Eleven large public relations firms have agreed to clean up the way they interact with Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Some of the companies have been involved in editing pages to favor their clients via pseudonymous accounts.
The BBC reports that dialogue with various public relations (PR) companies began after Wikipedia's overseers, the Wikimedia Foundation, threatened one firm with legal action over the way it edited pages. Such was the extent of editing, that Wikipedia detected 300 accounts set up by people acting for just one PR agency seeking to remove damaging information from entries.
This news will not come as a total surprise to Digital Journal readers. Last October we reported that Wikipedia editors have identified hundreds of user accounts set up to make paid-for entries. This violates the aims and objectives of the online encyclopedia.
The PR companies that have now pledged to follow Wikipedia's strict editing rules are: Beutler Ink, Edelman, Fleishman Hillard, Peppercomm, Ogilvy & Mather, Ketchum, Burson-Marsteller, Porter Novelli, Voce Communications, Allison+Partners and Glover Park Group. In a joint statement, the companies have written: "We... acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors."
Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia's 30 million articles in 287 languages, including over 4.3 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone having access to the site. The mission statement of the Wikimedia Foundation is "to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally."