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Wikipedia insists paid editors reveal their bits in public

New legalese forces explicit disclosure of paid articles and edits

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The Wikimedia Foundation has changed its terms of use to insist that anyone paid to edit Wikipedia articles discloses their affiliation

Section 4 of the terms of use, Refraining from Certain Activities, now includes a sub-section titled “Paid contributions without disclosure” that includes the following language:

“ … you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation. You must make that disclosure in at least one of the following ways:

  • a statement on your user page,
  • a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or
  • a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.

In a post announcing the change, Wikimedia's general counsel Geoff Brigham opines that “undisclosed paid advocacy editing is a black hat practice that can threaten the trust of Wikimedia’s volunteers and readers. We have serious concerns about the way that such editing affects the neutrality and reliability of Wikipedia.”

Changing the rules, he adds, will make it easier for volunteers to flag entries that need a spot of editing, improve transparency and “ provide an additional tool to the community and Foundation to enforce existing rules about conflicts of interest and paid editing.”

The new terms came into effect on June 16th.

The change follows last week's promise by eleven PR firms to stop overly-happy editing Wikipedia pages on behalf of their clients. ®

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