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An anniversary hit us right between the eyes just before deadline: June 16 marks the fifth anniversary of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) changing its terms of use to ban undeclared paid editing.

This Tuesday, Ad Age revealed that employees of Leo Burnett Tailor Made replaced photos in Wikipedia articles on a dozen national parks and similar sites, with photos of the same sites featuring models wearing clothing from The North Face, complete with the company's logo. The employees who replaced the photos did not declare their paid status on Wikipedia. They violated Wikipedia policies that prohibit advertising, marketing, promotion, and public relations content, as well as the WMF's terms of use. I am not a lawyer, but it looks like they also violated the Federal Trade Commission's rules against deceptive advertising.

The undeclared paid editors then bragged about it in a video now posted on Ad Age. Other news coverage that includes the video are "North Face tried to scam Wikipedia to get its products to the top of Google search" in The Verge and "Wikipedia is mad at The North Face for 'unethically' manipulating pages" in Dazed. The WMF reacted quickly and appropriately with "Let's talk about The North Face defacing Wikipedia".

The North Face's paid editors were honest to the extent that their intentions as stated in the video were perfectly clear. They wanted to use Wikipedia – while avoiding the scrutiny of Wikipedia's editors and administrators – to reach the top of Google searches for images of those outdoor sites for marketing purposes.

They were not honest when they said that they were "collaborating with Wikipedia".

Ad Age, in a new story, reports that The North Face has apologized via twitter:

We believe deeply in Wikipedia's mission and integrity – and apologise for engaging in activity inconsistent with those principles. Effective immediately, we have ended the campaign and moving forward, we'll strive to do better and commit to ensuring that our teams and vendors are better trained on Wikipedia's site policies.

We hope to hear more from The North Face.

To mark the fifth anniversary of the terms of use change that banned undeclared paid editing, the next issue of The Signpost will focus on how paid editing affects our encyclopedia. We want to hear from editors, administrators, arbitrators, bureaucrats, WMF employees and board members. We want to hear from all sides of the issue, including those who oppose paid editing, those who support it, and paid editors – both declared and undeclared. And most of all we want to hear from ordinary Wikipedia editors.

We also invite The North Face to publish an apology here, addressed directly to Wikipedia editors and readers.

We want to know how to fix a system of dealing with paid editors that has not been working very well. We want to know:

  • How paid editing affects your work on Wikipedia.
  • Has the ban on undeclared paid editing affected your ability to add encyclopedic information?
  • Have you interacted with paid editors? How effective has it been?
  • What are your ideas on solving the problem?

Send article length submissions to Signpost/Newsroom/Submissions. If you want to simply write a paragraph, please add it to the comments below. If you want to submit material confidentially, please email me directly.

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Wikimania in Stockholm

The Aula Magna building

Wikimania 2019 will be held in Stockholm from August 16 to 18 with a preconference on August 14 and 15. The venue is the Aula Magna building at Stockholm University. The theme of the conference is "Stronger together: Wikimedia, Free Knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals", based around the sustainability goals defined by the United Nations in 2015.

The program format has been redesigned this year: topics and leaders have been selected for more than a dozen tracks, or "spaces". Individual presentation proposals are selected by the leaders of the spaces. Submissions are due June 9.

The registration process involves both Eventbrite and PayPal. The "early bird" prices for the main three-day conference will be US$175, and are available only until May 31. A limited number of hotel rooms are available at 1195 Swedish krona (about US$125) per night.

Board of Trustees election

Two affiliate-selected trustees will be elected on May 31 to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. This is the first trustee election that gives user groups a vote, rather than just chapters and the single thematic organization. About 107 user groups, 41 chapters and Amical Wikimedia – the thematic organization – have a single vote each. The votes will be tallied using single transferable vote (STV) method using a Droop quota.

Eleven candidates appear on the ballot: Yuri Astrakhan, Shani Evenstein, Christophe Henner, Reda Kerbouche, Richard Knipel, Taweetham Limpanuparb, Maor Malul, Douglas Scott, Gerald Shields, Nataliia Tymkiv, and Kayode Yussuf.

Results will be announced before Wikimania, and must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

Administrator updates

Additional contributor: DannyS712

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You might think that there's nothing inherently political about writing an encyclopedia. You'd be wrong as several of this month's stories in the media show. There are regimes, political parties – or the people that these parties represent – businesses, and just ordinary people who would like to control the information that Wikipedians intend to be available to every single person on the planet. This month's stories range from the international and national to U.S. state and local politics.

Wikipedia v. China, Turkey, and the NSA

  • China blocks all language versions of Wikipedia:
    • The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) first reported that all language versions of Wikipedia were being blocked on May 4, 2019. The Chinese-language version has been blocked since 2015, but blocking all versions is a major escalation.
    • The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) confirmed the block to the BBC on May 14, saying that the block began in April. The WMF followed up three days later on its blog, stating that the blocking impacts "more than 1.3 billion readers, students, professionals, researchers, and more who can no longer access this resource or share their knowledge and achievements with the world. We have not received notice or any indication as to why this current block is occurring and why now."
    • Steven Harrison in Slate tells us "Why China Blocked Wikipedia in All Languages Hint: There’s a big anniversary coming up." The 30th anniversary of the violent end of the Tiananmen Square protests will be marked on June 4. Harrison notes a long history of censoring encyclopedias, starting with religious opposition to Denis Diderot's 18th-century Encyclopédie and the French government's 1752 order to stop its distribution. Previous censorship of Wikipedia by China, Turkey, Iran and Venezuela was also noted. One reason for China blocking all language versions, according to Harrison, is that online translation tools have improved, making it easier for Chinese-speakers to comprehend other language versions.
  • WMF takes Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights:
    • The Wikimedia Foundation announced it is petitioning the ECHR to stop Turkey from blocking Wikipedia. (See our republication of the Wikimedia blog here). Turkey began blocking the Turkish-language version of Wikipedia in April 2017. The WMF has previously challenged the block through discussion with the Turkish authorities, legal action in Turkish courts, and a publicity campaign aimed at the general public. Both the Financial Times and the BBC have reported the story, following the facts in the WMF blog and expressing doubt that Turkey would comply with any ruling against it.
  • Wikipedia and the NSA case

State and local politics

Looks like a duck
  • City & State New York reports that the Wikipedia article on New York State Assemblyman Michael Blake was edited by a paid staffer during Blake's campaign for the office of New York City Public Advocate. The staffer, identified by City & State as the campaign's co-director of communications (hint: he looks like a duck) received $3,000 for his campaign work as a "content creator". The campaign reportedly confirmed the identification and responded in part "the campaign member who made the edits complied with their understanding of the Wikipedia editing rules and provided the expected level of transparency in updating the Assemblyman’s page." Apparently Wikipedians need to inform political campaigns that paid promotional editing is against our rules. Assemblyman Blake did not win the Public Advocate office but is now running for a seat in the U.S. Congress.
  • Lancaster Online reports that the Wikipedia article on Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro was edited by one of his staff who is paid $65,526 annually by taxpayers. Paid staff for Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman were also reported to have edited articles on their bosses.

