Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Cooperation/Archive 2: Difference between revisions

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* I am not sure if you all realize, but there are quite a few paid editors already submitting articles to [[WP:AFC|Articles for Creation]]. That wasn't the original intent of AfC when it was started, but over the years, users have directed people with COIs to AfC. I'd say the project already handles this quite well. Articles for Creation has been in operation since 2007, and so far, Wikipedia hasn't fallen into disrepute as the result of paid editor submissions. I think banning paid editors from editing the article drafts directly is a mistake. Just telling someone how something should be done isn't going to really help them learn. It would be like telling students in the [[WP:USEP|United States Education Program]] about our policies, then telling them that they aren't allowed to edit articles. The only way someone is going to learn is through actual editing experience. Over time the paid editors learn policy, and as a result, they learn how to write decent and neutral Wikipedia articles. If a paid editor is writing content in a [[WP:NPOV|neutral encyclopedic tone]] and sourcing the information with [[WP:RS|reliable third party sources]], then there really is no issue. Even if they have been paid to do it, is there really that much of a problem if they are improving the encyclopedia? [[User:Alpha Quadrant|<span style="color:#000070; font-family:Times New Roman">Alpha_Quadrant</span>]] [[User talk:Alpha Quadrant|<span style="color:#00680B; font-family:Times New Roman">(talk)</span>]] 02:39, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
* I am not sure if you all realize, but there are quite a few paid editors already submitting articles to [[WP:AFC|Articles for Creation]]. That wasn't the original intent of AfC when it was started, but over the years, users have directed people with COIs to AfC. I'd say the project already handles this quite well. Articles for Creation has been in operation since 2007, and so far, Wikipedia hasn't fallen into disrepute as the result of paid editor submissions. I think banning paid editors from editing the article drafts directly is a mistake. Just telling someone how something should be done isn't going to really help them learn. It would be like telling students in the [[WP:USEP|United States Education Program]] about our policies, then telling them that they aren't allowed to edit articles. The only way someone is going to learn is through actual editing experience. Over time the paid editors learn policy, and as a result, they learn how to write decent and neutral Wikipedia articles. If a paid editor is writing content in a [[WP:NPOV|neutral encyclopedic tone]] and sourcing the information with [[WP:RS|reliable third party sources]], then there really is no issue. Even if they have been paid to do it, is there really that much of a problem if they are improving the encyclopedia? [[User:Alpha Quadrant|<span style="color:#000070; font-family:Times New Roman">Alpha_Quadrant</span>]] [[User talk:Alpha Quadrant|<span style="color:#00680B; font-family:Times New Roman">(talk)</span>]] 02:39, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
::I think all of us would say no, if they're improving the encyclopedia, then we're good. However, you'll need to change Jimbo's mind and also get [[WP:COI]] changed before any headway will be made in that direction. <font color="silver">[[User:Silver seren|Silver]]</font><font color="blue">[[User talk:Silver seren|seren]]</font><sup>[[Special:Contributions/Silver seren|C]]</sup> 03:18, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
::I think all of us would say no, if they're improving the encyclopedia, then we're good. However, you'll need to change Jimbo's mind and also get [[WP:COI]] changed before any headway will be made in that direction. <font color="silver">[[User:Silver seren|Silver]]</font><font color="blue">[[User talk:Silver seren|seren]]</font><sup>[[Special:Contributions/Silver seren|C]]</sup> 03:18, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
:::Well, that is what AfC has been doing for several years now. Just looking through my user talk archives, you will see a number of discussions with editors that have a strong COI or they are paid editors. On many occasions, the articles I helped them with were moved to mainspace. The many of the articles were moved to mainspace, and many of them are fairly decent articles. Articles for Creation also helps submitters, both paid and unpaid in the [[WP:IRC|IRC]] channel #wikipedia-en-help. There isn't any headway needed in the area, because we are already well established. Under the [[WP:COI|Conflicting interest policy]], editors are discouraged, but not prohibited, from editing areas where they have a COI. We explain this to them, and we explain what they need to keep in mind if they indeed do work in the area (i.e. [[WP:NPOV]], [[WP:V]], and [[WP:RS]]). [[User:Alpha Quadrant|<span style="color:#000070; font-family:Times New Roman">Alpha_Quadrant</span>]] [[User talk:Alpha Quadrant|<span style="color:#00680B; font-family:Times New Roman">(talk)</span>]] 03:28, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
== About the Signpost ==
== About the Signpost ==

Revision as of 03:28, 21 February 2012


I can't figure out what i'm doing wrong with them. The Wikiproject Cooperation parts should be linking to the page itself, but they're not. Is it because they're on the page they're linking to? SilverserenC 00:56, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Any of you guys know how to fix this linking issue in the templates? I'm rather stumped. SilverserenC 03:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Never mind. Looks like I was correct. They work fine when placed on other pages, they just don't link to themselves when they're on the page in question. SilverserenC 04:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


Aren't we risking death-by-Jimbo for actively encouraging people who he has as much as said are antithetical to the very foundation of Wikipedia? Note that I ask only partially facetiously. Qwyrxian (talk) 01:42, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

The idea of two contrary efforts rather than a single collaboration makes my stomach churn, but since my participation is welcome here, but not necessarily on the other project - well, why not. I do want to caution that the article right now reads as overly friendly and forgiving to paid editors, while the conversation on the other page is overly critical. A successful project should have a balanced perspective that is focused both on supporting positive COIs and discouraging bad ones.
Yes, we are risking death-by-jimbo. King4057 (talk) 01:53, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
If you want to phrase it that way, then yes. But Jimbo isn't the Foundation and a significant part of the community agrees with the stances of this Wikiproject. The whole point is that the method described here is a way to do the same things as what Jimbo would like to happen in terms of article content, but in addition, result in more complete articles and less alienation of organizations. I think that would be beneficial for all of us. SilverserenC 02:01, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Silver, I'm adding stuff to the project page now. Let me know what you think in a few mins. King4057 (talk) 02:18, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Will do. SilverserenC 02:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I tried to make it a little less pro-paid editing as well as getting some other ideas in there. Just a pass through. I don't know who put the External Links in there, but I was already foreseeing all the spammy links to PR agency blogs, which are usually written by people who aren't actually experienced editors. I'd like to avoid the kind of 300 word "3 quick tips to writing your Wikipedia article" type of advice that makes people think they don't have to invest the time to investigate Wikipedia policy to be a participant. King4057 (talk) 02:48, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm okay with everything except for the word punish in the lede, as many editors will say that Wikipedia is not here to punish users, but to act preventatively toward negative contributions to the encyclopedia. Perhaps you could change it to "Additionally, the project works to identify and employ preventative measures toward unethical editors". SilverserenC 02:54, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough. Isn't punishment a form of preventative measure? I'm a big advocate that in addition to the media attention Jimbo draws to clearly inappropriate editors like Pottinger, their legal violations of FTC rules that require disclosure online by commercial interests should be used to up the ante. Pottinger-type activities aren't just unethical or against Wikipedia policy, but they're also illegal. Nobody seems to realize that. If a company paid the FTC a multi-million dollar settlement for systematically corrupting Wikipedia, I think that would be of significant preventative value and is why I was thinking about "punishment." I'm also a big supporter of the "carrot & stick" and was glad to see Jimbo mention it, but if punishment isn't allowed, where's the stick? If we're all carrot and the Paid Editing Watch is all stick, well.... Just sparking the discussion. My POV is that we also need to think very seriously about a big stick and a small carrot. King4057 (talk) 03:06, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
It's a bit PC, but the reasoning is basically just that you don't use the word punish, you use prevent instead or language like that. For example, Wikipedia:Blocking_policy#Blocks_should_be_preventative. A common statement on Wikipedia is that any action against a user is "meant to be preventative, not punitive." That's just how it goes. SilverserenC 03:10, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Got it. King4057 (talk) 03:13, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Silver, Barnstars and a Mentor Program appear to have universal support (so far). I've added a section on a Mentor program and removed stuff like the Certification idea, which hasn't gotten support thus far. How do we go about creating a barnstar for positive COI contributors? The details may change over time, but I was hoping you could give the Mentor program information a once-over before I solicit for a mentor myself. I also implemented language along the lines of Jimbo's fast line of not editing articles directly. King4057 (talk) 18:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Many thanks to SilverSeren for building something more in line with the spirit of open cooperation. Been running around day-job-and-school nuts, but will give this a solid look soon. (As he-who-started-the-ruckus, it's most certainly the least I can do.) Looking forward. And thanks again. --Philgomes (talk) 15:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Unfortunately the ruckus was started by criticisms of WBToo's edits, an established, long-time ethical COI editor, but I wish it was started by something more positive like your blog. King4057 (talk) 18:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


I'd like to put forth a set of suggestions for the project and collect comments on whether people support these.

There was unanimous support for the proposal that this project not be a sanctuary for paid editors, but also to identify and root out bad actors, yet the current project page doesn't have anything on that side of the coin. I propose we create a Paid Editing Watch as part of this project (merged from the other) with the goal of identifying paid editors who have not disclosed or who have disclosed but are making poor edits.

For example, it only took me five minutes to look up Waggener Edstrom, find their IP address, and username, etc. They're advertising they do Wikipedia consulting, but their own username has no disclosure and no editing history showing their client work. Something that warrants investigation. Whereas the COI noticeboard is reactive, this is proactive. Many editors enjoy "the hunt" and may wish to participate in this end of things as well.


In putting the Examples together (below), I realize many PR agencies actively promote their Wikipedia expertise and advertise it as a service, but their own handles don't show any editing history. This is a major transparency problem.

Please elaborate. Handles? Transparency? What specifically do you mean? (you lost me here) Rklawton (talk) 01:15, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
For example, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide pubicly advertises their Wikipedia services on their website, however the Waggener employee that updated their own company article doesn't show any edits on behalf of their clients. If someone provides Wikipedia editing services, but has no editing history, then where are all the edits their clients paid them for? Were they done anonymously? With sockpuppets? Undisclosed?
*They're using multiple accounts and we should find out
*They're lying and they don't really provide Wikipedia services
*They're "consulting" their clients on how to edit themselves and we should identify the paid editors their clients are using
*Or it could be something as simple as that employee left and the new agency Wikipedian used a different username
Either way, if someone is pubicly advertising paid Wikipedia services on the internet, it should be possible to investigate who they are on Wikipedia and find out if they are doing so ethically. King4057 (talk) 03:01, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification. I think a journalist would love to investigate this example further! Rklawton (talk) 03:05, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
A list of suspected undisclosed paid editors by Waggener employees or their clients (probably under their influence)
  • User:Kj8744 has made many edits for Waggener clients, including this one removing the investigation of an executive for a fraud scandal.
  • User:Goldtoes68 for Iron Mountain
  • User:Historian1898 for BMC Software
  • User:Rmercado for Complete Genomics
  • User:Aimeegordon for Ener1
  • User:Zakig for Moreover Technologies
  • All undisclosed with no user profile and unsuspecting usernames. All are edits of the Wikipedia articles on Waggener clients or attempts to plug in a mention of such client. These guys are running quite the racket. King4057 (talk) 04:54, 14 January 2012 (UTC)


    Organizations advertising Wikipedia services, where their usernames on Wikipedia are unknown or where other misconduct is suspected.

    Organization Known Usernames Articles Edited Notes Next Steps
    Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Gdubya00 Waggener Edstrom Worldwide + TBD Website says they provide Wikipedia consulting, but username shows no editing history besides on their own page. Evaluate the articles on their client list to see if there are obvious COI/POV issues that may have resulted from their "consulting" or be sockpuppets. Their IP address is Is there a way to search for anonymous edits made by that IP address?
    The Writers for Hire Unknown Unknown Website says they follow Wikipedia policy. No reason to suspect misconduct. IP address is See if they are editing anonymously.
    Text 100 Timdyson is a likely candidate, who was already called out as a clear COI editor, but has no disclosure (as their own website advises as a best practice) Next Fifteen Communications Website provides a guide to PR editing, so presumably they are also involved in this themselves. Check IP address

    A Mentor Program

    For inexperienced, but ethical paid contributors that show potential to follow Wikipedia's policies and make positive contributions. The idea is that just like some editors enjoy finding vandalism or catching bad actors on Wikipedia, some will enjoy working with professional/business COIs to educate, oversee and collaborate with.

    • Paid editors are not guaranteed a mentor.
    • Mentors choose who, when and for how long they support a paid editor
    • Mentors review all content before posted. Editors without a buddy are still encouraged to use Talk pages and Noticeboards
    • Mentors accept the responsibility to investigate content closely before "approving" it.
    • Mentors are encouraged to find paid editors they think have the potential to become certified


    • Support Sort of like the Mentor system then? Yeah, I guess that's fine. It's all optional anyways. SilverserenC 04:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Since this is a project and not a policy, we can't actually require anything, but I don't think we should give the impression that it's ok for inexperienced COI editors to jump in without supervision. "Strongly encouraged" maybe, like disclosure. That work? King4057 (talk) 05:56, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Yeah, that's fine by me. SilverserenC 06:04, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Support I support mentoring, whether we call it that or a buddy (although I prefer the former term, I guess). I've performed this role often enough for people off wiki to see real value in it. - Bilby (talk) 12:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Support the concept but not happy with term. "Buddy" is too casual. "Mentor" is better but isn't the right concept.--SPhilbrick(Talk) 12:31, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Fixed to "mentor"King4057 (talk) 17:02, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree Babakathy (talk) 14:46, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Support - Both the idea and the term "mentor" seem fine, the guidelines written above about what mentorship entails doesn't seem different from what a mentor would otherwise do on Wikipedia. I've served as a mentor to a couple of editors in the past, and really your job is to give advice and keep an eye out on the other person, and you take a bit of responsibility for their behavior in the process. That's pretty much what this system proposes to do as well. -- Atama 19:00, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Support. Excellent idea Ocaasi t | c 16:15, 10 February 2012 (UTC)


    Editors who demonstrate a consistent track record of positive collaborations on Wikipedia may eventually become certified by the project. This should not be perceived as an endorsement by Wikipedia or advertised as such, but means that volunteer editors in this project have vouched for the editor's past performance, which is a good indication of future performance. At this point they are still encouraged to use Talk pages, submit articles for review, etc. but their buddy may become less hands-on. Certification can also help Wikipedia direct paid editing clients to editors they know have a track record of also supporting Wikipedia's encyclopedic goals without burdening the community.


    • Support This is fine by me, though i'm not quite sure how much credence this will be given as a whole. We'll have to see. SilverserenC 04:34, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Cannot support as is The concept of certification is an extremely big deal. We have no experience with certification for any of our contributors; I don't see how this will be anything other than a major pain. I have experience with certification in other areas, I'm skeptical that we can do it properly. This is a bigger deal than RfA, which we barely manage.--SPhilbrick(Talk) 12:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Query are we only discussing paid editors here? How would certification affect existing policy Babakathy (talk) 12:28, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Just for paid editors with no effect on policy. Not for Wikipedia editors as a whole. King4057 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 17:04, 10 January 2012 (UTC).
    • Vehemently oppose - this will be perceived as an endorsement of paid and other COI edits: a "License to Spam"! I'm already uncomfortable enough with this proposal, but this would totally put it over the top into "put a stake through its heart" territory. --Orange Mike | Talk 14:18, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Oppose: if existing policy is don't edit article space directly if you are being paid to make the edit (per Jimbo's post) then I do not see how this can work.Babakathy (talk) 14:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Oppose - This makes me very uneasy. And unnecessary. If a paid editor has a lot of contributions, no blocks, and positive feedback of some sort (barnstars, thank yous on their user talk page, DYK/GA/FA, etc.) then that should be enough to show that they are trustworthy. That kind of thing applies to every editor on Wikipedia, paid or not. I'm not aware of any kind of "super-editor" that enjoys an elevated status over other content editors. It seems odd to create such a thing here. -- Atama 18:56, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Oppose. However, we could very well certify that editors had been through a certain instructional regime and give them a userbox that says so. They could have a required reading list, a COI declaration on their userpage, agree to follow best practices, put a link to their COI declaration in their signature, and agree to have their edits reviewed before posting. Ocaasi t | c 16:17, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

    Review Board

    One-off editors with a professional or business COI (like a corporate PR person) may submit draft articles to the review board. There are already many ways to do this, but most amateur editors aren't aware of them. Curious if folks think this would be helpful. Haven't decided myself and I'm hesitant to support paid editors who lack a long-term commitment to learn the rules.


    • Neutral until clarification I don't know if a board is necessary, per se. Not until we become much larger anyways. I would prefer more of an open-ended, COI editors may submit drafts of articles to the Wikiproject as a whole and the project can approve them and insert them into the articles in question. SilverserenC 04:35, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Why is this different? We had a similar concept covering all editors, called Wikipedia:Requests for feedback. It died because it couldn't be staffed. Why is this different?--SPhilbrick(Talk) 12:20, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Weak oppose: is it not simpler for them to propose the edits in talk space per current policy? Babakathy (talk) 14:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    Lightning Round

    Insert comments between each statement if you agree/disagree:

    This project aims to demonstrate examples of positive encyclopedic contributions of paid editors, but also better prevent bad actors.

    • Agree Though, again, i'd prefer you remove punish and change it to "prevent non-neutral paid editors from editing detrimentally" or something like that, but the overall sentiment is the same, I guess. SilverserenC 04:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Oops, fixed.
    • Agree Babakathy (talk) 14:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree. There's a wide range of edits made by paid editors (or those in the grey area - it can be complex); some are good, some are bad. Automatically labelling them all as bad is deeply unhelpful - we need a nuanced approach in order to get more good content instead of scaring away those paid editors who are keen to follow rules, whilst any bad ones (ie. unwilling to follow our rules) are merely driven underground. bobrayner (talk) 15:39, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree. This seems to be the fundamental thing drawing us together, in fact. Qwyrxian (talk) 02:35, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree. This is very important, that this project isn't perceived as a sanctuary or advocate for any and all paid editors. I think if it was it would be shot down faster than WP:NEWT. Helping paid editors who improve Wikipedia, and discouraging paid editors who harm Wikipedia, that is ultimately in the best interests of the encyclopedia and should not be overly controversial I would hope. -- Atama 19:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    We want editors to report anonymous, covert, bad-faith COI edits by commercial interests to the FTC and similar organizations

    • Disagree At this point in time, I don't think it is our responsibility to uphold this side of the issue. It could definitely be seen as harassment and I feel its just better for us to stop the bad faith editing in general, but not go this far. SilverserenC 04:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Query FTC - who they? Babakathy (talk) 14:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    The Federal Trade Commission in the US, which enforces laws about commerce. King4057 (talk)
    • FTC? Surely we have articles on organisations outside the USA. The world has more than one country in it (and: Not all organisations that might pay an editor are actually businesses - you wouldn't report a government agency or a political party to the FTC, would you?). I don't think it would be helpful to set in stone exactly how we report Really Bad Stuff to the authorities; if anything like that is found, I think it should be dealt with on a more ad-hoc basis (as we do with other kinds of editing that have a criminal element - KP, death threats, &c). bobrayner (talk) 15:39, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    True, tweaked it. We would need to provide a list of organizations around the globe with links to where and how to report unlawful conduct for the most extreme cases. I see it as upholding our duty to report crime, but clearly there are opportunities for abuse that would especially be harassment. King4057 (talk)
    Still oppose Way too complex, legal implications, etc: let us say I edit the article about my employer (there is no such article) today: I would be editting in Zimbabwe, advocating on behalf of an organisation in Botswana, using a satellite web link operated by a UK company and the wikipedia servers are in the US. Where to start? But more importantly, we do have sanctions in place as a community for bad faith behaviour, blatant POV pushing and so on. Babakathy (talk) 06:33, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Disagree. Wikipedia's sole job is to create and maintain an encyclopedia, not act as a watchdog. If an editor feels the personal compulsion to turn someone in, that's their prerogative, but we shouldn't try to make it an obligation. -- Atama 19:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    We would like editors not to salvage advert written by a paid editor to stop encouraging bad behavior

    • Neutral I'm not entirely sure what this one means. If unaffiliated editors want to work on certain topics, we shouldn't oppose that based on a paid editor having tried to make the same article before. If you mean that we shouldn't have editors use the POV framework from before, I guess that's fine, but we wouldn't allow that anyways, because the prior framework would have already violated the rules. Though the references from the framework might be salvageable. SilverserenC 04:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Oppose: if there is salvageable material, let's edit and use it - as we do with any other edit. Babakathy (talk) 14:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Oppose. I want the encyclopedia to improve. If there is useful content, I want it. If there is crap, I want it out.
    • Disagree. We should probably treat this the same way we do copyvios and edits by banned editors. If there is anything that is worth keeping, we should keep it. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. -- Atama 19:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Editors who routinely engage in paid editing as a business are encouraged to donate to the Wikimedia Foundation.

    • Disagree What? No. This seems kind of silly. We don't require regular editors to do this and, paid or not, we shouldn't badger them over spending money on the Foundation. The Foundation already has its costs covered with its donation drives anyways. SilverserenC 04:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I feel like people who make a business out of writing Wikipedia articles should have a culture of giving back to the website that makes their business possible. But I'm not sure how/if any specific project/individual/etc. could create/support that culture. Nor would it be kosher for any official Wikipedia group or project to solicit for it. King4057 (talk) 05:56, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Nice idea but probably impractical. All editors are encouraged to donate - at least until they click away the latest banner ad. It's tempting to underline the importance of donation for those getting a more concrete benefit out of en.wikipedia but that's not qualitatively different to a banner ad. If we took a big extra step towards making it mandatory, that means (a) it's not a donation any more, (b) we get an unwieldy bureaucracy, and (c) it will (not unreasonably) be seen as encouraging organisations to pay for coverage - which is likely to enrage many. I think that big extra step can be ruled out, which leaves us with "please donate... please...". bobrayner (talk) 19:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Oppose as per Bobrayner. Babakathy (talk) 06:35, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Disagree. It almost sounds like a bribe, and makes this look less like a "free" encyclopedia. Very dangerous. -- Atama 19:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    We need to create barnstars for COI editors who do a particularly fantastic job writing balanced, neutral content.

    • Agree This seems fine to me. It would, perhaps, encourage such editors as well. SilverserenC 04:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree why not Babakathy (talk) 14:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree. As with other editors, we're likely to bring out more of the better behaviour by using both carrot and stick. I take a Napoleonic stance on barnstars. bobrayner (talk) 15:43, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Neutral. I almost never give barnstars, but I have no problem if others think these are effective tools. Qwyrxian (talk) 02:35, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Agree. I think this is a good alternative to the "certification" proposal made earlier on this page. Barnstars are completely informal and unregulated, but are also often considered to be a sign that a person has done good work and is trustworthy. And there is a precedent for Wikiprojects to use barnstars as a way to identify editors who have done good work, so this is nothing out of the ordinary. -- Atama 19:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Professional Conflict of Interest

    I am not sure what you would consider a "professional Conflict of Interest" - the policy states "Editing in an area in which you have professional or academic expertise is not, in itself, a conflict of interest". This is completely different from the policy against paid editting WP:NOPAY, which your project seems to deal more with? Babakathy (talk) 06:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    "NOPAY" isn't a policy against paid editing. There is no policy against paid editing, if there was then this project couldn't exist. NOPAY is simply one section of the COI guideline. Note that it says that people are "very strongly discouraged" from editing when being paid to do so. But since it isn't disallowed, and it's going to happen, there should be a way to help ensure that paid editors properly contribute to the encyclopedia. Often a paid editor is a person with excellent writing skills and with access to information, and if that person can be shown how to follow our policies and guidelines (and then actually sticks to them) can be a great asset to Wikipedia.
    A "professional" COI is one where a person's professional life may directly benefit from their edits. For example, if a person works for Microsoft and starts to edit Microsoft's web page, their employer directly benefits from anything written in that article that improves Microsoft's image, which is to that editor's benefit. Conversely, that same editor who edits the Playstation 3 article to talk about some flaw in the product is helping their employer by making a competitor look bad. That is different from a person who simply has professional expertise in that area. Using that same Microsoft employee as an example, if that person who works at Microsoft is editing an article about personal computing in general, and not mentioning anything about Microsoft or their competitors, we don't discourage that at all. The same way that a dentist editing the article on dentistry isn't considered to have a COI, but editing an article about their own dental clinic would be. -- Atama 19:29, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    I agree that the term professional COI has a unique meaning here. Unlike professors or doctors editing in their subject area, PR representatives are being paid explicitly to manage the public reputations of their clients. Maybe the term needs some tweaking to avoid lumping in non-PR folks, but there are indeed professional COIs. Ocaasi t | c 16:21, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

    Test case?

