes with WMF's goals?"

That's easy to answer: many businesses can afford to have several people monitoring "their" articles on Wikipedia, whereas our usual editors are volunteers. The paid editors will dominate unless they have to disclose their paid status. The result of undisclosed paid editing will be biased articles on anything to do with business (and much that has only a tenuous connection with business) and a systematic bias in the articles we cover. PR people can argue forever trying to prove that black is white, and they do -not just on Wikipedia! They cannot honestly participate in an open discussion of an issue - the must (by law) present their employer's interest. None of the usual give-and-take expected from Wikipedia editors can be expected with them. If a firm wants to pay enough editors on Wikipedia, they can in effect say anything they want here, and volunteers can't do anything about it. Smallbones (talk) 20:11, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

The basic question seems to be "other stuff is a problem, why don't we fix everything at the same time?" - Nope, that is not my point at all. My point is that focusing solely on pay as an agenda-driving factor diverts attention away from the fact that agenda itself is the core problem. Many strong editing agendas have nothing to do with pay, and by focusing only on pay as a problematic motivating factor, we're doing the project a huge disservice by tacitly giving those other agendas more of a pass. Every type of conflict of interest should be declared openly and should be treated with the exact same caution as paid editing. -- 21:50, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi - Your point is reasonable. Wikimedia projects however are able to tailor their conflict of interests requirements to their projects and needs, so other motivating factors can be addressed as appropriate on those projects. There is something about money however that does challenge neutrality, and we feel it is important and prevalent enough to address this one factor comprehensively in the terms. That said, I hear your reasoning. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I strongly agree with addressing this issue. I used to include information in wikipages in Spanish. The Spanish websites are dominated by fundamentalist catholic editors. I do not know if paid, but certainly working in an organized and systematic manner. That is why all documents on scientific or political neutral issues are very small in Spanish and entries on religious items (People, concepts, etc.) are extremely large. When one tries to add some neutral information they erase it. Mostly, the only way to keep some neutral information online in Spanish is translating literally some info from an English or German Wikipedia site and stating so, so that they do not erase it. I tell my students that if they speak English, never look up the Spanish sites which are strongly biased, but the English version which is mostly radically different (well informed and objective) from the Spanish versions. I doubt it could be proven that this religious control of the contents of the Spanish websites is based on coordinated work, if this would be the case. In any case, there is no possibility as things are now to change the contents of Spanish websites where the church considers that they have something to say or to delete, because they will erase new data or add their own agenda information.
Just to "taste" a bit the gravidity of what I am referring here to, you can contrast the (randomly chosen) entry on "inquisition" in English and in Spanish. In the Spanish version there are only some justifying arguments about why it seemed to be necessary to have the inquisition in different states and they add numbers about how little people were really killed by the inquisition. If you try to change this page making it more like the English version, it will immediately be "corrected".— The preceding unsigned comment was added by Philocarmen (talk) 22 February 2014, 14:45 (UTC) (es:Usuario:Philocarmen)

Hypothetical question on limits

If we implement this proposal, what is going to stop "Big Business Ltd" from hiring a team of IT-qualified but poorly-paid people in a developing country and instructing them to keep a vigilant eye on all of the multiple articles on "Big Business", making sure that their employer always looks good, with shifts to ensure there are editors available at all times?

What stops them now? DGG (talk) 18:38, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Nothing, but what in this proposal would change anything about that? -- 18:44, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
It doesn't have to fix every issue to be useful. If there's a way to improve this proposal to make it more effective, I'm all for it. But just because it isn't perfect, that doesn't mean it won't be better than what we have now (which is a total failure to address paid editing). -- Atama 19:29, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
@DGG: - I wasn't implying that it doesn't already happen, because I'm pretty sure it does already. The question was mean't to ask about what happens after the amendment is adopted and we get non-compliance. The sections below the actual amendment don't say anything about how we tackle non-compliance if we adopt the proposal. Instead it appears to be simply an acknowledgement of the existing situation, which would give such businesses a much freer hand to influence our content because they will point to this amendment as their justification. I would support the proposal IF it presented a clear explanation for HOW we are going to deal with infringements when this amendment is adopted. By that I mean what else, apart from blocking/banning editors, blocking IP's i.e. will there be legal action, and if so, what lengths will the WMF go to in order to ensure compliance? Green Giant supports NonFreeWiki (talk) 20:43, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
@Atama: - In addition to my reply to DGG, the proposal is a small but very serious change of policy and it simply isn't good enough to say "OK, we'll let you do paid editing as long as you tell us" without a statement of what will happen if such editors do not abide by this requirement. All it says at the moment is that such editing might be limited by "applicable law, or community and Foundation policies", instead of saying that it "will be limited". Green Giant supports NonFreeWiki (talk) 20:43, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for these comments. We of course cannot provide a precise accounting of the law in various jurisdictions, but the purpose of the proposed amendment is to give fair warning that paid editing may be restricted by the law - a situation that I don't believe many understand. This FAQ tried to give that notice. We also make clear that this proposed amendment is only a minimum requirement, and that projects may further restrict or ban paid editing (but that is the decision of the projects so we cannot be more definitive in the terms). So, as I see it, I would not read the proposed amendment as endorsement of paid editing. If you think we can state this a different way please let me know. Much appreciated. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:39, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Is the right information being disclosed?

I believe I understand what the proposal intends to address, but I'm not convinced that the most appropriate and useful information is being disclosed. If I need to do a quick lookup, I'm unlikely to also check the edit history, talk page, and individual editor talk pages to see whether some particular datum was entered by a "commercial" editor. If I'm concerned about whether a particular piece of information is legitimate or if it's corporate spin, this policy doesn't seem to do much to simplify the task of sorting one from the other.

What would be more useful to me would be a way to identify which edits are paid. If I'm reading a page on XYZ Corporation, I don't want to have to sort through the talk page and the list of editors and their individual talk pages to fully determine whether someone from XYZ Corporation might have put a little boosterism on their page -- or whether someone from ABC Corporation got on there to boost negative information about XYZ. It seems more to the point to me to directly identify the paid edits, perhaps in a similar manner to cites and footnotes. Trdsf (talk) 19:18, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Trdsf, I hear your point. I think it is somewhat of a balancing act to be honest. The reason for the disclosure requirement is primarily to allow our community to identify any potential conflict of interest and challenge or edit out point of view (POV) contributions. Readers can do the same, but your point is well taken that it is more difficult. However, I can see practical issues in labeling paid edits on the article page, especially when part of a paid edit could be subject to further non-paid edits in the future. It could get confusing quickly. I don't think the proposed amendment is a perfect solution to the issue you are solving, but IMHO it is a step forward. Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Exactly, it's a step, and it's one that I am leaning in favor of supporting -- though I would feel a lot better about it if the rule were that the editor identify themselves and their employer on the edit history page any time they make an edit on the clock. Certainly there's no reason to believe commercial editors are necessarily biased, but a question of bias is necessarily involved, particularly if they're working on pages that are relevant to their employer's financial or professional interests. And there are wider issues than just corporate misuse of the Wikipedia platform: I want to know if a staffer of a political campaign is creating a "Scandals" section on the page of their opponent -- or softening a "Scandals" section on their candidate's page. Obviously, these are things that can be picked up under NPOV, but there is a vast difference between an honest mistake in wording or sourcing of information, mean-spirited vandalism, and a deliberate and calculated distortion of the record.
So I support this as a first step, and not the only or the last. I'm a great believer that Wikipedia's greatest strength is its openness and accessibility -- but open should not also mean defenseless against abuse. Trdsf (talk) 06:25, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
[nodding] Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:48, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


Why not just send all paid-editors to a somewhat mirror site where they paid-edit to their ♥'s content then see how it looks in a few years? 20:00, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Because they want the exposure Wikipedia gives them, not the exposure some random site gives them. We already have bundles of paid editors, all this does is provide a potential mechanism to punish those who do so without disclosure (and those who do so without disclosure are harder to track and address any NPOV problems with than those who disclose.) Kevin (talk) 04:32, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Other Wikimedia projects

What we are missing currently is input about the other Wikimedia projects which are affected by this change to the Terms of Use. While Wikipedia definitely is the Wikimedia Foundation's flagship project, it is definitely not the only wiki out there, maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation's servers in Sampa, Florida. This may have other, more adverse effects for the policy changes on other Wikimedia wikis and projects not accounted for, such as Wikisource, Wikiversity, and Wikivoyage. And these projects do not have the same mission as Wikipedia, they may or may not care about NPOV, and in fact some of them may even encourage POV as a way to facilitate discussions and forays into further knowledge. One of the more important issues raised in this talkpage is the future of the GLAM-affiliated participating organizations, whose contributors could be adversely affected by this change, if they happen to be unluckily caught between it and a Non-disclosure agreement (see diff by Llywrch). Wikisource may depend on contributions and donations from various organizations to store its material, just as organizations on Wikimedia Commons may choose to have their people release their content under the CC-BY-SA agreement. Wikiversity has several participating organizations dedicated to research, which could also be commercial and/or promotional. Wikivoyage absolutely gets its content from quite a number of travel agencies, with some negotiation between editors on how best to be fair, an altogether different but related standard from notability.

