How PR pros should interact with Wikipedia, straight from Jimmy Wales

The Wikipedia co-founder told 60 Minutes about the organization's positive interactions with corporate comms pros, but noted the bad apples, too.

Want productive and positive interactions with the Wikipedia community? Be open and transparent, advised the online encyclopedia’s cofounder, Jimmy Wales, in an interview with 60 Minutes’ Morley Safer.

The site’s discussions with PR professionals are often positive, though the entrepreneur noted some bad actors, as well.

"Sometimes [self-promotion] is shady, and the community gets very upset when people come in and lie about who they are and pretend things that aren’t true and try to get an advantage," Wales said on the 60 Minutes Overtime segment. "There are also the responsible PR people who come to the discussion pages and say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem here. You printed the criticism of us, and didn’t talk about the response. Here are some sources.’"

Wales added about the latter: "That’s great; we can have that kind of open dialogue about how to improve Wikipedia."

Wikipedia’s relationship with the PR industry is a work in progress. Last summer, a group of PR agencies developed a joint statement outlining how they intend to comply with the online encyclopedia’s policies. The PR Council and other firms quickly signaled they would work with that framework, as well.  

Months earlier, Wikipedia’s volunteer editor community debated how to handle the emergence of Wiki-PR, a firm whose primary service was editing Wikipedia pages. It eventually sent the firm a cease-and-desist order after it allegedly did not comply with the site’s terms and conditions.

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