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Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

Texas Politicians Caught With a Revoked ‘Editorial License’ on Wikipedia


For you tree huggers out there: See what Wikipedia saved?

Ah, yes. I love my fabled Lone Star State: the wide prairies; the sprawling plains; the Texas-sized “everything’s bigger here” claims. But let’s not forget this state’s legendary political kerfuffles…

For instance, Texas is the only state to be entered into the United States by treaty and not by territorial annexation because we are kind of a big deal. So much so, that Texas was indeed its own independent nation from 1836 to 1845, and still boasts a clause in the state constitution that says we can be that way again whenever our cracked leaders say so.

Another thing drawing comparatives to “Texas-sized” are the lies hailing from here. Specifically, the ones on Wikipedia from those aforementioned cracked leadersRead more

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Wikipedia Tells Top ‘Sockpuppet’ Firm to Cut It Out Already


…and PR is one.

Last month we posted a TL;DR piece on Wikipedia‘s fight to save its reputation from “sockpuppets”, or PR people breaking the rules by editing and monitoring clients’ pages for money.

The general consensus: certain firms tripped over ethical obstacles and fell flat on their faces—but If Wikipedia really wants to improve its relationship with PR then it might want to work to clear up the editorial “red line” that makes it so hard to correct the kind of errors and opinionated entries that can hurt brands’ reputations.

Now it looks like the Wiki people rejected that approach: they’ve singled out prime offender Wiki-PR for sanctions and issued a cease-and-desist order.

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Can Wikipedia Defeat the ‘Sockpuppets?’


It’s not just Fox News, guys. Not by a long shot.

Wikipedia is in the midst of a crackdown on ethically dubious practices by “sockpuppets” paid to write and/or edit slanted entries. As of last night, the site’s administrators have shut down more than 250 “suspicious” accounts following a Wikimedia Foundation press release lamenting the fact that they “may have been paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products” and violating numerous site policies that prohibit conflicts of interest.

We get it: repeated studies have shown that inaccuracies in Wikipedia profiles can significantly damage corporate and personal reputations, and the same studies indicate that the process of correcting such errors is too inefficient for such an important source of public information.

At the same time, we see this development as bad news for both Wikipedia and the PR industry at large: it could not play more perfectly into the perception that we’re all paid liars.

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Study: Wikipedia Errors Damage Brands’ Reputations

Issues. We got 'em.

Most of us rightly see Wikipedia as a flawed but unavoidable source of information; the fact that some of the site’s entries are less than 100% accurate doesn’t make it any less influential.

A recent study conducted by the PRSA, however, determined that errors on companies’ Wikipedia pages can significantly damage their reputations. Some key findings:

  • 59% of those familiar with the pages of their own companies or their companies’ clients indicate that errors exist
  • 28% of respondents believe that these errors could be “reputation-damaging”, while 38% who answered yes to that question believe that such mistakes have already taken their toll on the reputation of the company/client

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The ABCs of Using Simpler Language

Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten was no doubt pleased with the New York Times’ two-star review of his latest New York restaurant, abc cocina, on July 31. But whoever wrote the description on the restaurant’s website may have cringed, since food critic Pete Wells questioned key passages. The review serves as a reminder why concise wording usually makes better business sense.


Here’s the abc cocina website content that Wells parsed:

abc cocina & michelin star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten welcome you to our modern global exchange celebrating local craft and international culture, a fusion of tradition and innovation uniting yesterday and tomorrow. Experience the vision of abc home curation, a romantic and mystical atmosphere and succumb to a dynamic love affair with an eclectic and enchanting cuisine.

Here are excerpts from Wells’ reaction to that description:

“If that gives you a vivid picture of what’s in store for you at this three-month-old establishment, stop reading and use the free time that now stretches out before you to do something nice for a stranger. If, on the other hand, you found a few passages somewhat hazy, I’ll be happy to do my job.”

“This “modern global exchange” is what we critics like to call a “restaurant.” “International culture” must refer to the menu. I could see how it might be romantic and mystical if you are sexually attracted to gelatinous sea creatures. As for “dynamic love affair,” you are going to have to ask Google. I have absolutely no idea.”

