Wikipedia Editors’ “Conflict of Interest” With Cryptos

The internet’s most popular encyclopedia just revised its own behavioral procedures. Wikipedia’s “Conflict of interest” (COI) page that features the protocol for its active editors now has incorporated a reference to cryptocurrency. If you’re thinking of editing crypto-related pages, owning cryptocurrency may prevent you from performing such task.

Wikipedia Clashes with Cryptocurrency

Wikipedia’s guideline page states that any external affiliation its contributors have – including an association with cryptocurrency – could be considered as a conflict of interest. Its COI page states the following:

“Any external relationship—personal, religious, political, academic, legal, or financial (including holding a cryptocurrency)—can trigger a COI. How close the relationship needs to be before it becomes a concern on Wikipedia is governed by common sense. For example, an article about a band should not be written by the band’s manager, and a biography should not be an autobiography or written by the subject’s spouse.”

While these guidelines have a good purpose, they create a situation of inconsistency as the people that know the most about a certain Wikipedia page are those that have a personal interest in the subject.

It is hard to imagine how a bitcoin owner can be restricted from editing and updating the Bitcoin page. But with smaller and more controversial altcoins, there’s a greater likelihood for a COI to be enforced.

The Bias of Wikipedia Editors

Some Wikipedia pages bring in a very high number of edits, often because the topic is controversial or predisposed to drawing gossip- makers. In some cases, this can make a page either fully or partially locked to avert anonymous editors from twisting the truth or introducing their own agenda.

Wikipedia is infamous for its editing conflicts in which opposite camps try to control the direction of the narrative. A page that experienced this issue was Bitcoin Cash. Its talk page points that “There have been attempts to recruit editors of specific viewpoints to this article” to confront this.

Anyone can open a Wikipedia account and edit any page. Over 33 million users have done so, out of whom approximately 140,000 are still active. These volunteers take on many tasks, such as updating, proofing, and verifying the validity of millions of entries.

Taking into consideration the complexity of validating the legitimacy of Wikipedia’s 5.6 million English articles, checking if all its editors don’t have a conflict of interest is unfeasible. As the Bitcoin Cash page proves, even when an editor is not a cryptocurrency owner, it doesn’t always stop some individuals from trying to spread their agenda.

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