Wikipedia talk:Paid editing policy proposal

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Paid Editing Proposals
In November 2013, there were three main discussions and votes
on paid editing:

No paid advocacy (talk) (closed: opposed)
Paid editing policy proposal (talk) (closed: opposed)
Conflict of interest limit (talk) (closed: opposed)

General comments[edit]

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.
The general comments from this proposal seem to be that while disclosure is good, it should not always be needed, due to concerns over WP:OUTING. Many editors also commented on issues regarding paid editors difficulty adhering to WP:NPOV. Many of the support votes seem to be due to this being the best policy of the three, due to it being the clearest and simplest. Concerns were also expressed about this putting off good faith paid contributors, due to them having to "jump through hoops" or being unfairly picked on and scrutinized by the community. Overall, it appears the votes on this page are, in the main, opposed to the policy as written, but state that COI disclosure should be highly encouraged, even if not needed. (non-admin closure) --Mdann52talk to me! 15:31, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Does the phrase HELL NO sum up my feelings adequately? Bwmoll3 (talk) 01:21, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • This adequately compromises with the "all or nothing" proposal in No paid advocacy. Very good. AGK [•] 21:40, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I added "All advocacy is prohibited on Wikipedia, and paid advocacy is considered to be especially egregious," just to be sure that nothing here could be interpreted as endorsing advocacy. If anybody has any doubts on this read WP:NPOV a2nd WP:NOT. I also removed "Paid advocacy" from the section heading - there was nothing about paid advocacy in the section.
Given those changes, there is nothing in this that contradicts the Bright Line rule (it just doesn't go as far) and folks can vote for 1 or both of the current serious proposals without fear of contradicting themselves. I'll suggest that the originator start an RfC and I'll !vote Support. Smallbones(smalltalk) 21:51, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't think the word "egregious" is very clear in this context since it mainly just means "outstanding". I'd exchange it for "offensive", "harmful", "reprehensible", or something along those lines. -Thibbs (talk) 01:47, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
    • From the American Heritage dictionary: "Conspicuously bad or offensive." Merriam-Webster states "Conspicuous; especially: conspicuously bad." Assuming the intent is to convey a sense of conspicuous harm, I think "egregious" is apt. isaacl (talk) 03:28, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
    • From the Oxford American Dictionary: "1. Outstandingly bad; shocking 2. (archaic) remarkably good ... ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (sense 2 ): from Latin egregius ‘illustrious,’ literally ‘standing out from the flock,’ from ex- ‘out’ + grex, greg- ‘flock.’ The derogatory sense probably arose as an ironical use." It feels awkward to me as it's currently used here. Perhaps replacing "especially egregious" with "egregiously harmful" would work? -Thibbs (talk) 10:35, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
      • Modern usage has a "bad" connotation; "egregiously harmful" sounds awkward to me due to the redundancy (something harmful in an outstandingly bad way). We can see what others think. isaacl (talk) 12:46, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
      • This awkwardness could possibly be avoided by simply using a different word. "Egregious" has too much adjectival baggage in my view. It doesn't fit all circumstances. You could say "The errors he made were egregious," but nobody would say "This food tastes egregious!" The use of the word in this sentence strikes me as similarly awkward. But I agree we should see what others think. -Thibbs (talk) 18:10, 16 October 2013 (UTC) Never mind. Already addressed. -Thibbs (talk) 18:21, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
        • Just as a side note: "egregious" is typically used to describe acts and behaviour, rather than things. So in the previous text, the behaviour was being described as conspicuously problematic. isaacl (talk) 18:37, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
          • And for the record I'd have been happy to see "especially egregious" replaced with the less awkward "conspicuously problematic". -Thibbs (talk) 18:49, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I think this page takes the best approach of what I've seen so far, and I support it too. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:48, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I strongly support the core of this proposal. I don't think there is any need to outright ban financial-or-other-reward-based editing, but transparency in the form of disclosure is absolutely essential to avoid the erosion of our Neutrality Pillar. Two suggested tweaks:
    1) Change this: "There have been many benign examples of editors being paid – for example, a university asking editors to write...". The problem is that being asked to write isn't a form of payment. I think what you mean is university students receiving class credit or grades for writing. Grades are a non-financial reward, however, so "paid" sounds funny.
    2) The sentence: "If paid editing leads to conflict, the paid editor is expected to recuse from further editing" may be overly harsh. There is a lot of negativity about paid editors and I can easily imagine opposed editors making a nuisance of themselves by challenging every little thing. But if a paid editor is making a good faith effort and the neutrality issue isn't a recurring one for him then I think it would be OK to consider the matter on its merits rather than just applying a brightline. Perhaps simply changing "conflict" to "conflicts" would be enough to address this.
    But again, the core of this proposal is spot on. -Thibbs (talk) 01:38, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
1) I changed "editors" to "one of its professors" (and added "if" since I don't know that this has actually happened) 2) I added the s to conflicts, and added a requirement to consult experienced editors (e.g. thru WP:COIN), before recusal. Does that help? Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:46, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Yeah that helps a lot. -Thibbs (talk) 10:35, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Effectively unenforceable; this would only work to effect "sentencing enhancement" should an editor be exposed as paid under this policy (in other words, it would just serve to lengthen blocks, more quickly lead to bans, but only after the editor was exposed). In general, I oppose procedures that mandate or even recommend self-outing, or provide an incentive to outing an "enemy" editor. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 04:04, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Frankly, paid editing is possibly the least egregious "advocacy" that we have on Wikipedia. Much of the paid editing that is happening is entirely within policy, and isn't advocacy in the strictest sense. Getting paid, even by an employer, isn't the issue. The issue is always advocacy and non-adherence to NPOV, a problem that has exhibited itself on Wikipedia practically since its inception. Even in the past, we have seen areas where editors taking a certain position have been labeled as "obviously in the employ of [name the industry/company here]"; it was difficult enough for honest editors to stick it out with that. Now they'll be summarily banned if they can't prove that they *aren't* making money off their editing. Risker (talk) 04:42, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
    • "Now they'll be summarily banned if they can't prove that they *aren't* making money off their editing" - I think this misconstrues the meaning of the proposal. As I interpret it, nobody would be asked to prove a negative. A blocking/banning would result from a preponderance of the evidence "proving" that the editor *was* making money off POV-oriented editing. User:Mendaliv makes a good point about the difficulty of enforcement above, but the current rules are frankly even less enforceable and this proposal would at least establish a Wikipedia-wide principle. -Thibbs (talk) 10:57, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
      • Thibbs, where is that evidence going to come from? It will encourage off-wiki "opposition research" and onwiki posting of personal information to "prove" that someone has a COI; it will essentially remove the protections of WP:OUTING since the only way to make the accusation will be to reveal personal information. Risker (talk) 13:33, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I think the point here is that by laying down a rule that editors who make money from editorial advocacy will be blocked we are providing a basis to block violations if evidence arises. There are many ways evidence arises that are not, as in the case of outing, forbidden. -Thibbs (talk) 18:10, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I added a little section at the bottom to say that the policy does not condone outing. Jehochman Talk 13:36, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If the edit is non-contentious (e.g. marketing person correcting the spelling of the name of CEO of company which has existing article) then what is the benefit in the user disclosing their status? And if the edit is indeed contentious or POV-pushing, does it matter whether the editor is paid or unpaid? The edit is still inappropriate. WP:COI - focus on the edit not the editor. Babakathy (talk) 12:10, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • IMO, support or oppose is premature at this time. The proposal is a two day old draft, and the original editor shows willingness to address concerns. I think it would be better to identify areas of needed improvement, or concerns, but hold off support or oppose until the changes die down.--SPhilbrick(Talk) 13:07, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose While advocacy as a subset of paid makes sense, I think most paid is advocacy of some type. However, the real question is not are people paid but are they editing in a POV manner. Of course, I've found that bringing POV editors who openly boast about their intention to trash people to ANI can be fruitless if they are real BS artists who trash you back with no evidence and have a few friends to back them up. And advocates, paid or unpaid, are the most likely to engage in such non-collaborative editing.
What I'd like to see is 200+ paid part time admins who would root out the most problematic editors, give them lots of short blocks til they behave, push them into mentoring, or ban them as a last resort. If Wikifoundation isn't legally allowed to pay them, maybe someone else can - The CleanUp Wikimedia 501c3. They could become admins under the usual processes, though with some leeway perhaps since problematic editors will flock to block anyone who might actually stop their nonsense. User:Carolmooredc 14:28, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support This is the clearest of the three articles on how I would want paid editors to use Wikipedia. Frmorrison (talk) 18:38, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose The only thing this has over WP:PROMOTION is the demand that editors out themselves. This would pretty much invite people to ignore WP:AGF. We judge editors by their behavior, not by who they are outside of Wikipedia. Paradoctor (talk) 20:54, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose "To ensure neutrality of contributions by paid editors, paid editors must disclose that they are being compensated for their contributions." This proposed policy leads to needless outing. If a paid contributor acts problematic he should be dealt with like any other Wikipedian. --Spannerjam 04:08, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I am unable to see how paid editing can be in compliance with NPOV. If anyone is paid by another to edit, the payer is going to expect the net results to be what they are paying for.--MONGO 14:58, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Then don't you support the proposal? Coretheapple (talk) 15:00, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Let me give you an example: I give you 1000 € and tell you "expand these 10 stubs on medieval French literature". How does that clash with NPOV? Paradoctor (talk) 15:15, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • A more diabolical example: I am a corporation and my Wiki page is full of errors and outdated info. I contact a well-respected Wikipedia editor and offer to donate $1,000 to their favorite charity if they clean up the article. I expect that the errors will be corrected and that the info will be updated. Jehochman Talk 15:25, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • We should not have a policy or guideline that supports paid editing no matter how benign the edits may be. If anyone doesn't understand wikimarkup, there are plenty of tutorials and others willing to assist for free. No doubt some have accepted pay or some form of compensation to edit, but our website policy should never encourage paid editing in any manner.