Sending a cease and desist letter costs little.    WMF will find many
volunteers happy to provide what evidence they possess linking various
companies to various articles.

Yes, attempting to enforce a cease and desist letter would entail court
costs, and that should be considered.  One thing that drives court costs is
the resources of the other side in litigation and my sense is many of these
individuals and their companies do not have deep pockets;  I am not sure
how the real is the risk of litigation draining the WMF budget.

On Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 11:33 PM, Risker <risker...@gmail.com> wrote:

> It's a difficult challenge.  I agree with David; on English Wikipedia, we
> have masses and masses of articles of borderline notability that are so
> obviously blatant spam....and they have a terrible tendency to be kept at
> Articles for Deletion.  It's a reflection of our still-optimistic outlook
> that there are still people who believe that someone will come along and
> magically turn the spam into something encyclopedic; the reality is that
> those articles tend to stay pretty much as they are unless someone who has
> dug up the sources that supposedly make a subject notable actually edit the
> article to transform it from advertorial to encyclopedic.
>
> I do not know enough about how other Wikipedias handle such spam, although
> I have heard from some people editing on some projects that similar
> articles there would be speedy-deleted without a second thought. I do not
> think that it is likely that English Wikipedia will get to that point
> unless more people who feel strongly about spam actively participate at
> AfD.
>
> As to the WMF investing in trying to track down and take down "paid editing
> companies", there are a few things to keep in mind.  First, it's very
> expensive to develop the evidence that makes the direct link from the spam
> article to the real identity of the writer of the article.  Many of those
> "companies" are individual people, and there are also plenty of people who
> call themselves "advisors" who may not edit directly but facilitate
> companies getting their spam on Wikipedia. And just finding those
> people/organizations isn't enough - then the course of action usually
> involves the courts (of varying jurisdictions) which means more lawyers and
> more external legal fees. We're talking a lot of money here, and that's the
> area where I have significant concern - a concerted effort covering the 10
> largest projects could easily cost as much as the WMF's annual budget. One
> more thing to keep in mind:  many courts would expect some evidence that
> the problematic organization is causing harm to the brand and financial
> position of Wikipedia.  That part is tough - it's almost impossible to
> demonstrate a financial cost to Wikipedia for having a spammy article,
> especially as such a large percentage of the articles on many projectst are
> barely of "start" quality.  The fact that there is a conscious decision not
> to take advantage of mitigating remedies that are already available to us
> (such as confirmed identity or not permitting article creation until after
> a certain number of edits) would also be a potential barrier to legal
> remedies against paid editing. (I'm not advocating those changes at all,
> just looking at it from an external perspective.)
>
> Is undisclosed paid editing a violation of the terms of use?  Of course it
> is.  But outside of security and safety issues, the WMF has historically
> left it to the volunteers to interpret the TOU and apply it on individual
> projects.  Frankly, it's how the WMF manages with only a $75 million
> budget, which is less than many similarly large and popular sites spend on
> client services, let alone legal fees.  Given the longterm frustration of
> many community members about fundraising, it may be a very tough sell
> within our own broad community to have to raise more money for the purpose
> of hiring the staff and paying the bills to address undisclosed paid
> editing to the point that there is a genuine effect.
>
> Risker/Anne
>
> On 5 January 2017 at 13:53, David Gerard <dger...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I should add: I spent a few months following the various AFD queues on
> > WP lately, and MY GOODNESS THERE ARE SO MANY BLATANT SPAMMERS. What
> > Jytdog raises is an actual problem. The short reason for a lot of the
> > Problems with Wikipedia is actually "spammers mean we can't have nice
> > things".
> >
> >
> > - d.
> >
> >
> > On 2 January 2017 at 22:08, Jytdog <jytdogte...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Christophe
> > >
> > > Thanks for replying!
