[Wikimedia-l] Paid editing v. paid advocacy (editing)

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Thu Jan 9 07:57:21 UTC 2014

On Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 6:22 PM, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:

(Responding just on the general issue, not on the specific case.)

> Paid editing is not the same as paid advocacy (editing). This is a very
> important point.

I agree it's an important distinction. I personally think it could be
worthwhile to think about a separate non-profit organization which
receives payments and manages contracts to systematically expand
Wikipedia coverage, with payment entirely or largely decoupled from
specific articles (at most coupled to specific domains) and the
organization's policies being developed transparently in partnership
with the community. I suspect such an org could receive significant
grants and public support in its own right.

Supporting free content isn't evil - there's stuff like
which is totally awesome. It's COI and disclosure issues that raise
red flags, and more significant violations of policies that sometimes
go along with that.

It's been suggested many times through the years that WMF should
directly pay editors in some way. I don't think that's a good idea,
though I would like to see more grants in support of expenses related
to article writing (there are quite a few programs around that
already, many of them chapter-run).

*dims lights, stirs logs in fireplace*

Back in the early years, I had a little statement on my userpage
encouraging people to donate money to me if they liked my work and
wanted me to do more on Wikipedia. (Nobody took me up on it, of
course. Cheap bastards.) This was at a time when a lot of us online
community nerds were thinking about donation-based funding models for
communities. PayPal was just becoming a really big deal back then,
because it suddenly made these early community funding experiments
possible. Blender, Penny Arcade, Kuro5hin and others were among the
true pioneers of what's now called crowdfunding.

Axel Boldt deserves credit for this experiment:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiMoney . I still have a
WikiMoney bank balance of ψ18. Maybe I can convert it to a
cryptocurrency one day. :)

I'd love to see more experiments that are conducted in full awareness
of the ethical issues involved, both with funding models for free
content, and with other incentive structures. WikiMoney was actually
quite popular for a short while, considering how much of a pain it was
to actually administer!

Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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