Wikipedia talk:No paid advocacy/Archive 3

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RfC: Should WP:BRIGHTLINE become policy?

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Reading through the comments, there appears to be a consensus not to promote this to policy as it is written at the moment. While many of the editors involved in the discussion agree that this is an issue, many have expressed concerns over the (fairly) broad wording of this policy. In addition, many users have expressed concerns over the difficulty which will be faced over enforcing this, and that COI editing will be driven underground by the changes. The discussion clearly shows that SPA's and other paid editing is an issue, with most of the support !votes being as this is a problem that needs a solution, but, judging by the below consensus, this policy does not have the communities backing to solve the issue (non-admin closure)--Mdann52talk to me! 14:09, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Should we promote this proposal (Wikipedia:No paid advocacy), that paid advocacy is not allowed, to policy? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:03, 14 October 2013 (UTC)


Can the section title please be changed? It isn't about WP:BRIGHTLINE, which is a shortcut that leads to this page at the moment for some possibly not very good reason, but about WP:No paid advocacy. Or would this mess up the RFC system? W. P. Uzer (talk) 11:21, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I think we should stop using "brightline" altogether regarding this proposal. It's obtuse, confusing, and uninformative. Bright-line rule is, I suppose, rather obscure technical law lingo. I'm a well-read, educated person and I've never seven heard of it until now. Wikipedia needs less jargon amongst editors, not more. Jason Quinn (talk) 22:34, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree there's confusion. An editor on Jimbo's page referred to a simple "bright line rule." but didn't mean Wikipedia:Bright lines. Instead meant this proposal, which confusingly has a redirect from WP:BRIGHTLINE. I suggest that the redirect be removed, partly due to confusion, and partly because the proposed rule, while it deserves serious consideration, is not a Bright-line rule.--SPhilbrick(Talk) 11:58, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Agree that a prohibition on editing by paid advocates isn't a bright-line rule NOW. Perhaps it ought to be. However, I see some burgeoning potential issues - such as determining who is a "paid advocate." At present, craigslist abounds with "writing gigs" which are nothing but solicitations to enter positive comments in electronic media on broadcast music (increasing the "buzz" on new music releases for obvious reasons to the marketers of the music) and other commercial ventures. But Wikipedia has enough to cope with without gaining an undeserved reputation as a place where editors can shill for commercial ventures. I'd like to see proven cases of paid advocacy added to the Bright-Lines as a cause for banning an editor. I've changed my mind on that. Unpaid advocacy is a worse problem here and the proposed policy doesn't address it at all. Further, advocacy of any sort as a motive doesn't really address edit quality. Only application of existing Wikipedia guidelines does that.loupgarous (talk) 20:22, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I've gone ahead a removed WP:BRIGHTLINE as a listed shortcut for the proposal as per these comments and others below here. Jason Quinn (talk) 22:30, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Survey

  • Support I think this would help reduce the view held by some that wikipedia was open to abuse Franko2nd (talk) 17:20, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Bilbobag (talk) 16:12, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support DamSom (talk) 21:57, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support as nominator. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:04, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose The methods that allow someone with a COI to request an edit are broken and backlogged 6+ months, and AFC is a mess too. In the absence of effective ways to work within the proposed rule, making it a policy will just lead COI to violate it, and once they do, why abide by all our other policies if we are going to block them anyway. If anything is to be done, we need to deal with the issue in a comprehensive fashion, dealing both with reducing Bias and other problems that COI editors can introduce, while simultaneously making it more attractive for those COI editors to work with us, not against us. Monty845 17:11, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    To be fair, a good one out of five COI editors that pop up on IRC in #wikipedia-en-help are unhelpable due to having a serious conflict of interest; the rest are rather more reasonable or are unhelpable for other reasons beyond their control (i.e. language barriers). Also, the same ratio of COI editors actually read Wikipedia's policies, so even the ones who are helpable often ask why their promo piece has been denied at AfC. —Jeremy v^_^v Bori! 14:28, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support This is a very minimalist policy, and I understand why that is. But I think that it may be too minimalist, especially in that it does not address AfCs, fails to take into consideration COI editors on talk pages sometimes functioning as de facto "managing editors" or straw bosses, cracking the whip in their articles. It contains no method of disclosing to readers when articles contain content that originated from the subject of the article. Given the gravity of the situation, and the resistance to even cosmetic change from the "community," I wonder if this really is a situation in which Jimbo Wales or the WMF needs to take the lead. After all, it is their brand whose value that has been harmed by COI editors. Given the utter absence of understanding of this issue by Wikipedia volunteers, I fear that there is really no other recourse as a practical matter. They need to step up to the plate and come out from under their desks. If they don't, then they are the ones harmed, their reputations are hurt, the reputation of their product put in harm's way. As a person who is not paid, as just a hobbyist, I can't see myself getting worked up into a lather when the proprietor of a business, even a nonprofit one, allows his property to be degraded as has happened with Wikipedia and its persistent COI problem. Coretheapple (talk) 17:34, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support many people claim that our policy regarding public relations on Wikipedia is confusing. This should solve that problem. In reality the Bright Line rule has been accepted for a long time now - practice sometimes outruns actual written policy here - but we just need to officially confirm that this is policy. The content shouldn't be contentious - advocacy is prohibited, so paid advocacy should obviously also be prohibited. This just gives a method that PR firms can use to avoid the problems posed by the already prohibited paid advocacy. I would just like to see a clean up-or-down decision on the Bright Line rule, there should not be anything difficult about it.
(EC) with the comment immediately above. Let's please keep this to one issue at a time. If I read your opinion correctly, I'll suggest you put in "Support" for this and take up other issues later. Let's make this clean and simple. Smallbones(smalltalk) 17:44, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
On the contrary, I'm leaning to oppose, as this rule, if adopted, would implicitly "legalize" practices that are just as bad as the ones prohibited here. Coretheapple (talk) 19:16, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Core, I know that the kind of obeying-the-COI-guideline editing that goes on (for example at BP) deeply disturbs you, and that you would like to see it banned. I respect that. But I cannot imagine that you actually oppose Brightline, per se! If you oppose this, it would be a tragic example of an effort "eating itself" (of "the left will eat itself" fame). Getting a core financial COI policy into place is essential for Wikipedia. It would also provide a base camp for your Everest-sized goals. Jytdog (talk) 19:30, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
They really aren't , compared to the real world. Wikipedia is way behind on COI and, especially, in disclosure to readers that articles contain content suggested or written by the subjects of articles. The second sentence of this proposal is what worries me. If if were removed I wouldn't object to it, but it specifically sanctions practices that can be and are abused. Coretheapple (talk) 19:49, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Despite my misgivings I've changed this to "support," as plainly the culture here is so welcoming to COI that this very modest proposal hasn't a chance anyway. Coretheapple (talk) 21:32, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I think that minimal is probably sufficient, because paid editing per se is not against policy, only subversive paid editing. Accordingly, what seems to be needed immediately is a basic framework, which can be built upon later, as appropriate. As it stands, this joker at Wikiexperts is just acting like he can ride in on a moral high horse and try to misappropriate "the project" for his (and his benefactors) private ends.--Ubikwit ?? ??/?? 17:52, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - Wikipedia needs a clear, written policy on financial COI, like every other major non-profit. We owe it to to ourselves, and to the public that trusts us, to get this done. The proposed policy is concise and focused on the key issue, and is our practice anyway, and should be accepted as is. Jytdog (talk) 18:52, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • This is an enormous change, but I think it is one we need to make if Wikipedia is to adjust to the realities of being a Top 10 website. Support. AGK [•] 19:10, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Very strong support. I actually had a little bit of a difficult time with this at first. But I have to admit that Wikipedia has a number of articles with paid promotional advocacy in very unusual places that, to me, seem rather blatant in their promotional tone and content. We all seem to focus on the major corporations and their marketing firms and departments, but forget that even individuals with smaller monetary gain are at work on Wikipedia. One city article I work on has a major contributor that has managed to stick content about their local theater in almost every single section of the page. Why a city article would need a promotional image of a theatrical production uploaded by the director/writer of the production and executive director of the theatre (as well as it's founder) seems to me to be a valid example of paid advocacy. Attempting to do anything about it becomes nothing but accusations against those that bring up their COI and battleground behavior to keep their promotional content in. As Wikipedians, many of us can recognize in the history of many articles where actors, politicians and even just everyday people, attempt to add content that they have either gained financially from or are attempting to. We have debated the issue of having been an employee verses being currently employed by a company and whether that constitutes paid advocacy and I believe the consensus is that, being paid by a company to work in unrelated areas that are not related to publicity, promotion or PR do not constitute paid advocacy or paid editing. University professors are paid by their college for their expertise, but are not paid to promote the university or themselves by editing on ancient history (using your own reference is a different subject) or other academic subjects and does not constitute paid or advocacy editing. However, being on a politician's campaign staff and editing that persons Wikipedia article does. Aside from the BP controversy, I think this "Brightline" policy is something that would indeed help just by the community putting their foot down and just doing what we know is best for the overall project. I strongly believe this is one very good step forward.--Mark Miller (talk) 19:20, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: For the record, this would also remove all professional scholars from editing in their field of expertise. Lawyers who cannot write about laws. Doctors who cannot write about diseases (most of our mental health articles are curated in part by psychiatrists and psychologists). Economists who cannot write about economics. Mathematicians who cannot write about math. As importantly, I do not see any significant difference between paid advocacy and unpaid advocacy: That is, advocacy is advocacy, whether or not there is a dollar value attached. This proposal ignores the advocacy that is much, much more common, and has in fact been the subject of innumerable disputes on this project, far more so than paid advocacy has been. This essentially says "we're gonna write whatever you want about you, Big Company/Major Institution/Famous Person, and there's not a darn thing you can do about it, because we also control the mechanisms through which you could complain." Meanwhile, we fail to actually curate the existing articles and ensure that they are factually accurate and balanced; in fact, when people try to balance them, they are often driven off by those who advocate for their personal position to take primacy. Advocacy is advocacy, and the failure of this policy to address the very entrenched biases that we already know have caused disruption in this project practically since its inception, while worrying about a small number of areas where a better solution would be more stringent notability policies and improved editing overall, guarantees that we've failed to address the issue. Risker (talk) 19:29, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I fail to see how this would "remove all professional scholars from editing in their field of expertise". I myself am a scientist, please explain what in the proposed policy would prevent me from editing physics or astronomy related articles? Regards. Gaba (talk) 20:18, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Risker, the proposal wouldn't prohibit a professional from editing in the area of his/her expertise. It would prohibit a scientist working for Merck from inserting promotional material about Merck's products (for example), but that's a much narrower restriction. Also, let's keep in mind that this proposal isn't intended to be a complete one-stop solution to the problem of inappropriate advocacy. It addresses one very specific and pernicious type of advocacy (paid editing). We still have a lot of work to do on tendentious and agenda-driven editing across the board. But it seems unrealistic to discard this proposal for failing to address all forms of biased editing. MastCell Talk 20:47, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
This proposal assumes that there is a bright line, but there isn't. The line is blury, and many editors will have a hard time understanding where it lies. Moreover, it is very, very unethical to ban somebody from using talk pages to request help for a client. If Wikipedia has diddled a person or a company, the employees of agents of that company have every right to point out errors and request help, and even to make corrections themselves if there is an egregious policy violation (such as vandalism of an article). Jehochman Talk 20:55, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
What is the difference between "promotional material about Merck's products" and "a more recent review article, that happens to be more favorable towards Merck's products than the current sources in the article"? Actually, pharma companies are massively regulated, and many of their legal departments simply forbid directly editing the articles, so let's take a more plausible question: What's the difference between "promotional material about Nike's products" and "a scholarly article about Nike's products, that happens to be more favorable than the current sources in the article"? Or "promotional material about 'my' field of psychology" and "scholarly articles about 'my' field of psychology"?
On the one hand, I admire the concision of this page. On the other hand, a somewhat longer "does not include..." list might be useful. For example, it's not clear whether "representative" means (more or less) official representatives, or if even student interns, editing without permission or even knowledge of their employers, are included. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:03, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I actually disagree with you, MastCell. It is very, very difficult to draw the line here. For example: Psychologists charge their clients directly here in Canada (i.e., they are not covered by our government health insurance). It is very easy to make the case that they are writing for their own personal financial benefit if they write about certain theories or treatments in which they are expert. We ourselves use Google Scholar to measure the impact of scholarly works, so working to get one's own studies mentioned on-wiki, whether by modifying or writing the article and adding it directly, or alternately by making it incredibly easy for someone else to add it once the article is up....well, there's at least a reputational benefit, and possibly a financial one if it leads to more grants for further studies. The scholar whose graduate degree depends upon the articles created for Wikipedia, and the students whose Psychology 101 marks are dependent on making xxx edits and adding yyy characters of content have a genuine, financially-based conflict of interest; failing means taking a hit in their longterm career trajectory. Meanwhile, people advocating that company xxx is [insert grossly negative consumer position here, linked to news article, and given same weight as latest financial data] are treated with more respect than people who try to provide balancing factual information because the latter are presumed to be paid advocates.

One of the issues here is our incredibly low notability standards. Much of this would not be an issue if we were to look to ourselves and stop acting as if almost everything is notable simply because it got a mention somewhere online. We wouldn't even need to worry about a huge number of these articles if we had reasonable notability standards and if we didn't have to send those articles through a rigorous and lengthy deletion process. We refuse to deal with non-financial COI and advocacy amongst our own editorship while whining endlessly that Company XX has come here and had the nerve to suggest we've got something wrong. Sorry, but I think we need to clean up our own act before we create policies that will be used primarily to gain advantage against opponents in ideologically-based editing. It looks good on paper, but the actual words don't say what you think they say. Risker (talk) 23:46, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

