Critical issues presentations/Found in Translation: Comparing paid editing policies in the top Wikipedia language editions

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
Submission no. 217
Title of the submission

Found in Translation: Comparing paid editing policies in the top Wikipedia language editions

Author of the submission
  • William Beutler
  • Andrew Lih
Country of origin

United States of America; United States of America


Policy, Projects

  • Interwiki
  • Guidelines
  • COI
  • Translation

How consistent or varied are paid editing policies across Wikipedia's different language editions? This presentation describes what we found when we looked at the top 30 language communities in Wikipedia and how this might help communities chart a future path for their paid editing policies.

The English Wikipedia's "Conflict of interest" (COI) guideline is arguably one of the community's most scrutinized behavioral guidelines. In recent years, it has been augmented with corollary advice pages, impacted by WMF's Terms of Use changes, and even rewritten to a significant degree. It is also unusual as the only issue for which Jimmy Wales has offered a more stringent set of standards than the official guideline. Considering the repeated controversies over "paid advocacy" editing, and keen interest from PR and marketing professionals, we can expect it to be the subject of debate for the foreseeable future.

However, considerably less attention has focused on how non-English language editions handle the same set of circumstances. Community members who contribute only in English may be wholly unaware of how some European language editions, particularly German and Italian, have taken a different path. And many typical English Wikipedia editors may be astonished to learn that, in some cases, shared accounts named for a company are not only permitted, they are actually encouraged.

Until now, a complete global view of Wikipedia's COI rules has been spotty and anecdotal. This presentation summarizes a research project inspired by a discussion session at Wikimania 2015 and conducted by the authors in 2015 and 2016 to survey the COI rules in the top 30 language editions. This proposal represents the complete study previewed at the 2015 WikiConference USA in Washington, DC.



Interested attendees and comments

Notes: Survey available at

Interested attendees: