Manufactured or Mobile?

    November 14, 2006

Kami Watson Huyse has begun a very interesting experiment I’ll be watching with keen interest. In response to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ interview in PRSA’s Tactics, Kami has followed Wales’ advice and posted suggested changes to a Wikipedia entry in its related “discussion” section.

Wales is vehemently opposed to anybody altering or adding content to Wikipedia if they have been paid to do it. He finds the practice hugely unethical, regardless of whether the contribution was truly neutral in its point of view (a requirement for all Wikipedia posts). Instead of posting directly, Wales suggests PR reps (and others representing an organization) use the discussion page to make their suggestions, then let others who agree and are not being paid make the change.

Kami, who used to work full-time for the Manufactured Housing Institute, has posted a rather detailed comment to the discussion page for the Mobile Home entry. She’s not actually asking for a change, but providing clarification around an earlier discusison about the interchangability of the words. It’ll be interesting to see if her expert advice leads to any alterations in the entry’s content.

I’ve read and heard a lot about the issue of PR practitioners and wikis-ranging from blog posts to Wales’ own arguments to an Edelman discussion on its EARshot podcast, and I still don’t know where I stand; it’s complicated. But I’m sure that there are plenty of Wikipedia entries that are not characterized by a neutral point of view and that the exclusion of people paid to manage companies’ reputations from contributing merely drives many of them underground. Still, Wales’ approach-making your case on the discusison page-sounds reasonable. Now, thanks to Kami, we can see if it actually works.



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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.