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Wikipedia Businesses The Almighty Buck

Wikipedia Forcing Editors To Disclose If They're Paid 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-people-who-edit-wikipedia-for-money-will-happily-obey-rules dept.
mpicpp sends word that the Wikimedia Foundation is updating its Terms of Use to keep track of editors who are paid for the changes they make. This follows last fall's discovery that a small industry had arisen around public relations firms running Wikipedia editing campaigns for paying clients. The Foundation now says, "If you are paid to edit, you will need to disclose your paid editing to comply with the new Terms of Use. You need to add your affiliation to your edit summary, user page, or talk page, to fairly disclose your perspective. ... Specific policies on individual Wikimedia projects, or relevant laws in your country (such as those prohibiting fraudulent advertising), may require further disclosure or prohibit paid advocacy editing altogether." They add, "undisclosed paid advocacy editing is a black hat practice that can threaten the trust of Wikimedia’s volunteers and readers."
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Wikipedia Forcing Editors To Disclose If They're Paid

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  • Oh, good (Score:4, Funny)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:12PM (#47256197)
    That'll put a stop to it.
    • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kkloe (2751395) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:23PM (#47256327)
      this is most probably so if editors who are caught doing stuff when being paid for it and not disclosing it can have all that they have done removed without the need to do a investigation if what they wrote is truth or not
      • If it is true let someone who is not paid by an interested party to do it again.The only mistake is that people affiliated to political parties should also be ineligible to be editors,
        • Re:Oh, good (Score:5, Interesting)

          by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:11PM (#47256847)

          You can't restrict this to just political party affiliation. Most 3 letter government agencies pay for edits under various programs, each as potentially nefarious as the former.

          Try correcting something on the Sarin Gas page for example (I had this edit war personally) where someone from a Government IP address last year added a statement that "Assad and Syria were proven to have used Sarin on it's own population". The UN investigations have repeatedly shown that the FSA rebels have used chemical weapons against the populace, and the FSA has been caught smuggling materials from Turkey on several occasions. The UN has never ever concluded that Assad or the Syrian army has done any such thing.

          After making a simple correction to "The US alleges" the edit war was on, and every day a new Government IP would have new edits attempting to make it appear factual that Assad had used Sarin on the Syrian population. Every day I would remove and correct information. I don't get paid to edit, so gave up after about a month. It was simply too much time to invest. This is one of many pages edited purely for propaganda purposes by the US Government (ARIN [whois] is free to use, so you can easily see what agency is making edits, even when anonymously).

          • Perhaps you were supposed to [citation needed]?

            • by s.petry (762400)
              Because Sarin Gas and Wikipedia are not enough information? Come now, you know how to find it.
              • by JazzLad (935151)
                Yeah, he meant on their assertion that "Assad and Syria were proven to have used Sarin on it's own population" you should have appended it with [citation needed]. Would have thought a Wikipedia editor would have gotten that one ...
          • by Prien715 (251944)

            Someone from a Government IP address last year added a statement that "Assad and Syria were proven to have used Sarin on it's own population"....Every day I would remove and correct information

            I thought the grammar police worked for the government?

          • You are right. Wikipedia should have better rules and checks against propaganda and manipulation from whatever source it may be, or it will become increasingly irrelevant and unreliable for anything that is related to History or Politics.
          • by dave420 (699308)
            I'd normally think that's the case, but judging from the various outbursts you've made on Slashdot by simply misunderstanding what others are saying and a clear ignorance of contextual etiquette, it's very possible that your side of the story isn't particularly accurate. Unless you provide direct links to the 'edit war' discussion, you're not really making a point.
      • by jafiwam (310805)

        this is most probably so if editors who are caught doing stuff when being paid for it and not disclosing it can have all that they have done removed without the need to do a investigation if what they wrote is truth or not

        They should also black-list the payers of this type of activity. A week or two for each infraction. There's one important aspect about Wikipedia and that is it isn't about marketing and selling shit. They have the rest of the entire Internet for that, so it shouldn't be tolerated.

        • this is most probably so if editors who are caught doing stuff when being paid for it and not disclosing it can have all that they have done removed without the need to do a investigation if what they wrote is truth or not

          They should also black-list the payers of this type of activity. A week or two for each infraction. There's one important aspect about Wikipedia and that is it isn't about marketing and selling shit. They have the rest of the entire Internet for that, so it shouldn't be tolerated.

          Perhaps a dire warning should appear in banner form at the top of any article about a company that pays shills to edit Wikipedia stating that it has been caught doing so, and that information about that company on Wikipedia portraying it in a positive light can't be trusted.

          • Perhaps a dire warning should appear in banner form at the top of any article about a company that pays shills to edit Wikipedia

            Excellent idea, it's not enough to punish dishonest shills, their paymaster can always hire a new shill. Kill the profit and commercial entities will cease this practice.

          • Perhaps a dire warning should appear in banner form at the top of any article about a company that pays shills to edit Wikipedia stating that it has been caught doing so, and that information about that company on Wikipedia portraying it in a positive light can't be trusted.

            Wikipedia editors have all sorts of biases. When an article is popular enough to get the attention of lots of editors, there usually are enough to keep it from becoming too crazy.

            But start dipping into the more esoteric subjects on Wikipedia, and you're bound to encounter little "fiefdoms" where an editor or a small group have established their domain of truth. It's not so much that they don't have adequately sourced information most of the time, as the sources they use are not indicative of current sch

    • Re:Oh, good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:23PM (#47256335) Homepage Journal

      No, but it's step 1.

      If [asshole practice] isn't explicitly against the rules, then that's the first defense any person who engages in [asshole practice] rushes to.

    • by Salgat (1098063)
      It's likely not as much to prevent people from doing it as it is to provide a hassle free way to ban people like this if need be.
  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:13PM (#47256213)

    Also, criminals are asked to kindly inform local law enforcement before committing their next crime.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      And politicians will be required to tell us if they're dishonest, and police officers to notify us when they're on the take.

      I predict this will do nothing at all for the problem.

      People will ignore it, or someone will set up a 'think tank' or something which pays people for some suitably abstract thing, while in reality paying them to shill on Wikipedia.

      • Following your logic leads directly to absurdity, we don't throw away laws against murder and rape just because some portion of rapists and murderers are never caught. The new rule enables WP to expel paid propagandists when they are caught breaking the new rule. Besides the absurdity of your argument, you're also creating a strawman since nobody is claiming the new rule will catch everyone who breaks it.
        • by pla (258480)
          The new rule enables WP to expel paid propagandists when they are caught breaking the new rule.

          Jimmy W could do that now, without needing a "rule", justifying it simply by an appeal to common decency. Where else in life do we consider undisclosed paid placement of promotional content even remotely kosher?

          But then, if Jimbo cared in the least about anything but donations at this point, he'd have already permabanned the literally hundreds of "editors" who contribute nothing more than edit wars over sing
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Following your logic leads directly to absurdity

          No, really? Wow, aren't you a clever [wikipedia.org] guy. That was kind of the point.

          The rule itself is absurd, and, as I said, I predict it will be useless and largely ignored.

    • Presumably IP bans if anyone is caught editing for pay without disclosure. The policy has to be in place before they can enforce it and get rid of the corrupt editors as they're identified.
  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:15PM (#47256225)

    I doubt that paid editors are a problem compared to the volunteer power tripping crazies that control the majority of Wikipedia.

    • by TWX (665546) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:30PM (#47256377)
      I used to try to contribute, but for this very reason I don't anymore. I already have to deal with self-important busybodies in things that I'm required to do, I'm not going to deal with them in things that are supposed to be enjoyable pastimes.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Same here. Even on articles about supposedly non-controversial subjects like vintage consumer-electronic devices, I got fed up with constantly having to defend my edits from being reverted or superceded by people who insisted that my contributions constituted "original research" or "personal recollections" because there was no link to a supporting source, even though my source was the actual service or user manual for the device in question. The reason there's no link? Because there was no "interwebs" ba

  • Need we comment further?

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:19PM (#47256279)

    And what about Russian or Chinese hordes of biased editors paid by their governments? They plague not only comment section of pretty much any mainstream news website, but also Wikipedia as well. Try for example the WWII [wikipedia.org] article -- it's so full of paeans of praise for the Soviet Union that someone who doesn't know better would take them for heroes who almost single-handedly liberated the world.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, the Soviets were the ones who did most of the killing and dying in the Allies side of the conflict. I wouldn't call it "liberating" anything, though. Both USA and USSR significantly expanded their influence after the Allies victory, and the Axis would've done the same had it won.

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)
      For what it's worth, Hitler very likely would have won had he not been bogged down with Russia for so long.
      • As has often been said, Hitler fought the wrong war when he headed East, he had much more in common with Stalin than he did with Winston Churchill
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by mjwx (966435)

          As has often been said, Hitler fought the wrong war when he headed East, he had much more in common with Stalin than he did with Winston Churchill

          Sorry, but this is just parroting propaganda.

          Fascism and Communism are polar opposites. Don't get confused that they're both authoritarian. Hitler and Stalin had very little in common. Hitler original plan was to go to war with the Soviet union in 1942, they honestly never expected Western Europe to go to war over Poland.

          The Nazi's considered western European people to be of similar aryan stock to Germany, it was the Slavs and Russians they considered to be untermesh (spelling, German isn't my strong

    • by gajop (1285284)

      The USSR certainly had a lot more impact in Europe than everyone else combined: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • Hey editors, when Fall in a sentence refers to the season, it's capitalized.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      [citation needed] since EVERY source I've ever read says, when used generically, seasons are lower case. The only time they are capitalized is when they are the first word of a sentence, in a title, or used as a proper noun (Summer Olympics, Fall 2012 Semester, etc).

    • What is your advice on when to use semi-colons?
    • Hey editors, when Fall in a sentence refers to the season, it's capitalized.

      Mod parent way way up! It's absolutely false in this context, so, in the proud Slashdot tradition, it deserves to be modded +5, Informative so that all the nerds can proudly trumpet yet more misinformation to the world!

