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Should Wikipedians Edit Stories For Pay? 168

Posted by kdawson
from the w-w-j-w-d dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Register reports that a longtime Wikipedia admin has been caught offering to edit the online encyclopedia in exchange for cash. Someone noticed a post to an online job marketplace where he was advertising his services: 'Besides technical writing, I also am an accomplished senior Wikipedia administrator with several featured articles to my name,' read the post, which has since been changed. 'If you need a good profile on Wikipedia, I can help you out there too through my rich experience.' Wikipedia promptly opened a discussion page to try to reach consensus on the community view of 'paid editing.' So far opinion seems to be divided between those who say it's ok as long as full disclosure is made and 'edits are compliant with WP:NPOV, WP:RS, WP:BLP, WP:N,' and others who believe that paid editing automatically creates a conflict of interest. Back in 2006, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales shot down a company known as MyWikiBiz, which promised that you could 'author your legacy on the Internet.' The company subsequently had to reinvent itself with no reference to Wikipedia. 'It is not ok with me that anyone ever set up a service selling their services as a Wikipedia editor, administrator, bureaucrat, etc., I will personally block any cases that I am shown,' wrote Wales."
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Should Wikipedians Edit Stories For Pay?

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  • How much (Score:5, Funny)

    by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:47PM (#28324203)

    for positive arguments on the consensus reaching page? I need a well-written, convincing opinion advocating in favor of market forces.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      The problem is, you can't argue for market forces when the market is against it. Its like trying to market ham at a kosher deli, they aren't going to want it, and no matter how many times you want to "let the free market decide" they simply don't want it. Same with Wikipedia, the market (Wikipedia) is opposed to paid editing of articles.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The problem is, you can't argue for market forces when the market is against it. Its like trying to market ham at a kosher deli, they aren't going to want it, and no matter how many times you want to "let the free market decide" they simply don't want it.

        Some actors in the market are against it. Some are for it, as the summary shows. The end result is a black market, the same as always when an authority attempts to prevent supply and demand from meeting.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hope Thelps (322083)

        Same with Wikipedia, the market (Wikipedia) is opposed to paid editing of articles.

        That doesn't appear to be true. There has been a majority in favor of allowing paid editing since a fairly early stage in the process (and no it doesn't seem to consist of paid shills but I suppose it's hard to tell for certain). It's running at about 60% suporting the idea that whether someone's paid is irrelevant as long as content is neutral, verificable etc. and 40% against.

    • Re:How much (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:59PM (#28324493) Homepage

      Can we pay the Wikipedia editors to stop editing articles? Having some moron keep changing verifiable factual information back to something that's flat out wrong over and over gets really tiresome after several years. IMO half those people shouldn't be allowed near the thing.

      • Re:How much (Score:5, Funny)

        by greenreaper (205818) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:27AM (#28324611) Homepage Journal
        Sure. Just tell me what articles you're interested in, and I'll be sure to let you know how much it'll cost you to keep them the way they are.
      • What do you expect?

        Who do you think edits Wikipedia? THOSE THAT HAVE NO LIFE!

        If they knew anything about the subject, they would already be occupied with actually doing something in that area!

        This, and the fact that there is never ONE SINGLE TRUTH(TM), (because we do no know truth but only our most secured theories), are the reasons that Wikipedia could never really work, except in some fairy-tale hippie land.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is an interesting topic on how one "leading Wikipedia" David Shankbone Miller got paid by the Israeli government and given all sorts of professional advantages, such as introductions famous authors and Shimon Peres, in an attempt to curry favor with the Wikipedia camp.

      http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?showtopic=24358

      The big joke is what they got back were pictures of pissing goats and dimly lit gay clubs. Probably not the kid of PR Israel thought they were buying.

      By all accounts, this guy had had m

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:48PM (#28324207) Journal
    Just like Wikipedia discourages people to make edits of a person's own article for themselves, this should also be discouraged. Once you receive money for edits you've made, you're no longer an uninterested third party and have a biased voice. There's no way to enforce this so Wikipedia will have to just continue accepting/rejecting edits based inherently on the edit and what bias it itself may hold.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:51PM (#28324235)

      How many people would support The Church of Scientology paying people to edit and publish stories on Wikipedia?

      Still not clear enough?

      How many people would support The Church of Scientology paying a Wikipedia ADMIN to edit and publish stories on Wikipedia?

