UntrikiWiki has recently received some public attention from Wikipedians who disagree strongly with our belief that COI consultants can serve in a mutually beneficial liaison that is good for both Wikipedia and organizations that contract us. We’d like to explain in more detail what it is that Untriki has been doing, and what our future plans are to try to ameliorate some of the confusion around us.
We’ve never made a single edit for which we had a conflict of interest on Wikipedia – ever. Although we have advertised such a service, we’ve not aggressively pursued it – and we have not accepted any clients interested in on-Wikipedia work. We’ve set up private internal wikis for organizations, and we’ve provided brief consulting on best practices to organizations who were interested in learning how to engage productively with Wikipedia’s community, but we’ve never made any COI edit on Wikipedia – even in user space. We’ve made clear to all entities that have talked with us our ethical standards, and made clear that if they can’t accept them we can’t work with them.
We believe – strongly – that there’s nothing inherently wrong with accepting for-profit engagements that involve contributing to Wikipedia, as long as it’s approached in a transparent and ethical fashion. We understand why it’s a controversial issue, but we believe that it’s a necessary and emerging field and believe that it’s important that people with knowledge of Wikipedia’s ecosystem move in to it and establish standards that protect Wikipedia’s integrity.
Starting now, and lasting indefinitely, we will not accept any paid conflict of interest Wikipedia editing work. To support this statement, we have removed mentions of the services from our website. This isn’t because we think it’s wrong, but because we think it would serve as an unfortunate distraction to our current work and because we recognize that if we ever pursued paid editing as a service, we need to first publicly develop and declare a process that will be acceptable to Wikipedia’s community. We think our currently intended process would have been ethical and more than meets the ethical standards of an overwhelming majority of Wikipedia’s community, but we made the error of not publicly talking about our process before posting a graphic about it in public.
We may choose to enter direct COI work eventually, but such projects are on-hold for the near future. If we do ever accept COI work, before we ever accept an assignment, we will develop an explicit set of standards by which we will operate, and we’ll post them publicly. We’ll incorporate community feedback into the development of these standards.