User:Will Mette/sandbox

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Am I out of line on this? It makes me sick to my stomach, and I think it's violative of our ToS as well[edit]

I am vehemently in opposition to paid editing. We all know it goes on, but under no circumstances is it to be tolerated if we know about it. Next thing we'll have is paid Rfa, at FAC and elsewhere. Paid editing leads to graft...and the ruination of this website.--MONGO 22:25, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

The question is putting limits/controls on it. The first step is to have people who are paid to edit, to declare such and to start to define criteria surrounding paid editors. E.g. declaring who is paying them and/or what they are being asked to write. This is only going to become more common place in the future. Hell, I saw on another page that the Smithsonian now has a Wikipedian in Residence. Undoubtably other large organizations have employees whose job it is to monitor articles and/or edit them. Do you doubt that Romney/Obama don't have people editing their articles and pushing their agendas? Wouldn't it be nice to know whom?
Additionally, am prepared to commit to writing a policy which prohibits paid editing...the enforcement of such will be impractical, but if in stone, all will know where the website falls on this matter.--MONGO 22:28, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Have fun. I don't see that ever reaching community consensus. Just from observation, it looks like most of the community, who have weighed in thus far, fall on the "it's how you're editing, not why you're editing that matters" side. SilverserenC 00:04, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I think that's a wild misinterpretation of the evidence. A handful of noisy editors, mainly conflicted themselves, are in favor. Most editors are opposed, but don't bother stalking and killing every discussion about it. When we get to a proper project-wide vote, the correct answer will be reached.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:20, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
And, like I said, I don't believe the community is going to be on your side. The majority understands that everyone has a COI, some more than others, and that it is through their actions on-wiki that determines whether they are allowed to edit, not their COI. We have plenty of editors who have a strong COI that are able to edit quite neutrally without issue. And if one bans paid editing, it raises the question about anyone else who has a strong COI, and whether we should be allowed them to edit. Then those with a slightly less COI and those with slightly less than that, until you end up with nobody being allowed to edit, because they all have a COI, as, in most cases, they wouldn't be editing an article subject unless they were personally interested in it and have an opinion on it.
Luckily, most editors understand that it is for these very reasons that COI is largely irrelevant and only acts as a caution, but not as a wall. All that matters is whether an editor is making neutral contributions. If they are, then it doesn't matter if they have a strong positive or negative opinion on the subject. If they're editing neutrally, who cares? SilverserenC 00:30, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
This fallacious line of argument has been dealt with many times. Well, no sense in you going on and on about it. You are in the extreme minority here and I can't possibly convince you.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:33, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
(ec) I am in the extreme minority on your talk page, yes, that's obvious. That's because your talk page is, often, an echo chamber for your opinions. That doesn't mean it is at all representative of the actual community opinion on a subject. SilverserenC 00:46, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

I don't think that I can convince Silverseren, because I think he's an advocate for an extreme position. So this is for those who might be naively taken in by his misreading of community consensus and who find his argument up above tempting to believe. I have just one simple thought experiment for you. Right now there is a big lawsuit going on between Google and Oracle. The judge in the case is Judge William Alsup. All of Judge Alsup's work in the case is public, he's in a public courtroom, and when he publishes his opinion in the case, that will be made public too. It will be subject to a lot of scrutiny. What would you think if you found out that Judge Alsup has a part-time job on the weekends advising Oracle on their patent litigation strategy for say $50,000 a year, much less than his salary as a judge, but a nice boost. Would you say "It isn't his motives for coming to a conclusion in the case, it's how he judges" and argue that Judges ought to be able to accept payments from litigants, as long as - somehow - they remain neutral?

It's frankly absurd, and it is equally absurd to take the position that someone can be a paid advocate (don't fall for the other fallacy, which is conflating the question of ALL paid editing with that of paid advocacy) and that as long as they are neutral it will not harm the reputation of Wikipedia. It is transparently obvious that if we welcome this kind of corruption, it will destroy the reputation of Wikipedia.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:43, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

I might start by saying that, if something is going to destroy the reputation of Wikipedia, there are a significant number of other issues that are actually damaging the encyclopedia that will destroy its reputation long before the allowance of paid editing would have any effect. But to respond more directly to that, the media's reception to an idea is largely dependant on how the idea is represented before them. If this paid editing issue causes a rift in the community, you can be sure that there will be press coverage of the conflict and it will not be good for Wikipedia (just like past conflicts have been bad). And a complete banning of paid editing would just lead to media complaints of hypocrisy that paid editors are banned, but those editors with extreme COI issues (often high ranking Wikipedia members as well) are allowed to roam free. On the other hand, if a direct guideline was laid out that welcomed paid editing, but explained specifically what is and is now acceptable and also offered them various direct avenues to have their suggested improvements be looked at, then I sincerely doubt there would be much, if any, bad press over those actions. SilverserenC 00:56, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Can we get back to the original complaint? Paid editing being good or bad is likely to go on forever. Should users be able to advertise their services on Wikipedia or not? --OnoremDil 00:44, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

I would say no. SilverserenC 00:48, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Well, we do have some agreement then. :-) --Jimbo Wales (talk) 01:01, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

[clear violation of POLICY "Wikipedia is not a soapbox, a battleground, or a vehicle for propaganda, advertising and showcasing. This applies to articles, categories, templates, talk page discussions, and user pages." (as well as WP:POINT removed.]

    • Last time I checked, blatantly promoting a product (FA article in this case) was not acceptable by policy or culture. Could you explain why this is different? --OnoremDil 01:10, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
        • ....bottom line is paid advocacy is intertwined with paid editing...they are almost inseparable. IF someone is paying another to edit, then they expect an outcome...surely one that favors their POV. It's ludicrous to think anyone would pay and not expect something in return.--MONGO 01:48, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
          • They expect an improved article. An improved article, rather than a stub, would be better for the person. And, if we're talking companies, updated company stats would also be helpful. It really doesn't have to do with POV-slanting an article at all. SilverserenC 01:57, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
            but...but...but...that is where they then say, gee thanks for updating our "stats" now how much is it going to cost us (to seasoned well thought of editor) to add THIS'? One leads to another for sure. I'll not be swayed by the motivations of corporate hacks to whitewash the facts...we already have enough of that going on with corporate ownership of the news...WE are supposed to be above all that.--MONGO 02:52, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
            • MONGO, several years ago I assisted a paid editor (for free) to take an article to FA. This was the article. The primary editor was an employee of the university. The article is fine. What you are really saying is that you don't trust Wikipedia's administrative or FA processes to enforce NPOV. After such a long time as you have participated in this project, doesn't that disappoint you? Cla68 (talk) 02:01, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
              • that article looks fine...but is it fine? It has two sections with left hand margin image placement at beginning of the section...MOS recommends right hand alignment with text left unless there is a paragraph of text first (example)...another section has text sandwiched between two images...where is the controversy section? Just touching the tip of the berg here...want more? I looked and saw nary an edit to that article by Cla68...I did see your support at was a half what are you trying to tell us? That your idea of assisting a paid editor should consist of a support vote for their enterprise? In consideration though, I didn't check the talkpage archives and did see other more well rounded supports...but I'm responding to your summary of "assistance".--MONGO 03:02, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
  • You nicely avoid answering but sure make yourself sound like a whore. --OnoremDil 02:14, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Chill out with the personal attacks.VolunteerMarek 02:17, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Just an observation. Do you have a better way to describe it? --OnoremDil 02:20, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
If a business will pay $1000 for a featured article, imagine how much it will pay for a successful AfD. Wnt (talk) 02:26, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
In terms of deleting or keeping an article? Either way, there's a significant difference between paid editing and what you're talking about. The former just involves (ideally) improving specific articles within our rules and guidelines. The latter would be breaking Wikipedia's rules to get a desired outcome. Of course, I don't even see how the latter could happen at all. Are you referring to an admin being paid off to close an AfD with a certain outcome? But then that would also mean that they would have to have a method of getting the AfD discussion to go their way, because it's otherwise be overturned at DRV. I just don't see paid AfD closing working at all without paying off everyone involved and, if that happens, it'll either be canvassing with a bunch of new accounts which we already know how to deal with or it'll be paying off a bunch of established users and I find it extremely unlikely, if not impossible, that none of them will come out and explain what's going on. SilverserenC 02:31, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I've heard tell that sometimes people disagree about whether policy supports a deletion or not. Some articles might be deleted if someone puts in extra effort to make policy arguments; more so if two or three are hired... Wnt (talk) 02:37, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I have answered questions like this directly many times. I draw a strong distinction between paid advocacy and other types of editing which may be compensated. I don't see that as a complicated distinction at all. Regarding Digital forensics, I will take a look at it and give you an opinion on the ethics of you editing it if you like. Regarding Wikipedian in Residence, I think it crucial that people in such positions never edit to promote the institutions where they are in residence - and think it is a bannable offense if they do.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:50, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Feel free to check the article. I have noted you consistently use the word "advocacy" - which I agree with entirely - a word that refers to motive... but it is not clear whether you view all paid editing in general as primo-facto advocacy (the implication in your reply here is that you do not). Wikipedians in Residence often edit their home institutions article; is that over the line into editing to promote? I argue that motivation is the key here, and money is just one factor. --Errant (chat!) 10:10, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
errrrrrrmmmm ... ummmmmmm .... I'm not quite sure how to put this one, Jimbo .... but how does this tie in with this? Pesky (talk) 11:44, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I guess it's an example of what he intended when he wrote last month "I intend to host general philosophical and policy discussions on my page from time to time, and I intend to enforce a higher standard of civility than you may be comfortable with. If you don't like it, that's fine with me, it really is. Just don't participate if you can't do so while behaving in a respectful manner to others." (emphasis mine). Fram (talk) 13:19, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
That's not making it any more clear to me. It may because I'm HFA. On the other hand, it could actually be a total contradiction. What I'm having trouble with is understanding how referring to another editor as a troll, and saying it's par for the course for that editor, is in line with the policy; let alone in line with "a higher standard of civility". To whom does this "higher standard" apply? Is there a list? Is there an answer? Pesky (talk) 14:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I think Fram is sarcastically pointing out that Jimbo violated his own stated civility position. Thus, Fram was agreeing with you, Pesky. (Correct me if i'm wrong, Fram) SilverserenC 16:35, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Jimbo writes, I think it crucial that people in such positions never edit to promote the institutions where they are in residence - and think it is a bannable offense if they do. So, it is ok for them to write on subjects for which they are familiar/exposed to, just so long as they "never edit to promote?" E.g. they write neutrally and in line with our other policies? But how would we know? How do you know who is "the wikipedian in residence" at Cornell Univerisity? At Sears? At McDonald's? The Republican/Democratic party? I'm certain that most universities and larger corporations have professional writers/employees monitoring and editing their articles. Right now, we don't know who they are---unless they explicitly tell us. Which I'd rather have than a secret paid editor pushing an agenda.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 15:40, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I think Baloonman is absolutely right. One is reminded of this ! Martinevans123 (talk) 15:58, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I feel a need to second this statement as well. Being an editable and incredibly popular site means that we will inevitably have people around with some bias or intent to further their own goals. As Balloonman already stated it is extremely likely that larger institutions monitor or influence their own page - didn't one editor write a tool that confirmed that used IP addresses on some article's belong to the corporations in question? And how many of the smaller, less knowns companies only have an article since they started it?
Point is case is that we cannot know who a contributer is. If Cla68 has improved an article to FA status in exchange for money, and he wouldn't have mentioned it would we have detected it in the first place? Also, if we cannot detect it, how could we even act against it or justify acting against it? I am all to happy to hammer shady companies that try to whitewash or promote others, but an editor who earned his spurs is another matter. And what of the hypothetical case where a charitable organization decides to invest in public knowledge and therefor hires a biologist/chemist or two to go over our animal/chemistry related pages? There are simply to many shades of grey in this matter to have a hard-set policy on this. Excirial (Contact me,Contribs) 22:22, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Just because a desirable rule is difficult to completely enforce, and requires people to be honorable, doesn't mean that the rule is faulty. The principle is sound. To allow paid editing because people "disclose" is the height of cynicism and will measurably hurt Wikipedia.
Frankly I'm getting bored with this discussion. If Wikipedia wants to commit hari-kiri it won't interrupt my life. Go to it and have fun. Jay Tepper (talk) 22:41, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Why is "money" special?[edit]

