Wikipedia:Suggestions for COI compliance

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Editors with a conflict of interest are permitted to contribute to Wikipedia, so long as they abide by other policies and guidelines, including avoiding controversial edits on articles where they have a conflict. However, sometimes a disclosure of a conflict of interest can create strife on a talk page. The following set of suggestions, for both editors with a conflict of interest and editors responding to such an editor, can make everyone's life easier, by helping to ensure a civil and reasonable discussion.

An editor with a conflict of interest who wishes to suggest changes to an article should use that article's talk page, with the goal of ensuring a neutral point of view through discussion and consensus.

  1. You may wish to log in and create a user page for yourself that describes you and/or your professional background, using a real name or a pseudonym.
  2. Go to the talk page of the article.
  3. Create a new section by clicking the "+" or "new section" tab at the top of the page. Title it "Proposed change" or "Proposed addition." Type {{request edit}}. Type in the changes you wish to have made, and sign your post by typing four tildes, ~~~~. The following suggestions should help to ensure a civil and reasonable discussion, but they should not be considered compulsory:
    1. It may be helpful to disclose your conflict of interest on the talk page. (An undisclosed conflict of interest may make it difficult for other editors to assume good faith about your edits.)
    2. You might consider including a link to this essay ( [[WP:SCOIC]] ) to indicate that you are following this advice, and to help people to understand how to respond.
    3. When describing your changes, try to be both clear and concise — it makes it much easier for people to consider and respond to your suggestion.
    4. Your proposed change should be supported by reasoning independent of your conflict of interest — assume good faith that other editors will treat your suggestion on its merits.
    5. This reasoning should be as complete as you think appropriate, while remaining clear and concise.
    6. Once you have presented your case, it may be best to take a back seat and minimise your participation in the discussion, to avoid any perception or accusation of undue advocacy or pushing an agenda. Of course, if there are indications of any misunderstanding or misconception, it is reasonable to politely address this; similarly, if any editor asks you a question, a response is appropriate.
    7. If you realise that you have missed a useful point of reasoning, please add it, but not in reply to any part of the discussion not directed to you.
    8. If people respond in a way that seems unfair, keep cool, remain civil, and if all else fails consider the guidelines for dispute resolution.
    9. WP:CHILL: let the discussion develop. One does not need to respond immediately to every statement. Do not dominate the discussion.

Editors responding to such a COI-compliant suggestion should bear in mind the following points:

  1. Assume good faith, the user is likely trying to work for the betterment of the encyclopedia, even if they have a conflict of interest.
  2. Treat the user's suggestion on its merits, rather than trying to assess the conflict of interest itself.
  3. If you believe that the user is being disingenuous, keep calm and keep observing for while. If you become sure that they are acting in bad faith, consider the following steps:
    1. Make a polite summary of your concerns on the user's talk page.
    2. Seek a second (or third) opinion from another editor, preferably one not involved in the discussion.
    3. Consider the advice of the dispute resolution guidelines.
    4. If all else fails, and you believe that the user is acting inappropriately, consider taking your concerns to a suitable forum, such as WP:COIN, RFC for articles, or WP:RFCC. Please familiarise yourself with all such forums before deciding where to take your concerns.

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