Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Wikipedia is tightening its rules for editing entries into the encyclopedia -- as if they weren't rigorous already. Now anyone who is paid to edit an entry must disclose that fact. This is to discourage phantom hacks from adding material that buffs the image of a person or organization. Full disclosure. I'm one of those hacks. I've added an entry on behalf of a client, but I told the editors I was doing so. I'm almost sorry I did. It was a two-month fight with them to allow the entry to stay. I learned the hard way that one must footnote everything against secondary sources, preferably newspapers and magazines. Only after I put 10 footnotes next to the name of the individual who was profiled did they let me keep the entry without further acrimony. I appreciate the rigor, but it seemed excessive then -- and now. When Wikipedia started, it trumpeted the fact that anyone could edit entries. I wrote then in this blog that it wouldn't be successful without editors who controlled the flow of material into the system. That is exactly what happened, although the editors are volunteer. I'm proud that I was finally able to scale the Wikipedia mountain but it took 35 footnotes for just nine short paragraphs.