[Update: Version 2 of the Wikipedia guidance was published May 2014.]
I'm delighted that the first comprehensive guidance to public relations practitioners on engaging with the Wikipedia community is published today by the CIPR. Here's the process we've gone through:
> Early January 2012 – The CIPR Social Media panel meets and recognises that current guidance is lacking (see my post of 6th January)
> Mid-January 2012 – PR Week's Editor in Chief, Danny Rogers, calls on the CIPR to clarify its guidance to members, and the profession more widely ("CIPR must set bar high on Wikipedia code")
> January - April 2012 – The Social Media panel's Gemma Griffiths leads the development of a first draft of guidance; "something to shoot at"
> 12th May 2012 – Neville Hobson and I take part in the Wikimedia UK AGM to call for their help in working up the guidance (see my post of 14th May)
> 14th May 2012 – The first draft is uploaded to Wikimedia UK's wiki
> To 24th June 2012 – We collaborate with Wikimedians on more than 160 edits on the back of a discussion page running to more than twelve thousand words.
So, what do you think of version 1 of the guidance? We're calling it version 1, because the wiki still lives and breathes with the intent that we can continue to refine the guidance together. I for one would like to see greater concision and perhaps a flow chart to explain the process visually.
It's fantastic to see version 1 supported by the Canadian Public Relations Society, the PRCA and the Public Relations Institute of Australia, but it seems the Public Relations Society of America could not endorse it just yet.
Our work here is informed by nothing more or less than striving for mutual understanding and goodwill (the very definition of best practice PR), whereas I believe some PRSA members design to affect change to Wikipedia policy, and possibly its core principles. I don't speak for them of course, so I'm just guessing. Hopefully, they'll have something to say on the matter later today.
Speaking for myself, I can't see how they might achieve such an objective without working in the first place to establish dialogue and goodwill, particularly given the poor reputation PR starts with in the eyes of Wikipedians. We have trampled on their community somewhat over the years after all.
Lastly, it would be remiss of me not to thank the CIPR's Phil Morgan and Andy Ross on behalf of the social media panel for all their help on this. Couldn't do it without them!
Rachel Miller says:
Fantastic news, well done to everyone for the hard work involved in getting version one published, Rachel
27 June 2012 — 10:08 am
Stuart Bruce says:
Philip, while I'm 100% behind our CIPR guidance I don't think that the PRSA's stance is at odds with "mutual understanding and goodwill". Mutual is two way so I see this as the first step and future steps should include exploring more fully about how we all work together to improve the quality of Wikipedia for its most important community - the readers. This draft is excellent at helping PRs and Wikipedians, but far less so at helping those who simply stumble across an incomplete or inaccurate entry. The main issue is that it still puts an enormous and unfiar burdon on the dedcicated, hard-working volunteers who actually should be updating those entries, but often don't have the time or inclination to do so on subjects that are peripheral to their main issues.
27 June 2012 — 5:34 pm
Good point well made Stuart. In fact, the PRSA's response today is equally well presented:
I guess I'm saying that when I walk into someone's house I automatically take my shoes off. I wouldn't dare assume that they'd be comfortable with me keeping them on, or that I should argue the point upon them opening the front door.
I want everyone to build the best encyclopedia. And based on the feedback from long-time Wikipedians, I'm prepared to accept that they may not wish to change current processes or principles and that we'll have to accept that. In fact, I'm decidedly lacking in vision as to how the alternatives proposed by CREWE could actually play out exactly. Either way, long may we continue to have dialogue, because nothing can be done without it, and well done to Wikimedia UK and the CIPR for supporting this conversation.
27 June 2012 — 5:57 pm