Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

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Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

David Gerard-2
PR people who edited Wikipedia get crucified. Counterattack: reduce
trust in Wikipedia.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417113527.htm

Paper: http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/

The paper's message appears to be "Wikipedia's rules need to change".
(Also, "Jimmy Wsles is a big meanie head.") The paper doesn't address
the problem that the media and general public get upset and turn PR
editing into a PR problem even when it's within existing rules.

(Aside: I've evidently been skimming too many hard science papers -
that "peer reviewed" paper reads like an undergraduate essay.)


- d.

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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Charles Matthews
On 18 April 2012 12:48, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> PR people who edited Wikipedia get crucified. Counterattack: reduce
> trust in Wikipedia.
>
> <snip>


> Paper: http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/
>
> "When the talk pages were used to request edits, it was found to typically
take days for a response and 24% never received one."

Some spin? So responses were days rather than hours. And there was a
response in 76% of cases.

Charles
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
They say you have to wait 2-5 days for a response after requesting changes
as though that is a bad thing. I'm very impressed with that response time.
How many commercial encyclopaedias can do better?
On Apr 18, 2012 12:48 PM, "David Gerard" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> PR people who edited Wikipedia get crucified. Counterattack: reduce
> trust in Wikipedia.
>
> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417113527.htm
>
> Paper: http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/
>
> The paper's message appears to be "Wikipedia's rules need to change".
> (Also, "Jimmy Wsles is a big meanie head.") The paper doesn't address
> the problem that the media and general public get upset and turn PR
> editing into a PR problem even when it's within existing rules.
>
> (Aside: I've evidently been skimming too many hard science papers -
> that "peer reviewed" paper reads like an undergraduate essay.)
>
>
> - d.
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Andreas Kolbe-2
On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>wrote:

> They say you have to wait 2-5 days for a response after requesting changes
> as though that is a bad thing. I'm very impressed with that response time.
> How many commercial encyclopaedias can do better?



I hope you're joking here. :)

Just in case you weren't: commercial encyclopedias have a sophisticated
editorial and legal process in place to ensure they do not print defamatory
content. Sometimes subjects are sent a draft before publication, and are
given an opportunity to make an input.

Wikipedia has none of that. What it does have is a history of articles
littered with malice, bias and inaccuracy (witness its history of
arbitration cases).

I was struck by the following passage in the paper:

---o0o---

Although another one of the five pillars is that Wikipedia does not have
firm rules – Wales recently stated, “This is not complicated. There is a
very simple “bright
line” rule that constitutes best practice: do not edit Wikipedia directly
if you are a paid
advocate. Respect the community by interacting with us appropriately”
(Wales, 2012a,
para 2).

This directly conflicts with the Wikipedia FAQ/Article subjects (2012) page
that specifically
asks public relations professionals to remove vandalism, fix minor errors
in spelling,
grammar, usage or facts, provide references for existing content, and add
or update facts
with references such as number of employees or event details.

---o0o---

On that, at least, they're correct.

Andreas
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Thomas Morton
On 18 April 2012 13:38, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]
> >wrote:
>
> > They say you have to wait 2-5 days for a response after requesting
> changes
> > as though that is a bad thing. I'm very impressed with that response
> time.
> > How many commercial encyclopaedias can do better?
>
>
>
> I hope you're joking here. :)
>
> Just in case you weren't: commercial encyclopedias have a sophisticated
> editorial and legal process in place to ensure they do not print defamatory
> content. Sometimes subjects are sent a draft before publication, and are
> given an opportunity to make an input.
>

Having dealt with such things before...

That process takes* much much longer* than 2-5 days.

And unless the problem is exceptional most encyclopedias will continue and
ongoing print run until their next update without modification.

Tom
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Andreas Kolbe-2
On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:42 PM, Thomas Morton <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> On 18 April 2012 13:38, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > They say you have to wait 2-5 days for a response after requesting
> > changes
> > > as though that is a bad thing. I'm very impressed with that response
> > time.
> > > How many commercial encyclopaedias can do better?
> >
> >
> >
> > I hope you're joking here. :)
> >
> > Just in case you weren't: commercial encyclopedias have a sophisticated
> > editorial and legal process in place to ensure they do not print
> defamatory
> > content. Sometimes subjects are sent a draft before publication, and are
> > given an opportunity to make an input.
> >
>
> Having dealt with such things before...
>
> That process takes* much much longer* than 2-5 days.
>


Yes, but it takes place *before* publication. :P
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Thomas Morton
On 18 April 2012 13:45, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:42 PM, Thomas Morton <
> [hidden email]
> > wrote:
>
> > On 18 April 2012 13:38, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM, Thomas Dalton <
> [hidden email]
> > > >wrote:
> > >
> > > > They say you have to wait 2-5 days for a response after requesting
> > > changes
> > > > as though that is a bad thing. I'm very impressed with that response
> > > time.
> > > > How many commercial encyclopaedias can do better?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I hope you're joking here. :)
> > >
> > > Just in case you weren't: commercial encyclopedias have a sophisticated
> > > editorial and legal process in place to ensure they do not print
> > defamatory
> > > content. Sometimes subjects are sent a draft before publication, and
> are
> > > given an opportunity to make an input.
> > >
> >
> > Having dealt with such things before...
> >
> > That process takes* much much longer* than 2-5 days.
> >
>
>
> Yes, but it takes place *before* publication. :P
>
>
Not at all.

My specific experience was while consulting on another matter for a firm;
they were surprised to find their name had been noted in connection with
some years-before legal action (quite a disturbing one) in a prominent
printed encyclopaedia.

I helped them get in touch and resolve the issue.

It took about a week for initial contact to prove successful - the material
was reviewed, taking another two weeks, and "amended internally". The next
years print run was currently happening, and they were unable to modify the
problem.

So all in all it took about 18 months for a correction to be published.

I happen to know of several other examples where incorrect material is
still being published years after the point has been brought up.

Whilst you will get some material sent out for review I don't believe it
accounts for much of the content. And, as such, is something of
misdirection on the issue.

I'm not arguing Wikipedia is the solution. But the argument that
printed encyclopaedias are better at this I know to be false.

Tom
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Andreas Kolbe-2
On 18 April 2012 13:38, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]
> >wrote:
>
> > They say you have to wait 2-5 days for a response after requesting
> changes
> > as though that is a bad thing. I'm very impressed with that response
> time.
> > How many commercial encyclopaedias can do better?
>
> I hope you're joking here. :)
>
> Just in case you weren't: commercial encyclopedias have a sophisticated
> editorial and legal process in place to ensure they do not print defamatory
> content. Sometimes subjects are sent a draft before publication, and are
> given an opportunity to make an input.
>
> Wikipedia has none of that. What it does have is a history of articles
> littered with malice, bias and inaccuracy (witness its history of
> arbitration cases).
>

Yes, but note that PR folk are not just employed to deal with defamatory
material. In fact in the case of defamation it's more probably a lawyer's
work. They are professionals in verbal massage of material. This is what
they can charge money for.

>
> I was struck by the following passage in the paper:
>
> ---o0o---
>
> Although another one of the five pillars is that Wikipedia does not have
> firm rules – Wales recently stated, “This is not complicated. There is a
> very simple “bright
> line” rule that constitutes best practice: do not edit Wikipedia directly
> if you are a paid
> advocate. Respect the community by interacting with us appropriately”
> (Wales, 2012a,
> para 2).
>
> This directly conflicts with the Wikipedia FAQ/Article subjects (2012) page
> that specifically
> asks public relations professionals to remove vandalism, fix minor errors
> in spelling,
> grammar, usage or facts, provide references for existing content, and add
> or update facts
> with references such as number of employees or event details.
>
> ---o0o---
>
> On that, at least, they're correct.
>
>
Yes indeed. Jimbo neither makes policy nor enforces it, of course. What we
have here is an ongoing "loop" in being able to read WP:COI properly. I
believe the guideline on COI to be the best available take on this issue.
However - and it's a big however - we are learning that the limitation on
COI to a "universal" statement makes it harder for those with particular
types of COI to understand. This applies both to paid editing, and to
"activist" editing (I think you will have no trouble understanding this,
Andreas ...), as well as autobiography.

The COI guideline is supposed to be "best advice", and in a nutshell it
says "really don't" edit in certain ways when you are too close to a topic.
Now, in the non-nutshell, discursive version it of course says that who you
are and what you believe and how you might be rewarded for editing are not
the issue: if you are a POV pusher that is the problem we have with you,
not anything else. It is not "illegal" in our terms to do certain things
when you have a _potential_ conflict of interest.

But the real-life situation is that someone paid to edit has a boss and/or
paymaster. Jimbo knows what he is doing here with sending out a soundbite,
rather than citing the page. The boss can understand the soundbite, and is
almost certainly not going to bother to understand the page.

