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

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 11 13:56:54 UTC 2014

On Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 8:35 PM, Ting Chen <wing.philopp at gmx.de> wrote:

> Hello Peter,
> I see the following two possibilities:
> Either the paid editing brings a higher quality and thus by that quality
> imposes itself as an authority and thus discourage further "unqualified"
> editing
> Or the paid editing does not bring a higher quality, then an unpaid
> volunteer editor will with right feel fooled and ask: Why does that person
> get paid and I not, it is obvious that my work is less valued and thus I
> will quit.
> In both cases I come back to my conclusion, and that is paid editing
> changes the collaboratory nature of our projects.

The question to ask here is, what is the primary purpose of Wikipedia? Is
it a social media site, or is it a project designed to build a free

It seems to me the Wikimedia Foundation measures its success primarily by
the following metrics:

1. Number of page views.
2. Number of articles.
3. Number of editors.
4. Number of edits.

These are the main metrics I see reported. They are all purely
quantitative, social media-type metrics, focused on participation. Where
are the metrics measuring the *quality* of the end product, the free
information provided to the world in the shape of encyclopedia articles?

Purely quantitative metrics may have been appropriate in the early years of
the project, when building participation was crucial. But given Wikipedia's
importance in the information landscape today, measuring and improving
quality should be a far higher priority than it presently is, in my eyes.

And it should be borne in mind that a high number of edits may actually be
detrimental to article quality: if an article is heavily edited, saying one
thing today and another tomorrow, this is very often a sign that something
is wrong with the way the content is curated.

Example: http://wikipediocracy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Klee-Irwin.gif

Similarly, a high number of articles may be good for page views, but may
prove detrimental to article quality, as the shrinking editor community is
too stretched to curate such a large and increasing number of articles
responsibly. I believe his point has been reached already, resulting in
very large numbers of truly substandard articles that nobody is available
to monitor and improve.

Again, my feeling is that this focus on quantity, on participation for
participation's sake, along with the attendant problems, is particularly
pronounced in the English Wikipedia.

> Greetings
> Ting
> Am 10.01.2014 16:23, schrieb Peter Gervai:
>> On Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 1:40 PM, Ting Chen <wing.philopp at gmx.de> wrote:
>>  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
>> I understand your intentions but the example was faulty, as you mix up
>> paid editing with authority or celebrity status.
>> If Albert Einstein wrote an article about relativity (not paid by
>> anyone but because he really likes to share his knowledge) nobody
>> really would dare to chime in.
>> However John Doe, Jr., however he's paid isn't special and people will
>> trim his advocacy way more than a normal one.
>> In fact authority is not equal to article protection and humble
>> silence: we had pleny of cases where notable academics went away in
>> flaming anger because a "nobody" questioned their authority and
>> requested, for example, external sources or proofs.
>> I believe "paid advocacy" vs. "paid article writing" destinction is
>> valid and important; as well as the general "article writing" vs.
>> "advocacy" distinction, which may not be black and white but it's
>> definitely a separate hue or brightness. :-)
>> Peter
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