Charles Matthews on the public relations problem.

Charles Matthews on wikien-l discussing this paper (on which I’m sure there will be more to say) on this vexed topic. I’ve had this conversation a few times:

“Look, we’re all impressed with Wikipedia. But you seem to be saying that to edit I have to put your project ahead of my day job; and so I think you guys are just a bit crazed.”

“Right both times.”

“And you’re now telling me I have to flack for the opponents of the guy I am paid by, and put their criticisms into due form in the the way that, frankly, they are too dumb to do, using the skills I have but against the brief I have been given.”

“Yup, that’s what it says on the page about neutrality.”

“Well … where I come from … words fail me …”

This is really not the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

5 thoughts on “Charles Matthews on the public relations problem.”

  1. One part of this is that people expect there to be rules to guide them. Wikipedia’s culture, where reliance on rules is actively discouraged, doesn’t help the issue the tiniest bit.

    Get rid of the term “wikilawyering” and the culture that thinks it’s an acceptable way to end a discussion, and put teeth into all of the rules, and put WP:IAR in its proper place – at the bottom of the stack, if not the trash can – and you might actually begin to engage people other than hardcore Wikipedians.

  2. The rules haven’t made sense since at least 2004 (when instruction creep was written – and note its susceptibility itself).

    The linked “paper” (real academic papers don’t have an infographic published in the “journal” with them; unless I’ve just been looking in all the wrong parts of the arXiv) explicitly demands a more gameable rule set. As long as that’s the actual threat model, the thicket of rules will look more like a defence. This is likely unsatisfactory to all.

  3. David, I think it’s a mistake to pre-suppose that a PR person is not doing their job if they don’t get the rosiest version of their client’s story into a Wikipedia article.

    I’ve seen some editors, TeaDrinker is one, argue this Manichean view of PR (on Jimbo’s Talk page this week), but it fails to grok the profession (yes, even as many communication professionals fail to grok Wikipedia). No PR person is “ethically obligated” to help their clients fail to understand reality, and Wikipedia is one form of it they don’t always understand now.

    NPOV can be valued by companies, if educated to value it correctly.

  4. I liked the interview in the current signpost. The project Cooperation seems to be far more useful than taking the COI guideline verbatim.

  5. After 21 million articles and 285 languages, there are still people who think Wikipedia is doing it all wrong. That is hilarious.

    But it’s also easily fixable. Just take the Wikipedia content and set up your own mirror, with your rules. See you in another 11 years.

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