    Hey, if someone wants to take a stab at a test case, I've just run into a COI editor myself. I can take this to WP:COIN, but maybe someone here wants to intervene first? The articles in question are Lev Nussimbaum, Kurban Said, Ali and Nino: A Love Story, and probably others; the editor is User:Gizgalasi, who just admitted at User Talk:Gizgalasi#Ali and Nino and associated pages that xe is professionally associated with a set of references (and very strong POV) being used on these articles. I'm the editor trying to enforce neutrality right now, and I just left a clear WP:COI warning, so I'm obviously not the one to engage the editor, but maybe someone else here would like to try? Keep in mind, of course, that these pages probably WP:DIGWUREN (which I haven't told the editor yet). Qwyrxian (talk) 06:57, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    Or maybe that's WP:ARBAA2. Either way, I'm sure it should fall under some form of sanctions. Qwyrxian (talk) 07:05, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I think this a case of someone whose connection is that they have done work on the subject? That is not automatically a conflict of interest. It is not true that anyone with a real world connection to a subject are allowed to edit a subject, we strongly recommend that they do not. What WP:COI actually says is COI editing involves contributing to Wikipedia in order to promote your own interests or those of other individuals, companies, or groups... Where advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest. Within guidelines, the policy also allows self-citation too WP:COS.
    The user "admitted" that they took part in some of the research cited. That is not automatically a problem: the question is not whether the editor has any connection to the subject - or do you think a professor of physical chemistry has a conflict of interest if she edits reaction kinetics? The question is whether User:Gizgalasi has been editting to promote their own interests or those of an interest group, which is a conflict of interest. We should also ask whether the edits are WP:NPOV, whether or not there is a COI. My take would be the latter.Babakathy (talk) 08:11, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    The edits aren't even close to NPOV. The user is insisting across several different articles that the results of his group's research are demonstrably better, so much better that WP must represent their POV, despite there being competing POV's offered by other researchers. The user's goals do not seem to be neutral encyclopedia coverage, but to push the goals of their own research team. However, perhaps this is an issue for COIN, not here. Qwyrxian (talk) 08:24, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I get you. The fact that the user is part of a research team that worked on the topic is not a COI, as I said above. The fact that he is pushing his research as better than others is a very clear COI. I agree that this should be posted to COIN.Babakathy (talk) 08:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    More generally, I am concerned with the suggestion that a real world connection to a subject in itself suggests a COI. It's not in the policy and it is counter-productive to push away those who know something on a topic (such as my hypothetical example of the chem prof above). I raised this also in the section above - what is it that is suggested as a professional COI? Babakathy (talk) 08:36, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    My suggestion would be that this project be focused on COI editors willing to make a long-term commitment to become good editors. It's too much of an investment for the volunteer community to make in educating, overseeing and basically training paid writers for one-off articles. However, if someone went through the buddy system, became certified and started writing repeated high-quality articles with minimum supervision, the investment proves worthwhile in the content Wikipedia gains and the reduced burden of policing what would otherwise be dozens of inexperienced editors. My $.02 comment to add on top of not being a good candidate.
    I'm interested in becoming a better editor and after reviewing some of my recent articles I still feel they are too commercial. I'd be happy to have a buddy assigned to me and I wonder if WBToo and PhilGomes would as well, being obvious candidates for a test. Though I think we should wait until the responsibilities of a buddy are clearly laid out. Paid editor mentors should do so accepting significant responsibility. King4057 (talk) 09:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    Death by Jimbo?

    There is little to no chance of "Death by Jimbo" as long as this project emphasizes front and center that paid advocates should never edit Wikipedia articles directly. There are many positive and useful ways to get things done in Wikipedia without crossing that line - and it is that line which puts Wikipedia into disrepute as well as risks brand image disaster.

    What we need to do is instruct paid advocates about best practices - how to appropriately disclose conflict of interest, how to find community members to help, how to complain about errors. The Wikiproject should have as its aim to simplify and clarify policy and practice in this area. And what we also need to do is instruct the broader community about the importance of making sure that paid advocates have avenues to make legitimate concerns and complaints known, and for those concerns and complaints to be handled in a timely fashion.

    There are many tools avaolable that already work quite well. A wikiproject designed to blow those up and open the doors wide to the worst sorts of contributors is a bad idea, whereas a wikiproject designed to strengthen what already works is a very good idea.

    Note well that there are people who are paid shills who are doing extremely damaging things to Wikipedia right now, and they will fight eloquently and passionately and tirelessly (they are being paid to do it!) to defend their alleged natural right to edit Wikipedia. Ignore them, marginalize them, and block them if they don't get in line.

    Most PR people are ethical, and most of them are acutely aware of the damage they can do to their customers if they violate the rules of Wikipedia. To deter them is straightforward - carrots in the form of venues to take concerns that result in rapid action, and sticks in the form of firm rules with "bright lines" that are easy to understand (like "don't edit article space directly"). This is not difficult.-Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:46, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    I guess I would be uncomfortable with a WikiProject that aimed to take a stance that was outside of existing community consensus. However, I would be very comfortable with a project aimed to ensure that people worked with all of the core policies, and which strongly encouraged behaviours which would ensure that people stayed within them, (such as not directly editing articles if you have a COI). Encouraging paid editing would be a very bad thing, as it is something I'm opposed to, but ensuring that paid editors and others with a COI work in a manner that ensures that they stay within both the rules and the spirit of the project would be excellent. I see this as one of your venues to take concerns (although I'm hoping that the project is more proactive than reactive on that score). Of course, I don't yet know where others plan to take it, but personally I'd like to see a model of providing assistance and information to people with COIs, as I've been witnessing a lot of problems where that hasn't been done to the detriment of Wikipedia. - Bilby (talk) 11:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I think there is very strong community consensus that best practice is for paid advocates to avoid editing articles directly. I predict within 6 months time it will be hard policy. But for now even those who think that we should not have hard policy against it, I have seen virtually no one (who isn't getting paid to write fluffy crap in Wikipedia that the community would not accept without their gaming the system) say that it's actually a good idea for paid advocates to make substantive article edits. There is a simple core message that we can get out to PR people that will solve virtually all of these problems easily and in a way that is good for them while enhancing the integrity of Wikipedia: best practice is to never edit articles directly as a paid advocate. Post what you want on the talk page, engage the other editors of the article. This actually works, we have strong evidence that it actually works, and it avoids embarrassment for all parties.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:24, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Personally, I think paid editing of articles can be helpful if it delivers good content, and am therefore surprised to read that nobody thinks paid editors should be allowed to edit articles; and that "death by jimbo" still hovers over the head of dissenters like the sword of damocles. I had been hoping that "consensus" could be determined through discussion among the community, rather than one person declaring what the consensus is; maybe there could be an RfC or something like that, further down the line. It's likely that there are other viewpoints in the community. bobrayner (talk) 19:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    If the community gets behind and passes a policy to ban paid advocates from editing articles directly, then this project should support it in full. I hope that such a policy will distinguish between a paid advocate and an editor who is simply employed by the article subject, and therefore has a COI, but I guess that is a different issue. Personally, I agree that paid advocates shouldn't be directly editing articles - although I find that hard rules tend to come into conflict with reasonable exceptions, so I'm not uncomfortable with the current "strongly discouraged" stance given that we have core policies to handle problems that may arise.
    I am worried that I'm giving the wrong impression here, but the main reason why I don't like taking a stance beyond what is currently in policy is credibility. Presumably a paid advocate will read the COI guidelines, and be aware that they are not currently prevented from editing articles directly. If I want to work with them, taking a stance that goes beyond that will damage my credibility - if they know that they are, technically, allowed to edit articles, and if I start from the stance that they are not, then I'm putting them offside from the outset, and I would be unsurprised if they have difficulty trusting what I have to say. Especially given that I have no recourse if they choose to edit the article directly anyway. I'd rather be upfront about what is permitted and not permitted as things stand, and then strongly encourage them to engage in best practice, which in this case is more restrictive than policy and is likely to be far more effective for them. When I've done that I've had success in the past, although sometimes you do need teeth to go with it.
    Just as an aside, I'm only speaking for myself here. I'd hate to see any opinions I express read as indicative of the wikiproject as a whole. I have no problems if the consensus is to take a stronger stance than what I would. - Bilby (talk) 01:09, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I am not aware of the background to this but have two questions: (1) Why is the additional policy need (ban paid advicates from article space) when we already have policies and tools dealing with COI and POV pushing? (2) How do we draw the line between a PR person who is directly instructed to puff up an article about their client/employer and an employee of an organisation who is not in a PR role and adds factual matters to an article? Babakathy (talk) 06:39, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    (3) Background: is there a major problem with non good faith paid edits? I ask because banning paid editting completely (and maybe "certifying" certain paid editors per proposal) strikes me as assuming bad faith? Babakathy (talk) 07:29, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    (1) Paid advocacy (please let's avoid the misleading term 'paid editing' which might include all kinds of things not relevant to this discussion) creates an appearance of impropriety requiring us to deal with it as a separate category. Suppose you found out that a Federal Judge was taking $1,000,000 a year in consulting fees from an industry group while judging cases on that industry? You wouldn't argue, I hope, that we should just look at the results and see if this judge is still being fair. You'd say that the appearance of impropriety alone is reason enough to disallow it. (2) We don't have to draw that line anymore if we draw the simple bright-line rule of requiring paid advocates to not edit articles directly. Both both simple factual matters and more difficult matters, it will require a disinterested third party member of the community to make the actual edit. And finally, (3), yes we do have a major problem with this, but fortunately it is an easily solved problem.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Thanks. So presumably the policy proposed is to define paid advocacy and ban it? Babakathy (talk) 08:25, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I think what's very, very important is to draw the distinction between paid editing, and paid advocacy, and define both. Because I think there is a lot of confusion about them. (Well, at least I am confused!) I would personally consider "paid advocacy" to be an editor who is paid to edit in a way violating NPOV. In other words, someone who is paid to make someone look good. On the other hand, a person being paid to create an article about a person, but who can do so factually, would not be an advocate, even though they are editing on behalf of the subject. I could be wrong about this though. It could be perceived that even being paid to add information about someone is considered advocacy, because "getting the word out" about something, even if done with neutral language, could be a kind of advocacy. So what exactly are we talking about here? -- Atama 19:40, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Although Jimbo is quite clear that direct paid editing (DPE) is a no-no, I don't see it in our policies, at least not yet. On those grounds, I'm hesitant to limit the scope of this project as a preemptive measure. That said, in any way endorsing DPE could legitimize a rush of problematic editors. Further, the more of a middle-ground this WikiProject strikes, the more people will want to take advantage of its resources. I think a simple compromise is not to take an explicit stance for or against DPE, but simply to restate what current policy already says: it's strongly discouraged; get feedback and have a non-paid editor add it. If the community adopts a no DPE policy, then that's something we can adapt to; until that happens, do we want to be more restrictive than policy (consensus) currency supports? Ocaasi t | c 16:32, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

    Well said. I agree. "Strongly encouraged" is the current language I implemented based on the discussion and current policy, but it would be good for us to determine if there is consensus support for this language, as it's a particularly touchy issue.
    I would suggest language like "never" with a link to "exceptions" that leads to the COI guideline section on grammatical fixes. This would provide more concrete language. "Discouraged" is kind of wishy washy and easy to trample over. This is where I hope the policy discussions led by Jimbo end up. Many marketers just take issue with criticisms on their page (often with good reason) and all they need to know is that one-sentence rule and a few tips on how to get an editor's attention. King4057 (talk) 18:11, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

    Direct editing or talk page recommendations only?

    Jimbo has already made the point, but the discussion above is not crystal clear. Do advocates support a restriction on the activities of paid editors, namely that they can make suggestions in appropriate forums (e.g article talk pages, and Wikiproject discussion pages) but not directly edit articles? I personally would like to find a way to accommodate PR staffs, but share the concern about COI editing, so see this as a way to maintain integrity. Is this a bright line, or are some arguing that paid editors should be allowed to directly edit (albeit under some limitations)? --SPhilbrick(Talk) 12:27, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    The lede sentence on the project page, "The Cooperation Wikiproject works to facilitate collaboration with editors who have a business, financial or professional Conflict of Interest with the article(s) they're editing," makes it clear that this project will encourage paid writers to edit Wikipedia articles directly. Ebikeguy (talk) 14:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I am recommending that this change, otherwise this page is of very little use. We do not want to create loopholes like that. We want to offer good advice to people. It is very poor advice to lead people into thinking that editing articles directly is a good idea. Even if some minor aspects of it (updating an address, or latest financial numbers) aren't absolutely banned (yet), it's still not best practices and we should make that very clear. The very strong message in any positive collaboration is: there are good people here ready to help you, you don't need to try to brute force it and create appearance of impropriety by editing pages yourself.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:29, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    That's not how I read it. Cooperation can take many forms, and encouraging paid advocates to directly edit articles isn't an approach which I can see as being of advantage to anyone involved. I read cooperation as more about assisting them to find ways to make more balanced articles, which would include strongly discouraging direct editing of articles, per current guidelines and good sense, and to instead work with them to encourage alternative means of improving articles. Others may wish to take a different stance, of course. I guess we'll see. - Bilby (talk) 15:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I agree with you completely. I just think, per Ebikeguy's remark, which is valid, that this sentence should change. Instead of talking about 'editors' and 'articles they are editing' - which seems to falsely accept that this is ok or a good thing to do, it should be worded in terms of 'paid advocates' and 'articles they think should be changed'. That's the real question: if you're an honest PR person and you want to do the right thing, what are best practices? That's the kind of collaboration we want to encourage, not to invite PR people to edit Wikipedia directly, which is a monumentally bad idea on all levels.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:29, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    ─────────────────────────To put it differently, editors interested in supporting this project should consider whether they are supporting a project which:

    provides a process for collaboration between the existing community of editors, and individuals who would like to contribute but who have COI issues. By participating in this collaboration and adhering to the policies and guidelines developed, such editors will be able to contribute to this encyclopedia:

    • A. in many ways, including the direct editing of Wikipedia articles
    • B. in many ways, but excluding the direct editing of articles

    My sense is that if the participants are signing up for A, there will be stiff resistance from the Foundation, as well as many, many current editors. On the other hand, if the participants are signing up for option B, the Foundation will monitor the progress, but not be immediately opposed.