This kind of 'nothings perfect, so we should do nothing' is plain Wikipedia nihilism. Financial COI is a well known, well defined concept in every reputable reference source, and profit and non-profit organization, and has been so much longer than Wikipedia has been around. Financial COI does not extend forever. Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:06, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
This is not the solution, though. A policy against advocacy may be a solution, and advocacy without financial incentive is a much, much more serious problem in this project. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Risker (talkcontribs) 17:36, 15 October 2013‎
Don't know who wrote this but your statement seems out-of-touch with reality, people regularly pay quite allot for what they want advocated. Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:01, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
User:Risker for what it is worth, my read is that the proposed policy would also prevent an employee of Greenpeace from editing articles related to global warming. I think your example about an academic scientist writing about his own work and citing his own publication is interesting and difficult. (disclosure, I work at a university). I agree with you, that citing one's own published research on Wikipedia would cross a line. And I am OK with that that behavior would be barred. WIth respect to a psychiatrist (or other professional who has their own shingle out) writing about their field in general or even about an area in which they are a specialist... I have no problem with that, especially if they don't try to edit based on their own authority, but instead follow RS rules etc. and not cite their own work. The chance that somebody living nearby would solicit them is pretty darn low. Of course, using his/her User page or Talk pages to solicit business would be way over the line. And if somebody started trumpeting their Wikipedia work in ads, I guess we would have to come up with some way to deal with that... this is really a simple thing - basic governance that Wikipedia sorely lacks. Another thing - having this policy in place, would dry up Wiki-PR's business in a heartbeat. They would actually have to lie to tell potential clients that what they do is OK. That does not get you far in the business world. Right now, they can honestly say that no policy bars their work. Jytdog (talk) 01:18, 15 October 2013 (UTC)(clarify Jytdog (talk) 10:31, 15 October 2013 (UTC))
It wouldn't do a darn thing to Wiki-pr's business, and I have no idea why anyone would think that. As long as a person or organization can see that there's an article about their rival or some other similarly (non)notable organization, there is motivation for them to get someone to write them a Wikipedia article. But this will be used against people trying to edit legitimately (I can already see "obvious PR person, ban" when someone tries to remove negative bias over the objections of someone who's been around longer), and it will chill the editing from people who actually are experts in topic areas, where someone could make a case that they might possibly financially benefit. Many of the "scientific" topics that have articles on Wikipedia have comparatively few qualified practitioners or experts, and the increased respectability of their topic of expertise in itself can have a positive financial impact for them. More concerning to me is the fact that we've long tolerated biased and COI editing from our "amateur" editors, and unless they become so overwhelmingly blatant that they wind up at Arbcom, almost nothing is done about them. I can recall a situation where dozens of articles were created or edited in a biased means simply to harm the reputations of the subjects of the articles, in relation to what is a well-known contentious scientific topic. That occurred years ago, and yet to this day many of those articles remain heavily biased. The editors who created/expanded the articles included longtime administrators; the person who raised the alarm was an academic who didn't know his way around Wikipedia. Guess who got banned? We still see the use of categories to indirectly connect article subjects to subject areas when there is nothing in the article to support such a connection; those are added only by experienced Wikipedians. The basic concept behind this has been used on at least four occasions that I'm aware of to try to remove editors with knowledge and expertise in a topic because it goes against the bias of other editors, to the point that they were actively surfing the web to "prove" that someone might possibly be somehow "making money". This is handing a tool to people who have the time, energy, and tenacity to ride their hobby horses, but will have almost no effect on biased editing for money. Risker (talk) 01:55, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, can you provide some example where everyday companies (leave your Pfizers and Monsantos out of it for now) spend money in projects that are as blatantly unethical and untenable over the long term - especially PR projects - as paid articles in Wikipedia would be under this policy? It would just be a waste of money and it would harm your reputation. I don't understand your argument. And you didn't touch on what I said, that Wiki-PR would have to lie - in public and continuously- to say that they can deliver what they promise. Under common law they would become liable for fraud, in any case. (I paid you for my article, where is it? Um, it was deleted because I am a paid advocate and that is not allowed in Wikipedia. Oh, so you misrepresented what you could do for me - give me my money back.) They would be out of business in a heartbeat. (btw, I do hear you - very clearly - about the problems with tendentious editors and incompetent editors... and the worst, incompetendentious editors. I've had to deal with some of them myself and it is hard and ugly. But I don't understand why you bring that up, here. This policy is not meant to address that, so why derail this on that account?) Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 02:32, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
We have no way of knowing who is getting paid, who is carrying out their advocacy based on personal philosophy, who is doing it to troll, and who is doing it because they saw something they thought was ridiculous in an article and is trying to fix it, and just becomes subsumed in the wikiculture like the thousands of other editors who came before. Focus on neutrality and notability of content, our core encyclopedic values, and it turns out that money isn't the factor here. It's quality of content. Risker (talk) 17:36, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Risker. While I appreciate you indenting your reply under mine, you didn't respond to anything I said, but instead brought up new objections. Difficult to have a discussion this way. Jytdog (talk) 22:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Risker is speaking in a very trout-worthy manner, scaring us all. "Mathematicians who cannot write about math." Really? Doc talk 07:56, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I quite agree. It seems like textbook reductio ad absurdum. AGK [•] 10:45, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
──────────@Jehochman: I am given to understand that people or organisations affected by this policy would be fully entitled to contribute to the article talk page. AGK [•] 10:45, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I'm new to this issue, but so far I've been unpersuaded that the ill (COI editing) is worse than any supposed cure in place or proposed, including this one. WP editing is inherently a collaboration of people with broad variety of interests and biases. Some percentage of those are paid. So what? Yes, it's not ideal, but I believe our policies and guidelines regarding content mitigate any potential significant harm to WP. With proper attention to proper sourcing and notability, it shouldn't matter whether the editors are paid or not, or what their biases may be. As long as the "voice" is the NPOV, we're good. --B2C 19:37, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, and I also support elaborating briefly about disclosure by adding "on their user page, and on the talk pages of each article edited" to the end of the lead paragraph. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 19:45, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, largely per Risker above. The quality of Wikipedia is till very poor in so many (especially scientific) areas, that we should welcome scholars and scientists to write about their work, rather than prohibit it. I understand where this proposal is coming from, but ignoring the fact that academics might be the most valuable contributors Wikipedia can have, is not helpful. --Reinoutr (talk) 19:59, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    • I don't follow this reasoning. Paid advocacy is not going to improve the quality of our scientific coverage. This proposal is not going to prohibit scientists in general from contributing. MastCell Talk 20:54, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    • User:Reinoutr I agree with MastCell - how do you get there? Thanks! Jytdog (talk) 01:19, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • modified support Support complete policy ban of undisclosed COIs. Explicitly disclosed COIs should be allowed to continue as per current policy. (Disclosed at the user level, and PER ARTICLE where the COI exists) Gaijin42 (talk) 20:02, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    • I think that modified support is actually oppose. I agree with with User:Gaijin42. I prefer to start with a requirement that COI is disclosed. Nereocystis (talk) 17:52, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I also largely agree with Risker on this. Besides, if such a rule were adopted, you'd just drive underground the few who are willing to disclose a COI, unless the WP:OUTING policy were also changed dramatically (abolished and witch hunts encouraged to root out the undeclared COIs). The editors most affected by this proposed ban are the ethical professionals editing in their own filed, who would indeed cease to contribute any content here. Since this bright line idea came from Jimbo's page where the current topic is now certain brand of nationalism, I really don't see you could draw bright line rule for that, even though it's just damaging to Wikipedia's credibility... No editing for anyone getting a good feeling from their edits? No edits allowed if they improve your country/ethnicity image? I think this site would be turning into Wikipediocracy really fast if this rule were adopted. Someone not using his real name (talk) 20:10, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We can require disclosure of paid editing, but we should not ban it completely. If Wikipedia writes about somebody or some organization, that person or organization has an absolute right to respond, to correct the record, to point out errors, to request help. If Wikipedia has an article about me, but I am handicapped, or don't write well in English, and I need to pay somebody to edit on my behalf to keep my bio free of slander or vandalism that could damage my reputation, would you ban that person? This proposed policy is overly simplistic because it fails to take into account the many possible different situation that could occur. If a company wants to copy edit and format their article (without introducing POV), revert vandalism, report attempts at POV pushing by "haters", why should we prohibit that? Jehochman Talk 20:27, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Existing policies on vandalism, NPOV, etc. already exist and are theoretically followed by all editors. "Hired guns" that offer their services over the internet, promising to protect one's investment for the Google hits their article will generate? A very sordid business. Doc talk 01:57, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written. Although the problem is no doubt real, the proposed phrasing is too broad and runs the risk of driving good faith editors away or underground. Being paid to write an article is one thing. Writing about things you have a financial or other stake in is quite another. We're a community of volunteers and amateurs, not a community of people ignorant of the subject. If I own a comic book I should be entitled to edit the article about the book. If I own a few shares of Apple stock, or used to work for the company (in a non-executive role, and not in PR) I should be able to edit articles about Apple products. If I am a veterinarian I should be able to write about horses. If I went to a college I should be able to edit articles pertaining to the college, even though I have a financial and personal stake in improving the reputation and awareness of that school. The anti-business sentiment that money and career make an editor suspect and corrupt the process, whereas religion, opinion, hobby, belief, or any of the myriad things that draw people to a subject do not (atheists writing articles on atheism, communists writing articles about politics, vegetarians writing about factory farming) is misguided. When a business owner, corporate shill, or other single purpose advocate writes an article out of whole cloth, it's usually obvious and we already have ways to deal with it. The more interesting question regarding what to do about paid writers and company PR departments who actually know how Wikipedia works and game it with otherwise reliably sourced, well written articles does not seem to be a huge problem (yet), but it suggests a narrower, more targeted response. - Wikidemon (talk) 20:29, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose for many of the reasons given above. The definitions in the proposed policy are too vague, and even were they not it will often be impossible to determine that advocacy is at play or to enforce the policy. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 21:21, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We can require disclosure of paid editing, but we should not ban it completely. It won't work, and trying will make things worse. Oppose the shortcut BRIGHTLINE. The proposal is not about bright lines. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:25, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose We can strongly discourage paid editing but not ban it. We should try to work with the COI editors to develop a lasting relationship, not declare all out war. KonveyorBelt 22:15, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose to "Editors with a financial conflict of interest ... must not edit affected articles directly." I saw a number of scientists who edited pages related to their work, and I am one of them (I did not receive any payment; to the contrary, editing on-wiki damaged my work because I spent too much time here). In most cases, these scientific researchers made reasonable effort to follow all policies. Sometimes, they did not, but it was very easy to fix (here is one of many examples: [1]). My very best wishes (talk) 22:21, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure I could support the starting line "Paid advocacy is not allowed...". The objective here isn't to categorically forbid a class of editors from participating here at all. However, I think we should focus on the fact that, while no editor is perfectly neutral, paid advocates have an especially strong incentive not to edit neutrally, and may in fact be forbidden to by their clients if they want to be paid. That's why we call it as we do—it's not just a WP:COI, it's a true conflict of interest. I think we should require, rather than suggest, disclosure, but if those principles are followed, it is not forbidden for the paid advocate to edit. Whether they should be forbidden to edit articles where they have a COI, or just strongly discouraged, is an open question, but in either case transparency should be mandatory. That will allow other editors to check up on it. Seraphimblade Talk to me 22:33, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose mostly per SmokeyJoe. I also echo his sentiments about the shortcut, though I think it may be appropriate if this page were to become policy. --BDD (talk) 22:46, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - As Wikidemon notes, "financial stake" is far too vague. There's also the question of enforcement. If an editor is making positive contributions to an article, then we find out he is a "stakeholder", then what? Policies should generally only prohibit things that are actually damaging. NPOV and other content policies already cover the potential damage. Or on the other hand, how is someone supposed to figure this out? Unless a user admits it, or edits from their work computer with an IP address clearly tied to the company, it's practically unprovable. So in most cases it will be unenforceable and in others we may not want to enforce it. Worse, editors who may have otherwise chosen to declare their COI may choose not to to avoid getting blocked. Mr.Z-man 23:14, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Moral support - There needs to be a no paid editing policy. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia first and foremost, not a PR platform. I don't care if they submit a perfect article, we do not need to be seen as allowing people to PR here. However, this is not the policy. ~Charmlet -talk- 23:17, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Oppose (as it stands) The problem is, how do you define "paid editing"? How do you define "PR"? If I am a Care Assistant, would I not be permitted to contribute to articles on nursing the elderly? While it is not the sort of paid editing that we are trying to knock on the head, it could be argued that a person writing anything to do about their work could run afoul of this if the definition of the rule is too vague. Likewise, if a person working for a company discovers an error or omission in an article on something the company does, or has direct experience with, would you rather the person just doesn't bother to improve/correct an article because it might be interpreted by somebody as paid editing? The current definition seems to me to be too vague. HeyRick1973 (talk) 17:25, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 1

  • Support and Broaden This isn't broad enough. All people whether paid or unpaid should avoid editing articles where they have a conflict of interest. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:22, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I've never been paid to edit Wikipedia, but I've been paid to write articles for others to publish on Wikipedia. I then took that article to DYK of my own accord because it was interesting and DYK-worthy (w/o getting paid). If this policy passes, what stops me from being punished? I've never been accused of not being WP:NPOV or posting articles that failed WP:GNG, so why shouldn't I continue to edit the way I do?--v/r - TP 23:53, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per unenforceable. NE Ent 23:57, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per SmokyJoe & NE Ent - Unless it would only ban the editors I don't like. GregJackP Boomer! 00:33, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong Support - Paid editing corrupts the neutrality of Wikipedia. Robert McClenon (talk) 00:41, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support per the fact that paying someone to edit even the most basic encyclopedic article for the greater knowledge of us all is unheard of. Paid editors are here to promote, spin and "protect" the articles they are paid to make "notable". People that engage in this behavior (like MooshiePorkFace (talk · contribs)) are simply here to corrupt this free encyclopedia. Doc talk 01:07, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose because I've seen several paid editors who have done their best to learn our ways and write articles that comply with our policies, and that's fine. Removing those just because we fear a selected group who doesn't behave that way is not something we should seek. Also, we have bigger problems than this, even when I realize that this RfC comes as a follow-up to the Morning277 drama. — ??S21 02:35, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • An example of one of those paid editors that you've seen who have changed their ways from promotion to strictly encyclopedic entries might help sway one such as me. I've never seen one that isn't here to puff up notability. But you will hopefully change my mind with an example. Doc talk 02:42, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • @Doc9871: CorporateM is one of those users, and I have been more than pleased with his attitude towards meeting our standards. — ??S21 01:26, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. As much as good faith is necessary, the simple fact is that being paid to edit can not be done in a WP:NPOV manner. If somebody is paying an editor to contribute content, then "the client's wishes" > "neutrality" simply because if the client isn't happy no pay is forthcoming. This is the elephant in the room when it comes to paid editing and paid advocacy, and it's why "edit for pay" is fundamentally and intristically incompatible with Wikipedia. - The Bushranger One ping only 03:49, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
"the simple fact is that being paid to edit can not be done in a WP:NPOV manner" There are some exceptions to that I could see being highly desirable; if large scientific institutes and museums etc hired editors to increase the coverage of science etc, I'd be all in favour of that sort of editing (of course if they edit where they have a COI there is a difference), IRWolfie- (talk) 09:52, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
...I can sort-of see your point - if, say, the Smithsonian gave a bunch of people $500, a computer, library access, and said "have at it", that would be cool, but that needs to be a "allowed with permission" sort of thing rather than "allowed by default" because, alas, even if that happened the COIPOV paid editors would outnumber them by at least 100:1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and human nature being what it is, "take out this bad content or I won't pay you what we agreed for your editing" is almost certain to always result in the "bad content" being removed. - The Bushranger One ping only 15:02, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose It is already policy that advocacy is not acceptable - see WP:NOTADVOCATE. This page is therefore redundant contrary to WP:CREEP. The page seems too obsessed with money rather than the bias which is the real problem for us. If someone can get a gig writing for Wikipedia then this is a good thing, not bad. Per Dr Johnson, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money". See also refusing to write for free. Warden (talk) 04:36, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • "If someone can get a gig writing for Wikipedia then this is a good thing, not bad." Writing what? PR bullshit is what. Doc talk 05:57, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose for a multitude of reasons. 1: It's often impossible to tell if someone is a paid editor or not. 2: It is perfectly reasonable that a company, knowing it has an employee of good standing here, instructs that editor to update their article. 3: Making this policy would require a fundamental rewrite of several other policies, which discourage paid editing, but don't come close to prohibiting it. 4: It would be much more effective for someone to be required to acknowledge that they engage in paid editing, than to blanket ban it (preferably with a notice on their user and talk pages.) They wouldn't have to disclose their clients, or even if all of their articles are paid-for or not; simply that they engage in the practice. 5: When you get long-term, good-standing editors like TParis who occasionally have, directly or indirectly, received payment for articles, you know this is a daft idea. 6: It would simply drive the smarter paid editors underground, and make them harder to track. 7: We should really deal with any abuses of Wikipedia on a case-by-case basis. Lukeno94 (tell Luke off here) 08:00, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I'll send you a check for five whole dollars to improve the most viewed yet least-referenced article on the site. What are you gonna do for that five bucks? It better be unbiased and encyclopedic things that most readers would benefit from reading. And... Begin! Doc talk 08:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Well it wasn't anything nefarious directed towards you. No implication on you. Doc talk 14:57, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't seem necessary to place a blanket ban on paid editing to implement a stronger deterrent against predatory PR operatives. Requiring disclosure and restricting the scope of activity to indirect editing, such as through Talk pages and the request edit template, should suffice. --Ubikwit ?? ??/?? 08:40, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Paid editing could actually be turned into an incentive. Articles in most need of improvement in a "drive" situation. A non-profit organization doing a fundraiser. Not a crazy concept. 1st prize gets a virtual Kewpie doll. Doc talk 08:51, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure there are editors that would love to spend the rest of their lives editing Wikipedia for pay even if it was minimum wage without benefits. It's a worthwhile, though time-consuming, endeavor. Alatari (talk) 09:26, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongest oppose - Wikipedia shouldn't be policing this when it's run by volunteers. It doesn't matter what suspected or announced COI a person has, it's the quality of their additions that matter. We shouldn't deter people being honest about this stuff or you'll quickly see specialist subjects deteriorate and stunted. It will deter editors and tell those with in depth knowledge of a topic that their input is not wanted, or worse, banned. When Wikipedia is already haemorrhaging users this just makes the problem worse and speeds up the decline. There's not a single way this can help Wikipedia except for a smaller AfC cue. Thanks ? Jenova20 (email) 09:12, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Who are the "police" here? Volunteers. Volunteers policing other volunteers. Anarchy is better for some. Doc talk 09:25, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Paid advocates don't come to wikipedia to edit specialist topics, they come to edit organisation pages and biographies to try and skew them for their clients. Many of Wikipedias best articles are in medical topics, and the star editors in that area edit for free, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:56, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Be clear and honest here, this policy change won't eliminate paid editing and COI, it will hide it. It's a deterrent to honesty and a line right through the Wikipedia slogan "The encyclopaedia that anyone can edit". Thanks ? Jenova20 (email) 11:43, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - paid advocates/editors are, by definition, in opposition to our policies on guidelines regarding neutrality and bias. GiantSnowman 10:52, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose-- There are already way too many policies. Put a few lines in COI or advocacy or something, no need for yet another policy. Lesion (talk) 10:56, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is a terrible idea. The pressure for paid advocacy, in particular the amount of money available, is simply enormous. We are not going to make it go away by banning it here. If we try, we will get secretive, fly-by-night paid advocacy, instead of honest, openly declared CoI. It will be far better for Wikipedia to have known advocates so we can check their work and keep it up to standard, than to face endless trickery and corruption from the dishonest end of the market. Disclosure is what we need, not a foolish ban. Chiswick Chap (talk) 10:56, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm here to contribute to the general knowledge of the millions of readers of the #1 free encyclopedia on the internet. On my free time, free of charge, and always according to the rules that I've learned and that are clearly outlined here. I'm an unpaid idiot, wastefully volunteering his time. My edits can be checked by anyone at any time, free of charge. How much will you pay me to edit your article? Please make it a lot. I like nice things. Doc talk 11:20, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose As I pointed out in the other vote, you can't get rid of it, all you can do is drive it underground. I'd rather find common ground on regulation.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:14, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose because the policy would depend on an editor's motivations, which are usually impossible to prove and possibly irrelevant. We should block and ban users only because of problems they have caused. If someone is doing biased editing and carries on after a warning, then block them. Whether their reason for doing so is money or some other motivation is firstly hard to prove (unless they tell us - and we shouldn't punish for disclosure), and secondly not of much practical concern to Wikipedia - it's the effects that matter. W. P. Uzer (talk) 11:17, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support First thing what came to my mind after reading about this proposal is that wikipedia will turn into a comfortable lounge for desperate SEOs... And what about 'us', the Volunteers??? Martinian Leave a message! 11:19, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
If you oppose paid advocacy then you should support the proposal for the new policy. Smallbones(smalltalk) 13:07, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, in theory, as a logical elaboration of WP:COI. How this is enforced is another matter. JNW (talk) 11:24, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Not personally a fan of paid editing, but it's not the big problem. The problem is poorly sourced articles about non-notable topics: these can and should be dealt with in the normal way. We can't close our eyes to the fact that people see a Wikipedia article as an important part of their online presence, and I don't blame people for editing the article about their own business or, if they don't feel competent to do so, employing someone else to do so. This is only a problem when such editing breaches an existing rule, in which case let's deal with it under that rule.--KorruskiTalk 11:46, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Before explaining, I actually thought this practice was already explicitly banned. But since it apparently isn't, I think it's not going to work. While I'm very sympathetic to the desire to keep someone (especially a paid "lobbyist") from pushing a slant, full disclosure is more important and easier to "police". Banning it will just drive it underground, and paid editing will still go on in secret anyway. It won't do anything to solve the problem, it'll just make it worse! Better sunlight than shadow. But thank you SlimVirgin, for bringing up something so very worthy of discussion. Hamamelis (talk) 11:54, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, as stated above, the policy is a clear extension of WP:COI. I would insert "ordinarily" into the policy - occasionally editors with COI have a valid point to make. COI-editing is rampant and threatens the reliability of Wikipedia both through through distortion of article content via WP:UNDUE. --Smokefoot (talk) 12:04, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose If they make edits that are against Wikipedia standards, then remove them and ban them, but we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt.ShotmanMaslo (talk) 11:57, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, of course. We have policies and guidelines for how articles should be written and developed. We have built up the project to focus on the content not the contributors. This idea is turning that around to imply that no matter how good the content, if the editor has a financial (why financial anyway?) connection to the topic they cannot edit. But editors with less understanding, and emotional POV issues, are free to fiddle ineptly with any articles they wish! In my experience on Wikipedia the worse behaviour conflicts and the worse POV issues involve editors with emotional COI. I don't think there were paid editors involved in article disputes such as Tea Party movement, Falun Gong, The Troubles, etc. COI is often a very personal thing, which sometimes may not even be fully apparent to the individual concerned. Arbitration Committee members are sometimes asked to recuse from a case due to a COI which they weren't conscious of. In addition to a professional COI there are emotional, sexual, familial, racial, etc, and selecting just the professional out of all the potential conflicts seems inappropriate. If it is felt necessary, I would prefer the focus to be on tightening up the policies and guidelines on editing, or polishing our procedures for dealing with editing infringements, rather than looking into the motives of editors. Added to which, this policy would only be enforceable if an editor declared a COI. Unless we are now going to require full and detailed registration for all editors, listing all financial interests, this could only be enforced by the sort of sleuthing that gets the "well meaning / misguided" sleuth banned from the project for invasion of privacy. This is not a good proposal. SilkTork ?Tea time 13:27, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
This analysis seems quite unserious. Why financial COI? Because every reputable enterprise recognizes the concept, and directly addresses it and because they are not reputable if they don't do so. You are saying, apparently by analogy, that there are other COI's but even if true that would be no reason not to address this well recognized one. Moreover, your concept of emotional COI is rather bizarre. There are people who cannot write neutrally but it is not because they have a conflict of interest as that term is normally used. COI is an objectively recognizable relationship. (e.g. financial, official, familial, sometimes personal-friend/enemy) beyond those it is almost never recognized as a conflcit of interest (rather, it is a belief, an opinion, a like, a dislike, a lack of circumpection, an inability to express onself apporpriately, sometimes a mere association - but not an addressable conflcit of interest). Such objectively recognizable relationships in common understanding make actions as to them when mixed with other responsibilities subject to specific expressly stated rules in the real world. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:45, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Alan. Every reputable publishing enterprise has a policy in place to deal with financial conflicts of interest. It's a sine qua non. We don't have such a policy. In the real world, financial conflicts of interest are recognized and treated differently than "emotional, sexual, racial" COIs (whatever the latter are supposed to mean; I'm a little afraid to ask). Finally, I am so sick of the argument that just because not every recent conflict can be boiled down to paid editing, we can therefore ignore the issue. MastCell Talk 19:57, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written What about employees of companies with 30,000 employees? What about employees of companies with 3 employees? What about stockholders of major public companies? What about minor stockholders of closely-held companies? Lou Sander (talk) 13:39, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
It's quite dead as written. "Emotional COI" - wow. What a concept. Doc talk 13:45, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The policy is too broad and ambiguously written. Further, it's practically unenforceable unless someone adds content that is obviously and egregiously POV/COI. A good editor would avoid detection with good content rendering such a policy feckless. As a counter, perhaps Wikipedia could put together a guild of approved editors under special identified accounts who are permitted/licensed by the project to add content for compensation by outside firms. Have it centralized, establish a system of oversight, the editor attests to their demonstrated knowledge of relevant POV/COI policies, etc., and if a company or external entity wants content added, they can select from this pool of editors. And Wikipedia could get a cut. On the other hand, if Jimbo and the top brass insist on preventing editors from being paid for focused content, perhaps he should open up that large stock of cash he's been amassing with our donations and reward editors for contributing featured content. I'd love a $100 gift certificate to Applebees for an FA or a little cash--I'd write more of them. Recently, in seeing that my work has been published by a opportunistic firm that does POD books from Wikipedia content and charges for it, it makes me hesitant to contribute seeing that others try to capitalize off my donated knowledge and work. This is why I only contribute for my hobbies, and not the bread-and-butter knowledge relevant to my income-generating work. The material relevant to my occupation on Wikipedia is sorely lacking and for good reason--I get paid by the hour in the real world for that. --ColonelHenry (talk) 13:47, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written The draft begins "Paid advocacy is not allowed on Wikipedia." So unpaid advocacy is? Yes, there's a problem. Unfortunately this draft is not the solution. It confuses two issues. Advocacy is utterly against WP's founding principles. COI, whether financial interest, reputational interest or any other kind of interest, is a different matter. It's best dealt with by requiring full disclosure and coming down hard on any case where there hasn't been full disclosure. The problem with the PR firm which started this off was that there was not full disclosure, which would have to include who their client was and that they were being paid to edit on this client's behalf. This is what we should make a policy. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:54, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, for essentially the same reasons as Jenova20, SilkTork and Peter coxhead. Advocacy, whether paid or not, is against the content policies, and bad for us; editing in conformance with the content policies, whether paid or not, is good for us. We need to get better at dealing with advocacy, but that means being more skilful and more robust at enforcing the content policies, not mechanical rules restricting who can edit. ("emotional COI" -- great term). --Stfg (talk) 14:08, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose- I oppose this proposed policy, at least as written. The policy attempts to eliminate paid editors who might generate biased articles that create a financial gain for their employers, which I fully understand. Unfortunately, as written, this policy could and I believe would be interpreted to mean that academics and other highly knowledgeable people could not write about the fields that they are the experts in, as others have pointed out (See: Risker above). For the record, I am an academic. With the current conflict of interest rules, I have had numerous colleagues accused of conflict of interest when writing articles about subjects on which they were experts (not about their institutions). I think this proposed policy's wording would make such occurrences even worse. I think the goal of keeping Wikipedia a trusted, neutral source of information is laudable. I just think the particular wording of this proposed policy would have very negative unintended consequences. Stevenmg (talk) 14:06, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose We should encourage transparency from paid advocates, rather than pushing them underground. I further see this as being unnecessary: less-experienced paid advocates' edits are fairly blatantly promotional, which let us directly invoke WP:NPOV, and generally leave us in the right if it escalates to something like page protection. More experienced paid advocates will not be affected by this, as they already work close to the ground. So what does this really do? —/Mendaliv//?'s/ 14:15, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Furthermore, I oppose on the grounds that this is a virtually unheard of policy decision on enwiki. This policy decision amounts to a preemptive topic ban of unspecified breadth on paid advocate editors. The only other place where I believe we engage in preemptive administrative action is when a user registers an apparent role account or uses a famous person's name, and even then we allow said user to change his or her username. Everything else I've seen on Wikipedia has been action following harm undertaken to prevent more harm. —/Mendaliv//?'s/ 18:15, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: I prefer disclosing COI, rather than banning contributors or contributions (which will just drive COI editing underground). Quality content can be added to Wikipedia by editors with a COI. For example, I wrote and promoted Music for a Time of War to FA status, disclosing my COI from the start. What makes this so wrong? --Another Believer (Talk) 14:24, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • That you are under the impression that this is an attempt to ban COI editing is amusing. How much did you get paid to get that article to FA status? A lot of money? Was it worth the paycheck? COI indeed. Doc talk 14:32, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose on the basis that not all paid contributors do a poor job. When they do, Wikipedia has existing guidelines and sanctions to deal with the problem. On the other hand there seem to be very few paid contributors who declare their interest and it would certainly be sensible to encourage them to do so. Sionk (talk) 14:26, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose mainly based on Risker's comments, but also based on reality. We already have paid editors at work, and our current policies don't deter them. How is this supposed to magically make them go away? COI also exists, and we do a damn poor job of keeping up with it now. This won't change anything...except add another layer of stuff and as others have pointed out would drive paid editors and COI deeper underground, soaking up more of our limited resources. No thanks. Intothatdarkness 14:40, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Any editor that is already "underground" shouldn't be driven further underground. Because those of us above ground need to dig them out, right? They are going to do it anyway, so make it easier for them. Sounds great! Doc talk 14:49, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure why you think mocking or badgering opposers is a good idea. Intothatdarkness 16:58, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: The basic idea is sound, but it has unpleasant potential for being used as an excuse to ban random editors from certain articles. And also it might be stretching things a little to insist that people creating give details about their profession. I know people can reveal things about themselves, but shouldn't people have a degree of anonymity on this site? --ProtoDrake (talk) 14:42, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Nope. No anonymity is allowed here, and that's what this is all about. E-mail me your information and we can continue. Doc talk 15:12, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as written - while it sounds good, this would only hurt the honest people who are good contributors to the Project. It would prohibit me, for example, from editing virtually all articles dealing with the Democratic Party and my branch of higher education. I hope someday to get more political work and/or a tenured academic position; this policy would drive me and many others out of WP or -- worse -- underground as sockpuppets. I am in favor of mandatory, general disclosure of COI. For example, I have disclosed on my user pages the approximate income that I have received from partisan sources, my relationships with BLPs here, issues that I care about, policies and politicians whom I support, people whom I've known or met or are fans of, and even places and things that I've experienced. Much more beyond that is an invasion of one's right to privacy. FWIW, I am in favor of a complete ban on autobiographies. Bearian (talk) 14:55, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Rather than ban groups of people we need to go after incorrect behaviour - and we have policies and guidelines for COI and advocacy etc. If the quality of the edit is good then allow it - if it is poor then review it and if it is consistently poor then address the editor. Also I don't see how this policy could be enforced so it would become a way of attacking an editor. We should be worried about what is in Wikipedia not what happens outside it.Antiqueight confer 15:03, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose No offense to the drafters of this essay, but it is still a draft in progress, and has a ways to go before it deserves the status of guideline, much less policy. Three examples: I own share of mutual funds which attempt to hold virtually all public in the world. Millions of others have similar holdings. Every one of us is a stakeholder in every public organization in the world. Which means I should not be allowed to edit any article about any corporation. Second, stakeholder is even broader than that. It includes customers, which broadens the net to cover just about everyone. Third other benefits is a term broad enough to drive a truck through. I'm in favor of having a serious discussion about this issue. This page is a start, but we need to get better organized. Just holding votes on a few essays is a small start, but we need to do more.--SPhilbrick(Talk) 15:18, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Risker, SilkTork, and Jehochman. Chris Troutman (talk) 15:26, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Stop it. Ban it. Put our feet down and slam the door in their faces. Paid editing, of any form should be intolerable and unacceptable across multiple levels. The fact that Wikipedia is going downhill in this regard is part of the reason why I no longer contribute very much here. Somewhere along the way, we have lost a bit of our soul and our integrity. ThemFromSpace 15:32, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, as a much-needed step in the right direction; our wooliness about advocate editing flies in the face of WP:NPOV, and is being exploited. Miniapolis 15:35, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Unless we are willing to change one of our WP:5Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute: Since all editors freely license their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and will be mercilessly edited and redistributed. Respect copyright laws, and never plagiarize from sources. Borrowing non-free media is sometimes allowed as fair use, but strive to find free alternatives first. To something like: Wikipedia is free content that anyone (except anyone receiving financial or material benefit broadly construed) can edit, use, modify, and distribute: this type of proposal is just bad business and will cause far more damage to the encyclopedia and community in the long run than good. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:46, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. WP:CREEP. Users should declare their conflict of interest, but as long as they are not POV pushing there is absolutely no benefit to restricting their editing. If they are POV pushing then go through the existing channels (probably ANI) and assess topic bans individually - if they have declared a COI then that should be easier to accomplish. --W. D. Graham 15:47, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Dishonest paid editors will do it anyway, so why punish the honest ones? Or drive them to dishonesty? Considering there are so many editors out there who trash BLPs and organizations (and the paid ones among them are less likely to be honest), and that there is a lack of real sanctions against some of them - (no matter how many times they are taken to noticeboards, the reason I've cut back my editing substantially), plus the fact there is an increasing lack of editors willing to correct even egregious errors whose correction would never be contested, I think it would be destructive to forbid it. Once the COI is announced, editing can be more carefully scrutinized. Support honesty, don't encourage dishonesty. User:Carolmooredc 16:00, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose for many reasons, but as an example, I am a supporter of the Wikipedia:Education program and I would like to see Wikipedia integrated into classrooms. In doing this, I would like university professors to receive salary while encouraging their students to contribute to Wikipedia. This policy as written would unduly exclude professors from developing course content in the education program because they would be receiving salary while doing outreach for the Wikimedia movement. These case studies would not have happened with enforcement of this policy. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:10, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Hi Bluerasberry, I've clarified that the Education Program is exempt from this, and that the policy should not be interpreted to mean that subject-matter experts are discouraged from contributing. Being an expert has nothing in itself to do with having a financial conflict of interest. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:27, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I am not satisfied with a list of exemptions and I remain in opposition. If there is something fundamentally different about the kinds of people exempted then that should be articulated and written into the main policy so that anyone could intuitively understand what kind of behavior is acceptable and what is not. Anyone reading the policy should be able to expect that all these listed exemptions would be outside of the targeting of this policy because of behavior and not their titles. Teachers and Wikipedians in Residence are exempted as were the Google researchers; yet historically all of these have sent a small percentage of troublemakers to Wikipedia. The titles are not the distinction; I want the policy to be about behavior and not special permissions that come inherently with titles. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:38, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Well said. --Another Believer (Talk) 16:40, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: I'd be happy to think of new wording if I could understand the objection, but I'm not sure I do. We have small numbers of troublemakers from every category of editor, so that's not really the issue. The issue is paid advocacy only. Someone furthering the interests of GLAM, Education Program, etc, is (hopefully, and for the most part) furthering the interests of Wikipedia and education in general – that's the behavioral issue – so I'm not sure why you would see them as included in this. If you can think of a way to tighten the writing, or to explain the issue further so that I can try to do it, that would be great. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:13, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I have a series of objections but the primary one is that I do not want good contributors excluded from Wikimedia projects. Exceptions cannot cover all editors and I want good people with good contributions to feel welcome for what they do and not for what their title is. If this policy includes exceptions then to me that smacks of the Citizendium philosophy of giving or withholding privileges on-wiki primarily based on what people do off-wiki, and this strategy has already proven to lead to a lot of problems which transparency and openness circumvent. I do not want to institute a Citizendium model here, and when anyone makes exceptions to policy for certain people holding titles, then that is what is happening.
No, the issue is not paid advocacy/editing. The issue is the problems that result from almost all but not all instances of paid advocacy/editing. Also, no one anywhere on this project has ever clearly defined the differences between "paid editing" and "paid advocacy", and until definitions exist then discussions probably cannot proceed. The working definition is that "paid advocacy" is "paid editing" which does not comply with Wikipedia community guidelines. All discussions on this topic make no sense to anyone outside this movement because advocacy in the Wiktionary sense of the term has nothing to do with its use in this small community on Wikipedia. The reason why GLAM, the Education Program, and the rest should be included in this is because they conduct "paid advocacy" in any normal sense of the term as used in any other place than on Wikipedia.
Neither I nor anyone else who has yet presented seems able to express in writing the idea of "accept good behavior and prohibit bad behavior, regardless of the source". In short - if a contributor's work would be unanimously and uncontroversially welcomed on Wikimedia projects under any scrutiny then that person should feel welcome to contribute here even if they are paid, and if a contributor's work is bad then they should quit doing it here even if they are an educator, non-profit partner like a Wikipedian in Residence, or WMF partner like Google. Titles correlate with the kind of work a person does, and are great and cheap indicators for risk assessment, but are not the authoritative last word on judging whether someone can help the Wikimedia movement. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:38, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: Thank you for explaining. I understand the point about us not having clear parameters, but we do have a working idea. For example, I assume you agree (but perhaps not) that the PR manager for a drug company should not write our articles about that company's drugs. That's the classic paid-advocacy model, where we are, in effect, hosting covert advertising. At the other end, we have ancient historians writing about Ancient Rome, because they love it. They may or may not have jobs in universities, but that would make no difference, because there is nothing to be gained but education all round. Are these working definitions (ostensive definitions) not enough to steer us through this? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:51, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
No, this is not good enough for me. A PR manager at a drug company who can comply with Wikipedia community guidelines should be allowed to edit. Right now it would be impossible for any PR person to do this because the Wikipedia community needs a lot of infrastructure to empower it to keep COI in check, but in medicine especially, Wikipedia needs a lot of help from somewhere and I think that large-scale contributions from industry when properly funneled through a series of checks could be welcome. The industry should feel especially welcome to drop money into non-profit health organizations like university medical schools and community hospitals and encourage them to address the Wikipedia problem through their respective communities. Especially in the field of medicine the content on Wikipedia needs to be absolutely perfected beyond reproach because Wikipedia's traffic makes it a public health concern. Wikipedia is already far more popular of a source of health information than the NIH, CDC, or WHO, and in the sense that we are navigating the largest and most utilized media organization the world has ever known, I do not take this lightly.
  • Houston, Peter (14 October 2013). "Wikipedia is Also a Pharma Marketing Issue". blog.pharmexec.com. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  • Bengtson, Beth (9 October 2013). "Accept It, Wikipedia Is a Public Health Issue. Now Let's Fix It". blog.pharmexec.com. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
I think that the Wikimedia community has an obligation to give to the public a timeline of exactly when the most accessed 5,000 health articles on English Wikipedia will have universal on- and off-wiki consensus to be perfect in every way and also when they will be translated into a minimum of 20 languages each. In estimating this timeline we should account for when this would happen both with and without industry funding and paid advocacy contributions. I also would like to see the Wikimedia community start making demands on humanitarian grounds that corporations donate resources to the movement with no strings attached, and for governments to begin to recognize that the best thing that they can do for public health education and people's rights to seek and find information about their health is to build from what the Wikimedia communities are producing. The current proposal here blocks much of what I want. This movement should stay entirely grassroots. It should also receive good contributions whenever it would be practical to do so. PR people are bad people. There has to be a way to work together. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:15, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
User:Bluerasberry I hear your concerns about excluding good contributors. However, without a COI policy that excludes paid advocacy like what Wiki-PR does, Wikipedia is wide open to companies with business models like Wiki-PR that are financially modified produce gobs of articles and are not committed to our goals and standards. If we had a clear policy excluding what they do, their businesses would dry up, as they could no longer represent that what they do complies with Wikipedia policies. Wikipedia is like honey to flies for such businesses and a ton of the resources of our volunteer community has been devoted to dealing with the swarm. (Not to mention the damage to our reputation, that we knowingly leave ourselves open to this) As you oppose this very targeted and concise solution, how would you suggest we close the door to companies like WIki-PR? Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 11:53, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
User:Jytdog - The proposed solution is neither targeted nor concise - it makes no sense in standard English and has a list of odd exceptions. I want the door closed completely to entities like Wiki-PR. I want the door open completely to good editors. Literally thousands of people have been unable to articulate how to do this. I have no suggestions for something better at this time but I do feel that this proposal would make things worse than they are now. Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:20, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Since this keeps coming up, I'd like to argue that the suggestion to sacrifice pseudonymity for accountability, and the refrain that "sunlight is the best disinfectant," are both quite naive. It reminds me of the classic argument, "Privacy is only important if you have nothing to hide," or as Eric Schmidt puts it, "If you have something you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it." This ignores literally millions to billions of cases where people do have something to hide, not through any fault of their own, but due to negative external factors like government surveillance, social pressure, etc. The understated reason these proposals have failed is they don't address that reality. Proxyma (talk) 08:51, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 2

  • Support Wikipedia needs to tighten its rules instead of just letting people do whatever they want, getting surprised when they use Wikipedia for promotional purposes, and then blocking them after the damage has been done. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of reverted edits. Getting paid to edit this site greatly increases the likelihood that you will be violating Wikipedia's policies on advertising. Jinkinson talk to me 17:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Indiffrent: After a rethink. --ProtoDrake (talk) 17:49, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose SilkTork explains it best. We have policies in place. The vast majority of POV+COI issues, and the most egregious, involve emotional, sexual, familial, racial, etc. fulfillment rather than financial. I would add religious, personal vendetta, nationalism, and political views to that list. First Light (talk) 18:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose After reading more, doing more thinking, I now completely oppose this idea – beyond the fact that it would be hard to enforce. My reasoning has been repeated countless times here, so I need not explain. Support I'm a little confused how one would verify the editor is a paid employee, but these editors almost always show a clear COI editing with promotional tone. If a company or organization is notable enough to warrant an article or section within, there'd be plenty of unaffiliated editors to do the task. I just see this type of COI too much when patrolling. An easy prime example is checking the user creation log, with after some number of edits, it's clear by their username they are working for a company. These users are swiftly blocked, so I deem it appropriate to extend policy to cover such actions of other users. Note while I support this proposal, I do see foresee potentially heated disputes with users defending themselves as non-paid affiliates... — MusikAnimal talk 18:29, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. The policy, as worded, is very clear, straightforward and simple and applies only to individuals who are paid directly for their efforts on Wikipedia and only prevents them from directly editing articles. Since advocacy on talk pages is permitted, it is not as if corporations and the like will an avenue to point out mistakes or various monied lobbies won't have a platform at all. They will only be disallowed from directly editing articles, which seems fair. Allowing paid editors to directly work on articles is problematic for two reasons: (1) it skews the knowledge base toward people and entities with money, and (2) it could have a de-motivational effect on the vast numbers of unpaid volunteers who edit here. I do agree with some of the oppose !voters above that this may drive paid editors underground or force them to work through socks, but it is not easy to work underground and socking has the nasty habit of consigning editors to Wiki-purgatory. On the balance, I think we'll be better off pushing paid editors into the fringes rather than allowing them to occupy the mainstream. --regentspark (comment) 18:47, 15 October 2013 (UTC)\
  • Strong Oppose - with a broad enough definition, I would not be able to edit an article on Taco Bell, because I took a customer satisfaction survey and they gave me a taco. If an individual edits in a reasoned fashion, their edits are not affected by their motivation. I find there are a vast number of individual with strong feelings for and against every entity, practice, thinking... almost ANYTHING. Few of those POV problems are due to financial interest. Most are due to emotional interest. Better to say "you must not edit an article you care about"... which is ridiculous as well.Unfriend13 (talk) 19:08, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The proposed wording is too broad—and yet too narrow. As is, it is possible to consider employees of a non-governmental organization as ineligible to write on their field of public service—because donations (revenue) are derived from their work in a sector. Similarly, the wording could be read to imply that employees of a company could not edit articles on their industry. Would editing fracking articles be banned by employees of both Greenpeace and shale oil/gas companies? If so, we lose expertise on both sides of an issue. Regardless, an accusation is made in a moment, but a defense in a hearing could take a long time to pursue. And money is a crude tool for judging bias, motivation and results. It seems that implementing WP:BRIGHTLINE (as "No Paid Advocacy") would be using a hammer to nail houseflies: not very effective, and we’d end up damaging a lot of things while trying to get rid of an occasional pesky critter. As others have said: Let’s avoid creep. We already have several means to handle the issue: Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest, Wikipedia:Neutral_Point_Of_View, WP:Promotion, Wikipedia:General_notability_guideline and Wikipedia:NOTHERE#Not_being_here_to_build_an_encyclopedia. ~ Desertroadbob (talk) 19:47, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Strongly Oppose: Though most of my arguments against a firm Brightline and/or mandatory COI disclosure can be found here in reply to the current effort to ban a paid editing company for stating explicitly that COI disclosure is not already mandatory and that at this point it is only advised or suggested according to the guidelines, I will add something here as regards this proposal. The policy being proposed here conflates paid advocacy and paid editing. One can be paid to edit, and edit fully within Wikipedia's guidelines. That is what a good paid editor does--they transcend any lack of neutrality and have the ability to explain Wikipedia's rules to the client in such a way that they are happy with Wikipedia-appropriate material and do not insist on promotional material. The good paid editor is, in fact, indistinguishable from any other Wikipedia editor, as they do their jobs perfectly--and that job is not to fool Wikipedians, but to act as a model Wikipedian in adding any information to the site. The only difference is that instead of personal interest driving the editor to edit Wikipedia, the paid editor is paid to edit articles they may not have edited on their own. That paid editor, if not a paid advocate, does not take into account the promotional considerations of the company or person that pays them, and produces a Wikipedia-appropriate article based on independent research. The company pays the editor, because the most beneficial presence for them on Wikipedia is a Wikipedia-appropriate one and not one riddled with promotional errors. Until that difference, and the context it brings, is present in the proposal then we are not close enough to making the guideline a policy. AKonanykhin (talk) 20:35, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Strong support - Paid advocates aren't paid to present their clients neutrally, they're paid to put the messages out their clients want the world to hear. That is a fundamental fact which cannot be ignored. While it is certainly possible to write something that has the look and feel of a neutral, unbiased article with citations from reliable sources, what we don't see is what has been left in the file cabinet, the negative things that are left unwritten, because to present them would hurt the advocate's client. This creates a tension between what we require and what paid advocates are paid to do, and it's a tension that cannot be hand-waved away, because the fundamental goals of the two sides cannot be harmonized. Rather than have the onus on us to discover the myriad ways in which advocates can hide or sugar-coat the truth about their clients, we need to place the onus on them by disallowing them access to the project, and banning them when they break that rule and are uncovered. This is a matter of protection for survival which can't be ignored. 20:38, 15 October 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beyond My Ken (talkcontribs)
  • Oppose. Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. How on earth could such a policy be enforced? We only know that editors are COI if they declare it and they are then ususally treated appropriately by other editors. SpinningSpark 21:38, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose – The various comments above actually demonstrate that the proposed policy is easily misunderstood. That is, editors are commenting as if any "paid editing" is "paid advocacy". Also, the proposed policy is flawed as written. E.g., "other benefits" is unduly vague and broad. (Wikipedians-in-residence (and other volunteers) receive a benefit when they can post their editing accomplishments in a resume.) And what is a "close relationship" or "similar non-promotional work"? Too much of this proposed restriction is shooting the messenger and ignores the good news that the messenger – the editor who is receiving pay for providing edits that comply with guidelines – can bring. As it stands now COI editors can be blocked if they go too far. So, rather than posting a vague and misunderstood policy, we can strengthen existing policy by requiring paid editors to post the {{connected contributor}} template (with clear declarations) on the talk page of those pages they have an interest in. – S. Rich (talk) 21:46, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. All my reasons have already been stated by other. Niteshift36 (talk) 21:50, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose As Written Disclosed COI's (paid or not) should be allowed to edit without any special permission (however, edits by such parties should be subject to speedy review and reversion, if necessary). Sebastian Garth (talk) 22:03, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, although I think we need a policy to address problems in this area. The problem is not about being paid, but rather, editing in a disruptive manner as a result of being paid. We should focus on transparency and on adherence to existing policies. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:07, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Our guideline on COI editing should be seen as demanding exceptional behavior from anyone with a conflict of interest on a subject, with deviation from acceptable behavior being dealt with more strictly. As long as someone complies with our content policies we should have no objection to them contributing here.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 17:36, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. However, I have no clue how this could ever be enforced. I support any idea that puts us one inch closer to the end of: "anyone can edit Wikipedia". I think we do an amazing job here considering anyone with a computer can edit articles. "Oh thank goodness for semi protected articles"....it's a start. Made me chuckle when I read the short proposal, because the other day I became curious what the difference was between "Silver Tequila, and "Gold Tequila", and I don't even drink, however, the subject came up in a discussion between friends. I ended up on the "Jose Cuervo" page. I swear, when I started reading the article, I could almost hear a jingle playing in the background...lol. Of course the difference in the colors wasn't in the article because all the manufacturer does (after a few minutes of research) is add Carmel coloring additive to the Silver, and then calls it "Gold". Needless to say, I added and cited a section explaining the difference. Yes, I'm tired of Commercials here, as well as vandals, and will support anything that helps eliminate them. However, again...how in the world with the current "anyone can edit policy" here, are we going to enforce it? Oh...forgot to mention that Jose didn't appreciate the new info to his commercial, and I have had to make reverts or changes to very clever edits daily. The amusement never ends. :) Thanks-Pocketthis (talk) 20:59, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
To be fair your citation doesn't say that Jose Cuervo only adds caramel or that they don't have different varieties - only that some add caramel and that to properly age it is expensive. I would want to see a real citation to believe either way..Hmm don't know why I came across this...--Antiqueight confer 03:13, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose any major conflicts of interest should be declared. If done correctly then paid editing/advocacy could be good for the project. However declaring that paid advocacy is completely out of bounds is impossible given the ease of creating accounts. Tell paid editors to be upfront and declare their interests, and they will have more respect from me. Those that deny COI should be treated harshly.Martin451 23:00, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Pocketthis' comment gives rise to Sophocles' admonition: What you cannot enforce, do not command.S. Rich (talk) 23:05, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Cautiously Support we need a "bright line rule" - paid editors are difficult to catch, so if they are caught they should not get away with a warning, they should be banned. IMHO the bright line can be put differently: it is enough for the users a)properly identify the COI (including a tag on the article if it mostly written by an editor with COI), b) not engage in edit warring over the article (0RR). For me it will be enough, but this should be a bright line rule - those disobeying the rule should be banned if caught Alex Bakharev (talk) 00:43, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support* Some above say it would be unenforceable. And that's true, in a sense. COI editors would need to be subtle about it. But having a way to fight back against blatant cases would still be a plus. This proposal is certainly a step in the right direction. Let's take that step. DavidHobby (talk) 00:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per NE Ent and Jehochman. buffbills7701 01:04, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Agree with the reasons articulated by User:Desertroadbob. The focus should be on NPOV, bias, and advocacy, and tools exist for handling those. That said, when an editor has a COI, they should be obliged to disclose it. Carter (talk) 01:33, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support as necessary for
    1. maintaining wikipedia as an encyclopedia and not seeing it (further) devolve into the newest avatar of geocities, myspace etc as a venue to promote organizations, individuals, and POVs; and
    2. a community of volunteer editors many of whom will be driven away (in the long term) if their efforts to build a credible educational resource are allowed to be hijacked by advertising and PR professionals. Personally, I will be hesitant to volunteer my time if I see that I am essentially competing against paid professionals who don't share my regard for NPOV, and that any credibility I build for the project by writing well-sourced, high quality articles just contributes to fool readers into trusting other promotional-content-masquerading-as-articles.
Additionally, in many opposes above I see arguments that preventing PR professionals from writing wikipedia articles and trying to police finacial conflicts of interest, will somehow also prohibit professional scholars from editing wikipedia. This IMO is fallacious as almost all reputable research (eg) and educational (eg) institutions manage to have financial conflict of interest guidelines, while relying on those very same scholars and experts for their functioning. In all these policies, and any course on ethics in business or research, financial COI are treated separately and handled more severely than other "natural" biases related to political, religious, ethnic, national etc beliefs and the inevitable presence of the latter class is no excuse to overlook the former. We don't have to reinvent the wheel here. (You won't find any of these organizations arguing "All we care about is good research/education, and don't care what financial arrangement the researcher/professor has on the side". Somehow analogous reasoning seems to carry weight in some of the opposes here).
I do acknowledge that wikipedia will face problems in enforcing any paid advocacy/financial COI prohibition, but don't see that as a reason to not lay down the principle in the first place; and imperfect enforcement is preferable to a laissez faire system. Lastly, I realize that this particular proposal is unlikely to be approved (given the state of current !voting), but hope that the community is eventually able to come up with effective policies in the area for the long-term health of the project. Abecedare (talk) 01:44, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Flat out Oppose kicking and screaming and thinking this is one of the worst ideas ever to be presented to Wikipedia. Ideas like this need to be buried nice and deep, but with a big flag saying "don't go here". Not the very least of which is the fact that it will only impact those who are open and honest about any conflict of interest and let the scoundrels who are more likely to be trolls off the hook. Letting other editors know about biases you may have when editing articles is certainly useful (regardless of if you are paid or not), but merely the fact that somebody is getting paid or not should have virtually no significant impact upon the evaluation of the quality of the edits of that person. Since paid editing is already mentioned in this "policy", it already provides plenty of wiggle room for somebody to weasel their way out of any sort of realistic enforcement. I'd like to say simply get back to the idea of this being a wiki that "anybody can edit" and don't get so snooty about who that "anybody" might actually be. If the edit improves the article, keep the edit. If the edit stinks, it should be culled. That should be the standard and not the sort of narrow application that this policy seems to be implying. WP:COI is plenty sufficient at the moment and does not need any sort of gilding of lilies. --Robert Horning (talk) 01:57, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, unfortunately. It seems a bright line may be needed these days. Kaldari (talk) 03:06, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible oppose This is the worst proposal I've seen related to paid editing. The effect will be to greatly damage the encyclopedia. The redefinition of paid editing and paid advocacy is incorrect. Ryan Vesey 03:08, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Advocacy is comparable to political lobbying, and historically it's better to register lobbyists and keep an eye on them rather than drive them underground. Also like political lobbyists, paid advocates have a deserved bad rap, but do play in a role in drawing attention to developing issues. Paid advocates can inject life into inadequate articles and inspire editors to set the record straight. They can also spot factual errors and correct pejorative statements. Advocates should definitely by required to declare their conflicts of interest however.... --Sigeng (talk) 03:57, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I have two main concerns about this. Firstly, explicitly banning this won't actually stop people from doing it, but it will stop people from being open about it. If it's going to happen, it's better that as many of them as possible actually admit who they are and why they're here so everyone else can take that into account. The benefit from the, in my opinion, very few who would stop because of this is outweighed by the problems caused by the others going incognito, as it were.
Secondly, if Politican X is running for office, and someone, or a group of someones, is steadfastly scrubbing their article of anything that might be negative, does it really matter if those editors are there because they're X's staffers, or unpaid campaign volunteers, or unaffiliated partisan editors who just really like X and want them to win? That's the sort of thing that's a problem regardless of where it's coming from. I think that a lot more of the contentions on political articles come from random people with very strong opinions rather than people who are paid to be there. Egsan Bacon (talk) 04:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Promotional articles have gradually become a huge problem here, and defining it away by allowing paid advocacy would open the floodgates to a lot more of it. So I believe this is necessary. I wouldn't mind having another bullet in the "acceptable paid editing" section to include being a paid professional in a field which you also edit articles in, and even for the editing to be included in the things one is paid to do, as long as the editing is not promotional in nature. For instance, as an academic, I am mainly paid to teach and research on topics related to my interests here, but my performance evaluations are also based on "service", which could reasonably be interpreted as including my Wikipedia editing activities. I don't think this proposal is intended to address that sort of paid activity, but additional clarity in that respect wouldn't hurt. —David Eppstein (talk) 06:30, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Past experiences with Wikipedia policies such as "verifiability, not truth" show that after a little while policies get interpreted literally, so your current belief is wishful thinking. You personally do have a huge conflict of interest in promoting your particular area of computer science research on Wikipedia. Of course you could argue that you more or less promote other areas of computer science or math, but that's just a wider COI as far as this policy proposal is concerned: you have a "some other form of close financial relationship with the subject of the article". Someone not using his real name (talk) 12:58, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
      • Oppose, reluctantly. Comments such as yours have convinced me that too many people here are, like you, unwilling to distinguish between experts and advocates. I strongly believe we need expert editors to hold up the technical side of our encyclopedia and prevent it into degenerating into a worthless encyclopedia of celebrities and pop culture. And although I believe the current proposal wasn't aimed at expert editors, you have convinced me that it could easily become aimed at them later The alternative, insisting that those parts can only be edited by people who aren't paid for anything related, will likely lead to the technical articles being edited primarily by student volunteers, giving little or no coverage to topics outside the mainstream undergraduate curriculum, and leading (in my experience editing articles that are in the mainstream curriculum) to amateurishly written articles. We will have to find other means to counter advocacy, I guess focusing more heavily on the actions and less on who does them. —David Eppstein (talk) 18:39, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is silly, how would you even know if someone is paid unless they tell you. So if you now make a rule that it isn't allowed it punishes those who are honest about their work while encouraging everyone to go underground. There obviously will always be people paid in one way or another to edit articles so why not make a way for them to do so above board? Sportfan5000 (talk) 06:56, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong Support as an editor of several years I have encountered many single purpose editors who are obviously paid employees or too close a connection. I've complained about WP:COI breaches but the community seems weak to deal with it... with the usual "we'll just watch editor X closely" I've seen legal threats made by paid advocates, one WP subject names on his own personal website WP editors that he wants to name and shame and offers a reward for anyone with personal information on these editors (I'm not naming this real life person which has a WP article) . single purpose editors even if not paid advocacy have no interest in NPOV or building a better encyclopaedia, they simply want to push an agenda. They have zero interest in working on other articles and spend their time monitoring one article on behalf of the article subject. This includes overly positive commentary in articles (often not from reliable third party sources), but worse, removal of well sourced and balanced coverage of controversies. I firmly believe strongly tools are needed to deal with paid advocacy in WP. LibStar (talk) 07:08, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support the community needs to make it crystal clear COI PR editors are not welcome here in any way, shape, or form. Ethical companies (and their lawyers, and PR advisers) will follow our policies, and those who don't will risk PR backlash or worse if they're found out. That it can be difficult to enforce is a red herring, when they are found out they will be dealt with, same as we enforce bans and block abusive sockpuppets, even though many of those slip through the cracks too. Siawase (talk) 08:40, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose - NPOV and paid advocacy are NOT mutually exclusive. I don't think the system is broken - unreasonable COI edits are usually spotted and corrected pretty quickly. You can be a good editor with a COI. Far better to engage with these editors within a framework. I have and will continue to make edits on subjects and things I am related to, but I always work to the core principles. This is blocking everyone because of a few bad editors - if you want to make a difference on that basis, block IP editing! OwainDavies (about)(talk) edited at 09:19, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose As currently written, the policy attempts to distinguish between paid advocacy and paid editing; the former banned, the latter allowed. But advocacy is already banned, so what is this trying to achieve? GoldenRing (talk) 09:26, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - redundant to Wikipedia:No advocacy, whether paid or unpaid. Thus, just redundant policy which would serve no purpose except to add bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake. We're here to write an encyclopaedia, not to play a game of rule enforcement. WilyD 10:42, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as policy. Advocacy is a large and serious problem, and I cordially invite anyone who doubts this to spend a week doing AfC work, and helping out on IRC help, where in both the fraction of spammers is easily over 80%. The problem I perceive with paid editing is that the paid editors either think they are able to write neutral articles, or they know they can't, but that it can't hurt to try to push through anyway - they know they are not doing the right thing, but hey, free promotion, and it's somebody elses problem. The underlying problem here is that we need people to abide by the spirit of NPOV, and those looking for a loophole don't generally think in terms of the spirit of a policy, the spirit of the project or the right thing to do. But what we need is not a policy - we already have that in NPOV. What we need is to tell them, and keep telling them that what they are doing is doesn't mesh with our project, and they have to stop doing it, without needing a specific policy document that has that exact content. And at some points it does work out. I'm really happy we have Akka (toolkit) now for example, which was written by people with a conflict of interest. We should be open to valuable additions like that. I'm not willing to give articles like that up for a bright line that makes it easier to point spammers to. What we can do is take a less lenient line on what they are doing wrong, and if they are clearly here with the wrong intentions not be afraid to tell them no, and tell them to go away - if necessary with blocks. We don't need a bright line policy to do that. Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 10:56, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per SilkTork, Jenova20, W.P.Uzer and especially Martijn Hoekstra. WP:COI is a good guideline and focuses on the edit not the editor. Babakathy (talk) 11:56, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In many cases, those with a financial interest in a subject are the only parties interested in keeping an article current. Wikipedia is (unfortunately) full of pages with POV problems, but I would rather a biased updated page than an so-called unbiased page that is so old and out of date that it is of no use whatsoever. I think we can and should build on the proposal below to require disclosure of these types of edits. However, rather than requiring that it be disclosed in the edit summary/signature (which could easily be missed by accident), we should add a yes/no radio button below the edit summary that is not set by default but must be set in order to save the edit. These flags can allow editors to watch for and verify/NPOV pages that have been edited in this way, and would ensure that anyone who misled the community about their interest in the article cannot claim to have done so by mistake. - Nbpolitico (talk) 12:47, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
@Nbpolitico: See also Wikipedia talk:Paid editing policy proposal? which reflects your opinion. Jehochman Talk 12:54, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose This rule seems both ill-considered as to unintended consequences and unenforceable. Pay isn't the issue, the person isn't the issue, it's NPOV. The focus should not be the editors but the edits. This will not address the underlying NPOV issue it hopes to solve. It should not be adopted. Capitalismojo (talk) 13:00, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Forbidding advocacy is already policy WP:NPOV, and I'm with Risker in seeing not much of a difference to religious or nationalist unpaid advocacy. The ethical thing for any editor to do is to disclose any COI. Moreover, to effectively forbid me to edit certain articles is neither going to work (how will you know), nor particularly fair to me: My institution has granted me paid leave to attend Wikimania. Now everybody knows that I'm editing, and it is entirely possible that the odd request comes in, from my boss(es), to improve our institutional article, to write about a conference we host, and so on. I can do it in a non-promotional tone, I'll disclose. But in a way it is still advocacy, because our competitor's articles are in a much weaker state. Do you want to forbid that? --Pgallert (talk) 13:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose It only interferes with COI editing by honest editors and would catch only the most naive COI or pai editors. Paid editors could just not mention the fact that they are paid, and business owners could just choose a username which id not tip you off that they were the proprietor of the business they were writing about. It is as pointless as the loyalty oaths required by the US in the 1950's. I do have qualms about POV pushing by PR firms, but we can fall back on what is in the actual edit and use reversion or blocking if it is not supported by reliable sources and presented in a balanced NPOV way without undue weight. People who teach at a college have a financial interest in the image of the college. Someone who gets a pension from, or has his retirement savings invested in the stock of, some company has a financial interest in that company looking good. Someone who lives in some tourism destination has a financial interest in the article about it being written so that visitors come there. This and like proposals are just "theater," making us feel better about the nonPOV nature of the project without having any real effect except on the rare editor who comes out an states he is editing for pay or to benefit himself financially in some way. Edison (talk) 14:06, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose For small and medium companies COI editors are often the best placed to edit articles on said companies and will have the best resources and expertise on products. Other editors can inspect cited materials to check for bias.Testem (talk) 14:12, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose As long as its written according to WP:NOT and is writen in an "objective and unbiased style" and is "free of puffery" then why does it matter who writes it? The beauty of WP is that anyone can edit, keep it that way. Simon Caulton (talk) 14:28, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I agree to several opposition comments. I wish to add myself that I did not see how "paid advocacy" is substantially different from paid editing, or even the policy of COI itself. --G(x) (talk) 14:31, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Earthly incarnation of Platonic pie-in-the-sky ideal. How on earth are we going to enforce this? I should be giving this a militant, borderline-deranged level of support and campaigning, but I just don't see how you can enforce it. I personally believe that the marketing/advertising/lobbying/"communications" industry is just about the most totally morally bankrupt profession on earth (at least a pimp is honest about being a pimp, and does terrible harm to a relatively few people; advertisers are coming close to murdering democracy itself), and I'd put Wikilobbying in the "See Also" section ("When money determines Wikipedia entries, reality has become a commodity."). But - what can we possibly do to enforce this that we don't already do to remove straight-up, ordinary-course POV edits? We already check, to the best of our ability, for promotional / press-release language, for whitewashing, for overweighted reliance on positive sources. If we put paid COI editors through a stricter ringer with no reward for doing so, or worse, totally outlaw them (if we use only a stick and not a carrot), all we'll do is increase the number of unmonitored POV edits, and once they're editing "illegally" anyway, why should they then have any scruples about balance? Without the possibility of good standing for playing by the rules, all you do is guarantee disobedience; and in that situation disobedience quickly becomes self-righteous, i.e. civil disobedience, even where that perception is objectively ludicrous. Pragmatic acceptance and intentional correction will always work better than blundered idealism, whose incompetence quickly spirals. ?.ZenSwashbuckler.? 14:54, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Self-declaration is certainly more than enough. Again, this is the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 15:09, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - If we remove professionals from this equation, then we are essentially removing the one source of editors that are truly unemotional in their editing. Yes, paid editors can be passionate about the subject they edit, but they have their employers and/or clients to answer to as well as the WP community. IMO paid advocates are held to a higher standard than the average editor. Remove the professionals as User:Risker defines it or paid editors who happen to be PR or marketing people and WP loses a significant source of information as well. --Scalhotrod - Just your average banjo playing, drag racing, cowboy... (talk) 16:33, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose since paid advocacy is (1) almost impossible to determine unless the COI editor reveals it, making it therefore (2) unenforceable. Comment. My sense is there are fewer COI problems on heavily trafficked articles with high daily pageviews (100+/day), since opposing viewpoints cancel each other out, and bias is more easily exposed. The bigger problem comes with single-focus editors editing articles with low pageview counts. I wonder if a bot could paste a warning flag on single-editor articles with meager eyeball traffic, with inadequate references, suggesting bias.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 17:57, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We're already taking care of COI and spam to the best of our ability. Adding a new rule won't help. Kafziel Complaint Department: Please take a number 18:39, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible support. We've already seen plenty of examples of how people with financial interests in companies, careers and/or products try to further their own interests here on WP, both by adding or removing content from existing articles and by creating new articles about persons/companies what-have-you of dubious notability. Thomas.W talk to me 18:58, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
We've also seen how many people with new accounts vandalise Wikipedia too. We should definitely enact a policy to ban all editing from new accounts too. And then we can expand it to ban editing from everyone who has ever used bad punctuation in a sentence! Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia that "anyone can edit". This policy is a terrible unpolicable idea and it will force people to deny their COI, not be open about it. That's an own goal and will speed up the decline of membership. Thanks ? Jenova20 (email) 19:30, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support and broaden as per Cullen. A disclosure of relationship MUST be built into the policy and readily accessible to other contributors/editors. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 21:16, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Support withdrawn for reasons outlined in Subject-matter experts section below. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:29, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Encourages off wiki sleuthing and outing. Not a big enough problem to need a new policy.Greglocock (talk) 21:45, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Per all above. Way too prescriptive for cases which may radically differ in context and type of editing.♦ Dr. Blofeld 11:40, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 3

  • Oppose as patently unenforceable, and as attempting to judge edits by the purity of the edtiors' motives rather than the content of the edits themselves.
This policy is altogether unenforceable. If we've used it to bust User:ManageYourOnlineReputationSolutionsLLC, will they spend an hour in tears and then resolve to find honest work? Not likely. They'll register under new usernames that give nothing away, avoid any mention of their commercial intent on their userpages, and happily propagandize away as before.
We've already got a policy on biased edits, and we already try to enforce it. The proposed policy doesn't add anything useful to it; rather, it declares that biased edits for commercial purposes are somehow more egregious than biased edits made with other motives. Rather than singling out one class of non-NPOV edits for particular opprobrium, we should try to eliminate bias in all forms, regardless of its motive. Ammodramus (talk) 22:06, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as per 'Discussion' comment (below). Go after the article not the editors. Add a '$' in the top-right (with lock status & '+'for 'good article etc) or a tag to display front & center for 'Sources on this page may be compromised by an undeclared financial, or tangible benefit, conflict of interest'. Proof for adding the tag would be based on article content not editor witchhunts and could be debated on the talk page as per any other tag & proceed through the thundering bureaucracy as required. AnonNep (talk) 02:31, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - whatever happened to "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit"? Zach Vega (talk to me) 22:39, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Per many of the arguments of other opponents above. I do not see the problem in having those edits, and I do see problems in not having those edits. SO I oppose not just "as written", rather I oppose the proposal in any form. Debresser (talk) 01:21, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Judge each edit on its merits and you won't have to worry about who wrote it or why. It's unenforceable anyway. --72.66.30.115 (talk) 03:04, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - Our ultimate goal should be to attempt to document truth, so far as it has been approximated by reliable sources. Receipt of payment or expectation of receipt of payment has an insidious effect on the actions of even the best-intentioned, and typically the effect will be to the detriment of the goal of seeking truth whenever that goal is perceived as being at odds with presenting information that is favorable to the point of view of the payer. So while I might quibble with some of the text in the proposal, I support the general intent. That said, I can't see this rule as being even remotely enforceable. Even if it is promoted to policy level, financial-COI advocacy will continue, perhaps a bit more covertly than at present. Dezastru (talk) 04:26, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
"Our ultimate goal should be to attempt to document truth": WP:NOTTRUTH
"insidious effect": [citation needed] & WP:AGF
Paradoctor (talk) 04:54, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
"Truth, so far as it has been approximated by reliable sources". Dezastru (talk) 08:13, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
So what approximates "insidious effect"? Cooperative editors are not a problem whether they're paid or not. Uncooperative editors ignore policy anyway, and we can already deal with that. Paradoctor (talk) 11:01, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose This proposal goes against Wikipedia's greatest strength: It can be edited by anyone, instantaneously. --Spannerjam 04:29, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose This policy doesn't seem to distinguish between edits that are technical and non-controversial in nature and edits that might have an impact on how the article subject is perceived.
I imagine that most of us would have a strong objection if a company unilaterally deleted well-sourced information about a scandal, but would anyone object to a company updating out-of-date revenue figures with the latest results? Consider the following case. An editor works for a large technology company which makes popular mobile devices. Would anyone object to that editor updating his company's section in the article List of displays by pixel density to include specifications for the latest generation of products? Depending on how you interpret "affected articles", this proposal would ban that sort of edit. It seems unnecessarily bureaucratic and against Wikipedia's WP:SOFIXIT spirit to expect that an editor who is interested in making such a change get a third party to do it for them. It also seems unrealistic to expect that volunteers will process minor, technical tweaks in a timely manner.
If this policy is going to be successful, it needs to be more targeted towards banning edits that actually are advocacy, and not just ban all edits to "affected articles" by anyone with a financial COI.GabrielF (talk) 04:44, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Jimmy Wales' so-called "Bright Line" is unrealistic. It is impossible to play "Whack-a-Mole" without making the wikicrime of "Outing" vanish, since identification and elimination of violators of the so-called "Bright Line" will require..........identification for their elimination. Moreover, with no real name registration and sign-in-to-edit, the effectiveness of WP's blocking and banning mechanisms will remain a joke — if we get lucky and catch one, they'll just put on a new mask. This won't stop paid editing, it will only drive it underground and make it more difficult to locate and monitor. Carrite (talk) 05:18, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • This is clearly well-intentioned, but I can't help but think it's redundant to WP:NOTADVOCATE. --Joy [shallot] (talk) 06:58, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Y'know, excellent point that's exactly right — the essential core of this matter is already covered in policy. We're just debating an empty slogan, in the final analysis, since its provisions are not enforceable under WP's current structure... Carrite (talk) 16:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Paid editors can do a good job in writing neutral articles, it is the POV-pushers we should punish and we already have policies against that. If this policy is implemented, Wikipedia would have to change its slogan to "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, unless you are being paid to do so." Mentoz86 (talk) 07:01, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the simple reason that it's unenforcable. We can make it a policy, sure, and then those who want to avoid the rule will simply edit as an anonymous IP. Next to that, we already have policies that should catch blatant advertising or POV/COI editing. Yintan  13:49, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Focus should be on the edits not the editor and I agree with others that the brilliance of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. I would oppose anything that creates barriers to participation. But, I’m thinking maybe we need more paid editing not less - meaning, why not raise funds so that experienced and dedicated Wikipedians can be compensated for the work they contribute, including catching and challenging POV or Advocacy edits. ??? Apologies, if that’s been considered a thousand times before…But I think it's an idea worth thinking about since WP is so big and influential …Depthdiver (talk) 16:38, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Oppose, per User:Risker on two points. First, subject matter experts are not supposed to be able to argue from authority on Wikipedia, but their contributions are nonetheless valuable, and professional SMEs would be banned under this proposal. Second, "paid advocacy" is no worse than unpaid advocacy, and is unworthy of special treatment. RossPatterson (talk) 10:36, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Oppose as unenforceable and as a guarantee that any paid advocacy that occurs will be kept hush-hush, potentially depriving us of a useful red flag. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 12:05, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose; There are as many people who would like to use Wikipedia for damaging others' reputations, as there are those who would like to use Wikipedia for self-promotion—we already have a policies for this: WP:NPOV/WP:COI. Keep it simple and focused: it is the quality of the output that should be measured. We are asked to consider WP:No paid advocacy#Paid_editing_versus_paid_advocacy where several of the examples are focused around those positions that the Wikimedia Foundation might fund. I would be uncomfortable with the Foundation having an exclusive economic fiefdom over the right to contract improvements to Wikipedia. WP:NOBIGDEAL applies to adminships, and the same no big deal should apply to funding—any invitation should be extended freely, fairly and equally to all contributors and contributing organisations, as long as they abide by the rules on WP:NPOV/WP:N/WP:V/WP:CITE/….

    Remember: the high-level aim here is to build an encyclopedia, not to dream up policies that selectively apply 9–5 weekends and bank holidays excepted (ie. how would we even begin to ascertain if (or how) somebody is being compensated for any edit). My feeling is that policy appears to be trying to impose unworkable technical solutions to social problems, and perhaps misses Wikipedia's central aison d'être (the content). —Sladen (talk) 16:04, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose as written - I can see perhaps modifying the proposal in certain ways. (1) Paid editors, and firms, disclose their status in some way that makes it generally knowable. I won't specify how. They also establish their credentials in advance of any sort of paid editing by developing one article apparently outside of their field of paid interest and receiving sufficiently favorable reviews to be "approved." (2) They disclose in some prominent way their involvement on the talk page of the relevant article. (3) For every article they develop for which they are paid, they also work to bring another, separate article, outside of that field, up to roughly similar status. There are a lot of significant articles regarding even important topics in various fields which still need lots of work, and having them develop this sometimes neglected or overlooked material would both be beneficial for wikipedia as a whole and also probably improve the paid editors' general reputation here as well. John Carter (talk) 15:54, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - COI editors should make a proposal on the talk page and/or approach editors without a COI to add material that they prepare. At a minimum, they should be asked specifically to disclose their COI, abide by a 1-revert rule and avoid all edit warring. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:26, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - yes, it would be difficult to enforce. But if made policy, it would be an important step towards making Wikipedia a more trustworthy source of information than it is at the moment. We need a policy like this, and sooner or later, I hope we'll get one. Robofish (talk) 17:41, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as unenforceable.--Staberinde (talk) 19:29, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Already covered in existing COI guidelines--KeithbobTalk 19:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Policies are in place that ensure that content is appropriate the encyclopedia. I do not need to know an editor's motivations to judge the edit. Putting such a policy in place also sticks a thumb in the eye of WP:AGF.--~TPW 19:54, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Support Wikipedia needs this policy. Granted, moderating for conflicts of interest is a vexing issue, but it is emphatically not true that a user's motivations cannot materially affect the quality of an edit. Of course, the policy touches not at all the issue of UNPAID advocacy, which can be just as destructive to WP articles. But this policy does have the virtue of disempowering corporate and major political party flackery here in Wikipedia to a large extent. It's one more tool among many to make sure that Wikipedia articles are objective and factual, not promotional text. I disagree with the argument made above that professionals would never be able to post edits on topics relating to their occupation. WP:PROVEIT is the greatest protection against abuse of "the argument from authority," by requiring professional and lay writer alike to confine statements in an edit to those drawn from acceptable research sources.loupgarous (talk) 20:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • "not true that a user's motivations cannot materially affect the quality of an edit" That's right, and that's why nobody has said it.
Actually, someone upstream DID say it, and was refuted for the reasons I stated. However, I'd like to retreat from that statement because trying to assess motivations for actions gets us into witch-hunting and political litmus tests best avoided. loupgarous (talk) 18:54, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • "this policy does have the virtue of disempowering" proposal, not "policy". And what kind of disempowering would that be? The kind that WP:BLOCK lacks? It has been stated before on this page, multiple times: We already have policies to deal with problem editors. No evidence has been brought forward that his proposal would improve the situation. And there is good reason to believe that it would harm the community, and therefore the project. Paradoctor (talk)
Agreed, on reflection. I can't think of an implementation of the proposed policy which would help WP on balance. The worst-case scenario would drive a lot of would-be editors away, and leave the very worst ones here. loupgarous (talk) 18:54, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong support - as a first step. I will add that WP:AGF was never meant to be a suicide pact. --Orange Mike | Talk 20:37, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • That's right, it's meant to prevent contributors from being unfairly pre-judged. A self-disclosing editor is obviously a cooperative editor. Villains, OTOH, don't announce their evil intentions. So, this proposal punishes cooperative editors, and diverts attention away from the actual targets. Paradoctor (talk) 21:05, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • A much better alternative to the proposed policy would strongly encourage disclosure of CoIs, leaving it to the reader to discern questions of objectivity not already covered by WP guidelines. loupgarous (talk) 18:54, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose on grounds of redundancy: advocacy is already prohibited. Policy is already in place concerning editing with COI. This proposal seems to go against WP:AGF by indicating that some editors should be assumed to be editing in bad faith if they have certain external connections. As has already been pointed out, most experts work professionally in their fields of expertise, meaning that many expert editors will have at least some potential conflicts of interest when editing in their fields. What actually matters is the content's point of view and non-promotional, encyclopedic character. Each edit should be judged based on whether it makes the encyclopedia better or worse, not based on the background of its writer. Bryanrutherford0 (talk) 20:51, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Virtually all of our reliable sources were created by "paid advocates." Whether it's a paid journalist from AP or a University professor publishing from a research grant. We paraphrase paid advocates so we might as well let them write what we paraphrase. If neutrality is an issue, we have NPOV. If sock and meatpuppets are an issue, we have that covered as well. It's silly to create a rule that will be breached by the same people that create the issue in the first place and then drive away abiding editors, like journalists or professors, with this policy. If the articles and content are good, why stop them? And if they are crap, a rule like this isn't going to stop them. --DHeyward (talk) 21:06, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I would make a distinction between a paid writer such as a journalist or researcher and a paid advocate. I try not to paraphrase the latter. But you make some good points. —Anne Delong (talk) 22:30, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • modified Support - as per Gaijin42 above. COI editors willing to declare in the edit summary of each edit who was paying them or other financial interest would be welcome. Others not, as per the proposal. —Anne Delong (talk) 22:30, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose We should encourage editors who know the subject they are talking about. The question is not whether or not editors are paid. It is whether or not the edit is verifiable and neutral. Apuldram (talk) 22:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose "Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit."--agr (talk) 00:35, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I have no problem whatsoever with an organization, even a very large company, from having an employee who edits Wikipedia on the company's behalf. COI to me is only a problem when the edits are not neutral. We already have all sorts of rules about the behavior of editors. So long as a paid editor is neutral, and following WP's guidelines, why discourage them from adding quality content on a topic they know something about? Personally, I think every major organization should have a Wikipedian-in-residence. Cheers, AstroCog (talk) 01:15, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Personal and corporate autobiography have been an ongoing issue with WP:AFC submissions, we do need to clearly draw the line. K7L (talk) 01:27, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongly support
    1. This is a simple policy that every other high-profile nonprofit requires of its volunteers. Who is going to come to WP for unbiased information once they find out that big PR firms are paid to write WP articles, and we have no problem with that? It doesn't matter that we can't stop all the abuses, what matters is that we set a clear standard. The current COI guideline does not do that; all it says is "If you have a financial connection to a topic...you are advised to refrain from editing articles directly..."
    2. The proposed policy does not prohibit scientists in industry, or lawyers or psychologists in private practice, from writing about their fields of study. The proposed standard is "You expect to derive monetary or other tangible benefits from editing Wikipedia." That's easy to avoid and still make a contribution.
    3. In spite of what people have said above, this policy will go a long way toward cutting down the paid editing on WP. PR firms may not be ethical, but they care about appearing ethical. Most are not going to offer services that involve lying or misrepresenting themselves on websites, if the website clearly bans them.
    4. I think if we don't implement this, it will have a chilling effect on the hardworking editors doing the thankless task of correcting NPOV abuses. As a volunteer editor, I'm going to get pretty tired of reverting some piece of promotional crap, if I find out that the editors that keep putting it in are a paid team of suits in an office. I think we may see editors getting discouraged and abandoning corporate articles to the flacks. We may even see editors deciding to donate their time, energy, and enthusiasm to other sites, sites that actually care about volunteers.
    5. Anyone who thinks it doesn't introduce bias to have paid lobbyists involved in a process should look at Congress. I love the argument, made ad infinitum above, that we need "experts" with COI to make articles accurate; it's the same argument corporate lobbyists make to Congressmen. "You need us; we've got the inside industry knowledge!" There are plenty of people who have COI-free expertise; I'm one.
--ChetvornoTALK 03:47, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Fence-Sitter [Partially Oppose/Partially Support]: I believe, from reading through more on this subject, that people with a financial COI (in that it is a financial COI only) should have some method to easily identify their financial COI. While a financial COI contributor may be able to edit a Wikipedia article in an unbiased view, allowing them to identify their COI in a relatively easy manner allows other editors to know that their edit may be biased. This would allow for editors who wish to do so, to review the edit and determine whether its biased. Should a financial COI editor make significant, obvious biased edits they should be reported and thus banned from editing either the article or their account banned entirely (if that's possible). "Easily identifiable" to me would be something in the edit summary as I'm somewhat still new to Wikipedia. Other definitions such as "significant, obvious edits" could be determined later since there are three parallel proposals on paid editing. Koi Sekirei (talk) 05:40, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Risker and Blue Raspberry said it. petrarchan47tc 09:54, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose – Focus on the editor not the edits? Spicemix (talk) 15:00, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Strong support It seems that a lot of people voting on this aren't actually reading the proposal (or at least not reading it fully). It's not saying that COI's cant contribute, its just saying that they should request edits rather than perform them. This seems sensible. I have dealt with quite a lot of COI stuff, and I think a policy like this would be helpful. Benboy00 (talk) 16:31, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose - When I have had a WP:COI, such as for Al-Ma'arri, I made some uncontentious edits adding the research I'd done for my non-WP content; and requested another editor added a link to my content (his only English-language radio bio). They agreed it was justified, and added it. That workable judgement call would, to me, seem to work for WP:PAID as well. Ian McDonald (talk) 17:50, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose — The proposal links to the COI page, which already has something on paid advocacy. In addition to it being redundant (from my view), the proposal as it stands is a little too sparse and broad for my comfort. I'm also uncomfortable with outright stopping these people from contributing, and would rather see some sort of extra scrutiny on their edits instead. Rnddim (talk) 20:08, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong support - I've been calling for this for some time; perhaps this is in response.
  1. This would of course not be retroactive; we never sanction folks for edits that complied with policy when made, but don't comply with new policy. Some have opposed as if this were not true.
  2. Of course the editors and admins who are themselves paid advocates are !voting in support of this; if there's another !vote on this or similar proposed policy, I would urge the proposer to ask that all voters declare whether they have performed editing that this policy proposes to bar. So it's important that we hold the closer to the proper standard when s/he closes this; it's not a count of votes; it's an evaluation of logical arguments. Going through ~2 dozen oppose !votes, I see remarkable quality - many of them hold no weight at all because they are built on a foundation that is a false premise - it's patently absurd (AGK used the term reductio ad absurdum above, and it's apropos) to read this proposal as, barring a doctor from writing about medicine, or similar examples; a doctor couldn't possibly have a "close financial relationship" to the vast majority of medical topics on wikipedia; a doctor certainly could have a "close financial relationship" to one or a few topics - a doctor whose edit would plausibly significantly increase his income would be in violation - such as a doctor who has a patent on medical equipment to treat heart disease and edits article material that discusses using medical equipment to treat heart disease. There is a "close financial relationship" because edits that make such equipment more popular are likely to increase his income, and by an amount that could well be significant. As an indicator of due diligence, I ask that the closer indicate that s/he has read this, Elvey's !vote, and that no one else comment on this sentence.
  3. Several of the oppose votes boil down to no argument - e.g. stating that the status quo is fine hardly deserves to be considered a weighty argument. (!votes of KonveyorBelt, Seraphimblade, SmokeyJoe, etc.)
  4. The only oppose argument I saw that had weight was NE Ent's 'Oppose per unenforceable', so I'd like to address it. Certainly enforceability is an issue, but then that's the case with several policies; sock policy enforceability is an issue too; surely anyone with intelligence and moderate technical expertise could avoid detection, but I still don't think we should do away with it. Valid con arguments, should be weighed against valid pro ones.
  5. Paid editing is largely illegal in the US and EU. As noted here, the FTC has said as much, and there's even wikipedia-specific case law in Germany.
    Vicious circle of paid editing
    Just as we tell users what files not to upload for reasons of copyright law, we should tell them that if they are compensated for their editing, there are some edits they must not make for reasons of advertising law. --Elvey (talk) 21:25, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • First of all, I'd love to see what actual case law you are citing here that suggests paid editing is actually illegal. Furthermore, I think you are misrepresenting the issue of copyright violations, which is something that can cause legal liability issues for the WMF (as the ISP/hosting service for Wikipedia) and the liability that the WMF has with regards to people who avoid disclosure of any conflicts of interest. I don't even see them as remotely comparable. Putting liability issues aside (which is the responsibility of the WMF legal counsel and not a bunch of Wikipedians debating about a new policy), I think you are far too dismissive of the arguments about enforceability. Sock puppets can at least in some cases be detected by IP address, which is why we have CheckUser actions. While not perfect, it is at least an option and there is nothing similar that can be done with identifying people who fail to disclose any conflict of interest voluntarily. --Robert Horning (talk) 05:25, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Here is the 'wikipedia-specific case law in Germany'. (And, I already pointed toward the US law that makes much of the paid promotional content we're hosting illegal, and that law applies to, for example, German editors editing articles on products or services consumed in the US.) Your assertion that I'm misrepresenting things is a rather strong, especially as it's a sad bald assertion. Your assertion that I'm dismissive is not bald, but you shoot yourself in the foot; paid advocates' edits are certainly in some cases detected by IP address, and even more would be detectable with the use of tools like CheckUser. --Elvey (talk) 21:02, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 4

  • Oppose Redundant with existing policy. - Nellis 22:49, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Paid editing compromises Wikipedia's integrity and violates WP:NPOV. Gobonobo + c 23:57, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support in strongest possible terms. Paid editors can make good edits, but they will argue relentlessly for their bad edits. They insist on going through every procedure, every talk page, and every policy available to them. Moreover, they are paid to take one position, and thus are not discussing in good faith. They are paid, in essence, to be utterly and totally intransigent. I can speak from experience, that I have dramatically reduced my editing because of frustrations in dealing with paid editors, and this is not an uncommon experience. Fundamentally, paid editors are not entering discussions in good faith, and they have superior resources to outdistance opposing viewpoints. It can not be allowed. --TeaDrinker (talk) 00:22, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Excellent point! The editor retention crisis alone makes this a no-brainer. --Elvey (talk) 21:14, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as it's completely unenforceable, Unless they admit it - We'd never know. Davey2010T 02:41, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Partially Oppose From experiences volunteering in the help irc channel, some of these editors can genuinely still contribute positively to Wikipedia, as well as spot errors unininvolved editors would miss. The problem here is spotting them (and getting them to admit their COI), guiding them, and rooting out the peacockry inherent in their edits. I believe it would deprive us of a lot if they were forbidden based only on the criteria that they were technically paid to do it.
Most "paid" editors are employees or interns of their respective companies, or agents of respective personalities. And yes, I still would absolutely require all of their edits to be completely neutral and solidly sourced. And be merciless in denying them a page when their subject is not notable. I've succeeded in wrangling out acceptable articles from people like these before on subjects which are notable. Though admittedly it requires constant guidance as most of them are newbies. But most importantly, these articles are articles that no one would otherwise think of making, even though they are notable, because no one simply interested in them (especially for companies or celebrities from non-English speaking countries).
I still agree that the other kind of paid editing however, the "mercenaries" as I call them, should be banned. Those who edit Wikipedia professionally and are more or less unrelated to the companies they make pages on, aside from being hired to do so because of their expertise in Wikipedia rules and how to sidestep them to make promotional pieces. These are far more problematic because they are hard to detect.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 03:03, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Hm, I'd have to amend that and admit that even "mercenaries" can contribute positively when they follow policies. I guess it all boils down really to a case-by-case basis. I would not want this proposed policy to be used as an excuse to delete on sight a well-crafted neutral article just because it became known that the author was paid to write it. As long as it conforms to our rules and policies, it should not worry us.-- OBSIDIANSOUL 06:19, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support paid advocacy is a conflict of interest with summarizing truthfully. EllenCT (talk) 02:25, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose "It is not wise to engineer self managing dynamical system (wikipedia), else it shall have unintended consequences and backfire." I agree with the discussion note by User:Risker stated earlier in this survey and yes as always the original foundation of wikipedia remains "Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." I agree that paid advocacy needs to be checked. However continuous and diligent editing is all that is needed to check the WP:COI of paid editing. Restrictions and policing never leads to a peaceful state. It only leads to paranoia and the emergence of a hierarchical and autocratic cabal and clique whose 'informal' COI could never be proved or checked. Restrictions and policing only stifles contribution and ensures erosion of autonomous editing and contributions from one and all. thanks Robin klein (talk) 04:57, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Editing an article in which an editor has a direct financial interest is not the same thing as paid advocacy. “Oppose as written” per Wikidemon above.—Al12si (talk) 06:02, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support as long as Risker's concerns (about scientist not being able to edit in their fields) are addressed. The section about "Subject-matter experts" should not be removed. FurrySings (talk) 07:33, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Articles on corporations will become impossible to edit, if there's a weapon like this policy to accuse editors of being a shill. Often unpaid advocacy means that poorly edited text, loaded language or in the worst case, verbatim press releases from Green organizations are the only content added. It must be possible to edit an article neutrally or even in favor of a corporation, and there should be no policy weapons to automatically ban that. I support having a watchlist of articles that are especially prone to being disrupted by concentrated attacks, but that would be possible with existing policy. --vuo (talk) 09:48, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Instead of barring everyone who has or might have a direct connection with the subject, it's sufficient to require that such editors reveal their potential COI, for example using the edit summary; that way all others can judge whether the edit violated NPOV or another policy/guideline because of COI. But even if they don't do that, it shouldn't be a reason to remove their contributions on sight. As Obsidian Soul points out above, the question is not whether a user is paid to write something or has a connection to the subject but only whether their edit violates our policies and guidelines or not. If the CEO of Example Inc. wants to write a neutral, reliably-sourced, well-written article about his company, then that's great. If he writes a puff piece praising Example Inc., we can still delete (CSD G11) or rewrite it and take action against the user for violating WP:COI. Regards SoWhy 09:51, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • We need to ban little scumbags like MooshiePorkFace (talk · contribs), who advertise on elance and crap like that. Those that are hired guns to puff up an article in defiance of policy. The proposal is too loosely worded as written. Paid editing-for-hire, advertised off-site and "guaranteeing" positive results, is insipid. That's what a lot of you are not seeing. Doc talk 09:58, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Clear opposition suggests this should be closed already... My two cents already above, but basically, this stifles free speech with no gain. it's largely unenforceable, encourages clandestine editing, may impact on philanthropists paying for people to write, favours one group over another on a basis that intorduces bias, etc etc. Like banning google and IBM from contributing to Linux. Tim bates (talk)
    Stifles "free speech"?! Facepalm Facepalm. Free speech? See WP:FREESPEECH. A typically uninformed "oppose" "vote". Oich! Doc talk 14:51, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
    "Typically uninformed," eh? What side of the question are you on? Oh, yeah, I think I know. The minority side. Don't badger people that happen to disagree with you. Carrite (talk) 18:24, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Reading this proposal, I'm surprised to find that it is as momentous as implied by the fact that it is advertised when I open up my watchlist. Didn't we already have a rule against that kind of thing? It seems to be a common-sense idea, and I don't understand the vociferousness of the opposition. Figureofnine (talkcontribs) 16:44, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Unenforceable, and I have doubts about the logic in distinguishing between a paid professional editing articles relating to an institution (e.g. a Wikipedian-in-Residence writing about their museum's collection to encourage greater visitor numbers), and a public relations professional editing articles relating to an institution (e.g. a public relations specialist writing about their company's product to encourage greater sales). The key for me is not who's writing an article or their motivation, but whether they're helping to build a better encyclopedia and abiding to our policies in the process. Hchc2009 (talk) 17:15, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Weak support If the requested edits system moved faster, I would throw my complete weight behind this. I don't believe that 'paid editors', widely construed, should be barred from editing, as for a lot of users their interest areas and employment (ex see WP:AG, where most of the members are also agriculturalists) overlap and they never encounter coi issues. --TKK! bark with me if you're my dog! 17:20, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Oppose I can't see how this can be policed or how it benefits Wikipedia as a policy. If a paid advocate adds NPOV content that is properly referenced, what's the problem? If they add unsourced or non-NPOV content, we have established policies for dealing with it. - Scribble Monkey (talk) 21:33, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose, largely per Risker and SilkTork. Unless I've missed someone, that makes three opposes and no support from the current or former arbitrators commenting in this discussion. Why is that? Not that any of us (and, of course, I speak of my own perspective rather than theirs) want the paid shills to have free rein, but rather that we've all seen the insinuations and OUTING efforts bordering on witch-hunts, and tried to sort out the spectrum of misbehavior from unparallelled vitriol to sneaky machinations that have been the hallmark of the unpaid advocacy cases brought before the committee. Jclemens (talk) 04:12, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
You missed AGK. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:27, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
So I did. Oh well. Jclemens (talk) 07:40, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Oppose "Comment on content, not on the contributor." This policy leads us down an unproductive path which WP:NPA encourages us to avoid. If there are content issues, we already have mechanisms; if not, why assume bad faith? Celestra (talk) 04:05, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Support with modification. Maybe its too abrupt to go all the way banning COI edits, but I would recommend making disclosure of COI mandatory for involved editors. Transparency is a first step toward dealing with COI. Farmanesh (talk) 18:19, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Opposes. Imposing this rule on editors who are likely to be bias is pointless, since those who are bias are already breaking a rule, so why would they be any more likely to abide by this one? I think this will simply just reduce to amount of specialist editors. Rob (talk) 23:01, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose. We already have WP:NPOV, which covers the actual problem that people suppose comes from paid editing (although not all paid editing introduces neutrality problems). NPOV also catches a much larger number of other problems - political ranters, fans & haters of specific products/people/whatever, religious, nationalist, and ethnic pov-pushers; and a whole host of other people who carry a burning truth in their heart. Even better, WP:NPOV focuses on actual bad stuff on-wiki, whilst rules against paid editing focus on what happens off-wiki, which suffers from outing specifically, and confirming paid editing more generally. Let's concentrate on getting WP:NPOV right across the board, instead of seeking out special cases which would be very hard to enforce. bobrayner (talk) 00:00, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Comment To a rules lawyer, the question of whether an article is "neutral" is merely a matter of opinion. Money changing hands is quantifiable, so prohibiting both POV-pushing *and* paid editing leaves less wiggle room. K7L (talk) 02:20, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Oppose. In the chemical sciences, most of the experts on subjects are industrial chemists. Academics who contribute to these fields are often misinformed or just plain wrong. Over time, fallacies and errors will creep into chemically-related entries. In addition, the biggest source of bias I see in Wikipedia are articles written by members of academia pimping their own theory or graduate advisor. I know of one (living) professor whose page is longer than that of a (deceased) Nobel laureate who worked in the same field. Delmlsfan (talk) 00:00, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose As being intrinsically impossible to police, an open invitation to people "outing" anyone with any remote possible monetary interest, and not applying to most COI cases where the interest is not monetary in nature. I am opposed to a "paypedia" but this suggestion is not a viable solution at all - sigh. Collect (talk) 01:39, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If one is paid to edit a page or pages, and does so in compliance with all other Wikipedia guidelines, I see no reason that they should be prohibited from editing an article solely for the reason that they are paid to do so. As already mentioned by numerous folks, this policy is already covered by existing policies against advocacy, this policy is probably impossible to enforce, and it focuses not on the content of the edit but on the editor. An edit paid for by someone does not automatically mean that it is advocacy, nor does it automatically mean it has a non-NPOV. The content itself is what determines those things. Mdak06 (talk) 03:57, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Strong support Yes, it would be difficult to police, but that doesn't make it right. Just because you are an expert in a field who is paid for carrying out research does not make it paid advocacy because in principle you are supposed to be objective in carrying out that research (though because you are human, there is a bit subjectivity in everything...including subjectivity in unpaid, non-coi edits). I think that if paid advocacy is allowed there will be no way to keep up with the promotional content. Versions of "paid advocacy" has already undermined mainstream media, democracy, and other institutions. The US is already under siege because corporations own our "representatives." I don't want to condone it on Wikipedia. I have more faith in Wikipedia than other sources at this point. I like that I can check the sources used. I like that disparate views are represented. I like that unfounded promotional-sounding content is deleted. It saves me from having to cut through the crap. I think the fight to keep out paid advocacy is worth it. I also think that if Wikipedia decides to allow paid editors, and problems escalate, there would be no mechanism for reversing the decision. Smm201`0 (talk) 12:23, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Why would there be no mechanism for reversing the decision? All it would take is consensus unless you expect paid advocates to outnumber volunteers and admins. And which problems that could escalate are not covered by existing policy? Paid or volunteer, anyone can be banned for messing with the articles. The sources would still have to be valid. There would be no one preventing disparate views (and that could be addressed if there were). Unfounded promotional sounding content would still be deleted. I do see the potential for paid advocates having more time and skill to dedicate to articles than volunteers but I suspect most articles have at least a couple of watchers who care about them. We could put in a rule suggesting statements indicating intent to ignore guidelines and policy may be taken into account when reviewing an editor for a ban.-- 🍺 Antiqueight confer 14:23, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: 100% unenforceable, without breaking existing Wikipedia policies. The last time I saw someone attempt to prove someone's identity as someone genuinely disruptive to the project by revealing IRC logs, he was threatened with a block for revealing personal information. How would this proposal be enforced if we are prohibited to dig into private information and share it? Yes, the moral standpoints regarding paid advocacy and conflict of interest are all correct, and I fully agree with them, however it just isn't practical. The current system isn't broken; if someone is editing disruptively, they will be blocked, regardless of whether one can prove that they've been paid or not. In essence, don't fix what isn't broken. --benlisquareTCE 18:56, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support --Frukko (talk) 20:41, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 5

  • Strong oppose. I can't see how this rule would escape being a provoker of witch hunts and unproven allegations. Red Slash 22:02, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I believe that all of Wikipedia's existing policies such as NPOV, NOR, etc. should catch paid advocacy/editing whenever it is problematic (which is most of the time). A blanket ban goes too far. As others have said, everyone on Wiki comes here with interests and biases (personal, political, religious, social, even being a fan of a particular film or author can make you very biased). A financial interest is just one of many which can damage the neutrality of Wikipedia. GizzaT/C 03:35, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is a knee-jerk reaction to a problem to which existing policies already apply. The proposal is well-intentioned, but would improve nothing, and add redundancy and ambiguity to WP policy. Sneftel (talk) 08:34, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose A problematic attempt in a complicated area. North8000 (talk) 17:29, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It's simply unenforceable. --Teukros (talk) 20:22, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
That's no reason to oppose it. Anu Raj (talk) 11:41, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Wikipedia feels to me to be at a crossroads. The amateurs, hobbyists, part-timers what ever, going one way and massive market forces going the other way. So this is not a perfect policy. Caspar Buberl was not a perfect article when I posted it and it still is not X years later. You do something then try to make it better. But let us take a stand before it is too late. Let's not rely on hindsight to decide that we do not want to become the information arm of multinational corporations. And yes, I am in favor of having all editors be public about who they are. Anyway, probably no one will read this beyond checking off a Support. Einar aka Carptrash (talk) 20:30, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Retartist (talk) 22:44, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Hits the right point. I'll willing to accept declared paid editors with clear lines of who is paying whom for what, but this is also acceptable. Hobit (talk) 01:04, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose The current policy is that anyone can edit, they do not need to identify themselves or even register an account. If we are going to bar certain people from editing, we would need to change that. Paid writers can be helpful in improving articles and there is no reason to expect they will violate policy. If they do they can be banned. TFD (talk) 06:57, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Allowing paid corporate PR people will lead Wikipedia to regenerate into something away from the values that drive the neutral editors spend their time and energy for. They can fight vandalism and are allowed in the talk pages. That's just fine. Anu Raj (talk) 11:38, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I'm sympathetic to initiatives to suppress promotional content, but any such initiatives should focus on the content rather than on the user. That's because focusing on users invites all sorts of conflicts with our anonymity rules, and because non-paid advocacy can be just as problematic as paid advocacy.  Sandstein  12:36, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
    • I agree non-paid advocacy can be a large problem, but for the most part it doesn't have the potential for large-scale disruption that paid advocacy does. I can only think of one case of an organized group of people trying to dominate a certain part of Wikipedia and getting away with it for a while (that we've found). The potential here to have huge impacts on our governance is quite large. Further, this is a lot more of bright line than "I like soccer" or "I hate Muslims". If we could as clearly distinguish unpaid advocacy from merely strong opinions I'd support doing something there too. I think your argument makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Hobit (talk) 12:48, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I've read all the comments, many of them excellent and very well-thought-out, and have come to believe that this is a small step in the right direction. Gandydancer (talk) 13:58, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Basically just codifies existing best practice for PR professionals into WP policy - see this Chartered Institute of Public Relations guide. [2] Neljack (talk) 03:18, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Weak opposition: I see the language as too confusing, and far prefer the language at the Paid Editing Proposal. Jeremy112233 (talk) 14:40, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Really there's a whole lot of words here and I'm not inclined to add more. I've written about this extensively elsewhere. Herostratus (talk) 14:44, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, but advocacy should be described more precisely. --NaBUru38 (talk) 18:36, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I have already supported this measure, but please consider that if we do not do something pretty soon, that this will be the future of wikipedia. Carptrash (talk) 19:06, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Paid editing (not just advocacy) is a slippery slope. Miniapolis 22:00, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose The point is Wikipedia's standards of neutrality and reference-ability. There are many highly biased unpaid editors, and conversely people who write about subjects they are connected to, even client companies and employers, who contribute to balanced articles because of their insight and ability to find relevant material. Should focus on neutrality, regardless of the editor. DiligentDavidG (talk) 01:53, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Unenforceable. Waste of time and resources. Creates more problems that it solves. It is impossible to eliminate paid editing, so we might as well accept it and try to regulate it as best we can. - thewolfchild 02:21, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support We need to be written by people who are independent of the subject matter. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 03:42, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong support We need this, and soon, if we're serious about WP:NPOV WaggersTALK 09:49, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I am uneasy with blanket restrictions; I prefer the model where paid editors can submit their work for review instead. Some of their submissions may be helpful. Plus, delegalization never solves the problem, it only drives people underground, in our case it will encourage dishonesty, puppetry and such. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:23, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I agree with Celestra, comment on the content, not the contributor. If paid editors make non-neutral edits, they can be reverted. -DavidSSabb (talk) 13:18, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
A note to the opposed editors. Many of us are not rules persons and find supporting this difficult, but what chance will we have after folks and more get turned loose on wikipedia? The 47,000 (or whatever the number is) dedicated wikipedia editors will not stand a chance. I don't want to explain to my grandkids (if I ever have some) that I stood by and watched while this great experiment of our was inundated by a tsunami of commercialism. We are at the barricades, let us not back down.You have to decide if I am crying WOLF or, is the wolf at the door, here, now. Carptrash (talk) 16:04, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The proposed blanket "no paid advocacy" policy is in contradiction against WP:NPA. The continued improvement of Wikipedia's quality requires continued increase in expert participation. At some level, most specialist editors will have a conflict of interest. I fail to see how the "paid editing versus paid advocacy" section will work in practice without shutting out all future initiatives of expert editor engagement. Deryck C. 16:18, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose And, unless the user is so silly to outright confess it, how can we prove that someone is being paid, without WP:OUTING? This rule is simply impossible to enforce. Which does not mean that paid advocacy should be allowed: advocacy (paid or not) is not allowed already, with the NPOV policy. See WP:BADIDEA, we don't need to make policies and guidelines for all and each possible circumstance that may arise, if we can deal with them with the already existing rules. Cambalachero (talk) 00:50, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • After careful consideration, oppose. I've been between options for some time. Overall, I disagree with Risker's assessment of this policy; I do not think it will bar people who work in a field to edit within that field. However, the argument made by SilkTork is persuasive. We have always been an encyclopaedia that focuses on the quality of the edits, and not the contributor. As written, this article would bar any edits from someone who is paid by that company, or if they expect some sort of benefits by editing their article. This is very vague. One could argue that an increased awareness of what the company does/their history and so on could be described as a benefit. I'm not talking about promoting their products, but on a broader scale, for example, updating financial info, company info that is out of date and so on. The policy is too vague. I would consider a proposal that specifically targets paid promotional editing, but as written I cannot support this proposal. Steven Zhang (talk) 02:49, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong support as a result of experiences trying to add objective sourced information about corporations that have been referenced in various media, and finding it an unequal battle against paid PR and promotion. Paid advocacy is quite a different process from, say, fan-written articles, or from passionately different emphases in adding material to a contentious article (say Armenian genocide) where people will add sources to support their own worldview and eventually, after much dispute, end up with a good article. Paid advocacy results in articles that consist solely of favourable statements aligned with a manufactured image, blanking any criticism. I had a cursory look in Medline for any psychological research into effect of monetary inducement on identification, truth-telling and mendacity and couldn't find any, but it's common sense that a financial COI is a major aggravating factor in advocacy. The policy as it stands is clear enough to make an impact on unethical behaviour, and includes appropriate safeguards for constructive paid edits. I suggest it could be improved by referencing WP:NOR, and also by adding appropriate sanctions. There have been media reports of corporate COI edits on Wikipedia, which is one disincentive to paid advocacy (besides the fact it's annoying and unethical). "Naming and shaming" (of organisations rather than individuals) could be formalised. I've commented further at Wikipedia talk:Paid editing policy proposal. --Cedderstk 11:12, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support It's harder to encourage people to contribute free if others are doing it paid. Agreed, 'pay' is hard to define but I'm sure that the community can come up with a form of words. asnac (talk) 14:46, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong Support --Shabidoo | Talk 19:02, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Under what grounds? KonveyorBelt 19:05, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose It makes no sense to create rules which cannot be policed and enforced. Even more, it will drive all paid advocacy underground, not allowing us to easily determine which edits are acceptable and which are not. We need regulation, clear rules, not prohibition. --FocalPoint (talk) 11:38, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If this is the correct direction for Wikipedia, it would make more sense to adopt Wikipedia_talk:Paid_editing_policy_proposal as an intermediate step first. No need to go further right away. I also have some concerns about defining "financial COI" (may be more difficult than you think), enforcement, and the likelihood of an uptick in WP:OUTING. Proxyma (talk) 17:22, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. One of the most common forms of vandalism that I see is unsourced claims of bad customer service. There's no question that some people make positively biased edits to Wikipedia articles for personal gain, but people also make negatively biased edits to Wikipedia articles to exact revenge when they have a bad experience with a product or service. Everyone who edits Wikipedia has an incentive, which I couldn't care less about as long as their edits are neutral and constructive. I have been paid to create Wikipedia articles, and I created neutral, properly sourced content that followed all of Wikipedia's rules. I would not take a job adding praise to an article, but I would take a job removing unsourced criticisms that violated Wikipedia's NPOV rules; businesses and individuals have a right to protect their reputations from attacks that violate Wikipedia's rules. Edits should be judged on their merits, not their motivations. DOSGuy (talk) 21:29, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
This raises a great point, which is that paid advocacy isn't the only kind of "advocacy" editing on Wikipedia. I've seen edits by employees promoting their company, but I've also seen hugely biased sections written by disgruntled customers... as of earlier this summer, Adobe_Systems#Criticism_of_Creative_Cloud was a stark example. It goes beyond commerce, too. On controversial topics (political, social, medical, you name it) there are plenty of editors who have a POV and who edit and monitor articles accordingly. That seems like a gray area, and it'd be nice if editors stuck to topics about which they're indifferent, but that's not the world we live in. I haven't been an editor for long, but it seems like the only solution is to focus on the content as described in existing NPOV policies: require sources, POV forks, etc.
If paid PR firms are overwhelming because they have all day to argue and dispute, then it sounds like the problem isn't paid editing per se, but rather that the dispute process is easy to abuse. Perhaps a more targeted response would make it less easy to do so. Proxyma (talk) 02:13, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Support. The idea of Wikipedia was producing a free encyclopedia built by volunteers to charitably shared their time, expertise, and knowledge. The idea of having a paid advocate is contrary to the fundamental concept of Wikipedia's existence. I acknowledge that judging each edit by itself has merit, but advocates can be hired in the thousands and countless hours to work; we are volunteers with jobs and this participation increases the work and is unnecessary. Stick to our fundamentals. --StormRider 04:04, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Support - I edit wikipedia at my own cost. If someone else is being paid to do it, I want to be paid too. But more seriously, I don't see how any advocacy, paid or unpaid, is consistent with NPOV, and paid advocacy will always have major implications of axe-grinding. It must be outlawed, at least so tht when discovered it can be quickly removed.--Robert EA Harvey (talk) 12:15, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support because when Someone Famous is caught having their PR person edit their WP article to put them in a favorable light I want it to be unambiguous that that's a violation of the site's rules and merits derision. It's unenforceable on a case-by-case basis but a few major cases coming to light should be discouraging and perhaps the more ethical PR firms will follow the site's rules. Paid editing is by definition biased editing. Even newspapers have liberal or conservative slants. JJL (talk) 01:37, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Actually, "Oppose Vehemently". Often - possibly even usually - the subjects of products, companies and more are best described by insiders. Although they may not add a NPOV - the information they provide can be the skeleton for others to work from, and provide critical connection information which helps a subject be more understood. No person would know the facts or have access to verifiable information than people who live the subject every day, day in and day out - and use the subject to feed their children. In fact - not letting "insiders" work on a given project will simply prevent WIkipedia from getting correct information quickly enough. And if anything - it may lead to the antithesis of advocacy - it may actually damage the future of the subject (especially in the case of a product or company) - as they are mis or under-represented on Wikipedia as others lack interest. The NPOV is in place. This rule will only force meat and sock puppetry to a new level.--Sean Stephens (talk) 01:40, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Because the drug war didn't work, and neither will this. We shouldn't give people a(nother) reason to be dishonest about their motivations. Also, to enforce it you have to require official ID, and no IP editing. BeCritical 02:02, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Both sides need to be volunteers. Having one side paid and the other not is unbalanced and thus why we need this policy, at least in some form. When we catch industry we exposure what they are attempting to do. It will get some / most to consider closely if this is something they wish to pursue. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 11:44, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
This is a survey. You have 'voted' in this survey more than once. Perhaps, rather than continuing add more votes in the survey portion, you could remove your extra bit and add your further thoughts in the relevant sections in the discussion below. Capitalismojo (talk) 20:59, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Striking through duplicate !vote. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:19, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. It's MUCH better to know who the paid advocates are, allow them to edit, and provide oversight, than to force them into hiding. NaturaNaturans (talk) 11:28, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I agree with the "Comment on the edit, not the editor" arguments that others have made. It shouldn't matter whether or not an editor is being paid to, say, improve an organisation's online presence – as long as their edits follow WP:NPOV and WP:V, and they themselves follow WP:CIVIL, then that's (fundamentally) all that should really matter. A Thousand Doors (talk | contribs) 14:10, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Because something might be difficult or even impossible to enforce, doesn't mean we shouldn't have a policy against it. That sounds perhaps ridiculous, but a policy in place will allow us to enforce the more egregious situations when they are discovered, and it isn't necessary to identify anyone in real life to enforce this policy. Promotional spam isn't generally difficult to spot if it isn't backed by neutral and reliable sources.--MONGO 18:22, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongest Possible Oppose This will drive experts aways from wikipedia. It is unenforcable and existing policies are sufficient to deal with this issue. Morgan Leigh | Talk 01:42, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - It seems like a no-brainer to prohibit paid editing in any fashion. Paid editing is a slippery slope that will lead to moneyed interests owning the 'pedia, and given the prominence it has achieved in the past decade, that is what is starting to happen. The recent discoveries of massive "sock farms" run by PR outfits is proof of that. The very integrity of Wikipedia is at stake. Jusdafax 10:14, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Jusdafax: I'm unclear how banning sock-puppet owners from having a job, would help detect sock-puppets. Could you elaborate? —Sladen (talk) 13:40, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I support requiring more editor transparency but this measure singles out certain targets and exempts other targets based on assumptions about human nature that aren't fully explored. When Newt Gingrich was running for President, Newt 2012 Communications Director Joe DeSantis followed these rules carefully despite them not being formalized, saying "We have found working with the Wikipedia community pays off by reaching a consensus on language and that results in less ‘edit wars’ than if we were to just change language ourselves." If DeSantis didn't follow these rules and edited directly, he would have been pressured by the editing community to back off without this formal policy. This formal policy seems to draw a fundamental distinction between whether someone like DeSantis is a paid spin doctor or a volunteer one which I find dubious. Rather than get into the psychology of whether money is a more corrupting motivation than something non-financial like, say, nepotism, just mandate more disclosure across the board in the name of transparency. The policy also carves out an exception for people like DeSantis anyway by saying articles like the Newt Gingrich article fall under a BLP exception.--Brian Dell (talk) 21:44, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support MONGO summed it up perfectly. APerson (talk!) 01:40, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Discussion

  • Adding that discussion about trying to add this at WP:NOT has been redirected here. The previous discussion, should it matter, is at Wikipedia_talk:What_Wikipedia_is_not#Bright_line_rule. --MASEM (t) 17:28, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Past practice is that factual, non-controversial, edits to articles may be made directly by editors with a COI, especially if a source is provided. For example, if an article about a company lists its officers (or some of them), and one of them retires and a successor is appointed, A business owner, company employee, or paid editor could directly edit to make that change without going through the {{edit request}} mechanism. Also, obvious blatant vandalism may be reverted by such editors. I would like these included in the proposal. Any objections? DES (talk) 17:43, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Would it be reasonable for someone that may be doing paid advocacy to submit an article to AFC as long as they have full disclosure in that submittal? --MASEM (t) 18:07, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    That is the current practice. Coretheapple (talk) 18:10, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    Then that should be added here, as another route for how such editors can still contribute (assuming, of course, we don't completely shut off paid advocacy per above discussion) --MASEM (t) 18:36, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    On the contrary, it's a form of gaming the system that needs to be stopped. It skews the content of the encyclopedia toward articles planted by the subjects of articles and their reps, especially small companies of limited interest, and implicitly exaggerates the importance of subjects that receive such advocacy vs subjects in the same industry and business category that don't pay to have their interests pushed on Wikipedia. Coretheapple (talk) 19:07, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    Okay, I see what you meant by "it's current practice" above; however, I postulate that if AFC is doing the right job - not only reviewing the article but doing a cursory check of other mentions of the topic to make sure that there isn't any obvious aspects that are being missed in the candidate, it doesn't make sense to not allow that to go through. Or if anything, have a COI AFC board so that multiple editors can check. --MASEM (t) 19:33, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    Diverting volunteers to vetting what paid editors are doing isn't the answer, and would not address the problem of giving excessive attention to companies and persons who pay to plant articles in Wikipedia. Coretheapple (talk) 19:59, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
    We're talking about an activity that should be happening irregardless of who submits an article to AFC; check to make sure the topic isn't a hoax, that there is balance to the coverage, etc. The only additional aspect here is that if there's an AFC that's attached to an editor that has asserted their COI, the article should be doubled checked for tone in additional to all the other steps a AFC entry should review, which takes at most a few extra minutes. --MASEM (t) 21:13, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment I think it's important to note that much of paid editing is done by experienced Wikipedia Editors, not outside PR firms. And because these Editor are fully aware of WP policies and guidelines, I think their participation is much preferred to newly created accounts and IPs who show up to put out fires.
I have actually seen instances where I know an Editor was paid to be a liaison between a company and those Editors who were actively editing an article and his/her participation led to a better article. In one particular instance, the paid Editor posted suggested edits on the Talk Page that uninvolved Editors were free to accept, reject or ignore (and all of their statements were sourced). I just think it's important to realize that paid editing takes a variety of forms and not all of it is ham-fisted PR companies asserting ownership over articles. Liz Read! Talk! 18:43, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
P.S. The Editors in question were transparent about their role and COI. They didn't hide what they were doing. Liz Read! Talk! 18:45, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Disclosure is sort of a litmus test that separates those paid editors editing in a policy compliant manner and those with an ulterior, advocacy-type motive they seek to conceal in order to circumvent, er, 'guidelines'.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 18:55, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
It's not a very good litmus test, since some disclosing editors make problematic edits to articles, and some nondisclosing editors make good edits to articles. Instead of just picking something arbitrary that's easy to measure, any test should have much better FAR/FRR. bobrayner (talk) 12:29, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Question: As worded, would the section entitled Financial Conflicts of Interest apply to academics or researchers who are receiving Grant $$$ on projects related to topics they might be editing, to students who are receiving scholarship $$$ and grades for editing Wikipedia as part of the Wikipedia:Education Program, to individuals that have supported non-profit organizations financially, etc., etc.?? --Mike Cline (talk) 19:57, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I would say probably yes, probably not, and no. Grant money is the tricky one, and is a widely recognized source of conflicts of interest. Absent specific facts, its hard to say with certainty, but it would be easy for academic or researcher to allow the grant money to could their neutrality when editing. The education program, afaik, doesn't have them edit anything about the program itself, so as long as they are editing about things unrelated to the source of the funds, and their only incentive is to produce quality work, its not an issue. As for groups you contribute to, we usually ignore non-financial COI, and are only interested in financial COIs to the extent that the person with the conflict would benefit financially. Monty845 20:05, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Labeling academic researchers who have received grant money as being in COI would mean that most experts of any scientific Wikipedia article would be ineligible to edit them. In a hypothetical where such a policy were imposed outside of Wikipedia, such interpretation would essentially mean that almost all scientific publications and texts would be in violation of COI, and if such a policy were implemented by scientific journals, societies, and textbook publishers, it would empty PubMed's database and college book store shelves. The possibility that some would interpret a Wikipedia COI policy in this way is more than enough reason to strongly oppose implementing such a policy, at least as currently construed. I couldn't imagine anything more damaging to Wikipedia's external credibility than discouraging the contributions of expert editors that have grant funding, particular when the vast majority of it is awarded through a stringently peer-reviewed proposal system. CrazyPaco (talk) 17:29, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi B2C I am responding to your !vote above down here, so as to avoid cluttering the survey. I am new to the issue of COI policy at Wikipedia too, but not to COI policies in general. I work at a university, where knowledge production is our game, and our name and reputation are our most valuable asset. As industry and universities have come to collaborate more and more, and the isolation of the "ivory tower" has become a thing of the past, a lot of universities have put in hours of thought (much of it based on very difficult lived experience) on crafting COI policies. And pretty much all universities have them now - the core ideas are a) disclosure (daylight as disinfectant) and management of COI, which includes at minimum requiring disclosure, and forbidding some activities. BrightLine has both, as simply as it can be stated. (there are many many elaborations that are possible) I looked at your userpage and see that you are a "bottom up" guy and that you value the products of thoughtful experience. I hope you can hear me, that having things happen like the big sockpuppet network (which we are still living through), and other recent events, damage our good name and dishearten a lot of editors and admins. And it is that much worse, that we don't actually have a COI policy that clearly forbids what happened. We owe it to ourselves and our public to have a core COI policy. It is basic governance. I agree with you, very much, that bad faith editing will out - it was actually a single editor checking the reliability of sources who tugged on the thread that unraveled the sockpuppet network. But that doesn't mean that we have any excuse for not having a core COI policy. I hope that makes sense to you and that you might consider supporting this. Thanks! Jytdog (talk) 20:03, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Hello Jytdog (talk · contribs)! Convincing me (and others, presumably) that COI is a problem on WP is pointless; I'm already convinced about that. What you need to convince me is that policies, guidelines and rules attempting to address the problem of COI on WP are going to have a significant effect on the problem, and that that positive effective will not be outweighed by the negative effect of the accusations, investigations and untold other unintended consequences of such policies, guidelines and rules.

