[Foundation-l] Paid editing on en:wp ... the way it should be done

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Tue Apr 10 17:02:09 UTC 2007

GerardM wrote:
> Hoi ,
> When you read what the student will be paid for, it will be the coordination
> of the effort to update Wikipedia by the linguists who are subscribed to the
> linguist list. So the plan is to have these individual people work on their
> subject. Linguistics.... Oh and please assume good faith ...
> I think it is absolutely great :)
> Thanks,
>      GerardM
> On 4/10/07, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
>> http://ultimategerardm.blogspot.com/2007/04/linguists-go-wikipedia.html
>> Now ... is this a useful thing the Foundation can work to actively
>> encourage? Sponsorship of a student to write LOTS AND LOTS on
>> Wikipedia, from a suitable sponsoring organisation?
>> - d.

I disagree with some of the scathing hatred that some people, especially 
on en.wikipedia, have toward getting paid for editing content on 
Wikimedia projects.  Sometimes it does go a little bit too far when a 
P.R. rep goes and polishes up an article that is clearly not NPOV, or 
adds information about each subsidiary and product as brand new 
articles, as well as articles about each member of their board of 
directors.  Perhaps that is useful, but it can strain the level of 
notability at times.

I do think that for some historical information, as long as it is done 
with the standard 5 pillars in mind and care is done as well, should not 
be discouraged as readily as it currently is right now.  I wouldn't 
advocate the WMF to directly pay for any content editing (WMF employees 
should do content development on their own time off the clock and for 
pleasure like the rest of us), but if a scholarly society or 
organization such as a museum or university wants to help "fill in the 
gaps" of Wikipedia with a student internship, what real harm is there?  
It would be a good way for somebody to polish up on their writing skills 
and do quite a bit of good on a number of neglected subjects.  Imagine 
the support that could come from an automobile museum that would help 
add details on historic automobiles and bring in some references from 
books they have in the private library of the curator or others there at 
the musuem.

Certainly it is wise to urge caution when this is done, and if somebody 
suggests they are getting paid even part-time to write content for 
Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects, they should be very familiar with 
project policies before they start making huge changes, and they should 
respect the volunteer contributors as peers.

Related to this is a phenomena on Wikibooks where several books have 
been started as class projects under the direction of a university 
professor.  The student participation in these projects is not for 
money, but they do "earn" a grade and college credit.  That to me is 
nearly the same thing.  A good example of this can be found here:


Prior to their participation in this project, nearly all of the 
participants usually are completely unfamiliar with Wikimedia projects 
or even Wiki editing at all.  They are learning about the topic first 
hand, and some of the participants even reach out to some of the other 
content pages on Wikibooks as well, once they are involved.  This is a 
common enough situation that specific guidelines have been written to 
help instructors get the help they need on class projects like this:


This page is even referenced on the "Main Page" of Wikibooks, so it 
isn't too hard to find.  I would say if a project does create some paid 
editing guidelines, they should be something similar to this one about 
class projects and be of a generally encouraging tone but also warning 
about potential problems that may show up as well.

-- Robert Horning

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