--MONGO 15:38, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • It's happening already. We can't put that genie back in the bottle. We ought to document what's going on and provide practical advice. We should provide information so that people understand better ways to go about it, rather than leaving the activity hidden and totally unsupervised. Jehochman Talk 15:52, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I understand. The policy should be that paid editing is officially discouraged by this website. It may not be necessary to block or ban paid editors, but there should not be any policy that in any way encourages it.--MONGO 16:18, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Further clarification...the way I am reading this proposal is, we give up, paid editing wins, so all we want now is to make sure you tell us that you are a paid editor. Correct me if I'm mistaken.--MONGO 19:17, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Speaking purely for myself, I hope that isn't the case. In my comments in the section "A few possible details" below, I try to indicate what I think are at least a few behavioral matters which might make it more acceptable to those of us who, like me, don't really want paid editors around here to make the fact that we can't catch all of them less objectionable, and, maybe, make their presence as paid editors less of a problem that will be exploited by wikipedia's critics. Personally, I would myself, were I given the powers The Jimbo had early, probably block all of em whenever they stuck their heads out of the ground, but we won't be able to catch all of them, damn it, and at least I think some proposals of that type might make the problem a bit less of a problem. Maybe. John Carter (talk) 19:45, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I appreciate Mongo clarifying his oppose. I tend to agree with him. Unfortunately, the "community" is generally happy with paid editing, or at best indifferent, with only a minority of editors recognizing paid editing as a problem. Jimbo Wales has been all over the map on this issue. Clearly nothing will be done without action by the WMF. Coretheapple (talk) 20:00, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I not only appreciate Mongo's clarification, but on balance I agree with him. Coretheapple (talk) 15:40, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Paradoctor, who are you talking to? Anyway, if we must, lets be real clear that paid editing is strongly discouraged and expand on that in the policy, but if one is editing for compensation...and then add the caveats that would be tolerable such as what the potential COI's are and what edits are being done and where the focus of those edits are.--MONGO 01:41, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose as allowing fear of outing someone to trump WP:COI means we can't call a spade a spade or something quacking loudly a WP:DUCK. The end result will be weak, ineffectual and unenforceable. K7L (talk) 01:35, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, largely per Risker's comments above. Editors must adhere to NPOV regardless of their motivations, and criteria such as NPOV and verifiability are far more able to be transparent and therefore provable than off-site financial arrangements; trying to prove those will likely degrade into something quite Orwellian. Editors can be constructive or disruptive regardless of their motivations, and disclosing paid arrangements will almost certainly leave paid edits to be judged on that fact, rather than on their strength as edits. I can sniff out a promotional article and improve it without knowing whether the original editor was paid or not. Show me a policy that improves the quality of the content, and that policy will by its definition improve the quality of the editors. This one will do neither.--~TPW 03:37, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment, for those who are opposing based on the theory that this proposal advocates outing, how is this self-outing different from the self-outing required for alternate user accounts? The risk of editors abusing multiple (sockpuppet) user accounts is considered sufficiently grave at Wikipedia that users of alternate accounts are expected to disclose their other accounts. Isn't the risk of a paid advocate-editor's violation of NPOV at least as likely as the risk of a sockpuppet account's ability to tamper with votes and evade blocks? Enforceability is difficult in both cases, but I don't see much of a rush for third parties to try to out every alt. account users and I doubt we'd find this a problem with paid advocate editors either. WP:OUTING is still in full effect and it's linked from this proposed policy. -Thibbs (talk) 10:50, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: I think we definitely do need an official policy regarding paid editing, even if it is hard to enforce. I would strongly support a policy along the lines of "...require a COI disclosure on user talk page" (although I'm not so sure about some stricter versions demanding disclosures in every edit summary). At the very least, it would mean that agencies like Wiki-Experts would not be able to advertise themselves as "ethical editors" to their clients, while still operating via anonymous accounts. As far as enforcement is concerned, I think the WMF will need to step in with some additional tools before the community can handle it on its own. SPat talk 00:56, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
(P.S.: Is there a better forum for discussing general ideas about this?)
  • Oppose per my below section. The first few naive paid editors that comply with it will quickly realize that it's only downside to comply. Secondly (and this isn't a big deal now but may become one if any of these advocacy proposals become policy), part of WMF's role is PR of Wikipedia including oversight edits, BLP edits, etc, etc. They make the same type of edits to protect and advocate for WP that paid editors do for their clients. We can couch it any way we like, but right now we say WMF employees get to take their WMF hat off and edit outside of work. I don't think think any of these policy proposals create these types of "off work" situations. Would every WMF employee have to declare the receive compensation for every edit? P.S. Does anyone else see the irony in the "Help the Funds Distribution Committee spend $6 million" at the top of the paid editors policy proposal? Just a glance gives the impression it's a policy proposal to give $6 million to editors. :) --DHeyward (talk) 12:14, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Dead in the water as soon as the "no investigation outside WP" cult of anonymity language creeps in. Leave things at "...require a COI disclosure on each user talk page" with a " harassment of declared COI editors without cause" and that might have wheels. Carrite (talk) 07:37, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose You can't prove somebody is a paid advocate without off-wiki information, which is a big no-no. If a person is an advocate, they can be blocked for advocacy or SPA, anyway, so the existing policy apparatus is enough to deal with people like these pbp 02:22, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose --Frukko (talk) 20:45, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Meh - While I like the principles here better than the other proposal, most of this is just summary of existing policy, so it seems a little WP:CREEP-y. The only thing that's really new is the requirement to disclose a financial COI, which is as unenforceable as a total ban on paid advocacy. Mr.Z-man 22:16, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, with some caveats. This proposal appears to me to clearly distinguish edits by expert professionals (who might happen to be paid) from paid advocacy (which I agree is unacceptable). We don't need a new policy to disallow paid advocacy — it already violates WP:NPOV — but this makes the lines clearer, and I think that's a good thing. Declaring a COI on edits about one's employer seems unobjectionable. But the "You won't be ignored." claim about talk page suggestions is counterfactual, in my experience: you can be and often will be ignored. And since the {{request edit}} template appears not to add the article to any categories or otherwise draw attention to the request in some centralized place, my guess is that it too will in practice usually be ignored. So if we are going to be stricter about limiting COI edits we should also be more proactive about locating and responding to edit requests on talk pages. If not, people are going to just do those edits anyway, despite the COI, out of frustration that nothing is happening to fix problems with "their" articles. —David Eppstein (talk) 23:37, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - While a tiny bit better than the No Paid Advocacy proposal, it still is way off the mark in terms of infringing on basic editor rights and stomps solidly over WP:OUTING as if that policy didn't even exist in the first place. Yes, the policy claims to try to keep that within content that can be found strictly on Wikipedia itself.... but I see that lasting for a New York minute in practice. Otherwise, it is just a cumbersome restatement of existing policy. Yes, I'm restating observations made above, but frankly I agree with these observations and that these are fatal to the policy concept, thus it really need to be considered a dead issue. I know there are people who are upset over editors getting paid for many reasons with their participation on Wikipedia.
    This is not the proper way to deal with those issues. An information essay that covers these ideas in a manner which makes it clear that it isn't policy but that editors should try to avoid if they wish to stay within other existing Wikipedia policies is fine and that is something I could support. As this is written, no bleeping way could I support this notion. It is the notion of mandatory disclosure of conflicts of interest I don't like. This idea is simultaneously impossible to enforce and intimidating to those who really are trying to work with Wikipedia editors in a genuine good faith manner that is positive to the development of Wikipedia as a whole. --Robert Horning (talk) 00:13, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Stomps on WP:OUTING? That depends on what exactly is the minimum disclosure. I don't read this proposal as requiring personal identification of the paid editor, or of the paying client, although edit contributions should make that obvious. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:30, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
How can the "minimum disclosure" be made mandatory? How might you know what conflicts of interest that I may have and what sort of disclosures I must make myself under this policy? For that matter, what makes a paid edit in the first place? I will admit that I have avoided edits in some articles explicitly because I voluntarily know that I have a conflict of interest and want to avoid edit wars on subjects that I'm a little too close to being involved with. None the less, it is completely voluntary and that hasn't kept me from even making a few tweaks to those articles or finding reliable sources to make a minor point that wasn't covered earlier that I felt needed to be in that article (with review by other editors involved). BTW, the policy explicitly states you must disclose your financial interest on your user page. It is there in black and white that this is mandatory disclosure with the threat of permanent blocking of your account if you fail to make this disclosure. --Robert Horning (talk) 00:53, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
How can the "minimum disclosure" be made mandatory? I don't think we have consensus on what is minimum disclosure. I suggest it means stating that you are a paid editor, not needing to state who pays. If disclosure means more than this, then it becomes increasingly tricky, as you note. Mandatory? That is the subject of the Sticks and Carrots thread. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:08, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Precisely. How can it possibly be made mandatory? I suggest that it is a flawed premise to begin with, hence my opposition. Even stating that you are a paid editor is something that shouldn't even be required because it is something that can only be disclosed on a completely voluntary basis and should not be "discovered" as a form of a personal attack. --Robert Horning (talk) 12:59, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per K7L. I was just alerted to this on my watchlist, which previously had alerted me to another proposal. Now there are two? And the discussion has been going on for days? Anyway, I am opposed to this one. It purports to control paid editing but really sanctions it and makes it impossible to police. Figureofnine (talkcontribs) 00:15, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • It does not purport to control paid editing at all. It is about disclosure, and it repeats advice found elsewhere. Control of paid editing requires Wikipedians reviewing and responding to paid editing.

