Commschat on CIPR Wikipedia guidance

Wikipedia logoI missed last night’s #commschat with Philip Sheldrake on the Wikipedia guidance that was published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) last week. I think the CIPR guidance is a great first step and is currently the best way for public relations professionals to engage with Wikipedia on behalf of clients and employers. However, it’s essential that this is just the first step.

My personal view is that PRs must play by the rules of Wikipedia as they stand today. But, that doesn’t stop us from engaging in dialogue to say that the rules need improving. And they do need improving as what should be of paramount importance is the ‘public interest’ and this is best met by striving to ensure that Wikipedia entries are as comprehensive and accurate as possible.

The guidance in its current form is mainly in the interests of Wikipedians (i.e. those who edit and write entries) and PR professionals when what we should care about most is the readers and consumers of the Wikipedia entries. The main reason it matters is that Wikipedia entries rank so highly in search so people can get a false or distorted perspective if entries aren’t up to scratch.

One final thought is quite a few people have suggested that PR people should edit entries about things they are interested in personally, but where they don’t have a conflict of interest. Couple this with the issue that the explanation why many corporate and business entries aren’t up to scratch is that many Wikipedians aren’t interested in those subjects.

One possible solution is therefore for PR people to edit corporate and business entries for companies and products that they have no professional connection with at all. If enough of us did that then it would surely improve the quality of Wikipedia and we’d all be happy? Discuss.

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