Jimbo, I ask in all sincerity: why do you seem to believe that money is somehow more poisonous to the project than other motivations that might cause a person to edit non-neutrally? I really, truly don’t understand why someone who gets $1000 to edit an article is more inclined to violate our policies (WP:NPOV, etc.) than someone who is a “true fan” committed to showing the world how great their favorite team/singer/restaurant, or someone who is absolutely certain that Ethnic group X is better than Ethnic group Y. I don’t understand why we want or need a special policy to deal with one specific form of motivation, when we have a perfectly good set of policies that govern all forms of biased and improper editing behavior. For instance, I think the current insanity at WP:MMA, including strong evidence of off-wiki threats and canvassing, is a much better example of disruptive editing that is damaging Wikipedia than the polite, cooperative editors at WP:WikiProject Cooperation/Paid Editor Help. Heck, I think the debacle that was WP: India Education Project was significantly more disruptive and potentially damaging to Wikipedia (since it results in large scale copyright violations) than paid editing, and that was a WMF directed project. Qwyrxian (talk) 02:56, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

You are positing a competition between two things that are completely different. Apples and oranges. Yes, a person who is a "true fan" (in the negative sense) is a problem. The person of a particular religious (or other) viewpoint who comes to Wikipedia with an axe to grind is someone who has to be dealt with, and we do it every day. A paid advocate is also a problem, but a different problem, as the incentives before them and the motivations are different. It simply isn't the case that "one size fits all" - we should adapt policy and solutions in a way that works, to deal with each problem in the best possible way - false analogies to other problems will mislead.
The truth is that paid advocacy is significantly deterrable through a thoughtful set of policies that forbids direct article editing and encourages appropriate interaction with the community. There really are ethical communications professionals who understand that I will crucify their clients in the media if they do not do the right thing. And there are those who do NOT get it, and banning them is the fastest and easiest thing to do. It's really quite simple: follow a bright-line rule - no paid advocacy in article space - come to the discussion page.
Similarly with the India project. Was it a debacle? Yes, of course it was. But that provides no argument for not solving other problems as well. We don't have to choose to EITHER improve projects like that OR deal with the scourge of paid advocates. We must do both.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:41, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
My two cents:
  • Payment influences decisions. In a study of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, studies where the author was funded by a drug company were four times more likely to find results favorable to that company than those funded independently.
  • Payment does not eliminate meatpuppet prohibitions. If I can't ask my friend to support my views in discussions, I shouldn't be able to pay him to do it.
  • It is not compelling to say Y is not a problem, because X, Y, and Z are all problems and we can't do anything about X or Z. If paid editing distracts or detracts from the project, it should be prohibited. Even if there are other things which are harder to deal with, we should not avoid dealing with the easier problems.
But, of course, I don't speak for Jimbo. --TeaDrinker (talk) 03:22, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Another point against paid editing is you get someone that is a slick practiced expert in dispute resolution that can easily "beat down" the volunteers that are trying to improve the encyclopedia because they like the idea of a free encyclopedia built by volunteers. My view is that paid editing would be a poison that would eventually destroy the original intent of Wikipedia and chase away many volunteers. There are frequently complaints about SPA's pushing their own POV. The SPA's are usually crude violate the rules and end up getting blocked. A paid editor that knows the rules and especially knows how to manipulate the dispute resolution process would be a menace to WP:NPOV. Money is special because it buys time and influence. If it was also allowed to buy Wikipedians with knowledge and experience it would likely destroy Wikipedia or change it into something that I'll guess that most volunteers will not be interested in being part of. Bill Huffman (talk) 05:58, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
And you don't think this doesn't already occur?
(ec)Re point 1: Yes, payment influences decisions. So which is better to read a study knowing who funded the study or to read a study not knowing who funded it? I'd like to know that McDonald's paid for that study about the nutrional value of a big mac. By knowing who is being paid, it opens avenues for oversight, that don't exist if we don't know.
Re point 2: Again, Cla's "advertisement" was to get an article to FA status. I think everybody agrees that being paid to advocate a stance is questionable (but we also know paid editors exist.) The key isn't to bury our heads and pretend that all is well in the world and that paid editing doesn't occur, but rather to regulate/monitor them in an appropriate manner.
