Wikipedian-for-hire must make clearer disclosure, says Wikipedia community & foundation

In August, longtime Wikipedia-editor-for-hire David King appealed to the broad community of Wikipedia editors and, simultaneously, to the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation, asking if it was OK for him to skip disclosing specifics called for by the site’s Terms of Use (the identity of the company and other entities involved in the financial transaction). The answer came swiftly in both venues: “no,” said Wikipedia’s volunteer administrators; “no,” said a recently-elected Trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation; “no,” said a staff lawyer for the Foundation — it’s not OK.

Both the formal language of the Terms of Use, and the consensus among Wikipedians about what constitutes proper behavior, clearly stated that King’s approach was out of compliance. The Terms of Use amendment uses unambiguous language: “…must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation…” It was enacted on the strength of a thorough, public debate (a process which was clearly legitimate, even though I opposed the outcome). And in case that’s not enough, the implications of the Terms of Use amendment are further clarified in an accompanying FAQ.

King acknowledged the rebuke the next day, and committed to adjusting the approach his firm Ethical Wiki takes to improve its compliance with the Terms of Use.

About Pete Forsyth

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, and a Wikipedia expert. Full bio here: wikistrategies.net/pete-forsyth
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