    It sanctions paid editing? Yes, I suppose it does. However, paid editing is not prohibited.

    If sanctioned, does it make it impossible to police? Can't see where that comes from. I can't see how anything here will weaken the content policy. It should be easier to police, because disclosed accounts should be easier to notice. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 00:30, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

You're right, it doesn't purport to control paid editing and it does sanction it. Figureofnine (talkcontribs) 00:37, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
To answer your second question, it extends to paid editors the umbrella of good faith, and explicitly prohibits investigations outside of wikipedia. This closes the door to any meaningful policing. Figureofnine (talkcontribs) 00:51, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Good point. I don't think I support the section Wikipedia:Paid_editing_policy_proposal#No_investigation_outside_of_Wikipedia. I might prefer that section deleted. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:24, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - effectively unworkable as being paid for editing is a continuum, not a hard line. If i'm paid to do something for company X (but not specifically to edit Wikipedia), but that work leads me to check their page and make some changes, if it's within the core principles, it is not clear whether that is covered. I don't disagree that declaring a COI is good practice, but at the moment it is just an invitation for a talk page kicking, regardless of edit quality. Enforce existing quality rules - this won't add anything. OwainDavies (about)(talk) edited at 08:53, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • 'Strong Support - This policy is similar to one imposed in academia, medicine, and generally in the publishing world. - Tim1965 (talk) 14:40, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I'm in favor of encouraging disclosure of WP:COI; it's the proper thing to do. But the issue with edits is always WP:Advocacy, not someone's source of income. The discussion here and WP:Brightline tend to focus on the idea of public relations firms hired to "clean up" someone's image on Wikipedia. That does happen, and it's problematic, but the best way to deal with it is in challenging the edits. In my case, working for a trade association, I may edit something that's connected to the associations interests; I have access to specialized knowledge that a generalist might not have and can link it to WP:RS. So long as I preserve WP:NPOV, use WP:RS, and refrain from WP:Advocacy why shouldn't I be allowed to make edits? The problem is Advocacy and not adhering to NPOV; those a best addressed through the editing process. Carter (talk) 01:14, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I strongly support the idea of requiring people with a financial COI to disclose this if they are to make any non-trivial edits to articles. I also like the balance of requiring disclosure, but not preventing editing. So as a general rule I want to support this measure. However, with the added requirement that we can't use off-wiki evidence to reveal a COI, we're back in the territory of making it in the interest of editors with financial COIs to hide their connection with the subject. If they disclose, as this proposal insists that they do, they place themselves under increased scruitiny. If they don't disclose, they are acting against policy, but we are prohibited from using any evidence beyond what they provide to show that there is a problem. Thus the odds of being found to be in violation of the policy are pretty much zero. If we want to ask that people disclose their COIs, we need to also make it clear that it is in their interest to do so. At the moment, this policy makes it in people's interest to break it. - Bilby (talk) 03:49, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support: I believe we should know who the paid editors are so that we can see what they are doing, and more easily determine where they may need help, where they may be of help, and where they may need to be shown the door. Jeremy112233 (talk) 14:38, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Weak support'. Better than an outright ban; through I'd prefer a process similar to Article for Creation or flagged revisions, where any edits by paid editors would be flagged for review. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:25, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I get paid in kudos. —Sladen (talk) 11:48, 25 October 2013 (UTC) (ie. the focus should be on adherence to WP:COI/WP:NPOV, not an undetectable and unenforceable analysis of the motivation for contributing to Wikipedia).
  • Not supporting until it insists that they go through an official process to gain a tagged, transparent username and signature, like the German WP. Otherwise, it's whistling in the wind—all pushed under the radar without any motivation for them to be open. Tony (talk) 12:09, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This idea sounds good, but it's redundant except for the disclosure requirement, which will cause more harm than it solves. Advocacy, whether paid or unpaid, is already prohibited by WP:ADVOCACY. This proposal merely reiterates that. Meanwhile, if the goal of this proposal is to distinguish between "paid edits" and "paid advocacy" to create a framework for accommodating paid editors, I'd suggest that WP:COI already does so, and any problems with that policy should be addressed directly.
WP:COI already "very strongly discourages" direct edits by paid advocates. Anybody not heeding that warning is unlikely to follow this policy, and vice versa. And WP:PER already provides a great avenue for "white hat" advocates.
This could also undermine editors' legitimate desires to remain pseudonymous, as well as the legitimate participation of IP editors. If you have to post your financial interests on your user page, you'll become much easier to identify. I'd expect an uptick in WP:OUTING, and an unhealthy shift in focus from edits to editors. Proxyma (talk) 21:12, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The proposal is written in a way that masks the fact that it is allowing paid advocacy. Even though it says all advocacy is forbidden, it goes on to say that, if you're being paid by an article subject to edit WP, or have some other form of financial COI, all you have to do is disclose the connection. You're then free to edit. That's the situation we have at the moment. A Chevron PR rep disclosed his connection and proceeded to rewrite that article, copying Chevron press releases into the article word-for-word. There was nothing at the top of the article to tell the reader that she was reading Chevron's own material, so we were, in effect, hosting covert advertising. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:37, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Leads to unnecessary compromise of editors' anonymity. If the concern is about the neutrality of articles, we have policy on that already. 069952497a (U-T-C-E) 15:00, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Mongo and SlimVirgin. A green light for paid editing. SlimVirgin's remarks re the Chevron article are especially apt. Coretheapple (talk) 15:38, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose the current wording, although I support (what I think is) the general idea. For me, the second of the two definitional clauses: "If you expect to get benefits or considerations from editing Wikipedia (for example, by being an owner, officer, or other stakeholder" is far too broad. This prevents the staff of a university editing articles about that institution even if the 'benefits' are extremely tenuous or indirect. It effectively prevents any academic editing an article about any topic about which they are knowledgeable - exactly the opposite of what I think we should be trying to achieve - as they have a "form of close financial relationship with a topic". Even the first "If you [a]re receiving benefits or considerations from the subject of an article, and you are a representative, contractor, or employee of the subject;" is probably too broad as well. What I think we are attempting to make explicit is more along the lines of "If you are receiving direct benefits or considerations from anyone or any organisation for editing any aspect of Wikipedia and especially any article,". Being a postman should not prevent you from editing the Royal Mail article and being a consultant to the dairy industry is not something you should need to disclose if you want to edit an article about a town with a cheese factory. Ben MacDui 16:15, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Either in Wikipedia or anywhere else, a rule which can not be enforced is not a rule, it's just text. Advocacy, spam and articles whose subjects are not notable are problems that already have policies dealing with them. Cambalachero (talk) 01:11, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per unenforceable. NE Ent 12:52, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I think that people who have been found to do greater good for the community, should be supported and paid to do this. I myself don't do any big edits and don't plan to, but those who do deserve some benefit for their time. It is like any job: put in the hours and recieve reward Monnor (talk) 02:47, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment This situation, via Jehochman, is good. "I am a corporation and my Wiki page is full of errors and outdated info." Okay, take that as the starting point. What are our guidelines, or policy in that situation? I have worked on a number of articles that are being updated by paid contributors, who acknowledge COI, sometimes after being apprehended, though they behave scrupulously well after that. Most are not company employees, and sometimes they aren't exceptionally well-versed in wiki markup. The latter is not a concern. Those that know little or nothing about the company, nor have subject matter knowledge are incredibly tedious to work with. The better way would be for the company to pay an employee to edit, not a PR agency. Pay the employee the $1000 as part of their regular salary, and have the person keep the company article up to date, with non-promotional, factual content. He can make an RSS feed to monitor for changes that are merely spam or vandalism and revert as needed. The editor would disclose that he is a company employee. Under that framework, all would benefit. Wikipedia would have accurate content, and also serve as a job creator, well, 'sustainer'. Businesses and corporations would indirectly subsidize Wikipedia without any intermediary transaction costs. This is probably unrealistic, as it requires honesty and good faith. The other scenario, "contact a well-respected Wikipedia editor and offer to donate $1,000 to their favorite charity if they clean up the article", is to be avoided. If there is any paid editing, it shouldn't be done by low-end PR agencies or other poorly informed intermediaries. If corporate, government, or other conflicted interests cannot have the strength of character to avoid self promotion, then they cannot edit Wikipedia, whether paid or unpaid! Risker alluded to that, as the root of the problem, "the issue is always advocacy and non-adherence to NPOV" rather than paid or unpaid. To close, on a surprisingly positive, not-cynical note: There are a few extremely wealthy, well-connected individuals who edit or have their representatives adding content. Yet they are honest, learn to use wiki markup adequately, and genuinely contribute such that Wikipedia goals of furthering knowledge are fulfilled. It is amazing! There is no way to determine that in advance though, or to encourage such behavior. --FeralOink (talk) 04:54, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    Here's another example. A musician's agent contacts me because they need some Drupal development work on his site. Coincidentally, the musician has a Wikipedia page that's all messed up. I do a quick bit of uncontroversial housekeeping to disambiguate two different musicians who have the same name, and then I go find an editor who likes to work on this kind of topic and Wikipedia gets Chris Field (composer), a good article. The agent is so happy she asks the editor what their favorite charity is and makes a token contribution. Neither the editor nor I have been paid for any editing, but there is an accumulation of goodwill. Is that conflict of interest, or is that karma? Jehochman Talk 13:36, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
What that is is unlikely. --Robert EA Harvey (talk) 08:18, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Conditional Support of what User:Carolmooredc suggested as of 14:28, 16 October 2013. Also, Monnor is right. But I don't know how to enforce that within the framework of Wikipedia. I am misbehaving, as I realize that this is not an appropriate response to a proposal. --FeralOink (talk) 05:16, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Slippery slope. --Shabidoo | Talk 18:59, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Declare conflict of interest: support --FocalPoint (talk) 11:56, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Prohibition: oppose since it is unenforceable --FocalPoint (talk) 11:56, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Weak Oppose - I don't want to see paid editing at all but I can see the sense in having a rule requiring disclosure if we can't prevent it.--Robert EA Harvey (talk) 12:10, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose If at least good articles are being created in the end, why should we care about the means?--JOJ Hutton 23:33, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Unenforceable without encouraging outing and witch hunts. I think the community has spoken here. --BDD (talk) 18:10, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose I shall stop editing as the spirit of wikipedia as I learn is to not to take money for editing. --Abhijeet Safai (talk) 09:00, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:CREEP. This is redundant to WP:NOTADVOCATE. Warden (talk) 18:06, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose there is no way that NPOV survives when paid editors reshape articles. And what about WP:COI ? This will be worse than religious people messing up countless articles. I would even say that everyone who gets caught editing articles for money should be kicked off WP. ♆ CUSH ♆
  • Support All that matters is what you write not who you are. That should remain a fundamental policy of WP. Martin Hogbin (talk) 13:53, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Impossible to police. An editor who fails to declare can never be proved to be a paid editor unless they self-identify. Edits should be judged on their quality, not on who the editor works for. Marketing departments and publicity agents are usually very easily spotted and are dealt with quite effectively already, not because they have declared who they are, but because of what they are writing. SpinningSpark 00:54, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose A good deal of this proposal is already covered by existing policy and the rest opens happy witch hunting. --AFBorchert (talk) 19:32, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose For the same reasons I gave in the other discussions. First, it is redundant with existing policies and guidelines which already forbid advocacy of any kind. Second, it contradicts WP:AGF and Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers, not to mention the fundamental principle that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Third, this is a fool's errand as the worst POV pushing comes not from paid editors, but by unpaid editors who will happily push an agenda for free, and who will do so with far more zeal and gusto than any paid editor would. No matter how you slice or dice it, this is a bad idea. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 03:37, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Sticks and Carrots. Sticks for Musts. Carrots for everything else.[edit]

While rejecting WP:Bright lines & WP:No paid advocacy as unrealistic and very probably counter productive, I do think that this policy requires a stick. "Must" as in "you must disclose" always begs the question "or what?" Without a stick, why would an expert editor voluntarily accept the burden of the unfriendly surveillance it attracts?

Banning is weak, because user accounts are cheap and easy. An account editing for a fee is probably specific to the contract, the paid editor probably has many accounts.

A better stick is deletion of pages written by the undisclosed account. Deletion of their mainspace edits that are proof of fulfillment of the contract. Refuse to undelete, and require that any recreation on the topic start afresh with no attribution owing the to the undisclosed paid editor. This will motivate disclosure that the user is compensated for contributing to a Wikipedia article.

I would not demand "full disclosure", whatever that means. Some minimal disclosure is an appropriate minimal requirement. Mandatory minimal disclosure would be a big step forward from where we are. I also would not strictly require "no direct editing of articles". This is too great of change from the current situation to be realistic. Banning from editing mainspace should be reserved as a solution for difficult cases. The privilege of being allowed to openly directly edit the article is a desirable carrot to encourage cooperation above the minimal requirement. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:26, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

You make some good points, but I think the "no direct editing of articles" restriction only part of the "No paid advocacy" proposal, right? As for deleting articles, I'd rather say that we might restore the article to its condition before the involvement of the advocate and/or leave a COI banner at the top. This would entail deletion for newly created articles of course. -Thibbs (talk) 10:47, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Deleting articles. This would apply to articles written by an undisclosed paid editor, upon their discovery, as judged by consensus at WP:COIN, where the undisclosed paid editor is the only substantial author. Looking at and "If it's not on Wikipedia, then it doesn't exist". The creation of an article where none existed is the major service offered. This is probably the worst danger to us. These new articles will be otherwise unwatched. They'll be fake-reviewed.

    Where an undisclosed paid editor creates new sections in an existing article, we should consider revdeleting their edits if possible. The paid editor keeps their money if their edits remain accessible, and looses their money if there is no public record of their work.

    Where an undisclosed paid editor engages in modifying existing text, this sounds little worse to us than ordinary POV pushing by any POV advocate. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:28, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Just to be clear, you're suggesting an entirely new criterion for deletion, correct? Perhaps the first of its kind, a deletion criterion that is not based on the content of the article whatsoever?--~TPW 03:42, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I see this deletion as the same as WP:CSD#G5, where we have declared undisclosed paid editing to be banned. G5 deletions do not consider the content of the article. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:12, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • TPW wrote in his edit summary: "I thought you were supposed to hang the carrot off the end of the stick and dangle it to get the donkey moving in the right direction." See Carrot and stick, you are not alone, but the stick usually refers to a harsh punishment usually effective by threat, stick use being rare. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:24, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Support the actual proposal needs editing because I lifted it from WP:COI and only made relatively minor modifications. As a policy people being paid to edit should disclose. How we enforce is another issue, but we can assume good faith. If we require disclosure, let's assume that people will disclose. Jehochman Talk 12:42, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • If we can rely on Assuming Good Faith, then "you must disclose" can be worded instead "please disclose". I don't think so. This policy is most needed for serious cases where AGF doesn't suffice. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:06, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
  • In other words, assuming bad faith instead? Just out of curiosity, how might you discover that somebody has failed to disclose the requisite information in the first place using only links on I get perhaps sharing an IP address with a known troll or some kind of semantic commonality between a known troll.... but that still doesn't deal with how you found out that they are being paid in the first place. --Robert Horning (talk) 00:45, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
If there are consequences for failure to disclose, in the interest of protecting the innocent who genuinely don't have a conflict of interest, how can you possibly mandate disclosure at all? Otherwise it sounds like a witch hunt and a group of individuals who are bound and determined to drive a particular editor away simply because that individual espouses a point of view. I have seen such witch hunts transpire on Wikimedia projects in the past, including some who's goals simply were to remove an editor with an unpopular POV that was insisting that particular POV got at least fair treatment or that the article in question maintained a genuine NPOV as opposed to a slant against that particular POV. Majority rule in situations like this is still a form of tyranny and can lead to unfortunate consequences when it is misapplied.

The reason why most AfD discussions deal with WP:NOTE is because counting reliable sources is something concrete which can be use as formal evidence to support or deny a claim that an article should be deleted. In this case we are not talking keeping or removing content but trying to censure an editor with consequences ranging from a topic ban to full outright removal from the project and treating that individual as a troll. This is revisiting even the concept of conflicts of interest and questioning even the voluntary disclosure of information which I'm still not even sure is necessary. --Robert Horning (talk) 13:18, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your replies. I take your points. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:34, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

General observations[edit]

I have serious concerns with the other two entrants in this trilogy. This seems like it has the most promise of the three. I do have some concerns, but they are more of the word smithing type than fundamental. However, while I started to articulate my first concern, I see that it has already been addressed, so I'll make my point differently. I think being paid deserves discussion, not because the result of paid editing is more egregious than sources, but because it is such a red flag. It isn't a sufficient indicator, in the technical sense of the word, but it does strongly suggest the potential for concern, sufficiently high that we ought to pay attention whenever we realize an editor is paid, and consider whether special attention to any such edits is required. Again, I realize you just removed "egregious", but if someone proposes re-adding it, I think it is fair to single out "paid" as special, but I want the sense to be the fact that it is an indicator of a problem, not a measure of the results.

My other observation is that The writing of "puff pieces" and advertisements is strictly prohibited. feels like it is dangling, tacked on at the end. No objections to the content, just wonder (without a solid suggestion) that it could be better integrated into the essay. Maybe it should be part of a list of examples?--SPhilbrick(Talk) 13:03, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. I just pulled this content out of WP:COI and took a few chops at it. It needs a lot of editing. Jehochman Talk 13:35, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Why we need this policy[edit]

Whenever paid editing comes up, the discussion usually deadlocks on the point, "We don't have a paid editing policy." Well, we ought to have one, whatever it is. We should record what the consensus is with regard to paid editing so that discussions involving paid editing can run more smoothly. We don't need people to repeat the same arguments. Let's have the discussion and record the result. Then we would only need to discuss incremental changes, which should be a lot more efficient. Jehochman Talk 13:38, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia:COI#Paid_editing sounds like a policy. User:Carolmooredc 14:18, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
That page and section is only a guideline. This text started as a verbatim copy and paste of that section! It's been edited with the recommendations of the people here. Jehochman Talk 15:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Links to a representative set of discussions which demonstrates the claimed "deadlock phenomenon"? Paradoctor (talk) 15:24, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree. This is important enough that it needs to be a policy, rather than only an over-flexible guideline with things like "discouraged" and "advised to refrain". However, I don't agree with the current draft. See my earlier comment. Superm401 - Talk

Taking this forward[edit]

I really object to amateurs trying to reinvent the wheel--unless I am allowed to join in.

