Wikipedia founder issues warning to agencies

The founder of Wikipedia has this week warned PR agencies against writing about companies they represent in the popular online encyclopaedia.

‘If it persists they [PR agencies] will be banned,’ said Florida-based Jimmy Wales in an exclusive interview with PRWeek. ‘There’s a huge conflict of interest. Contributors cannot be paid for what they are doing.’

Wales spoke as news broke that Microsoft was paying a blogger to fix ‘inaccuracies’ on Wikipedia – the 12th most popular internet site and the first port of call for many when fact- finding. Wales criticised Microsoft for the practice.

‘Although agencies and employees should not edit our pages, they do – but perhaps less than you would expect,’ he said.

Gregory Kohs, whose firm MyWikiBiz edited pages for a fee and was banned from the site last year, said he was surprised PR agencies were discouraged from direct editing.

‘There are around 130 “Fortune 1,000” companies absent from Wikipedia’s pages,’ he said. ‘How could they not benefit from a little PR help?’

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