Wiki weakness: the PR trap

Following Shane Richmond’s detailed analysis of wikis and factors hindering their growth as news tools (namely vandalism and inaccuracy), Jemima Kiss has an interesting article highlighting another: PR companies, “after Microsoft apparently paid a blogger to work on various technical entries”. It’s a trap that blogs have already fell foul of – from fake blogs like Cillit Bang’s Barry Scott’s and the even faker WalMart couple-travelling-across-the-USA blog, to PR companies who are employed to seed positive mentions of their clients’ products/services across blogs (among other sites).

Press releases, sponsored ‘surveys’ and PR-organised media events have always provided a large amount of journalistic fuel, so this is nothing new, but one skill the future editor must have is the ability to spot these tactics in their blogs and wikis.

5 thoughts on “Wiki weakness: the PR trap

  1. Shane Richmond

    Hi Paul,

    The new WordPress blog looks good.

    I blogged about the Microsoft v Wikipedia incident last week. I’m not pointing that out because I got there first but because I picked up on a different angle – namely that Wikipedia needs a system that allows individuals and organisations to comment on their own entries.

    I’ve also written about marketers subverting social media on another blog. It’s tangentially related to what you’re writing about.

    Ok, I’ll stop spamming you now! Have a good weekend.


  2. paulbradshaw Post author

    Thanks for pointing that link out to me – another RSS feed to add!

    Agree about the wikipedia system, but how will this work in a journalistic public wiki that is about an issue rather than an object/person? Let’s say we have a wiki about local transport problems – how do we spot the local coach company plugging themselves under the guise of Joe Public? (Or do we trust the users to spot it and contest it?)

  3. Soabsa

    As a college student I have used wikipedia many times in the past. After all this controversy that has surfaced about wiki I’m serioulsy rethinking about using it again. Even some of my professors have banned the use of wiki as a source for research. I think is really sad that big companies, politicians and others are using wiki to further their own interests.

  4. paulbradshaw Post author

    The major weakness of wikis, it seems to me, is entries about people or products, and I wouldn’t trust those entries as they’re so open to people posting malicious or promotional information. But concepts, etc. should be more reliable.

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