  • Less is more-leave well alone
  • Guidelines work better than policies
  • Many of us are familiar with the concept of Direct and indirect/ substantial and insubstantial/ pecunary and non-pecunary interest from our time serving as elected members in local government.‎ is a briefing paper on the updating of declaration of pecuniary interests (required under the local government act 2007). It is required reading, but you can Google for more- Oz and NZ have similar codes.
  • I do feel uncomfortable at times editing an article where I knew a proponent as I have no way of marking that as a hidden comment. This usually would be Indirect, Non-substantial, non-pecunary. Would anyone like to propose a simple template {*{doi|indirect|non-substantial|non-pecunary|15-10-2013|I knew his brother at school in 1963}*} that writes a hidden inline comment<*!-- Author declares a indirect,non-substantial,non-pecunary interest on 15-10-2013, writing 'I knew his brother at school in 1963' --*> It could then add the page to a hidden category - Pages where doi-s have been made etc In case of dispute, Arbcom would have more information to allow them to make a quality decision- and editors could remain whiter than white if they wished.-- Clem Rutter (talk) 16:58, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
One of the concerns I've seen expressed is that editors will go on "witch hunts" in an effort to find the true identities of editors, so as to "prove" that they are paid editors. I've tried to slam the door on that, and allay such concerns, by indicating that this policy is expressly for situations in which the editor has acknowledged a conflict of interest on Wikipedia. Coretheapple (talk) 17:13, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I've strengthened the "no investigations" wording even further, so as to nip the "witch hunts" concerns in the bud. Coretheapple (talk) 17:18, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Regarding the line: "This policy only governs situations in which an editor has disclosed a conflict of interest in a Wikipedia talk page posting" would it make sense to change it to "This policy only governs situations in which an editor must disclose a conflict of interest in a Wikipedia talk page posting"? (Underlines only used for emphasis). -Thibbs (talk) 18:26, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, I think I see what you're getting at. But the limited purpose of this section is to prohibit witch hunts. The point is to say that it is for situations in which there is no doubt as to the COI because it has been acknowledged. Maybe it should say "in which an editor has explicitly acknowledged a conflict of interest in a Wikipedia talk page posting"? Coretheapple (talk) 18:58, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • My concern is that the current version of the policy doesn't only govern situations in which an editor has disclosed his potential COI. The core substance of the proposed policy is actually a mandate for paid editors who haven't yet made a disclosure to do so. -Thibbs (talk) 19:14, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • There is no question that the purpose of the policy as a whole is require disclosure. All COI policies everywhere do that. But if a COI is not disclosed, then the policy does not allow witch hunts to "prove" that a COI exists. Again, this is in accordance with best practices. If a company is paying to get a message across, it is beyond the power of Wikipedia to control such situations. It is really a matter for law enforcement, as such "astroturfing" could result in the kind of enforcement action that was recently taken against restaurants that wrote their own reviews in Yelp. We can only make the rules, but our powers of detection and enforcement are limited, and it is dangerous for Wikipedians to engage in vigilante conduct if they think the rules are being violated. In this section we have a clear prohibition against vigilantism. Coretheapple (talk) 19:35, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I understand and sympathize with the the desire to avoid witch hunts and vigilantism. And I agree that there should be a firm prohibition of this kind of behavior alongside the mandate for disclosure. In fact such a policy already exists in the form of WP:OUTING. I see the limitation of this proposed policy to those who have already disclosed themselves to provide a loophole, though. If this proposed policy only applies to those who have already disclosed their COI then what does it mean to say that "If you are a paid advocate then you must disclose your financial interest on your user page" (paraphrasing)? Wouldn't a sly conflicted editor just say "Well since I haven't yet disclosed, that policy doesn't apply to me."? Is disclosure mandatory or is it just a suggestion? If it's mandatory then we need to broaden the limitation from editors who "have disclosed" to those that "must disclose" as under the mandate. -Thibbs (talk) 20:05, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
  • That would require some really slick wikilawyering on the part of the person in question, but I see your point. Coretheapple (talk) 20:15, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
COI disclosure in every edit where one has or had any connection with the article subject would be a forced form of self-outing. If I edit an article about a sports professional and add some hidden comment as suggested above "I went to high school with two of his sons," then anyone can tell where and when I attended high school. After a couple of such disclosures, a few minutes of online sleuthing might reveal my real life identity, and I would be subject to harassment from other websites or from editors I take adminstrator action against or with whom I come into conflict in editing or in AFD discussions. Edison (talk) 15:53, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Directions for disclosure[edit]

In this edit, I added instructions on making a disclosure on the editor's user page. It might be desirable to have some direction on making an appropriate disclosure when entering into a discussion with others. On the other hand, though, I can see that becoming quickly repetitive. What do you think? isaacl (talk) 20:00, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

I added a requirement to disclose on the talk page of the article in question. Otherwise editors have no direct way of knowing if an editor has a conflict. That is the standard practice now. Coretheapple (talk) 20:04, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
The question is how often are they expected to disclose their financial interest? At the start of each new discussion? isaacl (talk) 20:08, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I think so. Otherwise how are people going to know? For one article in which a paid editor is active, you have to hunt through the archives of the talk page to find out. Coretheapple (talk) 20:16, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I think your language here[1] is good as it specifically covers not just article talk pages but noticeboards, etc. Coretheapple (talk) 20:19, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
A Wikipedia mirror site might not keep the talk and user pages... or the article history if it links back here. Then what? K7L (talk) 13:21, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

As a frequent editor of many articles, I would have difficulty determining in advance what articles I might edit, or what financial interest I might have. Many of my edits are simple fixes, for example punctuation. Would I have to stop and think each time amout any possible financial interest in the article? Only after making many edits to an article has it ever occured to me that I might have a bias, in which case, I made a disclosure. Wikfr (talk) 22:03, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Receiving monetary benefits[edit]

In this edit, reference to editing Wikipedia has been removed. As a result, all employees for a company would meet this criterion. I believe this change to be overly broad for the purposes of this proposal. What do others think? isaacl (talk) 20:06, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

The previous language carves out too big a loophole. If I am the manager of the Acme Hotel, I shouldn't be able to edit Acme Hotel, even if I am not specifically "paid to edit Wikipedia." Coretheapple (talk) 20:14, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Likewise if this is an article about Josh Coretheapple and I am Josh Coretheapple! I am not paid to edit Wikipedia. Coretheapple (talk) 20:21, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Often for a company, employees are best positioned to provide appropriate updates that respect due weight concerns. As such, I believe it to be a significant barrier to collaboration to require disclosure from all employees. (Should the bus boy at the Acme Hotel be required to make a disclosure before updating the latest published date for the major restaurant renovation?) If you are the subject, the second criterion applies. isaacl (talk) 20:23, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
That could very easily lapse into the bus boy at the Acme Hotel updating the article to tell what he ate for dinner... basically the same mess as our article on Uncyclopedia, which has been filled with items cited only to Uncyclopedia itself. We normally want information from reliable secondary sources and to stick to what's notable. No original research. K7L (talk) 13:18, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Notability is a separate issue; any item that is not notable can be speedily removed without problems, no matter who added it. I specifically gave the example of an employee adding notable information that is already present in a reliable source, because employees are often the ones who will be aware of this first, and will understand the overall context of the industry to have a good grasp on how much due weight some information should be given.
Looking at a different example: VisualEditor has its own article, and it is discussed in the article for Wikipedia. For sake of argument, assume some editors to these articles have a strong opinion about either of these two areas. Does the second criterion apply to them, since they can derive a personal benefit from how these subjects are portrayed? If editors affected by VisualEditor are barred from editing the VisualEditor article directly, would it become more cumbersome to determine how much weight should be given to various statements, requiring discussion with less-experienced editors? Should an employee or contractor who works on the IT infrastructure be required to disclose their financial interest before, say, making a correction to the description of VisualEditor, or adding a citation for a statement added by someone else? isaacl (talk) 16:28, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Isaacl. "not notable" can not be speedily removed. WP:N is not a WP:CSD. And WP:CSD#G11 "Advocacy & promotion" has a very high bar to meet before it applies.
I agree that anyone who works on the IT infrastructure VisualEditor has a COI if they edit the article. They should, at a minimum, disclose that they have an employment interest. Are they explicitly paid or rewarded if edits to the mainspace article? If YES, they must disclose. If they don't disclose, and they edit paid, they are abusing the project and even if not doing actual damage, are risking the reputation of the project. Their edits are unwelcome. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 20:23, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
I was not referring to the speedy deletion process; I was using the word "speedily" in its everyday sense. Editors can remove an unnotable addition via the usual editing process and in accordance with the bold, revert, discuss cycle. No new policy is required for this.
I'm not sure what you mean by "IT infrastructure VisualEditor", as VisualEditor is not part of the IT infrastructure (think of server farms and internal mailing lists). The proposal in its current wording is not limited to employees that are "explicitly paid or rewarded if edits to the mainspace article"; what is your opinion for employees that are not paid or rewarded for editing the mainspace article? What is your opinion for long-time editors who have a vested interest in promoting their views on VisualEditor? isaacl (talk) 21:01, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
That was meant to be: I agree that anyone who works on WikiMedia IT infrastructure has a COI if they edit the article VisualEditor. Sorry. Only meant to agree with you.
"What is your opinion for long-time editors who have a vested interest in promoting their views on VisualEditor?". They have a COI. They should certainly declare it if they go anywhere near the article. Very probably, they should not edit the article directly. Some edits may be well defensible. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 06:41, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Directions for contributing to articles[edit]

Regarding this edit, it's not clear to me what the difference is between using "the article talk pages to suggest changes" and "proposing text for articles". If an editor can't propose text for an article, then the editor can't meaningfully collaborate in its writing. isaacl (talk) 20:30, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Restrictions on AfC and drafting text[edit]

I object to Coretheapple's change here and have reverted it. I think it is too draconian to forbid someone with a financial COI to draft and propose wording or to request the creation of an article. The expectation of editorial independence that readers have is preserved even without this restriction, by the fact that an independent editor has to decide whether to create the article or accept the proposed text. alanyst 22:09, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree that change went too far. AGK [•] 22:09, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I was simply incorporating in this draft the views that Jimbo Wales expressed on his talk page just a few days ago.[2]. Coretheapple (talk) 13:43, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Jimbo himself has a very strong financial interest related to Wikipedia. He's quite effectively leveraged his success with Wikipedia to raise money for his venture Wikia. I think we need to take Jimbo's opinions as another data point, but his opinion is no better, and no more important, than any other editor. Yes, he's quite influential, but that should be because of his strength of logic and pursausion, not because he has any special powers. Jehochman Talk 14:10, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Well that's his opinion, so give it whatever weight you wish. I think it would be great if he would participate more actively in discussions like this, rather than making Royal Statements occasionally and then withdrawing behind the curtain. Coretheapple (talk) 14:36, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Leaving aside Jimbo's opinion for the moment, I'd like to understand Coretheapple's own stance better. Coretheapple, my impression is that if an editor with a financial COI were to suggest text for an article, you would regard that text as more-or-less tainted by COI and unsuitable for Wikipedia. Do I have it right? alanyst 14:42, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

At the risk of being repetitive (I don't know if I've raised this point specifically on this page), my feeling is that Wikipedia readers have an expectation that articles are not created at the behest of persons with a financial interest in the subject, or by the subject or his/her representatives. I feel that such articles skew the content of Wikipedia unfairly. I.e., the articles give undue prominence to companies, organizations and persons of limited notability that just happen to have a desire to have Wikipedia articles. They are unfair to competing companies etc. that are less desiring of publicity in Wikipedia. I feel that such articles are the equivalent of newspaper and magazine "advertorials," only without proper disclosure to readers. The fact that there is input by Wikipedia editors is beside the point, as there is such input for advertorials as well. I think this same principle applies to persons with financial incentives both for or against a particular subject. I'm on the fly so I won't be able to respond further on this point, in case there's further dialogue on this. Coretheapple (talk) 17:18, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
My understanding of your edit, however, was that it specified a restriction beyond the creation of an article at the behest of someone with a financial interest—it stated that "proposing text for articles" is not allowed. Collaborative writing is difficult under the best of conditions; in most situations where writing is done in a group, one person will do a draft (sometimes after a group discussion where the content is discussed) and then others will provide their feedback and suggestions. Without the ability to suggest text, Wikipedia users can't really contribute to the editorial process. If this is the intent, then the proposal should address this more directly: for example, it can state that users with a financial interest are limited to providing pointers to reliable sources of information related to the topic, without commenting on what should go into the article. I think this restriction would significantly reduce the effectiveness of the collaboration, though. isaacl (talk) 20:36, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

clarification question[edit]

The current draft says "If paid editing leads to conflicts...." What is the meaning of "conflicts" there? Is the meaning "disputes with other editors" (eg. the paid editor added something, and another editor reverts b/c the 2nd editor finds the edit to be tendentious, or another editor adds something not aligned with what the paid editor was trying to do, and the paid editor reverts)? If the meaning of "conflict" is of "conflict of interest" then the text should be more clear in describing it and say something like - "If the paid editor finds him- or herself editing content that puts the editor into a conflict between the interests of the entity paying him or her, and the interests of Wikipedia,... " Thanks. Jytdog (talk) 10:36, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Good suggestion. I made changes. Please review and let everybody know your thoughts. Jehochman Talk 12:09, 17 October 2013 (UTC)


The comments I made above seemto have been lost

I do feel uncomfortable at times editing an article where I knew a proponent as I have no way of marking that as a hidden comment. This usually would be Indirect, Non-substantial, non-pecunary. Would anyone like to propose a simple template {*{doi|indirect|non-substantial|non-pecunary|15-10-2013|I knew his brother at school in 1963}*} that writes a hidden inline comment<*!-- Author declares a indirect,non-substantial,non-pecunary interest on 15-10-2013, writing 'I knew his brother at school in 1963' --*> It could then add the page to a hidden category - Pages where doi-s have been made etc In case of dispute, Arbcom would have more information to allow them to make a quality decision- and editors could remain whiter than white if they wished.

