Since April of last year, I have experimented with paying people to create Wikipedia pages, with results that I am generally happy with. My overall experience is documented here; you can also see lists of pages I have given people to create, along with the prices for those specific page creations, here, here, here, and here; note that in some cases people have received additional pay based on pageviews or for overall availability, but the prices are still a reasonable approximation to the marginal revenue.
At present, my Wikipedia page creation funding efforts are more talent-constrained than funding-constrained: I am spending money at a lower rate than the maximum amount I can afford to spend, and therefore the pages are getting created at a slower rate.
For the most part, the goal with these pages is to actually carry out a synthesis of information scattered across numerous sources and bring it online. While it's not original research per Wikipedia's policies, it does involve a complex synthesis and isn't just about posting on Wikipedia what "everybody knows". The goal is to make information easily available to any future researcher or person interested in getting a clearer idea of the topics, that they would otherwise have spent several hours trying to figure out.
A few broad themes around which I am interested in Wikipedia page creation, and that might be of interest to people reading this blog, are below.
Global health [CURRENTLY THE THING I AM MOST INTERESTED IN FUNDING WORK ON]
What: Issa Rice recently finished the Wikipedia page on the timeline of global health, and is currently starting work on a timeline of deworming. I am interested in funding similar pages on the timelines of malaria, cholera, and influenza, and might consider expanding to things like AIDS, particular cancers, senescence research, smallpox, and other diseases. I am also interested in funding pages on current and historical organizations and initiatives related to global health (such as the red links in the timeline of global health) as well as timeline pages on public health in particular countries. More possible pages to fund may emerge after some further exploration.
Work so far: See links above.
- Help potential donors and others in the field get a good bird's eye view of global health: Global health donations make up a significant fraction of the donations from self-identified effective altruists. Three of GiveWell's four top picks were in this domain, and those three charities received over $50 million in donations in 2015 (GiveDirectly, the fourth, got the remaining half of the 2015 donations, but a lot of it was a one-off Good Ventures three-year grant). Yet there is very little good, quick-to-read information that helps people put the current state of global health in proper historical perspective. I want to change that. I expect that having easier access to this bigger picture will help me better determine the importance of marginal donations to global health, and will also help others likewise. Putting it on Wikipedia makes it available to many others. There is also the possibility that others will improve the pages, though I expect improvements to be relatively rare.
- Understand global health as an example of how something went from a cutting-edge weird idea to the "safe" bet for philanthropists: This can provide insight for potential transformations of the sort for other domains, ranging from animal welfare to concerns about various kinds of existential risk to senescence research.
Migration law, history, procedures and statistics [FOR PEOPLE WITH A STRONGER POLICY INCLINATION]
What: I am interested in funding the creation of pages on various aspects of migration bureaucracy and history. My own work so far has focused on the United States, but I want to diversify (in particular, I'm interesting in improving coverage of Canada's points-based immigration system, that lacks its own article right now, and India's Emigration Clearance system).
Work so far: For examples of the sorts of pages we are talking about, here.
Why: Migration liberalization is a top interest for me personally. I would like to spend most of my personal non-day-job research, reading, and public writing time on it. Unfortunately, writing truly informed content on it often involves the synthesis of large amounts of scattered information. Having some of the synthesis done through the creation of Wikipedia pages by others will be great for me. Many of the pages are likely to be of sufficient interest to the general public that their creation is also justifiable on those grounds.
Animal welfare [ONLY FOR PEOPLE ALREADY INTERESTED IN THE SUBJECT]
What: I have some ideas surrounding potential improvements of pages related to animal welfare, and the creation of new ones. For instance, I would like to fund a timeline of animal welfare similar to Issa's timeline of global health. However, given my lack of experience with the subject, I would recommend this only to people who have prior interest in the subject, since I can't guide too well here.
Work so far: I did create the Wikipedia page on Animal Charity Evaluators, but it got deleted (you can see the pre-deletion version here). I also paid for creating, and then expanded, the Wikipedia page on The Humane League.
Why: I believe that animal suffering, both that inflicted by humans and that inflicted by nature, is an important part of global suffering by sentient creatures. I don't have clear thoughts on appropriate steps to address these issues. Nonetheless, I believe that more information on the current status and historical evolution of animal welfare will be helpful.
Specific organizations [LOWER PAY BUT SHORTER ASSIGNMENTS]
What: I am also open to funding the creation of any page that has received a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project or were considered by GiveWell or Giving What We Can.
Work so far: I have been responsible for creating Wikipedia pages of three of GiveWell's four top charities and three of its standout charities, plus many other charities evaluated by GiveWell and Giving What We Can. I also created the Good Ventures Wikipedia page. Also, Issa created a great page on the Open Philanthropy Project (funded by me).
Why: Often these pages offer a better (both more neutral and more informative-yet-concise) overview of organizations than their own websites.
If you browse through the lists of pages I have created myself and funded the creation of, you'll see that my interests span much more broadly. However, to keep this post as relevant as possible to readers of this forum, I have concentrated on areas that are likely to be of some interest to typical readers here.
If you are interested (in the topics listed above or any others that I've worked on funded before, or that you think I might fund), you may either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (if you are Facebook friends with me or have mutual friends) message me on Facebook. You can also express interest or ask questions in the comments below. Those willing to work longer-term with me will receive additional compensation in a mutually agreeable manner while still preserving flexibility on both sides.
UPDATE (ADDED APRIL 25): I have successfully recruited a few writers, and some pages have been published or are in the process of being published. I am still looking for more, and expect and hope the overall volume of activity to continue to increase.
Published already by new editors:
- Spanish translation for "Pain in animals", by Sebastian Sanchez, based on a suggestion from Jay Quigley.
- Timeline of cholera by Sebastian Sanchez, created as part of my plan for timelines for various diseases that are currently or have historically been major sources of death and grief.
- Timeline of animal welfare and rights by Jesse Clifton, at my suggestion. Incorporates some feedback from Jacy Anthis.
Published by people already working for me, since I published this post:
- Timeline of Instagram by Alex K. Chen.
- Timeline of LinkedIn by Alex K. Chen.
- Timeline of deworming by Issa Rice.
UPDATE 2 (ADDED MAY 20): If you'd like to keep tabs on the main writers who are currently doing work for me, you can check out these GitHub pages where I track their edits and the amounts due to them:
- Jesse Clifton: He has created timelines of animal welfare and pages on animal welfare in various countries and regions. While the broad direction was provided by me, the selection of many of the countries/regions to focus on was made by Jesse.
- Issa Rice: Issa had been working for me prior to my posting this, and he's continued to do more work. He has worked on pages related to global health and poverty alleviation. While the broad direction was provided by me, many of the individual page topics were decided by Issa.
- Sebastian Sanchez: Sebastian has created timelines of major disease like malaria and cholera, as well as senescence research and healthcare in China.
- Alex K. Chen: Alex has been working for me for a while and continues to work for me. There hasn't been any specific change in his work pattern, and he is not really part of this experiment, but I include him for completeness.
UPDATE 3 (ADDED DEC 22): Take a look at the new contract work portal as well as my more recent blog post seeking more global health contributors.