Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wikis as Battlegrounds: Who wins?

Taking into consideration Giota’s post in 09/04/08, titled “wikis used in internal communication” I made a search about the credibility of wikis as an information resource and how Public Relations try to twist them.
For millions of users, wikis are trusted resources when they are looking for information about a topic. Indeed, its article covers so many topics that anyone could imagine and this was wikis’ first purpose when they were introduced; to work as information search machines/resources.
But despite its first purpose and the efforts of the authors to keep it neutral and credible, wikis have ended up as a battleground between truth and lie and its articles are becoming targets of everyone who is affected by or can affect a controversial topic. This is where Public Relations get involved and manage their clients' wiki reputation in whatever topic their corporation’s name is mentioned. So, companies change their own wikis entry and edit whatever violates or attempts to spoil their reputation or image and others contribute to wikis to promote their own interests.
This kind of use tends to violate the wikis’ basic purpose and making it another promotional tool, in the hands of those that know how to take advantage of it.

Here are some tips taken from Consumer Reports WebWatch to help consumers take the most out of Wikis:
1. Take note of any warnings or cautions posted at the top of article by Wikipedia's administrators. They often flag articles that violate Wikipedia authorship guidelines.
2. Review the article's sources. Do they include citations from the mainstream media or peer-reviewed journals?
3. Use the "history" tab on each Wikipedia page to review edits made to its content. Click on the "discussion" tab to review users' debates on matters of accuracy.
4. If you're in doubt, step back and use a search engine. Review at least one page, preferably more, of search results to increase the likelihood of finding relevant information. Consider "sponsored links" that may appear within, above or to the side of "organic" search results (or all three) more carefully, since they are advertisements. A third party paid the search engine to place those links.
5. For another way to look under the hood of a Wikipedia entry, try using the Wikiscanner, to see who has been editing the encyclopedia. And scan the list of "salacious edits" Wired's readers have found using the Wikiscanner, revealing suspect contributions from employees at organizations ranging from Amnesty International to Scientology, the United Nations and Wal-Mart
taken from :
[ accessed 09/04/08 ]

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