These issues indirect- non-substantial- non-pecunary will need to be addresses eventually- now seems a good time. -- Clem Rutter (talk) 12:26, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

I think we should keep it simple. Insignificant things need not be disclosed. We must apply common sense at some level. Jehochman Talk 15:27, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Dear god, why?[edit]

This. Why? Restating WP:TE in this manner only serves to potentially confuse some people into believing TE doesn't apply to non-paid editing. This addition is worse than useless, a shining example of WP:CREEP. Paradoctor (talk) 13:56, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Allow me to be contrary: I really dislike sterile criticism. If you don't like something, you should suggest a better alternative. We do need to make clear that paid editing can lead to trouble, and how that can happen. Jehochman Talk 14:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry for not being sufficiently clear, I had assumed it was obvious. The better alternative is to remove the passage. It is at best superfluous superfluous, at worst confusing.
BTW, sterile is an excellent kind of criticism. You wouldn't want your cancer to be cut out with a dirty knife, do you? ;) (Or did you mean something else?) Paradoctor (talk) 17:24, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
"potentially confuse some people into believing TE doesn't apply to non-paid editing": I am entirely unconvinced by that argument. Readers of the policy will know that affirming the consequent is a fallacy. As for my reply to your assertion of instruction creep, WP:NOTCREEP says it best. AGK [•] 22:08, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Only "if it represents a broad consensus and does more good than harm", neither of which applies to this proposal.
Failed to parse (lexing error): (P→Q,Q)⊢P
I did no such thing. If you think otherwise, WP:PROVEIT. Please don't use formulas you don't understand. Paradoctor (talk) 18:18, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Please don't be so hostile. To clarify, this was the fallacy:

Tendentious editing is prohibited to paid editors. I am not a paid editor, therefore tendentious editing is permitted for me.

An incorrect inference from the converse of the previous statement. Do you see why this is a fallacy, and why it means your original point made no sense? If you meant something else, please clarify. Regards, AGK [•] 19:33, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, I managed to overlook "Readers of the policy will know that". My bad entirely. Paradoctor (talk) 12:07, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

The reason may people are concerned about paid editing is that paid editors are on the clock. They can spend endless time to wear down opponents. This is classic tendentious editing. Paid editors must take great care that they don't become tendentious editors. Jehochman Talk 19:35, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Regarding this edit, since the subject "you" in this paragraph already refers to an editor with a financial interest related to the article's topic, I suggest changing the sentence to the following: You must not edit tendentiously, as it makes it difficult for others to collaborate with you and can lead to your being blocked. Since the proposal covers more than just paid editors, I believe it better to avoid using this phrase as a shorthand in any of the instructions provided by this article. isaacl (talk) 20:52, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

A few possible details[edit]

Like I said at the "bright lines" RfC, I think that there might be ways to make such a proposal palatable. Here are a few of them.

  • 1) Anyone who discloses as a paid editor is requested, before engaging in paid editing, to improve one article apparently outside of their scope of paid interest to a reasonable level, and receive some sort of reasonable reviewer response, before actively editing the content they are paid to develop. That article might be chosen by another editor, or perhaps chosen from a group of articles at a low level quality within an area the paid editor indicates is of personal interest.
  • 2) Such editors or accounts will never receive any particular status above such as rollbacker and such.
  • 3) These editors/accounts disclose the range of pages which fall within the scope of their paid editing, and all such edits they make to such content is counted as "pending changes."
  • 4) For every article they develop for pay, they also develop at least one article outside of their paid content range to roughly the same level of quality, before receiving approval of further "pending changes" on other articles for which they receive pay.

Yeah, maybe to some this sounds kind of draconian, but I think a proposal of this type would be the kind most likely to make other editors welcome their involvement, and minimize the possibility of too obviously prejudicial content. Just an idea, anyway. John Carter (talk) 16:04, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

The problem I see with this proposal is that it starts with the assumption that "paid editors" are outsiders, newbies to Wikipedia. But the ones I know are experienced, have been editing for years and already have rights and status. They have already edited a wide-range of article topics and their paid editing is a small fraction of their editing on WP, not their primary activity.
The best ones are very up-front about their COI on certain articles and follow every pertinent guideline and policy to the letter. They are excellent editors. But, I'm pretty sure that there are other editors who do paid editing on a more informal basis and never acknowledge that they took a side project to "beef up" a weak article into a more substantial piece. If they do not choose to disclose that editing for a client might be part of their job, no one will ever know unless their editing is truly egregious and over-the-top (which an experienced editor would know to avoid). The best paid editing is not perceived to be paid editing because there is no apparent bias.
I guess my point is that "paid editors" are not all outsiders waiting to be granted access to WP to edit articles. There are already many who are here and have been on Wikipedia for a long, long time. Liz Read! Talk! 16:43, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
If you actually have evidence of your contentions, of course, I am sure you could send such information to arbcom and they could act upon it. If you are unwilling to do so, for whatever reason, that is a separate matter. And the question you raise about other WP:COI is really rather less than clearly relevant to a page which is specifically called "Paid editing policy proposal," don't you think? John Carter (talk) 16:47, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't think we can force people to edit articles they don't want to edit. AGK [•] 22:01, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
My apologies if I conveyed the impression that this would be "forcing" people to do such, and certainly not articles they don't want to edit. But, for instance, someone who is paid to edit material about a bank in Texas might personally have an interest in, for instance, a specific religion or philosophy, or foreign country, or sport, music or media entity, or whatever, and it might not be unreasonable to "ask" them to do that. And there currently is a quid pro quo arrangement at DYK similar to this, which indicates that one should review one other DYK for every one they themselves nominate. I can't be sure who tend to be the people who get hired to write articles, but if they are good researchers, and I hope most of them are, I can say on the basis of personal experience one can, reasonably, get many articles up to C or B level on the basis of maybe one work day's efforts or less, and depending on the size of fee of these for hire editors, such extra time might be more or less easily included in the fee, or done as a real volunteer here. If there are individuals who are paid to edit who have absolutely no interests outside of the topic for which they are paid, though, that might be a problem. John Carter (talk) 22:10, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I've thought about having a similar take-a-penny-leave-a-penny system at WP:COIN. If somebody has a COI, after editing, they post to request an independent review, and then go review an article that somebody else posted as needing review. Jehochman Talk 22:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
  • John, thanks for your reply. However, it does still seem like compelling paid editors to edit articles in which they have no interest. Unlike DYK, FAC, and similar processes – which rely on quid pro quo – we seem to be talking about the basic right to edit being conditional on the subject having made other edits. This is problematic on a number of levels, and it seems like the only solution is to offer the system as a voluntary option (possibly in exchange for expedited answering of an edit request) that is not even perceivably mandatory. Sorry for recycling the old "This is still the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" platform, but it's an important one! AGK [•] 19:37, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
  • A few responses. First, while you are right about the above implying that editing specific pages which paid editors are paid to edit becomes a "conditional" right, that is certainly one of the things I think might be at least considered here. Also, FWIW, that was a first draft of a proposal, and I myself didn't expect it to go unquestioned, but more as a starting point for discussion. So, without such discussion, I guess a few of the questions I might like to see this proposal consider are:
    • (1) Should paid editors have any sort of restrictions on editing content for which they are paid - options are basically yes, no, and conditional.
    • (2) Should editors who seem to be primarily editors for pay, as opposed to perhaps a theoretical case where an individual who has apparently been active on other topics is "hired" or discloses employment on a topic after being an active editor (presumably at least somewhat in other topics), be eligible for more than the core level of rights, or even, possibly, not even all of them? I suppose it would be possible for a policy to be drafted in such a way as to allow restrictions to editing similar to those arbcom imposes.
    • (3) Should paid editors have the right to create new pages relating to their topics?
    • (4) What if any restrictions should be placed on user space pages of paid edcitors?
    • (5) To what extent should paid editors participate in noticeboard discussions relating to the topics about which they receive pay?
    • (6) Should paid editors be subject, perhaps, to such theoretical limits as having their content subject to pending changes?
  • There are probably more, but those are the questions that I would like to see such a proposal address that quickly come to mind. John Carter (talk) 14:52, 20 October 2013 (UTC)


The problem is we already have undisclosed paid editors. Let's say we have two categories of those editors: White Hat paid editors and Black Hat paid editors. White Hat editors discloses COI per this policy and gets in edit war. How does the community react when COI paid editors get in conflicts? The community pounds them with article bans, topic bans, blocks etc because, despite AGF, the perception is "all are bad" when a conflict arises. Now the Black Hat paid editors ignore it. They never disclose COI, they are generally perceived as contributing, good members of the community unless they are discovered. Certainly better than a disclosed COI White Hat while they are undercover (and I'm not too sure they will be treated less favorably than White Hats after they are discovered. They'll get lumped in to the broad "COI landofbanned". So which hat wins? We just created a policy that has relatively no upside for compliance and very few downsides to non-compliance. Still, the currently undisclosed White Hats have at least a modicum of respect for policy as they would abide. After it becomes clear that White Hats can't attract sponsors because of their Scarlett "C", they will leave. We reward the Black Hat editors by handing them the White Hat editors clients. It's a classic prisoner's dilemma. No matter what, it's always better to not disclose. Which reaction does the community think will attract more PR paying clients:

  • Client: "Hey, Nice work on creating and sourcing my professional experience. Well worth the $50."
  • White Hat: "Thanks, no problem."
  • Client: "Now someone has written that a company listed in that section was suspected of a crime 20 years ago. Can you correct that for $50?"
  • White Hat: "Can't for 2 weeks as some editor saw the COI tag on my professional experience edit and added an Undue weight and NPOV tag and the community asked me not to edit the article until they sort it out. Oh, and that editor that added it, searches for COI paid editors to balance it out"
  • Client: "Hey Black Hat, can you get rid of that false and malicious info that White Hat can't touch?"
  • Black Hat: "Sure. I'll even clean up the Undue and NPOV tags and report the editor that added the criminal material and get an article ban. The easiest way is to get a two-way interaction ban between Mr. COI Stalker and Mr. White Hat. I'm an admin so it will only take a few comments to generate the blocks/article/interaction ban. Won't affect me though, because I am considered a valuable, contributing member."
  • Client: "Your hired Black Hat. Keep up the good work"

Anyone think a disclosed paid editor will ever pass RfA? Anyone think we don't have undisclosed paid admins? --DHeyward (talk) 07:40, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

On the plus side, we could treat barnstars like compensation and eliminate them completely. --DHeyward (talk) 07:40, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

