Survey: 60 percent of company articles on Wikipedia have factual errors

Wikipedia can be a great resource for finding information but it's well known that it should be counted on to present facts that are 100 percent accurate. This week a new survey claims that the majority of articles about specific companies on Wikipedia have at least some errors.

The report, from the Public Relations Society of America, claims that 60 percent of companies with Wikipedia articles had some kind of factual errors. The report was based on a survey of 1,284 PR employees who represented companies listed on Wikipedia. In addition, 25 percent of the PR reps surveys said they were unaware of the Wikipedia pages for their clients.

Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., who headed up the survey for the PRSA, stated:

At some point most, if not all, companies will determine they need to change something in their Wikipedia entries. Without clear, consistent rules from Wikipedia regarding how factual corrections can be made this will be a very difficult learning process for public relations professionals.

Wikipedia has a policy of not allowing company pages to be directly edited by someone who is a "paid advocate" of the company in question. That means PR reps have to ask Wikipedia's editors to change something that is incorrect.

However, fixing a Wikipedia article can also be difficult. The survey said that when PR reps use the website's "Talk" feature to ask that Wikipedia's editors correct an entry on one of their company's pages, 40 percent said it can take days for the article to be fixed. 12 percent of PR reps said it can take weeks and 24 percent said that the Wikipedia page wasn't changed at all.

PR reps are advised to frequently check the Wikipedia page of the company they represent and contact the editors via their "Talk" feature if they see factual errors that need to be corrected. In addition, the report recommends that Wikipedia itself try to clarify its own rules as to what PR reps can and cannot do in terms of editing their client's Wikipedia pages.

Image via PRSA

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