      • by Yebyen (59663)

        Wow, who knew, the best way to get people to read your comment was to be wrong!

        The last time I had this many replies to a comment was ... probably never!

  • The policy still doesn't make clear if an employee of a company always counts as a "paid contributor" if their job duties do not involve Wikipedia and they can expect no payment, recognition, etc. from their employer for their activities. Is that considered a "volunteer edit" or would my mere paycheck make me a "paid contributor"?

    • by guruevi (827432)

      Same goes for so-called 'volunteers' especially in the religious circles. There are those that get room and board, work for the corporation yet do not get paid a paycheck. And especially for articles on the high-control cults (Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, ...) there are a number of editors that are clearly associated with the corporation reverting every sort of edit unless the information is disseminated from the 'mothership'.

  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:01PM (#47256733) Homepage Journal

    We have wars going on all over wikipedia due to different views and beliefs that far outweigh the business and pr companies.
    Many non paid editors have very in-depth political viewpoints, and they attack other groups reporting on information in articles they disagree with.

    The worst I've seen are the feminists against male rape statistics and anything male related. I can only assume its because colleges promote such a militant viewpoint on feminism it runs over into other areas of sexual statistics and thus becomes political.

    I've seen many editors who are members of originations who delete anything that could be considered a counter argument with the established, but can often be incorrect due to education and their circle of influence related to their school or organization.

    Another example. An amateur historian who would find common misconceptions and provide articles to show the common viewpoint is not correct by using government links. Many editors that are enrolled in college history courses would remove his work. He finally just used his personal page and put up the corrections so at least they are online. The point was he was correction known flaws taught in higher education with GOVERNMENT backed evidence.

    It sickens me, that the truth can be deleted by editors with agendas. I've seen the history re-written due to lack of publications of news and tv reportings that are from the early 80's and older. But we can have entire animated tv show episodes articles with great detail, as thats the level of knowledge as historically important.

    This is why we need all magazines and newspapers online also, the history and reporting of opnion is harder to argue when the only source is wikipedia.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      It sickens me, that the truth can be deleted by editors with agendas. I've seen the history re-written due to lack of publications of news and tv reportings that are from the early 80's and older. But we can have entire animated tv show episodes articles with great detail, as thats the level of knowledge as historically important.

      It's not there because it is important, the trivia is there because it's not in dispute and backed up by third party references. Isn't plain facts regardless of seriousness the perfect kind of information to put on Wikipedia? It's far more structured and cohesive than using Google, it rarely shows up unless it's what you're looking for and it's not like the encyclopedia is going to run out of pages or balloon the printing costs. And most importantly, it wouldn't help. Nobody who wants to write about Pokemon

      • by BrookHarty (9119)

        The problem isnt plan facts, its the missing facts editors delete. And the issue are not what facts are deleted, its the reasons behind the deletions.

        Take politics, the theme now is to direct the narative in news. This is what is being done in articles, its not facts, its a view of the facts from a group with interests. This is the reason they dont want paid editors, they change the narative.

        One mans terrrorist is another mans freedom fighter. Its the narative.

  • Why are paid people allowed to post at all? Shouldn't their mod privileges be revoked when it is discovered they are paid?
    • I write technical documentation for a specialised and fairly complex software product. There are not many people who are qualified to do so.

      Assuming that I stick to the facts, provide citations, and don't attempt to hide the fact of my employment with the producer of this software from anyone, is there some other potential reason why I shouldn't contribute to Wikipedia articles about this product?

      • The same reason we have lots of other ethical rules, to limit abuse and fraud. That is the quick and dirty answer, but you did provide me with some things to think about.
      • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

        You're paid to write the original documentation, and are voluntarily editing the Wikipedia.

        This is about being paid to edit the Wikipedia.

        • Since, as part of my job (which includes very flexible hours/locations), I'm encouraged to blog, take part in mailing list/forum discussions, and suchlike, it could be argued that they're paying me for my Wikipedia edits about their product as well.

          Dunno why I'm trying to play Devil's Advocate here, but there ya go.

          OTOH, I am pretty sure that the folks in Legal would say that I'm definitely not being paid to do marketing or to post inaccurate information.

          I guess I could add a disclaimer "I work for SomeMult

  • Fantastic news.

    I mention my Wikipedia activities in the "Other interests" section of my CV but I'm always worried that employers will misinterpret it as an offer to polish their image. With this rule change, if an employer does ask me to "Hey, since you know how this wiki thing works, can you correct some stuff?" I can say that I could but I'd have to declare it as being paid work.

    That'll make them less interested, so I'm less likely to get put in that situation to begin with.

    (Some other comments rubbished the idea because it won't get 100% compliance but they're missing the point. Improvement is improvement.)

  • Once again, Wikipedia proves that they don't know how the internet works. Hey Wikipedia, slashmydots is my name in real life as well.
  • The policy should be: if you're paid to write, get the fuck out!

    I'm not going to dig through the history of every article, and follow link to the authors, to check whether it is a paid shill.

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