Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wiki Whackiness: Reading through Strumpette’s article asking whether PR has become synonymous with spam, I was struck once again by the reasoning—or lack of it—behind Wiki-pedia’s decision to ban PR people from posting.

Strumpette quotes Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: “The big problem with paid editing on Wikipedia is NOT that someone is getting paid to write, but rather that this causes a rather obvious conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety.”

There are a couple of fallacies at work here. The first is that the appearance of impropriety seems to be more important to Wikipedia than the real issue, which is accuracy of information. Can the fact that someone is being paid lead them to post inaccurate or biased information? Of course it can. Is it the only, or even the main, reason for posting inaccurate information? Not even close.

Some people post inaccurate information for ideological reasons, too. They hate Bill Clinton. They think big pharmaceutical companies are profiting off other people’s misery. They don’t like the environmental policies of large chemical companies. They think Greenpeace is trying to destroy the free market system. Do these people get a free pass because their motivation to spread disinformation is untainted by money?

The second problem is collective punishment. If there are paid PR consultants posting inaccurate information to Wikis—and I don’t doubt that there are—then by all means punish them. But to punish an entire class of people for the actions of a few members of that class makes no sense to me. Would Wales ban anyone who has an ideological bias—members of political parties or activist groups, for example—because some ideologues have posted inaccurate information?

Of course not. That would be absurd. But no more absurd than his current position.

11 Comments:

  • At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Amanda Chapel said…

    It is not just Jimmy Wales. "Jimbo" is bowing to the political pressure that is social media. PR is NOT just being locked out of Wikipedia.

    Remember Paul... perception is reality.

    - Amanda

     
  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger Moksh Juneja said…

    This is real shocker from the internet community and it clears shows how is the reputation percived of "reputation managers"

     
  • At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i kinda disagree with the above commenter..perception is reality on one note but on another note..think about how many things we dont perceive that we do think is reality..look at both sides.
    Ivana

     
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