Sunday, August 19, 2007

smart standards for wiki changes

Today's New York Times looks at more of the changes now detectable using Wikipedia Scanner, and finds that corporations have used the editing function to make sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic changes in Wikipedia entries. Wikipedia's volunteers and administrators will promptly re-edit the changes if bias is detected. But with the ability to see who's doing what -- or, at least, where changes originated, by computer location -- some smart recommendations have emerged for those monitoring their image on wikis. First and foremost: Identify yourself. Jimmy Wales, who started the foundation that runs Wikipedia, notes in the story:
“If someone sees a simple factual error about their company, we really don’t mind if they go in and edit,” he said. But if a revision is likely to be controversial, he added, “the best thing to do is log in, go to the ‘talk’ page, identify yourself openly, and say, ‘I’m the communications person from such and such company.’ The community responds very well, especially if the person isn’t combative.”
Next, consider a corporate policy on who can make changes to your organization's entries -- and opt for transparency, in keeping with the nature of wikis. Dell Computer, for example, says that employees writing online about the company must note their status as Dell employees. Finally, keep in mind that this new technology is suggesting future changes destined to keep you honest. Says Wales:
“When someone clicks on ‘edit,’ it would be interesting if we could say, ‘Hi, thank you for editing. We see you’re logged in from The New York Times. Keep in mind that we know that, and it’s public information,’ ” he said. “That might make them stop and think.”
That example's no mistake: The article, in the spirit of self-disclosure, notes several unfortunate changes made from computers located at the New York Times to entries about President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Watch for more such disclosures in the weeks to come, as reporters continue to probe this new service for clues.

No comments: