Submissions:2015/Tread lightly: Editing with a COI

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Type of submission
E-mail address
Library of Virginia, otherwise N/A

Wikipedia has seen a dip in accounts created, however there have been quite a few editors that are making accounts but have a conflict of interest in some form or fashion. Our guidelines for editors acting with a conflict of interest tend to be oriented towards new users coming into the project with what is most likely a clear promotional intent, but what do we do with users that are working with an organization but want to make more general edits? In 2015 I began working with the Library of Virginia to help expand entries and knowledge on Virginia related topics. In many cases I found that several topics, particularly early African-American politicians, lacked any coverage on Wikipedia. Since my username (Tokyogirl79LVA) references back to my main account, I have largely been left to my own devices but I have received some very well intentioned pushback from one or two users who were unfamiliar with my main account. This made me think about how other editors with a conflict of interest have been treated on Wikipedia and, unfortunately, what my own treatment towards them has been. I found that while there were some editors who were obviously there to promote a business, there were also quite a few people who were simply just new and inexperienced with Wikipedia. Some, but not all, were marketers who expressed an interest in learning procedure but ran into stumbling blocks because they were unfamiliar with policy and also had a handicap in that they were so inured to writing in a promotional tone that they were sometimes unable to realize that they were violating NPOV. In other cases I discovered that some editors were students sent to Wikipedia by a professor that wanted to have his or her students find a way to include their work on Wikipedia. There are more cases to mention, but my basic point is this: I found that in many cases these people experienced a fairly strict, sometimes overly harsh introduction to Wikipedia. Some did not return past the initial warnings and others were outright blocked for their actions.

While COI and paid editors do need to learn policy, my own experiences with editing with a conflict of interest has made me wonder what we could do to make the learning, warning, and welcome process easier for new editors. In this presentation I will describe what my own experiences have been with editing with a conflict of interest, what my reactions have been to conflict of interest editors before and after this point, and some ideas as to what we can do to possibly help these editors in the hopes of educating and retaining more users. After my presentation I will open the floor for questions and suggestions from the audience.

Length of presentation
15 minutes (presentation), 15 minutes (Q&A)
Special schedule requests
Will you attend WikiConference USA if your submission is not accepted?
Tentatively yes, but dependent upon scholarship

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