      • How many people would support The Church of Scientology paying people to edit and publish stories on Wikipedia?

        It's that sort of reasoning that gets us ridiculous laws regarding child porn (like kids sexting eachother being charged as sex offenders). If you imagine the worst possible scum when making laws, you get stupidly over-broad laws.

        If a person is skilled at writing, it seems reasonable for that person to make a living at writing. It seems that there is a huge bias against people making a living, although we do celebrate the super-rich.

        Of course, if the guy who owns the site makes paid copy against the rules, that's his prerogative because its his site. But this isn't a moral issue -- it's an ownership issue.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's that sort of reasoning that gets us ridiculous laws regarding child porn (like kids sexting eachother being charged as sex offenders).

          Sorry, that's not the law. That's stupid fucking prosecutors. They need years of college to learn to be so fucking stupid you know.

        • Frankly, if Scientology is the worst possible scum you can come up with, you're so disillusioned you might as well be Hubbard.
        • I am generally very pro-free market, but the problem I see with paid edits is that most of the people hiring this service will be for edits to articles that directly concern themselves, for example a politician paying for their article to be "cleaned up", or a cult paying to have "facts corrected". If editing your own article is wrong, hiring someone to edit your own article is just as wrong. They only way I could see this being ok, and I also can't imagine it happening, is someone sees an article that is

        • I agree with you in principle, but who decides what the truth is and how do they do it? It has to be done the same way you're doing it now, but you're encouraging all people to make more edits. Only a fraction of those people really, truly know what they're talking about. No, it's not a moral issue, but you're upsetting the balance that keeps Wikipedia useful and relevant.

      • by Derekloffin (741455) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:29PM (#28324359)
        If it complies with all the rules, then even with the CoS behind the guy, I have no issues. It's when it doesn't comply with the rules that I have issues with it.
        • Yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:43PM (#28324421)

          Do you really believe that a company would hire a Wikipedia admin to wedge an article about said company onto Wikipedia because said company was looking for a NEUTRAL point of view?

          Is that because there just aren't enough decent writers out there? Or that those other decent writers want way too much money?

          Or is it because those companies believe that an admin would have the best chance of getting a biased story posted?

          • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Derekloffin (741455) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:43AM (#28324683)
            I honestly don't believe that any contributor posts with a neutral point of view actually. That a person gets paid, just makes their biases more obvious. However, again, it ultimately comes down to whether he's obeying the rules or not, not his lack of neutrality.
            • so i will send you the $50 we discussed previously via paypal now

            • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by bit01 (644603) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @06:39AM (#28325645)

              I honestly don't believe that any contributor posts with a neutral point of view actually.

              A NPOV is the author trying to present information in the best interests of the typical reader. The author is human, has incomplete information and so cannot be completely unbiased but nonetheless they make a best effort.

              That a person gets paid, just makes their biases more obvious.

              A non-NPOV is the author trying to present information in the best interests of the writer. They are trying to manipulate the reader into making irrational judgments based on incomplete and biased information in favour of the writer, not the reader. The author is not making a best effort for the reader at all.

              I know which I'd prefer.

              ---

              An unobtrusive ad is a non-functional ad. It is a non-sustainable business model.

            • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @08:33AM (#28325907)
              The point of wikipedia is that, as anyone can edit it, the non-neutral point of view is easily fixed by.

              On the other hand, if you buy an editor, which is someone who has the power to block edits and has the power of perceived authority given by the common user of wikipedia. That means that if some organization pays an editor to edit someone, that organization is counting on the power granted to that editor to make their piece of propaganda be edit-proof by any common user who sees through the bullshit and takes it upon himself to fix that crap. After all, those organizations are only starting to talk about paying off editors after their less expensive paid astroturfers stopped being efficient.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by addsalt (985163)

            Is that because there just aren't enough decent writers out there? Or that those other decent writers want way too much money?

            I think that is more on target. Writing anything from a neutral point of view is difficult/impossible. If you are taking the time to edit an article, you are most likely not an impartial 3rd party. Hopefully what this could encourage is more well written articles. As with all articles, the obviously false information can get edited out by other users. If the information then gets continually changed the article gets frozen (a la Scientology).

            I can see this going awry, but I'd be interested to see where it h

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by mikechant (729173)

            Do you really believe that a company would hire a Wikipedia admin to wedge an article about said company onto Wikipedia because said company was looking for a NEUTRAL point of view?