There's an extra wrinkle. When Black Hat's client gets annoyed later on at Black Hat's broken promises, he can sue Black Hat and point to the editing record and say that Black Hat wasn't going about things correctly. Or, even more likely, Company B gets annoyed at Company A and subpoenas their email files and discovers that A has been paying Black Hat to diddle Wikipedia. This becomes an issue in court. Adding this policy creates a very strong incentive for responsible actors to abide by policy and disclose. I don't think COI hunters would be very effective, and would probably get themselves banned for stalking or harassment or casting aspersions (without basis). Jehochman Talk 12:32, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
There is no contractual relationship between Wikipedia and its editors as no consideration has been exchanged, however, and so I don't believe any laws are being broken by failing to observe its terms of use. Additionally, if Black Hat is removing false and malicious info, the end result is a more accurate encyclopedia, and I don't see any grounds for company B to sue. If company A is defaming company B, or making false claims about itself, I believe there are applicable laws, regardless of Wikipedia's terms of service. isaacl (talk) 16:41, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
I've had a few years experience with lawsuits and the Internet. If somebody is violating site policies, that is something a litigant could present to the judge or jury as evidence of unfair competition (or some other wrong). People cannot break site policies without the potential for real world consequences. Jehochman Talk 19:53, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
There are consequences for the site owner and the site user for violations of policies, but a third party isn't involved (particularly as I assume Black Hat wouldn't reveal their methods to its client). And since the encyclopedia became more accurate through the removal of malicious information, I don't see what remedy could be applied (even if the malicious information were restored, the court case would generate a reliable source of information to remove it). isaacl (talk) 21:13, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
The site already has 3 core pillars. If company A is paying Black Hat and the three pillars and the fundamental policies upon which this policy is based didn't dissuade them, I don't think this one will. Should company B prevail in a tort of undisclosed paid editing but everything was from a NPOV, V, and RS? That's the layer you appear to be proposing. Company B can already subpoena Company A and find paid editors in your scenario. We have no power over that. If site policy was actionable, I would hope it would be for the core site principals. By giving company B a way to make a claim for edits that the Wikipedia community believes are okay (i.e. a non-COI editor could make them without fear of claim), that seems to go against the goal. If we want Company B to have any claims involving internal policy, it should only be NPOV, RS and V. If they can't prove those policies were violated, we don't need to be giving them ammunition in the form of new policies. --DHeyward (talk) 10:47, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
The legal side of this policy is even worse for WMF if we're going theoretical legal scenarios.. I believe that content licensing is between individual editors and WMF. Specifically the editor is releasing the information into the public domain hosted by WMF and represent they are the owner of the created content and release it to WP. Now Company A has no agreement with WMF at all and White Hat editors have given fair notice to WMF that their content is paid for by a third party that may or may not agree that the content they paid for belongs to WMF. Virtually all WMF policies are written for volunteers. Company A doesn't like a particular edit and serves WMF with a DMCA copyright takedown notice for any "White Hat" edits or derviatives from that copyright work. "White Hat" agrees that Company A is the copyright holder and WMF is simply the host. What are WMF recourse? Ban White Hat and comply? The official position is that edits and takedown requests are adversial, not collusional. Even a bad faith claim may take lots of resources as the paid declaration is practically a statement that a third party, not the editor or WMF owns the content. They allow White Hat to use that information on conditions beyond WMFs. The copyright violation is a civil use issue between White Hat and Company A Instead of being able to point the court at White Hat and Company A, WMF is litigant as they knoew or should have know that content paid for by Company A may not be public domain. WMF's own copyright policy acknowedges this. Furthermore, they contend that all revision histories hosted by WMF are copyright violations and need to be taken down. Every paid editor declaration is a statement to WMF that they are not volunteers. Do we have any policies that apply to non-volunteers? Third, every editor that declares they are paid is a "professional". "White Hat" pharamaceutical PR company makes an edit about one of their products. Is that professional advice as they are paid? Adding apolicy that creates legal ambiguity for WMF is worse that a policy that creates legal avenues for third parties. There is so much legal swiss cheese when we make known the non-volunteer and non-content owner status of editors on every edit they make. Every thing from copyright to proprietary information will be fair game with a fair notice warning like those proposed. WMF is in a MUCH better position to say every editor is an individual volunteer. It seimply places themselve out of litigation as a host.
Edits made by Wikipedia users are not released into the public domain; editors retain copyright to their contributions, but they irrevocably grant the right to anyone to license the contributions under either Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA) or the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The editor is responsible for ensuring they have the right to agree to the terms of service when they submit a contribution, including any required licensing agreements for the contribution, with terms compatible with CC BY-SA and GFDL. The means to delete a specific revision of an article exists, and the WMF will act on DMCA take-down notices to retain its safe harbor status. isaacl (talk) 04:23, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
My point was that a non-paid individual editor making an edit is much more clear as the copyright holder as the content creator (and the person able to grant reuse). A big sign that says "I am being paid by someone else to put in information that they want, this is my fair warning (or "red flag" for DMCA) that content I place in Wikipedia may not be owned by me, and therefore all the remaining terms of the reuse license could be voided by the actual content or IP holder. You've been warned" Seriously, we will have editors that get verbatim drafts of articles from a company that pays them to make it happen. We have two conflicting objectives: the first are these policy proposals to know as much about an editor as possible. The flip side is the Safe harbor provisions where strong prohibitive activities as well as cookie-cutter user base so there are no red flags. --DHeyward (talk) 08:40, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
I think your point suggest a good clarification for the policy. Contributions must be original by the author. It is not acceptable to take a draft from somebody else and post it (except if a typist is helping a disabled person who can't type themselves). Jehochman Talk 13:49, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
The change you made specifies a limitation that is more restrictive than the corresponding policy to which it refers, Wikipedia:Copyrights. I think it would be preferable to advise editors that they should, in accordance with the WP:COPYOTHERS section in Wikipedia:Copyrights, keep a written record of the permission to license the submitted contribution under CC BY-SA and GFDL, and follow the procedure described at Wikipedia:Requesting copyright permission#When permission is confirmed. isaacl (talk) 15:10, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
When this issue has been raised previously, there were concerns expressed, but the general feeling has been that it is ok to post on someone's behalf on the understanding that the copyright holder is aware that the material is being released under a CC license, and allows it to be released accordingly. A previous proposal, Wikipedia:Paid editing (guideline), (which failed), had a more complete description of the situation, where the copyright holder (the employer) can contact OTRS and acknowledge that they have released the material under an appropriate license. I'm concerned that the wording here came across as a blanket "you can only post material if you own the copyright", which is incorrect, so I have removed it for now. - Bilby (talk) 06:30, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
There's another bit that becomes legalish if we openly adopt paid editors or employees: legal violation by proxy. right now, most edits are made by individual editors. What happens when we have many paid COI editors making specious COI edit requests - not because of the COI - but because if they made them from their own account, it's discoverabl. Exmple: financial traders asking other editors to edit something the SEC would frown on. Food marketers using plain language lay editors that would be a violation of administrative law. We won't just have individual contractors but bona fide employees. Anyone know the difference between 'all-natural' and 'organic'? I bet the FDA does.I bet food marketers do, too, and also know which is more valuable. --DHeyward (talk) 11:04, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm curious about what sorts of information that the SEC would frown upon where a trader with "inside knowledge" (presumably the kind of information that the SEC would be upset over) would be encouraging another editor to add to an article about again presumably an article about a publicly traded company (which is why the SEC would complain). Existing policies like WP:NOR and WP:RS would clearly apply in this situation and edits without a clear source can and indeed should be reverted or even oversighted (depending on the nature of the edit). It doesn't matter if the information is true, what really matters is if it is verifiable, which by definition would need to be in the "public domain" (not copyright free but rather available for any member of the public to be able to read). That would be the same with any other kind of edit that isn't backed up with reliable sources. Classified information or unpublished memos can't really be used as sources on Wikipedia. If information is leaked, for example on Wikileaks or something similar, that is not the legal problem for Wikipedia or the WMF. I fail to see why any of these examples would not be amply dealt with using other policies already in place where who actually made the edit is irrelevant. --Robert Horning (talk) 05:08, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
All of our policies cover all aspects of the paid and/or advocacy editing. We just lack sophistication to observe the violation, whence the desire for more restrictive policy. You asked an SEC example so imagine a company is involved in litigation. They disclose per SEC requirements on the 8-K form (or whatever other way the SEC proscribes). The press and analysts may treat it as negligible, however, an insider may know the outcome and during a blackout period highlights that particular court case for inclusion. It's completely sourceable but mainly due to WP:UNDUE it's not mentioned. The obscure legal cases may suddenly jump to the headline depending on the ruling. Insiders may guide an article, for whatever reason, to include information that would normally be below the radar. It would be unlawful for them to comment directly. It is probably unlawful to even request the addition on the talk page but they didn't make the edit. Imagine they just stated that a particular and previously disclosed lawsuit may be more significant and proposed it on a talk page during a corporate quiet periods and claim their own COI prevents them from adding it. There are many lawsuits like this that exist. Wrongful death lawsuits against tobacco companies, for example. Let's say only 1 out 100 succeed but all are disclosed equally with a generic boilerplate warning that each could be material. An insider may have sealed information but a request to mention case X, out of 100 other similar cases, is listed on the talk page by a COI edit request. It looks innocuous enough as it's all sourced as being a real lawsuit with real potential for damages. Investors have lumped it into the 100 or so other cases yet Mr. COI has flagged one to be included. It's highly unlikely that the person responding to the edit request will research beyone what is requested and what is sourced. A neutral editor may not know about the 100 other cases. They may not consider it undue weight. This happens in real life and is why a stock may be recommended as a "buy", "hold" or "sell" by various investment companies with the assumption they have no inside information. Each of those analysts weigh information applying different weights. An insider that does it, could manipulate WP the same way through the proxy COI edit. It would be very bad it the WP article highlighted 1 of 100 lawsuits because an edit was requested 2 weeks before the public learned it was more significant. If a COI editor said "please list this lawsuit, here's the links about it" but failed to mention there were 99 inconsequential similar lawsuits, I doubt the sophistication exists within WP to do anything but evaluate whether the request was verifiable and reliably sourced. --DHeyward (talk) 04:19, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

One big problem[edit]

Support but - If and when this really becomes a policy people will flock to Wikipedia as a source of income, most of them jobless, until now Wikipedia has been able to provide WP:NPOV only because nothing monetary is involved with it. Imagine hundreds of people most of them depressed, frustrated or jobless not to mention with no respect for policies and language skill with one sole intention of earning money, Wikipedia will no longer be the safe and peaceful heaven it used to be. What made it a heaven, it does not contain dirt of the rest of the world, the dirt called money. Numerous newly registered users all looking to advertise instead of editing plus the additional problem of interviewing the users before registering. So at the end of the day no matter how much I want my pockets to be full after editing Wikipedia it'll to be a no from me as it would no longer be fun. Sohambanerjee1998 19:06, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

As it stands now anybody can do that already. This policy is only adds a requirement to disclose. Right now it's just a free for all. Jehochman Talk 19:51, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
That requirement will be a toothless joke. We need to expressly prohibit edits to an article which are bought and paid for by the subject of that article. K7L (talk) 19:58, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
If an article is good, it does not matter. Right now there is no standard whatsoever. Having some sort of standard will be helpful. Jehochman Talk 04:58, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
And that is somehow less toothless? If we can't figure out who is editing for pay for the purposes of requiring them to disclose, then we can't do it for the purpose of prohibiting them from editing either. People are going to pay others to edit regardless of whether we have a policy against it or not. If we have a process that allows them to do it "legally" and at least a few decide to use it, that's an improvement over what we have now. Mr.Z-man 19:49, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

No paid editing I also have concerns about the reasons people would be paid for editing, and similar to paid advocacy, how this could distort the content of articles. Although I am aware of instances where student help is used to create research-based articles on topics that are important and missing from WP, I can also see the practice abused by those with greater financial resources to advocate for their version of the "truth." I see paid editing as having problems similar to those associated with paid advocacy. Yes, it would be difficult to police, but that doesn't make it right. I think that if paid editing is officially allowed (especially without restriction) there will be no way to keep up with any underlying promotional content. Versions of "paid editing" have already undermined mainstream media, democracy, and other institutions. 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 editing 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) 13:36, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Smm201`0, fully agree with you. Don't want the junk of the rest of the world here. Sohambanerjee1998 08:52, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
My edits which have removed "unfounding promotional-sounding content" from articles have always brought to me an especial joy. And you know what? I've never wondered if the promotional content was put in there by a paid editor, a vandal, a fan-boy, or someone who just doesn't know how to source content. That's because the reasons behind an edit are irrelevant -- they're either worth keeping, or they're not. We don't need a policy that gets our knickers in a twist speculating about whether or not someone has accepted money for a particular edit, because content is what we judge, not character. However, I completely agree that a policy that explicitly allows paid editing is a terrible idea; it would invite large numbers of new editors who are less likely to be interested in learning how to contribute meaningfully. There's no need to do anything at all, because bad edits will always be bad edits, and if a paid editor contributes in a meaningful way, I'd rather not have it judge poorly just because they earned a couple of bucks doing it. We have a slew of policies protecting content and a fairly clear guideline about conflict of interest; nothing else is needed in this case.--~TPW 20:37, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Even though I am a big supporter of the policy in my heart I cannot give it my consent since no matter how much I want my pockets with money at the end of the day this would wreak havoc. In my opinion only editors with a minimum experience of 1 year and clear understanding of the policies should be given this right. They can edit by taking money but that does not mean they should. The experience and understanding might be enough to secure NPOV. Sohambanerjee1998 09:38, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

