Making a change to our Terms of Use: Requirements for disclosure

Today, we’re making an important change to our Terms of Use. This change will clarify and strengthen the prohibition against concealing paid editing on all Wikimedia projects.

Half a billion people use Wikipedia every month as their source of knowledge. Wikipedia’s community editors work tirelessly at maintaining the accuracy, transparency, and objectivity of the articles, which requires identifying conflicts of interests and removing bias. Editing-for-pay can be a source of such bias, particularly when the edits are promotional in nature, or in the interest of a paying client. The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to continuing to support the Wikipedia community’s efforts to keep articles free of promotional content.

What’s changing?

This change adds a new subsection to Section 4, Refraining from Certain Activities, on “Paid Contributions without Disclosure.” The Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation has issued a letter explaining the change. We have also prepared an FAQ that helps explain how the change applies in specific instances. We encourage you to read the full update, letter, and FAQ, but the most important points are:

  • If you edit as a volunteer and for fun, nothing changes. Please keep editing! You’re part of an amazing community of volunteers contributing to an unprecedented resource of free information available to the whole world.
  • If you are employed by a gallery, library, archive, museum (GLAM), or similar institution that may pay employees to make good faith contributions in your area of expertise and not about your institution, you are also welcome to edit! The FAQ provides more guidance on when you should provide disclosure.
  • If you are paid to edit, you will need to disclose your paid editing to comply with the new Terms of Use. You need to add your affiliation to your edit summary, user page, or talk page, to fairly disclose your perspective. You’ll want to read the FAQ to learn more.
  • If you are paid to edit, other rules beyond the Terms of Use may also apply. Specific policies on individual Wikimedia projects, or relevant laws in your country (such as those prohibiting fraudulent advertising), may require further disclosure or prohibit paid advocacy editing altogether. Details on the legal issues and risk associated with undisclosed paid advocacy editing may be found in this FAQ.
  • Individual Wikimedia projects may discuss and implement alternative disclosure policies appropriate to their particular needs, as explained at greater length in the FAQ.

Why are we making a change?

As explained in October of 2013, we believe that undisclosed paid advocacy editing is a black hat practice that can threaten the trust of Wikimedia’s volunteers and readers. We have serious concerns about the way that such editing affects the neutrality and reliability of Wikipedia.

The change to the Terms of Use will address these concerns in a variety of ways. First, it will help educate and explain to good-faith editors how they may continue to edit in the spirit of the movement and mission, through simple disclosure of their affiliation. Second, it will empower the community to address the issue of paid editing in an informed way by helping identify edits that should receive additional scrutiny. Finally, it will provide an additional tool to the community and Foundation to enforce existing rules about conflicts of interest and paid editing.

How did we make the change?

The Terms of Use sets out rules for how nearly half a billion monthly users engage with Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. The current Terms of Use are the result of an extensive community collaboration in 2011.

We periodically review the Terms to ensure they are responsive to changes in the law and on the Wikimedia projects. To address community and Board concerns about paid editing, the Foundation proposed an amendment to the existing Terms of Use in February of this year. The Terms of Use already prohibited “deceptive activities,” such as misrepresentation, impersonation, and fraud. The original proposal was intended to help ensure compliance with these rules by requiring any users who “receive or expect to receive” direct compensation for their edits to disclose their employer, client, and affiliation.

Throughout February and March, the Wikimedia community extensively discussed the issue of undisclosed paid editing, resulting in 320,000 words of discussion in various languages and 6.3 million views of the proposal. The discussion was overwhelmingly supportive of the change. It also provided constructive criticisms that helped refine the amendment, and led us to improve our planned FAQ to provide more context and better examples.

At the meeting of the WMF Board of Trustees in April, members of the Board reviewed the change and results of the public consultation. After their discussion, they approved the amendment. The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the amendment, and remain open to changes as necessary to improve it.

What happens next?

This change is effective immediately. We are notifying all users with banner messages on all Wikimedia projects.

If you have any comments, or would like to discuss this change further, please join the conversation on the Meta talk page for the Terms of Use.

Thanks everyone who has contributed to the discussion on this important issue. Your concerns elevated and clarified the issue in a manner that helped improve the original proposed amendment. Your input and feedback ensured a strong, yet appropriate, policy that we expect will strengthen the projects overall.

Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel

Luis Villa, Deputy General Counsel

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

 

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174 Comments on Making a change to our Terms of Use: Requirements for disclosure

Dusty Middleton 2 months

Mahalo wikipedia. I hope to donate exponetially more money to you every year of my life.
Thank you for allowing us humans to educate ourselves on anything and everything 24/7. Aloha

ENRIQUE HRABINA 2 months

REALICE ALGUNAS MODIICACIONES, PORQUE ERAN INEXACTAS Y AGREGUE MAS DATOS IMPORTANTES .
GRACIAS
ENRIQUE HRABINA

Dany Oy' 2 months

Je suis fière du Cérveau humain chaque foi que je suis sure votre site, les connaissances exposés; la façon dont c’est rédogé, et ce souci d’amélioration comme maintenant. Merci pour vos effort, de contribué largement à nous éloignez de l’ignorance. Thank you

Jeremy Withrington 2 months

When I contribute my pennyworth towards funding Wikipedia’s work, I do not intend to support the propagation of the views of sectional interests. I use Wikipedia almost every day. Wikimedia are doing the right thing.

Sisil Miyuranga 2 months

Thank you!

maria 2 months

los quiero

maria 2 months

soy española no entiendo ni mierda

Gafoor 2 months

can you pls include hindi language

Robert Benjamin 2 months

Thank you for this change. I applaud you for it and feel that your citation of the need for the change is right on target. I will continue to support (and donate to) Wikipedia (as my funds permit).

Luna Lovegood 2 months

bon, men Poukisa sa a se tout nesesè?

R. J. Landry 2 months

Most informative site on the web. Love it!!!

evisekkk 2 months

potrebuji zacit neco delat neumim anglicky vse je v angl.to pak nemuzu nic psat kdyz se s nekym spojim budu rad

عبدالسلام حسين 2 months

صراحة لقد استفدت من هذا الموقع..ادعوا الاخرين للاستفاده كذلك..شكرا للقائمين عليه

Jill Welch 2 months

I say I am his assistant. But I am his mother, and enjoy updated Mike’s info. So No I am not paid unless you want to count my christmas presents. He usually gets me a part of a cow, or a donkey or something to help feed a village in another country. No fancy presents for his mom. LOL Have a great day and thanks for all your hard work

Ingrid Nyeboe 2 months

Excellent changes.

Joy 2 months

By profession I am a content writer, and I write articles and contents for many of my clients related to their website, products or services, Wikipedia is one site that is my first choice when it comes to search about any topic, I find almost all topic posted here with good references and logic.

Thanks Wiki Team – The only thing I would like to see with this site is a customer support center, where someone can chat or mail at and get quick reply from the team

Brian Gilbert 2 months

The immense size of Wiiki limts your management of it. You might consider increasing computerised management. By that I mean editing its content to a form of English suitable for this purpose. Let’s call it Wiki English consisting of Wiki Words and Wiki Grammar,
1: A word represents an idea.Wiki Words would all be defined in the Wiki Dictionary. If not already there then a definition would have to be offerred by the conributor. The Wiki Dictionary would itself be written in Wiki English.
Few people realise that a word need not necessarily be a group of one or more letters but it is true and must be taken into account. For example a picture, sound and an icon are words.
2. Wiki English grammar would be computer compatible. It should include all logical expressions.
3. Contributions can thus be validated by computer and constructive error messages returned to the contributor and/or routed to your administrators.
4. Whole contributions can be validated for consisteny within the contribution, compatibility with other items in Wiki and conformity to scientific standards.
5. A reliabilty rating can be given to items. When a group of rated items is used to prove a point then the individual ratings can be used to compute the overall reliability of the point being made,

Hopefully you have got the idea and have people better than me to implement it. If I am right it will enable you to increase your coverage or reduce your manpower requirements.

Scientists hopefully will adopt Wiki English for their papers.

Brian Gilbert
Retired Computer Consultant

Serena 2 months

I am writing a book on mental health and how to deal with it, I have used wikipedia as a source, I have stated that I have found the information on wikipeadia, will I be infringing on copyright laws or is this fair use?

Jari Ullah 2 months

Great change in terms of services.

andres lizano 2 months

good

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