            Some companies are reasonably ethical and well regarded. They might be quite happy to have a neutral POV article on wikipedia rather than no article at all, given that no-one has much that is bad to say about them.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by CrashandDie (1114135)
            Yes.

            But then again, some points of view are more neutral than others.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        How many people would support paying history gradschool students to work on WikiProject: Russian History [wikipedia.org]?

        It's perfectly possible to be unbiased and paid for your work. I don't see why they need a new policy to deal with this - their regular NPOV policies are fine.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        How many people would support The CoS paying a Wikipedia ADMIN to edit-block members of the opposing side, when other paid COS editors stir up an edit war?

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        I certainly wouldn't want the CoS editing Wikipedia, paid for or otherwise, but that doesn't mean that every instance of paid for editing is wrong.

        People are paid to write free and open source software, and we don't have a problem with that. Of course the difference there is that where we do have a problem with what they wrote, we can fork it. We could fork Wikipedia, but it wouldn't be so easy.

        If the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were to pay someone to edit some of the healthcare articles, I probab

        • If the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were to pay someone to edit some of the healthcare articles, I probably would be happy with that, but if they edited IT and computing articles, I wouldn't be so happy.

          What reason is there to believe that they have any relevant expertise in health care? And if they did, wouldn't that make it a conflict of interest?

          I put little credence in anything I read on Wikipedia; all of the articles regarding subjects that I have first hand experience with get something wrong.

          11 years ago, I made a mistake editing about.el in XEmacs - I wrote 1998 instead of "present", which Wikipedia had faithfully copied the last time I checked. (checking again) I suppose I should be happy that

          • by jonbryce (703250)

            They don't, but they could pay someone who does.

            Just having expertise in the area doesn't mean you have a conflict of interest, otherwise you would only have people who don't know what they are talking about writing articles on Wikipedia. That of course does happen quite a bit at the moment.

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        The Crimminals already do pay people to write good things about them.

    • The facts still have to check out. It's just the slant of the article. Choice of words when describing stuff, etc.

      But I've never found Wikipedia to be that unbiased, especially when it comes to topics that are still debated.

      Ex: It may report a hardware device as vaporware, and state that the company creating it has a cult following that aggressively promote the devices, despite there being no evidence the device will ever exist.

      Then once the device is released, it gets updated to a different slant.

      • Any person with substantial knowledge on a topic, particularly one that isn't well known, is bound to have bias in some form. Unless the thing is a spec sheet, expect bias somewhere. Its simply human nature. For example, if the device was simply vaporware, many people will think it undeserving of an article, on the other hand if there is a strong following for the device, well, perhaps it warrants a second look. Especially on Wikipedia where policy seems to be "delete all content".
        • by SL Baur (19540)

          Any person with substantial knowledge on a topic, particularly one that isn't well known, is bound to have bias in some form.

          Any person who has a brain and can think is going to have bias. That's human nature and there's NOTHING wrong with that..

          Especially on Wikipedia where policy seems to be "delete all content".

          That appears to be the case. I'm not sure why they have the "no trivia" policy. Trivial Pursuit was once the most popular game in the US. Encyclopedias are a natural information source for such things. (I'm also a fan of the TV game show Jeopardy!)

          When I was very young my parents bought a lower end encyclopedia which I ended up reading end-to-end, partly because I love to read and pa

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Just like Wikipedia discourages people to make edits of a person's own article for themselves, this should also be discouraged. Once you receive money for edits you've made, you're no longer an uninterested third party and have a biased voice.

      The problem with this argument is that it is likely that anyone motivated enough to edit a Wikipedia article for anything other than grammar is probably an interested party with a biased voice. The idea that it's not appropriate for me to edit an entry on myself to correct factual errors is inherently offensive to me, and if I tried to correct an error in such a resource and I were rebuffed I might consider filing suit for libel. By the same extension (but only if you accept my logic) it should be perfectly

    • by MikeURL (890801)
      Wikipedia has a SERIOUS "lunatics running the asylum" problem. I'm not so sure that having paid loons is worse than loons with an unpaid POV to push.

