Wikipedia:Paid editing (guideline)

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This was a proposed guideline, for the failed policy proposal see Wikipedia:Paid editing (policy).
For the Wikipedia and Wikimedia policy on paid editing, see WMF:Terms of Use.

Paid editing is editing Wikipedia in return for payment. Although there may be some forms of compensation which are generally acceptable, such as the Wikipedia reward board, there are other forms which are considered unacceptable. Exceptions such as The Google Medicine project should be seen as community sanctioned.

Wikipedia utilizes consensus to build and maintain the project. Advocacy and conflict of interest editing, is considered against consensus and may result in blocks and even banning from Wikipedia. Acknowledging that it is hard to tell if an editor is "paid" or not, a consistent discussion point is that generally Wikipedia should avoid encouraging paid editing. A don't ask don't tell approach is often employed for editors who are otherwise not causing problems. Unless an editor discloses that they are paid, good faith assumptions erode when handling potential problems with their editing or behavior.

Background[edit]

Paid editing issues remain subject to divided discussions, particularly an extensive community-wide request for comment in June 2009. Some users feel that forms of paid editing have always taken place and remain acceptable if the contributions align with Wikipedia's policies and guidelines on content and contributing. Other users support forbidding paid editing altogether, based on the belief that it invites biased contributions and creates more work for the project than it saves. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has previously blocked editors,[1] and stated his support for blocking editors who set up an editing service. He added that people wishing to offer their writing and research skills should publish their work elsewhere, and freely license the work allowing Wikipedians to add it as they deemed appropriate.

What is paid editing?[edit]

Paid editing, broadly construed, is any editing where an editor is being compensated in some way, e.g. employees and contractors for money, students earning a grade and course credit such as Wikipedia:School and university projects, recognition from social and business associates, Wikipedians at Wikipedia:Bounty board, in-trade compensation, etc. The issues of paid editing tend to focus on the problems rather than any benefits, if someone makes constructive contributions the edits will likely be kept regardless if the editor is seen as being "paid." Edits which introduce bias, unverifiable claims, as well as remove notable and sourced critical content will likely be reverted.

There is stated opposition to Wikipedians setting up an "editing service" and there has traditionally been similar concerns about companies who advertise for someone to write an article about them on Wikipedia. There is also general opposition to promotional editing of any kind. However efforts to ban the practice are seen as driving some editors underground rather than stopping it.[2] Practical methods to prohibit promotional efforts, like adding promotional links to a Spam blacklist, do not effectively address all advertorial content which often has to handled case-by-case as some of the edits are supported in policy as notable subjects with verifiable claims in reliable sources.[3] This material may have to be fixed instead. In the community RfC a view held by several editors and articulated by iridescent's statement maintained that if paid editing was out in the open, then the usual editing processes would take care of anything egregious.[4]

Advocacy and conflict of interest[edit]

Advocacy

Any form of advocacy (that is, any contribution or edit to Wikipedia content that advocates a point of view) is forbidden by WP:NPOV. Significant information and widely held opinions that are documented in reliable sources which are contrary to your point of view or business interests must be included. Wales stated that he felt paid advocates should contribute to articles by way of the articles' talkpages.

Conflict of interest

The guideline on conflicts of interest (COI) must be observed at all times. Where advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest. When someone is being compensated, the integrity of the work, including the likelihood the content remains neutral toward those who are doing the compensating, is reasonably considered to be compromised. Editors with COIs are strongly encouraged to declare their interests, both on their user pages and on the talk page of any article they edit, particularly if those edits may be contested. Misuse of administrator tools to make COI edits is considered a gross violation of community trust. (See also Wikipedia:Administrator Code of Conduct.)

Policies that are believed germane to paid editing most likely to lead to problems include:

  • Articles are not owned: No editor has more rights to determine the content of an article than any other. Other editors will edit the content mercilessly and are encouraged to do so. The paid editor has the same rights and obligations as any other editor in such cases.
  • Neutral point of view: Wikipedia aims to establish a neutral point of view. For example, an editor is paid to write an article which is favorable about the commissioner. Other editors add notable criticism and remove WP:Puffery to ensure we present the subject neutrally.

Advice[edit]

If you are engaging in paid editing or dealing with what might be considered a paid editing situation, please keep the following advice in mind:

  • Paid editors are encouraged to create a user account on Wikipedia, and retain this over time, even if not all their editing is received positively. This helps you to build an accurate reputation, and helps other editors to scrutinize your contributions overall. The use of multiple accounts to avoid scrutiny is not permitted. If you do register multiple accounts, make links between them on each of your user pages.
  • All content is edited mercilessly, sometimes very quickly. Make sure your employer(s) understand this in advance. If you create an article that is not in compliance with Wikipedia's policies on notability and reliable sourcing it will likely be deleted. Do not game the system to prevent this.
  • Do not copy material verbatim from an employer's website or publications, unless they have donated the material as described at Wikipedia:Donating copyrighted materials. Simply telling you that you can use it is not sufficient to comply with Wikipedia's legal requirements. You can use those as self-published sources if you attribute them accurately.
  • Do not submit to Wikipedia any newly written materials that are a work for hire with copyright owned by the person or company paying you, unless that copyright owner has specifically granted permission for the material under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and that grant is confirmed through the OTRS process. This issue can apply to independent contractors, as well as to employees, and the legal issue will also vary by jurisdiction.

If you are uncertain about whether your contribution is appropriate, you can begin by creating the article as a user subpage. To do this, visit your user page and then add to the URL a slash ("/") followed by the name of the subpage (alternatively click here). You can then request feedback on your subpage from more experienced users before using the "Move" feature to move it to its correct title.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 2009, following discussions unrelated to paid editing, Wales decided to give up the use of the block tool permanently. Other administrators may still block editors they feel are causing problems.
  2. ^ Driving paid editors, advocates and paid editing services underground has been mentioned in relation to both the MyWikiBiz case and the 2009 Arbcomm case regarding the dysopped admin; in each case the editors had set up a paid editing service offsite and in each case some of the content was kept. The community RfC and other discussions including a Seattle meet-up in 2006 also spoke about driving editors underground. "I will say that an outright banning of paid editing wouldn't stop it, but only drive it further underground.", "Driving it underground is sufficient. What I don't want to see are people advertising their services to clients on the web, and us accepting that."
    After the September 2006 Seattle Meetup they reported, The first lengthy discussion was about linkspam, paid editing, and public relations flacks. There was a general sense the Wikipedia is attempting a "Just Say No" policy and that, like the U.S. government War on Drugs, it isn't working. While there was no love of public relations flacking, the general sense was that efforts to ban it merely drive it underground, and that we need to have some way for people to participate openly.
  3. ^ Use common sense to see if a company, product, website, etc. meets our general notability guidelines, if not look to using a speedy deletion, prod or deletion process. If an article is copied from a website see WP:Copyvio.
  4. ^ Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Paid editing; started 9 June 2009; from the summary – the opening view was that motivation for editing is not important, it is the end result of that editing – the content – that matters. They asserted that if the content is policy compliant, there shouldn't be a problem, and this viewpoint received 102 support votes, the most of any statement. While there were few other statements directly in favour of paid editing, iridescent felt allowing it would be a net positive because a declaration of intent would reveal potential bias; pfctdayelise pointed out that the German Wikipedia had allowed paid editing; David Shankbone said that existing policies take care of conflict of interest issues.
    iridescent stated that allowing paid editors to edit openly is a net positive. They felt band articles are already added by fans, corporate article by employees; politician article by supporters, etc. [ ... ] someone openly admitting that they're editing for profit is someone making their prejudice clear. [ ... ] Ten thousand active editors hopefully provides a bulwark against bias.

External links[edit]