Engaging with Wikipedia – Day… well I’ve just given up counting

In the summer I had been inspired to try and see how the ‘ethical’ editing and engagement with Wikipedia worked. I followed the guidelines developed by the CIPR and the PRSA.

I found the MEPRA entry and I made some comments in the correct section. I waited two whole weeks then tried to reach out to one of the volunteers who cover the UAE.

To date, since June 6, 2012 – nothing has changed and our entry is still incorrect.

So, I am little peeved with a couple of articles in the UK media critisising companies for making direct edits to their entries.

Point one on Wonga:

On 20 November 2012, Stella Creasy demanded an apology from the company after The Guardian reported that abusive tweets were sent to her by Wonga employees. Further investigation of the Creasy case showed that computers registered to Wonga.com’s London office were used to abuse Creasy over Twitter, and delete criticism, as well as the reference to “usury” from Wonga.com’s Wikipedia page. Wonga.com admitted that a “junior employee” may have sent the tweets and defended what it regards as its right to correct “inaccurate” Wikipedia articles, though Wikipedia policy on conflict of interest says such edits are “strongly discouraged.”[39]

Source: Wikipedia

And the second point…

According to The Times, PR company RLM Finsbury edited Mr Usmanov’s Wikipedia entry to remove mention of a freedom of speech row, where the Russian billionaire had allegedly threatened bloggers who repeated allegations that he was a “gangster and rackateer”, first made by Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan, with legal action.

Details were also removed of a Soviet-era criminal conviction that was later overturned by the Uzbekistan Supreme Court and a description of the disappearance of a former Megafon shareholder, reports the newspaper.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

In Wonga, this is potentially arguable as a case of ‘he said she said’ and with Finsbury one thing that was removed was a rumour, the second was a court case that was overruled and the third a conspiracy theory.

Honestly, I’m tired of this debate and I really, really don’t know if it’s worth continuing it.

But, perhaps if Wikipedia is provided such weighty protection from our industry, we should insist that it also posts a suitable warning on the site.

Something on the lines of ‘Beware, the information you are reading is probably wrong, out of date and potentially libellous.’

For reference, I include the official responses from the CIPR.

November 21 – CIPR Social Media Panel Criticises Wonga for directly editing wikipedia entry 

November 12 – CIPR and Wikimedia Responds to Reports of Editing Wikipedia pages for Alisher Usmanov



About stephenking2012

In 2012 I volunteered to hold the position of Chair - Standards & Ethics Committee for the Middle East PR Association (@MEPRA_org). I have set up this account to assist in this effort. You may also like to follow my Blog or connect with me on LinkedIn. In any case, please do visit www.mepra.org, and if you are not yet a member, please do sign up!
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