    I think the current wording suggests option A (at least, it doesn't preclude it) so we should edit the wording if we mean option B.--SPhilbrick(Talk) 17:43, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    This isn't one of those issues we can refine later, it is foundational (pardon the pun)

    Maybe a straw poll?

    Option A .

    Option A-B

    • Support As with my stance on reliable sources, I am rather opposed to an only one side is available option here. There is a difference between a substantial contribution of content and otherwise minor editing. I am fully on board for not allowing COI editors to make substantial additions or subtractions to the articles they have a COI with, but I feel that it would be a waste of our time to be policing edits such as spelling, grammar, or changing information like annual income in the infobox. Those minor changes really don't have issues of COI attached to them and I feel these editors in question should be allowed to directly make those changes, rather than have to bring them up on the talk page. SilverserenC 00:18, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Comment - I'm not sure what is gained for the project, or for article subjects, in allowing those kinds of edits directly rather than facilitating a process whereby they can bring those issues to someone's attention easily enough. I'm glad to see that you agree that "substantial contributions of content" should be disallowed but notice the difficulties that follow from not having a simple "bright line" rule - you'll have editors like WWB Too (see my comments to him below) who will constantly push and stretch to insert POV pushing into articles under the argument that they are only making "minor changes".--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:37, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    We already have a bright line rule on what constitutes a non controversial edit and anything that is even close to POV editing very clearly wouldn't fall under any of the listed non controversial edits. In short, we already have the framework in the first place at WP:COI on how such editors should be editing.
    Furthermore, it is my opinion that your comments to him below are extremely rude and not at all professional, as is needed for this endeavor. SilverserenC 08:50, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Support With respect to Jimbo's position, I'm concerned that new policies coming down the pike may have little effect on evaders of disclosure and only pinch those of us already willing to declare COI up front. Always has seemed to me like this admission should be a reason to AGF; a COI editor may have a POV, but is working to mitigate it. Moreover, I would be sorry to see the non-controversial edits portion of the COI guideline substantially rewritten. Better that it point to this WikiProject, where well-meaning but under-informed COI editors could get good advice and the occasional corrective comment. Had something like this existed previously, I would have signed on long ago. Instead I've felt like I was pestering the good folks at WP:COI/N, various WikiProjects, throwing {{Request edit}} Hail Marys, and so forth. As long as this WikiProject gets off the ground, I think it may be a significant piece of the puzzle itself. WWB Too (talk) 04:38, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Comment - As the editor who, as far as I know, has done the single best job of abusing our assumption of good faith and illustrating why it's so critical that people in your position be completely restricted from making edits in article space, your position is unsurprising. Nor is it likely to carry the day.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:37, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I'm sorry that's your impression although, given recent discussion on your Talk page, it's not terribly surprising. To be clear, I have never engaged in POV pushing under the guise of "minor changes" and I don't believe anyone has claimed otherwise. The substantial majority of my efforts are focused on Talk pages, and it's this participation to which some objected. If the policy response is to prevent me from adding citations and reverting vandalism, this would be silly, at best. WWB Too (talk) 12:55, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    . Option B

    • Support but paid editors do need a model for collaboration where they can make contributions to the completeness of articles, not just corrections of fact. This can be done in many ways without direct editing.King4057 (talk) 01:59, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Support Option B gives paid editors all the tools they need to drive necessary changes, corrections and content additions, without putting themselves in a tricky situation in terms of COI editing. I, personally, would be glad to work collaboratively with paid editors under these circumstances and to help them in any way I could. Ebikeguy (talk) 00:53, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    Along these lines (agnostic of whether edits are made directly or not):

    Option 1: I only want paid editors to be involved in minor factual corrections

    Option 2: I would like paid editors to be able to make substantial content contributions, in at least some cases (for example as part of the mentor program)

    I wrote this lead sentence initially and changed it (and other content) to make it overwhelmingly clear that direct editing is not allowed (unless the poll shows differently). I think for the small issues of fact and bias that Phil addresses, the "Q&A" option can provide a friendly environment to tell professionals where and how to bring up their issues. For matters of incompleteness and where Wikipedia stands to gain from the resources, expertise and initiative of editors looking for more complete articles, the mentorship program offers a venue for them to learn how to work with a mentor that is dedicated to upholding a close degree of scrutiny, ethics and neutrality.
    This way, PR professionals have a clear forum for matters of factual accuracy that only requires they know how to use a Talk page, but paid editors willing to make a substantial commitment to Wikipedia, can also help make articles more complete through collaborative processes and not through direct editing. King4057 (talk) 19:14, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I signed up under the presumption that the goal of this project is A. My entire desire is to encourage people (including paid editors) to edit directly in cases where they are capable of doing so; to direct them to the talk page, dispute resolution, and mentoring where they are having difficulty; and blocking them when the simply refuse to follow NPOV or whatever other policy is relevant. In other words, I support our policies as currently written, not the policies that some people seem to imagine exist (i.e., this imaginary idea that paid editing has always been forbidden by our rules). This is basically the carrot and stick approach discussed earlier, except I don't view it as a "small carrot, big stick". Qwyrxian (talk) 00:46, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    It does seem like there is no clear consensus on this issue (though perhaps a lean towards not direct editing). PR people are complaining that various essays, guidelines and policies appear to contradict each other, and it wouldn't be a good thing for the project to clearly contradict a landmark COI policy - one of the few the vast majority of PR people are somewhat familiar with. There is also a need for a very clear, one-sentence bright line for the large numbers of paid editors who are unlikely to read, understand or follow policy at all. "Never edit an article directly" is a very easy, one-sentence ordeal with no weezle room or slippery slopes. Language like "encouraged" could be used for this project specifically, so the project doesn't contradict current policy and spawn confusion (at least until when/if the policy is ratified as part of a separate effort). I think the project would gain from an RFC on what the project's stance (best practice/recommendation/etc.) should be on direct editing for paid editors specifically. My $.02 King4057 (talk) 07:14, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    I asked above if we are discussing only paid editors and was told yes, only paid editors but the page text and history - and the continued use of "COI editors" imply we are discussing all areas of COI. If it is only paid editors can we please be specific. If not, the question is much borader. Babakathy (talk) 06:42, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    The issue is that, yes, we're also discussing COI editors, but not all COI editors. For that matter, everyone has a COI to some subject. But this Wikiproject is only dealing with editors that have a significant "business, financial or professional" COI and, almost invariably, that will just be paid editors. That's why we've been using paid and COI interchangeably. SilverserenC 06:54, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    There are big differences between "having a real world connection" to a subject (e.g. editting the article about the town you live in), having a professional connection to a subject (e.g. editting an article on a subject you work on professionally, Gizgalasi case?), POV-pushing your own work on a subject (Gizgalasi case?), editting an article about your employer (Allens case) and being paid to edit wikipedia for someone else's benefit. Some of these are clearly COI, some are clearly not, but we have ended up discussing a lot of them on this page. I remain oncerned as to what a "professional COI" might mean? Babakathy (talk) 07:03, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Hmm...well, clearly not the first, that's outside our purview and way too broad. And we already know we cover the last. We also know that we are combating the third, though that's mainly through this Wikiproject existing as it is. The question is the second case. In my opinion, I would say no, because even that is way too broad of a territory for us to be dealing with. I think just sticking with paid editors or people who work at a company and are being assigned to work on their company's article, those are the people we're dealing with. It's more than enough. SilverserenC 07:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Clear, thanks - suggest change the lead.Babakathy (talk) 07:19, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I'm gonna wait for other people to weigh in on this, but how do you think we should reword the lede? SilverserenC 07:43, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Along the lines of your clarification above: The Cooperation Wikiproject facilitates collaboration with editors who are paid to edit wikipedia or who have been assigned by their employer to work on their employer's article. The current lead is too vague and is why I have kept butting my nose in about "professional" edits.Babakathy (talk) 08:01, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I've added it. If anyone else has a better idea on how to word the lede, please feel free to post them here. SilverserenC 08:25, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Bab's wording seems good to me. "Paid editing" is very broad if it includes professors at universities encouraged to write "on the clock." So saying that they are financially reimbursed or "assigned by their employer" works better. Alen in the below string for example wasn't "assigned" by his employer, so is exempt from this particular project by that definition. I can imagine say - a non-profit history preservation group - assigning employees to edit in a way that probably shouldn't be covered by this group, but those exceptions are incredibly small. I would suggest a minor change to "editors paid to edit Wikipedia or assigned by their employers to do so," which makes it include edits that aren't just on the employer's page itself. Believe it or not, many big companies who are market share dominant in a specific product category, just want to see the article on their subject give their target market a reasonably good information resource, or contribute pictures or mentions where they've played a landmark role in history. I see this as even more sensitive than editing the article on the organization itself and - while not as common - should be included in our scope. King4057 (talk) 17:59, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    Not completely sure I should put myself down under CoI....

    Hi. I've put myself down under editors with a CoI, but in my case it's only a potential CoI, and I'm not a paid editor. I am an employee of Gloucester County College, but only part-time (see adjunct professor), and editing Wikipedia is not part of my job description (I don't do it while I'm there, for instance). Should I have put myself down under CoI? Thanks! Allens (talk) 13:44, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    The policy guideline WP:COI is CoI involves contributing to Wikipedia in order to promote your own interests or those of other individuals, companies, or groups. Unless you are doing that, where is the CoI? I would suggest you would only likely have a CoI if you edit Gloucester County College in a way that promotes its interests, rather than those of creating an unbiased encylopedia. The policy states Editing in an area in which you have professional or academic expertise is not, in itself, a conflict of interest. Babakathy (talk) 14:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I suspect that we'd all be on that list - or at least all of us currently employed by an organisation with an article, which would be an awful lot of us - if you had to declare a COI on that basis. Personally, I just stay away from the article on my university, except once or twice to revert vandalism. As I don't edit it, I don't see a need to declare a COI. - Bilby (talk) 14:08, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I actually added info to the GCC article (History section) about a recent scandal (if anyone would like to take a look at the sources and make sure that I've accurately stated the facts without either being too nice to GCC or not staying within the policies regarding mentions of living people, please do so!), and in the article infobox noted the high proportion of part-time faculty (I can't go further on that without finding a source that says something about it being high, unfortunately), so I'm not too worried about accusations of bias. I also want to do full disclosure, however, so I'm trying to be cautious. Allens (talk) 14:18, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Allens this is a great example. If we ask if what you did should be a bannable offense, I think the answer is that it clearly should not be. But if we ask if it is best practice, I think that it also clearly isn't. As a employee who isn't involved (I suppose) in media relations or PR for your school, you aren't a paid advocate. But because there could be an appearance of impropriety, I think it would have been better to not make that edit at all, but rather to have engaged on the talk page. Something like: "I am an adjunct professor at this University, and I wanted to put some information into the article about a recent scandal. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, I have written text with references below, and ask others to review it and include it in the article if, in your independent judgment, it is an improvement." If you don't get a quick response, then escalate to the talk page of people who have edited in the past, or to a relevant WikiProject, or to WP:COIN or even to my talk page :-) . It's always easy to get the attention of other editors.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    The only problem being that I'm the main one who's been editing on the GCC article (in terms of putting in referenced material, or referencing what's there already)... I'll think about it; this may be one of those cases where the ideal would be others editing, but in order to get things done... OTOH, I really need to ask the people on the WikiProject Universities page to do another review of it, which could be a way of guiding more updates. Do note that I am in no way dependent on GCC income for survival, incidentally; it's just a nice bit of extra money, plus I like teaching. (I don't edit on the Kaplan University webpage, income from which I am more dependent on.) Thanks for the advice! Allens (talk) 12:09, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    My personal opinion is that this isn't the particular brand of COI this project should be intended to handle. I wrote "business, professional or financial" COI and this doesn't seem to fit in that category. However, maybe others will have a different POV on the project's scope. Silver is probably the best person to respond here as the project founder. King4057 (talk) 19:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    so what is covered by your "business, professional or financial" COI other than paid edits? Babakathy (talk) 06:44, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    • Per the opinions of others in this discussion and my own, i've removed you from the COI list, Allens. Yes, you have a COI, but it's not really any larger than the COI that every editor has, such as my COI for the university i'm attending, whose article I have edited before. Or the GA article I wrote that is on a book that I read and studied for one of my classes. It's not a type of COI that is routinely an issue more than any other. It doesn't rise to the level of what this Wikiproject is trying to deal with. And I hope you don't take me saying this as a negative thing. You'd still be a tremendous help to the project, but more on the mentor side of things than the mentee. If you feel that you have issues with COI in your personal editing, then it would probably be better for you to obtain a mentor through the normal mentor process on Wikipedia. They would be able to help you more. SilverserenC 00:23, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I would actually say you have less of one than I do for the university you're attending. That's a somewhat different relationship. I would be perfectly happy to do what I can in the way of being a mentor, albeit one with not all that much experience on Wikipedia (I only started seriously editing a couple months ago) and with a certain degree of lack of time. Allens (talk) 17:24, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    It's up to you how you want to help out. You could also help out on the different articles the Mentor groups will be focusing on. And I agree that your situation is distinct from my own, but I don't believe it's something that significantly restricts your editing ability or impairs your ability to edit neutrally in article space (at least in the view of the community). SilverserenC 20:18, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    See War on Drugs

    I made this comparison on the AN/I thread, and I'll make it here again. Re: Jimbo's insistence that we not permit paid editors to edit articlespace, this prohibition would only drive paid editing underground. Unless someone can think of a way to reliably and consistently detect surreptitious paid editing, such a regulation is either unenforceable or the basis for witch hunts.

    This would go for some of the more conservative regulation schemes proposed above as well. Putting myself in the shoes of a paid editor, why would I volunteer to have all my edits micromanaged by a team of people who doubt whether I should be editing at all? Such an arrangement in such an atmosphere would inevitably result in me getting sanctioned for posting anything that improves the image of whomever I am representing, and regardless of whether that actually makes Wikipedia better or not. It would be much easier to simply keep my mouth shut and edit the article.

    It seems like the more we beat our chests about what a terrible thing this is, the more difficult we make it to control. If we are serious about making Wikipedia better and curbing abusive paid editing, then we should be rewarding people for acknowledging their conflicts of interest, not punishing them for it. causa sui (talk) 17:29, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    Of course, our insistence on punishing murderers also pushes hit men underground. I'm sure if we had a public registry of approved hit men, they would whack people in a much more appealing matter. They would probably even agree to abide by other laws (such as not jaywalking or smoking in public places) as they whacked folks. However, we, as a society, have decided that murder is not to be permitted in any form. Jimbo is proposing that we enact similar rules for paid editing. We, as a community, need to decide where we want to draw that line. (PS: Please note that I do not, in any way, mean to suggest that paid editing should be equated with murder, in terms of moral and/or legal footing. I am simply using an extreme example to demonstrate a point) Ebikeguy (talk) 17:48, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Telling paid editors they are not welcome, no how, no where, is likely to drive it underground. In contrast, a mechanism that says - you are a paid editor, so there are ways you can contribute - but you cannot directly edit articles, has the potential to be successful. It is at least worth a try. --SPhilbrick(Talk) 17:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Yes, I was about to edit my original language to point out that Jimbo has suggested other ways paid editors could contribute short of directly editing articles. Thanks for pointing out the possibility! Ebikeguy (talk) 17:58, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    This is a common line taken by proponents of drug prohibition, but it's known to be a disanalogy. What you've said does not suggest that there is any available method whatever to detect and prevent paid editing, unlike murder. We can write up a policy that says it's not allowed and we can shout on talk pages and notice boards about how much we don't like it. That might make us feel self righteous and good about ourselves, but not much else. Until someone suggests some method, it will do literally nothing to prevent or control surreptitious paid editing. causa sui (talk) 18:38, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    Regarding the War on Drugs, one thing about it is certain: it reduces drug use. No one disputes that, I think. There are problems with the War on Drugs that reasonable people can argue about: whether the collatoral damage (e.g. people rotting in jail for trivial offenses, erosion of civil liberties) is worth it, whether its too expensive for the results, whether decreasing drug use is even a worthy goal, and so forth. But it does decrease drug use. Banning things usually does. It is very likely that banning paid editing would decrease paid editing (although possibly only by a small amount) since some entities would be unwilling to engage editors to do things on Wikipedia that the Wikipedia forbids, if only to avoid possible bad publicity if found out. So it's not really a good analogy unless one is making the point that there will be some other collatoral damages that will, in toto, make things worse. This is possible but I don't think so, personally. Herostratus (talk) 18:59, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    I don't want to get obsessed with the analogy since I think it's close, but not perfect, so I'll leave the question of whether the war on drugs reduces drug use for another forum. What I wanted to bring out with the parallel is that efforts to prohibit something we disagree with can have unintended negative consequences that make the situation worse than if we'd done nothing, and vastly worse than if we'd done something better.
    To the substantive question, the collateral damage of an excessively draconian approach to paid editing (such as banning it outright, or making paid editors submit to a special category of supervision and micromanagement that other editors would consider paternalistic and humiliating, etc) is that paid editors who may have otherwise identified themselves and worked with us cooperatively will instead be provided with a powerful incentive not to disclose their conflict of interest. Anyone familiar enough with Wikipedia to be credibly paid to edit it will know that the chances of being discovered are practically zero - the only means by which I could think of it being discovered would be leaks within the organization itself. Our vast cultural influence, reputation for neutrality, and high visibility makes the prospect of controlling Wikipedia content a much more cost-effective proposition than paid advertizing; clueful people who are worth their salaries will know how not to get caught; and there is nothing we can do to prevent it if they try. So the bottom line question I'm asking is: Do we want to know when people are editing because they're paid, or don't we? causa sui (talk) 19:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
    We don't, I would say. That's not in keeping with the principles and thrust of this Wikiproject, and I'm not likely to convince anyone here, so I'll get out of the way and let you get to work after this, but some of the reasons why we don't are:
    • If we do, that means we are accepting paid editing (which, granted, is the current status). If this becomes generally known, this would be very harmful to Wikipedia's reputation, I think, and if the generally understood story about the Wikipedia becomes "Wikipedia articles are written (at least sometimes) by paid agents of private interests", that is potentially lethal. Once these memes start they are very hard to stop. Accepting a potentially lethal risk is a considerable collateral damage, I would say.
    • If we do, that means we are accepting paid editing (which, granted, is the current status). That is very demoralizing to a volunteer community. Would you feel the same about volunteering at the soup kitchen if you knew that some of the other workers there were being paid. (I mean workers doing the same work as you, not administrative and managerial staff, analogous to paid Foundation employees.) And asking volunteers to, in their spare time and for free, contend against the resources that a corporation can bring to bear (when this is required) is asking too much, in my opinion, and that is also demoralizing. Organizational development of an entity staffed by volunteers is tricky, and this works against that, and that is also collateral damage.
    • If we don't, we are able to deploy the full range of sanctions against paid editors. If there's credible behavioral evidence that an editor is a paid agent, and that's a problem, they can be banned for being an assumed paid agent. If that's not a bannable offense, then paid agents have to be addressed through the normal dispute resolution process which is designed for (and run by) a volunteer staff, which isn't equipped to handle agents backed by corporate resources, and which breaks down at these margins. (Granted, agents who have any intelligence are able to evade these bans easily enough.)
    • If we don't, we are able to threaten interests with unfriendly designs on the database with public shaming, in the event that their designs are uncovered. If we allow outside interests to engage paid agents to manipulate the database (as we do) we can hardly denounce them for doing just that.
    • Generally speaking, "we give up" is not a good basis for action. Sometimes it is. If it's June 17 1940 and you're France it is. Whether the situation here is that dire is debatable. And if its true that the current structure is that badly broken, moving to a Brittanica-type model (closed content, small salaried writing staff, probably paid for by ads or subscription fees) would arguably be better, for instance by allowing better control, than letting individual paid agents roam over the database.
    Against this is that clever agents are able to easily evade bans, which is true, so they are of very limited utility. Also against this is the theory that being able to engage paid agents on an open basis will produce better results and require less work by the volunteers. I don't believe that that's likely true, but I could be wrong I guess.
    That's a great deal of severe collateral damage for little gain, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
    But anyway none of this addresses the main thrust of this project, which is that allowing (and possibly encouraging) paid agents is positive good. In my opinion it's a positive good only if one these is true:
    • If the agents, or some large section of them, are genuinely fair-minded and truly interested in improving the Wikipedia more than advancing their clients' interests. I think it's incredibly naive to believe that this is true and to believe it shows a basic misunderstanding of how business works, what fiduciary obligation to a client entails, and how humans respond to incentives. (Note that the Public Relations Society of America Member Code of Ethics states "A member shall act in the best interests of the client or employer, even subordinating the member's personal interests".) But if a person wants to believe it that's their prerogative I suppose.
    • If the articles in the Wikipedia about entities likely to engage paid agents -- mostly corporations, but also politicians and other individuals and some other entities -- should, overall, present their subjects in a more favorable light than is currently the case. I don't know about that. This is claimed by some people and maybe it's true. It's partly a matter of opinion I guess. Herostratus (talk) 06:27, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    You obviously put a lot of thought into this, so many sincere thanks for sharing your perspective. I think it seems to have boiled down to a distinction between which we think is most important: maintaining good appearances, or article quality and our ability to police changes with needed information. The rest lies on our subjective predictions about just how bad it will "look" on the one hand, and just how much information we would actually gain on the other. Everyone will have to make up their own mind on that, and I have faith that the wisdom of crowds is greater than mine. :-) Thanks again. Regards, causa sui (talk) 18:23, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    Just to be clear, we aren't saying that driving paid editing underground is a good thing because we want people to be ignorant that it is occurring (for appearances / reputation sake alone), right? causa sui (talk) 19:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    I would like to say that I don't ever support any initiative that attempts to avoid a "War on Drugs" situation. The same argument can be made about sockpuppets. Some people suggest that we give in to people who create sockpuppets because it's too much work to fight them and they're going to come back later anyway. I never accept that philosophy. If the community wants to take a harder stance on COI, or specifically wants to prohibit people from editing Wikipedia who are paid specifically to edit Wikipedia, then we should institute that as policy and enforce it. (I don't see that either has been the case, so that's a hypothetical, of course.) I don't think we've ever accepted the "they're going to do it anyway so let's give in and ask them to be nice" tactic and I don't think we should.
    As it is, we have a stance that people who declare their COI are given a greater benefit of the doubt than people who have their COI revealed inadvertently, which discourages "going underground". I believe that we can continue that stance even if we have a strict policy against such behavior, for example a person who is open about a COI might still be prohibited from editing an article, but would be listened to on the article's talk page, while another person who sneaks around and is caught will be untrusted. -- Atama 22:05, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    Sockpuppets are a disanalogy because we often catch them via checkuser and behavioral comparisons, etc. We have tools available that are not completely effective, but I think quite effective. So to explode your analogy, in spite of everything I've said above, I think shutting down WP:RFCU would be ridiculous. On the other hand, we have no methods available to detect paid editing whatsoever and never will. The only thing you can appeal to is the principle of "not backing down" even though you are completely helpless, and out of pride would rather make the situation worse by struggling against the inevitable than accepting it as a necessary evil and working with the people who will work with you. causa sui (talk) 22:34, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    I wouldn't say we have no methods whatsoever to detect covert paid editing. We have extrapolation from behavior. Herostratus (talk) 04:42, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
    But, unless they admit it afterwards, that's just assumption. That's the same reason why I dislike the duck test, unless you're talking about something extremely obvious. SilverserenC 04:57, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
    To have it said, I would be in favor of a requirement in policy that paid editors must disclose their conflicts of interest. That way, paid editors would have something to gain by identifying themselves - avoiding possible bad press of the "XXXX Corporation Editing Wikipedia Against Site Rules To Improve Its Own Image" headlines. Anything past that is probably only a deterrence to disclosure. causa sui (talk) 19:04, 13 January 2012 (UTC)


    Regarding User:Herostratus/Wikiproject Paid Editing Watch, this is a similar project but with some basic philosphical differences I guess. I'm not sure that having two different projects in this same area is good or bad. It's OK I guess to see how it plays out. That project has only 3 members at this writing, so whether it'll get off the ground is not certain.

    If it does, we need to make sure we cooperate in areas where that's called for, of which there are some. Both projects are running a registry, and we can glom off each other's I would think. One thing in particular I see is, both projects have (proposed) talk page templates, and it'd be silly to apply both to the same article I would think, rather we need a combined one for those cases I suppose. Herostratus (talk) 18:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

    The list of disclosed COIs seems like an obvious overlap. Maybe this should be created as a separate page that both projects can contribute to and use. King4057 (talk) 04:50, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    Probably not, I guess, because we might want to add comments and so forth. Herostratus (talk) 04:36, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

    Does this group intend to change policy?

