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No more sneaky Wikipedia edits, PR firms promise

Top PR firms have promised play fair, abiding by the rules set by online encyclopedia Wikipedia. This comes following years of PR agencies editing notes on their client’s pages.

The statement which first came into discussion in February this year, asks that the PR agencies involved “seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects and “act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to ‘conflict of interest’.”

In total, 11 agencies have signed the contract and known names include Allison+ Partners; Ogilvy & Mather; FleishmanHillard; Burson-Marsteller; Ketchum; MSLGROUP; Porter Novelli; Edelman; Weber Shandwick, amongst several other companies that have promised to stay objective.

Marshall Manson, managing director, EAME Social@Ogilvy said on a blogpost that while most people see Wikipedia as the world’s biggest and most important single online source of information, it also one of the world’s biggest and most complex online communities.

“Over the years, thanks in part to the behaviour of a few bad actors within our industry, many within that community have come to view professional communicators with deep mistrust. Some within the Wikipedia community have concluded that it’s impossible to work effectively with communications professionals in way that’s consistent with the site’s principles of objectivity,” said Manson.

Manson added that by taking the steps, he hopes that the industry can begin to establish a trusted relationship with members of the Wikipedia communities.

“We recognise that this will take time, and we are willing to work patiently in the months to come,” he added.

Meanwhile Jeremy Rosenberg, head of digital at Allison + Partners said: “Over the years, there have been abuses which caused strife between the community of editors/contributors and professional communicators. In an attempt to repair this troubled relationship, a coordinated effort between agencies and members of the Wikipedia community has been underway for the past several months.”

The discussion first began in February this year at a roundtable discussion held in Washington, DC. The discussion brought together individuals from Wikipedia’s volunteer community and from digital practices of several communications agencies and academic observers.

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