I had to explain this once, and my notes read something like this:
Skilled PR people know there's a story to tell. They think in terms of the
story. But Wikipedia is a neutral source. We think in terms of significant
facts. So there's a fundamental new kind of writing style and filter of
what is important and appropriate, and how to communicate. It's the
difference between your doctor's medical report and the launch of an iPad -
they are fundamentally different style and focus. We use the word
"encyclopedic" to describe our approach. It means we are neutral, we write
based on facts and citations, we write densely to educate and not to
persuade, we believe that if the facts are stated readers can and will
Where that works, is that many PR professionals are ethical, and have valid
information that's relevant and cited. They are transparent, they seek
help, they know they can't write as they usually do in Wikipedia and accept
other's help to find what will fit. But a huge amount of PR just isn't
relevant to Wikipedia or dresses up its subject, and it's there that the
community is ruthless in removing and exposing abusers. Bad PR tries to
use the medium to make a point. Good PR has points that fit the medium.
Good PR on Wikipedia provides checkable facts of major significance to the
*What does that mean for PR experts wanting to leverage Wikipedia? It means*
- Learn how to tell when your subject is relevant. Be selective, and if
in doubt ask. You may find it isn't relevant. You wouldn't expect to
find an article on fish farming in a medical website; you may not find your
topic has a place on Wikipedia. Accept it.
- Learn to think "what would a reference source say". Many reference
sources are very terse. They don't tell a story, they give key facts.
- Consider open disclosure. State whom you represent, and what
information you'd like to add, seek help, and discuss it. If you engage
other users the odds are very good your work will either be accepted and
you with it, or you'll save a lot of time and get an opinion before making
promises. Respect and trust are Wikipedia's currency. Leverage them.
Don't be ashamed of writing for a client, but be honest that's what you
want to do, and see if it helps.
- Above all, don't try to manipulate or play games. Don't use multiple
accounts. Don't spam. After 11 years, Wikipedia and its community have
got very good at finding abuse. It gets reported in the press. In many
cases PR people have found, to their horror, that they have indeed added a
valid subject - but the puffery got trimmed, and the negative side they
never wanted exposed, was also added to balance it. Remember, you don't
have any right to remove text or delete topics you added on Wikipedia, and
your worst nightmare might be to find someone else has added to your
masterpiece, the information you didn't want out there. With newspaper or
peer reviewed citations. Or it's been discussed and deleted. There is
no time limit afgter which work is safe, so it can be modified or deleted
at any time if the community's attention is drawn to it.
*What sort of content does Wikipedia value?*
We have guidelines on the content that's suitable and unsuitable. In
general, we document topics that the world at large has demonstrably
already taken significant notice of, in some way or another. The Eiffel
Tower or Apple Corporation - yes. The local town mayor or a band or product
that hasn't made its mark - no. Information that can be authoritatively
checked - yes. Information based on rumor or anecdote - no.
A lot of the time, articles do exist but information is sparse. If you have
a product that won awards, but the details aren't published, then all that
can be said is, "it has won awards". Consider what information might be
useful and relevant for a reference source, and consider whether your
client needs to make that information public so it's citable. Consider
what you have or do that might meet the strict standards of Wikipedia, and
if they don't - accept it. If you think they do - be open and honest, and
*How to start?*
Wikipedia is community driven in a way many PR people can't imagine. Every
topic has a talk page for questions, and there are noticeboards for new
topics, and to discuss issues on existing ones. If you see an error, and
it's clearly factually wrong, you can change it. If you think your action
might be seen as biased, explain it on the discussion page. If you aren't
sure, find a suitable noticeboard and raise it as a concern for others to
look at. Seek second opinions - it shows you're being honest and stops
misunderstandings. If you don't like the answer, ask for others to comment.
See what they say.
Look up our basic rules and policies, and the spirit of the editing
process, and if you want to make a habit of Wikipedia editing, invest some
time and learn how it works. There are some good guides to it, but the best
guide is to try it yourself. Pick something you don't have strong ties to,
and try to see how it's covered and look for improvements. Invest the time,
and ask for help.
Hope that's some use :)
On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM, David Gerard <dgerard(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On 13 June 2012 15:51, geni <geniice(a)gmail.com>
On 13 June 2012 14:14, David Gerard
> Is there any collected consensus on PR
editing or is it all still a
> lot of shouting? I'm not asking for your own opinions, but if there's
> anywhere this is being discussed in some sort of abstractable manner.
Came up at the London meetup. Opinion ranges
talking to PR people to
injecting formic acid into their eyeballs. So I'm going to stay we are
still at the lot of shouting stage.
Yep, sounds like I'll be trying to do NPOV live in real time. It'll be
great fun, I'm sure.
At least I'll get to frighten my coworkers on Wednesday by showing up in a
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