Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia has gone promotional.Not the site itself, but those using the site to create a profit for themselves.
Founder Jim Wales (known to his “loyal” fans as Jimbo), has always taken a stance that no one can make money from Wikipedia and has vowed to ban anyone who does.
However, Jimbo has created a monster that can no longer be controlled.
The persistence of article spammers fighting with those editors who hate paid editing have caused the accumulation of so many policies and guidelines, that it is almost impossible for someone to create an article unless they have years of experience with editing the site.
Unfortunately for Jimbo, he no longer sets the policies that are followed on Wikipedia. By design, Wikipedia is set up to run on a consensus basis. This means that policies, rules, and guidelines are implemented or revoked based on what the community of Wikipedia editors feel should be done.
By creating the site this way, Jimbo has painted himself into a corner where he is only a single vote in the Wikipedia community.
Of course he has his loyal followers who cling to his talk page like lap dogs, but the majority of editors do not see him as a credible influence on policy. Citing an admin that I had the pleasure of speaking with about numerous articles that I had written, “Jimbo is not where Wikipedia is evolving.”
Wikipedia has long been used as a promotional tool. People and companies see it as a social media website where they want to have their profile posted. They know that Wikipedia ranks high in search engines and believe that if they could only get on Wikipedia then they could become more notable.
However, Wikipedia is designed to work in the opposite fashion. People and companies must first become notable by way of being talked about in multiple sources that are credible and independent of the person or company. Once they become notable by Wikipedia standards, they would then qualify to have an “unbiased” and “non-promotional” article written about them.
It is those people who try to spam themselves onto Wikipedia that has caused alarm in the Wikipedia community. The pendulum has swung in the last couple of years from allowing just about anything mentioned in a source to have a Wikipedia article to almost having to send the Wikimedia Foundation a blood sample and DNA chart to prove your notability.
The spam articles that have been posted over the years have caused many editors to judge any article as promotional right from the start. This makes it difficult for those following the rules to create an article as the cards are stacked against them.
While there is no official policy on paid Wikipedia editing, there are many editors and admins who cite the Wikipedia policy on conflict of interest. Here is how their logic works (I think as I share a different viewpoint): “Anyone who is connected to a topic must make sure that they write from a neutral point of view.
Being paid to write on a topic gives you a strong connection to the topic and therefore paid editors cannot write from a neutral point of view.” What? The logic displayed about conflict of interest contains numerous fallacies. The true conclusion statement should be that paid editors must make sure that they write from a neutral point of view, not that they can’t write from a neutral point of view.
Unfortunately, paid editors who are aware and follow the policy on conflict of interest and neutral point of view are still considered to be spammers and given little chance when they do disclose a conflict of interest. Disclosing yourself as a paid editor often leads to leeches who have not found a way to make money from the site and spend their time trying to destroy everyone who does, regardless of how well an article is written or how notable the topic is.
Another point about conflict of interest is that editors should not edit their own articles if they have one on the site. Apparently Jimbo didn’t know this policy when he was previously caught editing his own article. In 2005, Jimbo edited his own profile 18 times and removed mention of Larry Sanger as co-founder of the site. There have also been internal issues with Wikipedia employees being paid to edit the site.
In September of 2012, there was a quite a bit of media attention surrounding two Wikipedia employees (yes, they do have some paid personnel – including Jimbo who makes more than $50K per event where he is a speaker) who were running a PR business on the side and editing Wikipedia on behalf of their clients.
For Jimbo and his community of editors, the water has already overflowed. As they have created a community where you need to be a legal professional to understand the hundreds of policies and guidelines, they have essentially created the marketplace for paid editors.
As long as consensus is the rule of Wikipedia, there will never be an official policy banning paid editing. Because of this, it would be wise that everyone who gets paid does so with integrity by not creating spam; and in return, editors who police the articles should look at them objectively and not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
As for me, I have made money from Wikipedia and will continue to do so as long as the community continues to create the environment for it. With each article that is deleted by the community, there is another client looking to pay me to get the article back up.
For every article that is tagged, there is a marketing company contacting me to re-write the article and remove the tag. For every person who tries to find my account and block it, there are 10 emails that I am responding to, giving quotes to write their article. No one can make money from Wikipedia?
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