Wikipedia changes terms of service for PR firms changing company pages

17 Jun 2014

Wikipedia image via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia is attempting to curb efforts by PR companies to edit pages to benefit their clients by demanding they declare their activities for users to see.

The non-profit organisation led by Jimmy Wales announced in its Wikimedia blog page that as of Monday, 23 June, Wikipedia’s terms of service will be changed to allow for the discouraging of editing-for-pay changes made by PR companies.

According to the new terms, a person who is paid to edit will need to disclose this fact to comply with these new terms of use, as well as it being necessary to add their affiliation to the edit summary, user page, or talk page.

Members of the Wikimedia Foundation said the decision will help educate and explain to good-faith editors how they may continue to edit in the spirit of the movement and mission, through simple disclosure of their affiliation.

“Secondly, it will empower the community to address the issue of paid editing in an informed way by helping identify edits that should receive additional scrutiny. Finally, it will provide an additional tool to the community and foundation to enforce existing rules about conflicts of interest and paid editing.”

PR companies agree

The announcement coincidentally comes only a week after a number of major PR companies came together to reveal they would cease all secret editing of the pages.

On Ogilvy’s blog page, the company spoke of its own reasoning for the decision and what its decision meant for the online encyclopedia.

“We hope that by doing so — and by backing our statement with actions in the months and weeks to come — we can begin to establish a trusted relationship with members of the Wikipedia communities. We recognise that this will take time, and we are willing to work patiently in the months to come,” the blog post said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic