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> Why Wikipedia Needs Marketers, by David King (a self-described "paid editor")
thekohser
post Fri 16th December 2011, 7:05pm
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QUOTE(carbuncle @ Fri 16th December 2011, 12:01pm) *

I guess he forgot Analytics447.

You mean "User:Analytics447".
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Michaeldsuarez
post Sat 17th December 2011, 1:30pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Fri 16th December 2011, 2:05pm) *

QUOTE(carbuncle @ Fri 16th December 2011, 12:01pm) *

I guess he forgot Analytics447.

You mean "User:Analytics447".


King says that the account is related to his, but he also says that he doesn't operate it. He says that an SAS employee operates it.

This post has been edited by Michaeldsuarez: Sat 17th December 2011, 1:35pm
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carbuncle
post Sat 17th December 2011, 6:02pm
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QUOTE(Michaeldsuarez @ Sat 17th December 2011, 1:30pm) *

QUOTE(thekohser @ Fri 16th December 2011, 2:05pm) *

QUOTE(carbuncle @ Fri 16th December 2011, 12:01pm) *

I guess he forgot Analytics447.

You mean "User:Analytics447".


King says that the account is related to his, but he also says that he doesn't operate it. He says that an SAS employee operates it.

If he says it, it must be true, but I am confused why he says on his website "SAS Institute (in progress)" if he isn't the one doing the editing.
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David44357
post Mon 19th December 2011, 5:34pm
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Hi All,

Michael asked me to register and post here. Responses to each inset. I won't be monitoring this string, so if you have any important questions, comments or contributions, I suggest just using my Talk page.

FTC Issues
TheKohser, SocialFresh seems to have a habit of randomly deleting my comments. Some kind of technical issue. The FTC settled with a firm last year that was "impersonating" disinterested consumers by posting "company endorsements" (fake reviews) online without identifying themselves as paid advocates. This seems like a carbon copy to me of anonymous bad faith edits on Wikipedia where marketers are impersonating volunteer contributors to post company endorsements. As far as I know, the FTC hasn't really made a stand on the issue, but you can bet organizations that do it systematically for profit would be their first targets.

I've been asked to write a full-length op-ed for the SignPost, in which I'm going to ask readers to report anonymous, bad faith COI edits to the FTC. There's no reason to punish people who just didn't know better, but even Pottinger said they didn't think they did anything illegal. People need to know that it is.

The Website
It's still a work in progress. The "logo" is not Wikipedia's logo. It's just a big "W" on a grey gear that is licensed for free on Wikimedia Commons. The whitepaper is geared towards marketers, but if anyone from the volunteer community has feedback, I'd be interested in modifying it to make sure the suggestions are in-line. One Wikipedian pinged me on Twitter and said it looked good.

@Cla68
We shouldn't expect companies behaving unethically by censoring their Wikipedia article to appreciate transparency. We can only expect them to fear the repurcussions, but that won't happen until the FTC takes action. As Kelly mentioned, it could also just be fans.

@Carbuncle
That username started out as a company handle with a guardian to make sure any edits were made in compliance with Wikipedia's rules. DS notified us that it needed to be on an individual (oh yah, duh). So we modified the text to identify the internal person that would be taking responsibility long-term. My contract was just about over at the time.

It's not just a new website like TheKohser pointed out, it's a draft work in progress. You guys must really be digging on me to have found it. Then again, I think I updated my LinkedIn already. I could see both ways. It's common practice for PR agencies to list every organization they've ever supported in any way. I could take it off the site, but that would only raise greater suspicion.

Michael said the account hasn't done anything wrong as far as he knows. If there's some issue, feel free to discuss on the Talk page using civility and Assume Good Faith. It shouldn't be a problem to post "with help from King4057" or something if that's needed.

Random Rant
I think a lot of animosity against paid-for writers is this idea that we're getting paid to do something they're doing for free. Supporting a company effort is very different than volunteer work. It involves talking to legal, developing company policy, working with experts, doing extensive research, a lot more collaboration with the community and most of all good consulting. Having editing wars with a client isn't any funner than it is on Wikipedia, but hiring a Wikipedian means the editing war can take place offline and an ethics guardian can explain why they need to contribute once then leave it to the community without censoring or controlling the content.

Parting Notes
In an era of 140 characters and everyone digesting information in "three quick tips," Wikipedia is an oasis of really detailed, well thought-out arguments, points and conversation (sometimes). I'm disapointed this forum is full of so much ad hominem, general nastiness and poor attitudes. Yah, surely I've put a target on my head.

I don't know the history with FT2 or Edelman. Who cares? We could do a lot more good by discussing the issues intellectually instead of acting like a bunch of schoolgirls spreading gossip and talking about all the other people we don't like.

I think we can all agree vandalism, editing wars, promotional content, salvaged advert, the burden of policing COI, etc. are all problems. We could be a part of the solution, help create a better encyclopedia, or well... we could all do this. Whatever this is.
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thekohser
post Mon 19th December 2011, 9:34pm
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QUOTE(David44357 @ Mon 19th December 2011, 12:34pm) *

...if you have any important questions, comments or contributions, I suggest just using my Talk page.

For many of us, David, that is not a viable option.


QUOTE(David44357 @ Mon 19th December 2011, 12:34pm) *
FTC Issues
TheKohser, SocialFresh seems to have a habit of randomly deleting my comments. Some kind of technical issue. The FTC settled with a firm last year that was "impersonating" disinterested consumers by posting "company endorsements" (fake reviews) online without identifying themselves as paid advocates. This seems like a carbon copy to me of anonymous bad faith edits on Wikipedia where marketers are impersonating volunteer contributors to post company endorsements. As far as I know, the FTC hasn't really made a stand on the issue, but you can bet organizations that do it systematically for profit would be their first targets.

I've been asked to write a full-length op-ed for the SignPost, in which I'm going to ask readers to report anonymous, bad faith COI edits to the FTC. There's no reason to punish people who just didn't know better, but even Pottinger said they didn't think they did anything illegal. People need to know that it is.

"The consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission by the respondents of a law violation. In its revised endorsements and testimonials guide issued last year, the FTC ruled that an online post by a person connected to the seller, or someone who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product or service, should disclose the material connection the reviewer shares with the seller of the product or service. This applies to employees of both the seller and the seller's advertising agency."

That you would equate a personal product review (an excellent example of "original research", which is not tolerated on Wikipedia) with the compilation of reliable secondary sources in an encyclopedic format, suggests to me, David, that you might not have a very good handle on how paid editors typically construct content for Wikipedia. At least in my experience, I have never published a "company endorsement" on Wikipedia, as that would just be folly from the get-go. I strongly advise any prospective client who is seeking such endorsement-styled material to re-think their approach. I believe you're repeatedly throwing around this single FTC settlement as a benchmark case that now applies to Wikipedia as a scare tactic, to try to stifle your competition in the paid editing field. It's like you're a personal financial manager saying what Bill Gates settled to in 2004 set the stage to prohibit any CEO of any company from ever buying voting securities of any company, anywhere, except under the specific terms of reporting that only your office knows about.


QUOTE(David44357 @ Mon 19th December 2011, 12:34pm) *
I don't know the history with FT2 or Edelman. Who cares?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana




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carbuncle
post Tue 20th December 2011, 4:09am
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QUOTE(David44357 @ Mon 19th December 2011, 5:34pm) *

@Carbuncle
That username started out as a company handle with a guardian to make sure any edits were made in compliance with Wikipedia's rules. DS notified us that it needed to be on an individual (oh yah, duh). So we modified the text to identify the internal person that would be taking responsibility long-term. My contract was just about over at the time.

I'm not sure I understand. You have the SAS stuff on your website, so presumably it is something you are involved with (it actually says "in progress" right beside it). Your answer implies that you were involved with monitoring someone else's edits -- did I get that right? -- but you are no longer involved. So you are taking credit on your website for work that someone else actually did, for a company with whom you are no longer associated? It all seems very confusing.
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thekohser
post Tue 20th December 2011, 8:16pm
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I just had a conversation with Betsy Lordan at the FTC.

She referred me to a document published by the FTC, 16 CFR Part 255, "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

Within that document, it reads:

QUOTE
For purposes of this part, an endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or institution.


If Wikipedia does not allow "advertising messages", and the paid editor refuses to generate "advertising messages" on behalf of the client, then it seems abundantly clear to me that Mr. King's hand-waving about breaking FTC rules by editing Wikipedia pseudonymously on behalf of a paying client carries little to no weight in the real world.

Lordan went on to explain:
QUOTE
As for your question about Wikipedia -- whether anonymous editors at Wikipedia are at risk of FTC sanction if they modify articles about companies that either employ them or have a financial relationship with them: The FTC does not comment on the business practices of any particular business. However, generally speaking, according to the FTC’s revised Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, if a person is compensated to provide an endorsement for a product in advertising, and if that financial relationship is not apparent from the context, it should be disclosed.


In fact, in all of the materials Lordan sent me, the closest example I could find as it might relate to Wikipedia was this:
QUOTE
An online message board designated for discussions of new music download
technology is frequented by MP3 player enthusiasts. They exchange information about
new products, utilities, and the functionality of numerous playback devices. Unbeknownst
to the message board community, an employee of a leading playback device manufacturer
has been posting messages on the discussion board promoting the manufacturer’s product.
Knowledge of this poster’s employment likely would affect the weight or credibility of her
endorsement. Therefore, the poster should clearly and conspicuously disclose her
relationship to the manufacturer to members and readers of the message board.

Again, I do not see how a typical paid editor of Wikipedia is ever "promoting" a product. They are documenting what reliable, independent sources say about a product.

If anyone wants more information about the FTC's viewpoints, see the following:

News release

Legal Document (The Guides)

Business Education Materials

The Reverb case was announced afterward, in August 2010

Another case against Legacy Learning Systems followed, in March 2011

Until the FTC makes an explicit statement pertaining to Wikipedia, I am wholly convinced that normal paid Wikipedia editing is almost never in any violation of any FTC guidelines.
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