A higher bar[edit]

I would like to see something to the following effect added to this policy/guideline: "It is generally expected that Wikipedia editors will not merely obey specific rules but do intellectually honest work. This is particularly incumbent upon anyone who is being paid for to edit articles. Articles should not merely be narrowly, technically true, but should represent honest efforts at well-rounded balanced coverage of their topics. If this is not what you are trying to achieve, then you should not be editing articles." - Jmabel | Talk 05:22, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

By the way, this essay I wrote seven years ago may also be germane: User:Jmabel/PR. - Jmabel | Talk 05:25, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree that intellectually honest work is desirable. I think we can agree that if you have a real world conflict with some individual, find out that there is a Wikipedia page about them, and dredge up anything remotely negative about that person and try to add it to the article, they are not being intellectually honest. Why is that activity less of a problem than someone paid to find dirt?--SPhilbrick(Talk) 13:18, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
I previously added this text. Thank you for the feedback. Jehochman Talk 13:18, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Proposals Seem Redundant[edit]

WP:COI states the following: Paid advocacy is receiving financial compensation from a person or organization to use Wikipedia to promote the interests of that person or organization. Advocacy of any sort within articles is prohibited by our policies on neutral point of view and what Wikipedia is not, and paid advocacy is regarded as an especially egregious form of advocacy. Paid advocates are very strongly discouraged from direct article editing, and should instead propose changes on the talk page of the article in question.

Maybe I am missing something, but I think that Wikipedia's conflict on interest rules already cover most of activities that the two paid editing proposals seek to restrict. I think we are spending a lot of time designing long-winded and somewhat self-contradictory proposals when we already have a valid policy in place. Perhaps adding a few example of acceptable and unacceptable behavior to WP:COI is all we need. DavidinNJ (talk) 04:27, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

The two proposals are for policies, WP:COI is a guideline. Quick and dirty difference - Policies can be enforced directly, a guideline is only enforced if there is repeated disruption associated with ignoring it . Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:43, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Identification and Terms of Use[edit]

Sue raised the Wikimedia Terms of Use in regard to paid editing, which got me thinking. As she pointed out, the current Terms of Use state that individuals may not engage in "misrepresenting your affiliation with any individual or entity" as part of the section on fraud. I'm wondering how this applies in regard to disclosing a COI. I'm presuming that this does not require someone to premptivly disclose a COI, but if I ask someone "are you working for company X", and they say "no" (even though they are working for them), does this mean that they are in violation of the terms of use, by misrepresenting their affiliation? (My assumption would be that not responding is not a misrepresentation, of course, only that denying an affiliation when one exists may be). - Bilby (talk) 14:41, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

I think that the issue is one the other way around: somebody comes to Wikipedia claiming to be a person or represent a group, when they are not or do not. If an editor asks me to out myself, which is against policy, I have every right to evade the question. I don't think we'd sanctiondenounce evasion in that case. Jehochman Talk 14:47, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that you have every right to evade the question. This doesn't seem to place people under an obligation to answer, nor does it seem to place people under an obligation to self-disclose. The problem, though, is do you have a right to deny an affiliation when one exists, under the terms of use? It does appear that the intent of this was to prevent people claiming an affiliation when none exists, but it seems it is also viable to read this as requiring that you don't actively deny an existing affiliation, either. - Bilby (talk) 14:56, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Best practice is to be honest. "I won't answer that question because you have no right to ask it," might be a good response. But I don't know that I'd be very angry if an editor decided to misdirect. Jehochman Talk 15:10, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough, but I am left wondering if it is a violation of the terms of use to misdirect. My feeling is that it is - you can refuse to answer, and you don't have to volunteer the information, but it seems that you may not be able to deny it if it is true. - Bilby (talk) 15:21, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia:No paid advocacy[edit]

The Paid editing policy proposal is much beter than the other one. See my discussion at that talk page. Bearian (talk) 17:15, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

I'd second that. The no paid advocacy proposal is unacceptably broad in scope. I see Wikipedia losing expert knowledge in a number of fields if we were to impose such a rule. I also agree with your suggestion to have an absolute ban on autobiographies. The question that I have is whether we should differentiate between quid pro quo paid editing (e.g., direct pay to edit an article) and more tangential cases of financial connections to pages edited (e.g., an employee edits the company's article on his own volition). DavidinNJ (talk) 02:26, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree with Bearian that this proposal is much better than the other, but neither being good enough. Both are on track to {{failed}}. The viting started way too early, way too ahead of maturation of a consensus building process. I sense an underlying concensus in favor of mandatory, general disclosure of COI. We need a simple disclosure policy. I suggest that it belongs in Wikipedia:Editing policy. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:50, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Assess the edit, not the editor[edit]

If an edit is relevant, concise and verifiable and expresses a neutral point of view, why impose requirements on its editor? Of the large number of biased, or otherwise unsatisfactory, edits which appear daily, only a tiny proportion are made by editors with a financial interest in the subject. Some paid editors know more about the subject than you and I, and their edits are valuable, provided that they are independently verifiable and npov.
How will an admistrator discover whether has a financial interest? The open contributor will suffer criticism from others who wrongly assume bias, but the one who doesn’t disclose will be judged purely on the merit of the edit.
An unenforcable rule is a bad rule. Apuldram (talk) 13:26, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree that the quality of the content is the only thing that really matters. Everyone has an interest in the topics they write about. I don't see a qualitative difference for the reader between contributors who promote pet theories and contributors who promote business interests. It's impossible to completely eliminate opinion, but it is possible to ensure that opinion is never presented as fact. I fear this debate could end up being more about the appearance of impropriety. The real solution, though it's easier said than done, is better rules and guidelines for content. Claudeb (talk) 15:36, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Having read all this stuff, I think this best fits my view of what is possible. It's not difficult to spot astroturfing. We need to Be Bold and strike it out.
That said, if I discover people are being paid to do what I do for free, I shall stop doing it.--Robert EA Harvey (talk) 20:18, 27 October 2013 (UTC)


Can anyone point to examples of paid editing? If we could review some examples, perhaps that will help clarify what the policy should be.--Nowa (talk) 16:18, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Here's one example, Wiki PR Apparently they have been engaging in sockpuppetry.
The Daily Dot interviewed four Wiki-PR clients who said they paid between $500 and $1,000 to have articles written and then $50 a month for ongoing "page management" services. For its article, Vice spoke to a college dean who paid $1,500 for a profile to be written—and then was asked to pay another $800 for 30 days of "media relations efforts" when the page kept getting deleted.
This helps quantify the problem. $1,500 is about what you would pay for a modest web site. The question is should editors who volunteer their time go up against editors who are paid for their time. It seems to me this is classic COI. In the cases I've been involved in, there seems to be no shortage of committed editors to fight COI. --Nowa (talk) 23:51, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Here's another case from 2011 related to the PR firm Bell Pottinger. It looks like naming and shaming was effective at stopping it.--Nowa (talk) 00:58, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Here is a rather thorough interview about PR firms participating in Wikipedia written from the PR firm standpoint. The basic message is that PR firms should be transparent about their affiliations and play by the rules.--Nowa (talk) 01:06, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

This editor was "Communications Director" for an article subject, although I don't know if his position was paid or volunteer, and the articles he was interested in were BLPs (the candidate and his wife), which rightly or wrongly often allow more subject-friendly slant that articles about corporations. I thought he was a model editor but he got harassed a lot anyway with people complaining about his presence to Jimbo even when he was only editing Talk pages.--Brian Dell (talk) 22:23, 11 November 2013 (UTC)


Wiki editing is an acquired skill. On principle, I do not object to someone getting paid to use a skill they have learned. Paying a skilled wikipedia editor to clean up an article could be a good thing. However, I think it would be impossible to do paid editing without violating a whole slew of COI, NPOV guidelines that are essential to maintain. I don't know how we get beyond the point that a person paying to have something posted on wikipedia certainly does have a COI and non-NPOV reason. But I'm going to suggest a possible system to make this happen, which will involve monetary compensation.

  • 1 A paid editor must be registered as such. Any edits done by a paid editor must be done under a handle that makes the status visible. In order to take on work as a paid editor, there should be a commission paid to wikipedia, based on the volume of editing (I think it should probably be based on number of characters rather than number of edits). I'm sure we can set up a means to do this through paypal or some other means of payment. The paid editor's account will be tied to the normal editor's account so edits made by both accounts will be flagged for related articles.
  • 2 All edits made by paid editors will be dropped into a logging system for review by uninvolved editors. This would be very similar to the New Article Patrol but each edit will by its nature be more suspect and will involve more specific scrutiny. I think the editors watching over the work of these paid editors should be paid from the commission mentioned above. I know, I know, this will get into a whole messy financial process, but it will attract editors into this area. The well meaning editors can also have the option to donate their fees back to the Wikipedia Foundation, thus a possible revenue source.
  • 3 A rating system will need to be developed. The performance of the edits made by a paid account will be rated for Neutrality, Accuracy (I always suggest people who complain about a subject they do not know about should google other sources to see if something is accurate, here is another example of where this suggestion could work), and use of sources unrelated to the subject. Violations of any policies will be numerically counted. Warnings issued. If a quota is reached, all work by that editor is reverted and the account will be blocked. Their unpaid account will also be suspect. Fees will not be refunded. Fear of such a red line policy should keep reasonable editors in check. Unreasonable editors should be 86ed, which is the point. In order for the quota system to work, we will need to balance out the assignment of negative points, so a tendentious editor cannot follow a specific editor from an opposing viewpoint in order to have them removed. It will take multiple negative reports from different supervising editors to cause the ultimate discipline. All of this will probably create a whole new administrative process to handle protests and review decisions, but I'm trying to come up with a way to make this work.Trackinfo (talk) 19:08, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
You make some bold claims here, yet this is unenforceable as there is no possible way to distinguish between what constitutes a paid edit or a completely voluntary effort (or that there is some sort of distinction at all)? I openly reject your basic underlying premise as it exists at the moment as it is in direct conflict with the very nature that accounts or edit claims as it were is something that has no prerequisites, no registration other than simply linking a particular set of letters to a password. All other information that may be provided is completely voluntary and indeed unverifiable (as the whole issue with Essjay should have been ample example). There is no possible way for you to definitely identify even what person is actually making any edit to Wikipedia without some substantial voluntary cooperation on the part of that editor and going outside of any tools that can possibly be provided by the Wikimedia Foundation.
I suppose Wikipedia could get very draconian on its editor registration and start to demand biometric information (starting with signatures, fingerprints, photo ID, DNA samples, and going up that ramp) to establish strong links of identification between a particular person and their account. Frankly, I would hope that kind of identification link would never happen and I think it would be something that would get resounding "hell no" responses from within the Wikipedia community. Unfortunately, that is to me the only possible way that you can enforce any sort of forced registration of paid accounts. It can only be if you can demonstrate based on evidence gleaned from sources outside of Wikipedia and items completely unrelated to individual edits that you can show that somebody is being a troll by not disclosing their paid status. --Robert Horning (talk) 16:54, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
They say locks only keep honest people honest. I had no intent to set up a complex system to investigate the identities of paid wikipedians. I proposed a system where honest paid editors could identify their account as a paid account and for a fee, subject their edits to further scrutiny--in effect to allow them to prove their honest efforts to perform wikipedia editing as a job function without them violating policy on those grounds alone. To get caught performing paid edits without self-identifying, still should be a violation of policy, subject to a permanent ban and removal of content. As always, with any account, we are subject to public scrutiny and are judged by the content of our edits. I've been involved with the oversight of one of our most prolific editors, whose entire body of work was blanked because of their pattern of editing. When caught they were, of course, also banned. We have the technology to do this, that's all I'm saying. Trackinfo (talk) 18:35, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

