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.

Policies and guidelines[edit]

Per the WP:PAID policy, if you are being paid for your contributions to Wikipedia, you must declare who is paying you, who the client is, and any other relevant role or relationship. This is required by the Wikimedia Foundation's terms of use and by Wikipedia policy. You should do this on your user page, on the article talk page using the {{connected contributor (paid)}} template, and during any discussion about the topic elsewhere. You can also make a statement in the edit summary of any paid contribution.

Per the WP:COI guideline, you should not directly edit mainspace; instead you should post content proposals on the Talk pages of existing articles (with disclosure), and you should put new articles through WP:AFC (with disclosure) -- in each case, so that the content can be reviewed with your specific COI in mind, prior to the content being published.

Per the COI guideline, paid editors must respect the volunteer nature of the project and keep discussions concise.

And you are still obligated to follow all the content and behavior policies. Just disclosing and not editing directly, is not enough. You cannot be present at an article only to advocate for your client - you remain obligated to follow WP:PROMO, WP:NPOV, and the rest of the policies and guidelines.

Why is this done?[edit]

Love of money has been said to be "the root of all evil"

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[edit]

Paid editing is generally frowned upon in the community. There are also some editors who very strongly disapprove of paid editing, and others who do not care about it and focus only content.

But please be aware that the general sentiment is uncomfortable with paid editing, at best. It is tolerated. Rightly or wrongly, paid editors are often viewed with suspicion or even hostility by many members of the Wikipedia community. An established editor who makes the decision to edit articles for pay can expect to face a negative reaction once that is disclosed by the editor or by others.

Community trust[edit]

While there is no community policy on retaining advanced user rights while editing for pay, retaining some of those rights after you start editing for pay, or trying to obtain them if you already edit for pay, may be controversial, especially if those permissions involve new content such as the autopatrolled and new page reviewer user groups[1] or the ability to delete pages, as administrators can do.

Examples of people in positions of trust who received money for editing Wikipedia, which in turn generated controversy within Wikipedia and in the media, have included the Gibraltarpedia incident involving a trustee of WMF UK who used Wikipedia itself and WP:GLAM for public relations, and the Wifione matter, which involved an administrator. The community has debated whether administrators should be formally barred from editing for pay at least twice (once in 2015 and again in 2017), and has failed to reach consensus on this.

Real life consequences[edit]

Please keep in mind that WP:Wikipedia is in the real world. To the extent you have disclosed your real world identity, the controversies around paid editing in Wikipedia may attach to you. (Your identity remains strictly protected by WP:OUTING, just as everyone's is). Likewise, the reputation of your client may be affected. If you are not aware of it, please do see the article Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia, which describes coverage in the media of people and companies who tried to use Wikipedia to manage their reputations.

Please also be aware that paid editors sometimes don't get paid. This is a risk all freelancers run, of course.

Disruptive behavior[edit]

While editors who take pay (and other conflicted editors) can provide useful content, their behavior tends to become disruptive, since they are driven by their external interests to get the content they want into WP, and opposition to that effort feels worse than it would usually. You might find yourself acting badly in ways that would surprise even you, if you were not the person actually in the conflicted situation. Conflict of interest does this to people, without them being aware of it. So it is not just content that tends to gets skewed, but behavior as well. If you decide to edit for pay, please try to be extra self-aware and to be mindful of how you are dealing with other people.

If you do it, here is some advice[edit]

  1. 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).
  2. Do not sign a non-disclosure agreement or work through a website that requires non-disclosure. Disclosure of your employer, client and affiliations is mandatory and you are prohibited from editing if you can't disclose these.
  3. Announce your intentions. See the recommendations in the Conflict of Interest guideline.


Things to note[edit]

Transparency[edit]

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 and contractors[edit]

  • There is no difference between an employee and a contractor. 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 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.
See Vonage (talk) for an example of stealth COI edits, detected by a Reddit reader.[2]

Public relations people are paid editors[edit]

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[edit]

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).

See SPI RRIESQ and Talk:Laura Kightlinger

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wikipedia talk:New pages patrol/Reviewers, Conflict of Interest-of a different kind
  2. ^ "Did Vonage try to sterilize its Wikipedia article?". r/Wikipedia. Reddit. Retrieved July 9, 2015.