Microsoft is in the news again today. No, it’s not the news about Microsoft mistakenly accusing 2.6 million people of using pirated copies of their software. This time, according to the Associated Press: “Microsoft Corp. has landed in the Wikipedia doghouse after it offered to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced Web encyclopedia site. While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.”
Of course, much of Wikipedia content is submitted by folks with a particular bias or slant. And, it’s certainly not uncommon for a PR firm to discover content about their clients on the web and want to correct it. Wikipedia makes this possible, like it or not. The real issue is intent. If you publish content to Wikipedia that is relevant—and of the type that would be expected in an encyclopedia—who cares who enters it. What matters is if it is factual, accurate and devoid of opinion and bias (as much as is humanly possible). Wikipedia editors are good at correcting sloppy content and removing opinion and speculation.
One thing is for sure. This new world of Wikinomics is changing the way we create, manage, deliver and consume content on the web.