Charles
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Thomas Morton
On 18 April 2012 13:53, Thomas Morton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I'm not arguing Wikipedia is the solution. But the argument that
> printed encyclopaedias are better at this I know to be false.


More generally, arguments that make a comparison between an idealised
fantasy Britannica and a real-life WIkipedia are likely to be bad ones
and should be avoided.


- d.

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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Charles Matthews
On 18 April 2012 13:55, Charles Matthews
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> But the real-life situation is that someone paid to edit has a boss and/or
> paymaster. Jimbo knows what he is doing here with sending out a soundbite,
> rather than citing the page. The boss can understand the soundbite, and is
> almost certainly not going to bother to understand the page.


Also note that in my experience, it is pretty much impossible to get
across even to nice PR people that they have a really bloody obvious
COI. I have spent much time trying. I would guess that this is because
getting their POV in is, in point of fact, what they get money for.


- d.

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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Thomas Morton
On 18 April 2012 13:53, Thomas Morton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> <snip>
>
> My specific experience was while consulting on another matter for a firm;
> they were surprised to find their name had been noted in connection with
> some years-before legal action (quite a disturbing one) in a prominent
> printed encyclopaedia.
>

<snip>

>


> So all in all it took about 18 months for a correction to be published.
>
>
Interesting, indeed.

To be fair about the time-criticality: it does matter in that mirror sites
will refresh their WP dumps on some basis that probably isn't daily. OTOH
we do offer the OTRS route also for complaints, and that presumably offers
a better triage.

Charles
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Thomas Morton
>
> To be fair about the time-criticality: it does matter in that mirror sites
> will refresh their WP dumps on some basis that probably isn't daily. OTOH
> we do offer the OTRS route also for complaints, and that presumably offers
> a better triage.
>
> Charles


Unfortunately not. There is a significant backlog in the OTRS queues - in
the region of months.

Tom
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Thomas Morton
On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM, Thomas Morton <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> > > That process takes* much much longer* than 2-5 days.
> > >
> >
> >
> > Yes, but it takes place *before* publication. :P
> >
> >
> Not at all.
>
> My specific experience was while consulting on another matter for a firm;
> they were surprised to find their name had been noted in connection with
> some years-before legal action (quite a disturbing one) in a prominent
> printed encyclopaedia.
>
> I helped them get in touch and resolve the issue.
>
> It took about a week for initial contact to prove successful - the material
> was reviewed, taking another two weeks, and "amended internally". The next
> years print run was currently happening, and they were unable to modify the
> problem.
>
> So all in all it took about 18 months for a correction to be published.
>
> I happen to know of several other examples where incorrect material is
> still being published years after the point has been brought up.
>
> Whilst you will get some material sent out for review I don't believe it
> accounts for much of the content. And, as such, is something of
> misdirection on the issue.
>
> I'm not arguing Wikipedia is the solution. But the argument that
> printed encyclopaedias are better at this I know to be false.
>
> Tom
>



Well, it is still true that in a conventional encyclopedia, everything goes
through vigorous professional fact checking *before* publication. We have
nothing to compare to that. Not even Pending Changes. Surely that is a
very, very significant difference indeed?

As a result, the kinds of inaccuracies we have in Wikipedia can be in a
whole different league than the sort of error you might find in Britannica;
there is often active malice at work, as opposed to the occasional cock-up,
and you are talking about the no. 1 Google link for a person or company,
rather than something appearing on page 582 of a dusty tome that few people
own, let alone read.

Andreas
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Tom Morris-5
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 13:58, David Gerard wrote:
> Also note that in my experience, it is pretty much impossible to get
> across even to nice PR people that they have a really bloody obvious
> COI. I have spent much time trying. I would guess that this is because
> getting their POV in is, in point of fact, what they get money for.




So, recently, I've been advising a PR/social media company (unpaid) about their article, which was deleted for lack of notability.

They are perfectly well-aware of their COI and so on: that's why they've contacted me.

The stance I've taken with them is basically to ask them to find at least five reliable sources that meet the GNG, I'll have a look at them and if I think they do, I'll open a DRV on the deletion, listing the five sources. In the DRV, I'll make it quite clear that I've communicated with them, what the nature of the relationship is (no commercial relationship, I just happen to know a lady who works at the company personally) and they provided me the sources, but I won't open a DRV unless I agree that the sources meet the GNG. I hope that's a way to do it with some integrity.

