Wikipedia:Paid editing (essay)

In paid editing, an editor is given consideration (usually money) in exchange for creating or editing a Wikipedia article for an individual or entity. This is the meaning of paid editing through the rest of this piece. The goal of this essay is to provide advice on what to do when it comes to Paid Editing & Wikipedia.

Policies and guidelinesEdit

Per the WP:PAID policy, if you are or expect to be paid (receive compensation directly or indirectly) for your contributions to Wikipedia, you must declare who is paying you, who the client is, and any other relevant role or relationship. This is required by the Wikimedia Foundation's terms of use and by Wikipedia policy. You can do this on your user page, on the article talk page using the {{connected contributor (paid)}} template, and during any discussion about the topic elsewhere. You can also make a statement in the edit summary of any paid contribution.

Per the WP:COI guideline, you are very strongly discouraged to edit articles directly; instead you should post content proposals on the Talk pages of existing articles (with disclosure), and you should put new articles through WP:AFC (with disclosure) -- in each case, so that the content can be reviewed with your specific COI in mind, prior to the content being published.

Per the COI guideline, paid editors must respect the volunteer nature of the project and keep discussions concise.

And you are still obligated to follow all the content and behavior policies. Just disclosing and not editing directly, is not enough. You cannot be present at an article only to advocate for your client - you remain obligated to follow WP:PROMO, WP:NPOV, and the rest of the policies and guidelines.

User name policyEdit

User name belongs to you as an individual and account sharing is prohibited. Account names in the name of the company, or a role account such as "CompanynameIntern" or "CompanynameVolunteer" as well as names that clearly imply usage by more than one persons is not permitted. [1] Using multiple accounts to split your editing history to avoid scrutiny, for example, hiding the pattern of public relations related editing is not allowed. When multiple accounts are used, each account should be disclosed in the user page of every affected account.[2]

Why is this done?Edit

 
Love of money has been said to be "the root of all evil"

Corporations and certain individuals have special interest in Wikipedia for its marketability and popularity. SEOs, PR, & marketers love Wikipedia because on major search engines, it is usually (if not always) on the first page of a search, and they want to exploit that. They think that they can advertise on Wikipedia and believe that Wikipedia is no different than Facebook or Twitter. Of course, this is what Wikipedia is not, but more often than not they don't understand that there are rules and policies that Wikipedia has. They just fly by the notion that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Articles about companies and organizations, people and products are especially susceptible to paid editing activity.

Editors are usually employed either because the client or entity does not know how to edit Wikipedia, or need experienced editors to push their POV without scrutiny. Although, on the other hand, paid editing has been said to encourage people to edit pages that otherwise would be ignored.

Why you shouldn't do itEdit

Paid editing is generally frowned upon in the community. There are also some editors who very strongly disapprove of paid editing, and others who do not care about it and focus only on content.

But please be aware that the general sentiment is uncomfortable with paid editing, at best. It is tolerated. Rightly or wrongly, paid editors are often viewed with suspicion or even hostility by many members of the Wikipedia community. An established editor who makes the decision to edit articles for pay can expect to face a negative reaction once that is disclosed by the editor or by others.

Community trustEdit

While there is no community policy on retaining advanced user rights while editing for pay, retaining some of those rights after you start editing for pay, or trying to obtain them if you already edit for pay, may be controversial, especially if those permissions involve new content such as the autopatrolled and new page reviewer user groups[3] or the ability to delete pages, as administrators can do.

Examples of people in positions of trust who received money for editing Wikipedia, which in turn generated controversy within Wikipedia and in the media, have included the Gibraltarpedia incident involving a trustee of WMF UK who used Wikipedia itself and WP:GLAM for public relations, and the Wifione matter, which involved an administrator. The community has debated whether administrators should be formally barred from editing for pay at least twice (once in 2015 and again in 2017), and has failed to reach consensus on this.