We need to examine the impacts of this change across Wikimedia projects more closely, not just on Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation's flagship project. The Terms of Use affects everybody, and we should give them a chance in order to hear what they have to say. This change, while not explicitly banning paid editing altogether, definitely works to discourage it. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 20:15, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

What is the purpose of this change? Eliminating POV may be an ideal, but that does not always work in the best interests of other projects. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 20:18, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you TeleComNasSprVen. Do you know how to bring this discussion to the attention of non-Wikipedia projects? My perspective is that undisclosed paid editing is potentially legally problematic, even if the project does not have a NPOV policy similar to Wikipedia. For example, in Wikivoyage, an undisclosed paid edit may be in violation of astroturfing or fair advertising laws. I hope that the minimal level of disclosure that is required by this amendment would not pose a problem for the usual activity on Wikisource, Wikiversity, or Wikivoyage, but I do appreciate any more insight you have on on the topic. Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
The question isn't if it presents new problems. The question is if it solves any, because it clearly comes with costs, namely the loss of some anonymity. On Commons (the project I am most active on) I would see no problem with an undisclosed paid contributor uploading photos relating to their company. It's hard to undermine NPOV using only media files. While I've never contributed to Wikisource, I imagine that it's similar there. I don't see your point wrt violating the law; it is of course always the contributor's duty to also follow any laws that apply to them, what does that have to do with the ToU - unless of course you believe that the WMF is violating any laws under certain circumstances? darkweasel94 (talk) 23:06, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
To me, it seems that paid editing is allowed just so long as it is instantly revealed as such, so I see no way that the amendment could harm any of the Wikimedia projects... KaiQ 23:35, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Goals of the change: COI versus fraud

I'm seeing two different goals that this proposed change is trying to accomplish here. I think we need to distinguish them, because it is important for the views expressed by the editors found here: the first is the reduction of COI in Wikipedia by discouraging (and alternatively banning altogether) paid editing and paid editors of any kind; the second, subtle in the eyes of Wikimedians, but expressly stated purpose of the Wikimedia Foundation LCA team for this change is the reduction of fraud attempts. I understand that attempts at fraud are close to illegality and why the legal team would want to avoid that, but it seems that through the implicit tone of the comments made here, they are also trying to change the cultures of their projects into banning COI and biased articles altogether from the Wikimedia Foundation servers. Of course, this benefits the Wikimedia Foundation's flagship project Wikipedia, whose core policy is in fact NPOV, but in the context of other wiki projects also under the Terms of Use of the Foundation, it may have adverse consequences, as noted under #Other Wikimedia projects up above. This is undoubtedly the easiest approach to taking care of both, but why also put other projects at risk for potential harm? Has anyone thought of satisfying the requirements of the Terms of Use, according to Foundation's LCA, whose goal is to prevent "misrepresentation" and "fraud", without also affecting COI and POV policies everywhere else? The Foundation has pledged to support all of its projects in all endeavors, but here it seems to be favoring one over the other...

Let me be more clear on this: I think the Foundation's efforts at reducing potential fraud are praiseworthy, but this attempt also has the side effect, intended or unintended, of enforcing or making global a policy specific to Wikipedia (NPOV), which is not praiseworthy. Perhaps a better solution could be found, and we have merely not thought hard enough. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 20:31, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Fraud (aka hoaxes, falsification, etc.) will always occur on Wikipedia. That's why there's a Project:Verifiability policy. Why not shame companies and other organizations that attempt to manipulate their Wikipedia articles, e.g. by notifying the press and then linking to the resulting press article? For example, this was done at National_Institute_on_Drug_Abuse#External_links ("Feds Mess with Wikipedia Entry, Again"). Leucosticte (talk) 20:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi TeleComNasSprVen - Thanks for your posting, which I found useful. I would be interested in what language changes you would proposed to address your concerns or conceptually what would you include in the TOU to prevent the type of fraud you are talking about. Thanks for your time ... much appreciated. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
To me, it seems that paid editing is allowed just so long as it is instantly revealed as such, so I see no way that the amendment could harm any of the Wikimedia projects... KaiQ 23:35, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Seems pretty obvious to me. Of course we all understand that prohibiting it will not guarantee to prevent it, but the same is true for every rule, law, etc. ever devised. 20:46, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Not to me. How about an archive or library wanting to put some material into Wikipedia? Sounds good to me. But they'll have to have someone doing it for them. Usually that will be a paid employee. Which apparently is obviously not allowed. - Andre Engels (talk) 22:30, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I didn't know such a thing ever happened or was conceivably likely. By "paid-for content" I mean content paid for by commercial interests, lobbyists, etc. to promote themselves or further their own agenda. 22:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Andre, aren't you being a bit facetious here? You know very well that there is a difference between an employee who also edits and someone who is specifically paid to edit to tone down criticism etc. -- 23:13, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I do know there is a difference, but if you talk about 'paid content', then that includes any employee who is paid to edit - it doesn't make a difference what kind of edits s/he is paid for - Andre Engels (talk) 09:46, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
To me, it seems that paid editing is allowed just so long as it is instantly revealed as such... KaiQ 23:31, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Get real. Paid editing will become effectively banned by this change: disclosure is tantamount to begging someone to revert any change you make, and proceedings against you will be initiated post-haste. It would be far, far, more honest for the WMF to simply ban it outright, as that is clearly the intent. 19:18, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
If money contaminates the contribution I can only laugh at the hypocrisy: virtually every single source that is cited by the encyclopedia was written by people who were paid, and published by a for-profit corporation. 19:18, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Add obligatory disclosure for volunteers, too

I think that volunteers, for example government volunteers, should add their disclosure, too, as their edits could be motivated by opportunity for personal advancement in political party.

This idea is great, as it doesn't reject experts to edit articles in their field of expertise. It just asks them to disclose their affiliation in order to improve NPOV policy effectiveness.

Unfortunately, if there are no laws which can control undisclosed edits, I am afraid that this idea is useless. 22:45, 21 February 2014 (UTC)


I basically agree with most of the displeasure above. It'll never be enforceable, it's basically going to be used as a rule to point to by people who are already determined to get rid of paid editing one way or the other (a matter I don't really care about one way or the other, tbh). This is all for show and I think it's a waste of time (I can't believe I'm getting involved...). Someone somewhere above said that we should just edits for edits and not by who made them--I agree with that more than anything else. I've gone ahead and taken the liberty declaring the source of my edits preemptively. ^demon (talk) 03:28, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi ^demon - it certainly won't be universally enforceable... but I would imagine that this would put the Wikimedia Foundation on far better legal grounds to pursue extreme violators, such as Wiki-PR (recently re-branded as Status Labs.) I don't think a 100% effective solution is possible, but a way to target extreme violators is desirable. You can take a look here at some of the work of Wiki-PR. Now multiply each one of those articles by 12,000, and you see why it is in our interests to try to pursue extreme violators. Best, Kevin (talk) 04:10, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Good point Kevin. I did not realise it had got to that stage. It would seem more appropriate to simple ban that kind of action, not legitimise it with some, far from obvious, disclaimer on a user page. Companies like Wiki_PR could then still do it subversively but it would make it much harder to market that kind of thing as a service if it was illegal. 08:10, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi ^demon - I suspect (though obviously I can't speak for the authors of the proposed amendment) that there are a couple reasons why they didn't go for a far-reaching ban of paid editing. I was one of the people who put many hours in to dealing with Wiki-PR... but I'm also a paid editor myself in several senses. I wrote a grant retrospective for the PEG program, posted it on metawiki, and was paid (by WMF) to do so. I'm a (paid) Wikipedian-in-Residence at UC Berkeley; I'm hoping to expand out to more library outreach, but currently my focus is strongly on the education program - and, where necessary, that will include deleting or reverting inappropriate stuff my students have done so that the burden of the EP doesn't fall entirely on the community, as well as doing stuff like formatting or minor wording changes where my students almost (but didn't quite) get stuff right (which will certainly also include showing them 'You didn't quite get that formatting right, here's how you do it.") I was made an ENWP admin in the recent past and my WiRship at Berkeley was explicitly cited by more than one of my !supports (and was one of the reasons I wanted the toolset,) since having the toolset will allow for easier cleanup of some student flubbs - so in a pretty direct way, I'm a paid admin instead of just a paid editor.
Obviously, there are significant differences between what I am doing and what Wiki-PR did (and is doing, now branded as Status Labs.) I'm doing it openly, and I think my work (both with the WMF and with UCB) benefits the community. However, a broad amendment to knock out paid editing would put my current activities in the same frame as Wiki-PR & co's. Even a more narrowly tailored amendment that specifically only forbade paid editing that effected, say, articles about corporations would likely knock me out - with some of the courses I'm assisting, it's likely that we'll be editing articles about corporations at least occasionally. Additionally, some communities (like DEWP) have explicitly endorsed some, limited forms of paid editing with disclosure by corporations, and I think that generally the WMF shouldn't try to overrule community decisions except where absolutely necessary. Essentially: I think this amendment is good, because I'm not sure it would be possible to write something that knocked out the bad elements of paid editing while leaving the good ones intact and leaving community choice a thing. If the net result of this is people like Wiki-PR operating with disclaimers on their userpages but still horridly breaking all of our other pillars, it'll be significantly easier to just go block them, delete their trash, and if necessary ban the whole firm. And if doing that causes them to edit without declaring their COI's again, hopefully that'll put the Foundation in a better position to take direct actiont o stop them. Best, Kevin (talk) 20:49, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


Just a quick comment as a person who does get paid to do marketing by some tech companies, although not specifically to have anything to do with Wikipedia... I often get frustrated at the lack of up-to-date tech information on some topics because the people posting on them are not on the cutting edge of that tech. I post on subjects I know about and do reference my employers' products when they are specifically unique to the field, but most of what I write is a correction to outdated or wrong information. I personally like to read articles by people who really know what they are talking about because they are professionals in the field. However, I don't like it when paid writers promote products in a program intended to be strictly propaganda or advertising. How do we separate these two? I am all for removing the ability to shamelessly shill commercial enterprises but I don't want to discourage or discredit honest professionals writing about their field and their products. That is a tough thing to do. Saying they have to disclose their affiliations casts a red letter of shame on their endeavors, yet their work is often some of the best on the wiki. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 22 February 2014, 04:23 (UTC)

HazTekGuy - if you are doing this out of personal interest and not for compensation, the proposed amendment would not apply. If you were being paid to make the edits, you would need to disclose your affiliation. Does that help in your thinking on this? Geoffbrigham (talk) 06:00, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I completely see your point there, and I personally draw the line at name dropping products, feel free to describe the details of x type of product, but the moment you start listing the name of a product (on a general wiki page) is the moment I no longer see that page as encyclopedic, and start seeing it as an advertising piece for the company named. Bumblebritches57 (talk) 07:42, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the line in this case would be drawn at the existence of a connection between the editing and the received compensation. Suppose I work for company X and edit about its product Y, is that a paid contribution? I would say the deciding point would be: If my boss at company X would ask me what work I have done today (and I were to answer him/her as truthfully as possible), would the edit be mentioned as (part of) one of those things? If yes, then it's a paid contribution, if no, then not. - Andre Engels (talk) 09:58, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I really don't see the big deal