Writing in a “can you top this?” style isn’t unique to the restaurant industry. Overuse of buzzwords also appears to be the rise, and we see frequent evidence across categories, from media to design to travel. Yet clear, simple language is preferred for these five reasons:

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Wikipedia Debates Letting PR Pros Edit Clients’ Pages

BP (that’s “Beyond Petroleum” to you, sir) is in trouble again this week for doing the very sort of thing we’d expect it to do: using its spokesperson to rewrite nearly half of its own Wikipedia page.

The purpose of the edits was to play down the corporation’s horrible environmental record. And the accusation came only a few weeks before yet another hearing in which BP’s lawyer will try to argue that his client shouldn’t have to pay millions in “fictitious or inflated claims” related to the pending class action oil spill lawsuit.

So: move along, nothing to see here…

Of course it’s not all in-house: today PR Week reminds us that firms have been criticized for doing this sort of thing for their clients before.

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Healthcare Not Yet Mobile: PCs Still Dominate the Market

For all the talk of smartphones and tablets, you’d think every American plugs into an iPad after work each day and that millions of PCs currently sit in the corners of our homes gathering dust. Yet a recent survey conducted by Makovsky reveals that most Americans will stick with Old Reliable when it comes to their most significant expenditures: healthcare.

Despite the vast technological advances driving the evolution of healthcare around the world, healthcare communications remains a very traditional field. The message to PR pros operating in the industry is clear: Most patients prefer old-school human interactions—and tech tools will not necessarily win the day.

We have no doubt that, at some point in the relatively near future, medical research conducted via smartphone will be so easy and common that everyone from your little brother to your grandmother will wonder why they didn’t start doing it sooner. But the Americans who spend the most money on healthcare aren’t quite ready to make that leap just yet.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings: Read more

Did the Romney Campaign Just Reveal Its VP Pick?

Will it be this silver fox? In politics — even more than most industries — PR reps strive to maintain control over the media narrative and save the most sensitive stories for release at the best possible times. On that note, the biggest news from Mitt Romney’s campaign in the coming weeks will be its official announcement of the former governor’s running mate.

Third parties and a certain former VP have advised the Romney camp to avoid the media explosion prompted by Sarah Palin’s appearance on the national stage four years ago, and the team has followed suit, aiming to divert the attention of the press by dropping big, unlikely names into the pool and encouraging friendly media outlets to run with the fake stories as they “break.”

NBC’s First Read reports that three candidates remain in the running, yet NPR and TechPresident believe that Romney’s PR camp may have revealed their hand by way of editorial activity on Wikipedia. Given the fact that traffic on any candidate’s page will shoot up in the wake of such an announcement, we find their theory credible: Last-minute edits are needed to make the potential Veep look as good as possible. So which of the frequently-named VP candidates’ pages have seen the most changes of late?

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Research: Many Wikipedia Entries Have Errors, PRs Can’t Do Much About It

Marcia DiStaso, assistant professor of PR at the College of Communications at Penn State University, surveyed 1,300 PR pros and they say 60 percent of Wikipedia entries contain errors about their clients. And because of rules against PRs editing Wikipedia articles, the errors can remain published for an indefinite amount of time.

According to information we received via email, DiStaso has been conducting Wikipedia research since 2006 and gathered responses from PR pros across agencies, nonprofit organizations, companies, and other groups. She told ABC News that PRs are only allowed to leave comments and wait for a public response. Ideally, Wikipedia guidelines say that should happen within five days. But nearly a quarter of respondents (24 percent) say they never heard back. More than half of respondents thought the rules should be changed.

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Liveblogging, Blackouts, and Protests! The Internet Takes On SOPA

Top row l to r: Google, Converseon, Craigslist. Bottom row l to r: Wikipedia, Wired, and Google. Click here to get a better look at Google’s infographic.

We are losing the Internet, site by site. Google has a big black box on its logo. Wikipedia is dark. And dozens of New Yorkers may be out on the street because they can’t get to the rental listings on Craigslist.

Websites are taking their opposition to SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) to the Web, protesting the bill by demonstrating what they think will happen should it go into effect. Still a little fuzzy on what it all means? Fast Company has got a quick summary here. A few other screenshots are available on

The Guardian is liveblogging the protest, updating this webpage with a list of sites that are joining in. A full list of participants and how to turn your site into a site of protest is available on the SOPAStrike site.

After the jump, we’ve got a poll to gather your thoughts on the impact that SOPA would have on your business.

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