6 Ways For PR Firms To Ask For A Correction On Wikipedia

by David King on Mar 14, 2013

correcting errorsQorvis recently joined the ranks of PR firms like Bell Pottinger, Portland Communications and Finsbury that stand accused of manipulating Wikipedia entries for their clients.

Something that stood out from the summary at The Daily Dot was that Qorvis is defending their actions with a familiar tune – accusing Wikipedia of not providing reasonable processes to correct errors and have their clients’ reputations treated fairly.

That inspired me to write this post on six ways to correct errors, address bias or contest content ethically and safely as a PR/marketing participant on Wikipedia.

Avoid becoming the next media embarrassment by following these steps:

1. Talk

Wikipedia Talk

The first step is to identify yourself on the Talk page of the article, describe the error clearly and provide sources that can verify the correct information.

2. Request Edit

Often the Talk page is not closely watched by editors or may be watched by someone with a bias. Add {{request edit}} above your comment on the Talk page to add it to a queue of requested edits. This makes your request for correction visible to editors that may not be watching the individual article.

3. Editors

Even the Request Edit queue often grows stagnant with old requests and can take weeks or months, so it may also be a good idea to ask editors directly to consider your request. Take a look at the Talk page or the article’s edit-history, find the most active editors on the page, and ask them to respond to your request directly through their Talk page.

4. COIN

COIN stands for the “Conflict of Interest Noticeboard” and it’s a fairly active forum for editors to ask for help or raise issues related to conflict of interest, where they need the attention of more editors. There’s instructions for starting a new conversation string on the page.

5. OTRS

OTRS stands for the open-ticket request system. If the error or bias is obvious, if you need something handled privately, or if it’s urgent, contact Wikipedia at info-en-q@wikimedia.org. You’ll get a prompt response each time from an experienced volunteer, though they probably won’t handle complex requests.

6. Offer content

Sometimes the article is factual and accurate, but only the organization’s controversies are covered, creating an imbalanced article. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely volunteer editors will devote the time to beef up the article at your beckoning, so you’ve got to do the work to add the other side. Put together a really solid draft of the content you want to add and offer it to the site’s editors.

If you feel an editor is picking on you or has a bias, this can be resolved through 3PO (third opinion) and other dispute resolution processes. However, often a public relations editor thinks volunteers are bias or picking on them, when it’s really us who are bias!

Asking for corrections on Wikipedia isn’t as obvious as it is with the media. There’s nobody to call, several different ways to go about it and a lot of venues that often don’t elicit a response. But, by following the advice above, you can get corrections made and stay out of trouble while doing it.

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Post Author

David King is the founder of Ethical Wiki, a professional services organization that helps companies improve Wikipedia ethically by offering content, requesting corrections and discussing controversies. Learn more at ethicalwiki.com or read our eBook on Wikipedia & marketing....

  • http://www.socialbakers.com/ Michal Smetana

    I think that PR firms should be really careful with Wikipedia. It’s supposed to be objective encyclopedia-like information that shouldn’t be at all used for promotion. If the subject is worthy of a notion, then why not to write about it, but in an objective manner.

  • amatulic

    As an OTRS volunteer myself, I can say that contacting OTRS about errors that are either non-controversial or involve a conflict of interest won’t result in any positive action. If the change you want is non-controversial, you will be advised to make the change yourself. Otherwise, you will be advised to discuss your problem on the public talk page. Often we get contacted by PR reps who want the article locked in their favored state, or protected so only they can edit it. That’s a big no-no. Wikipedia doesn’t work by back-room communications. Wikipedia is a community project, and you must engage with the community, not a single OTRS volunteer, to get anything done.

    That said, I have made edits for companies at the request of the owner or founder, or for celebrities at their request, if they are uncomfortable with the mechanics of editing, but I generally don’t simply accede to their requests. Rather, I post their suggested changes on the talk pages for the community to evaluate, which is what any PR representative should be doing.