The Problem with Wikipedia

Think Wikipedia is a reliable source of information?  Not necessarily.Wikipedia

The Problem with Wikipedia – one executive’s experience

What the Research Shows

According to research published in the Public Relations Journal (April 17, 2012), the academic quarterly of the PRSA, “sixty percent of Wikipedia articles about companies contain factual errors.”  Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., co-chair of PRSA’s National Research Committee and assistant professor of public relations at Penn State University, conducted the research.

In addition, the survey found that a gap exists between public relations professionals and Wikipedia regarding the proper protocol for editing entries.

When respondents attempted to engage editors through Wikipedia’s “Talk” pages to request factual corrections to entries, 40 percent said that it took “days”to receive a response, 12 percent indicated that it took “weeks,” and 24 percent never received any type of reply. According to Wikipedia, the standard response time for corrections requests is between two and five days. In addition, only 35 percent of respondents were able to engage with Wikipedia, either by using its “Talk” pages to converse with editors or through direct editing of a client’s entry. Respondents indicated that this figure is low, partly because some fear media backlash regarding making edits to clients’ entries. Survey participants also expressed a level of uncertainty regarding how to properly edit Wikipedia entries.” (Public Relations Tactics, p. 4)

The Take Away

  • Choose your information sources wisely.
  • Use more than one source.
  • Think critically.
  • Do some fact checking.

Sources

  • Chandler, Cullen J., and Alison S. Gregory. “Sleeping With The Enemy: Wikipedia in the College Classroom.” History Teacher 43.2 (2010): 247-257. EBSCO MegaFILE. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.
  • “The Problem with Wikipedia.” Washington DC Based National Public Relations Advertising Interactive Digital Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.
  • “Survey: Majority of Wikipedia Entries Contain Factual Errors.” Public Relations Tactics 19.5 (2012): 4. EBSCO MegaFILE. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.
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