I prefer the WP:BRIGHTLINE rule[edit]

I have seen too many attempts at whitewashing to ever feel comfortable consulting or participating in the creation of an encyclopedia which tolerates paid advocacy editing. There is no way to insure that anonymous editors will summarize truthfully when they are being compensated by the subjects of their topics. I believe WP:BRIGHTLINE should be elevated to policy. EllenCT (talk) 02:03, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Advocacy of all sorts is banned. Do you feel comfortable that Wikipedia is an Encyclopedia Anybody Can Edit? Anybody includes people who are paid, as long as they follow the rules. If somebody is paid to monitor a biography, to remove vandalism and unsourced negative info, and they do that properly, they are an ally, not an enemy.
There is a second concern. Wikipedia allows anonymous editing and does not have formal editorial control. It is user generated content. Anybody or group mentioned in an article has a Right to Respond. It is unethical to talk about somebody without giving them a chance to respond. Jehochman Talk 15:50, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
First, many people are not allowed to edit for a wide variety of reasons, so the over-generalization based on the tagline doesn't deserve a reply. The right to respond is available to those using talk pages (article and user) and noticeboards. Responding in adversarial debate does not mean censoring one's opponent. EllenCT (talk) 04:53, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Although I prefer WP:BRIGHTLINE (as Ellen does above), I can live with this as a compromise. All the best, Miniapolis 23:13, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Does paid editing differ from self editing?[edit]

I see the issue of paid editing as differing little from WP:COISELF. The paid editor is writing, at least part of his/her time, as the surrogate of another, and perhaps it should be noted that the guidelines on COISELF should also apply to paid editors. I am particularly concerned that edits made by paid editors not be based in sources generated by the entity/subject of an article and related articles (that would fall under self-citing), and instead base edits only upon reliable third-party sources. If an editor hired by Exxon would like to include a statement cited to a work generated by Exxon that an Exxon subsidiary is the largest producer of a certain type of lubricant, then that claim needs to be cited to a reliable source other than material generated by Exxon, its subsidiaries, its affiliates or its other paid consultants and representatives. As COISELF states, if an item or topic is verifiable and notable, someone else will add it. I have no problem with paid editors contributing and correcting information in articles that are solidly based in third-party, reliable sources as long as they are careful to avoid PoV-pushing/advocacy. That said, I would far rather that energy be expended on streamlining enforcement of policies against the rampant advocacy and other behaviors (paid or not) which discourage constructive editors and subvert the aim of Wikipedia to produce a reliable encyclopedia. • Astynax talk 16:45, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

what about linking to WP:PER in the edit form instead?[edit]

If paid editing is viewed as too frequent or opaque right now, perhaps the best way to mitigate the problem would be to promote WP:PER more heavily. This would be more of a carrot than a stick. For example, one fairly aggressive method could be to link to WP:PER from the edit page itself, either at the top (in the paragraph beginning "Content that violates any copyrights will be deleted. Encyclopedic content must be verifiable...") or the bottom (in the paragraph beginning "By clicking the 'Save page' button, you agree to the Terms of Use"). For example, "If you have a conflict of interest, you are strongly encouraged to request an edit rather than making one yourself."

Not only would this be less heavy-handed, it's also more likely to be noticed by new editors, who wouldn't have read all the Wikipedia policies. Proxyma (talk) 02:41, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Support - of any suggestion or concept that has been put forward so far, this is one that seems most reasonable. I don't know how much a new editor will bother actually reading basic policies of Wikipedia before they get started and try to dig in with actual editing, but I would agree that for a great many who are being honest and perhaps being misguided in their editing attempts that at least bringing up basic policies like this could be useful. It still won't deal with the problems of trolls that intentionally are padding articles and offering what is offensive to many in the Wikipedia community of paid promotional agencies who aggressively attack articles to "cleanse" them of negative information on behalf of their clients. Unfortunately I don't know if there is any solution to that issue either besides the usual ArbCom actions and banning user accounts as is done for all trolls. --Robert Horning (talk) 16:41, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Proposal fails to deal with the problem[edit]

Trying to deal with two things, paid editing and paid advocacy, within the same proposal is confusing and conflates the two somewhat, and does not appreciate the special dangers of paid advocacy over unpaid advocacy. I have no problem with someone editing an article as part of a teaching position or technical job. Indeed, that area does not need further complications. However, against paid advocacy, this policy is too weak a statement.

  • It's confusing what the "If you: Are receiving benefits or considerations from the subject of an article..." refers to. Many people's employers have Wikipedia articles about them. Would this policy mean all people should state their employer on their user page? Or only if they work in PR or marketing as the section heading implies?
  • The requirement "must disclose your financial interest on your user page", while apparently requiring users to start an informative user page, is an insufficient declaration of interest, far weaker than the COI practices already mentioned at Wikipedia:NOPR#Paid_advocacy.2C_public_relations.2C_and_marketing and discussed at WP:PSCOI. Practically, I don't think paid advocates are going to read the policy, even if it is pointed out in their user talk; and it won't in itself provide any alert to other editors that there is a COI edit or new article.
  • Finally, "It is not permissible to investigate editors for conflicts of interest using sources from outside of Wikipedia." is tantamount to saying that the policy cannot be enforced. Does this also apply to admins and bureacrats? Certain forms of deception may be legal fraud whether or not COI is declared, but cases that are merely ethically wrong would rely entirely on people who have compromised intentions both reading the policy and not laughing at it. The proposal links to WP:OUTING, which is actually about harrassment, but which actually says the opposite of this proposal: "However, if individuals have identified themselves without redacting or having it oversighted, such information can be used for discussions of conflict of interest (COI) in appropriate forums." I did something similar to this a a couple of days ago at Talk:Interoute: I was posting verifiable information that was already public to make other editors aware of a COI. This is nothing to do with the compromised editor(s): it's about the quality of the article, and a request to other editors to write an objective article based on third-party sources rather than press releases. Is there an ethical problem with what I did that I just can't see?

My user page shows that this once was a concern of mine; the obvious contradiction has been that it's OK to speedily delete new articles composed solely of promotional content, but not promotional content added to articles about a notable subject. The futility of trying to write encyclopedic articles, based on books or newspapers, and not based on a company's own PR which I regard as a primary source, that are going to be repeatedly reverted anonymously by IP addresses belonging to the subject corporation is one reason I don't edit Wikipedia much any more. If nothing is done about this, then in my opinion Wikipedia will become far too unreliable to be useful in the humanities at all. [3] and [4] are two Mediawiki-based sites that restrict editorship for this reason.

Were this policy to be adopted, IMHO it would only weaken and confuse existing strictures that might help with this issue. What is actually needed is a clearer, more effective statement like WP:PAID. --Cedderstk 10:47, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

A different approach[edit]

See my solution here. So, you don't focus on the editor, rather on the articles about the companies that are being edited in a problematic way. Whether or not action against the involved editors should or shoud not be taken is then a separate matter that must be handled by the existing policies. In addition to that, if we have enough evidence that some company is subverting its own Wikipedia article, we can just tag that article with a notice that says that information on that page has been compromised due to PR editing on behalf of that company. That would completely undermine whatever PR was done in favor of that company. The ball will then be in the company's court to make sure the paid advocacy stops and then the tag can be removed. Count Iblis (talk) 20:54, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

I like this concept in principle. However, how would you identify this in practice? If a bunch of edits are made to Apple Inc. promoting positive aspects of the company and minimizing negative ones, how do you know if it's Apple's hired firm or just a bunch of fans? The difficulty with these policy proposals seems to be finding a mechanism that actually works yet isn't heavy handed. Proxyma (talk) 01:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
If the source of the problem is not clear (e.g. you don't have the fingerprints pointing to PR companies being involved from checkuser or investigating the IPs) then onen can still put a template on the article that then warns the reader that there may be biased information in the article, but which doesn't blame the company for that problem. Count Iblis (talk) 22:08, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Mimicking volunteer behavior[edit]

I am a frequent paid editor/marketer.

I like this aspect of the proposal: "Articles should not merely be narrowly, technically true, but should represent honest efforts at well-rounded balanced coverage of their topics."

The way the BrightLine has been communicated in the marketing community is that marketers should "make their case" and "present their arguments". It positions us as advocates, which is the normal role for a marketer to take.

Advocacy is not unethical broadly speaking, but is not allowed on Wikipedia. Editors with a COI are expected to do their best to mimic the conduct and content/contributions they would make as a disinterested volunteer. CorporateM (Talk) 12:14, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

2nd draft[edit]

I've looked over the comments, had a debate with Jimmy Wales, and then created a second draft proposal, here: Wikipedia:Paid editing policy proposal/2nd draft. This is actually based on SlimVirgin's competing proposal. The hope is that we can create a consensus version. Jehochman Talk 22:18, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

The first version codifies existing reality and I support that all the way. The second version, not. Carrite (talk) 21:57, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
I see the 2nd draft has been renamed Wikipedia:Commercial editing. @Jehochman: - are you aiming to keep them both as separate proposals or essays? It would be less confusing if they were merged; or one was a deprecated subpage of the other; or they were updated so that their ledes described how their goals differ -- as reflective of the ideas of its authors. – SJ + 06:12, 11 November 2013 (UTC)


I oppose this draft. A well paid representative from a multi billion dollar company is allowed to hound / harass a Wikipedia editor but the Wikipedia editor is not aloud to bring this behavior to the light of day due to the WP:OUTING policy. This ties the hands of those who try to promote NPOV. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 11:40, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

I think it is possible to enforce NPOV without reference to the real life identity of the editor. Our policies are like a tool box. We use the appropriate tool for each situation. One tool does not solve all problems. Jehochman Talk 13:22, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
The attribute that an editor is a paid advocate does not encompass "outing" the "real world" identity of the editor-only one attribute that would not necessarily enable anyone to identify the individual.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 19:15, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
So if you have the cash, you think the right to respond includes raising an army of mercenary meatpuppets to oppose volunteers, but those volunteers must not expose the meatpuppets or their paymasters? Of course you do, because it means money in your pocket. Shame! EllenCT (talk) 11:56, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
Late to the party, but that was some good anger-bait there. KonveyorBelt 19:35, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Related discussions: Bounty Board and Reward Board MfDs[edit]

Editors interested in this discussion may also want to comment on the MfD nominations for the Bounty Board and Reward Board. --BDD (talk) 18:08, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

"If your edits cause a dispute, you may be asked to stop editing the article"[edit]

I think this particular clause is fundamentally at odds with the idea that Wikipedia is open. It's basically saying that you will be blocked or topic banned because another editor decided to create a frivolous dispute for the very purpose of getting you banned. If paid editors should be banned in the first place before consideration of the neutrality and quality of their edits then ban them outright in advance on the grounds that they have no right to edit period. If there IS a right to edit, then that right should not be so cavalierly subject to being revoked.--Brian Dell (talk) 22:33, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Should not allow paid edits with strong conflicts of interest[edit]

I oppose this, since it weakens Wikipedia:Conflict of interest (WP:COI) in important ways. For intance, WP:COI says, "If you have a financial connection to a topic – including, but not limited to, as an owner, employee, contractor or other stakeholder – you are advised to refrain from editing affected articles directly."

This explicitly says the opposite for employees, "For example, it would be acceptable if a university asked one of its professors to write up its warts-and-all history for a Wikipedia article." This is a strong, direct, conflict of interest, and it is better not to allow it. They could instead publish an article on their own site (or the university's) (or even a book), which we might be able to use as one source among many, bearing in mind Wikipedia:Self-published source#Self-published or questionable sources as sources on themselves. Proposing edits on the talk page is also an option. Superm401 - Talk 05:53, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

I see this is actually on WP:COI ("There may be benign examples of editors being paid – for example, a university asking you to write up its warts-and-all history."). However, I don't agree, and I don't think this should be promoted to policy. Superm401 - Talk 06:13, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Also, it's stronger here, since WP:COI says "may be benign" and "you" (though it is in "Paid editing"), while this specifically says "would be acceptable" and "one of its professors" (a long-term employment relationship). Superm401 - Talk 06:18, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
This seems to be a downfall with all 5/4/3 of these proposals: they make an (unenforcable) absolute statement and then backdown from it; ultimately bringing little/no gain, but in the process diluting the existing policies that we do have. —Sladen (talk) 10:47, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
WP:COI is a guideline. I thought the idea was to find policy that all could agree on; and that COI guidelines would remain as well. I agree that any policy should be worded so that it does not weaken anything in the current COI guideline; so here too it should at most say "may be" and "you". – SJ + 02:18, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.