Regarding the Wikimedia Foundation paying editors, brokering paid editing
to displace the role of PR agencies, etc.:

Since 2009, my full time work has centered on this area, in providing solid
advice to companies and other organizations on how to engage ethically and
effectively with Wikipedia. There is one central point that drives my work:
an ethic of transparency and non-pushy transparency is the main thing that
will lead companies toward engaging in ways that support Wikipedia's goals.
As for the identity and background of editors, their level of experience
with Wikipedia, and who does or does not pay them -- these things are all
important, but they are secondary to the way they approach their work, and
whether/how they express respect toward other Wikipedia editors on an
ongoing basis.

One aspect: working as a Wikipedian in Residence is no different, in
structure, from working for a PR company. I believe the Belfer Center
Wikipedian in Residence proves this point decisively;[1] simply having a
certain kind of title or affiliation is no guarantee that one's efforts
will be compatible with Wikipedia's values, policies, guidelines, or
cultural norms.

On the other hand, my clients routinely exhibit good behavior, and get good
results. Unfortunately I'm not able to disclose my connection with my
clients (who I merely advise -- I don't take any action on their behalf,
either on wiki or by reaching out to editors in private), but I can
disclose a few projects. The most recent case is the film The Hunting
Ground, where the immediate reaction of Wikipedians (including,
influentially, Jimmy Wales) was knee-jerk negative, but upon more careful
investigation Wikipedians identified no substantial problems in how my
client conducted himself. Wikipedians -- myself very much included -- are
not perfect. Making clear, meaningful disclosure of one's role, and
behaving in ways that reflect a genuine respect for the Wikipedia
community, are the key.

I have seen many instances of, as Sarah suggests, a paid editor being "more
persistent" than Wikipedia volunteers, and using that as a significant
tactical advantage. I abhor that practice, and guide my clients explicitly
in avoiding that kind of thing. It's in my clients' interest to avoid doing
that -- not just in Wikipedia's interest. My clients are typically
interested in good long-term results, and they do not want to be saddled
with a poor reputation among Wikipedians. It takes some explaining to help
them see how that plays out in practice -- but that's what they pay me for.
I routinely explain to them how winning a short-term victory through
persistence may have negative long-term impacts, because months or years
down the road it might result in their article getting deleted or massively
changed, or worse, it might land them negative news coverage. They are
generally persuaded by this argument.

I don't think the WMF should pay existing Wikipedians to write or edit
articles, or get involved in identifying which Wikipedians are "better"
than others. I have seen very good Wikipedians make errors in judgment; I
have made errors in judgment myself. I believe a practice of meaningful
transparency is the best approach, because it creates a layer of
accountability, where it's possible for others to notice and address errors
in judgment.

However, if the core interest (as Sarah suggests) is to create paid
opportunities for those who excel at Wikipedia writing and editing, those
opportunities exist, and are increasingly available. The money doesn't need
to flow through the WMF. In my opinion, it's much better if it doesn't; the
WMF has enough political challenges to deal with, without getting involved
in paid editing.

Included for transparency: Founder/Principal of Wiki Strategies

On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 9:49 PM, David Goodman <> wrote:

> Involving the foundation as a broker would corrupt  the Foundation
> altogether.  It would in essence turn it into an advertising agency. We're
> supposed to be different from Google. Google earns money by letting itself
> be used as a medium for advertising. It at least  hopes to achieve this by
> while not being   evil, and succeeds reasonably well at the compromise.
> Wikipedia fortunately does not need to earn money, as ordinary people
> freely give  us more than enough for our needs,  and can therefore hope to
> achieve the positive good of providing objective information on
> encyclopedic topics that people want to read about, not information that
> other organizations want people to read.  We have no need to compromise.
> On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 11:15 PM, SarahSV <> wrote:
> > On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 10:31 AM, Yaroslav M. Blanter <>
> > wrote:
> >
> > - Possibly POV will be compromised in paid articles.
> > > - Unhealthy situation within the editing community. In the debates with
> > > WMF staff when we disagreed, I always felt awkward, because they were
> > paid
> > > arguing with me, and would do it until they convince me or I give up,
> > and I
> > > was doing this in my free time, and got tired very quickly. I also had
> > very
> > > unpleasant experiences interacting with some chapter people whose only
> > goal
> > > was to keep their position. They did not care about the quality,
> > > efficiency, anything, only about their personal good. And if somebody
> > > defends their personal good, you know, thy usually win, and the quality
> > > loses. Now, imagine there is a content dispute between a user who is
> paid
> > > (and is afraid to lose the salary) and a user who is unpaid and have to
> > do
> > > the same for free - I am sure a paid user will be way more persistent.
> > >
> > >
> > > ​Yaroslav, we already have a lot of paid editors on the English
> > Wikipedia.
> > Some are Wikimedians in residence, and this has always been regarded as
> > okay, though I believe they're expected not to edit articles about the
> > institution that employs them.
> >
> > But we also have a lot of paid PR editing and obvious COI problems
> because
> > of that, as well as the problems you highlight (e.g. the paid editor
> being
> > more persistent).
> >
> > Introducing the Foundation as a broker between organizations that want
> > articles and editors who want to write them would not solve all the
> > problems you highlight, but it would remove the COI aspect. So my
> thinking
> > was that it would be better than the current situation.
> >
> > Sarah​
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> >
> --
> David Goodman
> DGG at the enWP
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