Wikimedia press releases/Statement on Microsoft offering payment for Wikipedia editing

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Draft - work in progress

Unless and until it has board-level approval, this should only be taken as a statement from an individual press contact - David Gerard 20:03, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Statement on Microsoft offering payment for Wikipedia editing[edit]

XML blogger Rick Jelliffe said on his blog on Monday 22 January (http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2007/01/an_interesting_offer.html) that Microsoft had offered to pay him to edit the English Wikipedia articles on Microsoft Office Open XML (ECMA standard 376, the new file format for Office 2007), as they felt the articles were biased.

We are disappointed that a prominent company such as Microsoft feels that public relations without self-identification is a workable way to do things. Doing this can only hurt their good name. We are currently in communication with Microsoft on the issue.

The proper way to raise editorial issues for people with a conflict of interest is on the article talk page. For prominent subjects (such as almost anything to do with Microsoft), this will be noticed. In the case of OOXML, this is happening now:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecma_Office_Open_XML
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ecma_Office_Open_XML

(This of course would not apply in the case of legally questionable article content, an entirely different matter, which we deal with in a much more expedited fashion should an article subject raise a concern.)

Paying people to push a point of view on Wikipedia is regarded as an obvious conflict of interest. Most people don't need to be told that conflict of interest is a bad idea. But it's hard to make people understand that if their income depends on not understanding it.

Wikipedia has tremendous ongoing problems with publicists, marketers, search optimisers and spammers who think their message is so important that conflict of interest doesn't matter. Publicists who press on regardless tend to get blocked from editing. If something is notable, a third party editor should decide its editorial relevance.

If a company has money to spend on Wikipedia, then a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation (a tax-deductible 501 (c)(3) charity) will do more to bring them public goodwill - it helps us keep working, and has historically tended to make people interested in checking the quality of articles about a donor and making the articles as good, high-quality and useful to the reader as possible.

We're here to write an encyclopedia. We welcome all help towards this goal.

About Wikipedia[edit]

Started in January 2001, Wikipedia is currently the world's fastest-growing, most current, and largest encyclopedia, with nearly 6 million articles under active development in over 200 languages. It is created entirely by volunteers who contribute, update, and revise articles in a collaborative process. The English-language edition contains more than 1.5 million articles and 30 million internal links. Wikipedias in twelve languages each have more than one hundred thousand articles.

Wikipedia's content is written for a general audience, and is continually being revised for clarity, readability, and accuracy. Original text contributed to Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL), which lets users copy and modify each other's work based on a principle known as "copyleft". The entire database is freely downloadable.

About the Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a US-registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity. It runs the websites for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.