I'm confused. Companies pay people to put encyclopedia together. Why not pay someone to make your article for you? As long as what's going in can be cited and is accurate, there's no problem. And I find it kind of ridiculous that it's even a problem. Somewhere in the page it mentioned avoiding embarrassment. Wow. What's to be embarrassed about? Wikipedia says I can't edit my own page, so I have someone else put the facts in there for me. I don't see a problem with that. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bryan Batcher (talk) 22 February 2014; 05:56 (UTC)

One point of view is here. Another concern is to ensure against hidden editing that results in inaccurate or incomplete articles by companies, for example. (Indeed, there are legal restrictions in some cases to address this.) Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:19, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Legal situation

In individual countries

What is the legal situation in single states? I could imagine, that it is already forbidden in some countries to contribute to Wikipedia in a way that readers cannot recognize that the editor was paid for. --Pustekuchen2014 (talk) 11:50, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Pustekuchen - Here is some high-level background on the legal issue, though it is only the first step in anyone's research. Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:10, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

The March 2013 FTC guideline to disclosure of en:online advertising
Endorsement Guides from the FTC, start with the first 30 seconds and from 2:25 minutes on. Direct link to FTC video

The links below will give you the basics for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulation in the US, which I think applies to all business advertisers on Wikipedia (with a few exceptions) because the WMF servers are in the US.

The basic FTC interpretations of their rules are at this FTC endorsement-guides video, and in more detail at FTC's dot com disclosures and FTC endorsement guides.

You can send your individual questions to


I'll stress that I am not a lawyer, but I do think that I've looked at the FTC documents as closely as anybody on WMF projects.

The FTC rules apply to American businesses, and I believe to businesses that sell their product or services in the US. There are a few exceptions, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ads for prescription drugs - not the FTC, and I believe that SOME financial institution ads are regulated by others.

The basic law is that selling by deception is fraud - and this law goes back forever. The FTC was founded in the 1930s and I believe regulated ads from the start. By the 1960s very formal rules, regulations, and guidelines were set up. It's important to know that the laws set up then are the law today (with some updating of course) and that they apply to all advertising, including online advertising and, believe it or not personal selling and "word of mouth" advertising. Advertising is defined very broadly. The laws are solid, regularly enforced, and court-tested. The only thing different about online advertising is that it was new a few years ago and it needed to be interpreted how the old laws apply to the new medium. The FTC has now done that interpretation (see links above) and started enforcing the law.

My summary of this is:

Any communication from a business to a potential consumer (an ad) must disclose that it is from the business unless it is already clear that it is an ad (like most ads on TV are clearly ads without stating it directly), and if the ad might affect the purchase decision of a reasonable consumer. The disclosure must be clear and conspicuous. For an online ad, this usually means that the disclosure is placed next to the ad, certainly on the same page without scrolling, perhaps with an online link that appears something like "AD."

Again, that is my summary, but all the parts come from the above links.

Smallbones (talk) 14:05, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

A bit speculative, but addresses the question about individual states
The following text is from en:Astroturfing (written by me). The speculative part is in the quote from the lawyer.

In September 2013, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with 19 companies to prevent astroturfing. "'Astroturfing' is the 21st century's version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it," said Scheiderman. The companies paid $350,000 to settle the matter, but the settlement opened the way for private suits as well. "Every state has some version of the statutes New York used,” according to lawyer Kelly H. Kolb. “What the New York attorney general has done is, perhaps, to have given private lawyers a road map to file suit.”[1][2]

Smallbones (talk) 15:23, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. Brush, Pete (September 23, 2013). "NY 'Astroturfing' Cases Mark Fertile Ground For Civil Suits". Law360. LexisNexis. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  2. "A.G. Schneiderman Announces Agreement With 19 Companies To Stop Writing Fake Online Reviews And Pay More Than $350,000 In Fines". New York State Office of the Attorney General. State of New York. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 

General Comments, UK/EU perspective

Ten years ago I was an elected member of two UK councils, bound by the Local Government Association Code of Practice. Before we discussed any item on the agenda we had to weigh up whether we had a conflict of interest. There were options:

  • Substantial financial interest - we would leave the room
  • Insubstantial financial interst- we would take no part in the debate
  • Substantial non-pecunary interest- reserve the right to speak but not to vote
  • Insubstantial non-pecuniary interest- but reserve the right to speak and to vote.

There were obviously shade of grey- and UK case law giving further advice. Any councillor could be taken to court regardless but it was considered that providing they followed the guidelines in good faith they would not be surcharged or imprisoned. In case of doubt, advice was sought from the council solicitor- and that proved good faith. This was adequate in most cases- you had to be really big, to organise a big fraud and it was done in a way that avoided the council chamber and a written audit trail.

From this I identify 4 cases that we need to address in editing that we need to address, and the case of good faith editing. The concept of paid editing is so fuzzy around the edges that it is meaningless.

Wikipedia tends to write more policies than the United Nations- Wikilegalwonking seems to be a far more dangerous hobby than a financially supported editing. And 'culpable editing' is almost entirely avoidable- if you are big enough.

Most of my early edits were sourced from published papers, briefing notes and minutes that had been sent to me in my previous rôle as a councillor. I could even quote myself from within those documents on occasions- I didn't. Large companies would tender for council work and profiles written by their PR teams were often attached on 'white paper' (confidential stuff was published on blue paper and collected after the meeting). You can see how paid work can be injected into Wikipedia- in good faith by an interested editor (obsessed Wikipedians). Small companies just didn't have the clout- so may be tempted to get their PR department to inject the stuff directly. Further I would prefer that they do check the accuracy of our work- in the open if they are the experts.

So to come back to the 'wonking' in my opinion the statement is suitable bland but ineffective. It is not written in the style of Section 4- a lot of the wording is padding to make it look important, without consideration of the definition of the terms in the 3 US law systems, and more importantly the legal system of the editors country of origin- and the country of the subject.

I would be delighted if all conflict of good faith edits were indicated using the terminology schema I have used and four templates are available {{t|Substantial financial interest}}, {{t|Substantial non-pecunary interest}},{{t|Insubstantial financial interest}}, {{t|Insubstantial non-pecunary interest}}.

These should be posted

  • on the talk page and
  • in the edit summary

not hidden on the users page.

Personally I would not feel comfortable doing anything else.

Potential wording.

Paid editing is discouraged. All conflict of good faith edits are indicated using one of four templates:{{t|Substantial financial interest}}, {{t|Substantial non-pecunary interest}},{{t|Insubstantial financial interest}}, {{t|Insubstantial non-pecunary interest}}.
These should be posted
  • on the talk page and
  • in the edit summary

--ClemRutter (talk) 14:23, 22 February 2014 (UTC) 15:24, 22 February 2014 (UTC)I feel Clem has a good point.

In the Scottish Legal system, there are three possible verdicts. Guilty, Innocent and Unproven.
The four catergorys Clem notes are fine, but users should realise EVERYONe is biased, in some way ( :intentional or not, different reasons will make people post- I once recalled stories of Rockabilly and :growing up in the seventies- not mainstream, but nice to tell all the kids that it wasn't all Media, :the Bee Gees and disco music). Some of us had brains - doing other things for fun.
When posting it would good to see a five star rating system prominently displayed. With a 1- poor, for :a 3 (Three) as average - with no obvious faults or known bias, ( not a yes/no. nor good/bad) and a 5 :rating for the obviously paid or very strongly biased.
People can then judge, subjectively , what they want to believe- knowing the source maybe paid or is :biased, or otherwise.
The "00" or double nought rating, i.e. no rating can be given at that time or the source may not trusted, it is unprovven or not recorded or yet to be balanced, and may also later be changed by peer review after a set time by Wiki.
Contributors could be asked to state if they are paid or have any vested interest on a similar 1-5 system, as Clem Rutter suggests, a failure to tick this box would give a 00 (double nought )rating, warning readers of its origin. Later disclosure of interest, any conflicts of interest as Clem states, or accumulative total s of the ratings, etc could allow Wiki to change the bias rating as they feel fit and manage bias, which at the moment is the unknown large white elephant in the room, that know one notices or discuss, or monitors.
Wiki do not need to state publicly how they got a particular rating ( but they will know) - only the total sum at present, and could even show possibly 3, 6 , 12 and 24 months ago- so people can see if it is changing- and note any trend. e.g. Has it changed???
It would also give Wiki a method or place to go to review what is "00" or unrated and see any trends, or problems.
Properly managed this could be good for Wiki and help cement Wiki as the premier, bona fide, less unbiased and more trusted source to refer to on the web, which G**gle and B*ng maybe, but you can not be sure of-- because they do not show or give; or have a bias rating system of any type to help the reader judge an items authenticity , or why it is or could be better than another product/item.
Thank you . Glenn94.175.97.40 15:24, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I would suggest that there is a distinction between bias and conflict of interest. I may be for the death penalty because I'm a Kantian and you may be against it due to your utilitarian perspective. Even though our perspectives are biased, there's no reason to suggest that either of us have not thought through all of the arguments and availed ourselves of the best research and thinking available on the topic. Furthermore, it might be that one or the other is actually 'correct', and there's no reason to privilege someone with a (Kantian + Utilitarian)/2 perspective over the other two participants. (and a good reason not to if the participant has engaged in a great deal of contradictory reasoning to accommodate both philosophical schools.)
On the other hand, if I work in the sales department of a electric chair manufacturer, there's a good chance that any energies I spent on the topic would be in the form of self justification and combating threats to my industry. Both are a form of bias, but those deriving from financial self interest are qualitatively different and, I think obviously, pose a greater risk to intellectual honesty. ~~

I understand your point, but suppose that instead of Kantian vs utilitarian, you had said Christian vs Muslim? Are you seriously suggesting that financial bias is a "qualitatively" greater motivation for dishonesty - or self-deception - than spiritual or personal ideology? Which will motivate you more: an action which produces a comfortable income, or an action which conveys you (literally or metaphorically) to Paradise? If mere existence without a defined higher purpose seems empty and pointless, as it does to many people, are you suggesting that their need for spiritual self-justification is less important than the size of their paycheck? If you are in fact a Kantian, would YOU blithely abandon your principles for money? And if the subject is not formally religious, but approached with religious fervor, where skeptics are treated as apostates and heretics - the debate over what used to be called "global warming", for instance - are you suggesting that someone working in a corporation is inherently less credible than someone who believes that their mission is to save all of humanity? Advocates of BOTH positions may rise in their respective organizational hierarchies - and that has nothing to do with whether either of them is correct. Barry M. Lamont (talk) 00:03, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Do you think this would be adequate for firms regulated by the US FTC - see 2 sections above
  • Do you think this would be adequate for EU firms and especially UK firms regulated by this EU directive
  • Please do remember that all this ToU change would require is a simple disclosure. Smallbones (talk) 14:36, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Please require complete transparency.... otherwise Wikipedia becomes much less reliable as a source.