Re point 3: Yes, because prohibition worked so well. The war on drugs worked so well. The situation exists and will continue to exist. Let's deal with it rather than pretend it doesn't happen.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 06:10, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Balloonman, but I find your points are missing a major point: $1000 is a laughably small amount of money. Paid editors that get results - control content to the satisfaction of the client - will get paid in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars...easy. You think a civil POV pushing volunteer is a nightmare? Think what one making $80000 a year would be like? ...with five paid co-workers? Game over. —ArtifexMayhem (talk) 07:50, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Additionally, Balloonman, as far as I can tell, you either agree with me, or you are positing a straw man. It is precisely my argument that we need to "eal with it rather than pretend it doesn't happen". The best way I know of to NOT deal with it is to continue to entertain lunatic arguments that it doesn't matter. The best way I know of to deal with it is channel it into appropriate channels (talk pages, primarily) and to be extremely firm that paid advocacy in article space is unwelcome, will not be tolerated. We need to offer a path for paid advocates to deal with us responsibly - allowing them to take over Wikipedia is absolutely not an option... that option would be burying our heads in the sand.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:46, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Bluntly, this already exists, and more or less de-facto permitted for professional photographers who put some of their work on Wikipedia. Why shouldn't similar tolerance be allowed for our writers? I do not ascribe this position to you, but I'm seeing remnants of Avery Brundage's belief in the "gifted amateur" as ideal. His vision did not survive the entry of money into the Olympic movement. Did it harm the Olympics? Well, try finding tickets for this year's Olympics, and athletes no longer have to live in the ghetto until after the games. Frankly, I doubt if there's much money in this—I am reminded of a "The Far Side" cartoon showing classified ads seeking those good at playing arcade games for big money—but I'd be willing to talk to a company offering sponsorship which includes access to databases and resources as well as my expenses. Unfortunately, when requests to the Foundation for resources get little heed or are hijacked, editors turn elsewhere.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:01, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Influenced by Pay editing is a poison that, even in small un-noticible doses, will eventually kill any reliablity we now have. We need to improve our trust level with the general public not allow it to continue its slide toward wholesale MIS-trust. ```Buster Seven Talk 12:14, 26 April 2012 (UTC).
Many editors are influenced in their editing by their nationality and religion. Isn't that a far more serious poison?--Wehwalt (talk) 12:18, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I think it's self-evident (that money is "special"), and that it's ridiculous to posit otherwise. Given the indecision and dithering of the so-called "community," I think that it's incumbent on Mr. Wales to show some leadership in this area and personally take action against paid editing. He seems to have the power and he should use it. If he doesn't, this online encyclopedia will be swamped by public relations professionals plying their trade. It already is to some extent. Just look at the articles p.r. people write about themselves. He knows it, and whether others do or don't is beside the point. Jay Tepper (talk) 12:46, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Given time and attention, National and Religiouslly "poisoned" editng become obvious and can be dealt with. Influenced by Pay editing is hidden, unknown, out of sight. Requiring that Paid Operatives self-identify removes the subversive flavor from the mix. The fact that the Communications Director for the Gingrich campaign finally self-identified created a workable collaborative effort in article creation. not perfect, just workable. At the very least, concerned editors could be alert for biased and slanted editing that only favored the candidate. WP is a major site for information dispersal. From now on, EVERY campaign for Major political offices will have a person, or a room of persons, whose job it will be to orchestrate what exists, or doesnt exist, in the Campaign article. Our readers need to be aware of that fact. ```Buster Seven Talk 13:03, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
You can also place a permanent tag on articles to which paid editors have contributed, saying prominently "This article has been editors by persons paid by the subject of the article." Then you'd have two classes of articles, but the reader would receive disclosure. A better idea is to simply ban paid editing. Jay Tepper (talk) 13:25, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Of course money is special. It creates a culture where money becomes the end and everything else is just the means. And, you may not realize this, but a wikipedia page has a great deal of financial value because it is the first place people go looking for information. A small consulting firm, a university professor looking for consulting, small businesses, none notable in their own right would all love to have a nice wikipedia article of their own. Preferably with negative information left out. Tourist departments would be happy to pay to have their latest sites featured on wikipedia. A few dollars to reorder a list, what's the harm in that? Many dollars to add the sentence "access to the island from Liberty State Park is easier", no problem. On the flip side, editors would have an incentive to overlook that negative information being left out, the lack of notability, the reordering of lists or information, because they too would be pushing their own pet paid businesses and who wants to rock the boat. That's what happens all the time in the business world. And, the unpaid editors who are left would either be demotivated (thought experiment: How likely would you be to work for free in an environment where many people are getting paid for the same work?), or swamped. It's hard enough dealing with nationalist pov pushers but money is entirely a different ball game. --regentspark (comment) 13:33, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

