I wrote a couple of months ago about the importance of transparency in contributing to Wikipedia. Today we learned that “Wikipedia will soon begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about people.” Within weeks, a trusted volunteer editor for Wikipedia must approve of any change to an entry about a living person before the entry can go live. While this wait-and-see approach to revisions can prevent the spread of misinformation from pranks and hoaxes, it also limits the freedom so long associated with the site. Research shows a growing resistance to new content; content from trusted editors is more likely to remain on the site, while updates from new contributors are more likely to be removed.
So what are the marketing implications of these flagged revisions? Misinformation about a person can not only harm that person, but also affect the companies and organizations that person is affiliated with. Remember when the rumor about Steve Jobs’ death adversely affected Apple’s stock price? Incorrect information on Wikipedia can and does certainly have the same effect. Those of us interested in reputation management should keep a close eye on the evolution of Wikipedia and its processes. Is this the beginning of the end for Wikipedia? Who or what will be the next subject of flagged revisions by experienced, trusted editors? Or is this a natural progression to making an already useful site even more dependable?
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR