In June 2014, Wikipedia made a big change that affects the crowdsourcing community by adding a new amendment to its terms of service. It requires anyone who receives compensation for editing Wikipedia articles to divulge this information. Gone are the days for business stakeholders and marketers making anonymous edits for the companies they represent. Instead, Wikipedians are required to “disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation.” To read the complete regulations, visit Wikipedia’s FAQs page.
This new regulation opens the door to a lot of questions.
Why did this happen?
Wikipedia prides itself on being a reliable online encyclopedia written by the people for the people. In order to maintain the neutrality and trust of the website, this new amendment was enacted as a way to prevent conflicts of interest. By asking editors to disclose paid contributions, it keeps a level of transparency when it comes to potentially biased edits.
Does this change impact everyone?
No, it doesn’t. Unpaid volunteers and people contributing for fun can continue editing Wikipedia as usual. If a client, organization, or another entity is compensating you (through “money, goods, or services”) to make an edit on their behalf, you must disclose this information. Disclosure requirements are a little more lax when it comes to GLAM (gallery, library, archive, museum) employees. For example, if you are a librarian asked by your employer to write about your general area of expertise on Wikipedia (and not about your employer), you can do so without disclosing your association. For more information, read Wikipedia’s FAQs on GLAM employees.
How do I disclose my contributions?
If you are being compensated for your Wikipedia contribution, you simply need to state whom you are affiliated with and the nature of your relationship. For instance, if your company asks you to edit their Wikipedia page, you could state, “I am editing this page on behalf of X.” This disclosure needs to be made in one of three places:
- Your Wikipedia user page.
- In the “edit summary box,” before saving an edit of a Wikipedia article.
- On the appropriate talk page, before or after making a contribution.
What happens if I don’t disclose this information?
You risk having your Wikipedia article flagged and/or getting banned from making any edits to Wikipedia.
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