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Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals by Stephen Waddington, Rob Brown, Chartered Institute of Public Relations

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Chapter 19

Wikipedia and Reputation Management

Stephen Waddington

Wikipedia is an online community of more than 100,000 active contributors. It is the first place that millions of people seek out when researching a topic. Here we tackle the often fractious relationship between the public relations industry and Wikipedia, with the goal of providing clear guidance to practitioners.

Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website in the world according to web information firm Alexa; beaten only by Facebook, Google, YouTube, Yahoo and Baidu.com. It is a crowdsourced online encyclopaedia of more than 20 million topics in 285 different languages and is frequently the starting point for online research.

Building a crowdsourced encyclopaedia

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 by internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales using a social media technology called a wiki. This is a web platform that allows content to be added, modified, or deleted via a web browser.

Initially Wikipedia was created as a site for amateur contributors to complement an online encyclopaedia created by subject-matter experts called Nupedia. Wikipedia had none of the formality of its counterpart. It could be modified live whereas Nupedia had a seven-step approval process to control the content of articles contributed to the site. Wikipedia quickly overtook the site that inspired its creation and Nupedia was shut down in 2003.

Wikipedia remains an open community funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, a US charitable organization, ...

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