Real life consequencesEdit

Please keep in mind that WP:Wikipedia is in the real world. To the extent you have disclosed your real world identity, the controversies around paid editing in Wikipedia may attach to you. (Your identity remains strictly protected by WP:OUTING, just as everyone's is). Likewise, the reputation of your client may be affected. If you are not aware of it, please do see the article Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia, which describes coverage in the media of people and companies who tried to use Wikipedia to manage their reputations.

Please also be aware that paid editors sometimes don't get paid. This is a risk all freelancers run, of course.

Disruptive behaviorEdit

While editors who receive payment (and other conflicted editors) can provide useful content, their behavior tends to become disruptive, since they are driven by their external interests to get the content they want into or removed from WP, and opposition to that effort feels worse than it would usually. You might find yourself acting badly in ways that would surprise even you, if you were not the person actually in the conflicted situation. Conflict of interest does this to people, without them being aware of it. So it is not just content that tends to gets skewed, but behavior as well. If you decide to edit for pay, please try to be extra self-aware and to be mindful of how you are dealing with other people.

If you do it, here is some adviceEdit

  1. Find out who you are working for. Ask for the name of the individual, the name of the organization the individual works for (if applicable), and what articles the individual wants you to edit or create.
  2. Ask whether the individual is a registered user on Wikipedia. If the individual is a registered user, comply with Wikipedia's policy on outing editors and Wikipedia's guideline on editing with a conflict of interest.
  3. Do not sign a non-disclosure agreement or work through an organization that requires non-disclosure. Wikipedia's policies require disclosure of your employer, client, and affiliations and forbid you from editing if you fail to make these disclosures.
  4. Announce your intentions. See the guideline's recommendations on how to disclose paid editing.

Things to noteEdit

TransparencyEdit

We here at Wikipedia like transparency, honesty, and a neutral point of view. Here are some red flags to watch out for. If your contact --

  • does not want to be exposed, or
  • wants to forego all the procedures listed above, or
  • offers you a page created by them for you to place without editing anything

-- do not accept the job. Instead, be a good editor and report at WP:ANI, and at the respective talk pages of article(s) in question, that someone is attempting to hire you for nontransparent editing. By doing this, you deter the shady individual or entity and help promote an unbiased and credible encyclopedia.

Employees and contractorsEdit

  • There is no difference between an employee and a contractor. Contract or salary, full or part-time, if your job includes editing Wikipedia, you are a paid editor. If you are an employee editing your company's pages on behalf of your employer, you are strongly discouraged from editing those pages, because it is easy to be biased about your employer. However, you may ask editors at WP:EAR, or make edit requests at the article talk pages, to have others place edits on your behalf.
See Vonage (talk) for an example of stealth COI edits, detected by a Reddit user.[4]

Public relations people are paid editorsEdit

Paid is paid. There have been efforts to establish a public-relations code of conduct for editing at Wikipedia.[Link?] While some PR staff or agencies may act in good faith, by disclosing their COI at their User or User talk pages, and discussing changes at specific articles, others have steadfastly failed to do so.

Lawyers are paid editorsEdit

Paid is paid. It is unknown if lawyers or law practices have even been approached about, or have discussed, a code of conduct for editing Wikipedia (efforts to reach out to attorneys have failed).

See SPI RRIESQ and Talk:Laura Kightlinger

Companies advertising creating, optimizing, and protecting Wikipedia articlesEdit

In April 2020 Google searches for things like "Help editing Wikipedia", "Help with Wikipedia", "paid editing Wikipedia", and "Wikipedia:paid editing" returned different "Ads" at different times.

  • Wiki Creatives, Wikidata Q106528169, which advertises, "Professional Wikipedia Page Creation Services".
  • ProCreative Writers, Wikidata Q106528251, which advertises "Ghost writing" for "Wikipedia".
  • WikiProfessionals, Inc., Wikidata Q106528272, which advertises "Wikipedia page creation to Article Management".
  • WikiCreators, Wikidata Q106528301, which advertises "Wikipedia Editing Services".
  • Wiki Specialists, LLC, Wikidata Q106528335, which advertises creating, optimizing, and protecting "Your Pages".
  • Wikipedia Writing Services, Wikidata Q106601455, which claims to be "a full-service Wikipedia agency".

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit