Hi Dominic,

2014-02-19 18:46 GMT-08:00 Dominic McDevitt-Parks <mcdev...@gmail.com>:
> I've thought a lot about the issues around conflict of interest, paid
> editing, and paid advocacy (by the way, those are all overlapping but
> different concepts). My writing (and
> disclosure)<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dominic/FAQ> was
> brought up on this list last time the issue came up as a model of good
> behavior. I always advocate transparency and disclosure of affiliation when
> edits are done as part of work duties, and only making edits that serve
> Wikimedia's own mission, not just self-interest.
> Having said that, this proposal seems awful. It appears to outlaw mistakes.
> All failures to disclose affiliation are "deceptive" according to the
> language, regardless of whether it is done in good faith or bad. I would
> never have interpreted the current TOU's language to mean that omission is
> the same thing as misrepresentation in all cases. That includes edits from
> newbies, or those editing under the assumption presumption that Wikimedia
> grants users unconditional privacy. I think about every GLAM professional
> or academic ever who makes their first tentative edit, and maybe just adds
> a link or uploads a historical image. Or maybe they made a valid, but
> self-interested comment on a talk page (like "Actually, the library has 4
> branches, not 3"). Now, they don't just face the problem of getting
> reverted/warned if they've done something wrong; they have violated the
> site's terms of use as well. And will be subject to "applicable law"(!) As
> if there aren't enough potential stumbling blocks for contributors with
> subject matter expertise or from underserved communities. I see this being
> invoked more often in toxic ways than constructive ones, since more nuanced
> community policies are already in place on major projects.

Sorry, but I think these concerns are overblown.

First, IANAL, but an "academic ... who makes their first tentative
edit" or other normal newbies will most likely not fall under that
provision, unless they are instructed by their employer to make that
edit (but then, why would an organization such as an university spend
money to pay someone for work in which that person has no experience

Second, you make it appear like every violation of the TOU is a felony
("outlaw mistakes") and likely to be the target of legal action. In my
observation as a longtime editor, the reality is different. As a
comparison, the terms of use also forbid copyright infringement and
require proper attribution of content. Yet as we all know, newbie
mistakes in that area are very common, and even many experienced
editors violate [[WP:CWW]] without facing major consequences or
lawsuits ;) However, that doesn't mean at all that we should drop
these requirements - they help us achieving our goal of building a
body of knowledge that can be freely shared and reused.

Last, you vehemently object to the text mentioning that people "will
be subject to 'applicable law'(!)". Well, the Foundation doesn't make
these laws, and not mentioning them in the TOU doesn't make them go
away. They are not mere "stumbling blocks" that WMF can remove in
order to make the life of GLAM professionals a bit easier. You should
instead complain to the FTC or the other (non-US) legal institutions
mentioned in the FAQ about this point.

> You said on the talk page in response to someone's concern about those
> types of desirable contributions that "In fact, Wikipedians in Residence
> usually explain their affiliation on their user page (consistent with this
> provision), and exemplify some of the best practices for transparency and
> disclosure." I'm you view us so favorably, but I think it's important to
> point out that good Wikipedians are not born that way. And they probably
> didn't learn their good practices from the terms of use.
> And I'm not sure how to make it better. What value does this even serve the
> movement? I can't understand from the background information why there is
> the need to resolve the problem of conflict of interest through a
> Wikimedia-wide terms of use change, especially such a rigid one, when local
> policies are already in place. (Or, if they are not in place, perhaps it
> has more to do with the fact that not all Wikimedia projects even face the
> same problems of neutrality as Wikipedia.) I don't question that conflicts
> of interest are a valid concern, and I am sure this proposal was probably
> written with more clear-cut cases of profit motives in mind, but it seems
> more like an overreach than any kind of solution.
> Dominic
> (Note, I wasn't paid to make this mailing list post.)
Me neither ;) Although I work for the Foundation in my day job, I have
also been a volunteer editor for a decade now, and I'm speaking as
such here. Over the years I have lost a lot of time trying to maintain
NPOV in articles that were subject to (as it would turn out later)
undisclosed paid editing, and turned away in frustration from many
others that likely were, because I lacked the time and energy to get
involved. And I think that many of our conversations about this
problem area are missing the voice of the editors who actually do this
kind of unrewarding work of cleaning up after edits where someone was
paid to advance interests that do not align with those of Wikipedia
and our readers. Instead, the discussions about this topic, even on
this mailing list, often see heavy participation by the minority of
community members who do, or have done, professional PR work or paid
work related to content contribution, often without disclosing it in
these discussions.
Don't get me wrong, I respect your own approach to disclosure, and
understand that you speak for others who don't follow the same good
principles as you do. (And BTW, I'm a fan of your GLAM-Wiki project,
and spent hours volunteering for it, categorizing hundreds of the NARA
images uploaded by your bot.) But the GLAM perspective is not the only
one, and if there really exists legitimate, beneficial work by
Wikimedians-in-residence such as yourself that would be seriously
affected in the negative by the current wording of the proposed
amendment - which I highly doubt - there should be ways of remedying
that without rejecting it entirely, or otherwise harming its overall

Regards, HaeB (T. Bayer)

> On 19 February 2014 17:06, Stephen LaPorte <slapo...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> We are asking for community input on a proposed amendment to the Wikimedia
>> Terms of Use regarding undisclosed paid editing. The amendment is currently
>> available in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese, and
>> we welcome further translations and discussion in any language.
>> For your review, you may find the proposed amendment and background
>> information here:
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Terms_of_use/Paid_contributions_amendment
>> Please join the discussion on the talk page:
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Terms_of_use/Paid_contributions_amendment
>> Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.
>> --
>> Stephen LaPorte
>> Legal Counsel
>> Wikimedia Foundation
>> *For legal reasons, I may only serve as an attorney for the Wikimedia
>> Foundation. This means I may not give legal advice to or serve as a lawyer
>> for community members, volunteers, or staff members in their personal
>> capacity.*

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