> > >
> > > This is something the board should be paying  attention to, as
> > undisclosed
> > > paid editing that causes scandal that reaches mainstream media on a
> > regular
> > > basis, damages the reputation of Wikipedia, and is something that both
> > Jimmy
> > > Wales and Sue Gardner (when she was ED) made strong public statements
> > about.
> > >
> > > See:
> > > * https://www.ft.com/content/3f726eba-bb6f-11e4-b95c-00144feab7de
> > > *
> > > http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/wikimedia-
> > foundation-employee-ousted-over-paid-editing/
> > > *
> > > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/
> > 2012-10-01/Paid_editing
> > > *
> > > http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/09/19/new-wikipedia-
> > scandal-uk-head-was-paid-to-promote-topics.html
> > >
> > > And there are many more references to this issue in mainstream media.
> > >
> > > Doing nothing, especially when WMF representatives make strong
> statements
> > > and there are legal remedies available (WMF legal sent a
> cease-and-desist
> > > order to Wiki-PR with regard to use of the Wikipedia name even before
> the
> > > ToU were strengthened) opens the WMF to criticism and makes those
> strong
> > > statements appear to be just empty rhetoric.  Action is possible.
> Where
> > is
> > > it?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > ------ Original Message ------
> > > From: "Christophe Henner" <chen...@wikimedia.org>
> > > To: "Wikimedia Mailing List" <wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
> > > Sent: 1/2/2017 3:51:49 AM
> > > Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Where is WMF with pursuing companies that
> > offer
> > > paid editing services
> > >
> > >> Heu
> > >>
> > >> To be fair it's a topic that isn't currently in our plate.
> > >>
> > >> So to be honest, from a board level, I can't really give you an answer
> > >> right now. As said before, there might be legal constraints we can't
> > >> foresee.
> > >>
> > >> I made a not to work on that topic, but it might take some time as the
> > >> current focus is on the strategy process.
> > >>
> > >> Have a very good day,
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> Le 2 janv. 2017 9:46 AM, "Gnangarra" <gnanga...@gmail.com> a écrit :
> > >>
> > >> Like most in western countries you'll find most of the WMF staff are
> > >> currently out of office so I wouldnt expect much back especially not
> > >> officially from them until after the 9th January.
> > >>
> > >> On 2 January 2017 at 16:42, Jytdog at Wikipedia <
> jytdogte...@gmail.com>
> > >> wrote:
> > >>
> > >>>  This is something that people can natter over endlessly.
> > >>>
> > >>>  The question is to the WMF board and management.  These are the
> people
> > >>> who
> > >>>  can authorize action or not.  Anything else is just talk.
> > >>>
> > >>>  Again - what discussions has the WMF had, at the corporate
> > >>> decision-making
> > >>>  level, about taking legal action against companies that advertise WP
> > >>>  editing services and that have no evidence of disclosure as required
> > >>> under
> > >>>  the ToU?
> > >>>
> > >>>  Thanks.
> > >>>
> > >>>  On Sun, Jan 1, 2017 at 11:04 PM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > >>>
> > >>>  > Good points, Gnangarra. I started to write out a reply before
> > >>> realizing
> > >>>  > that maybe I would give ideas to our adversaries, so I'll wait
> here
> > >>> for
> > >>>  > Legal to talk. Perhaps some of us can continue this conversation
> > >>> behind
> > >>>  > closed doors.
> > >>>  >
> > >>>  > Pine
> > >>>  >
> > >>>  >
> > >>>  > On Sun, Jan 1, 2017 at 7:59 PM, Gnangarra <gnanga...@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >>>  >
> > >>>  > > I think it would be nice for a more direct input from the WMF
> over
> > >>>  those
> > >>>  > > not following the Terms of use.
> > >>>  > >
> > >>>  > > I see some potential pitfalls, even in chasing companies that
> > charge
> > >>>  for
> > >>>  > > content;
> > >>>  > >
> > >>>  > >    - would this draw WMF into a legal editorial position
> > >>>  > >    - would it drive them to further hide their activities
> > >>>  > >    - what would damage would be done if a court says its ok for
> a
> > >>>  > >    company/individual to control its image even on Wikipedia. we
> > >>>  already
> > >>>  > > deal
> > >>>  > >    with the EUs right to vanish
> > >>>  > >
> > >>>  > > sometimes its better to not open the can.  I think a lot more
> > >>>  discussion
> > >>>  > > over the implications and impact is needed unfortunately some of
> > >>> that
> > >>>  can
> > >>>  > > only be behind closed doors it going to need community
> > >>> trust(something
> > >>>  I
> > >>>  > > think isnt all there at the moment),  before asking the WMF
> legal
> > to
> > >>>  > pick a
> > >>>  > > fight with anyone.
> > >>>  > >
> > >>>  > > On 2 January 2017 at 08:52, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > >>>  > >
> > >>>  > > > (: I think that Legal could at least describe in general terms
> > >>> what
> > >>>  > they
> > >>>  > > > are currently doing and have plans to do in the near future.
> > >>>  > > >
> > >>>  > > > If it turns out that the answers are "we aren't doing much and
> > we
> > >>>  > aren't
> > >>>  > > > planning to do more", then yes, asking the higher-ups to do
> > >>
> > >> something
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > about
> > >>>  > > > this sounds like a good idea. By the way, I think the timing
> for
> > >>
> > >> this
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > > discussion is good, because WMF should be in the early stages
> of
> > >>>  > > > formulating the 2017-2018 annual plan.
> > >>>  > > >
> > >>>  > > > Happy new year!
> > >>>  > > >
> > >>>  > > > Pine
> > >>>  > > >
> > >>>  > > >
> > >>>  > > > On Sun, Jan 1, 2017 at 3:53 PM, Jytdog at Wikipedia <
> > >>>  > > jytdogte...@gmail.com
> > >>>  > > > >
> > >>>  > > > wrote:
> > >>>  > > >
> > >>>  > > > > Pine, thanks for your reply, but Legal will not do anything
> > like
> > >>>  this
> > >>>  > > > > unless they are instructed by management.  That is why I
> > >>> directed
> > >>>  my
> > >>>  > > > > question to the board and management.
> > >>>  > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > I've asked at Jimbo's talk page (bad timing, archived over
> the
> > >>>  > > holidays,
> > >>>  > > > > will repost) and at Katherine's WP talk page.
> > >>>  > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > Am very interested to hear from the board and/or WMF
> > management
> > >>> on
> > >>>  > > this.
> > >>>  > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > Jytdog
> > >>>  > > > >
> > >>>  > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2016 10:50:07 -0800
> > >>>  > > > > > From: Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com>
> > >>>  > > > > > To: Wikimedia Mailing List <wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.
> org
> > >,
> > >>>  > > > > >         Wikimedia Legal <le...@wikimedia.org>
> > >>>  > > > > > Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Where is WMF with pursuing
> > >>> companies
> > >>>  > that
> > >>>  > > > > >         offer paid editing services
> > >>>  > > > > > Message-ID:
> > >>>  > > > > >         <CAF=dyJhC8UqxkOY9FG9diGyobdgbbQaK_
> > >>>  > > > +M=m9E5Bo3aysPAOw@mail.gmail.
> > >>>  > > > > > com>
> > >>>  > > > > > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Forwarding to Legal. I'm aware of the general problem of
> > >>>  > undisclosed
> > >>>  > > > COI
> > >>>  > > > > > editing, and agree that there should be some enforcement
> of
> > >>
> > >> this,
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > > > > particularly given that WMF wants to use Wikipedia's NPOV
> > and
> > >>> RS
> > >>>  > > > policies
> > >>>  > > > > > as part of WMF's marketing. I also wonder if WMF might be
> > able
> > >>
> > >> to
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > > recover
> > >>>  > > > > > the costs of enforcement expenses somehow, perhaps by
> > >>> including
> > >>
> > >> a
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > > > statement
> > >>>  > > > > > in the TOS that says that people and their employers who
> > >>> engage
> > >>>  in
> > >>>  > > > > certain
> > >>>  > > > > > types of undisclosed COI editing must (1) reimburse WMF
> for
> > >>>  > attorney
> > >>>  > > > > fees,
> > >>>  > > > > > court fees, and other related costs of investigations and
> > >>>  > > enforcement,
> > >>>  > > > > and
> > >>>  > > > > > (2) forfeit all revenue from their related activities to
> > WMF.
