I think that the Wikimedia movement should be more open for experts creating content to Wikipedia as part of their work. Including WIRs, the people they teach and also paid editors inside companies and other organizations. People make mistakes and that should be allowed for professionals too but I think the volunteers keep banning them before they can learn from their mistakes.

I'm dreaming that Wikipedia content creation could be part of many experts' daily routines - maybe they get more time for this now that AI is making their work simpler?

I'm very sorry for what has happened to Rachel and wish there were some place she could get help from. Professional content creators are usually very lonely when a group of volunteers starts complaining about their work.

My point-of-view comes from paid editing - I've been a white hat editor from 2010, including a 12-year-period in English Wikipedia. I'm now community banned there (for life, I guess) but continue to edit elsewhere like in Finnish Wikipedia where I'm the second WIR ever. I've documented my banning case here: https://hiddentreasure2.blogspot.com/2022/08/why-was-i-banned-in-english-wikipedia.html .

I'm so glad Lane & Jake raised this discussion here and hope we can see more comments about the subject. Even if I'm new as a WIR (3 months) I'm willing to be part of the work group that starts thinking about this further.


ma 8. huhtik. 2024 klo 21.37 Jake Orlowitz (jorlowitz@gmail.com) kirjoitti:
I commented in support of Rachel. Despite small missteps and a lack of oversight of her student's writing, a topic ban for her from all LDS/Mormon subjects would be a death blow to her work.

We are Wikipedians in Residence, or those who work with them, and the very concept of a WIR is under attack by some who think COI is the worst possible enemy of Wikipedia. Those folks also think they make the COI rules beyond what the actual COI guideline states.  Those folks also think of real life organizing and networking (like this group itself!) as a sign of a nefarious cabal.

Our goal is to help WIRs succeed and to do that we need to provide guidance, support, and normalization of the position, even as it expands beyond GLAM. WIRs are a powerful tool to leverage different institutions' knowledge to fill knowledge gaps on Wikipedia. WIR positions provide pathways to viable employment for dedicated, talented lifelong editors. WIRs yield huge benefits for article and page creation and pageviews, more than any other intervention.

What I'm saying is, speak up for what you believe in, whatever that is, wherever that conversation is happening. Do you have to support Rachel Helps? Of course not; we're not a lobby or industry cover group. But should you care when any WIR is under attack? Yes. Because it could be you next.


Jake Orlowitz
Founder of The Wikipedia Library
Lead at WikiBlueprint
- me: jakeorlowitz.com

On Mon, Apr 8, 2024 at 10:22 AM Lane Rasberry <lanerasberry@gmail.com> wrote:

On English Wikipedia there are some editors and reviewers accusing a Wikimedian in Residence of misconduct. I am not asking for any particular response from anyone, except that Wikimedians in Residence plan to support members in achieving compliance with rules and defense of misunderstandings.

The above is the minimum that anyone needs to read. What follows are details.

My own summary and perspective: Rachel Helps, Wikimedian in Residence at a university in the United States since 2016, is accused of undisclosed conflict of interest editing, biased editing, and recruiting paid and unpaid colleagues in inappropriate editing. In my opinion, this editor has done everything correctly as the Wikimedians in Residence Exchange Network recommends. I could be mistaken because the discussion and texts run for hundreds of pages, but I do not immediately identify particular problems. I posted in support of this editor in the discussion.

I do not think this accusation is easy to understand.  Note also - Wikipedia prohibits canvassing of uninterested parties to post in existing discussions and decisions, and I am not asking anyone to casually join this discussion.

Regardless, WREN needs the following to prevent this in the future -
  1. clear guidance on how to be a good Wikimedian in Residence
  2. a plan for reacting to accusations, if anyone ever wants an organizational opinion on whether someone is following the rules
  3. confirmation from the wiki community that our recommendations are actually acceptable to wiki editors
I estimate that the university partner here has spent several hundred thousand dollars of its own money, without Wikimedia Foundation grant support, to develop Wikimedia content. Their particular expertise is in an irreplaceable field of religious studies. I would regret the loss of this institutional partnership, and our colleague, if there were a way to negotiate a fix to this rather than an end to the program there.


Lane Rasberry

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