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.
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)!