      In short, it makes sense to avoid any wikipedia page that might tend to draw POV pushers.
    • Just like Wikipedia discourages people to make edits of a person's own article for themselves, this should also be discouraged

      This is widely ignored, though. I recall an episode of TWiT where Leo said he edited his own entry, and asked the rest of the panel if they edit theirs, and they all said they do. Leo's edits were to fix factual errors--dates wrong on when specific shows were broadcast, and things like that.

      Once you receive money for edits you've made, you're no longer an uninterested third party a

  • by nausea_malvarma (1544887) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:48PM (#28324209)
    Wikipedia has grown to be the biggest encyclopedia in the world without paying anybody. I don't see why they should start now. We all contribute to Wikipedia and expect nothing in return. That's how we pay for the articles - with our kindness.
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:49PM (#28324213)

    Copyright. Yeah. That would work. You could keep other people from diluting your work by using the protection afforded by copyright laws. That would be great. Thank goodness that we have copyright! That way, people who want to protect the integrity of their work have the legal authority to do so!

    • by russlar (1122455)

      Copyright. Yeah. That would work. You could keep other people from diluting your work by using the protection afforded by copyright laws. That would be great. Thank goodness that we have copyright! That way, people who want to protect the integrity of their work have the legal authority to do so!

      You mean do copyright right? Rather than copyright-as-an-anti-distribution tool?

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Copyright is not an "anti-distribution tool". It's an anti-unauthorized-unpaid-distribution tool. Don't bring your propaganda here.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Hope Thelps (322083)

          Don't bring your propaganda here.

          Gentlemen, you can't spread propaganda in here! This is Slashdot.

  • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:49PM (#28324215)

    TELL THE WIKITRUTH [wikitruth.info]

    • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:50AM (#28325351)

      Interestingly, Wikitruth is now frozen [wikitruth.info], claiming to have won.

      Somehow, I think it's true; more and more people understand that you can use Wikipedia at the same time as questioning it. Many people have learned how to question all media (the problems of Wikipedia are the same as those of traditional media, just more obvious). At the same time there's a whole load of anti-wikipedia people who just wanted to destroy. That doesn't seem to have happened.

  • Death (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DirtyCanuck (1529753)

    Youtubes demise? Deleting full episodes, editing comments, deleting controversial videos and muting personal videos.

    Wikipedia? Going from a user generated non bias global collaborative encyclopedia to just an encyclopedia.

    Once these companies get big enough, the always revert back to standard business models. This however is always completely against what made them so good to begin with, youtube became famous for the very content they now destroy, and pay people to seek out.

    Next in line? Google......

    They al

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:14PM (#28324309) Homepage
    There's an excellent analysis by user Ha! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_comment/Paid_Editing#Statement_by_Ha.21 [wikipedia.org] who shows that versions made for pay are generally PR puff pieces at best. He's expanded that to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Ha!/paid_editing_adverts [wikipedia.org] which drives the point home even further. Allowing paid editing would be the death of anything resembling neutrality. There are serious problems with neutrality already, but this would kill it completely.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Brittanica pays its editors and authors after all. I think if you pay someone to edit articles, it ought to be fine, as long as they are about subjects in which you have no vested interest. Ethically, there wouldn't be a problem there, although there might be some technical issues in actually making sure that that is the case.

      I mean, if someone's a good writer/researcher, and someone else wants to sponsor them (pay their bills so they can concentrate on writing/researching), what would be wrong with that?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by JoshuaZ (1134087)
        True but the issue under discussion is precisely having outsider sources pay to write articles. In the vast majority of cases it is companies (the examples given by Ha!) it is companies paying to have articles about themselves or individuals paying to have articles about themselves. Paying in a completely uninterested fashion would not create the same problems. However, it would create other problems completely unrelated. As Lessig discusses in his book Remix, people are often willing to volunteer when no o
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mysidia (191772)

        Brittanica pays their editors, HOWEVER, Brittanica is a neutral party, so their payment doesn't bias the editor.

        There might not be an article in Brittanica about Brittanica itself. However, if there is, you could expect it to be biased in Brittanica's favor, since the editors are paid by Brittanica, they are naturally encouraged to portray their source of $$$ in a positive light, when writing the article.

        Microsoft doesn't personally pay the Brittanica editor that rights the article about their compa

    • by truesaer (135079)

      Paid editing in inevitable. If you think companies, celebrities, etc aren't having employees routinely edit articles relevant to them you're dreaming. And wikipedia allows anonymous edits. Therefore, it doesn't really matter if it is or isn't allowed. The only question is whether the edits are good contributions or not.