    Jimbo makes a point to distinguish between policy and best practices. My POV was that this project was intended to support best practices, not change policy. There are a lot of editors expressing concerns over the prospect of changing policy and I wasn't sure if there was ever any intention to do so (is there?). I don't think a Q&A page, resource site, or mentorship program would require any policy changes at all - just a project where interested editors can collaborate. Are there any policies people feel need to change? I think it would help to define whether policy is within the scope of the project. King4057 (talk) 04:58, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    Well, there's certainly no current policy against any part of the project. In fact, we're operating at a far stricter level than what policy currently states, as WP:COI doesn't actually limit user editing of articles. However, how we're doing it is definitely within the whole best practices area. So, no, I don't think we have anything to do with policies and I certainly don't think we need to try to redefine or make it stricter. That's up to the community at large and they're the ones that have to come up with what to do, but it's not within the purview of this Wikiproject to try and deal with that, just to follow it. And we're clearly doing fine with that. SilverserenC 05:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Proposal of this project to engage with paid editors and facilitate editting in line with policies breaks no policy and suggests no change. Policy on paid editting WP:NOPAY is that it is very strongly discouraged to edit Wikipedia in areas where there is a conflict of interest that may make your edits non-neutral (biased). That does not apply to all paid edits, but to paid edits that are likely to be POV. However, per Jimbo's posts I think there is a move to create a policy banning paid editting of article space altogether. Babakathy (talk) 07:49, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    But I don't think it's up to us to push for such a policy move. If Jimbo wants to do that, then it's up to him to go and start making the necessary RfCs, but we shouldn't have anything to really do with it. If he does start the process, we can announce our support as a Wikiproject, but it's likely best to not be involved much more than that. I'm not sure if the community would praise our support or think we're trying to do something underhanded, so i'd prefer just to sidestep that minefield for now. SilverserenC 08:21, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Silver, do you mind if I add these clarifications under "Scope". That this project is only for a very specific type of COI and that it's purpose is not to influence/change policy (though members of the project may still get involved in doing so themselves). King4057 (talk) 16:48, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Feel free to do so. That sounds fine to me. SilverserenC 20:22, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    CREWE group

    Since the current group of editors we're working with are a part of it, I think we can be free to say that the CREWE Group is one of the main groups we're partnering with in this endeavor, with them being the PR representatives side (Hopefully they'll be more groups involved too!). Should we mention their involvement somewhere on the main page? SilverserenC 05:54, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    The discussion on Facebook irritates me a bit. Jimbo told them to use Talk pages, noticeboards and the OTRS system. Until I see evidence that the PR people on that string have taken the initiative to research how to use noticeboards and the OTRS system, I have limited sympathy for a group investing so much time badgering Jimbo, but unwilling to investigate how to follow his advice. This has resulted in Jimbo himself playing the role of a customer service agent to resolve issues that could have easily been done on the Help Desk or COI noticeboard. At it's core, there's certainly a reason this group was formed, but I have a dim view on how much we should attempt to accommodate anyone unwilling to invest the resources required to become a good participant on Wikipedia. It takes time and effort for volunteer editors to participate and even more so for paid editors.
    I have a very bias point of view about PR agencies on Wikipedia in general, because I'm often the one cleaning up their mess. They have no knowledge of Wikipedia, but accept Wikipedia project budgets from their clients anyway. Then they post advert they thought was neutral and I'm up next to bat. Not that I'm entirely void of mistakes either, but - in general - the actions of many (but not all) PR agencies demonstrates a huge prioritization of cash over servicing Wikipedia or their clients. Until I hear of a $12,000 monthly retainer budget for Wikipedia, I'll maintain the stance that I don't see how paid editing can be so enticing to support greed, corruption or selfishness, but alas it often happens with people who don't see it that way. They're just supporting their clients and think of Wikipedia as another item within the same scope of the organization that does social media, press releases, awards and media relations. Perhaps it's just as bad when clients are genuinely notable and have a real problem that's in everyone's best interest to resolve (Wikipedia, the client, and the public at large) and PR agencies are so fearful of the negative media attention that's happened from purely evil paid editing they offer no solution to their client.
    Anyways, repeatedly soliciting for a "dialogue" won't get a different answer and PR needs to learn about Wikipedia, not the other way around. There is no 140 character solution. I was in the very same position years ago and my edits weren't good either. They've gotten better, but could still be improved with a mentor. So I see where they're coming from, but they need to do the work.
    Sorry for ranting. On a more constructive note if we could get a new page for the Q&A project, it could be a good place to direct any further specific issues from the Facebook group, unless Jimbo wants to continue addressing them personally. I would image that might be very frustrating for him. King4057 (talk) 19:20, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    This is a counterpoint to my back and forth with Herostratus above, maybe. It is true that many COI editors quack like ducks and their efforts to conceal what they are doing could be compared to a 4th grader cheating on his test by writing the answers on the back of his hand. What I'm worried about is that the prevalence of the obvious cases could indicate one of two things: (1) We're catching most, or maybe all, of them already or (2) There are a lot more out there who know the ropes and are blending in. How do we find out which it is? causa sui (talk) 21:24, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    We can't. It's as simple as that. I'm of the opinion that the reality is probably more toward the latter option than the former. SilverserenC 21:32, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I agree, but there is one possible way - check PR company articles for edits from IPs and see what else they have edited. Then you can see if any other editors are linked to that IP and check what they've edited. I'd imagine that's the way that BP got caught. It's rather a lot of work though! SmartSE (talk) 21:39, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Is Wikiscanner still up and running? That would be the IP checker you're looking for. Add a database of PR agency IP addresses and you're set. Not that all anonymous IP edits from PR agencies will be unanimously bad.
    There is an academic study called "Detecting Wikipedia Vandalism with Active Learning and Statistical.." It's possible a similar approach could detect likely COIs, but that would be a very technologically advanced solution.
    I suppose if they are blending in, then they aren't causing enough harm to be noticed (in most cases). King4057 (talk) 00:12, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    It doesn't seem to be. Regarding blending in, it's not necessarily that, just that no one has noticed yet! I frequently come across pages that were edited by people with a COI years ago and the content has stayed there til I remove it. SmartSE (talk) 00:22, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    SmartSE's suggestion is fairly effective btw. If you look at Wikipedia articles on PR agencies, it's pretty easy to identify their usernames and investigate if they're engaged in misbehavior. A proactive approach to identifying paid editors could be more effective than after-the-fact policing. I reported Waggener to the COI noticeboard, but nothing was done because their edits were years old, but meanwhile they continue to edit their own article from yet more usernames in a slightly more appropriate way. If we could actually talk to people before there's an issue and educate them... It's a tall order though, to talk to paid editors one at a time... King4057 (talk) 04:02, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

    Formatting - clear template

    In terms of inserting BRs, y'all might want to take a look at Template:Clear. Allens (talk) 17:27, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    Did I mess something up in adding it? SilverserenC 20:16, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    I don't think so, although I'm not an HTML guru; the template adds a div thingy, which I am not that familiar with. Allens (talk) 12:02, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Moved to Wikipedia space - Now fully active

    I was waiting for us to get ten members before moving the project out of my personal userspace and into the general Wikipedia space. And we have ten members now, so I moved us. You all can now consider us "officially" active, not that that means anything in regards to the stuff we were doing anyways. So...carry on. :) I'm going to go see about advertising us a bit in some noticeboards. Does anyone remember which board it is that you're supposed to advertise Wikiprojects? SilverserenC 20:24, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

    Oh, and feel free to make subpages now if you need to. Just make a new article at Wikipedia:WikiProject Cooperation/insert subject here . SilverserenC 20:35, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
    Yay! I will throw up the Q&A page though I'm not terribly familiar with all the templates and such on other pages of this nature. King4057 (talk) 00:21, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    Just get it started and we can work on fixing it up. You have to start something if you're ever going to hope to finish it. :) SilverserenC 00:46, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Category:Requested edits

    Category:Requested edits isn't used much at the moment but is a useful tool which PR firms should know about. If you find a problem with an article, you can add {{request edit}} to the talk page along with an explanation and sources and someone will notice sooner than if you just posted on the talk page. It could be improved by linking to IRC like {{help me}} and to get editors who are active alerted as quickly as possible. SmartSE (talk) 00:29, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    I had forgotten about that. You might want to mention this to the CREWE people if you haven't already, they should find it useful. SilverserenC 00:47, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    I added a plethora of options (including this) to the Help Page concept. This page looks dead, so I didn't want to give only that option, but it would make sense if some project members also participated there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by King4057 (talkcontribs) 01:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    I did one of the requested edits (I don't think there was a significant CoI there, actually), that was actually requested in 2012, so I don't think it's completely dead. Allens (talk) 12:15, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    And I just did another one (confirmed material by news article referenced) that was requested this morning. Of course, a thank-you also goes to the person who suggested the "request edit" template be used... Allens (talk) 00:05, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
    I've requested a clarification (from King4057, as it happens) for the most recent requested edit, after doing the other two edits. Allens (talk) 19:18, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

    Sticky Topics

    A couple things I think are sticky topics:

    • I think paid editors that are a part of this project should not be allowed to advertise or "network" or anything that can be construed as advertising on Wikipedia itself. For example, if a PR person from Tampax came along this project and said "hey guys, what can I do to make this article more complete!!!!" and 10 paid editors pounced on them "Hire me! Hire me!" Ewww. I would even encourage this to become policy as a bannable offense in worst-case scenarios (if it isn't already). There's nothing undetectable about this act.
    • However, I do think that - in some way - we should encourage paid editors that - if they do decide to hire someone - they use someone that is part of the mentor program. This encourages paid editors looking for that option to look for an experienced, disclosed, ethical paid editor that is overseen by a mentor and can do good, rather than a sleezeball or spam-pusher that will create more issues. Another option would be to provide advice like using editors that are disclosed, have an editing history, work with the community, etc.

    I am making substantial contributions to the project page on different options and I think one such option that is already frequently used is hiring an expert. However we need to provide some sort of information/guidance on this topic, without endorsing paid editing or getting involved in real-life business/commerce.

    As one of the few paid editors listed on the project page it would be EXTREMELY inappropriate for myself (or any paid editor for that matter) to create the content on hiring a paid editor. Is someone else interested in taking the baton in this area? Collecting some perspectives and creating some balanced content for the page? If you feel this is something that does in fact need to be addressed. King4057 (talk) 02:19, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    If any other paid editors respond to this particular string, please specifically disclose yourself as such in your response. This being an area where the COI of a paid editor is incredibly relevant and where the volunteer community should determine what's in Wikipedia's best interest. King4057 (talk) 02:23, 12 January 2012 (UTC)


    Silver, I feel the goals is already covered in the lead section and I don't feel this section adds anything. Are you ok with me taking it out? King4057 (talk) 02:29, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    That sounds fine to me. I just set up the Wikiproject with the normal sections, but there's no rule that says they have to be anything like that. And I do think a few of the goals, in how they are worded, is giving the wrong message to some people. SilverserenC 03:36, 12 January 2012 (UTC)


    I removed the Goals section as discussed, added the discussed Scope clarifications, and built out the Paid Editor Help section (previously Q&A) as well as created the Paid Editor Help page. Added a few minor things to the Mentor program, rewrote the Education section, added some example barnstars that could be commonly used for positive paid editor contributions and some other minor changes with sections and such. The Help section has some detailed instructions on all the different ways to ask for help or solicit for corrections that I think is highly relevant to the CREWE members discussion on factual corrections.

    I added two things to Tasks. One being to improve the formatting of the Paid Editor Help Page, which I'm not sure how to do. The other being to discuss the best approach on what to recommend to companies looking to hire paid editing help (inform them to find someone who discloses and has an ethical approach, use mentored paid editors, etc.), which wouldn't be appropriate for me to edit.

    I've implemented community consensus, using the discussions here and implementing only the proposals (above) that received almost unanimous support, but that doesn't mean there aren't other items to discuss.

    I'm all teetered out now and that's all I got left in me for now. It's a bit unwieldly (sp?) at this point, so in addition to the Tasks, I want to encourage people to feel free to edit/shrink/remove the content I've posted. The general PR audience won't have the patience to review the whole thing, which is why I put the content geared towards that group near the top.

