Wikipedia can be a great resource for researching facts about people, places and things. The site, mostly updated by fans or experts on various subjects has come under scrutiny in the past due to the fact that anybody, and I mean anybody can make a change to a page.
Remember when someone made this change to Solange’s wikipedia page after the now infamous elevator incident.
According to Adage, 13 public relations firms have pledged that they will no longer randomly make changes to their clients pages.
Several of the largest public-relations agencies issued a joint statement Tuesday promising to play by the rules of Wikipedia. It comes after years of PR agencies surreptitiously editing their clients’ pages on the site, much to the dismay of Wikipedia’s volunteer editors.
In the statement, 11 PR agencies “publicly state and commit” to abide by five principles that would prevent them from editing a client’s Wikipedia entry without first going through proper channels. It also makes overtures toward repairing the tenuous relationship between the PR industry and Wikipedia.
The firms that signed the statement are Edelman, Ogilvy & Mather, Fleishman Hillard, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Peppercomm, MDC Partners, Voce Communications, Allison & Partners and Beutler Ink.
“On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource,” the statement begins.
“We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors. Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.”
In October, Wikipedia’s parent organization, Wikimedia Foundation, issued a statement of its own “condemning the black hat practice of paid advocacy editing and sockpuppeting on Wikipedia.” The statement came after volunteer editors investigated more than 300 accounts they believed to be fakes, or “sockpuppets,” belonging to one PR agency, the Austin, Tex.-based Wiki-PR.