Wikipedia’s paid editors

Wikipedia is produced by an online community of thousands of volunteers. The internet encyclopedia is one of the top-ten most-visited websites in the world. Its editors are not supposed to write or update articles for pay, but the rule is difficult to enforce.

On the eve of its stock market flotation, an (unnamed) American company approached Mark Bray, who lives in Sheffield, the steel town in the north of England. The company required the 28-year-old’s help on a matter the directors felt could affect the share price: its Wikipedia page. Short, uninteresting and uninspiring, the page was in dire need of some pizzazz.

So Mr Bray advised the company how to polish, update and expand its entry in the crowdsourced online encyclopedia. He did this for pay. ….

Wikipedia’s beauty is that it is free, according to Katherine Maher, chief communications officer at Wikimedia. “Paid editing disrupts the values. Wikipedia is a volunteer collaborative community. If it was paid it would be a different site.”

Last year, a Wikimedia employee stepped down after it was discovered that she had been editing on behalf of paying clients.

Emma Jacobs, “Editors-for-hire on Wikipedia“, Financial Times, 27 February 2015 (metered paywall).

The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, with headquarters in San Francisco, California, operates Wikipedia and other wikis.

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