RALEIGH, NC: Ethical Wiki, a firm focused on helping companies contribute to Wikipedia, has launched an online resource called the Wikipedia Academy for Marketers as a guide to how PR professionals can use the online encyclopedia to support clients.
The Academy, which launched on Monday, includes guides on how to submit an article to Wikipedia's editors for consideration, request corrections, and approach unfair content using tools and templates.
Its goal is to teach professionals how to engage the Wikipedia community in a way that is compliant with its disclosure laws, community policies, and established best practices. Ethical Wiki was founded in 2011.
“One of the most prolific responses you get on why PR people aren't participating on Wikipedia ethically is because they don't know how to, or they feel it is too hard and there is not enough instruction,” said David King, founder and Wikipedian at Ethical Wiki. “Wikipedia itself does not do a very good job providing clear answers; my hope is that the Academy will provide people with a straightforward guide on how to participate on Wikipedia in the correct way.”
The guidelines published by Wikipedia are clear on the topic of neutrality, points of view, paid advocacy editing, notability, and conflict of interest, according to Jay Walsh, communications consultant and adviser for the Wikimedia Foundation, the group that runs Wikipedia.
“If Ethical Wiki's guidelines insist on respecting those critical policies and values within English Wikipedia, then there is some likelihood that they are also in conversation with active Wikipedians,” said Walsh, who added that he had not yet reviewed Ethical Wiki's procedures or recommendations. “It will ultimately be up to the Wikipedia community to determine if the procedures and policies Ethical Wiki is proposing are acceptable.”
Last September, Walsh stepped down from his role as Wikimedia's communications head after almost six years to found a consultancy. Walsh is contracted to work as an independent adviser and consultant until the group hires a new communications chief.
Since last October, Wikimedia has been in dispute with Wiki-PR, an agency whose primary service is editing Wikipedia pages. Two months ago, the Foundation sent the agency a cease-and-desist letter after it allegedly failed to comply with Wikipedia's terms and conditions by engaging in paid advocacy editing.
Wiki-PR has told PRWeek that it does paid editing for clients, but not paid advocacy work.
“What Wiki-PR is doing is generally seen as spammy; they are writing ads on Wikipedia and the reader thinks it is crowdsourced and independent,” said King. “Ethical Wiki discloses its financial connection with the client, and we leave important editorial decisions up to crowd sourced, disinterested volunteer Wikipedians.”