In a message dated 3/4/2007 4:42:06 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
Just to be clear, I'm not against paying honest and conscientious
Wikipedians to edit. What I am opposed to is accepting editorial
conflicts of interest.
So if, say, the Ford Foundation wants to pay a dozen historians to write
historical articles, I'm all for it. Right up to the point where they
edit anything on the Ford Foundation or its funders.
Current rules remain unclear about policies. I only hear about paid
corporations and nonprofits that also edit pages. However, one criticism involves
Wikipedia being too commercial and actually asking corporations to put their
logos on articles about them.
From what I see about my present circumstances,
unfairly blocked by a senior
in high school who can't even spell when I
provide higher-level concepts on
a subject that I have had a major interest, something's very wrong.
Moreover, I people use the ad hominems on me, but I get the extension to the block,
and I've been reading Wikipedia for years, started the editing account in late
'05, even began articles such as the GuideStar article. Am I in COI because
I began the GuideStar article but also was a major founder of a nonprofit?
No, but I'm in COI because I talk knowledgeably about a subject. The
article's ruined right now.
I understand you're saying that with people of sufficient honor, we can
hopefully get away with it. It's plausible to me, but I can't see any
clear revision to the COI guidelines that will keep only the honorable
people doing this, and -- just as important -- keep them from being
eventually corrupted. We don't have the mechanisms to enforce honesty
that a major research institution does, and I don't think we'll be able
to afford to build them for a decade or more.
Well, Wikipedia's gotten a good deal of public support. Now it's coming at
me not only with anarchy, my complaint from before, but totalitarianism.
More similar, I think, would be to compare historians
who write works on
commission. These are generally paid for by an interested party,[...]
I'd be intrigued to read more about this, but my guess is that it
require several conditions for it to work:
1. The company would have to have a clear and special interest in
being seeing as completely forthright.
2. The historian would have to be somebody with an established
reputation and solid credentials.
3. The historian would do a relatively small amount of work for the
commissioning party. (E.g., they would not be a staff historian.)
4. The historian would not primarily do commissioned work.
The last three at least seem to be the case here---an established and
well-respected contributor is asking if writing the occasional article
for a paid commissioner would be okay. I think the first is actually
better to avoid having to decide, since the motives of companies are
rather difficult to discern---so long as the writer is not a staff
historian, and doesn't do this as their main living, then whether the
company is interested in forthrightness or not matters little.
No slight intended to Jaap or any of our contributors but I don't think
the comparison is even close. A professional historian with an
established reputation and solid credentials has put, what, two decades
into getting there? And getting caught distorting the truth means they
throw that and their professional future away. Even our very best
editors don't have anything like that on the line. For those who are
pseudonymous, there is even less penalty for ethical missteps.
Historians are human too. I've had problems with them before, but I still
end up with Bs in college history, not higher, not lower. I'm planning to go
back to college even, but in World War II, I should have done better. I've
studied it, along with the Civil War, since I was a kid.
Why, there's complaint about the article on the American Civil War being
"long," and it bothers me. There's not even a definition of "First
can find yet.
What about pseudonyms when you reveal your real name on your user page then?
I use that of my grandfather, John Wallace Rich, for example, who was KIA
in World War II.
And those historians work in a field where academic norms of
intellectual independence and honesty have been built up over centuries,
with detection and enforcement mechanisms to match. Not to mention years
of training in research and writing for every person involved. We aren't
even close to having that kind of infrastructure.
As far as I'm concerned, there's too much of a lack of ethics in school as
well. I've seen it firsthand, and though I've only read half of _The Closing
of the American Mind_, I still think we need more checks and balances.
As to item 1, again it comes back to conflict of interest. If Intel pays
some professional technology journalist to expand our computer science
articles, more power to them, as I don't see them as having an interest
in distorting them. But as soon as they want changes to anything where
there is a conflict of interest, we should say no.
Yes, but then you see the slippery slope. Something's wrong here, and I
think it's selfishness somewhat. Moreover, I've seen problems with Wikipedia
for a long time. People troll articles, and provide sleeping-dog information.
I can see them yawn in their pajamas on the last Monday in May. LOL!
What about the truth for the readers besides just writing for them? I don't
think writing for Nazis in 1941 would have been a good approach.
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