    As to comparing us to other organizations, like universities (or even publishers), that's not very convincing either. Nobody else produces work that is a collaboration of numerous mostly anonymous contributors. Also, our work is also unique in that it is strictly limited to non-original notable content that is supported in reliable sources. That really limits the influence the COI or any bias any one editor has as compared to what that influence could be at universities, newspapers, magazines, etc. --B2C 21:08, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi B2C thanks for replying! I see, sorry for missing the point. awkward. Let me start at the end of what you wrote - we agree there a lot - the front line (and most important thing) remains content and the policies governing it (no OR/SYN, NPOV, RS, etc) and I would add, how well editors apply them! There is no substitute for that, and they go a long way. I hear you that we are fundamentally different than universities, publishers, etc, with our crazy open and anonymous system of contributors. But there are two key areas of overlap: 1) both WIkipedia and others are vulnerable to people on the "inside" using its resources, made available to them on trust, for their own benefit; 2) both rely on the public's trust. Repeated violations of trust degrade morale and ethics on the inside, and degrade trust from the public. Clear and reasonable COI policies, and clear and reasonable procedures to enforce them, address both. They are the time-honored solution. To the your first and key point -- would it have a significant impact on the problem? With respect to public trust, implementing a policy is the very least we can do. With respect to actually reducing COI behavior... it is hard to predict. But I think having a clearly articulated policy would definitely increase the risk for companies like Wiki-PR - who would hire them, when their activities are clearly against Wikipedia's policies? Wiki-PR would have to outright lie to say that what they do is OK. I think having that business dry up would go a long way. And there is currently confusion among editors - I continually come across people, in all good faith, saying "Of course it is fine for me to edit my company's page" With COI only a guideline and somewhat obscure, there is actually little we can say to them. So yes, I think there would be significant impact. Thanks for talking! Jytdog (talk) 01:01, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • It should be possible to draft something worded in a manner that provides a narrow scope for addressing the type of corporate PR advocacy threatened by WikiExperts, without sweeping up everyone with a professional interest in a given topic into that policy net.
I don't agree with the "advocacy is advocacy" school of thought, as being paid to advocate creates an incentive to do battle and engage in other WP:NOTHERE behavior to fulfill one's extraneous obligations, whereas holding a professional opinion on a given topic doesn't necessarily entail the encumbrance of being financially compelled to behave irrationally to promote the POV one has been contracted to advocate. This should not result in a policy that countermands WP:YESPOV.
Perhaps an attempt should be made to distinguish between "paid editing" and "paid advocacy". If that were possible, maybe it would be feasible to demand disclosure of the COI in both cases, but restrict only the editing that falls under the "advocacy" category to Talk pages, etc. There is a difference between someone being paid to create an article about a notable topic and someone advocating for commercial or political aims, with the intention of co-opting Wikipedia as a vehicle to promote the commercial or political agenda. One is in line with the informational purposes of an encyclopedia, and the other is at odds with it. So long as paid editing per se is required to be disclosed, the added scrutiny should provide an incentive to be more circumspect in pushing a POV. Corporate PR would seem to be in a completely different category, however.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 00:32, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Not here to support or oppose a policy, but just to voice my opinion. Echoing some of what was written above, company owners and employees are generally tolerable. The ones who are totally clueless and just here to advertise can be blocked immediately, and they are. The rest can typically be conversed with and convinced to either contribute within the bounds of COI or leave Wikipedia entirely. The truly intolerable editors are the actual paid advocates. This is a distinction in my mind between someone who gains a hypothetical financial benefit from a Wikipedia article (employee of a company), and someone who is being paid to write/edit a Wikipedia article (outside contractor). They care only about getting the job done, however it can be done, so they can get their paycheck. They have no interest in constructive contribution, and no interest in learning the rules except as far as it helps them achieve their goal. They are a subset of WP:NOTHERE. Someguy1221 (talk) 07:40, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia:No paid advocacy seems inherently contradictory to me. It says that paid editing is allowed, but you may not edit if "you expect to derive monetary or other benefits from editing Wikipedia". The example given is clearly paid advocacy, not paid editing, but the wording of the prohibition would forbid most of the paid editing that is declared acceptable further down. If I'm wrong about this, please let me know why. – Quadell (talk) 12:10, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
    Follow-up: Recent edits have resolved this issue, and made my concern moot. – Quadell (talk) 18:53, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment In the light of recent Wiki-PR revelations and to handle that sort of actions in the future I would support making WP:COI a policy instead, which would automatically make WP:NOPAY a policy as well. In this sense the proposed policy looks essentially repetitive and redundant. Brandmeistertalk 13:04, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Minor rewording - Item 2 of the "definition" of financial COI says "you expect to derive monetary or other benefits from editing Wikipedia". This should read
    "you expect to derive monetary or other material benefits from editing Wikipedia"
    and/or
    "... benefits from the subject of the article"
    or similar. If I read it literally, the current definition says I have a financial COI just because I get the "other benefit" of feeling good about fixing a spelling error on the article about my employer - even when I do it anonymously (and my employer is not aware that I'm doing it). Mitch Ames (talk) 13:53, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment It seems like it would be unenforceable to me. ~Adjwilley (talk) 17:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment, as I said in Survey, I think we need a bright line rule that would allow to ban violators when they are caught first time as it is very difficult to prove paid editing. Still I think we could place the line somehow differently. It would be sufficient to a)identify all the possible conflicts of interests including tagging the article if it was mostly written by editors with COI; b) No edit warring if COI. For me it will be sufficient, a) would allow scrutiny of COI-related issues by unbiased editors, b) would make NPOVing of the articles easy. Still it would be more acceptable for people with COI especially different borderline cases Risker was talking about Alex Bakharev (talk) 00:57, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment Is this the wrong way around? Shouldn't it be less about outing of editors that could have a $ incentive, and rather identifying articles that could be possible $-makers if misused. And tagging the latter in some way for patrol? In other words, develop a policy to flag the potential money making articles rather than witchhunt editors (who, even if paid, are playing by the stated rules)? AnonNep (talk) 22:05, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • For your consideration, I offer my own Timbo's Rule 15. "There's unnecessary confusion about how a paid Conflict of Interest editor can edit successfully at WP. It's actually as easy as one-two-three... 1. Declare your COI on the talk page. 2. Commit no spam — stick to uncontroversial, sourced content. 3. Invite scrutiny." (April 2012) Carrite (talk) 16:47, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I've seen too much advocacy editing in biographies and corporations. Paid advocacy is inherently not neutral. Hekerui (talk) 08:48, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Neither is unpaid advocacy Jenova20 (email) 12:32, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
In fact neither is any form of editing. Any claim that is not vacuously true cannot possibly be neutral.—Al12si (talk) 06:28, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

An alternative

As an alternative, I would like to see a way to add users, IP addresses or maybe even a block of IP addresses to my watch list, preferably with some automatic expiration time. That way, having encountered suspicious editing from an IP or new account, I could easily monitor if the editor was exhibiting a pattern of abuse. Jackmcbarn pointed out to me elsewhere that "We've wanted that for 9 years, never got it, but never got told no. See bugzilla:470."--agr (talk) 11:52, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

This and the bugzilla may not be very well expresssed. You already can put users and IP addresses on your watchlist. Is it that you want to put a user's contributions on your watchlist? How many do you want listed? Presumably not just the last one. What I do when I want to know if a vandal or other evildoer has stopped is to put them on my watchlist and then occasionally click View and edit watchlist. This gives a link to their contributions. --Stfg (talk) 12:11, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
I want the user on my watch list, not the user's talk page. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear. I want to know when a user makes a new edit. The latest edit will do; an easy way to get the last few would be nice, but there are other ways to get that. What I don't want is to have to keep checking for recent activity. I only have so much time to devote. If I see vandalism or something that looks improper (like removing well sourced criticism) from an IP or new account or if I get a complaint, I want to see if that pattern continues. A watch list tool would make it much easier to find and track accounts engaged in activity that violates our rules. It's something practical that can be done easily, as opposed to an unenforceable No paid advocacy policy that is about to snowball out.--agr (talk) 14:55, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Any IP-based blocking is inherently misguided, not only because of dynamic IP addresses, but especially since we have long officially run out of IPv4 addresses. Any IP address you happen to block is potentitally shared, possibly by a whole building that happens to be doing nothing but providing free Wi-fi (probably a university, public library, civic centre, or the like).—Al12si (talk) 06:28, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
The proposal wasn't to block specific IPv4 addresses (we already have / have always had that), but to wikistalk IPs which have contributed spam and vandalism in the past to see if the problems continue. That open terminal in the school library often is a source of constant problematic edits; its "potentially shared" status should draw more scrutiny, not less. K7L (talk) 12:46, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Not just open terminals, but increasingly often free Wi-fi spots. When I get on my school’s wi-fi I often get someone else’s IP old address (obvious from the computer name that gets assigned to me), and in a lot of places wi-fi is the only way for anyone (including professors) to get an IP address at all.—Al12si (talk) 18:14, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

I would recommend making disclosure of COI mandatory for involved editors. Transparency is a first step toward dealing with COI. Farmanesh (talk) 18:18, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Close per WP:SNOW?

There was already an attempt to mark the proposal as rejected ("No way this will pass with so many opposes registered")[3], but that was reverted ("Your conclusion is a fair one but closing this will stifle the discussion. And discussion is always a good thing.")[4].

It seems to me that everything that needs to be said has been stated multiple times. COI editing is a problem, but efforts to restrict it, beyond enforcing standard content-related polices and guidelines, creates more problems than it resolves. I propose we close the discussion and mark the proposal rejected. --B2C 06:20, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Close Agree. The discussion has been interesting. It is clear that there is not enough support for this proposal. Capitalismojo (talk) 13:00, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Close Freezing my balls off. Paradoctor (talk) 14:04, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I've almost enough for a snowman... Jenova20 (email) 14:12, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Oppose While it's obvious this isn't going to pass, there continues to be good discussion and new ideas. Since this is such a community-wide issue, let everyone have their say. First Light (talk) 14:39, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
What new ideas? --B2C 16:55, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Not ideas so much as comments that put this proposal in perspective. One which I appreciated is yours: "LOL. Yes, and vandals should also be required to identify themselves, preferably in their signatures." It was worth keeping this open long enough to see something that we agree on :-). I'm in the oppose camp here, and think that there can't be too many nails put in the coffin. First Light (talk) 20:00, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Tagging this proposal as rejected does mean you have to stop discussing, the tag explicitly states "If you want to revive discussion, please use the talk page or initiate a thread at the village pump.". From what I gather, even the supporters do not believe that this proposal has any chance. Time to die. Paradoctor (talk) 21:25, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Support closure Was going to weigh in but it looks like the weights are all on the scales already as it were and we've got a clear answer. Time to finalize the clear decision. 0x0077BE (talk) 18:38, 18 October 2013 (UTC) Support This proposal has, to put it bluntly, no chance in hell of ever passing. There is no new ideas, just more and more people expressing the same old rehashed consensus. KonveyorBelt 18:44, 17 October 2013 (UTC) Support Paid editing is bad for Wikipedia. There's an enforcement problem, but identifying paid editors usually isn't that hard. Some write obvious promotional material. Some focus on narrow areas of commercial interest. The concern that this will prevent experts in some area from editing is overrated. If an edit has no relevance to a specific product or company, it's probably not going to raise a paid editing issue. I've run into paid editing on Carhartt, Skyy Vodka, Better Place, and Carnival Cruises. In each case, an editor appeared who focused on adding hype and deleting cited negative info, and edited few or no other articles. It's not that hard to see such patterns. John Nagle (talk) 19:59, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose snow closure as that applies where all the responses to a proposal take the same side (up or down), rendering discussion pointless. Opinion on this proposal appears split. I'd also suggest that users posting "support" or "oppose" for the proposal itself here (and not for the attempt to close discussion) move their comments out of this section into the discussion of the proposal elsewhere on this page. K7L (talk) 12:38, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose snow closure - Follow process, this is not a snow situation even though the result is apparent. Carrite (talk) 18:28, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose closure. I'm going to ask on WP:AN/RFC for an uninvolved editor to close this when the time comes. The arguments are important to point a way forward, so the discussion shouldn't be cut short. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:44, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose closure. Don't see the benefit of cutting debate short. Farmanesh (talk) 18:16, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
Support Close. If this is the correct direction for Wikipedia, it would make more sense to adopt Wikipedia_talk:Paid_editing_policy_proposal as an intermediate step first. No need to go further right away. I also have some concerns about defining "financial COI" (may be more difficult than you think), enforcement, and the likelihood of an uptick in WP:OUTING. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Proxyma (talkcontribs) 20:40, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose There are still nuanced opinions being stated in relation to the matter at hand.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 20:00, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Closure and suggest closing the next dozen or so attempts to bypass the 30-day rule on sight.
From Wikipedia:Snowball clause#What the snowball clause is not:
"An uphill battle is extremely difficult but potentially winnable. In cases of genuine contention in the Wikipedia community, it is best to settle the dispute through discussion and debate. This should not be done merely to assuage complaints that process wasn't followed, but to produce a correct outcome, which often requires that the full process be followed. Allowing a process to continue to its conclusion may allow for a more reasoned discourse, ensures that all arguments are fully examined, and maintains a sense of fairness."
--Guy Macon (talk) 16:33, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
My apologies to Guy Macon and 連絡 . In a moment of laziness I posted my comments in the WP:SNOW section instead of the general survey section, where they'd have been more appropriate. I'm moving them there now, and striking them here. Proxyma (talk) 17:20, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Close While I support something along these lines in principle, it's not going to be easy to enforce. As discussed above, aspects of the proposal are already covered by some policies, and some aspects may implicitly be at odds with other policies. -- Trevj (talk) 16:15, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Motion to close as "No Consensus"

Consensus has not been shown here. Everybody is descending into a vicious cycle of wikilawyering and it should be nipped in the bud. This doesn't mean the proposal is bad, or that it is good, but just simply that consensus is murky or unclear. This does not have any bearing on whether the proposal can be submitted again or not—rather, this discussion is heading nowhere fast. KonveyorBelt 16:17, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

I count 65 support comments (31%) and 143 oppose comments (69%). How is that no consensus? Note: the last call for closure had 6 in favor and 5 opposed. --Guy Macon (talk) 16:45, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia defines consensus as a "process that seeks the consent of all participants." 1/3 to 2/3 (carpmath) is not that. Carptrash (talk) 16:56, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
The policy and guidelines consensus is stricter than most, per WP:PG, which states

If consensus for broad community support has not developed after a reasonable time period, the proposal is considered failed.

Also, tallying doesn't mean consensus. This is not a vote. KonveyorBelt 17:05, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I think that there is clearly a consensus against this particular proposal. I don't see any reason to avoid noting that reality, with that clarification. It's not like it is closing the door on the idea in general. North8000 (talk) 17:08, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I think it is the wording of this proposal. I don't like the idea of people being able to advertise that they can 'adjust' your Wikipedia presence for a price and then spend time and resources we don't have on ensuring it looks even handed but is actually biased but how we identify them and regulate them has not been well defined. If we could get that right I think many people here would get behind the notion.-- 🍺 Antiqueight confer 17:22, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support as nom. KonveyorBelt 17:26, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as being factually incorrect. There is a clear consensus so far. Regarding the "tallying doesn't mean consensus" argument, that is why we should wait until the usual 30 days have passed and have an experienced admin close this. Proposing that it be closed early as "No Consensus" is asking the respondents to make an informal tally -- otherwise how can they decide whether to support closing it or oppose closing it? --Guy Macon (talk) 18:17, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Oppose. We weigh arguments; we don't count votes. Well, at least that's what we're supposed to do. More on this in my OP. Although, given that this has legal ramifications, it arguably should be an office action. (Ditto.)--Elvey (talk) 21:20, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
Oppose. As above.--Robert EA Harvey (talk) 12:15, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose There is a concensus and it is oppose. Morgan Leigh | Talk 01:46, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose Consensus has been clearly demonstrated and it is oppose. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:09, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Assuming Guy's count of '65 support comments (31%) and 143 oppose comments (69%)' is correct I cannot see how this cannot be called a consensus. In my opinion the motion to close as 'no consensus' is disruptive to the proper RfC process, which should be allowed to continue. Martin Hogbin (talk) 12:24, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose because the consensus is very, very, very clear. Lukeno94 (tell Luke off here) 12:38, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.