On Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 12:15 AM, Dominic McDevitt-Parks
<mcdev...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 20 February 2014 00:56, HaeB <haebw...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Sorry, but I think these concerns are overblown.
> I do not intend to fill everyone's inbox with a back-and-forth, but I do
> want to clarify some of my points.
>> 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
>> whatsoever?).
> I know that you are familiar with the Wikimedia Foundation's Education
> Program, which did exactly what you are suggesting is so bizarre. Yes, many
> professors over the years have made their first edits as part of their paid
> work of teaching university courses,
Yes, but that comparison is a mischaracterization of what the
Education Program does. Of course it does not pay (or suggest to pay)
professors to make clueless newbie edits "with no experience
whatsoever" in ignorance of community policies or the TOU. From its
beginning as the "Public Policy Initiative", the program included
guidance for the participating instructors (e.g. training by
Ambassadors), to help them understand policies and provide training
experience, before they engage in their Wikipedia course work. That's
far from how I understood the situation that you had been evoking,
where an academic is just toying around with editing. I know you
worked as a Campus Ambassador yourself, and I'm relieved to see that
the very first edits of the professor you were supporting back then
consisted of this kind of disclosure. I sure hope she was made aware
of basic Wikipedia principles before engaging in the paid work of
teaching that Wikipedia university course.

What's more, the Education Program has since even hardcoded such
disclosure into MediaWiki, in form of the Education Program extension
for MediaWiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Courses (click through to the
course pages and look at the "Instructors" field in the table)

> and I doubt they were all diligent about disclosure, or that many people 
> minded.
Actually, a whole lot of people minded. The English Wikipedia
community has become quite adamant about disclosure. Last year there
was a huge community controversy about a case where one Canadian
professor was (in his own words) "going 'underground'" with his
Wikipedia course, refusing to take part in the Education Program
because he felt that its disclosure requirements would bring
unwarranted scrutiny by Wikipedians. IIRC, in the lengthy discussions
on the education noticeboard, no community members supported this

> And it's not hard to imagine
> other activities an academic, with a professional mandate to provide public
> education, could legitimately perform on Wikimedia as part of their day
> job.
Sure, I don't see this being disputed.

> The president of the American Historical Association wrote an article
> saying that historians have a professional obligation to do so.
If you meant to say that this article talks about day jobs:
...then I think that this is misrepresenting its content - it ends
with the words "Any volunteers?" and says that historians should
follow the example of "Scientists, engineers, and programmers [who]
have been contributing sophisticated entries to Wikipedia almost from
the beginning", certainly not as paid editors back then.

> Sue Gardner
> gave a keynote for the American Library Association suggesting the same
> thing for librarians.
Could you cite the exact wording where she was talking about editing
as part of their day jobs? (If it helps, here is the brief summary I
wrote back then for the Signpost:

> I believe the reason universities and scholars would
> do this sort of thing and receive compensation for it is that, like an
> academic's normal day job, it serves the public interest. These are all
> mainstream and fairly well-understood concepts within the Wikimedia
> community, even though they entail (non-advocacy) paid editing.
Dominic, nobody is trying to prohibit this kind of activity per se,
and personally I agree it can be a good thing. But if we get these
universities to write the improvement of Wikipedia into scholars' job
responsibilities (instead of those of their PR staff, many of whom
engage in problematic advocacy editing), then I can't see why adding a
sentence to one's user page would be so big of a burden. My employer
requires that btw, even though I make no paid edits to article

> 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.
> I appreciate that you think I am overreacting, but you are putting words in
> my mouth--I clearly understand that a Wikimedia TOU is not a legislative
> action by the government, and I was only suggesting that the WMF would be
> making a rule, not a literal law. By dismissing me in that way, you have
> ignored my real point, which is that the proposed text sets up a situation
> in which any reasonable, well-intentioned new paid editor is naturally
> likely to violate the site's TOU. That is not itself a reason not to have
> such a clause in a TOU, but it does seem like it would contribute to the
> feeling that Wikipedia is overly rule-bound and unwelcoming to newcomers.
I appreciate that you feel Wikipedia needs more paid editors and must
not make even minimal additional requirements if someone edits
professionally to fulfill their job responsibilities. But it's still
worth being aware that the vast majority of new editors are volunteers
and therefore not affected at all by the proposal.

> 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.
> I did not anywhere advocate for making laws go away, or thinking that this
> is a TOU's role. Any person is always bound by all applicable laws in
> anything they do, as you say. The fact that there may be an applicable law
> does not necessitate making a TOU to state that unless it is constructive
> in some way to do so.
Well, but then what's the downside in making paid editors aware of
this legal risk?
And thanks for clarifying your intention - I think it was reasonable
to have interpreted your wording differently ("Now, they... will be
subject to "applicable law"(!) As if there aren't enough potential
stumbling blocks for contributors ..."), but OK.

>> 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.
> It doesn't appear anyone described by the above sentence has weighed in
> here yet (nor did such people dominate the recent "Paid editing v. paid
> advocacy" thread), unless that is aimed at me. You probably won't be
> surprised to hear that, from my perspective, these discussions are seem to
> suffer from the conflation paid advocacy and paid editing in pursuit of
> Wikimedia's mission. This discussion shows how the proposal promotes that
> same conflation, except it is all "undisclosed paid editing" that is now
> the enemy, still with no regard as to whether it is advocacy or not.
> The goal in this discussion should not be to say why paid advocacy is bad.
> That is a given for most people. The point of the discussion is to
> establish what good this proposal for the TOU would do for Wikimedia's
> mission, and if it is worth the potential harm.
It's also part of the discussion to assess the potential harm, and I
responded to your email because I think it vastly exaggerated it. And
the point about the imbalance in participation between these two
groups is that one of them (naturally) might focus their attention on
potential downsides if they feel their way of earning an income might
be negatively affected by such a proposal, and the other is in a
better position to assess whether it might help with the problem that
they are spending their volunteer time to mitigate.

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