Many articles are created by users with a conflict of interest in editing, resulting in a tendency to favour the topic. Such users find it very difficult to write in a neutral and balanced manner. For example, people attempting to write about themselves, their business, band, family, friends, clients, employers, favourite charity, or anyone they have a financial or personal relationship with. Paid editing is a subset of COI editing and comes in three flavors. Most common are people who simply have a financial stake in a topic, such as a person writing about their own business. The second, paid advocacy, is an especially egregious type of COI, referring to people specifically paid to insert an article into Wikipedia. The third kind are users who sell a service to write Wikipedia pages about people and organizations.
A common indication of paid advertisements masquerading as articles, possibly written as works for hire by public relations experts, or sometimes by sophisticated insiders, are: Articles That Look Too Good To Be True: Well written, perfectly formatted articles with lots of neat references and submitted by users with low edit counts. Such articles are often patrolled as OK by inexperienced patrollers. Such articles are classic examples of the need to thoroughly research an article and its user when patrolling it. See: WP:COI, WP:Paid, and the detailed description of what to look for at Long Term Abuse. To understand the extent of this problem, see Orangemoody.
Other hallmarks of COI editing include:
Multiple references, very clean Reflist (no naked URLs)
Multiple references to company, B2B, or financial listings, staff lists, interviews
Articles with text that seems 'too perfect to be true'
Articles with inline external links
Articles whose style of text appears to come from a news article, press release, blog, or a book
Articles whose style of referencing includes many references to the subject's own publications (biographies)
Article posted in one or a very few edits, denoting meticulous offline preparation.
Author has posted several single edit new articles that are related
Author has a corporate sounding user name
Text with first person pronouns and possessives (I, we, my, our)
What to do if you suspect a COI
An understanding of context is important in responding to COI editing. The COI guideline only "strongly discourages" editing by those with a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest editing is thus not prohibited. However, many of the behaviors exhibited by those with a COI are prohibited or are otherwise actionable.
1) Responding to paid editing
If you have a good faith basis to suspect a user of paid editing, add to the user's talk page the template:
which asks the user to state whether they have a financial stake in their edits, asks them to not edit further until they respond, and instructs them on how to post the required disclosure.
if they continue to edit without responding
if they still don't respond
if the final notice is ignored, and seek a block at WP:AIV or contact an admin directly.
2) General COI actions
COI editing strongly correlates with copyright violations. Therefore, follow the prior instructions to identify and address copyvios.
Articles written by editors with a COI are often blatant advertisements and may also contain no credible assertion of importance or significance. Thus:
Mark the page for speedy deletion under such other criteria as may apply.
Speedy deletion under multiple criteria can be requested using
Don't forget to warn the user with the warning notice template that will be provided to you in the text of the speedy deletion tag (if you are using Page Curation, it will do this for you, if you are examining an older page that has already been reviewed, Twinkle will also do it).
If the article is promotional, but not sufficiently-so to meet G11 (and no other criterion applies), add applicable promotion-related maintenance tags to the article. Do not overload the article with every template that could possibly be germane.
An indication of lack of notability also implies other actions you might take – tagging for lack of sources, prodding the article, taking it to AfD, etc. – all of which are covered in later sections.
If an article on a company, group, or product is clearly promotional (and only if it is clearly promotional), check whether the creator's name violates WP:CORPNAME. If it does, you might post to their talk page: . If that is ignored, and there is further promotional editing, follow the instructions at Wikipedia:Usernames for administrator attention (WP:UAA).
You might leave a message on the user's talk page regarding their conflict of interest, including (non-exclusively): .