      • Mugging is also inevitable. That does not mean that legalising it will help. Making it against policy puts companies that pay for it at risk and is good.

        • by truesaer (135079)

          Then put it this way, what counts as "paid editing?" If I work for Microsoft am I simply banned from editing any article relevant to my industry? Can I edit things informally if not a specific job duty? Does whether I use my home or work computer matter? What about university researchers who are surely writing about their research? They may be one of only a few people qualified to write on many topics. Without their contributions there may simply be no information available on a subject. But researche

  • Jimbo is just pissed his Wikia spin off failed on him so he doesn't want anyone else trying?

    i'd be suprised if Jimbo doesn't make his living off wikipedia in some form, it's hyporitical of him to condem anyone else trying something similar.

  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:32PM (#28324377)
    ... can we pay certain people not to edit it?
  • I think there are two types of paid editors, one as an image improver, the other as writing good articles. For example, an "image improver" would be one who goes to a company's page and changes earning reports to make the company seem profitable. Or someone who carefully edits information on the latest politician involved in a scandal. Those type of things should be expressly banned. On the other hand there are some who can focus on writing good articles. For example, an author of, say a band might hire som
  • Only if wikipeida were a paid-subscription site.
    It doesnt make sense to me take ad revenue from the site to pay every jackass that changes "there" to "their"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      This isn't about Wikipedia hiring editors, but rather companies or groups hiring editors for Wikipedia, sometimes in violation of policies. For example, if GM hired someone to change the article to make it have a positive spin on it.
      • This isn't about Wikipedia hiring editors, but rather companies or groups hiring editors for Wikipedia, sometimes in violation of policies.

        It looks like the person in question has done exactly that. I can't link straight to the page but here is the author's profile [elance.com]. Click on "Web Content (9)". This will show reviews of his work. He was paid $125 for a project titled "Wikipedia submission for my new product [elance.com]". He even got a rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 for the work. He was paid $150 for another project t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every single time I post, I get paid. Mod points increase the amount. It's awesome and increases the quality of my contributions here. Why some discussions I get dozens of posts and rake in the dough!

    (Sssh, don't tell Cmdr Taco!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Every single time I post, I get paid.

      Well that doesn't surprise me. I bet you get paid by the post - you must account for at least 1/3 of the posts here, M(r/s). Coward!

  • Seems to me that if a paid writer edited a page and it conformed to community standards (notariety, neutral POV, sourced, etc.), there wouldn't be a problem. If the writing didn't conform, then it would get rejected by the community, and the writer would likely not get paid. (And if someone wants to pay somebody to make rejected edits to Wikipedia, that's called a fiscal stimulus.)

    There are plenty of ways to have a vested interest besides being directly paid, and Wikipedians have been very successful in
  • by greenreaper (205818) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:04AM (#28324515) Homepage Journal
    Wikipedia has a reward board [wikipedia.org] where people can offer cash or other rewards for articles to be created or (usually) improved to a certain standard. There is also a bounty board [wikipedia.org] to offer donations to the Wikimedia Foundation for similar tasks. I have personally given $300 to individuals who have worked to raise furry articles [wikipedia.org] to good article status [wikipedia.org]. I see nothing wrong with this. A good article must, by definition [wikipedia.org], be neutral, and if it is not on a notable subject, it is very unlikely to achieve the status. Frankly, given the amount of skill and effort it takes to meet the requirements (I've done it myself, I know how tough it is), $50 an article is cheap.
  • "I will personally block...". Sounds pretty autocratic to me.

  • Ever check out the favorite topics and edits of some of the popular wikipedia editors? They have their personal bias's already. Its been biased editing going on since day one. People can say it doesn't happen, but it does. It has a very large group of editors who think alike and push the rules towards their own beliefs and moderate accordingly. They already use the rules to ban or alter topics they have strong opinions about, even though this goes against the rules.

    They might as well, just open the flood

  • No Debate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gruff1002 (717818)

    Anytime someone is paid for something there is a slanted "opinion". Pay me enough I'll tell you anything you want to hear, I'll slam any person, or business if the price is right. This is entirely contradictory to the spirit of a wiki.

    • Anytime someone is paid for something there is a slanted "opinion"

      People who aren't paid have slanted opinions too. What's your point?

      • Anytime someone is paid for something there is a slanted "opinion"

        People who aren't paid have slanted opinions too. What's your point?

