Wikipedia’s ‘truth’ formula needs tweaking. But by whom?

Posted on March 28th 2012

Wikipedia’s ‘truth’ formula needs tweaking. But by whom?

There’s has been a great discussion going on about what it takes for someone to edit an article on Wikipedia. I recently received an invitation to a survey of communicators on my experiences with editing wiki entries. Apparently this is connected to a point raised by Phil Gomes of Edelman Digital, who brought this up, creating a Facebook group to think it through. The group is called CREWE –which stands for Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement.

The story of who could edit Wikipedia goes back some two years, when Timothy Messer-Kruse tried to edit an article, and was rebuffed –scolded, really — by Wikipedia’s editors.  Read his article here. Messer-Kruse is an author of several books, including one on race relations. In other words, he’s not someone who just popped by Wikipedia and had an ax to grind.

Prior to that, there were more egregious cases where vandals, and  ’trolls’ changed biographies of people or created conflict within the editors.

Fast forward to what CREWE is proposing. There’s a task force of communicators from IABC and PRSA looking into Wikipedia’s policies. I was asked to join, and gladly agreed.

If you are interested in following this development, join the Facebook group. I also came across this page  that summarizes what Wikipedia expects of editors.

  • Subjects require significant coverage in independent reliable sources.
  • Your role is to inform and reference, not promote or sell.
  • Write without bias, as if you don’t work for the company or personally know the subject.
  • State facts and statistics, don’t be vague or general.
  • Take time to get sources and policy right and your content will last.
  • Be transparent about your conflict of interest
  • Get neutral, uninvolved editors to review your content
  • Work with the community and we’ll work with you.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.

It’s more complicated than this, trust me, but it’s a start. There’s a line on this page that states “Be patient and open to cooperation: no one here is out to get you.” But hearing about some folk’s experiences, it sure feels like a tough space to operate in.

There’s also a page on Wikipedia that states Wikipedia is about verifiability, not truth. But there are other nuances, such as NOR – No Original Research– and Be Bold to master if you want to craft Wikipedia article that adheres to its formula for wiki truth. Worth reading, if your organization expects you to monitor and create content.

 

heyangelo

Angelo Fernando

I am an author, business columnist, blogger and podcaster. A former communications strategist, I now teach computer and technology at an elementary school. 

My latest book is Chat Republic: Why Social Media Drives Us to be Human 1.0 in a Web 2.0 World.

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