Wikipedia Equality Notability Discussion Paper #2: Preventing Advertising
Q: Abolishing the Notability Criteria will allow Wikipedia to be used for advertising by businesses, including via the creation of back-links.
A: We agree that when the Notability Criteria is abolished, there is potential for businesses to use Wikipedia as advertising. However, this is not an excuse for Wikipedia not to change. Rather, we should look at ways to shut down potential loopholes. How Unsolicited Advertising may Happen on Wikipedia
Businesses have attempted to use Wikipedia as a place for free advertisements, to the detriment of the integrity of this encyclopedia. This includes both creating pages about the business in the hope that random people may come across it, thereby providing another avenue for advertising, as well as the creation of back-links in Wikipedia pages. Potential New Loopholes Under the Cultural Contribution Criteria
Although the cultural contribution criteria already excludes the vast majority of businesses as subjects of pages, businesses who really want a page can, for example, self-publish a 100 page book in the name of the business.
Alternatively, the owner of the business may self-publish a 100 page book and thus qualify for inclusion in Wikipedia, and then ask somebody to create a Wikipedia page for them that promotes their business and contains back-links to it.
Such behaviour does not represent cultural contribution in good faith, but rather the abuse of Wikipedia for financial profit. We agree that there needs to be policies to comprehensively prevent such behaviour.
Furthermore, we recognise that a policy for businesses does not cover all the aforementioned activity, because some online ‘businesses’ are built around the sale of self-help books, e.g. how to get rich fast type books. Closing These Loopholes
While the preceding analysis does show that the replacement of the Notability Criteria with a cultural contribution criteria may introduce new loopholes for business advertising, it really isn’t too difficult to close those loopholes with well-developed policies.
As it stands, our recommendations for a cultural contribution policy already requires all cultural contributions to be made in good faith to qualify for inclusion. In the vast majority of cases, it can be clearly and conclusively argued that businesses forcing their way onto Wikipedia using the aforementioned loopholes (or other similar methods) are not acting in good faith. Thus the Wikipedia community is already empowered with the ability to put these pages through the deletion process.
However, we recognise that there will be a few cases where business owners can and will make it hard for Wikipedians to enforce the good faith policy. Therefore, we propose that some sort of Notability Criteria should remain in the special case of businesses. This does not detract from our overall goal of abolishing the Notability Criteria for most (non-business) subjects, because it does not detract from our ultimate aim to remove structural discrimination. If a Notability Criteria only applies to entities mainly driven by commercial profit, it doesn’t create structural discrimination against the voices, values and culture of women and minorities in the same way the current Notability Criteria does.
We also recommend that the Notability Criteria be retained for the special case of self-help books. Most of the time, self-help books are written purely for financial profit. Unlike other books (e.g. novels, poetry, political ideas), these books do not represent a contribution to the totality of human culture, except where they have gained a cultural significance in our collective psyche (like Chicken Soup for the Soul). This looks especially clear when you look at it from a longer term point of view. Therefore, a different eligibility criteria for self-help books can be well justified. Furthermore, excluding self-help books would not cause the exclusion of the vast majority of female and minority voices, concerns and culture.
We argue that if Notability criteria is solely applied to businesses and self-help books, they can be applied much more strictly than is currently the case.
Recommendations from this Discussion Paper
Recommendation 5: For businesses to be included in Wikipedia, they must meet a special Notability criteria for Businesses, equivalent to the current Notability criteria. Business is defined as any for-profit organization. Individuals whose business’s name substantially matches their own name (including sole proprietors conducting business in their own name), and individuals involved in the adult entertainment business are also included in this policy.
Recommendation 6: Even for subjects who otherwise fulfill the criteria to have a Wikipedia page, there must be no mention of nor any links to any of the businesses they are associated with, unless such businesses meet the Notability criteria.
Recommendation 7: For self-help books, manuals and guidelines to be included (or count as a cultural contribution) in Wikipedia, they must meet a special Notability criteria for self-help books, equivalent to the current Notability criteria. If an autobiography contains substantial self-help content, this policy also applies.
Recommendation 8: Even for subjects who otherwise fulfill the criteria to have a Wikipedia page, except for title-only inclusions in lists of works, there must be no mention of any of the self-help books they are associated with, unless such self-help books meet the Notability criteria. Any links to such self-help books must only be for verifiability purposes, and must be no-follow. Also, such lists including self-help books are only allowed if the majority of books are not self-help books.