Feeds

Vendor mouthpieces promise to stop spamming Wikipedia

Astroturf rolled up and stacked out the back

The essential guide to IT transformation

Eleven global-scale flackhauses have twigged to the idea that polishing their clients' turds on Wikipedia is a high-risk strategy, and have solemnly pledged not to do so.

Last year, Wikipedia bit the bullet and began investigating cases of sockpuppeting – or, as Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner put it, “paid advocacy editing” (the PR industry would probably have described it as “a comprehensive multi-channel brand management strategy until it was rumbled).

As Gardner wrote at the time: “paid editing for promotional purposes, or paid advocacy editing as we call it, is extremely problematic. We consider it a “black hat” practice. Paid advocacy editing violates the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people.”

That investigation led to 250 accounts being blocked.

Back in 2011, Wikipedia had suspended accounts associated with Bell Pottinger in the UK, leading the Public Relations Society of America to call for flacks to be allowed to make edits.

That push has now stalled, and the PR industry is moving towards Wikipedia's position.

The 11 PR outfits listed as participants in the Wikipedia “pledge-to-be-nice” include such names as Ogilvy & Mather, FleishmanHillard, Burson-Marsteller, Porter Novelli and Edelman. Branches of the companies listed represent the likes of Samsung, Citrix, Avaya, HP and many other technology concerns, so the pact will impact the way Reg readers are targeted.

They vow to try to understand Wikipedia's “fundamental principles”, to follow guidelines and policies “particularly those related to conflict of interest”, to obey the terms of use (which they did so when they created accounts, but hey), to report conflicts of interest, and to publicise their views and try to get other flacks to play nice as well.

Roughly, since Wikipedia's terms of service forbid such outfits working for pay to edit clients' articles, the signatories will at most be restricted to requesting edits in a page's discussion.

Edelman senior veep Phil Gomes couldn't resist a single snipe at Wikipedia, saying that “there needs to be more from PR than subterfuge and more from Wikipedia than shame”, according to AdAge. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.