Do you have ideas on how Wikipedians can deal with the political pressures shown above? We'd love to see those ideas in the comments section below.

In brief

  • Wikipedia has a Google Translate problem in The Verge describes the difficulties of using Wikipedia's translation software. One of the interesting aspects of this article is that it is written by a Wikipedia administrator. It's good that the media now has another reporter who really knows how Wikipedia works.
Do we still need a Collections Online?
(from Wikimedia Commons)

Gobbler of the month

Gobbler of the month
awarded to
Detroit Tigers
May 2019

In a May 3 tweet starting "Someone update his Wikipedia page" the Detroit Tigers said that their relief pitcher Shane Greene "owned the 9th (inning)" – a nonsense claim that only a PR hack could think was funny. Six minutes later the vandalism appeared on the page, as duly reported by another Tigers' tweet and by Detroit Sports Nation. The vandalism was soon removed. Perhaps the sports blog can be excused for reporting irrelevant vandalism as if it were news. Otherwise, they might need to work hard enough to report a real story. The Detroit Tigers, however, cannot be so easily excused. As a legitimate business that represents the city of Detroit to baseball fans throughout the world, they should not be trying to get cheap publicity by encouraging vandalism on Wikipedia.

There are legitimate ways that sports teams can increase their visibility on Wikipedia. For example, where they own the copyrights, they could donate photos of current players or of historical plays and players to improve the quality of our coverage of their teams. Or they might even post on their own website biographies of new players. If they really wanted to make it easy for Wikipedia editors to cover the team. They could even state on each of those pages "Material on this page is licensed CC-BY-SA 4.0". The quality of sports team coverage on Wikipedia can be increased by making it easy for our editors to cover the team. But the quality will never be increased by encouraging vandalism.

The Tigers have not responded to an e-mail requesting clarification or comment.

Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or leave a tip on the suggestions page.

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Admin controversy at the Azerbaijani Wikipedia

Accusations of administrator abuse in multiple forms (particularly by Cekli829) led to a proposal by Rschen7754 to remove admin rights from all of azwiki's current admins. The specifics of the proposal are as follows:

  • All admins/bureaucrats/interface admins will have their rights removed
  • No local admins/bureaucrats/interface admins for 6 months from close of RFC
    • During this time global sysops and stewards will patrol the wiki
  • No permanent local admins/bureaucrats/interface admins for 12 months from close of RFC
    • For stewards to assign temporary (or permanent rights, after 12 months), elections must be conducted in a fair manner (allow all azwiki editors to participate), have the necessary levels of support, and not be affected by canvassing.
  • Stewards will conduct a review of long-term blocks of users

The proposal lists the following arguments in favor of the mass desysop:

The original proposer wrote that this mass desysop is necessary because azwiki's desysop procedures failed to provide any accountability for these actions (a majority vote of administrators is required to carry out any desysop). He also expressed concerns regarding the role of off-wiki groups in the administration of the encyclopedia.

In "very regretful[ly]" supporting the proposal, TonyBallioni said, "While all wikis have some inherent biases built in politically ( has many...) playing politics with the attempted destruction of an entire group of people brings our entire movement into disrepute, and the use of admin tools by that community as a whole appears problematic for the reasons Rschen7754 has laid out." Steward Ajraddatz opposed a blanket desysop, but supported desysopping Cekli829 (along with a six-month ban on giving him administrative permissions) "and any other specific admins/crats that have enabled the copyright violations and inappropriate block(s)". While there are several other users who support more targeted desysoppings, the list of users who oppose any action consists almost entirely of azwiki sysops. Cekli829 himself, in voting "strong oppose", said (hat tip to Google Translate), "Your suggestions clearly serve the Armenian interests and show that you are on the side. Instead, I recommend that you initiate an uninterrupted block on It should be noted that the views on relevant issues in various language sections of the Wikipedia due to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are also part of the information war, and this is quite normal." There is no current timetable for a close.

Sanctions and deletions

Controversial deletion of two pages led to multiple policy proposals last month aiming to clarify administrators' power to delete pages in topic areas subject to community and discretionary sanctions. The community general sanctions discussion was started due to the deletion of Universa Blockchain Protocol, which was deleted with the summary "Covert advertising. Page-level sanction under WP:GS/Crypto." Meanwhile, User:Dlthewave/Whitewashing of firearms articles (whose author also wrote an opinion piece for The Signpost on a similar topic two issues ago) was deleted as "Arbitration enforcement action under gun control DS." These deletions caused controversy because of objections to the use of sanctions to delete articles. Both pages went to Deletion Review. The blockchain article's DRV was closed as "no consensus". Meanwhile, a "clear consensus" of users supported the undeletion of the firearms page at its DRV, but the closer noted that the undeletion required the approval of the Arbitration Committee first. The two proposals both prevent using sanctions as deletion rationale. The community sanctions RFC and the discretionary sanctions RFC are both currently open.

Part 2 of the talk pages consultation begins

The second phase of the Wikimedia Foundation's 2019 talk pages consultation (TPC19) has begun. The Foundation's report said that there were three main categories that new and experienced users identified for improvement: replying, indentation and signatures. Frequent requests from experienced users include section watchlisting; better archiving, search, and notification tools; thread-specific history; and improving the talk page experience on mobile devices. The WMF survey found that new users often had trouble finding talk pages and did not understand the structure (they expected a format more like a forum as opposed to one that looks similar to a regular Wikipedia article). New users were especially confused by the metadata templates (e.g. WikiProject assessments, pageview statistics, archive boxes, arbitration notices) at the top of popular talk pages. After taking under consideration the opinions of these groups, the WMF proposed "that wikitext talk pages should be improved, and not replaced", though they noted that in order to make talk pages more accessible, "small-to-medium changes in wikitext conventions and practices" may be required.

With part 1 of TPC19 having concluded, phase 2 has begun, focused on six questions the WMF is asking regarding its summary of phase 1, namely:

  1. What do you think of the proposed product direction?
  2. Should there be a more structured definition of what counts as a single discussion, possibly involving making changes to the wikitext conventions on a talk page?
  3. Should we make the connection between article content and discussions more visible?
  4. Should we move all non-talkspace discussion pages (e.g. the village pumps) to the talk namespace? (Community consensus seems to be against this idea.)
  5. What are the pros and cons of having a complete page history or a specific thread history?
  6. Should metadata templates be moved somewhere else? Which templates are crucial for the proper use of a discussion page, and which could be moved somewhere else?

Participation in the second phase of the talk page consultation is open to all users.

Other discussions

  • On WP:VPR#Video Namespace: should a "Video" namespace or pseudonamespace be created for VideoWiki videos?
  • On WT:Harassment: should WP:DOX be changed to prohibit disclosure of personal information "on the English Wikipedia" or "on the English Wikipedia or another public Wikimedia project"? (Current wording is "on Wikipedia".)


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Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png
A monthly overview of recent academic research about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, also published as the Wikimedia Research Newsletter.

"Is Wikipedia stealing the news?"

