Wikipedia:Meetup/ArtAndFeminism/FAQ COI

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What constitutes “Conflict-of-interest” (COI) editing on Wikipedia?[edit]

If you edit articles about an institution to which you have close ties; its history, architecture, Board of Trustees/staff, resources (the kinds of things that would go in an About or History section on a website, that is less relevant to your collections, and more relevant to the institution’s own history) personal bias is more likely, and your editing may be perceived as a conflict-of-interest by the Wikipedia community. Simple factual changes (e.g.: personnel updates or outdated statistics) may likely be made to pages related to your institution and its history, without raising eyebrows, but more substantive changes should proceed carefully.

Be open to conversation and dialogue with other Wikipedia editors as they might have questions about your additions to Wikipedia. To this point, please remember that Wikipedians are not out to get you- they are out to make sure that there is not PR work going on and to maintain established peer-review structures within Wikipedia.

What constitutes paid editing on Wikipedia?[edit]

Paid editing is conflict-of-interest editing done in exchange for payment or done during on-the-clock hours. While the term has a negative connotation, Wikipedians sometimes receive funding from the Wikimedia Foundation to do outreach or events planning, and even to improve content about an institution on Wikipedia, and there are best practices to disclose paid editing. For example:

What is the best way to be transparent on Wikipedia about institutional editing?[edit]

  • Register one person per Wikipedia account. I.E. do not create one account for multiple people or for an institution as a whole.
  • Disclose your institutional affiliations on your Wikipedia user page before editing. (The user page can be found in the top right corner of any Wikipedia page and can be edited like a regular article). This can be a one-sentence statement. EX “User:JaneDoe is a Wikipedian and librarian at the Universal Museum. Jane Doe is aware of Wikipedia’s Conflict-of-Interest policies, and is invested in abiding by community best practices.”

Wikipedia's content is governed by three principal core content policies: neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research. Editors should familiarize themselves with all three. Here are the “in-a-nutshell” definitions of each:

  • Neutral point of view: Articles must not take sides, but should explain the sides, fairly and without bias. This applies to both what you say and how you say it. You are writing an encyclopedia and should not use superlatives.
  • Verifiability: Readers must be able to check that Wikipedia articles are not just made up. This means that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation.
  • No original research: Wikipedia does not publish original thought or opinions: all material in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable, published source. If opinions or multiple/different interpretations of a subject are mentioned, it must be in the form of cited quotes, not direct speech. Articles may not contain any new analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to reach or imply a conclusion not clearly stated by the sources themselves. Where institutionally published materials like a finding aid, exhibition catalog, or web resources created by your institution represent original scholarship, they may be cited on Wikipedia, but they must go along with an additional verifiable sources and cannot be used as the sole type of reference on a Wikipedia articles.

What happens when someone is ‘caught’ doing conflict-of-interest editing? What are the implications and the process of resolution?[edit]

Conflict-of-Interest editing has different import when it is done by a new Wikipedia editor, as opposed to a more seasoned Wikipedia editor, and partly because there is disagreement among the community about Conflict-of-interest editing. Seasoned Wikipedia editors are expected to have a working familiarity with the core-content policies, and to also have a workflow that includes looking up best practices There is no one, canned response or set of sanctions for Conflict-of-interest editing, and conflict-of-interest are more often than not resolved at the discussion level on Wikipedia talk pages, rather than at the public level.

Employing a Wikipedian-in-Residence or hosting public Wikipedia events at your institution will increase the scrutiny of your institution’s edits by the Wikipedia community. Policies regarding resolving conduct during disputes and resolving COI disputes: Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:No personal attacks, Wikipedia:Harassment and Wikipedia:Dispute resolution (many more also available)

What is the Wikimedia Foundation’s stance on conflict of interest editing?[edit]

Best practices[edit]

  • Disclose your affiliation with your institution name on your Wikipedia user page before editing. (The user page can be found in the top right corner of any Wikipedia page and can be edited like a regular article).
  • If you edit articles about your institution name as an institution, other Wikipedia users may perceive a Conflict of Interest. Simple factual changes (e.g.: personnel updates or outdated statistics) may likely be made without raising eyebrows, but more substantive changes should be proposed with a critical eye towards a potential Conflict of Interest. Such articles should be edited using appropriate discussion pages, and encouraging feedback from other Wikipedia editors.
  • Additions to articles must be verifiable. This means that independent media or academic secondary sources should be cited whenever possible. Where your institution name -published literature or web pages represent original scholarship, they may be cited, but they must go along with an additional verifiable source to back up this information.
  • When editing articles, always maintain the impartial voice. You are writing an encyclopedia, not speaking for your institution name.