The idea of allowing organizations to edit their own entries by designating those edits in some way (say, as "OPOV," as you suggest) is one that PR pros have brought up as a workable solution to Wikipedians. It's been met with some skepticism, though there is a working group of PR pros that is trying to develop some type disclosure system such as this that we could then present to the community for a proposed solution.
Exactly. It should not matter who provides information or makes edits on Wikipedia so long as that information is factual and neutral.
An accurate Wikipedia entry serves the public interest far better than inaccurate entries that are allowed to languish with errors simply because Wikipedia editors refuse to allow “paid advocates” to make necessary, accurate changes. A disclosure of one’s professional affiliation with a business should not automatically exempt him or her from being allowed to responsibly edit Wikipedia entries.
You say that you are "against giving anybody special writing privileges to Wikipedia based on anything other than Wikipedia's own contributor ranking system." As are we, which is exactly why the PR profession is calling for a more equitable editing system within Wikipedia. The fact is, the vast majority of us very much want to work with Wikipedia, within its editing parameters and protocols. But to be outright banned, as though there is a special class of privilege for some people, is, we believe, against the very nature of Wikipedia's open community.
We're not asking for PR pros to be afforded special editing privileges. All we ask is that an automatic and outright ban of a person not be put in place merely because they have a professional affiliation with a business or individual. One could argue that Jimmy Wales editing of his Wikipedia entry is tantamount to an advocate of Wikipedia editing an entry that directly affects the organization. By the unwritten rules that Wales himself has set out for edits made by "paid advocates" should he not be allowed to do so?
Michael - You are spot-on in your assessment: transparency is key, no matter if you are a PR professional, a doctor or any other regular person. We believe that to effectively and responsibly work with Wikipedia, PR professionals must be transparent in disclosing their relationships to clients and motivations, PRIOR to attempting to make any edits. Any obfuscation of their identity is not only a disservice to the Wikipedia community, but it is unethical and damaging to the profession's credibility and value.
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