Last October, Wikipedia signaled that it was concerned about biased editing sneaking into its pages, specifically that people paid to edit Wikipedia entries were affecting the neutrality and reliability of the crowd-sourced encyclopedia.
So the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and its sister projects, started work on stronger rules to guard against “black hat” practices.
Naturally it turned to its community, and after a robust debate on the site “resulting in 320,000 words of discussion in various languages and 6.3 million views of the proposal,” the foundation today published updated terms of service that require disclosure of conflicts of interest.
The updated terms now require editors to “disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation” on a relevant user page, talk page or edit summary.
“This amendment intends to provide guidance and information for good-faith editors; to assist the community and Foundation in evaluating and handling paid advocacy editing; and to allow responsiveness to local conditions and needs,” wrote the Wikimedia Foundation Board in a post on the site. “It complements existing rules and policies that work together to maintain and improve the trustworthiness of Wikimedia content.
At the same time, the foundation doesn’t want to discourage first-time editors, those not familiar with terms and especially the kind of scholarly editor who works for galleries, libraries, archives, museums (GLAM) and universities. The amendment isn’t “intended to impact participants in GLAM projects, or professors, when they are writing about topics of general interest on their own, rather than writing about their own institutions while being compensated directly quid pro quo, for example.”
Read more details about the change in Wikipedia’s FAQ.