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Conflict of interest : #ISOC sale of #ORG saga spills over to #Wikipedia

The sale of dot .ORG Registry, PIR, by ISOC has now spilled over to Wikipedia.

There are now allegations that the ISOC page is being edited by an Internet Society associate, without declaring this conflict.

These edits are reversing a recent addition of information that – according to its editor – paints ISOC in a negative light.

How does Wikipedia handle conflict of interest?

Conflict of interest (COI) editing involves contributing to Wikipedia about yourself, family, friends, clients, employers, or your financial and other relationships. Any external relationship can trigger a conflict of interest. That someone has a conflict of interest is a description of a situation, not a judgement about that person’s opinions, integrity, or good faith.

COI editing is strongly discouraged on Wikipedia. It undermines public confidence and risks causing public embarrassment to the individuals and companies being promoted.

Editors with a COI, including paid editors, are expected to disclose it whenever they seek to change an affected article’s content. Anyone editing for pay must disclose who is paying them, who the client is, and any other relevant affiliation; this is a requirement of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Two years ago, the Domain King’s Wikipedia page was deleted after Rick Schwartz contributed to the article with facts – this alone does not revoke the COI status of a contribution.

According to the discussion part of the ISOC page on Wikipedia:

This page has been edited by Wwwhatsup, who is on the payroll of the Internet Society. It is not appropriate for me to name them here, but I am reversing their edits as they have an obvious conflict of interest which should prevent them from making revisions to this wiki page. Ferdeline (talk) 10:48, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

And I have reversed your reversal. My edits were prompted by your earlier edits which served to push a non-neutral POV i.e. opposition to the sale of PIR, plus some added cruft. I fleshed out some of the history, and current activities, in a neutral way. I am not on the “payroll” at ISOC, but a vendor. The services I provide to them have nothing to do with wikipedia editing, but they do mean I am familiar, and yes, support the work of this organization. Wwwhatsup (talk) 13:02, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

Hello, Ferdeline. I should make you aware of WP:3RR which you will violate if you revert again. I note yours is a single purpose account. May I ask you which of my edits you consider does not reflect WP:NPOV? Wwwhatsup (talk) 14:04, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

Hello Wwwhatsup. I am new to Wikipedia, but I am a subject matter expert and thus have been revising this article to be an accurate history of the Internet Society. I have added sources to support many of my statements, and where these are lacking, I will go through now and add links to additional primary sources. I note that you are the administer of at least one official Internet Society social media account, and represent the organization (as a vendor you claim) in its communications work. Members of the Internet Society’s senior leadership team have retweeted your tweets in the past week. I believe you have a conflict of interest and should retain from editing this page. I will be reverting your most recent bad faith edits now. If you continue to revert mine, I would like to know why you are removing my edits, such as incorporating finances from the 2018 IRS form 990 into the info box, and changing these to the outdated 2016 figures. No one is served by an article with out-of-date information. Ferdeline (talk) 15:00, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

Hi Ferdeline, I understand you are new to Wikipedia, and perhaps don’t fully understand its tenets. The fact is, it doesn’t matter who you are, what matters is the nature of your edits. In your case, in the cause of your opposition to the PIR sale, you appear to have scraped around to find a number of negative sources, to which you then applied further negative analysis. If you look at my edits. You’ll see I started by removing some of the more egregious examples. This left the article thin. As pointed out by Avaiki over a year ago, there was already a lack of information about ISOC, so I remedied that, in a neutral manner. If we swap reversions again you will have violated the 3RR. I will ask admins to step in. Please read up on edit warring. Wwwhatsup (talk) 15:26, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

I notice that you have asked the admins to step in before I made any additional edits, but that is okay. I hope they are able to help us reach a place we are all happy with. I noticed that you have written about this incident on Facebook, outing me as the author in an attempt to shame me into leaving these edits as is, which I believe violates Wikipedia’s rules on identifying individuals. I did not “scraped around to find a number of negative sources” – I did a comprehensive literature review of respected publications, and I am afraid even if you search you will not find any praising ISOC. If you do, please send my way – if I’ve missed one I’d like to know and would be very sorry about that.Ferdeline (talk) 20:35, 16 December 2019 (UTC)

To read the ISOC Wikipedia page, click here.

To view the discussion on the potential conflict of interest, click here.


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