Will Wikipedia turn into SPAM?

When I wrote the post on Adam Curry and his Wikipedia history revisionism, I did not think of the larger implications that Dave Winer brought up in his post on Friday.

Overlooked in the press about Adam Curry modifying the Podcasting page on Wikipedia, anonymously, to improve his image, is that it actually was a company turning a Wikipedia page into an ad for itself.
This came up during the presentation I gave at the Phoenix AMA Chapter meeting. A member of the audience asked if it was okay to start a Wiki page on your own company, and I screamed "nooooooo" and that is a great way to open up the client, the company to attacks in Wikipedia. I did suggest that everyone be aware of Wikipedia, and to track Wikipedia (just like you would track blogs), and if there are errors, to register, log-in and correct any wrong information.

But, no, do not start a page on yourself, your company or anything else that might look self-serving.

Winer is right - and I feel less than astute for not catching it - but how soon is it before less scrupulous companies begin to alter Wikipedia entries to give the company a bit of a push in history - and history revisionism. Yes, Wikipedia is working on such issues - but will it be enough?

But, you know, Wikipedia is already leaning toward SPAM. I did a quick search on Edelman, Weber Shandwick, Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton. Only one of these large multinational firms had a page - H&K - and it was an unflattering one. However, Schwartz PR, Wikimedia's own PR firm (scroll to the bottom), has a page. Hmm, I wonder why that is? Oh, could it be because they do the PR for the parent company, Wikimedia, and the counsel to name everything Wiki so consumers confuse Wikimedia with Wikipedia with anything else done by Wikimedia? One piece of advice - re-media train Jimmy Wales, prep him before each interview and do not allow him to do interviews via Webcam.

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  1. It may have been removed by now, but pot, meet kettle, as Winer's Attention Trust has (had?) its own Wikipedia page.

    I am not accusing Winer of creating that page. But the page was virtually a carbon copy of the official AT front page. Oops.

    The last time I looked, the page was marked for removal.

  2. I love this discussion, Jeremy. What's funny is, I agree with everything you're saying but come to the opposite conclusion. I posted an Idea Grove entry on Wikipedia way back in January (I think). And I did it for the same reasons identified here -- Wikipedia's PR firm has an entry, as do lots of other companies and individuals that wouldn't make Brittanica. If Jimmy Wales wants to take down my entry, I don't really care; but he better take down about a thousand others than are no more objectively significant. Besides, I thought one of the virtues of Wikipedia is that, unlike that stack of books in the library, Wikipedia is a potentially infinite resource -- the more, the merrier, right? Wikipedia is proud of its entries on dwarf tossing and other arcane trivial stuff; why not have entries on arcane, trivial companies? Why is that worse? If someone doesn't want to read my Wikipedia entry, they don't have to. Go read about some third-rate porn star instead; they ALL seem to have an entry.