    Hope this is helpful. King4057 (talk) 03:55, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    You know what else we need is a good paid editor FAQ. Is there one already in existence we can summarize, link to and put up near the top? Basic information like disclosure, best practices, etc. Not lengthy policy, just the quick & easy stuff. King4057 (talk) 03:56, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    Since there is already a mentor program in place, is there some way to make them aware of this mentor program? Some of their mentors may also want to participate in this one. King4057 (talk) 04:15, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Mentor Request

    The Mentor Program got pretty much unanimous support. The exact content/format may still need vetting, but is basically ready. WBToo and Silver connected. I thought I'd solicit for a mentor myself here, which is kind of awkward, having written much of the mentor content myself (with edits from others) then asking for one.

    Anyways, I'm looking for someone who is not necessarily pro-paid editing, but not hostile either. For example, I thought Wikid77 had a very balanced, thoughtful perspective on many issues on Jimbo's Talk page. I'm genuinely looking for coaching, oversight, etc. not a friendly editor that will approve things for me. If someone's interested, well.... you know how to find me. King4057 (talk) 04:08, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

    Avoiding unnecessary drama

    It looks like this project is already sparking some controversy.[1] I would suggest explicitly stating on the project page that this project does not target Wikipedians in Residence or Wikipedia Ambassadors. Otherwise there may be some confusion about that. Kaldari (talk) 07:32, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

    Request for exclusion of GLAM and related groups from this project's scope

    Per Kaldari above, I have been speaking with User:LauraHale and she is concerned that this Wikiproject would interfere with what GLAM does, which involves essentially the workers for museums and galleries, along with Wikipedians in Residence who are paid and even some paid Wikipedians who work for the Wikimedia Foundation. The GLAM project has been around for years, is specialized, and has a working process for their system that does not warrant any interference from us.

    Therefore, I propose that we include a statement in the scope that excludes GLAM and any specialized projects devoted to specific instances of paid editing. Since we already know that we will primarily be working with companies and PR representatives anyways, it should be fine. None of the users included in such projects should be included in any list we make within this project, so make sure you check for that before adding anyone to our list.

    Does everyone agree to this? SilverserenC 11:44, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

    This project is for paid editors with a conflict of interest. GLAM is for paid editors without a conflict of interest. I see no problem excluding them, but perhaps we can just tweak our wording a bit rather than create a list of exceptions? Rklawton (talk) 13:04, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    There is this wording already "but their COI make them especially likely to run afoul of Wikipedia's rules" that we could make more prominent. RE Hounding, having a list of registered paid editors could encourage that behavior. Maybe we can include examples of who are included as well. PR people may not be familiar with the term paid editor or know if this applies to them. King4057 (talk) 16:32, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    Related to that, getting paid isn't the only thing that might cause a conflict of interest. All things considered, we might just focus this group specifically on public relations people rather than use a broader definition. Rklawton (talk) 21:18, 14 January 2012 (UTC)


    I'll make this a separate subsection so you all continue the above discussion there, but speaking of exclusion of related groups, would you be so kind as to remove or blank the "Sister Wikiprojects" section? There's no good reason to include The Department of Fun, Wikiproject Kindness, Wikiproject Classroom coordination, or Wikiproject Community as being in any meaningful way related to this Wikiproject. Or else you need to get a consensus agreement from those groups that they wish to be associated with this Wikiproject. Herostratus (talk) 20:01, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

    The above named projects are all related in that they are designed to facilitate participation by specific groups of people. Rklawton (talk) 21:16, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    Meh, I agree with Hero, but never removed because I figured someone put them there for a reason. King4057 (talk) 21:39, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    I think it would be very handy to have a list of projects that are dedicated to introducing specific groups of people on the use of Wikipedia. Examples might include students working on class assignments that require them to edit Wikipedia; teachers/professors, librarians, curators, etc. However, I see no compelling reason to include that list in this project. Rklawton (talk) 21:45, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    It's also often SEO or digital marketing teams that want to edit. In smaller companies it's could be someone chosen at random (that needs to be educated on notability). Or there's paid editors like WBToo, who I don't think is a PR person (far as I know). Tough call. Maybe it could be PR, but with some language about examples of other paid editors the project is also intended for. Since it's not a policy - just a project - it doesn't have to get really wordy in an attempt to be precise. King4057 (talk) 21:54, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    There's "PR" as a profession, and then there's "pr" as an activity type. Let's do some wordsmithing here to see if we can peg it... Rklawton (talk) 22:01, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    • "...for people editing on behalf of their employer or client to promote their interests."
    Hopefully this would cover public, private, and individual entities and capture the notion that the editor isn't editing for themselves. Rklawton (talk) 22:01, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    Hmm... I don't know very much about GLAM. Aren't their editors also working to promote the interests of their employers? Just that their employers are museums and cultural institutions. What is the motive of these organizations to edit Wikipedia? I'll chew on this a bit too and try to come up with something more constructive. King4057 (talk) 23:42, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
    RKlawton, check out what I did to the first paragraph and if you like it (or tweak it), I'll mirror throughout the project language (or you can). I think the important part is "opt-in". Right now it sounds like we're going to force paid editors to participate, which we don't have the authority to do and is at odds with GLAM and policy. I'm going to give it a runthrough to change other areas where the project language is overstepping our authority or at odds with policy. King4057 (talk) 00:00, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    I'm coming to realize PR professionals don't know what "paid editor" means. I wonder if we should change the scope and/or title to actually have PR in it, so they understand this is for them (and so the project pops up in searches) King4057 (talk) 01:55, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
    Why not just create a list of examples of conflicts of interest and put PR at the top? Rklawton (talk) 02:03, 27 January 2012 (UTC)


    Here's my draft proposal for the lead. Feel free to edit this draft directly. Rklawton (talk) 02:12, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

    The Cooperation Wikiproject facilitates collaboration with editors whose interest in editing Wikipedia is in conflict with Wikipedia's neutrality. Such editors might include:

    • the subject of a biographical article (or fan)
    • public relations, marketing, SEO, or advertising professional editing for an employer or client
    • non-profit advocacy groups

    This project is intended to provide oversight and education to those editors who wish to engage Wikipedia in an ethical and transparent manner. This project will help editors who opt-in to meet Wikipedia's encyclopedic goals, serve the public's interest, and avoid the perception of impropriety. Additionally, this project works to identify editors in conflict with these principles in hopes of guiding them to a more productive path before policing, censorship, and community censure become necessary.

    This is much better. I added non profit advocacy groups (like Planned Parenthood) - not to be confused with other types of non-profits covered by GLAM. For the first sentence I would suggest "who are interested in editing Wikipedia for a client, their employer or their organization," (or something similar) because many PRs believe their COI doesn't necessarily impact neutrality. King4057 (talk) 16:57, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
    Sounds good to me. Rklawton (talk) 17:07, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

    Another Idea

    Along these lines of scope and definition, what do people think about an acronym like CAB (companies, advocates and biographies). There are probably a lot of things we can learn from GLAM, who used a similar method. I'm concerned a name like "Wikiproject Cooperation" communicates the project's spirit, but your average company representative won't realize it's for them and it won't pop up in their searches. Of course the specific acronym would need to be honed, but... — Preceding unsigned comment added by King4057 (talkcontribs) 19:47, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

    So, what, Wikiproject CAB, you mean? The only thing i'm concerned about is that that may also find itself in overlap with other Wikiprojects if we're not careful. SilverserenC 19:52, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
    Yes, except it would just be called CAB (or something more glamorous). I've been reading more about GLAM and my first-glance response is they've kind of already paved the way for us. I also like their lead "if you are x, y, or z, this project is for you." Their name and lead make it overwhelmingly clear who the project is for. The difference being that non-profits don't have a history of bad behavior and are presumably more trustworthy, etc. Comparatively, this group needs more governance and oversight. King4057 (talk) 18:00, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

    Of possible interest

    Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#Proposal: Articles about extant corporations. Herostratus (talk) 18:05, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

    Review request: Steve Scully

    For all who are interested, I've placed a new (first) request for review on the Paid Editor Help page within this project, here. The subject is Steve Scully, a producer and on-air host with the C-SPAN television network. An overview of the current article and its proposed replacement can be found in that message, and I welcome all constructive feedback. Cheers, WWB Too (talk) 01:55, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

    Review request: PEGCC

    I'm happy to report the Scully process went smoothly; meanwhile, I have another client project that I've been holding onto a few weeks, and I suppose now is as good a time as any to bring it up. The topic is the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, a trade association / lobby group, and I've posted a detailed explanation of my proposed rewrite on the Paid Editor Help page. As before, I welcome all constructive feedback. Cheers, WWB Too (talk) 17:56, 24 January 2012 (UTC)


    Some in-person face-to-face discussions could go a long way in improving the paid editor scenario. RKLawton mentioned to me (on Facebook) submitting a speaker submission to Wikimania. I think a civil panel would be more effective at reaching a balanced and refined outlook that considers varying viewpoints and have suggested a panel here:

    The submissions appear to be openly editable. I'd like to encourage project participants to modify the submission as they see fit and sign their support if they would like to see a discussion on paid editing at the conference. Also, if I mentioned you as a potential speaker, but you don't wish to participate, let me know. If you would like to be a panelist and fit one of the buckets, let me know that too. King4057 (talk) 03:26, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

    List of improvements?

    Should we have a list on the main page of our accomplishments in improving articles, like those made at Paid Editor Help and also the recent improvement of Cracker Barrel to GA status? SilverserenC 22:14, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

    Seems like it would be good cheerleading. Over time the list might get quite long, but maybe we can archive. King4057 (talk) 08:25, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
    If it gets too long, then we can just keep the DYKs, GAs, and FAs on the main page. And then as it gets too long after that (I would be amazed if that ever happened), we can wean off first the DYKs into the separate, full length page, and then the GAs if it comes to that. But I think we're a long ways from any need of archiving such things. :P SilverserenC 08:34, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
    Speaking of Paid Editor Help, it occurs to me—and here is a genuine suggestion that also has the effect of being self-serving—that it's not very prominently featured on the project page. Near the top of the page, yes, but easy to miss. Up to now, I've been the only COI editor making use of what is surely the core function of this project; more input is needed, on the part of both requesters and answerers. That should include efforts to raise awareness off-project but, even before that, better formatting and task-orientation on-project. I have limited experience with formatting tables as I see on other wikiprojects, but I may go tinkering at some point. Thoughts on organization would be very welcome. Cheers, WWB Too (talk) 20:38, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

    New article: Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagment (CREWE)

    I was doing some reading on CREWE and thought there might be enough reliably sourced info to start an article. I just put it up today, so if you have anything to add/change/remove, go for it. I did a pretty exhaustive search for references, and had to exclude several blogs, so I think I got the desirable refs. I also left a note on the talk page for CREWE members. If anyone is in contact with the group, you might notify them that they now have an article; they'd probably like to know about it. I really appreciate all of the work and discussion that has gone into the project. Fantastic job. Ocaasi t | c 17:11, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

    Neat. I think that's the first time I've seen my blog cited on Wikipedia ;-) King4057 (talk) 17:39, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

    Changing unfriendly default procedures

    While looking at the Category:Requested edits page this morning, I noticed that someone working for TripAdvisor had gone through the trouble of creating an account, reading up on guidelines, and earnestly proposing changes on a Talk page, only to find themselves blocked for naming their account User:TripAdvisorUK.

    This is not meant as a criticism of the blocking editor, whom I'll notify of this post momentarily, but the standard procedure to block COI editors who name accounts after employers. WP:ORGNAME is a good policy, but it creates an invisible tripwire for anyone who doesn't know about it, including communications professionals—particularly those who are honest enough to disclose.