Being that I'm pretty damn cynical of PR companies, and when I read about how PR companies want to edit Wikipedia "ethically", my initial bullshit detector goes off the charts. But in this instance, I think it's certainly possible.

User:Fluffernutter gave a talk about paid editing last year at Wikimania, comparing it with needle exchange programmes. Much as my gut feeling is "god no, don't give an inch to PR people even if they are claiming to act 'ethically'!", I have a funny feeling we're going to need to do something very soon.

--
Tom Morris
<http://tommorris.org/>



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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

David Gerard-2
On 18 April 2012 14:24, Tom Morris <[hidden email]> wrote:

> User:Fluffernutter gave a talk about paid editing last year at Wikimania, comparing it with needle exchange programmes. Much as my gut feeling is "god no, don't give an inch to PR people even if they are claiming to act 'ethically'!", I have a funny feeling we're going to need to do something very soon.


As these things usually do, the ones who behave will be put through
increasingly onerous requirements, the ones who don't will continue as
they were and the ones who do will then be regarded the same way as
the ones who don't. Ah well.


- d.

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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Andreas Kolbe-2
On 18 April 2012 14:13, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Well, it is still true that in a conventional encyclopedia, everything goes
> through vigorous professional fact checking *before* publication. We have
> nothing to compare to that. Not even Pending Changes. Surely that is a
> very, very significant difference indeed?
>

The attempt to equate Wikipedia with a traditional encyclopedia breaks down
in several places.

>
> As a result, the kinds of inaccuracies we have in Wikipedia can be in a
> whole different league than the sort of error you might find in Britannica;
> there is often active malice at work, as opposed to the occasional cock-up,
> and you are talking about the no. 1 Google link for a person or company,
> rather than something appearing on page 582 of a dusty tome that few people
> own, let alone read.
>
>
If the context is "media" rather than "pedia", you have to compare WP with
what newspapers do. And we know the arguments: newspapers will publish
corrections; they are reluctant to do so even with glaring factual mistakes
(which are very frequent); they almost never publish corrections with the
same prominence as the original; and there is an argument that modifying
the original article online would be "wrong" (per the New York Times). It
makes it clear that the "journal of record" model has deficiencies also:
those in that business are not interested in annotation of errors.

Those who work around here are generally aware of WP's deficiencies. I
think pre-moderation (per the EB) isn't what we need, but extending
existing techniques to BLPs in a broader way probably is. This thread has
been fairly effectively diverted by Tom D's aside. In the broader context,
there is no competing "media" model that serves the "pedia" function in an
obviously better way. Given the range of options available to us,
"lo-bandwith pedia" is probably a worse choice than salami-slicing the BLP
difficulties.

(One day we may decide enWP needs a separate community to patrol BLPs,
effectively forking the wiki. I wouldn't rule this out, say when we hit 5
million articles, but the results might not be  so very different. I wonder
if Wikidata would be able to underpin a better model, in time.)

Charles
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Charles Matthews
On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:55 PM, Charles Matthews <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Yes indeed. Jimbo neither makes policy nor enforces it, of course. What we
> have here is an ongoing "loop" in being able to read WP:COI properly. I
> believe the guideline on COI to be the best available take on this issue.
> However - and it's a big however - we are learning that the limitation on
> COI to a "universal" statement makes it harder for those with particular
> types of COI to understand. This applies both to paid editing, and to
> "activist" editing (I think you will have no trouble understanding this,
> Andreas ...), as well as autobiography.
>


That is one of the points the authors of the study picked up on, too:

---o0o---

There are problems with the “bright line” rule. By not allowing public
relations/communications professionals to directly edit removes the
possibility of a timely
correction or update of information, ultimately denying the public a right
to accurate
information. Also, by disallowing public relations/communications
professionals to make
edits while allowing competitors, activists and anyone else who wants to
chime in, is
simply asking of misinformation. If direct editing is not a possibility, an
option must be
provided that can quickly and accurately update Wikipedia articles; as this
study found, no
such process currently exists.

---o0o---

Unfortunately, they do have a point.

Positive bias and advertorials *can* be odious, but activist editing with a
negative bent has traditionally been the greater problem in Wikipedia, in
my view, and is the type of bias the Wikipedia system has traditionally
favoured. Not doing harm is, in my view, more important than preventing the
opposite.

