Wikipedia:Paid editing (essay)
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In paid editing, an editor is given consideration (usually money) in exchange for creating or editing a Wikipedia article for an individual or entity. The goal of this essay is to provide advice on what to do when it comes to Paid Editing & Wikipedia.
Paid editing is not currently prohibited on Wikipedia. The community has, to date, attempted twice to ban the practice, with the outcome twice being no consensus. It has, however, been made by consensus that editors who are paid represent a clear conflict-of-interest and are strongly encouraged to state this on the Conflict of Interest Noticeboard what articles they are being paid to edit and declare whom they are working for before doing so. Failure to do so may result in disputes with established editors and the Wikipedia community. Depending on the situation's severity, an editor's privilege to edit Wikipedia may be subject to sanctions for both the editor and their client.
- See what happened to Scientology.
Why is this done?
Corporations and certain individuals have special interest in Wikipedia for its marketability and popularity. SEOs, PR, & marketers love Wikipedia because on major search engines, it is usually (if not always) on the first page of a search, and they want to exploit that. They think that they can advertise on Wikipedia and believe that Wikipedia is no different than Facebook or Twitter. Of course, this is what Wikipedia is not, but more often than not they don't understand that there are rules and policies that Wikipedia has. They just fly by the notion that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
Editors are usually employed either because the client or entity does not know how to edit Wikipedia, or need experienced editors to push their POV without scrutiny. Although, on the other hand, paid editing has been said to encourage people to edit pages that otherwise would be ignored.
Why you shouldn't do it
Paid editing is generally frowned upon in the community. It creates an air of distrust and fear of an editor who will do anything to prevent the article being reverted to its original state, or being deleted by AfD to protect their agreed payment.
Some tactics used by paid editors not getting their way include the following: disruption, personal attacks against opposing editors, attempting to use made-up words or Corp-speak to confuse editors away from the problem, and gaming the system.
Real life consequences
In real life, you run the risk of being scammed, and not seeing a cent. You also risk other editors giving you a hard time because they cannot bring themselves to trust you. Good faith is only as good as the plausibility that you might have made a bad error. You must remember that Wikipedia has the goal of being an unbiased free encyclopedia of human knowledge. Not company Xyz's free advertising space creating fake hype for product 123. Also, due to the nature of the wiki software, what you do and say here on Wikipedia remains forever. Not something you exactly want when someone decides to use their favorite search engine to investigate you or your client's company.
- See WP:ADVERT
If you do it, here is some advice
- Find out who specifically you are working for. Ask for the name of the individual, the name of the company he/she works for (if applicable), and what articles he/she wants you to edit/create. Ask if this individual is a registered user on Wikipedia, if so, make note (for compliance with wp:OUT and wp:COI purposes).
- Announce your intentions. See the recommendations in the Conflict of Interest guideline.
- Build your article in a subpage of your username page. During this time, please address any questions/concerns posed at the talk pages and COIN, the COI noticeboard.
- When your sandbox is complete, move it to a subpage of WP:Articles for creation, and request review.
Things to note
We here at Wikipedia like transparency, honesty, and a neutral point of view. Here are some red flags to watch out for. If your contact --
- does not want to be exposed, or
- wants to forego all the procedures listed above, or
- offers you a page created by them for you to place without editing anything
-- do not accept the job. Instead, be a good editor and report at WP:ANI, and at the respective talk pages of article(s) in question, that someone is attempting to hire you for nontransparent editing. By doing this, you deter the shady individual or entity and help promote an unbiased and credible encyclopedia.
Employees are paid editors
- There is no difference between a paid editor and an employee. Contract or salary, full or part-time, if your job includes editing Wikipedia, you are a paid editor. If you are an employee editing your company's specific pages on behalf of your employer, you are strongly discouraged from editing those pages, because it is easy to be biased about your employer. However, you may ask editors at WP:EAR, or make edit requests at the article talk pages, to have others place edits on your behalf.
Public relations people are paid editors
Paid is paid. There have been efforts to establish a public-relations code of conduct for editing at Wikipedia.[Link?] While some PR staff or agencies may act in good faith, by disclosing their COI at their User or User talk pages, and discussing changes at specific articles, others have steadfastly failed to do so.
Lawyers are paid editors
Paid is paid. It is unknown if lawyers or law practices have even been approached about, or have discussed, a code of conduct for editing Wikipedia (efforts to reach out to attorneys have failed).
- Wikipedia:Paid editing (guideline), a failed proposal
- Wikipedia:Paid editing (policy), a failed proposal
- Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Paid editing, a 2009 RFC currently inactive, no consensus.
- Wikipedia:Paid advocacy, a proposed policy
- Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors, an essay about students who are compensated with grades for editing