    I suggest that blocking and requiring a new account is unfriendly and confusing, and should not be the default. Better instead to politely advise them of the mistake, and send them over to WP:RENAME. I think WP:CO-OP and/or its volunteer members could play a role in this. Thoughts welcome. Cheers, WWB Too (talk) 17:32, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

    Why is WP:ORGNAME a good policy? The only reason I can see is that a person could adopt the name of an organization with which he isn't associated as a kind of false flag. But 1) we assume good faith and don't consider this worth worrying about for individuals, and 2) this could at any rate be resolved through proof of identity via an OTRS ticket or something. Other than that, what is the benefit of WP:ORGNAME? Herostratus (talk) 17:49, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    I, personally, don't see the issue with having a company-related name. If you're affiliated with the company, what's wrong with clearly showing that via your username? Blocking over it just seems silly to me. SilverserenC 17:51, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    In support of ORGNAME, I think the "one account, one editor" policy is important, and this can be confusing when an account is named for a company. Other reasons exist, but this is the most compelling to me. Anyway, I also think overturning ORGNAME would be more difficult than updating it to advise a rename as opposed to a block. WWB Too (talk) 17:55, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) I admit that that wasn't my finest block. I've unblocked them and asked for them to visit WP:CHU. As to why WP:U includes this, I think it is more to do with making it clear that accounts are only used by one person, and aren't seen to directly represent the company. As Herostratus points out there are some good reasons for doing this though, and it is not correct that we AGF with people's names at all times - if we suspect that an editor is not who they say they are they should be blocked immediately and asked to contact OTRS to be unblocked. Having a company name in a username is fine, although people to report them to WP:UAA quite often regardless. Rather than discussing the finer points of WP:U here, it would be best to start a thread at WT:U where a wider range of editors can participate. SmartSE (talk) 18:02, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    More important than blocking these folks (which I reluctantly ok with) is making sure they are given COI instructions as soon as possible. Maybe we could encourage blocking admins to leave a note for this wikiproject, WP:COI, and a useful guide or two? Ocaasi t | c 18:16, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    That's a good idea. All the blocking templates link to COI already, but you could add a link to this project to {{Uw-softerblock}} {{Uw-causeblock}} and {{Uw-spamublock}}, and possibly to {{uw-adblock}}. SmartSE (talk) 18:44, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    ORGNAME is a vital policy because it is related to the non-negotiable principle that every account belongs to one and only one individual human being, who is the author of all their edits, and responsible for them under copyright and other statutes. --Orange Mike | Talk 19:18, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    Why do you assume that there's more than one person using an account just because of the name? Like if it was "SomeCompanyEmployee", there's no reason to think that that's more than just that one employee for that company running the account. SilverserenC 20:18, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    I do think an account solely named for a company would imply that it was more than one person—after all, one usually tends to think of a company as more than one person. And what if that individual left the company? It would be misleading whether they kept the account, or whether they handed it over. Neither would be acceptable. This sort of issue arises on corporate Twitter accounts, and we surely don't need that. Anyway, I really didn't mean to call ORGNAME into question, just tweak it. But this is an interesting debate. WWB Too (talk) 20:40, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    It seems like a reasonable requirement, and certainly one that at least encourages companies not having a 'corporate account' that is shared. One idea I do have, is linking to editors' COI declarations in their signature. Ocaasi t | c 20:41, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    I like this idea of a link to COI disclosure in signatures; I've never tweaked my sig before, but now I'm considering it. But this extreme indentation, maybe not quite so much? (Kidding, of course.) Cheers, WWB Too (talk) 01:44, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
    I don't think there's any real reason to make one-person-one-account apply to corporations. Corporations can hold copyrights and can and do publish copyrighted materials under just the name of the corporation with no individual human author(s) credited. It would be not allowable for two or more unincorporated individuals to share an account, because it makes copyright attribution impossible. But if there are reasons for disallowing corporate accounts, copyright isn't one of them, I don't think, although there may be other good reasons. And to turn an earlier comment around, what if a writer does leave the corporation? Should the copyright necessarily devolve to her rather than the corporation? I don't see why, and in fact if her writing was done as work for hire it can't and shouldn't devolve to her (depending on the terms of her contract or employment), I think. Herostratus (talk) 02:58, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
    I always presumed this username policy had to do with trademark violations, because we can't confirm the identity of the username. Just like many video games have username policies that you can't name a character after a trademark.
    Wikipedia is not a service organization for marketing people - we can't expect volunteer editors to take up the initiative to teach everything to every marketer that strolls in, but it's reasonable to expect an explanation before a ban for something clearly accidental. This particular scenario has created a lot of confusion with marketers. King4057 (talk) 17:23, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

    Let's write an article...Paid editing on Wikipedia

    I have been throwing around the idea that we should work on an article together. An article on "Paid editing on Wikipedia" is long overdue, would be easy to find high quality sources for, and would fill the gap that currently exists for this subject. I think writing this article is a no-brainer, and at the least, I plan to start it. But I think we could possibly do something more interesting. We could make this article a project for the WikiProject and put it together collaboratively. We could gather resources on a sub-page of the project (Wikipedia:WikiProject_Cooperation/Paid_editing_on_Wikipedia), brainstorm key subjects to cover, make an outline, and start fleshing out the article. This would also, potentially, be an opportunity to invite COI editors, CREWE members, and other PR professionals to work with us in a very hands-on way. There are some questions to work out over their role and level of involvement, but I think this idea could be fruitful. The million dollar question, is whether direct editing from COI editors would be appropriate, since this would only be in draftspace. Without challenging policy, we would have an opportunity to basically run a test-case for collaboration. What do you think? Ocaasi t | c 03:32, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

    Should we do this as a draft together?


    • Support. We can get this done without collaboration, but the project might benefit from a team effort. I think it's worth a shot. Ocaasi t | c 03:32, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
    • Mixed: Just need to be careful to make it an encyclopedic article instead of a guide, which would belong on a Wikiproject. This could be an important milestone for providing neutral, informative information to PR, media, etc. and clear up ubiquitous misinformation on the topic. The downside is if the article gives even the slightest broad, sweeping, endorsement of paid editing, it could potentially open up the crackerjack box so many are fearful of. King4057 (talk) 09:08, 12 February 2012 (UTC)


    • Oppose: I appreciate Ocaasi's enthusiasm but, at the risk of being no fun at all, I suggest that we don't do this. This WikiProject aims to help paid advocates work constructively with volunteer editors; I don't believe such an article assists this process. Nearly all of these past incidents are considered negative, so I can't see why it's helpful to put a spotlight on them—let alone put time toward it.
    I also suggest this is an inessential topic, unlike say Wikipedia biography controversy. While specific incidents have received significant coverage (and have their own articles) there's not that much about it as a phenomenon. The circumstances and motivations differ widely, and whatever there is to say about Jimbo's edits from 2005, they certainly weren't paid.
    How about a new bullet about Bell Pottinger in History of Wikipedia#Controversies? It received international coverage and elicited off-site action by Jimbo, so I think that fits. WWB Too (talk) 02:48, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
    I do think the subject is essential, as it's very much a murky part of Wikipedia's history, and it impacts the perception and credibility of the site directly. The myriad examples of paid/direct conflict of interest editing by individuals and corporations is a controversy, and though it is spread out across seemingly disparate incidents (the majority of which were revealed in 2007 after WikiScanner came out), they speak to a common problem about neutrality and editor motivations. You mention that this won't help the project, and I concede that it might be low on the list of educational opportunities on the one hand--but on the other hand, how can you really know what you're up against if you don't know its history? The fact that so many of these incidents are considered negative is very much why Jimbo and many in the community are so opposed to the idea. That said, the article would also detail more recent developments which reflect a budding change in direction, as epitomized by CREWE, CIPR, and PRSA's involvement in the past months. Either way, I am enjoying writing it so far, and take no offense that you don't like the idea and don't want to edit it. I do, however, hope you read it. Ocaasi t | c 03:22, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
    Regardless of the article's essentiality to Wikipedia overall, I believe this WikiProject should be focusing on: improving its own pages, inviting COI editors who don't know about the project to join and, per Silver's comments below, working to improve existing articles on other subjects in order to build credibility for this project. I think that editors involved in this WikiProject already do know the history, at least enough to have joined, and I'm afraid that reminding everyone of the bad actors is unlikely to encourage good ones. WWB Too (talk) 15:07, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

    Should we invite COI editors to assist without editing the draft directly?


    • Support: Probably one of the most valuable opportunities of such an article would be to identify inexperienced paid editors who want to learn ethical best practices, both through implementing those best practices and by learning more about the topic of paid editing. King4057 (talk) 09:08, 12 February 2012 (UTC)


    Should we invite COI editors to assist with editing the draft directly?



    • Oppose: Since the Wikiproject currently strongly discourages direct editing, as does Jimbo. The COI guideline also forbids it, since the entire article would qualify as "controversial". Paid editing involvement would probably paint a rosy picture of the subject, despite a long, dark, and more widely reported history. That being said, one benefit of media coverage of CREWE is some citable sources with the other side of the coin.


    An option I left out is doing this in the mainspace. It wouldn't be impossible, but I think it would limit the options for collaboration with COI editors, or at least increase the controversy of doing so. If anyone thinks we should be that bold, add it as another option. Ocaasi t | c 03:36, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

    I could also imagine an article "Examples of Exposed Paid Editing." I've seen a story about Microsoft hiring someone to make factual corrections. It was clear they were trying to do the right thing. Not all of these stories are as bad as people interpret them and many of them are oversimplified by the press and misconstrued by their readers. Did you know that some PR media reported that they didn't know if Bell Pottinger did something unethical or if Wikipedia's rules were just confusing? Whoa! King4057 (talk) 09:08, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
    I think those topics are very relevant and would probably be part of the article, since much of the news coverage of the issue has surfaced around specific incidents/scandals. I started working on a bibliography; there's a lot to go on: User:Ocaasi/Paid_editing_on_Wikipedia. Ocaasi t | c 07:47, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
    Draft started as well:WP:WikiProject Cooperation/Paid editing on Wikipedia Ocaasi t | c 13:53, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
    Hi Ocaasi. I might chip in a bit on this just for fun and enlightenment. My question is, if the article is "paid editing" would that also include GLAM and similar projects? Jimbo has a very valid point on how broad paid editing is. King4057 (talk) 06:03, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
    I had a tricky choice to make here. If you focus only on paid editing, you exclude many COI debacles, including Jimmy Wales' own. More important, you lose the political components shared by many scandals. So I went with broader=better, as this is just a draft, and it's easier to cut than expand structurally, and I like the research anyway. I've tried to cover *everything*, and just when I think I've got them all, you go ahead and mention a new one! (Actually, I had just added GLAM to the outline, after seeing it discussed on CREWE's website). I personally think all aspects of paid editing are interesting, especially ones on the outside of the expected area.
    For example: Wikipedia has a WP:Reward Board where editors can trade favors, or offer money for completed projects. Really. And in 2007 the WMF received a grant to pay illustrators for images. And most recently GLAM. So I think if we're going to describe paid editing, it has to be the full take on it, including the pieces that don't fit neatly into the paid=bad narrative. Thanks for suggesting it, and if you want to do some research for solid reliable sources, that'd be a great topic to start. You can paste the links in a ===GLAM=== section. And don't worry about formatting, or page placement, I can take spruce it up as we go along. If you're interested in that of course. If not, there's much work to be done in sorting through those sources, copyediting, finding images, etc..
    Oh, the incidents are in chronological order. This is not a one-day project, and it'd be cool to have your assistance, at your leisure. I'm not sure if we decided whether you can't edit the draft, but I'll leave that up to you, as long as you give me a reasonable 2nd opinion to check the work (no different than with me, but perhaps we're coming from different levels of experience or COI). Feel free to ask any questions you have about any aspect of the writing process. My real job on Wikipedia is helping new users not just paid users, so I'm glad to help. Ocaasi t | c 07:09, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
    • I am not sure if you all realize, but there are quite a few paid editors already submitting articles to Articles for Creation. That wasn't the original intent of AfC when it was started, but over the years, users have directed people with COIs to AfC. I'd say the project already handles this quite well. Articles for Creation has been in operation since 2007, and so far, Wikipedia hasn't fallen into disrepute as the result of paid editor submissions. I think banning paid editors from editing the article drafts directly is a mistake. Just telling someone how something should be done isn't going to really help them learn. It would be like telling students in the United States Education Program about our policies, then telling them that they aren't allowed to edit articles. The only way someone is going to learn is through actual editing experience. Over time the paid editors learn policy, and as a result, they learn how to write decent and neutral Wikipedia articles. If a paid editor is writing content in a neutral encyclopedic tone and sourcing the information with reliable third party sources, then there really is no issue. Even if they have been paid to do it, is there really that much of a problem if they are improving the encyclopedia? Alpha_Quadrant (talk) 02:39, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
    I think all of us would say no, if they're improving the encyclopedia, then we're good. However, you'll need to change Jimbo's mind and also get WP:COI changed before any headway will be made in that direction. SilverserenC 03:18, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
    Well, that is what AfC has been doing for several years now. Just looking through my user talk archives, you will see a number of discussions with editors that have a strong COI or they are paid editors. On many occasions, the articles I helped them with were moved to mainspace. The many of the articles were moved to mainspace, and many of them are fairly decent articles. Articles for Creation also helps submitters, both paid and unpaid in the IRC channel #wikipedia-en-help. There isn't any headway needed in the area, because we are already well established. Under the Conflicting interest policy, editors are discouraged, but not prohibited, from editing areas where they have a COI. We explain this to them, and we explain what they need to keep in mind if they indeed do work in the area (i.e. WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:RS). Alpha_Quadrant (talk) 03:28, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

    About the Signpost

    They felt that we were too new as a Wikiproject to have a full interview and that we need to build up our article improvements (through new articles, DYKs, GAs, FAs, and similar things specific to the Wikiproject, a la the Paid Editor Help section) before having one. They did, however, put a message about the Wikiproject as the first piece of news in the sidebar of the Wikiproject Report for the new Signpost (when it comes out). Hopefully that will draw in some new members. SilverserenC 00:22, 14 February 2012 (UTC)