Last week I mentioned the brouhaha surrounding the BBC’s usage (or the overzealous use of one of Jamie Kane’s “fans”) of Wikipedia as a marketing platform for an online game and now the saga continues. Search Engine Blog is reporting on an internal Wikipedia dialogue concerning the rising number of promotional, marketing and “spam” uses of the Wikipedia.
It seems that the G4 television network has also brought some interesting issues to the table with their recent Attack of the Show user page sanctioned by Wikipedia creator Jimbo Wales. The G4 page was a victim of much vandalism and has stirred up some in-fighting amongst Wikipedia editors.
In both cases, the original Wikipedia entries have either been deleted entirely or severely edited from their original state. Most marketers would not take kindly to ceding authority over their “message” in such a free-range environment. The Wikipedia signpost makes the following points:
From the wikipedia’s point of view:
- if it successfully draws people’s attention to the product, then it’s highly likely that editors will notice it; once the editors get there they can begin to deal with it
- if the article is accurate, then it’s possibly a legitimate article
- if it’s not wiki-worthy, then the editing process will make it so, or delete it
From the marketers point of view the Wikipedia is a difficult choice:
- if the article is biased, then the wikipedia’s editors will balance it (it seems reasonable not to expect the marketers to much enjoy that balancing)
- in any case, once they’ve placed it in the wikipedia, the marketers will have lost control of it, and from their point of view it is totally a loose cannon. Again, they probably won’t like that much.
I stand by my original assessment that the Wikipedia is no place for advertisers, marketers or pr professionals. If your product or service is worthy enough to gain inclusion, it will find it’s way to the Wikipedia. If you conduct yourself in an open and honest manner, the truth will be noted in the Wikipedia entries.
And if you’re still not convinced and you want to go around mucking with this very public service, be prepared to do more backpedaling and damage control. Whatever rewards might be proffered by the Wikipedia, the risks are ten times greater.