I agree wholeheartedly. You've raised a number of good points, especially about the demoralizing effect on unpaid editors. This issue is vital to Wikipedia, and its amazing to me that so many editors seem blithely unaware of the corrosive effects of allowing openly paid editors. Many focus instead on disclosure as a panacea. That may help from an internal Wikipedia standpoint, but it affords no advantage whatever to the millions of casual readers who would have no idea that an article they are reading may or may not be a direct product of a public relations professional. It amazes me the extent to which so many members of the "community" have their heads wedged up their posteriors on conflicts of interest and public relations poisoning of Wikipedia. Jay Tepper (talk) 13:44, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
And notice that there is a very simple and clean way to resolve this all ethically and practically - disclosure and engaging solely on the talk pages, noticeboards, wikiprojects, etc. If you can write good quality text that is actually neutral, and offer it up on the talk page, there is no need whatsoever to go to editing the article space directly. This is a simple plan that resolves all the serious concerns quite neatly. I have never seen a single valid argument against it. (Almost none of the paid advocates ever even try to engage this argument directly, instead throwing up a lot of obfuscation and presenting my position in a straw-man way.)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:00, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
That makes sense. I agree that we can't keep paid editing out, the wikipedia product is too valuable for that and money always finds a way in. Restricting paid editors to talk pages would help by creating a moat around article space. Moats don't always keep marauders out, but they do act as a deterrent. We also need a policy that bans editors from being paid for anything other than writing text. For example, we don't want editors being paid to !vote on deletion, move or FA discussions. --regentspark (comment) 14:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Actually that issue has been addressed, Jimbo, several times. The problem there is that talk pages can often be low traffic - so all your suggestions could easily sit there for days/weeks/months/years without any attention. To get the advocates to agree to that wholly logical approach requires us to improve our reaction to contributions of that sort as well. And I think we have to make the first move, it being our house. This whole paid advocacy problem has been mishandled from the get go - with us sat here going "go to the talk page, you underhand advocate!" and them going "stop printing lies, naughty Wikipedia!". It's a lot like an echo chamber - having conversed with both sides.. you're all as bad as each other. --Errant (chat!) 14:52, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
What do you think of a policy-cum-noticeboard, as we have for BLP? The situations are quite similar in some respects. JN466 20:55, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Why is money special? That's easy to answer. Think about the situation where Company X is paying Cla68 $1000 to write a FA about Company X. Company X has made some good products and has done some good things, but they also once made a malfunctioning product that seriously injured someone. The incident wasn't headline news, but it did get reported in several newspapers around the world. As the article gets closer to FA, another editor joins in and writes a short section about the malfunctioning product incident. Company X calls up Cla68 and says, "What is this bullshit? We're paying you $1000 to write an article about us, and you include information that makes us look bad? You better take that out or we're not paying you a dime!" Cla68 tries to explain that he didn't include it in the article, some other editor did. But, Company X doesn't care, they want it out of the article or no payday.
Now Cla68 is faced with a (quite plausible) dilemma. Protect the neutrality of the article and get paid nothing for all the work he put into it, or try to appease Company X by arguing for the removal of the section about the incident. Which do you think he would do? What would you do in this situation? What if the payment for writing the article was $10,000? $50,000? Where is your limit? How much would you have to be paid to bend the rules and write something that's not entirely neutral?
Radix malorum est cupiditas. Allowing payment for writing an article (especially if it's about the organization who is paying you, which in most cases, it will be) gives some measure of control to that organization, unless they are forced to pay up front (to which I highly doubt any intelligent person would agree). This invites non-neutrality. We're better off not allowing it. But, back to the topic at hand, which is not whether we should allow paid editing, but whether we should allow editors to advertise their paid editing services on their user page. I think this is a clear cut "No", and if WP:UP needs to be updated to state this clearly, then so be it. ‑Scottywong| comment _ 14:07, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Also, one argument against it might be this. If other editors know, or get to know, that a talk page proposal has been paid for, won't there simply be a battle between those who wish to add it because it's fair (plus those who wish to add it because they have been paid to write it and/or wish to promote the principle of paid editing) and those who wish to keep it out simply because it has been paid for. Or would it be forbidden to show that a proposal had been paid for? Or perhaps Admins would know, but not ordinary editors? How would that particlar battle ground be policed? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 14:59, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Jimbo, I largely agree with your position on paid editing, but I take issue with how you have responded to Cla68's action. You state that we must "be extremely firm that paid advocacy in article space is unwelcome, will not be tolerated" but the truth is that no firm stance has been taken and paid editors have not only been tolerated but, of late, aided and abetted. This issue has been building for years now and the community has been unwilling to have serious discussion about it. Or set any firm rules or guidelines. I was only too happy to point out paid editors to those who claimed they would block on sight (including yourself and a former ArmCom member) yet no blocks ever happened. Meanwhile, advocates of paid editing first subverted the proposed guidelines, then formed welcoming committees. It is far too late to pretend that Cla68 is responsible for the current ruckus. His provocation was only possible thanks to years of studied inattention. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 14:48, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

That's not 100% true... 3 years ago [1], a person with several "prestigious" hats on wikipedia was stripped of all his hats and had an account blocked for paid editing. But beyond that, you are correct. The concern has been more centered around COI and and preserving proper weighting/balance/neutrality. I'd rather know who the paid editors are so they could be better monitored and if they can't/don't write in an objective/neutral manner, then we can address those situations better. If Editor X is hired by 3M to take the 3M article to FA status, wouldn't it be advantageous to know that Editor X is paid by 3M? It would bring down additional scrutiny. Also, if we know that Editor X is a paid editor, then violations of UNDUE/POV/ETC become easier to prove and officiate. There is a distinct difference between Paid-Editor X working on a controversial article and putting in POV edits and non-paid editor Y putting in the same edits. My tolerance for the paid editor is going to be a lot less. Thus, I want to know who the paid contributors are.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 15:23, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I was referring specifically to the paid editors that I had identified. Of those, I believe some did end up getting blocked for sockpuppetry, but not for paid editing. In the case that you cite, Nichalp was not blocked. Their alternate account was and they were stripped of their privileges because they failed to respond to ArbCom's emails. We could read between the lines, but those are the facts as presented. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 15:53, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Just because you're unaware of it (paid editing), doesn't mean it isn't happening. And just because someone doesn't advertise their services, doesn't mean those services aren't available. In this case, ignorance is not bliss, and if it is expressly prohibited, then the only thing we incentivize is that ignorance, when the correct incentives belong with quality material.ℱorƬheℒoveofℬacon 21:47, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Ironic side note[edit]

