Wikipedia Ethics

Three Steps to Ethical Wikipedia Marketing

1. The Law

In a nutshell: Disclose your affiliation to the subject

Step 1: Comply with the Law

The Rules
Wikipedia's Terms of Use requires that you disclose your affiliation with the subject of a page before getting involved in it. The corresponding FAQ cites covert marketing regulations and other laws that prohibit commercial interests from acting as though they are crowd-sourced members of the public.

The Consequences
Violating these legal rules can result in a badge of shame on the Wikipedia page, legal action, or other problems.

How to Tell
Ask for a link to the user profile of the Wikipedia account that will be used. Look for a clear disclosure on that profile of who they work for.

2. Wikipedia Policy

In a nutshell: Rely primarily on proposing and discussing changes.

Step 2: Follow Wikipedia Policy

The Rules
Wikipedia's Conflict of Interest Guideline very strongly discourages directly editing a page you have a vested interest in. Instead, it says to propose changes and share content, so independent, crowd-sourced editors have an opportunity to weigh in.

The Consequences
Directly editing the page may prompt editors to reverse your edits or damage your relationship with editors that control your page.

How to Tell
Ask for an example of a page the Wikipedia vendor has worked on. Then click the "Talk" tab in the upper-left corner and look for a discussion by them proposing changes.

3. Wikipedia Ethos

In a nutshell: Propose the same edits an independent editor would.

Step 3: Adopt the Wikipedia Ethos

The Rules
The Arbitration Committee (the Supreme Court of Wikipedia) unanimously ruled that you have to comply with the intent and spirit of the conflict of interest guideline. This means avoiding advocacy and proposing the same changes an independent editor would.

The Consequences
Most saavy editors can tell when your content misrepresents the cited sources or glazes over negative information. This can be seen as a betrayal of trust that damages your relationship with the editor and prevents you from successfully getting changes implemented.

How to Tell
Ask the Wikipedia vendor how controversial or critical information published by the media is handled.