If paid editing is not dealt with in the fairest, most transparent manner (ie, by requiring declaration on the main article page, and not just on the "talk" page, of any and all paid editing arrangements related to the article in question), then the reliability of Wiikipedia as a trusted source, could be significantly eroded. The very idea of paid editing is foreign to the spirit of the project in the first place. MayFlowerNorth (talk) 14:49, 22 February 2014 (UTC) MayFlowerNorth

It's cute that you think Wikipedia is a "trusted source." I don't see a difference either way. 15:10, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Conflicts of interests are a well known difficult problem.
In some domains, it is even almost impossible to discuss seriously about things, without involving people that are obviously interested simply because they are competent and highly qualified in their domain. And competence is needed each time difficult decisions need to be made with help of experts (but certainly not by them only; we don't want here any High-Committee of (self-commissionned) Experts deciding for all others).
Anyway the good solution is not to shut up those experts (we need to hear them) but we must not allow them to take the predominant position, so their position is only one element that will be considered by others, taing decisions. For that it is essential that experts fully disclose what are their interests, and explain clearly their position to novices, using some pedagogy and learning methods adapted to their public deciding on the issue.
So the public must learn to hear experts and experts need to learn how to explain their positions. On both sides, this requires efforts, and these efforts are worth the value.
In Wikimedia projects this means that experts will NOT have exclusive positions. We must enforce the NPOV policy, even if some experts are protesting vehemently against opposite positions from novices: these experts have failed to do their homework to explan their position clearly and gain a significant auditory of learning novices.
In order for novices to be really convinced (by experts positions), they need a minimum level of trust from those experts. Those experts can gain this level of trust by disclosing their interest; and also by hearing about the diffculties of others to accept the experts positions that have failed to be understood.
What this means is that in case of conflicts, we cannot trust anyone that want to remain anonymous to others (and that has also not been authenticated privately to the Foundation or a trusted chapter). We will prefer trusting first only the people that don't hesitate to disclose who they are, what they do, what are their interests (even if these are "paid" contributors).
The problem is that too frequently in Wikimedia projects, each time someone honestly reveals his own interests, he becomes the target of stupid harassment for alleged conflicts of interest (but no one will contest the strong positions taken by those that act completely anonymously under a pseudonym and without revealing their own interest.
My opinion is that conflicts of interests are definitely not something we must fight against in Wikimedia projects. Instead we must promote openness for trust, and NPOV by allowing:
  • multiple opposite positions (even by novices);
  • "errors" (as judged by experts that have failed to explain why these are errors);
  • questions (to experts by novices, or in the reverse direction as well), to help understanding mutual positions and why they are contraditing each other;
  • rewording some positions for different level of audience;
  • balancing the various positions proportionally to the amount of their supporters (even if this means that the majority of novices are wrong, we'll give higher importance to the position of novices !!!).
The fact that experts are paid does not really matter (we have to live with that), as long as decisions are not taken by them exclusively and NPOV is respected.
Exactly like in a justice court, the experts need to gain their autditory by convincing them, but their share of speaking time is limited, and the jury will decide alone without these experts. It is also important to know who is the deciding jury (but for most projects in Wikimedia, the jury is the general public and not limited, so it will overwhelm all existing experts that need to be REALLY convincing AND trustable to get a significatn part of the public to follow them: the experts in that case are part of the public jury, but they are in a very small minority and can't decide alone). verdy_p (talk) 15:21, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Applicability to employees and governors of advocacy organizations

Before I would support this proposal I would like to see an explicit statement from the WMF regarding the applicability of these terms of use to employees, volunteers who receive some form of organizational support and governors (boards of directors, etc.) of organizations whose stated mission is the advocacy of some POV. Most typically these advocacy organizations are non-profits and make some explicit statement in their mission statement about their advocacy role. As a random example (there are 1000s), the Steelhead Society of British Columbia [4] makes this statement: "Formed in 1970 by a group of dedicated Steelhead anglers concerned about the state of wild steelhead stocks and the wild rivers of British Columbia, the Steelhead Society is a charitable non-profit river conservation organization. The Society has evolved to advocate for the health of all wild salmonids and wild rivers in British Columbia." I would like to see explicit acknowledgment from the WMF that these proposed terms would indeed apply to any employee, volunteer receiving organizational support or any governor of such an organization would be consider a “paid editor” and must disclose if they are making contributions related to the advocacy mission of their organization. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:40, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

IMHO the new ToU would require the paid staff and the Board members (if they are paid) to disclose. "Some form of organizational support" for volunteers is pretty vague. If that involves money or major meals, then I'd think it best to disclose. A snack and a cup of coffee? I don't think so (same answer I gave above for example #1 from NewYork Brad.) Smallbones (talk) 16:18, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
SB, I agree with you, but do think that explicit acknowledgment by the WMF that this language applies to ALL types of organizations (such as is defined in WP:CORP) is important. The community will quickly forget this discussion and focus on harassing editors associated with commercial organizations while completely ignoring those associated with advocacy organizations. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:22, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
So I think there may be a misunderstanding here that an employee of a company cannot edit about that company under the proposed amendment without disclosure. The employee must be explicitly paid to make edits by the company. That applies to nonprofits as well, as I see it. But I think we may want to consider tightening the language or making clear in the FAQ that simple employment at a company does not trigger the proposed amendment: there must be a direct quid pro quo for the edits by the company. Others should feel free to chime in if they disagree. Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:36, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I would encourage the abandonment of the use of the terms such as "company" or "business" and instead use consistently "organization". The definition in en:Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) is good in that regard. Everytime you single out "company" or "business" in FAQs or other examples, you further the inherent bias of the WMF communities against commercial enterprise while ignoring the same behavior in other types of organizations and add a significant degree of confusion as to whom this proposal might apply to. --Mike Cline (talk) 16:22, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
That would be helpful, but it does raise the question of what "explicity paid to make edits" means in practice. Take, for example, a Capitol Hill junior staffer who is mainly employed to keep their Congressman's diary in order. However, during their work time they take the initiative to update their Congressman's article with some details of his speeches on a key issue for his district, without mentioning the conflict. Is that covered by the Terms of Use?
As a further case to consider - what if a company doesn't get any paid staff to edit Wikipedia, but does tell their unpaid "social media intern" that it's part of their job to rewrite the article on them on the quiet?
(I'm still working out my view of this proposal, for what it's worth!) Thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:56, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
My position with regards to organizations whose explicit mission is advocacy of a POV is that any employee or governor is "explicitly paid to make edits" if they are contributing on topics related to the advocacy mission of the organization. Advocacy organizations are inherently different from commercial organizations in that advocacy organizations are in the business of selling POV, most of the time highly biased POV, whereas commercial organizations are in the business of selling products and services. They may indeed have a POV about their products and services, but that's not what they are selling. Advocacy organizations on the other hand are explicitly selling their POV. --Mike Cline (talk) 20:19, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Amendment approaches penny wise and pound foolish

There are tremendous biases of various sorts and origins in Wikipedia that a well-crafted (1) general editor COI/disclosures policy, and (2) a steely content sourcing/verifiability policy would remediate, given the self-correcting nature of this system. Selectively addressing part of the one through this amendment (paid editor COI/disclosure, omitting COI/disclosures with nonpecunary benefits or admitting other biases), while failing to tighten up the policies that can rectify most inaccurate information (sourcing/verifiability), is flawed as a quality control effort. It is penny wise (a subset of biases excluded) and pound foolish (ignoring the more substantial other biases, and leaving in place the flaws in the fundamental system for correcting any and all biases). It is therefore, in a general sense, in this editor's opinion, an effort in vain with regard to the accuracy and reliability of Wikipedia information. If the aim is to address feelings within the organization, I have no comment; it is the propagation of inaccurate information of any origin, in my opinion, that should most gaul us. See Strongly Oppose in Current Form, vote 70, for the expanded argument. Leprof 7272 (talk) 18:09, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Issues with the Change

The statement "projects for which you receive compensation" is problematic; if a person's compensation isn't officially tied to such a project, they can claim the edits were done on their own time. This distinction cannot be easily made, but is an important one: the employees of a company tend to have some of the most accurate information for the company and its products/services. Disclosure may serve instead to dissuade some unpaid editors from contributing while encouraging paid editors to hide their affiliations. Consider that the average reader likely won't see the paid users' disclosures and that such disclosures may ignite unnecessary controversy: there is nothing beneficial provided by this TOU change for users; unpaid or otherwise.

It makes more sense to consider that all employees of a given employer may or may not be "paid editors." Since adequate employer info may not be available, it's more useful to flag users who regularly edit a company's related articles, such as subsidiary pages and product pages. Said contributors' edits could then be shown as "Company Editor" or similar. This would "disclose" that they often edit articles related to a company without explicitly requiring a demarcation of affiliation. These edits would then be subject to the normal TOU violations; increased scrutiny would dissuade violations without driving away potentially non-violating editors.

Lastly, I believe the conceptualization of this TOU change is flawed on the basis that it appears to sanction advertorials with proper disclosure. While this is perhaps not the intention of the WMF, some businesses will almost certainly see the new terms as an invitation to create more ostentatious adverts. A non-intrusive means of highlighting "company editors" would instead encourage non-violating edits by companies who wish to market their brands. It also allows paid editors to fall in line with unpaid editors by helping ensure that paid editors' content stays in line with Wiki standards. 17:07, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

We Must Make Disclosure Machine Readable

Agree overall with the change, but disagree with current implementation -- it makies it too easy for someone engaged in paid editing to hide in the talk page. The way I see it is that once implemented, we should be able to make dynamic dashboard that quantify paid editing across wikipedia and for acertain users / agencies who are well known to be professionally engaged in paid editing -- again I have no problem with paid editing, but the way the implementation is proposed at the moment, it becomes easy to hide and hard to analyze. I propose two changes:

  • A template on the user talk page indicating three or four levels of intensity when it comes to paid editing -- i.e. the must declare if (a) they are primarily in the business of paid editing (b) engae mostly in paid editing (c) sometimes accept money to make changes or (d) have at some point taken money to make edits, but do not do so regularly
  • A special tag in the edit summary that indicates if that particulra edit was paid for by somebody (something like $$$ say).

The template would allow analysts to quanityf the extend and dynamic nature of paid editing, and the edit summary level tags will help quanitfy paid editing at the edit level.

Without making this process as transparent as possible, enforcement will be hard and it will simply legitimate paid editing without providing transparency. Dalek2point3 (talk) 18:17, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

The sad truth is that Wiki editors are, if anything, lazy. As soon as people see the "paid edit" flag, the edit will be reverted -- I expect it would become a feature of most anti-vandal robots. If someone declares they are being paid to edit, it will be used as evidence against them at the usual venues of so-called "dispute resolution".
This is probably not the exact intent of this proposal, but it is what will ultimately happen. Who is going to want to carefully monitor paid editor X -- it is much simpler to just force them into exile. (In other words, the templates your propose will get no long-term use.)
It is stupendously ironic that the real intent of this proposal are very difficult to discern, at least by someone who was directed here (out of the blue) by the main page of the English Wikipedia. This thing is all about disclosure, but I see no disclosures on the part of the WMF employees posting here as to the exact reasons why this is needed -- the sole argument offered is that there are legal reasons why _ANYONE_ some people should disclose, and so (according to them) the WMF must enact policy. While it is true these legal reasons exist, can anyone explain why the WMF thinks it their job to enforce the law? 20:12, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Ban paid editing as a whole!

Why don't we just ban paid editing as a whole? Wikipedia needs to be unbiased - having paid editing puts a heavy bias on some content.

Cyborg4 (talk) 20:00, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia needs to be unbiased, ban paid editing. The Information is more reliable and truthful. Joe Patterson, Glen Mills, PA 2-22-14

As others have stated, I, too, support disclosure of any commercial (paid) affiliation of those editing the page. This will at least give readers a chance to decide whether the information is factual (preferable) or part of a marketing program. Stock analysts are required to disclose their holdings in a security they are promoting, so I see no difference her if there is even a hint of conflict of interest. 20:23, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I would support this motion -- only because it has clarity of intent, fully and completely honest.
I find the rationale for the current proposal unconvincing: WMF Legal (or whoever is making the proposal, using WMFL as a mouthpiece) is "protesting too much".
However, I actually don't support a "kill them all" proposal because it flies in the face of where the source material for the Encyclopedia actually comes from. Surely if the various projects can figure out how to winnow out bias at the source(s) that are created by paid people and published by for-profit companies, typically at the behest of 3rd parties with incompletely known agendas, surely these same processes can be brought to bear on the problem of paid editing.
Of course, if these processes are unable to carry out their erstwhile function in the first place, there are deeper problems to worry about... 20:26, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Hey, Glen Mills - could you get a better photo of this station? I've been thinking of putting another section in the above !vote count. Something like "Support - but it should be stronger". It seems that several people have opposed the proposed change mistakenly because they think they are opposing paid editing, and others think that the proposed change somehow allows paid editors some sort of acknowledged position on Wikipedia (it doesn't it just says "If you edit for pay you must declare" - everything else is up to the law and the individual projects). In any case would anybody be against allowing a "Support - but it should be stronger" section in the !vote table? Smallbones (talk) 20:38, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
No objection here; this is !vote so I'm a little uncomfortable adding to/enhancing the vote-ness of it, but that ship has realistically already sailed. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 20:46, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm a bit hesitant about !vote in a case like this - I believe it was supposed to be brief logical comments addressed to the Board for their consideration. I do think the consensus/!vote system breaks down in a case of more than about 150 people. Perhaps just counting the !votes will be more fair and effective than trying to make sense of all the comments. My sympathies to those who have to do either. I'll add the new section above - it will make some !voters meaning clearer. Smallbones (talk) 23:16, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

A more general defense againt conflict of interest

I appreciate that edits performed in conflict of interest are reducing Wikimedia's reliability. Therefore, I support the proposal in principle. However, the proposal only adresses the COI problem partially and complicates the terms of use, so I am not convinced that this is a good move.

I never had a clear idea of how COI can be managed, but I'd like to make a rough proposal similar to what Dalek2point3 proposed in #We Must Make Disclosure Machine Readable, which covers more cases of COI, provides better disclosure and doesn't depend on editors reading the terms of use. The proposal could either complement the proposed amendment or replace it. Like Dalek2point3's, this proposal requires software changes though.

First, drop anonymous edits. Assume these have high COI and focus on registered edits. When someone registers or does its first edit to an article, ask the user how interested the edit is, for example on a scale from 1 to 5. Allow editors to set a default COI level but let them change it for each edit. When the COI level surpasses some threshold (say 2), MediaWiki should encourage editors to fill a text box describing how their interest conflicts with Wikimedia's.

This makes disclosures machine-readable and better reflects the relativity of COI. The proposal allows to catch some cases of high COI, but doesn't catch cases where the conflicting interest is not compensation (for example, editing for a friend). It also won't catch you editing your own article, or the article about your religion.

The main problem I see with it is the subjectivity of an edit's COI level. 2 different editors with the same level of COI could rate it differently in good faith. --Chealer (talk) 20:48, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Exception needed for undercover law enforcement personnel

internal edit: freedom of speech is not protected for federal or state employees. persons working undercover for the state or federal government hold the same legal status as soldiers: government issued property. as such the very idea of that scenario is so far out absurd that i am going to warn you flat out. if the rule of law does not apply equally to all persons within these states and it's internet domain, then it applies to none anywhere: thus else, rape and treason shall soon sweep the land. do not attempt to distract or derail the issue in topic discussion, as frivolous,unsigned posts will be deleted.Default0023 (talk) 23:19, 22 February 2014 (UTC)>

Default0023 (talk) 23:19, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia is so useful because of its free editing, paid editing must injure it.

Wikipedia is a free internet encyclopaedia, collaboratively written or, edited by the volunteers that too free of cost, so that it serves the interests of anyone around the world free of cost, through the information contributed in it.

Therefore, a question automatically arises in ones mind that when the efforts of volunteers are available in Wikipedia free of cost, why should at all anyone needs to pay any such volunteer, going against Wikimedia's policy? Wikipedia does expect anyone to pay for its collaborative editing. Unnaturally, all paid editing then would influence writing in it.

Wikipedia is very popular among its users and has immense intrinsic value - that value must be realised by its users around the world, not by any paid contributor.

Therefore, any form of paid editing must be discouraged. This is applicable to all Wikimedia Projects.

S N Thakur (talk) 21:55, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Let us suppose that a conglomerate, such as Mitsubishi, or Tata Group pays someone to fix all spelling errors, and update changes in senior personnel in their group. Does this benefit or damage the Encyclopaedia? Rich Farmbrough 22:01 20 February 2014 (GMT).
Depends on what they want in return. Evensteven (talk) 04:21, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Let's call it a marketing campaign, akin to companies making contributions to charities so that they can show how benevolent they are. I still think this is beneficial to the encyclopedia, as it doesn't bias information therein. Personally, I would find that sort of thing to be Incredibly Awesome and well worth encouraging - it lets companies portray themselves as Good Entities without having to lie about it, and encouraging that would perhaps discourage them from lying to begin with. Everybody wins! :) --Viqsi (talk) 15:19, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Your question sounds as if some other rich person willing to beautify your wife, paying his own money for that purpose when you are, as her husband, supposed to look after her. Does not the other person's willingness injures your dignity. I think it does injure. If at all a conglomerate, such as said Mitsubishi, or Tata Group need to better Wikipedia, better not let them interfere in wikipedia's existing policy. Let Wikipedia grow in its own way.

S N Thakur (talk) 22:24, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

It is like you said. As Wikipedia writes in the description "There is an extreme likelihood that contributions which are paid for, but intentionally not disclosed as such, do not serve the public interest in a fair and beneficial manner. When considering the value of the contribution of content to the public on balance with the value of dissemination of the content, there is at least an implied conflict of interest that the balance will tend to serve the more private interests of the paid contributor."

This will lead to advert, and wikipedia will not be free anymore. Paid editing must injure everything wikipedia stands for! 07:27, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

The argument refers to wrong question. Wikipedia IS edited for profit by some parties - was, is and will be. You may not like it, but it's a fact. The amendment is about how to deal with already existing issue, not about if the issue should or should not exist. --Wikimpan (talk) 20:50, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

A paid edit is a third-party advertisement...

in my opinion. Full disclosure should apply - though I'm inclined to think that someone has already decided and this discussion is moot.