> > >>> My
> > >>>  > > guess
> > >>>  > > > is
> > >>>  > > > > > that significant financial penalties would be a bigger
> > >>> deterrent
> > >>>  > than
> > >>>  > > > > > name-and-shame and cease-and-desist letters.
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Pine
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > ------------------------------
> > ------------------------------
> > >>>  > > ----------
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2016 03:50:03 -0500
> > >>>  > > > > > From: Jytdog at Wikipedia <jytdogte...@gmail.com>
> > >>>  > > > > > To: wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> > >>>  > > > > > Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Where is WMF with pursuing
> companies
> > >>> that
> > >>>  > > offer
> > >>>  > > > > >         paid    editing services
> > >>>  > > > > > Message-ID:
> > >>>  > > > > >         <CAAOzcj3cLaJOhvV6LvtqPTtULdj+
> > >>>  9Ccanmht7EJQVLv+Lqa=Ww@mail.
> > >>>  > > > > > gmail.com>
> > >>>  > > > > > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > I am interested to learn if WMF management or the board
> has
> > >>>  > discussed
> > >>>  > > > > > taking legal action against companies that offer services
> to
> > >>
> > >> edit
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > > > Wikipedia
> > >>>  > > > > > and that have no on-Wiki presence disclosing their edits
> (in
> > >>>  en-WP
> > >>>  > at
> > >>>  > > > > > least) per the Terms of Use.  We all know the companies
> and
> > >>
> > >> their
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > > > websites,
> > >>>  > > > > > where they use the Wikipedia name, etc.  I have looked and
> > >>> never
> > >>>  > > found
> > >>>  > > > > > disclosure by any of those companies in en-WP.  I have
> > looked
> > >>
> > >> and
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > found
> > >>>  > > > > no
> > >>>  > > > > > public evidence of WMF legal engaging with these
> companies,
> > >>
> > >> other
> > >>>
> > >>>  > > than
> > >>>  > > > > > Wiki-PR.
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Some en-Wiki editors recently identified a long-term paid
> > >>> editor
> > >>>  > and
> > >>>  > > > > > brought the matter to ANI:  thread is here
> > >>>  > > > > > <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:
> > >>>  > > > > > Administrators%27_noticeboard/Incidents&oldid=757170150#
> > >>>  > > > > > Earflaps_-_accusations_of_being_an_undisclosed_paid_
> > >>>  > > > > > editor_and_a_sock_puppet>.
> > >>>  > > > > > This brought this whole thing to mind, and is something I
> > have
> > >>>  been
> > >>>  > > > > wanting
> > >>>  > > > > > to ask about.
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Three questions:
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Has this been discussed, and if so, what has/have the
> > outcomes
> > >>>  > been?
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Also, is there budget for WMF legal to take action against
> > >>> such
> > >>>  > > > > companies?
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > If not, would you all please consider that?
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > > Thanks.
> > >>>  > > > > >
> > >>>  > > > > _______________________________________________
> > >>>  > > > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > >>>  https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > >>>  > > > > wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
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> > >>>  > > > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/
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> > >>>  > >
> > >>>  > > --
> > >>>  > > GN.
> > >>>  > > President Wikimedia Australia
> > >>>  > > WMAU: http://www.wikimedia.org.au/wiki/User:Gnangarra
> > >>>  > > Photo Gallery: http://gnangarra.redbubble.com
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> > >> --
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> > >> President Wikimedia Australia
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> > >> Photo Gallery: http://gnangarra.redbubble.com
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