A paper in the current issue of First Monday[1] "analyzes Wikipedia’s breaking news practices and the ways the Internet is changing perceptions of news", based on a case study of the article 2014 Sydney hostage crisis.

The author is a lecturer in journalism at the University of Sydney, and co-organiser of an upcoming academic conference co-sponsored by Wikimedia Australia ("The Worlds of Wikimedia™: communicating and collaborating across languages and cultures"). In a press release by the university, somewhat provocatively titled "Is Wikipedia stealing the news?" (see also podcast, starting at 21:55), she describes Wikipedia as "a competitor to media organisations" and states:

Wikipedia contributors don't undertake the core role of journalists, which is to produce new work. Contributors' news gathering practices are solely "aggregation and assemblage", and it is important to recognise that the journalistic labour that underpins a Wikipedia page has been funded by media organisations and appropriated without economic consideration.

The case study in the paper itself includes:

  • a detailed timeline of reactions to the event (e.g. police arriving seven minutes after the hostage-taking, the first journalist tweeting about it after eight minutes, and the Wikipedia article being created within less than two hours)
  • an explanation of relevant Wikipedia policies and guidelines (e.g. no original research and WP:NOTNEWS)
  • some statistics about the article's revision history and the traffic it received
  • a classification of the references used, using the three categories "Local news media", "International news media", and "Non-mainstream media"
  • an examination of discussions on the article's talk page, showing "just how closely the behaviour of non-journalists resembles that of a professional newsroom."

The author also interviewed a senior Wikipedian involved in the article.

The paper criticizes the "reasoning [behind some of Wikipedias policies and protocols around news as] contradictory. The claim [in WP:NOTNEWS ] that breaking news should not be emphasized or treated differently doesn’t fit with the specific parameters set by their ‘current event’ template. The entry also claims that Wikipedia is not written in ‘news style’ which also doesn’t hold up to scrutiny ... The 2014 Sydney hostage crisis page clearly conforms: the lead sentence contains who, what, when, and where [Five Ws], is written in past tense and the information is presented according to an inverted pyramid structure."

Alongside the presence of other Wikipedia features such as the "In the News" section on the main page and the use of infoboxes to summarize essential information, the author interprets this as a vindication of traditional news-writing practices: "Over the decades since [Wikipedia's founding], through trial and error and negotiation, the community has adopted a form for presenting information that is readily recognisable as employing news conventions ... . This demonstrates the ongoing versatility of news writing style as an efficient form of communication that extends beyond legacy newspapers, where it originated, and into new forms as they emerge on the Internet." She acknowledges the quality work done by the Wikipedia volunteers, with talk pages "show[ing] just how closely the behaviour of non-journalists resembles that of a professional newsroom."

While these conclusions are backed by detailed observations about Wikipedia, the paper offers few arguments to substantiate the appropriation and competition claims highlighted in the press release. In a Facebook discussions with Wikipedians, the author distanced herself from "stealing" headline, but otherwise seemed to stand by these concerns. Her use of terms like "appropriated", "in the economic sense", "payment" etc. suggests an underlying assumption of property rights about facts that is at odds with the existing legal and economic system that has been underlying the news business in Western countries for a long time. In copyright law, this relies on the idea–expression divide, or specifically in Australia on the seminal court decision Victoria Park Racing & Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor, which asserted: "The law of copyright does not operate to give any person an exclusive right to state or to describe particular facts. A person cannot by first announcing that a man fell off a bus or that a particular horse won a race prevent other people from stating those facts". It seems that Avieson disagrees with this, at least when the first person is a journalist and those "other people" are Wikipedia editors. Given that journalists themselves routinely rely on the "labour" of other journalists without compensating them (most newspaper articles don't exclusively consist of original reporting) and on that of their sources (paying them is a highly controversial practice even when those sources undergo substantial efforts or risks to provide information to the journalist), it's hard to escape the impression that this paper falls into a common trap of Wikipedia criticism: Berating the open, volunteer community project for practices that are in fact common in traditional, commercial media as well.

Conferences and events

See the research events page on Meta-wiki for upcoming conferences and events, including submission deadlines, and the page of the monthly Wikimedia Research Showcase for videos and slides of past presentations.

Other recent publications

Other recent publications that could not be covered in time for this issue include the items listed below. Contributions, whether reviewing or summarizing newly published research, are always welcome.

Compiled by Tilman Bayer

"Wikipedia can be more useful than academic journal articles" for learning about certain technologies

From the abstract:[2]

This article analyses five technology-enhanced learning-related terms on Wikipedia, assessing their usefulness in relation to academic journal articles concerning the same terms. Data were obtained about the word lengths of the Wikipedia articles, the numbers of Wikipedia edits and numbers of academic journal publications over the first 5 years after the creation of the first Wikipedia entry. ... The article argues that Wikipedia can be more useful than academic journal articles in the new and emerging phases of a technology, because of the volume of information made available, together with the speed of its publication and the updating of its contents.

"The Network Structure of Successful Collaboration in Wikipedia"

From the abstract:[3]

... we compare the network mechanisms underlying the production of the complete set of featured articles, with the network mechanisms of a contrasting sample of comparable non-featured articles in the English-language edition of Wikipedia. Estimates of relational event models suggest that contributors to featured articles display greater deference toward the reputation of their team members. Contributors to featured articles also display a weaker tendency to follow the behavioral norms predicted by the theory of structural balance, and hence a weaker tendency toward polarization.

(See also our earlier review of a paper by the same authors: "Articles receiving the most attention (by editors) overall lack the depth of quality found in featured articles")

"Negotiation processes on Wikipeda talk pages in case of the White Rose"

Paper/book chapter in German[4], title translates as "How does communicative memory become cultural memory? Negotiation processes on Wikipeda talk pages in case of the White Rose"

"Application of SEO Metrics to Determine the Quality of Wikipedia Articles and Their Sources"

From the abstract:[5]

Based on the fact that most of [Wikipedia's] references are web pages, it is possible to get more information about their quality by using citation analysis tools. ... This paper presents general results of Wikipedia analysis using metrics from the Toolbox SISTRIX, which is one of the leading providers of indicators for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In addition to the preliminary analysis of the Wikipedia articles as separate web pages, we extracted data from more than 30 million references in different language versions of Wikipedia and analyzed over 180 thousand most popular hosts.

(See also related earlier coverage)

Wikipedia biographies show how the invention of printing shaped the history of science and art

From the abstract:[6]

Here we combine a common causal inference technique (instrumental variable estimation) with a dataset on nearly forty thousand biographies from Wikipedia (Pantheon 2.0), to study the effect of the introduction of printing in European cities on Wikipedia’s digital biographical records. By using a city’s distance to Mainz as an instrument for the adoption of the movable type press, we show that European cities that adopted printing earlier were more likely to become the birthplace of a famous scientist or artist during the years following the invention of printing.

"What is the central bank of Wikipedia?"

From the abstract: [7]

We analyze the influence and interactions of 60 largest world banks for 195 world countries using the reduced Google matrix algorithm for the English Wikipedia network with 5 416 537 articles. While the top asset rank positions are taken by the banks of China, with China Industrial and Commercial Bank of China at the first place, we show that the network influence is dominated by USA banks with Goldman Sachs being the central bank.

"Generating Wikipedia by Summarizing Long Sequences"

From the abstract:[8]

We show that generating English Wikipedia articles can be approached as a multi-document summarization of source documents. We use extractive summarization to coarsely identify salient information and a neural abstractive model to generate the article. ... We show that this model can generate fluent, coherent multi-sentence paragraphs and even whole Wikipedia articles.

See also media coverage

"Computing controversy: Formal model and algorithms for detecting controversy on Wikipedia and in search queries"

From the abtract:[9]

... we propose a classification based method for automatic detection of controversial articles and categories in Wikipedia. Next, we demonstrate how to use the obtained results for the estimation of the controversy level of search queries. The proposed method can be incorporated into search engines as a component responsible for detection of queries related to controversial topics. The method is independent of the search engine’s retrieval and search results recommendation algorithms, and is therefore unaffected by a possible filter bubble. Our approach can be also applied in Wikipedia or other knowledge bases for supporting the detection of controversy and content maintenance.


  1. ^ Avieson, Bunty (2019-04-30). "Breaking news on Wikipedia: collaborating, collating and competing". First Monday. 24 (5). doi:10.5210/fm.v24i5.9530. ISSN 1396-0466.
  2. ^ Flavin, Michael; Hulova, Katerina (2018-11-23). "An inferior source? Quantitatively analysing the production and revision of five technology-enhanced learning-related terms on Wikipedia". Research in Learning Technology. 26. doi:10.25304/rlt.v26.2103. ISSN 2156-7077. CC BY 4.0
  3. ^ Lerner, Juergen; Lomi, Alessandro (2019-01-08). The Network Structure of Successful Collaboration in Wikipedia. 52nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. p. 2622-2631. ISBN 9780998133126.
  4. ^ Heinrich, Horst-Alfred; Gilowsky, Julia (2018). "Wie wird kommunikatives zu kulturellem Gedächtnis? Aushandlungsprozesse auf den Wikipedia-Diskussionsseiten am Beispiel der Weißen Rose". (Digitale) Medien und soziale Gedächtnisse. Soziales Gedächtnis, Erinnern und Vergessen – Memory Studies. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. pp. 143–167. doi:10.1007/978-3-658-19513-7_7. ISBN 9783658195120. closed access Google Books
  5. ^ Lewoniewski, Włodzimierz; Härting, Ralf-Christian; Węcel, Krzysztof; Reichstein, Christopher; Abramowicz, Witold (2018). "Application of SEO Metrics to Determine the Quality of Wikipedia Articles and Their Sources". In Robertas Damaševičius; Giedrė Vasiljevienė (eds.). Information and Software Technologies. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Springer International Publishing. pp. 139–152. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-99972-2_11. ISBN 9783319999722. closed access
  6. ^ Jara-Figueroa, C.; Yu, Amy Z.; Hidalgo, César A. (2019-02-20). "How the medium shapes the message: Printing and the rise of the arts and sciences". PLOS ONE. 14 (2): –0205771. Bibcode:2019PLoSO..1405771J. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0205771. ISSN 1932-6203.
  7. ^ Demidov, Denis; Frahm, Klaus M.; Shepelyansky, Dima L. (2019-02-21). "What is the central bank of Wikipedia?". arXiv:1902.07920 [cs.SI].
  8. ^ Liu, Peter J.; Saleh, Mohammad; Pot, Etienne; Goodrich, Ben; Sepassi, Ryan; Kaiser, Lukasz; Shazeer, Noam (2018-01-30). "Generating Wikipedia by Summarizing Long Sequences". arXiv:1801.10198 [cs.CL].
  9. ^ Zielinski, Kazimierz; Nielek, Radoslaw; Wierzbicki, Adam; Jatowt, Adam (2018-01-01). "Computing controversy: Formal model and algorithms for detecting controversy on Wikipedia and in search queries". Information Processing & Management. 54 (1): 14–36. doi:10.1016/j.ipm.2017.08.005. ISSN 0306-4573.

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As of publication, the Committee has four open requests for clarification or amendment: a request for clarification regarding Palestine–Israel articles, a request for clarification regarding BLP issues on British politics articles, an amendment request relating to DS alerts, and an amendment request regarding Arbitration Enforcement decisions.

Team shake-up

This month, BU Rob13 decided to step down from the Arbitration Committee, as well as "semi-retire" from Wikipedia as a whole. On a brighter note, Bradv was appointed as a full clerk of the Committee. The bot that they have created, ArbClerkBot, was also approved by the Bot Approvals Group.

In the aftermath of the Committee's amendment to its standard provision for appeals and modifications, Ivanvector decided to resign as a checkuser.

Both BU Rob13 and Ivanvector have written essays related to their decisions:

Reader comments

This article originally appeared in the Wikimedia Foundation blog on May 23, 2019.

At the Wikimedia Foundation, we believe that free access to knowledge and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights. We believe that when people have good information, they can make better decisions. Free access to information creates economic opportunity and empowers people to build sustainable livelihoods. Knowledge makes our societies more informed, more connected, and more equitable.

Over the past two years, we have seen governments censor Wikipedia, including in Turkey and most recently in China, denying these rights to millions of people around the world.

Today, we proceed to the European Court of Human Rights, an international court which hears cases of human rights violations within the Council of Europe, to ask the Court to lift the more than two-year block of Wikipedia in Turkey. We are taking this action as part of our continued commitment to knowledge and freedom of expression as fundamental rights for every person.

This is not a step we have taken lightly; we are doing so only after continued and exhaustive attempts to lift the block through legal action in the Turkish courts, good faith conversations with the Turkish authorities, and campaigns to raise awareness of the block and its impact on Turkey and the rest of the world.

Despite these efforts, Wikipedia continues to be blocked in Turkey after more than two years.

Turkey 2019.gif

This news was announced in a press call with the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director Katherine Maher, Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales, and the Foundation’s Legal Director Stephen LaPorte.

“We believe that information—knowledge—makes the world better. That when we ask questions, get the facts, and are able to understand all perspectives on an issue, it allows us to build the foundation for a more just and tolerant society,” said Katherine Maher. “Wikipedia is a global resource that everyone can be actively part of shaping. It is through this collective process of writing and rewriting, and debate that Wikipedia becomes more useful, more comprehensive, and more representative. It is also through this process that we, a global society, establish a more comprehensive consensus on how we see the world.”

In our application to the Strasbourg Court, we argue that the blanket ban of Wikipedia violates fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention. Moreover, these freedoms have been denied to the more than 80 million people of Turkey who have been impacted most directly by the block, and to the rest of the world, which has lost the nation’s rich perspectives in contributing, debating, and adding to Wikipedia’s more than 50 million articles.

Over the past two years, the Wikimedia Foundation has done all that it possibly can to lift the block of Wikipedia in Turkey. The order blocking Wikipedia referred to only two articles, which have continued to be open for improvement by anyone and edited by volunteers around the world despite the block. It is unclear what, if any, concerns remain. The block continues despite numerous good faith discussions with Turkish authorities to understand their views, including through an open letter to the Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime, and Communication, to discuss Wikipedia’s open editing model, values, and strong opposition to impermissible censorship of any kind.