Andreas
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Thomas Morton
On 18 April 2012 14:44, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:55 PM, Charles Matthews <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Yes indeed. Jimbo neither makes policy nor enforces it, of course. What
> we
> > have here is an ongoing "loop" in being able to read WP:COI properly. I
> > believe the guideline on COI to be the best available take on this issue.
> > However - and it's a big however - we are learning that the limitation on
> > COI to a "universal" statement makes it harder for those with particular
> > types of COI to understand. This applies both to paid editing, and to
> > "activist" editing (I think you will have no trouble understanding this,
> > Andreas ...), as well as autobiography.
> >
>
>
> That is one of the points the authors of the study picked up on, too:
>
> ---o0o---
>
> There are problems with the “bright line” rule. By not allowing public
> relations/communications professionals to directly edit removes the
> possibility of a timely
> correction or update of information, ultimately denying the public a right
> to accurate
> information. Also, by disallowing public relations/communications
> professionals to make
> edits while allowing competitors, activists and anyone else who wants to
> chime in, is
> simply asking of misinformation. If direct editing is not a possibility, an
> option must be
> provided that can quickly and accurately update Wikipedia articles; as this
> study found, no
> such process currently exists.
>
> ---o0o---
>
> Unfortunately, they do have a point.
>
> Positive bias and advertorials *can* be odious, but activist editing with a
> negative bent has traditionally been the greater problem in Wikipedia, in
> my view, and is the type of bias the Wikipedia system has traditionally
> favoured. Not doing harm is, in my view, more important than preventing the
> opposite.
>
> Andreas


It would be interesting to study what sort of edits are being talked about.

From my dealings with PR-style edit requests there is a fairly broad form
ranging from:

- desire to remove sourced negative material (whitewashing)
- correction of serious innacuracies/POV (i.e. defamation or other)
- simple information updates/corrections (like: circulation in 2012 is
41,000, you currently use the 2010 figures).
- desire to add PR-style gushy material

Of those I'd consider only #2 important to address quickly and seriously.
Finding a way to filter major problems would be good. OTRS isn't
(currently) a good way, IMO.

Tom
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Andreas Kolbe-2
On 18 April 2012 14:44, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Positive bias and advertorials *can* be odious, but activist editing with a
> negative bent has traditionally been the greater problem in Wikipedia, in
> my view, and is the type of bias the Wikipedia system has traditionally
> favoured. Not doing harm is, in my view, more important than preventing the
> opposite.
>
> This was pretty much the line being pushed by Jossi Fresco and TerryO when
the COI guideline was being put together at the end of 2006. And it still
has its advocates, of course. Who are more convincing when they don't have
an obvious COI (some do and some don't, I should hasten to add).

I actually think our content is better than it was then; but the world in
general cares much, much more. I don't think what I know about paid editing
of biographies with the positive slant supports the idea that we should
simply "lift restrictions" (whatever that means). My feeling is that the
debate with the PR industry, which is hugely resourced, has not yet got
into an intelligent footing at all. I think they send untrained folk to
edit here, roughly speaking.

And we know how those seeing WP as a potential market operate with
thin-end-of-the-wedge tactics. (Which is another useful insight into
Jimbo's line.)

Charles
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Re: Fwd: The counterattack of the PR companies

Ken Arromdee
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
>> This directly conflicts with the Wikipedia FAQ/Article subjects (2012) page
>> that specifically
>> asks public relations professionals to remove vandalism, fix minor errors
>> in spelling,
>> grammar, usage or facts, provide references for existing content, and add
>> or update facts
>> with references such as number of employees or event details.
>But the real-life situation is that someone paid to edit has a boss and/or
>paymaster. Jimbo knows what he is doing here with sending out a soundbite,
>rather than citing the page. The boss can understand the soundbite, and is
>almost certainly not going to bother to understand the page.

Let me get this straight.  You are arguing "It is okay to for Jimbo to tell
the company something which contradicts policy because it's more likely
the company will understand the non-policy than the actual policy".

>Yes indeed. Jimbo neither makes policy nor enforces it, of course.

"Besides, it's their own fault for listening to Jimbo anyway.  They should
know enough about Wikipedia to understand that he doesn't make policy.  I
mean, he's just the public face of Wikipedia, why would anyone who needs to
know about Wikipedia policy listen to him?"

To any normal person, this is simply a case of Wikipedia contradicting
itself.  The fact that it's not because Jimbo doesn't make policy is a
piece of Wiki-arcana that the outsider really can't be expected to
understand.  The fact that we're deliberately trying to get the people to
listen to Jimbo and ignore the actual policy just makes it worse.

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