Nathan, thank you for the reflection on my practices. I'll take these point
by point below.

On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM, Nathan <> wrote:

> Pete's emphasis on transparency, disclosure and an absolutist approach to
> conflict of interest brings up an interesting issue. Pete is the only
> Wikipedian I'm aware of to have developed a full time consulting career
> centered on the English Wikipedia. His Wiki Strategies company has a fairly
> robust statement of ethics,

Thank you. I have worked hard to get it right, and should also credit my
cofounder John Wallin with much of the thinking that went into this. Still,
these are complex issues, and I am very interested to hear feedback on it.

including assertions that any editing by either
> himself or his clients will come attached to a conflict of interest
> warning. The statement is impressive and laudable, although it does not
> link to any list of projects or clients that an observer might use to see
> it in action. Still, a very good start, and Pete rightly encourages other
> entrepreneurs to adopt his standards.

Thanks for that. Also, I'd like to note -- I licensed that document CC
BY-ND, and would be gladly consider any requests from individuals or
businesses who request the right to publish derivative works.

> But despite some searching, I haven't found any overt disclosures of a
> relationship between any companies and Wiki Strategies, or any detail about
> which companies or articles Wiki Strategies have had a hand in guiding.

This is something I tried to cover in the Statement itself, but I'm happy
to discuss.

I never edit Wikipedia articles on behalf of my corporate clients, so in my
view, there is no compelling ethical reason why a connection between me and
the company should be disclosed.

I guide my clients in proactive transparency. In some cases, where there is
already some on-wiki activity like tagging the article (like the Pixetell
example), this means reaching out specifically to the Wikipedians who have
placed tags; in others, where the article might not have attracted much
attention, it means reaching out to a relevant WikiProject or two.

They will often state that they have sought out some guidance. I do not
believe it is ethically significant who their guidance comes from, or
whether they paid for it. It would be significant to the general
deliberation around business models, yes, to have more specific examples to
point to; but I don't feel my clients are obliged in any way to contribute
to that, and the additional scrutiny it might bring would not be to their
benefit. (Keep in mind, they already *actively seek out* more scrutiny than
most COI editors get.)

> notice that on his Signpost interview Pete links to the Pixetell article as
> an example of his work; Pete apparently edited that article at least once
> several years before disclosing that he had (at one time) a "connection"
> with Ontier/Pixetell. While Pete does say that he "worked with" the company
> on the article, I don't see where it was made clear that this was in his
> capacity as a for-profit, paid consultant. The limited disclosure came only
> after the company was evidently acquired and shut down, and barely 50 edits
> before he mentions it in the Signpost interview.

Sure. The disclosure came at the time when I edited the article of a
(former) client, which was indeed shortly before, and in preparation for,
what I wanted to say in the Signpost interview.

The one edit I made prior to that may or may not have been after I had
signed a contract -- I don't recall for sure -- but regardless, it was not
to the content of the article. It was to an inline comment in the article:

I'm also a little concerned that Pete created his consulting company in
> February 2009, prior to his employment by the WMF (which began towards the
> end of 2009). The announcement of his hiring describes his background in
> some detail, but does not refer to his consulting business. The consulting
> business and his employment at the WMF then continued in parallel for two
> years, and there is no reference on his site, his LinkedIn profile or his
> userpage that the business was mothballed while he was employed.

I discussed my consulting practice extensively in my interview process for
my position at Wikimedia, and also with my supervisor after I was hired.
Nobody had any concerns. Still, I was very busy in my work for WMF; as it
turns out I did only one side project, which was the Pixetell project. I
did casually maintain my business relationship with other previous clients
during that time, but I did not take any payment or do any projects on
their behalf. Also, Wiki Strategies did a little other work for Pixetell in
that time, but it was conducted by my then partner and was unrelated to
Wikipedia or any Wikimedia projects.

I don't mean to accuse Pete of doing anything that violated policies on the
> English Wikipedia, and I'm not aware of any internal policies that might
> apply. But it does strike me that his userpage is a bit of an advertisement
> for his business (on it, he links to the Wiki Strategies contact form and
> invites people to contact him there),

I have tried to maintain my user page in a way that discloses my paid work,
without advertising it. I think that line is a bit blurry, and recognize
that others might disagree. If anybody has specific concerns, or specific
changes they would like me to make, please let me know and I will carefully
consider it.

and that there is some mystery
> surrounding the consultancy and its activities. Of course all this serves
> to support part of Pete's point in his blog post; transparency is tough to
> successfully mandate, and hardly solves all of the inherent issues
> surrounding for-profit engagement with Wikimedia content.
> Again, thanks for the feedback on this. If others have reflections or
concerns, I look forward to hearing more.

-Pete Forsyth
Principal, Wiki Strategies - (included this one time
for clarity, but generally not included in my list signature)
[[User:Peteforsyth]] on English Wikipedia and other projects
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Reply via email to