Immediately following the block, we filed our case in the domestic courts, requesting that Wikipedia be unblocked on the grounds that such a block violated the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The lower courts have upheld the block, and there has been no response from Turkey’s highest court in the two years since we appealed the lower court’s decision. Consequently, we believe that this step is necessary.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is the international court created by the European Convention on Human Rights to ensure the enforcement and implementation of the human rights provisions set out in the Convention. Turkey is a long-standing party to the Convention, and the fundamental rights provided by the Convention are guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution, which makes the interference with human rights in this case all the more devastating. Moreover, internet blocks and censorship are a growing concern for Council of Europe states, making this case all the more pressing for consideration by the court.

Today, Wikipedia is one of the most widely-accessed sources of knowledge in the world. It is read 6,000 times every second, and our articles are edited, improved, and debated daily by a community of more than 250,000 volunteers from across the globe. More than 85 percent of those articles are in languages other than English, which includes the Turkish Wikipedia’s more than 300,000 articles, written by Turkish-speaking volunteers for Turkish-speaking people. These volunteers make good-faith efforts to cover all sides of a given topic, even controversial ones, to ensure people can understand topics fully and transparently.

Wikipedia is better, richer, and more reflective of the world when more people can engage with, improve, and edit its content. When one nation is denied access to the global conversation on Wikipedia, the entire world is poorer.

The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to upholding knowledge as a fundamental human right, to be enjoyed and protected for everyone, for our millions of users around the world. We announce our decision to file our application in the European Court of Human Rights today as a reflection of that commitment.

The Wikimedia Foundation is represented by Can Yeginsu, who leads a team of barristers practicing from 4 New Square Chambers in London, and Gonenc Gurkaynak at ELIG Gurkaynak Attorneys-at-Law in Istanbul.

Reader comments

This traffic report is adapted from the Top 25 Report, prepared with commentary by Igordebraga (April 28 to May 4, May 12 to 18), A lad insane and Stormy clouds (May 5 to 11).

The Report is dark and full of Marvels (April 28 to May 4, 2019)

Most Popular Wikipedia Articles of the Week (April 28 to May 4, 2019).png
Top 25 most viewed articles of the week

Avengers: Endgame is understandably still dominating the public consciousness (and for those who haven't seen it, there are possibly some spoilers below, countering some fake ones from last Report), along with Game of Thrones, which is back for its last season. Who back in 1999 would've predicted a world so fixated on superhero movies and fantasy TV shows? There only a few subjects here not related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the HBO series: a deceased director and the dramatization of a crime story.

For the week of April 28 to May 4, 2019, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 Avengers: Endgame C-Class article 7,096,505
C2E2 2013 - Avengers (8684301574).jpg
Marvel Studios has built such a foothold with fans that they don't complain about enduring a 3 hour film. A time travel story that ends with an all-out epic battle for the fate of the universe, Endgame might not be perfect, but gives plenty of comedy, emotion and action along with a good closure on what was built in 11 years and 21 movies. And who knows what comes next? Seriously, aside from Spider-Man: Far From Home this July, two movies are set for 2020, but they don't even have Wikipedia pages yet. One might be the Black Widow solo film set to start shooting in June, though whoever saw Endgame will wonder what will appear in that.
2 List of Marvel Cinematic Universe films Featured list 2,405,799
3 List of highest-grossing films Featured list 2,322,787
North American Domestic Box Office.png
After a single weekend, Endgame (#1) already entered the top 10 on this list with a whopping $1.3 billion! So movie fans will certainly start sort of a "can Endgame beat Avatar?" watch. It's a tall but feasible order, even once the movie slows down with May's other big releases.
4 Game of Thrones (season 8) C-Class article 1,921,398
LSCC 2016 - Deadpools on the Iron Throne (25057706012).jpg
This writer was one of a huge crowd that tuned in to watch "The Long Night" on HBO and was frustrated at how it was a dark, foggy and mostly incomprehensible mess (a rerun with my mom, and the TV pre-emptively adjusted to 100% brightness, had no problems, so who knows what happened with the original broadcast?), though with a great last third that made going through the confusion worth it, leading to a climax that like our #1, had a victorious Stark.
5 Ted Bundy Good article 1,784,380
FBI-360-Ted Bundy FBI 10 most wanted photo.jpg
Netflix already released a documentary featuring this serial killer being interviewed earlier in the year, so the streaming service now offering a movie where Bundy is played by Zac Efron should come as no surprise.
6 Game of Thrones Good article 1,351,359
Pyrkon 2017 GoT Cosplay White Walker.jpg
It's now halfway through the closing season of HBO's adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire (#4), following an episode that had millions attempting to see what had been lauded as the biggest battle ever filmed for television.
7 John Singleton Start-Class article 1,216,251
An Evening with John Singleton (8471612364).jpg
At just 23, John Singleton started his career at the top with Boyz in the Hood, a surprise hit that also made Singleton both the first African American nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, and also the youngest ever to run for this award. While his following path was a bit questionable, aside from highlights such as the Shaft remake, Singleton still had enough success to warrant a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and received many tributes after his death at the age of 51.
8 Robert Downey Jr. Good article 1,213,867
Robert Downey Junior visits the Embassy (26447554542).jpg
Back in 2008, Downey guaranteed a career resurrection out of both portraying a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude (which got him an Oscar nomination), and starring in some independent startup's movie as a drunk businessman who survives a terrorist attack. Iron Man upstarted the ongoing superhero dominance (#2, #3), and Downey's Tony Stark is central to the plot of Endgame (#1), all about fixing the actions of...
9 Thanos B-Class article 1,003,523
Thanos cosplay - Lucca 2017.jpg
..the purple bastard that guaranteed people left Avengers: Infinity War feeling bummed. But his actor Josh Brolin might not be saying his goodbye to Marvel, on the condition that they let him play Cable again in spite of the X-Men movies folding onto the MCU (#10).
10 Marvel Cinematic Universe Good article 886,314
Kevin Feige.jpg
Kevin Feige has been pretty busy since 2007. Thankfully, the end result (#2) is a license to print money (#3).

Expectations (Not Particularly) Subverted (May 5 to 11, 2019)

This week's report, as with the past few, is utterly dominated by the entertainment industry, which should hardly be surprising given the two gargantuan hits currently conquering the zeitgeist on screens big and small. Other entries include a vile serial killer and his biopic, an extremely exuberant and exclusive gala, and the latest member of House Windsor. Not an especially diverse iteration of the report, admittedly, but still an intriguing one.

For the week of May 5 to 11, 2019, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 Avengers: Endgame C-Class article 4,400,303
The avengers logo.png
Because Marvel fans just can't get enough of their favorite superheroes at the cinema, they have resorted to stalking Wikipedia, either to find out the current box office gross or, if they're like me, to read the plot so they don't have to actually watch it to understand the memes. They've also infiltrated several other articles featured on this list, seemingly competing with Game of Thrones for most related articles. None of them can compete with the British royal family though, setting the record at fifteen last year. (Though Marvel got close once.)
2 Ted Bundy Good article 4,321,338
FBI-360-Ted Bundy FBI 10 most wanted photo.jpg
One of the most infamous and heinous criminals of 20th century America, Ted Bundy has long captivated and caught the public attention courtesy of his charming charismatic demeanour, and the sheer horror of his crimes. As testament to this, with another week in excess of 4 million views, he is a likely lock for the year-end report some four decades after his incarceration, and three after his execution. He is the subject of #18, which thankfully does not end with Samuel L. Jackson telling him about the Unabomber and a team he's assembling.
3 List of highest-grossing films B-Class article 3,735,837
19033 1194302302380 1373103402 30446212 3847121 n.jpg
Expect this list to retain its prominent position on future iterations of the report, as Earth's Mightiest Heroes chase down the phenomenal record set by Dances with Pandorans. At time of writing, the Russo brothers need in the environs of another $300 million in ticket receipts to become the first directors to steal James Cameron's throne since James Cameron, and it is shaping up to be a very tight race indeed, as Captain America et al will have to compete with a dog-loving assassin, everyone's favourite poorly CGI rendered YouTuber, and a blue flame-breathing lizard (not that one) in weeks to come.
4 Chernobyl disaster C-Class article 1,487,216
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.jpg
Wikipedia is not immune to the driving forces of Reddit, and this entry shows that with a passion. This post on r/todayilearned inspired thousands of readers to flock to this article, as it perhaps in turn may have been inspired by the anniversary of the disaster a couple weeks ago. It may also be due to the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, which aired its first episode on May 6.
5 Game of Thrones (season 8) C-Class article 1,448,829
Comic Con Brussels 2016 - Deadpool on the Iron Throne (26675225495).jpg
The other fandom featuring heavily on this list hasn't made it as high in terms of rank, but with three entries overall and one in the top 5, they've certainly done a respectable job. In a year of finales, this one has fewer episodes than its predecessors, yet the incredible screen-writing and payoffs still evidently captivate a plethora of viewers, sending scores to its article.
6 List of Marvel Cinematic Universe films Featured list 1,330,540 See #1 and the rest of this tangled Marvel mess.
7 Met Gala C-Class article 1,119,365
Met Museum of Art.jpg
The annual fashion extravaganza took place in the Big Apple during the week, providing a reprieve for those not interested in superheroes or subversion of expectations. A glorious opportunity for grand larceny, the Gala is organized annually by Vogue, and this year the jewel of the New York social scene was themed around camp (#21). Notable guests at the event included Katy Perry, who dressed up as a chandelier (yeah, I don't get it either), and someone who used to be relevant on YouTube.
8 Game of Thrones Good article 990,337
D. B. Weiss and David Benioff.jpg
This will probably be on the list for a while.
9 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex Good article 987,526
Meghan Markle October 2018.jpg
Last May, the wedding bells rang for Meghan and Prince Harry (#11), sending droves of royal-family watchers to their articles. This year, their marriage has borne fruit, with the announcement of a new royal youngling. Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (#25) is seventh in line to the throne- that may seem distant, but hey, it's closer to the throne than I'll ever be.
10 Cinco de Mayo C-Class article 842,868
Cinco De Mayo.jpg
The Mexican victory against the French Empire at the 1862 Battle of Puebla was a great morale-booster for the soldiers and civilians, so although they ended up losing the war, the Mexicans made it a holiday. 120 years later, some American companies decided that a Mexican holiday would be great to drum up some beer sales, and so they did. Now the holiday is celebrated more in the United States than Mexico, with staples of the celebration including beer and guacamole. The beer didn't stop thousands of people from searching up on Wikipedia why exactly they were celebrating, though, bringing it in at the bottom of the top 10 on this list.

End Over End, I'm Reporting (May 12 to 18, 2019)

The most prevalent topics of the week are about ends: the conclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Infinity Saga (#1, #4), the last season of Game of Thrones (#3, #7), and people leaving the mortal realm (#2) - on that, there's also a killer (#5) and a tragedy (#6) that ended lives, and an actor (#10) whose views owe to him slaughtering people on screen. There's also a YouTuber seeing his reputation threatened to end (#9), and musicians for all over Europe ending up in the continental contest (#8).

Stop me so I can begin. For the week of May 12 to 18, 2019, the 25 most popular articles on Wikipedia, as determined from the WP:5000 report were:

Rank Article Class Views Image About
1 Avengers: Endgame C-Class article 2,684,351
Avengers Infinity War cosplayers (42896273894).jpg
Our readers don't seem to get tired of reading about the conclusion of Marvel's first batch of movies (with Spider-Man: Far From Home being an epilogue), as the ultimate confrontation with Thanos remains atop the report for the fourth week.
2 Doris Day B-Class article 2,052,866
Doris Day in Love Me or Leave Me trailer.jpg
Doris Day was a successful singer when she also scored big in the movies - most notably romantic comedies with Rock Hudson, one of whom gave her an Oscar nod; though the Hitchcock classic The Man Who Knew Too Much deserves mention for contributing one of her best known songs, "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)". After sitcom The Doris Day Show ended in 1973, she retired from the public eye, focusing more on animal welfare activism with the Doris Day Animal Foundation and the Doris Day Animal League. Day died of a pneumonia at the age of 97.
3 Game of Thrones (season 8) C-Class article 1,975,784
Diagon Alley5.jpg
(spoilers ahead!)
"Take a look to the sky, just before you die
It's the last time you will!

After all, the penultimate episode had death coming from above once someone decided "I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives!" For Whom The Bells Toll? They tolled for everyone. Such circumstances displeased many critics and viewers, making expectations dip a lot for the series finale.
4 List of highest-grossing films Featured list 1,930,929
Box Office Lincoln Theatre.jpg
Our #1 is second on this, less than $200 million behind Avatar, showing that once viewers are enthralled by superhero movies for a decade (says something all four Avengers are in the top 10!), they'll come to theaters in enough quantity to beat the once unbelievable sum of $2.7 billion dollars. And who knows if the ever-delayed Avatar 2 (now sharing a parent company with The Avengers) makes even a fraction of that it comes out in 2021? A theme park might not be enough to compensate over a decade away!
5 Ted Bundy Good article 1,706,092
FBI-360-Ted Bundy FBI 10 most wanted photo.jpg
The serial killer featured in two Netflix releases, a documentary and a movie, continues to bring readers to learn about his grotesque life exploits.
6 Chernobyl disaster C-Class article 1,695,638
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.jpg
HBO is currently airing Chernobyl, a miniseries based on the worst nuclear meltdown ever.
7 Game of Thrones Good article 1,222,041
D. B. Weiss and David Benioff.jpg
Following the footsteps of Lost, a show that breaks formulas, gathers a massive following, and then by the final season has lots of people complaining.
8 Eurovision Song Contest 2019 B-Class article 951,999
Duncan Laurence with the 2019 Eurovision Trophy (cropped).jpg
Europe's yearly musical extravaganza, held in defending champion Israel and won by the Dutch submission "Arcade", whose performer Duncan Laurence is seen to the left.
9 James Charles (Internet personality)[1] Start-Class article 929,723
James Charles.png
Well, here's some YouTube drama: Charles, who has a successful make-up channel, was accused by collaborator Tati Westbrook of being a manipulative jerk, lost millions of subscribers, and had his attempt at an apology video earning a spot in the ten most disliked videos ever (once music videos are excluded, it's fourth behind angry Call of Duty fans, PewDiePie asking his viewers to downvote profusely, and last year's underwhelming YT Rewind).
10 Keanu Reeves C-Class article 905,571
Keanu Reeves at São Paulo, Brazil -- 2019-04-03 (cropped).jpg
Once he feared his grave would just read "He was Ted". Well, now Ted is only one of the three best-known characters Keanu has played, alongside Neo and John Wick, who just returned to theaters (#12) and beat our #1 to top the box office, making this hilarious Tweet true.
  1. ^ 535,309 from the old name, James Charles (model)