        They have trouble controlling popular topics as it is (ie. keeping them accurate and unbiased). Imagine if companies could pay people to edit Wikipedia for them. There's no way they could keep up with the sheer volume of edits. Not to mention the people who help to maintain Wikipedia would likely get tired of cleaning up, increasing the risk of those people quitting/giving up. The overall quality of Wikipedia would suffer, I fear to the point of becoming a glorified advertisement that people take as gos

  • by thekohser (981254) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:49AM (#28324711)

    When I am under contract with a person or corporation to write an article about said person or corporation, I have very, very, very little interest in presenting an "advocacy" position on behalf of that entity. Rather, success is measured in durability within Wikipedia, so my highest priority is...

    How do I write (and publish) this article in such a way that it passes WP:NPOV, WP:V, WP:RS, and all the other WP:things, while simultaneously NOT DRAWING THE ATTENTION of someone from the WikiHive intent on deleting paid promotional puff pieces?

    Guess what? The articles that result are relatively bland, not puff pieces, quite encyclopedic, and (ever since I learned this technique) 100% durable within Wikipedia -- with surprisingly little follow-up maintenance, and likewise lasting appreciation of my clients.

  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @12:49AM (#28324715) Homepage

    This already happens and inevitably will become more common as Wikipedia's profile rises. WP might as well get out in front of it with policies that make it easier to police and verify.

    Currently, PR firms who are hired by companies to raise their profile already add biased, poorly sourced puff pieces to Wikipedia. They are promptly shredded by the community and deleted in nine cases out of ten. They do, however, create a lot of work for Wikipedian volunteers, usually because the PR people in question know websites generally, but nothing about the rules and culture that govern Wikipedia. They also do not generally disclose up front that they have a business relationship with the company they're writing the article about.

    There's an argument to be made that there's an advantage to replacing these PR firms with people who are already clued in to Wikipedia's culture and guidelines. They could communicate up front to a client what will and won't fly on WP, and the best way to add verifiable information about the company without running afoul of neutrality and verifiability guidelines. If all these paid editors do on behalf of their employer is add content and provide sources, as long as their work is in accord with policy I don't see a reason to care that they are getting paid.

    There are freelance wackos and fanboys that attempt to sabotage or whitewash pages about companies and other institutions as it is. How are paid editors different? At least you could require them to declare their influences. Make stringent requirements about disclosure, and allow paid editors to edit and provide info in talk pages, but not to take any administrative actions on the pages they're paid to edit. Any violation results in a topic ban for that account.

  • It depends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SoulReaverDan (1054258) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @01:08AM (#28324771)
    ...I suppose on what is really being paid for. Are you paying for someone to spin an article in your favor, or are you simply paying to make sure that the article is well done, well formatted, and grammatically correct. I see no objections to the latter, honestly.
  • There's not shortage of pages that could use grammar/etc. repair.

  • by rubah (1197475)

    Would this be an issue if it were an anonymous contributor?

  • Here's a note [betanews.com] about a man who claimed that he was being "paid" by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia articles. He also claimed to be a contributor for OOXML on Wikipedia. His contributions following this article were being dismissed as biased.

    There are two parts to this issue. They are (1) "Should Wikipedia offer to pay those who edit articles?" and (2) "Should any Wikipedia contributor get paid for contributing articles?" On (1), Wikipedia's stance is clear, they are not willing to pay anyone to edit articles.
  • I don't see a problem with users being paid to write. All mechanisms to deal with astroturfing, POV pushing and so on are already in place, and, frankly, there are quite enough people willing to do all those things already even without being paid. A few more paid shills won't make things substantially worse, and there may still be those who get paid and actually write good (as far as WP is concerned) articles.

    Now admins are another matter. Adminship abuse is harder to point out and prove, and they have much

  • ... then someone with an agenda of their own just comes and edits straight over it?

    Unless I'm missing something here, that just seems like a waste.
  • I like the idea of Wikipedia contributors getting paid, and I like the idea of the money coming from those who want articles about specific topics created or enriched.

    The only downside is the risk of bias. How can you remove that risk?

    Quick thought: Anyone can put money, and a target topic, into a kitty. The most funded topics get paid research done on them. The researchers are not told who put the money in the fund. So they don't know if they payer was a supporter or critic.

    If someone has an unbiased desir

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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