What isn't moot is this: the moment someone is paying for something to be added, edited or removed from Wikimedia's sites then these sites are serving as paid advertising for a third party - and everything Wikimedia stands for (if it does) will have gone down the drain. Shir-El too (talk) 20:30, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I see where you are coming from User:Shir-El too, that a mere amendment to allow disclosure of paid contributors is actually open season for third-party advertisers to completely take over Wikipedia. What do advertisers care about disclosure? It would set a precedent and be opening Wikipedia to the highest bidder. All compensated contributions should be BANNED, period! yankhadenufYankhadenuf (talk) 21:34, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
I totally approve the amendment (also because some events have caused too much money to be spent in some events like photo events, with averge costs sometimes reaching more than 6 dollars per photo in some paid events where others contributed many more photos and documents at less than a few cents per document.
Organized photo events (and other organized events to collect contents) must be efficient. But visibly some have profited from the system to make profits with them; using the money collected by the community (see the recent reports in the Evalation and Learning portal about them). In my opinion, a significant part of this money should be returned to the Foundation, for illegal or unfair profits as this money was stolen (IMHO); but the problem was a lack of sufficient protection in the Terms of use, for these paid contributions. In summary we need this agreement (and possibly more to make sure that unused and unjustied money paid in advance by the Foundation will be returned to the Foundation). verdy_p (talk) 20:37, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't think it follows. For example suppose a paid editor corrects the names of the officers of a company, or takes a special brief to revert vandalism? Arguably it gives the company an "edge" (and one might even say an "unfair" edge) over a less fortunate rival whose CEO is named as Mr Potato Head, but it by no means advertising. Rich Farmbrough 20:40 20 February 2014 (GMT).
I think we're protected by at least three well-established policies already. We don't allow promotional language (as it's clearly spam or advertising).
We don't allow advocacy because we insist on a neutral point of view. And we require notability for inclusion, so an obscure subject isn't able to get exposure by being covered in an article. Not to mention the fact that paid editors are inevitably going to be under additional scrutiny and are less likely to get away with violating any of these policies because there will be a suspicion that they're trying to advertise/advocate for their clients. -- Atama 20:44, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
We DO allow some limited level of promotion based on notability, as long as they remain limited and in scope with the topics and are not used to override completely the opinions of others. Freedom of Speech is for everyone, including organisations, but without more rights for them than individual independant contributors. So yes spamming is disallowed, as well as repeated advertizing, but in scope citations are perfectly valid; notably when they are essnetial for the coverred topic: these opinions may take several forms (you have to choose !): a short inline citation (without breaking copyright, so it must be correctly attributed), or an external reference, or opinions in talk pages signed by someone effectively representing the organisation (and not someone else trying by unfair impersonalisation to convince others that they represent it).
By definition, spam is massive contributions sent randomly to lots of targets that did not sillicitate them. That's what we don't accept. For the rest, the quality of controbution is a collective evaluation, that should not depend on the desire of a single organitation using sockpuppets acting on behalf of them (but secretely without the effective support by the visible contributor).
If the contributions are collectively judged as having good enough quality to interest the community, it has a place in Wikimedia projects and is as valuable as other individual independant contributions. But even in this case, the contributions will remain editable/summarizable and free to republish according to licences of the project (but we'll need to keep the attributions as required by the applicable licences). The quality an merits of contributions does not depend on if it was made by someone with interest or not (Everyone in Wikimedia has his own interests, what matters for us is when they are exposed to conflicts of interests required by others). The quality will be assessed collectively by QA tools, discussions, and votes, based on NPOV policies where everyone represents effectively himself with one vote and is not bound by contactual terms required by someone else (terms that could be legally enforcable against the contributor). verdy_p (talk) 23:35, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Note that unjustified payments include profiting the money to buy costly equipements that will be used for long by their buyers (but not for building and publishing open contents shared with the Wikimedia community). However, we could finance equipments for groups in poor countries, if they want to build more permanent projects, but these projects should find a way to subsist and getting usable by Wikimedia controbutors in their area. This should however not finance equipments that will be owned and will be usable only by the profiter of these payments. The money should not be used to buy cameras that will be used rarely for publishing open content to Wikimedia (or other convenient hosting sites with usable open licences).
This money can be used for example to rent rooms to organize public events, or pay an Internet connection subscription for a group whose online activity on Wikimedia will persist. But the groups asking for this money should also find a way to finance themselves more permanently. Wikimedia Foundation payments are just here to help them bootstart their project, or to help them to increase their online activities.
This money should not be used to pay the salaries of employees, and if it is used to pay thir party services, copies of their billings must be given back to the Foundation along with accounting reports (based on international accounting standards) detailing how and when money is spent, and how the equipments will be depreciated over years according to standard accounting practices (and the fiscal requirements in the country where the benefitor resides).
The Foundation should provide help about how to produce these acceptable accounting reports (and the Foundation could also host a service to help these groups manage their local accounting; or could help them finance the acquisition of standard accounting softwares. If the benefitors are individuals they could use standard personal accounting softwares to manage this money clearly separately from their own personal money; but in my opinion, money given to individuals should be managed on an accounting service hosted directly by Wikimedia, for improved security and transparency.
Transparent and detailed accounting practices can mitigate a lot the unfair use of this money for something else (including for using it to finance publicity for something else). IT would be an interestint tool to develop in Wikimedia Labs (and promote in the "Tools" section of the Learning and Evaluation Portal, just like Wikimetrics). verdy_p (talk) 21:00, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Verdy, these are interesting points, but should perhaps be in their own section, as they don't relate to Shir-El too's thread about paid editing being advertising. Rich Farmbrough 21:37 20 February 2014 (GMT).
My concern with this particular view is that it assumes that paid edits are inevitably and irrevocably tied to commercial activity. I would worry about this limiting future contribution sources that are less sinister. For example, what if a not-for-profit decides to start paying interns to research and expand stubs, because "it's the right thing to do"? I think the idea behind the amendment is not to create a "THIS IS A BAD PERSON/EDIT" flag, but rather to provide more data with which to judge an editor's work. AGF needs to still apply. --Viqsi (talk) 15:12, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
A paid edit is not necessarily an advertisement. Certainly I wouldn't want to see w:Adam Kluger editing w:The Kluger Agency himself if this were a w:product placement firm passing paid advertising off as content in pop music videos, like I wouldn't want to see w:Concordia College and University change "offshore diploma mill who conferred a degree on Rocko, a Fostoria, Ohio police dog" to "highly respected university" were that to appear with w:WP:RS to back it up. (w:WP:COI disclosure: My cousin in Montréal graduated from the real w:Concordia University in that city, no affiliation). At the same time, I've seen both constructive edits from convention/visitors bureaux in Wikivoyage (correcting outdated or just plain wrong listings) and destructive edits (creating entire articles hyping voy:Kenora as "a Mecca" for fishing or voy:Sackets Harbor as "a Mecca for diners from all over", for instance, where the entire article has been or needs to be rewritten to keep the facts and lose the promotional hype). Perhaps, instead of banning all paid edits, the policy should require disclosure of paid edits or conflict of interest in the edit summary and ban self-promotion without banning openly-disclosed paid editing to add verifiable, neutral fact or remove verifiable factual errors. K7L (talk) 15:51, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Política de isenção, neutralidade e imparcialidade

Eu acredito que é possível criar e manter um trabalho voluntário de enciclopédia on-line, como a Wikipédia, com contribuições voluntárias transparentes de pessoas físicas e jurídicas que não exijam "contrapartida" nas edições de páginas que prejudique a isenção, a neutralidade e a imparcialidade que a Wikipédia tem feito aparente esforço para manter...

Eu não vejo problemas em funcionários, executivos e até mesmo investidores de grandes, médias ou pequenas empresas, organizações políticas, associações de classe ou entidades filantrópicas editarem páginas na Wikipédia para melhorar a qualidade e variedade das páginas, desde que é claro, o principio básico de isenção, neutralidade e imparcialidade da Wikipédia sejam mantidos...

Para evitar o risco de interrupção temporária ou encerramento definitivo das atividades voluntárias da Wikipédia, por eventual falta de recursos, eu sugiro que o conselho de curadores e os fundadores da Wikipédia passem a considerar uma eventual possibilidade de disponibilizar pequenos espaços ou pequenas faixas para inserção de publicidade nas páginas da Wikipédia, para que organizações em geral possam simplesmente divulgar suas marcas, no formato de simples apoio cultural...

--JOÃO VIEIRA SANTANA FILHO (talk) 13:26, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Obrigado por sua sugestão, mas a publicidade não é uma consideração. Com os melhores cumprimentos, --Jan (WMF) (talk) 13:44, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Correct, Jan. And this proposed amendment is not an endorsement of paid advocacy editing. For more, please read here. Joao - thanks for your comment. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:39, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

It's all for show

Hi everyone,

Over the last few hours people asked me to re-share my mail from January regarding paid editing and to even elaborate on it : http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2014-January/069717.html

Correct me if I'm wrong but your January 2014 message on this topic is at: "http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2014-January/129528.html". Thanks. verdy_p (talk) 05:17, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

I won't elaborate on that.

This amendment is all for show. This is the kind of amendment that is not enforceable. It's only use is that some board of trustees will be able to get in front of the press and vigorously claim "Paid editing is bad!".

Will it prevent people to edit without disclosing anything? No.

Will it encourage companies to embrace our values and improve articles in fields they're experts in? No.

Will it prevent biased volunteers to edit? No.

So if we look at what our main issues are (increasing the number of editors, increasing quality) I don't see any way where this amendment will help us in any of this cases. [(brandon) agrees with this guy in general about this potential policy as well as the ostensible ramifications of its enactment] And this is an issue we've had for 7 to 9 years, our projects didn't collapse. I'm really not sure why it is needed to have such amendment now.

So, I don't care if this amendment is approved in the end, or not, as it will be useless and non-enforceable. Instead I'll keep on working with other people on proposing real solutions.

Though I do have a quick question for the legal team, is it ok for a hosting organization to enforce rules that have an editorial inpact on the services it hosts? I mean, lawyers have been trying for years to sue Wikimedia organizations and prove that WMF has some level of editorial control over Wikipedia. If WMF is the one deciding how a specific set of editors must behave when editing, couldn't they use that to prove that WMF does, indeend, have some editorial power? Much alike an editor-in-chief chooses who's published in its paper and how they're credited.

Best Schiste (talk) 08:41, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Schiste. Thanks for your comments. I actually think the amendment may have a positive effect, and I summarize some of the reasons here. Your question on hosting liability is a smart one. Hosting companies can set out general rules in their terms of use, even when those rules affect the content of the site. Also this proposed amendment simply explains how to disclose an affiliation without any regulation on the content itself. (The terms already prohibit misrepresentation of an affiliation.) The proposed amendment thus would not affect our hosting liability exemption. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:26, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I've read the FAQ and I fail to find the "positive" outcome. However I can clearly see the possible harm to our project. The projects where created on the belief that anyone could help improve our knowledge. I still do believe that strongly. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone, no exclusion.
Our job, as a community was to make sure the edits where ok. Now we're shifting toward making sure the editors are ok.
How can we be surprized that we're loosing contributors when we have that stance? Do you believe that asking people that are "paid editing" to display their affiliations is going to :
  • Stabilize infrastructure
  • Increase participation
  • Improve quality
  • Increase reach
  • Encourage innovation
I don't believe it will. Actually it's a rather conservative move that will make some companies, that would be ready to participate in good faith, feel targeted and "marked" and hinder their wish to participate. Thus preventing new contributors to join our projects and not increasing the quality of the projects. It will, and the question has been asked on my Facebook feed once already, make researchers and GLAM partners ponder weither they should or not display their affiliation. And, I'm sure you know it, incertainity, fear and doubt are the thing you try to avoid when negociating partnerships.
So, at best this change will actually not change anything as paid editing will still happen under the hood and no one will be able to check everyone's affiliation. And at worse we'll lose potential partners, or make the work of volunteers negotiating those partnerships harder, and make it even harder to innovate with companies to find new ways to increase our reach, participation and quality. But perhaps our core values (everyone can edit) and the movement strategic orientation (the five points above) have changed. If so, sorry I missed those changes. Schiste (talk) 15:35, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
If anyone has any doubts about what the WMF leadership's ulterior motive is in trying to pass this "disclosure" amendment, it's not about bringing paid editors into a status of transparent contributions. It is about banning paid editors, regardless of the quality of their content. It's a shame to me that Jimbo still doesn't understand how to leverage paid editors to the advantage of all parties. He'd rather perpetually maintain this "us versus them" perspective that just leads us further into the battleground, and away from true knowledge. -- Thekohser (talk) 19:48, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Schiste the link in your first comment 404's. Jaydubya93 (talk) 04:53, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

(From an anonymous user, not to be confused AT ALL with the group "anonymous" - disambiguation.)

I agree with your suggestion, however most successful marketing involves options. The more option you make for users, the more you open the marketplace, whether or not it's even a market for financial transactions. I do NOT AT ALL want to see Wikipedia become commercialized, even considering that fact that I was raised in a corporate family with many corporations. Some things are just NOT FOR SALE at ANY PRICE, as they are too priceless as a result of their originality and/or for the premise for which it stands.

I contribute to wiki on several levels (I have limited it to 10 +1 items here):

1) as a professional editor 2) as an English major with a degree in English and experience in formal and informal professional journalism (creative, technical, fiction and non-fiction) - both of these fields differ in political and professional opinions, and I am very well versed in both areas, also having formally studied Middle English at Worcester College, Oxford University, England. 3) as a researcher (in multiple languages) 4) as a specialist/professional in several fields (corporate jet pilot, helicopter pilot, professional auto-racing (IMSA), 100-ton boat captain, motorcycle racing, law enforcement, Arabian horse owner and professional animal trainer, and many other contributions, by which I have been formally trained and/or educated 5) as a writer 6) as a student and analyst of law and policy (domestic and international) 7) as an educator 8) as a scientific analyst 9) as a psychologist and sociologist 10) as an investor and financial specialist And for mainly the reason that I am a FREE AMERICAN CITIZEN, and this is one of the VERY FEW PLATFORMS LEFT TO CONTRIBUTE FOR FREE, and without registration!!!

If someone does consider your suggestion, I hope they incorporate my suggestion of having options for any tagging, including the option to stay anonymous, or semi-anonymous, as I prefer privacy to social recognition or attention. I generally keep the majority of my research private, as it also contain proprietary work in relation to publishing rights and other research and investing. I LOVE contributing to HELP PEOPLE LEARN AND BETTER UNDERSTAND intricate issues and technical processes. I don't ask for anything in return. It's not "what I do" ... it's "who I am." As I don't engage in any social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or other "social platforms", I do PREFER TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS and as private as possible. I'm working on improving my computer, database, programming and internet skills and knowledge every day, so I occasionally contribute to technical fields, but primarily as a basic grammar, spelling and word use editor.

I am studying for my HAM operator's license, as well as computer/internet security, so you will see an increase in technical contributions in these fields, as time allows.

I'd love to see more options, including resources with direct contact for technical page editing and other similar applications such as a "LiveWikiHelp" page, with live contacts, as I do not contribute on a regular basis.

How can anyone miss that paid editing is a commercial transaction by definition? The compensator remunerates the editor for a job of editing, meaning that the compensation is the leverage applied to see that the job is accomplished. The compensator is defined as the one who initially wants the job done and pursues some avenue towards that end, no matter how many layers of service-providers the chain goes through. That means that the money (somewhere there is always money in the chain) buys the edit. The more one has money, the more influence to get the type of edits one want. Paid editing is editing by proxy. The ability of large corporations to find amounts of money that most individuals would find overwhelming is crystal clear. Moreover, the amount of money spent directly correlates to the amount of influence the spenders have on the whole organization: all of Wikipedia. If you don't think so, look at the situation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS network, how full of commercials and promotions it has become over time, with increasing trend in the same direction.
Americans in particular are way too apt to adopt a business/corporate image for any cooperative activity, saying editing communities and groups of potential editors form some kind of editing "market". The truth is that there are many possible ways for people to work together. The experience of many is also that corporate ways do not suit them, do not appeal, and sometimes in fact repel them. Validating the use of money for editing imposes commercial and corporate values. Some may like that, but others will not. Historically, professionals have written encyclopedias all along, and ways were found to make it commercially possible. That can be done here, too. But if it is, Wikipedia will not be what is has been. For one thing, I will expect to get paid, or I will quit. But that's not what I want (to get paid). I want to be involved in a volunteer activity, and to contribute freely, with others who want the same. Those are my values. Those have been Wikipedia's values. I hope we continue to have a good match. Evensteven (talk) 23:58, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh. You may note that I signed my contribution. Who are you anyway? No user handle? Not even an IP? Just how far does anonymity apply here already? There's a reason for signing. Evensteven (talk) 00:08, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Isnt it perfectly reasonable to assume that the above commenter was looking to use anonymity as a shield to limit the possibility that his comment would lead to reprisals in his/her role as a jet/helicopter pilot, professional auto-racer, boat captain, motorcycle racer, police officer, Arabian horse owner and professional animal trainer? (Note: this is meant to be mockery.) (Further note: I am only mocking the patent absurdity and incredulity of the anonymous comment and note any position within this debate as a whole) Jaydubya93 (talk) 04:59, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Oddly, Jaydubya93, there are at least 3 English Wikipedia editors I know of personally who would meet (most parts of) the self-description in the opening paragraph, although you'd never find all that information on their user pages. Please don't mock; there are a lot of really amazing people who edit WMF projects, and you'll never know which one is for real, and which one is creating a CV out of thin air. Risker (talk) 02:41, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Comment Comment As Schiste, I believe this is a useless amendment and it won't change the face of the project, however it will have some negative outcome. As a volunteer, I encourage people to contribute (people from GLAM, or scientists), I will stop to do it because it was a project which anyone can edit (without having complex barrier) and it will cease to be as simple as that. --PierreSelim (talk) 10:12, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia spirit or something

I'm writing to express my outrage at the thought of paid contributions or edits to Wikipedia. This is antidemocratic and is the path of least resistance to total corruption. The world already suffers from money in the spread of information; the truth is already bought and paid for, in the spheres of advertising and print journalism, by global corporations; Wikipedia used to stand alone as a biasless defender of truth.

Hi there. I definitely hear your anger and understand it. To be clear, this proposed amendment is only a minimum requirement, and projects are free to put more restrictions of paid editing if they chose to do so. The proposed amendment specifically says: "[C]ommunity and Foundation policies, such as those addressing conflicts of interest, may further limit paid contributions or require more detailed disclosure." Also we provide this FAQ to underscore that the provision is only a minimum requirement. I hope this helps. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:22, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Geoff, I think a significant portion of us in the community would like to see an even stronger policy put into the terms of use. I wonder if you could outline some of the options for doing that, and what some of the limitations might be? I have seen more than one person who is interpreting this as a step to accept or normalize paid advocacy editing, which is not the intention at all, of course.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:41, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
As you point out, Jimmy, this proposed amendment does not endorse paid advocacy editing. We say as much in the FAQ and above. Indeed, it may be illegal in some circumstances, as we explain here.
We legally can ban paid advocacy editing in the terms of use, though we would likely need to use more narrowly-tailored definitions to ensure clarity to facilitate enforcement. We can also decide that - though we do not agree with paid advocacy editing - we will let independent projects decide but still mandate public disclosure of the paid relationship to help ensure against POV and COI.
Hope that helps. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:46, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
User:Jimbo Wales, Geoff, how do you define "paid advocacy editing"? It seems a hopeless endeavour to me, given that this can never be a black-and-white distinction.
  • Is noting the name of a new CEO in an article paid advocacy?
  • Is updating a company article with the most recent (higher) market share figures paid advocacy?
  • Is noting a major acquisition in an article paid advocacy?
  • Is noting a major industry award the company has won paid advocacy?
Who's to say? Even if a paid editor seems to focus on positive news about his company, it's no different from lots of unpaid editors who focus on negatives in their editing: adding scandals and so on.
We know from experience that Wikipedia contributors can pursue vendettas in Wikipedia for years. For example, this Stormfront poster's edit to the Vodacom article, misrepresenting sources to falsely accuse the company of (anti-white) racism, stood for months in Wikipedia. Would a company employee removing that spurious paragraph have been engaged in paid advocacy editing? These authors (among others) have argued that Wikipedia articles on highly visible companies are often too negative (just as those on small companies are often too positive). I've seen how that can happen in biographies, and I've seen it happen in business articles too: editors with an axe to grind rush in and add one negative paragraph after another. What is a company to do if they genuinely have an unduly negative article in Wikipedia? A company spokes(wo)man who turns up and states that by all that is fair and decent their article should not be so negative is already a paid advocate (even if she only edits the talk page) – but one with a valid cause. Companies deserve the same rights as biography subjects in an encyclopedia "anyone can edit", and there is a world of difference between someone wanting to promote their restaurant or family business in Wikipedia and someone trying to deal with a hatchet job some anonymous Wikipedian has written. The term "paid advocacy editing" does nothing to help here. Transparency, on the other hand, does: a company's edits will stand or fall on their merits. Andreas JN466 21:20, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Why is a WMF board member trying to influence the Wikimedia Foundation staff in a proposal that the staff intends to submit to the board? That seems like a conflict of interest there, but at least Wales is doing it publicly, so that we can transparently see the influence. As for the conclusion that this might be a step to "accept or normalize paid advocacy editing", most of the German, Swedish, and Norwegian Wikipedia communities already support that in practice, so let's not imagine that Jimmy Wales speaks for what the broad, global Wikipedia community's "intention" is, at all. -- Thekohser (talk) 14:35, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Strongly Disagree -- PAID CONTRIBUTIONS ARE WANTED ! - Look if CDC tells someone to post about Swine Flu then that paid contribution is a VERY good thing. If an advocacy group is willing to input in a tranparent COI way about their position then that is Freedom of Speech thing and responsible. If not done, that harms the article in distorts the facts when only ignorant or opponents get to speak. Then ther are the two issues of feasibility -- if hoops are annoying to reader or editor then volunteers and responsible paid folks are excluded and you're left with only lying sockpuppets, plus if you exclude all paid contributers that would cover everyone with subject matter experetise and the wikipedia admins themselves. Markbassett (talk) 16:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
To add to the above: Paid Advocacy - astroturfing - is evil. It is unwelcome and unwanted. But paid contributions and paid astroturfing are not necessarily the same thing - not all paid contributions are astroturfing. It's possible to be paid for useful, notable, NPOV contributions, and I think that's a worthy thing that should be encouraged. --Viqsi (talk) 15:25, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
I respectfully but strongly disagree with User:Markbassett's premise. The example given that if CDC(or any entity) pays someone(or some entity) to edit anything on Wikipedia is a "VERY good thing" is in fact the epitome of why paid contributions to Wikipedia are so evil. There could likely be a PAID ulterior motive (profit, political, etc.) when public information that is free on CDC site can be easily accessed by unpaid users to edit Wiki entries instead. Openly allowing govt. agencies and non-profit orgs(which includes political and religious affiliations)to somehow be "exempt" and allowed to have paid contributors is opening the ultimate Pandora's Box. There is simply no noble justification for paid contributions of any kind for any excuse by any entity, imho. yankhadenufYankhadenuf (talk) 19:10, 23 February 2014 (UTC) P.S. Having said all that, my interpretation of this amendment is that it merely seeks open disclosure by compensated contributors to Wikipedia, with penalty levels on case-by-case basis of those NOT complying.

yankhadenufYankhadenuf (talk) 20:19, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Would this change in wording have made a difference to Bell Pottinger?

Bell Pottinger is a public relations firm that got caught covertly promising potential clients that they could sanitize the wikipedia's articles about those subjects. Investigative reporters, pretending to be potential clients, recorded the firm's management bragging about their successful subversion of the wikipedia article about Dahabshill.

Bell Pottinger would have gotten away with this instance of subversion -- if they hadn't bragged about it. Presumably there are an unknown number of articles where Bell Pottinger succeeded in their stealth subversion.

Bell Pottinger had bragged that they had skilled teams who knew how to appear to be good faith wikipedia volunteers, who would slowly subvert the target articles in ways the en.wiki community wouldn't notice

When Bell Pottinger were caught, red-handed, they claimed they hadn't introduced any material that was untrue. This claim was nonsense. They claimed the individual with ties to Dahabshiil who was sent to Guantanamo was a former Dahabshill employee, and his arrest and detention had nothing to do with his work for Dahabshiil. In fact he was a current employee, and it was the internet use his job required that first drew the attention of security officials. Once he was at Guantanamo he was asked to "prove a negative" if he wanted to win his release -- to prove he had never used his Dahabshiil connections to transfer funds for terrorists.

How could they assert the individual held in Guantanamo was a former employee, when the information on the public record asserted the opposite? Presumably because their client told them he was a former employee.

Won't all paid editor face this conflict? Won't complying with NPOV always be in conflict with taking the clients version of events at face value?

I think we can safely assume the untruths the Bell Pottinger stealth editors introduced were not good faith mistakes. I think their promises, and their practice of deliberatily obfuscating their connection with their clients is sufficient to believe all their edits were made in bad faith.

What if we catch some of their shills? I am guessing a firm determined to subvert the wikipedia would hire replaceable third parties to make the actual edits. This supplies some plausible deniability.

I've made contributions to smaller, non-WMF wikis. Many other wikis ask contributors to register a real-world identity. Personally, I would have no problem abandoning allowing contributions from anonymous IP addresses. I would have no problem confidentially registering my real-world identity. OK, easily spoofed, but it would help eliminate some vandalism, sockpuppetry, and covert subversion by shills. Geo Swan (talk) 09:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I would have a problem registering my real-world identity. I know current protections are not guaranteed, but I can live with what is there. And I actually do reveal some things. It's having a choice about that that is such a benefit. I'm not willing to let go of it easily, not even for this (about which I react strongly).
I do agree that this proposal would not have stopped the Pottinger case. I will go much farther and say that none of WP's policies are designed to handle what corporations acting in bad faith are capable of. I can't say just what a solution to that one might look like. I can only say that I for one will not be participating in battles with corporate actors on the stage. If Wikipedia becomes that sort of battleground often enough, it will be no good place for individuals to be caught in. Evensteven (talk) 00:33, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

If Wikipedia does not sort out its shill problems and the press get to hear that it has problems of that sort, it will tarnish Wikipedia badly and put its reputation as a reliable source of information seriously into jeopardy. That sounds very obvious, but it cannot be emphasized enough. P123cat1 (talk) 00:15, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Language barriers

I find it very problematic that this discussion purports to cover all language Wikipedias, and yet this is only available in English and presumably only accessible by the English Wikipedian community vis a vis language barriers. I find this highly problematic as editors of all languages should be able to weigh in on such an important issue. If this is not fixed, I hope that the Wikimedia Foundation very strongly considers this as a problem within this discussion when it comes to any future decision based on this discussion. Jeremy112233 (talk) 15:32, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Hi Jeremy - Actually this proposed amendment was translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French and Japanese before the consultation. The community is translating it into other languages as well. You can find the translations at the box near the top on the main page labelled "Other languages." Geoffbrigham (talk) 15:40, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, we have an ongoing German conversation above. Therefore, Jeremy112233 (and Piotr967, too :), I don't really see a principled reason why that could not take place in other languages as well. Regards, --Jan (WMF) (talk) 15:51, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I'd also like to see this advertising at the top banners of the actual Wikipedia sites, not just Wikimedia, to ensure the widest amount of viewpoints possible. Great job on starting to spread this to other languages though! Jeremy112233 (talk) 19:20, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
There is a banner up on French Wikipedia announcing the proposal and discussion of it there in French. Evensteven (talk) 01:06, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

It is not necessary to translate, because it's too much bored ¿ok? nobody goes to read this sh....

Could there be a "paid edit" template-message on the main article page?

I teach information literacy in the public schools, including detection of bias in a resource.

(Unlike many of my colleagues, I don't discourage the use of Wikipedia.)

It would be very helpful if a student could easily know that an article may have bias from a paid contributor. A template-message of caution, maybe?

It is asking too much of my students to require them to click on all the personal pages of all the contributors to determine if some are paid.

The template-message could be at the top of the article or, less-instrusively, it could possibly be a smaller icon on the section that he or she edited. A little icon of coins which hyper-link to the company/person who paid them to do the edit? --Cahpcc (talk) 18:41, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

We already have this. It's called a COI template, which would apply to articles that were modified by paid editors. It is put on an article when there are concerns that an editor with a conflict of interest may have introduced problems into an article (bias, inappropriate links, etc.) and removed when the article is evaluated by independent editors who fix any observed problems and then verify the suitability of its content, usually accompanied by a discussion on the article's talk page. This is nothing new, it's something that has been in usage on the English Wikipedia project at least for a number of years. If you wanted a newer template specifically for paid editing, I don't see why not, you could simply copy and slightly modify the wording of the COI template.
If you're looking for a permanent mark that warns you that the page may have some kind of subtle bias introduced by a paid editor that is not apparent to a casual reader, then no, that can't happen. Such a template would be meaningless, because any article in any project could potentially have that issue. You'd be better off with a general disclaimer, and we technically have that implication already when we declare that these projects are places where "anyone can edit". -- Atama 19:38, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I think that Cahpcc raises a very good point, and yet I think that Atama does as well. Lack of disclosure to readers is the primary problem with paid editing, but yes, that in itself poses problems. In the past I've even drafted possible template messages, but I haven't pushed the issue because such warnings are just too problematic in themselves. That is why paid editing itself is invidious and ought not to be countenanced by the Foundation. Jimbo Wales has suggested on his talk page that this TOU change is the first step toward the end of paid editing, but I think it's the first step toward acceptance and perpetuation. Coretheapple