  • These lists exclude the Wikipedia main page, non-article pages (such as redlinks), and anomalous entries (such as DDoS attacks or likely automated views). Since mobile view data became available to the Report in October 2014, we exclude articles that have almost no mobile views (5–6% or less) or almost all mobile views (94–95% or more) because they are very likely to be automated views based on our experience and research of the issue. Please feel free to discuss any removal on the Top 25 Report talk page if you wish.

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Latest tech news

Latest tech news from the Wikimedia technical community: 2019 #19, #21, & #22. Please tell other users about these changes. Not all changes will affect you. Translations are available on Meta.

  • The report for phase 1 of the talk pages consultation 2019 has been published. Communities are invited to start phase 2 of the consultation on their wikis.
  • Special:Watchlist can show the wrong information. It does not always show which edits are read and which are unread. The developers are working on solving the problem. [1]
  • The content translation tool on Wikipedia can use machine translations. There is a system to stop translations where the editors do not fix machine translation mistakes. This warns or stops them if they seem to just copy what the machine translation gives them. If this system is too strict or not strict enough you can tell the language team. [2]
  • Advanced item The Wikidata wbeditentity API endpoint will remove all aliases if the request includes an empty alias. This is how it supposed to work. It has not been working this way because of a bug. This will start on 12 June. [3]
  • File descriptions for files from Commons were not shown properly on other Wikimedia wikis for a few days. For example the image descriptions and license information were missing. This has now been fixed. [4][5]
  • Some diffs show an error message when you try to see them. The developers are working on fixing it. It could be because of some edit comments. [6][7]
  • Advanced item Big changes to the replica database will happen on 3 June. Some tools on Cloud Services will stop working if the maintainers do not update them to use the new schema. This probably affects tools that query for revisions or log entries made by a user. [8][9]
  • Recurrent item Advanced item You can join the technical advice meeting on IRC. During the meeting, volunteer developers can ask for advice. The meeting takes place every Wednesday from 4:00–5:00 p.m. UTC. See how to join here.

Reader comments

Paid editing is a topic that comes to the forefront every six months or so, after the latest horrendous disclosures. This essay is part of our continuing series of influential essays on Wikipedia. Wikipedia:Paid editing (essay) was begun in January 2011 and 38 editors have contributed to it. - S

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" that is used through the rest of the piece. The goal of this essay is to provide advice on what to do when it comes to Paid Editing & Wikipedia.

Policies and guidelines

Per the WP:PAID policy, if you are being paid 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 from editing mainspace; 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.

Why is this done?

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.

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 it

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 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 trust

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[1] 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 consequences

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 behavior

While editors who take pay (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 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 advice

  1. Find out who specifically you are working for. Ask for the name of the individual, the name of the company he/she works for (if applicable), and what articles he/she wants you to edit/create. Ask if this individual is a registered user on Wikipedia, if so, make note (for compliance with wp:OUT and wp:COI purposes).
  2. Do not sign a non-disclosure agreement or work through a website that requires non-disclosure. Disclosure of your employer, client and affiliations is mandatory and you are prohibited from editing if you can't disclose these.
  3. Announce your intentions. See the recommendations in the Conflict of Interest guideline.

Things to note


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 contractors

  • 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.[2]

Public relations people are paid editors

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 editors

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

See also


Reader comments

In February 2014 the Wikimedia Foundation proposed a change to the terms of use to ban undisclosed paid editing. The Signpost asked myself, Smallbones, and Pete Forsyth to debate the issue. The full debate with the original introduction follows. - S

About a week ago, the Wikimedia Foundation proposed to modify the Wikimedia projects' terms of use to require disclosure of an editor's employer, client, and affiliation if they are being compensated for making the edits. We have asked two users, one in favor of the measure (Smallbones) and one opposed (Pete Forsyth), to contribute their opinions on the matter.
The views expressed in these op-eds are those of the authors only; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. Editors wishing to submit their own op-ed should email the Signpost's editor.

Smallbones: no commercial editing

Smallbones has been an English Wikipedia editor since 2005 and contributed thousands of photos to the Wikimedia Commons.

A week ago it looked like paid editing was ready to take over Wikipedia. The public relations firm Wiki-PR had been banned for employing hundreds of editors, possibly including our own administrators, to make thousands of edits, taking in perhaps a million dollars. But several editors argued that such a ban could not be enforced, and that we must "assume good faith," even of obvious advertisers. They argued that the problem was simply "point of view" editing, and that it could be dealt with easily, by just editing out the bias. Some even argued that we should get rid of our Conflict of Interest guideline.

The situation has now completely changed, with a proposed addition to the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use, which says that all paid editors must disclose their paid edits and who paid for the edits. It does not ban paid editing, require the outing of paid editors, or allow harassment of paid editors. How could anybody disagree with that? Whether you agree or disagree, your opinion is welcome on Meta.

The proposed amendment would stop future edits by Wiki-PR and similar firms by letting volunteer editors know which articles the advertisers edit, thereby making it easier to check whether the paid edits follow our rules, and change or remove those edits if necessary. The advertisers would have to identify their paid edits to avoid legal action. The only people directly affected would be unethical advertisers who would no longer be able to slip in advertisements on the sly. Paid editors would be indirectly affected as their pool of customers dries up.

Still, I would like the requirements to be stricter, including prohibiting commercial editing of articles by or on behalf of businesses. There would be little difficulty in enforcing this ban. An advertisement, however indirectly, almost always suggests that a specific business placed it. These businesses, including the clients of the Wiki-PRs of the world, would be responsible for the editing of their agents.

Ads are already prohibited on Wikipedia and have been from almost the beginning. First we prohibited link-spam, editing by organizations, and meat-puppetry. Then we prohibited advertising and promotion, and finally marketing and public-relations content. The firm MyWikiBiz was banned in 2006. Every six months or so a new firm is found to be advertising and is usually banned.

Advertisers have often ignored our policies and guidelines. The conflict-of-interest guideline is scoffed at as "unenforceable". Apparently, these rules are too vague and changeable to be taken seriously. Enforcement of the rules by administrators and the Arbitration Committee has been shamefully lax.

By putting the prohibition in the Terms of Use, rather than in each project's policies and guidelines, enforcement is possible by the Foundation's legal team. The prospect of a slam-dunk legal decision going against them will remarkably improve advertisers' understanding of our rules.

The worst aspect of paid editing is how it changes our community. Paid editors are notoriously difficult to work with, ganging up on volunteers, defending their biased edits to the bitter end, wiki-lawyering until our policies and guidelines seem to have no meaning. Paid editors don't engage in collegial discussions of their edits. As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" As paid editors increase, they change the rules to make paid editing easier, which encourages new paid editors and drives volunteer editors away.

I'm not a lawyer but let's cover some legal basics. Advertising and marketing include any communication from a business to a potential customer that may result in a sale. Omitting the source of the communication is deceptive advertising, which is illegal almost everywhere. A German court ruled that editing on Wikipedia by a firm was illegal, even though the firm disclosed the edit, because the disclosure on the article's talk page wasn't conspicuous enough. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates most advertisements in the U.S., prohibits any business communication that may result in a sale unless there is clear and conspicuous disclosure of the advertiser. The FTC is now explaining and enforcing their rules on Internet advertising, as are the European Union and the U.S. states of New York and California.

These governments would likely prefer not to have to enforce their rules directly in an environment as complicated as Wikipedia, but I'm sure they will if we don't enforce our rules ourselves and provide guidance to advertisers. "No advertising, no paid editing of articles by businesses" would be remarkably good, concise guidance. It would be best if the individual Wikimedia projects were to enforce the rules, taking into account the quirks of each individual project, but enforcement by the Foundation is better than no enforcement or enforcement by a government agency.

It's up to us, Wikipedia's volunteer editors. Let's get rid of commercial editing and advertising on Wikipedia.

Pete Forsyth: there are better ways of combating unethical paid editing

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, a company that "provides consulting services for organizations engaging with Wikipedia and other collaborative communities." He has been editing Wikipedia since 2006.

An effort is underway for Wikimedia to codify a principle that has been a cornerstone of my Wikipedia training and consulting practice, Wiki Strategies, since our launch in 2009: essentially, that certain conflicts of interest must be publicly disclosed.

Focused community consideration of this principle is long overdue, and I applaud this effort. Undisclosed conflicts of interest pose a significant threat to Wikipedia. Action is needed. Why? Because of things like this:

Last month, a company offering Wikipedia services proposed establishing a business relationship with me. The founder spoke at length about the importance of dealing with Wikipedia ethically; he proudly contrasted his approach with his less scrupulous competitors, like Wiki-PR, who use sock puppets. But then he described his international network of Wikipedia editors: 20% disclose their role.

80% do not disclose that they are under contract.

While he may sincerely wish to treat Wikipedia ethically, this person is dead wrong to believe his approach is ethical. He fails to see the dissonance. Adopting a new policy would highlight that problem in an unambiguous way, supporting the Wikipedia community's efforts to confront and fend off unethical approaches. So the proposal, at its core, reflects a good idea.

But a TOU amendment is not the way to accomplish those goals. While it may be a good fit for Wikipedia, it may not fit other projects, like Commons or Wikisource, as well. If a museum were to pay someone, for instance, to upload their CC-licensed files to Commons, does a lack of disclosure constitute a real problem? Perhaps; but I'm inclined to say it doesn't. I'm skeptical about a provision that would define worthwhile contributions to our shared vision as violations. We should avoid outlawing good behavior.

The better path is to establish local policies on projects that need them, such as English Wikipedia. A Board-passed amendment is an unnecessarily top-down approach. If the problem mainly pertains to Wikipedia, why wouldn't the Legal department simply propose to Wikipedia (in various languages) that it adopt local policies? The discussion would be healthy; I believe policies would pass. Why ask users to go straight to the Board of Trustees? The proposed action is out of step with Wikimedia's system of governance; I don't see any compelling reason for it to be done this way.

Regardless of how a policy is established, the way we announce it is important and delicate. We owe much of our success to our broad invitation to participate in the Wikimedia vision. Our concerns about conflict of interest are justified, of course; but we should keep in mind that we frequently benefit from alignments of interest. For instance, museums sometimes upload thousands of public domain images. Companies sometimes draw attention to articles about themselves that have become badly outdated. Such efforts bring us closer to fulfilling our vision. Any announcement of a transparency amendment must be worded in a way that respects the good faith and the contributions of many independent organizations.

Finally, although it is stated that disclosure is a minimum requirement – that is, a necessary condition for ethical engagement with Wikipedia – some readers will incorrectly conclude that disclosing a financial interest is sufficient, putting too much stock in this minimal step. We must not take too much satisfaction in a policy change like the one proposed, but remain attentive to the need to articulate Wikimedia's ethical needs in a wide variety of scenarios.

Regardless of whether this amendment passes, undisclosed conflicts of interest are toxic to the Wikipedia community, and make it difficult for us to fulfill our vision. What can we do to address the problem?

What should the Wikimedia Foundation do?

  • The Board of Trustees should refer the proposal to project communities like English Wikipedia, with a recommendation to pass local policies. Any TOU change should happen after, and in support of, local policy changes.
  • The WMF should redouble efforts to keep its own house in order. It has the ability to influence its staff, contractors, service providers, funders, and business partners. There is much room for improvement. To wit:

Staff members have been hired into positions that require engagement on Wikipedia, with minimal ethical or practical guidance on how to go about it. This includes me (in 2009), and the problem remains: in 2014 a WMF employee prominently left her position after a dispute over her Wikipedia editing. While many facts of that dispute are (properly) invisible to public review, surely the organization must bear final responsibility for such a substantial misunderstanding.

In addition, WMF has at times given bad advice to other organizations about how to engage ethically with Wikipedia. That should never happen, given the wealth of resources and expertise available to them in our community.

Maintaining an ethical approach to Wikipedia engagement demands constant vigilance and diligent self-inquiry, going far beyond mere disclosure. WMF has great influence over the thought and behavior of its staff, contractors, funders, service providers, and business partners. That influence should be consistently put to good use.

What should the English Wikipedia community do?

  • Whether or not the TOU amendment passes, Wikipedia should create a local policy requiring this kind of disclosure.
  • Wikipedia should document best practices, and implement processes that allow non-disclosed paid editors to progress smoothly toward compliance.
  • Wikipedia should ban editors who do not engage with that process in good faith.

What should people paying or earning money around Wikipedia do?

Many of us are passionate about Wikipedia's success, and also spend or earn money relating to Wikipedia. We should be proactively building a shared understanding of Wikipedia ethics.

  • We should create and publish our own statements of ethics. Mine is here:
  • We should read each other's statements, share reflections, and look for patterns. As of today, I am turning on the "comment" feature on my statement; I welcome commentary, public or private.
  • In the long run, we should establish ethical codes that can be voluntarily adopted by those working in the Wikipedia sphere -- similar to the way we adopt a free license when we choose to edit Wikipedia.

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