Hi Sundar and Ravi,

On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:00 AM, Ravishankar <ravidre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Achal and Samuel,
> Thank you for your mails.
> ***What is the board's view on paid editing?***

The foundation doesn't pay people to edit, but some third party groups
have staff who contribute to WP as part of their job (say, sharing
information about archives or cultural collections), or contractors
who help with translation, from time to time.  Many more groups fund
topic-specific projects which have as one of their outcomes the
improvement of wikipedia (from class projects on a topic to
academic-group decisions to revise a wikipedia category as part of
their review of material in their field to authors or publishers
publishing their material in part via wikibooks).

( and the line is not always clear -- the Foundation has accepted
grants in the past to support specific topics -- one to support
creation of Wikijunior, years ago; and one to set up an award/contest
for great illustrations.  Does this count as 'paid editing'?  we
generally take the view that finding ways to recognize great work,
encourage new contributors to get involved, reduce barriers to entry,
or bring people together for face-to-face meetings, are useful ways to
support community growth. )

These sorts of content questions are generally left up to communities
to address.
There is no official foundation view about whether this is good or
not.  In my personal opinion, this type of effort has been successful
at times and unsuccessful at others in contributing to the world's
useful educational material.  And again in my personal opinion,
contributors should not be blacklisted just because they are
contributing while 'at work' -- but they should be expected to follow
the same style and conflict-of-interest guidelines as everyone else.

> We were scratching our heads for almost 4,5 months before "discovering"
> that Google was doing this. This is not in anyway transparent.

That is surprising.  So for 4.5 months you knew that some people were
submitting strange translated articles while ignoring their talk
pages, but didn't know why?  links to related user pages/contributions
would be helpful.

> the community dynamics (Regular Wikipedians Vs Google Translators?

I think we set a good standard in the Swahili project for how
translation can be useful: as a context that draws new people in to
become long-term editors, by lowering the barrier to entry for
starting a new article.

> Why preferential treatment for Google translators?

There is none that I know of (unless you have a community policy about this).

Earlier, Sundar wrote:
> The most important of the issues stem from the pillars of Wikipedia...
> For Wikipedia, the basic necessity is readable and meaningful content
> added through a process that doesn't subvert the Wiki way.

Sure.  But you can speak to the translators from a position of
strength -- if they are not contributing in a positive way, their
contributions won't be kept in the project.

> 1. The quality is abysmal. Too mechanical and ungrammatical more than 50% of
> the time. The process is hands-off, the translators don't even read the page
> that they've dumped.

Ok, so they need better translators working on the project.  If a page
is so ungrammatical as to be no better than a redlink, does it fall
under one of your deletion policies?

> 3. The pages are broken with infinite erroneous redlinks and missing templates
> due to an easy-to-fix bug in the kit.

You can always instruct them to suspend the project on Tamil until
this is fixed.  "we won't be able to accept new articles with the
following problems.  please fix this bug first."

You, Ravi, Mayooranathan, பரிதிமதி, Karthik, Nat, &c are the project
admins -- you don't need any special 'permission' to revert the work
of an unhelpful editor.  But please bear in mind that these /could/ be
productive contributors, and it may be worth mentoring them a bit more
rather than asking them to leave.

> 4. The basic premise of the team is 'something's better than nothing'. It's 
> not.

I am not a deletionist, but even inclusionists will agree that
'something' can be worse than nothing when it is incomprehensible.

> 5. Their process requirement: you can pick subjects, give guidelines, but we
> can't guarantee anything. We don't carry any responsibility to improve the
> articles once dumped and we don't want you to mess with them.

They are in no position to ask you to 'not mess with' an article; why
would this issue come up?  They may have no responsibility to improve
articles, but you likewise have no responsibility to keep them.

> I also request the community here and the foundation folks to reflect on the
> policy issues: how can we let someone post articles of no acceptable level 
> which
> they won't edit further? Tomorrow, if a vandal does the same, won't we block
> them?

Vandalism is blocked because the edits themselves are harmful.  People
who post unwikified nonsense are rarely blocked, but their work is
often reverted or blanked.

> On top of this, they casually mentioned some sort of agreement or contract
> with the foundation, but decline to give any information regarding that. 
> Either
> they don't get what Wikipedia is or they don't care about it.

That sounds like a 'game of telephone' understanding of the
discussions Google has had about how to improve GTT so that it is more
useful to Wikipedians, and the successful community collaborations
that have happened elsewhere (cf. Swahili Wikipedia).   Having met the
project manager for GTT, I can say: he *really* does want to make it
useful to Wikipedia.  That doesn't mean that the people running each
subproject care in the same way.

Again: You have no obligation to accept articles that do not meet
community standards.

> On a positive note, we still have our channel open with them and we're going 
> to
> propose that they approach universities or the Classical Tamil Institute in
> Chennai who undertake such projects employing retired Tamil professors and
> teachers.

This sounds like a great idea.


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