If You’re a Wikipedia Contributor, Owning Cryptocurrency May Be a Conflict of Interest

The web’s favorite crowdsourced encyclopedia has just edited its own behavioral guidelines. Wikipedia’s “Conflict of interest” (COI) page outlining etiquette for its 140,000 active editors now includes a reference to cryptocurrency. If you’re editing pages about crypto, the mere act of owning cryptocurrency may preclude you from doing so.

Wikipedia Is Conflicted on Cryptocurrency

According to Wikipedia, any external relationship its contributors hold – including a relationship with cryptocurrency – could present a conflict of interest. Its COI page states:

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.

On the one hand, these guidelines make a lot of sense, but on the other, they create a paradox as the people most knowledgeable about a particular Wikipedia page are those with a strong personal interest in its subject matter. It’s hard to see how owning bitcoin, for example, should bar an editor from being able to update the Bitcoin page. With smaller, more controversial cryptos however (think IOTA or Verge), there’s greater potential for a COI to emerge. It’s easy to envisage a scenario, for instance, in which a passionate editor may decide to censor or exclude negative news about their favorite cryptocurrency…

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