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BizReport : Internet : April 19, 2012

60% of Wikipedia articles about companies contain factual errors

Do you know if your company's Wikipedia entry is factually correct? According to new research from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) six out of ten Wikipedia articles about businesses contain errors.

by Helen Leggatt

It might be worth checking out the Wikipedia article about your company. Research by Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., co-chair of PRSA's National Research Committee and an assistant professor of public relations at Penn State University in State College, found that 60% of articles about specific companies contained factual errors or, in some cases, outright sabotage.

"The editing of Wikipedia by public relations and corporate communications professionals is a serious issue and one that needs to be addressed by everyone," said DiStaso. "The status quo can't continue. A high amount of factual errors doesn't work for anyone, especially the public, which relies on Wikipedia for accurate, balanced information."

However, as the research reveals, getting any amendments done can be quite a task. Of the 1,284 respondents to the PRSA's survey who contacted Wikipedia to remedy errors a quarter (24%) never heard back, 40% waited several days before getting a response and 12% were left waiting for weeks.

The problem, it seems, is a lack of understanding between public relations professionals and Wikipedia editors regarding the proper way to put forward corrections. In fact, public relations professionals appear to have scant knowledge of Wikipedia's editing rules.

"It does not surprise me that so many Wikipedia entries contain factual errors," said DiStaso. "What is surprising, however, is that 25% of survey respondents indicated they are not familiar with the Wikipedia articles for their company or clients. At some point most, if not all, companies will determine they need to change something in their Wikipedia entries. Without clear, consistent rules from Wikipedia regarding how factual corrections can be made this will be a very difficult learning process for public relations professionals."

Tags: public relations, research, Wikipedia

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