Having watched the ongoing RfC on Images in Mohammed, I have to ask where all the editors are that simply chimed in, "NOT CENSORED?" No seriously? This is a complete aside from the Paid Editing debate, but rather an illuminating point on my problem with WP:NOTCENSORED. We have people here, including Jimbo, who want to ban (e.g. censor) paid editors and nobody has cried NOT CENSORED. I bring this is up not because I want to use it as an argument in favor of paid editing, but rather because I find the use of "NOT CENSORED" as a position to be devoid of value. NOT CENSORED, while a fine ideal, is a weak argument in and of itself. It's a find starting point, but it should never be used to dispell reasoned arguments for the inclusion/exclusion/movement of materials.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 14:27, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

If that's your strongest argument for allowing paid editors, then I'd suggest that you have no argument whatsoever. Jay Tepper (talk) 14:33, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Balloonman, do note that Jimbo has not said we should ban paid editors. Rather, we need to manage them. See his comments on how paid editing can work above. --regentspark (comment) 14:39, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure he did. John Vandenberg (chat) 15:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
That's not what he's saying now. [2] --regentspark (comment) 15:39, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
it is a bannable offense if they do and banning them is the fastest and easiest thing to do. It's really quite simple: follow a bright-line rule - no paid advocacy in article space are from today.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 15:45, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Jimbo is clearly distinguishing between paid editors and paid advocates. The l;atter should be banned the former not. I agree with that.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 16:42, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
And I'm opposed to paid advocacy as well... but where do we draw the line? How do we draw the line if we equate paid editing with paid advocacy? In order to have a disctinction, we need to draw a distinction and we need to make it so that paid editors can be identified. That way we can start to tell if that person who is a little too persistent on including a specific fact is doing so because they are a paid advocate or just stubborn. Identifying the motives is the first step.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 17:43, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
And where is the distinction between paid editor and paid advocate defined? If it isnt defined, they are the same thing, and the atmosphere will be unfriendly to newbies who will run into this constantly. Some admins will block, others will unblock, and it will go to Arbcom – mark my words. Newbies will be forced watch public debates about whether they are paid editing or paid advocates. At the WMAU/SLQ training workshops last week, many of the participants wrote articles which they have a COI with. e.g. Pinnacles Gallery. All openly declared; some participants even started with usernames which broke the username policy. Some of these participants and articles were what I would consider to be advocacy. No worries; easily fixed by editing according to content policies. John Vandenberg (chat) 22:36, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Balloonman, banning paid editors in article space while allowing them to use the talk page for advocating their points of view or suggesting the text they would like to see in the article is hardly the same thing as censorship or even banning them outright from wikipedia. I think Jimbo's proposal is a reasonable starting point on how to deal with paid editors so that they have a voice but the downside is minimized. --regentspark (comment) 16:13, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Jay, did you read my post? No it is not "my strongest argument" in favor of paid editing---in fact, I explicitly state that This is a complete aside from the Paid Editing debate. In fact, I consider NOT CENSORED to be a worthless argument when it is simply presented by itself. YET whenever we have debates of IMAGES on Mohammed or a nude in the lead of the pregnancy article or what have you, slews of people come out chiming in "NOT CENSORED" without regard for why the issue is being raised or whether or not the question being raised has merit. IMHO, NOT CENSORED is a meaningless platatude on its own... and I think this debate is showing how pathetic that phrase is. So, Jay, in reality, I agree 100%. If "NOT CENSORED" is the "strongest argument" for any issue, the "I'd suggest [whomever uses it has] no argument whatsoever."---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 15:08, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I think that our opposition to censorship is very important and relevant - it's the reason why we're having this debate; indeed, it's the reason why we're allowed to have this debate instead of just having Jimbo settle the point five years ago and move on. This is the boat and "NOTCENSORED" is the ocean. Nonetheless, we have not in the past extended this principle to advertising businesses on user pages or introducing POV in certain ways, as there are other important pillars we're trying to uphold at the same time. Wnt (talk) 15:52, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Opposition to censorship is important, but this whole argument belies the notion that simply citing "NOTCENSORED" is sufficeint in and of itself. Censorship occurs on Wikipedia... UNDUE/NPOV/RS/V/etc. The question is why? If the entirety of one's argument is NOT CENSORED, which we often see in various debates, then I contend that it often is not sufficeint---especially when rationale reasons have been presented for moving/removing/editing etc.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 17:43, 26 April 2012 (UTC)


First I wish to make clear that I am not an advocate of paid editing. I think there are a lot of areas of WP that currently rely on volunteer activity alone could profit from paid advocacy (such as WikiProject management, crosswiki bot maintenance, recruiting and retention programs, image.article improvement, copyright enforcement, etc.) but I think that in the case of article developement its best left to volunteers. To allow editing of articles for profit puts us on a slippery slope that would undoubtedly only get worse over time and would encourage users to demand payment for their services rather than voluneer.

