News: Wikipedia policy change means archives can post links in articles! Go crazy, archivists!

This news about a change to Wikipedia’s policies about editors with a “conflict of interest” was shared this afternoon on the Archives & Archivists listserv by Arel Lucas:

Wikipedia usually disallows people who are being paid to do so from making edits to Wikipedia. That has been applied to employees or interns at archives. But these are the only people with the information. In the interest of putting such useful material in Wikipedia, there is now an exception. Even though library employees may have a conflict of interest, adding such material is allowed as “non-controversial edits.”


Editors who may have a conflict of interest

This section of the guideline is aimed at editors who may have a conflict of interest. In keeping with Wikipedia’s neutral point of view policy, edits in mainspace where there is a clear conflict of interest, or where such a conflict can be reasonably assumed, are strongly discouraged. Significantly biased edits in mainspace are forbidden.

Non-controversial edits

Editors who may have a conflict of interest are allowed to make certain kinds of non-controversial edits, such as:

[snip other provisions]

7. Adding pointers to primary sources in archives, special collections or libraries in the Research resources section of an article. Also, adding External links to digitized or digital primary sources or finding aids. Editors working for such organizations are requested to review WP:EL (useful links to on-line, non-promotional material related to the article), WP:NPOV, WP:NOSHARE and WP:ORGNAME. The last two mean don’t create a shared organizational account and don’t include the name of the organization in the account name. It is recommended but not required for such editors to declare their affiliation on their user page.

If another editor objects for any reason, then it’s a controversial edit. Such edits should be discussed on the article’s talk page.


If you want to read the discussions that led to this change,

If someone removes external links or “Research resources” you have added, you can quote this policy. Of course the policy is no more set in concrete than anything else there, so check that it is still in force before using it as a defense.
[end forwarded email]

I found the “discussions that led to this change” very interesting reading. Arel later added this additional advice:

“I would do so tentatively. Create a new account and start with making just a few additions per day. When you have done that for a few weeks, you can probably turn someone loose on a larger scale. (Have each person you assign to this make a new account too.)

I would use a heading “Research resources” in places where you are just pointing to holdings. If you have material on line, put it in as an external link.”

And another poster from the Hoover Institution shared some advice he had received when he tried to add a link, prior to this policy change:

“I would suggest putting the link you’d like to add to the talk page of the article first, along with a note as to why you think it should be in the article. If no one objects in a few days, go ahead and add it back to the article.”

Thanks to Arel for sharing the news, and for all those who worked with Wikipedia to get this policy change made. Now, go crazy, archivists (but not too crazy too fast, see above)!

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7 thoughts on “News: Wikipedia policy change means archives can post links in articles! Go crazy, archivists!”

  1. This is great news!

    Can anyone point to an example where a Research resources heading has been used? I’m not quite sure what they mean and I don’t want to just add a whole new section if that’s not what they’re asking for. Thanks!

  2. I can’t rememebr if we’ve used Research Resources, but see Further Reading in the entry for James J. Hill.

  3. I checked with someone who is a heavily involved with Wikipedia, and here is her response to Lindsey’s question:

    “I’ve never seen that heading. The content and titles for the appendices and footers (those bottom sections of an article) have been pretty thoroughly thrashed out, and variations are discouraged for consistency’s sake. See and its subsections for details. I’ve always put links to finding aids etc in the “External links” section.”


  4. Some eight years have passed – and much appears to have changed at Wikipedia. These days all external links – whether to archives or branded websites – are regarded as evil. Indeed there is a dedicated outfit called the Wikipedia External Links Project which is determined to eradicate all external links from Wikpedia articles. For example, the article entitled “History of Marketing” recently contained four links, three of which were to archives – the US based “Chronicling America” [ Chronicling America – a list of historic newspapers ; the National Library of Australia’s Trove, [ National Library of Australia, Trove with access to digitised and searchable historic newspapers; and the American Marketing Associations history archive [ American Marketing Association, Marketing History (AMA)] with full access to seminal articles in marketing. The fourth link, which was also removed, was not to an archive as such but was a link to Conference papers in the History of Marketing [ Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM)]

    The reason given for deleting this four links was that they constituted a “link farm” (i.e. an excessive number of links). Difficult to see how these links are controversial or irrelevant to an article on the history of a discipline; equally difficult to see how four links in an article of approx 8,000 words constitute an excessive quantity of links. But that is how it goes at Wikipedia these days.

    External links, of any type, are now regarded as evil and must be removed as soon as possible. And there is a self elected razor gang dedicated to ensuring that editors do not add links back again after they have been deleted. Beware if you try to add external links

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