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

Christophe Henner christophe.henner at gmail.com
Fri Jan 10 15:24:01 UTC 2014

A track about that \o/

It took me years to have 2 sessions and they were the only 2 tackling
that issue last year :)

On 10 January 2014 16:17, Andrew Lih <andrew.lih at gmail.com> wrote:
> Ting and Christophe,
> Glad to hear we are moving forward on finding more sophisticated ways of
> thinking about "paid" editing. At least for the English Wikipedians I've
> talked to, many are pleasantly surprised that the European editions are
> able to find a cooperative relationship with paid, corporate entities. The
> Signpost article out today details some of that, but it merits a
> comprehensive inventory and study to compare best practices. (Of course,
> the argument can always be made about English Wikipedia as a weird special
> case because of its profile and large community. I intentionally choose not
> to use the horrible word "exceptionalism"!)
> In last night's episode of Wikipedia Weekly podcast, we talked about this
> as well [1]. In general, there are multiple parameters regarding the issue
> of COI editing that goes beyond pay.
> 1. Pay
> 2. Neutrality
> 3. Advocacy
> 4. Transparency
> Even then, the term "advocacy" is an imprecise and nearly useless term. Are
> you advocating for a client? Are you advocating for the public good? Same
> word, completely different motivations. So "paid advocacy" as a phrase,
> uncontextualized, is not useful.
> That's why I really like the GLAM use of the phrase of choosing to work
> with "like minded institutions." A national museum with editorial
> independence is a good like-minded institution for the Wikimedia community.
> A think tank that works to convince the public that global warming is a
> myth… not so much.
> If an institution is not like-minded, then the process of educating and
> working with them with appropriate strict guidelines is a viable solution.
> We see that this can work with the examples of Swedish and German
> Wikipedias (and, it seems, others)
> Back to the four factors above: You can have paid, neutral, transparent
> editors that advocate for something good -- like better public access to
> public records. GLAM Wikipedians-in-residence are a good example of this,
> where they ensure that the interests of the public and Wikipedia's
> principles come first. So their advocacy is for the principles of better
> public knowledge, and a full time employee is working on it. This is a 4x
> positive outcome, even though the words "paid" and "advocacy" are used.
> On the other hand, in the case of Wiki-PR: it's editing for pay, without
> transparency, without neutrality and advocating for a paying customer's
> benefit. That's a quadruple no-no. This type of activity must be banned.
> But if there is a middle way on this, in working with corporations in a
> straightforward way, we would be silly not to investigate this, as certain
> Wikipedia editions already show that it is possible.
> I've highlighted in the past that we have systemic problems in Wikipedia
> with unpaid editors resulting in persistent non-neutral content. The
> university and college articles are the best (ie. worst) examples of this
> -- these always read like brochures that brag about the top accomplishments
> and rankings of a university because the number of alumni and students that
> put in positive statements far outnumber anyone who could pull them back
> into neutral territory. Unpaid, non-neutral, alma mater-advocacy is rampant
> and persistent.
> I hope we can start a longer dialogue about this at Wikimania. I'd be happy
> to propose not just a session, but an entire track at Wikimania to address
> this, including brainstorming/sharing sessions to get more views from other
> language editions.
> -Andrew
> [1] Wikipedia Weekly episode 108 -
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0698SX41VsE
> Discussion of paid editing at 33 minutes into the podcast
> On Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 7:40 AM, Ting Chen <wing.philopp at gmx.de> wrote:
>> Hello dear all,
>> I would like to be more cautious about the difference between the "good"
>> paid editing and the "bad" paid advocacy.
>> There are two reasons why I don't want to separate in this way.
>> First of there is no clear boundary between the "good" and "bad" like
>> black and white. There is a gradient of grey between the two. And that
>> gradient is not a narrow one but a very broad one. And it depends from the
>> perspective of the people who look upon the matter. For one maybe a
>> behavior is the dark white but for the other one it may be a bright black.
>> Second I want to especially respond to the idea that Erik brought up: an
>> organization that hire people to write qualified articles. I wrote in the
>> other mail that I believe paid editing changes the collaboratory nature of
>> our projects but did not really elaborate on why I think so. I want to do
>> this now. Let me construct an example to emphasize why I think so. I will
>> now take an example which leaves almost no room for interpretation about
>> black and white: the theoretical physics. Let's say there is a charitable
>> non-profit organization that hires reknowned theoretical physicists to
>> write Wikipedia articles. So they pay 10.000 Dollar to Bryce DeWitt (I
>> know, he is dead, I just don't want to name any living people) to write
>> about field theory, or John Wheeler to write about general relativity, and
>> so on and so on. I wonder if this happens, would there still be anyone who
>> dares to change or write articles on topics about theoretical physics? If
>> this becomes a model that many follow, I feel it will largely change the
>> composition of our volunteers community and how the project will look like.
>> This is basically an approach that the Nupedia tried at the beginning. It
>> didn't work that time. Meanwhile Wikipedia gains such a reputation that the
>> model may work. But I personally don't find the idea sexy.
>> Greetings
>> Ting
>> Am 09.01.2014 03:22, schrieb MZMcBride:
>>  Frank Schulenburg wrote:
>>>> [...] it is widely known that paid editing is frowned upon by many in the
>>>> editing community and by the Wikimedia Foundation.
>>> No.
>>> Paid editing is not the same as paid advocacy (editing). This is a very
>>> important point.
>>> Suggested reading:
>>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dominic/FAQ
>>> https://blog.wikimedia.org/?p=25830
>>> N.B. an example of paid editing that few would likely have an issue with
>>> in the first link and Sue's careful and correct wording in the second
>>> link.
>>> If we're going to have such a fine distinction, we should probably better
>>> document it to avoid misunderstandings.
>>> MZMcBride
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