With that said I do believe that the problem exists and there are likely more editors writing for profit than any of us know and we should try and bring those to light as much as possible. I think if its determined that paid editing should be allowed in some form we could draft some policies that limit this activity to certain areas or with controls in place that force them into the light more. It is my opinion that there are some "professional" organizations that, if we allowed them, would follow any rules we put in place to be allowed to edit. I also think that if an article is promoted in this way it should be visible on the article (possibly the talk page) and the article be ineligible for display on the main page.

I also want to clarify how I perceive the difference (and I could be wildly wrong here I admit) between paid editing and rewarded editing before its made into an issue. There are several programs in place by the organization such as students editing for classes that one could argue are merely paid editing in disguise because the individual is still "profiting" from the editing. I agree these editors are "rewarded" for their efforts in the form of degrees or even status, we hand out barnstars and things as rewards and we promote editors in wiki status by bestowing upon them additional rights such as administrator, beaurocrat, arbitrator, etc. but although these "rewards" help the wiki, improve morale and encourage a little good spirited competition in some cases no one is getting "paid". I think there are a lot of ways that editors, businesses and those interested in improving articles could be rewarded without stooping to the level of paying an editor to get their article promoted. For example, I do not think it would be wrong if "WP" accepted a sum to improve articles on a given topic (Call it a bounty or whatever even if the individual or might somehow be improved by it) as long as the sum is not directly attributed to that topic. Kumioko (talk) 17:05, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Valid point, but it still relegates articles and editors deemed professionals to second-class status. No one settles for being tolerated when equality should be on the table. What you are doing is adding an asterisk to achievement. That would not be acceptable. And I would not be amenable to WMF getting money for my editing.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:27, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
"relegates"? That's not a neutral term. I'd say the old, "We already established that; now we're just haggling about price" principle applies. If you're doing this for money for anybody but the Wikimedia movement itself, you're a pro; by definition you've forfeited any credible claim to lack of COI or (in my view) NPOV; and of course you have no place acting as an admin or in any other administrative capacity. --Orange Mike | Talk 17:42, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it does and should mean relegating paid editors to non-editing status. That is correct. Jay Tepper (talk) 17:55, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Jimbo spoke of a global community vote, a better question is: will an admin action against a paid editor stand? Unless the answer to that is "yes", isn't this just whistling in the wind?--Wehwalt (talk) 18:07, 26 April 2012 (UTC)


I want to emphasize a point that Jimbo made earlier: the problem is not really paid editing, it is paid advocacy, and we must be careful to recognize the difference. For example, the US National Institutes of Health sometimes awards grant money for community outreach, and one type of outreach it has funded is addition of material to Wikipedia. The people receiving those funds are doing paid editing, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that -- this approach ought to be encouraged rather than discouraged. Whatever we do, we need to keep this distinction in mind. Looie496 (talk) 17:46, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

No, the problem is paid editing not paid "advocacy," whatever that means. It means paying somebody to edit Wikipedia for the purpose of placing or removing specific content from the encyclopedia. That's all it means. Jay Tepper (talk) 17:54, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
To be honest, I don't think the problem is being paid - whether you are paid to advocate or paid to just write. The problem is whether or not your interests in editing Wikipedia are in conflict with the interests of Wikipedia as a whole. I've been looking at articles written by paid (freelance) editors over the last few weeks, and the problems that stand out are occasionally related to advocacy, which is a problem, but equally I find copyright violations, spam, falsified references, the creation of articles about non-notable subjects, and deliberate misrepresentations of the editor's relationship with the subject when questions are raised about the articles. (Not all those problems are equally serious, of course, but copyvio and falsified references I hold at least on a par with POV editing). At the same time, there are also cases where the interests of WP and those of the author haven't been in conflict, and the results have been good, solid encyclopedic articles in spite of money being involved. I wish there was a neat fix, and some nice way to distinguish between them, but it is a messy problem. - Bilby (talk) 18:12, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
This is one instance where the community is divided against itself. Jimbo has been on record against paid advocacy on any number of occasions, and has confined his efforts to dealing with inappropriate attempts to influence content "against our existing policies". But the battle lines are drawn between those who advocate "anything goes, as long as our policies are followed" and "paid editing of any sort inherently corrupts Wikipedia". Either of these extreme positions is unlikely to ever achieve consensus, but the loudest voices in the argument are those on the fringes. Jclemens (talk) 18:48, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
All paid editing is advocacy of some sort, for some reason. Wikimedians-in-Residence are merely engaging people well versed in policy in order that the advocacy is kept within acceptable levels. Even non-profits have objectives, and they are required by law to ensure all their activities work towards those goals. As far as I know, there are no Wikimedia chapters that have "build Wikipedia content" as one of their objectives. John Vandenberg (chat) 22:44, 26 April 2012 (UTC)