The fundamental problem I have with this as I genuinely don't think there is anything I know enough about to be able to edit Wikipedia without having an opinion on it. In fact it must be a very empty individual who would know a lot about something, but then not have an opinion. I don't think I'd believe they were telling the truth.
Absolutely. And it is the 'volunteer' bit than means the CIPR approach of softly, softly engagement with Wikipedians is right. Volunteers tend to be very emotionally driven.They volunteer because they care, but it also means their judgement isn't always neutral. Which is ironic considering we are talking about Wikipedia!
Another key issue. In a sensible world of course it would be right for PRs to edit Wikipedia as it could result in a more comprehensive and accurate encyclopaedia. The real problem isn't the inability of PRs to edit Wikipedia in a neutral way, but the negative perception of PR created by far too many 'bad apples'.
Couldn't agree more with Mark's point.
Bottom line is I wouldn't believe or trust anyone who claimed not to have an opinion. Surely the acid test should be if you can put your opinion to one side in order to write something neutral, which means the whole conflict of interest thing becomes redundant.
Andrew gets to the nub of the issue for me. Unfortunately I think the answer is for too many 'Wikipedians' is that they are thinking mainly about themselves in some of these discussion. Just because they do a fantastic job as volunteers doesn't change the fact that the most important community should be those who search for knowledge and find a Wikipedia entry. Everyone's priority should be ensuring that the information is as complete and accurate as possible. Unfortunately, the current mindset of some Wikipedians doesn't prioritise that.
So true. I have knowledge on Scottish history, but it also means I have opinions - some of which are reflected in Wikipedia entries, others of which aren't. You can find 'evidence' to back up different opinions.
Unfortunately most regular people don't have such a high level of critical faculties as journalists and then there is the whole issue of 'journalists/bloggers' who don't have the training and experience of professional journalists.
They do. When I talk to 'regular' people about Wikipedia they normally fall into two camps. The first is those that treat it just like a professional encyclopaedia and don't realise the significance of the links to original sources, they simply take what it says at face value as being true facts. The second is those who don't trust it very much. You tend to find it is journalists, academics, PRs etc who have a better understanding of what Wikipedia really is.
That's why CIPR approach is better. 'Demanding changes' is definitely wrong, but helping people by talking to help them to understand why they might be mistaken and that other people have a different understanding and opinion is good. The problem with founding principles is that they were created in a different time. Surely it is a good thing to constantly challenge, renew and improve.
And that's why it is so important. If this was the final product I'd be concerned as I don't think it is fundamentally in the public interest. It's in the interest of Wikipedians and PRs, who aren't as important as the real people who read Wikipedia and should be able to trust it.
But then we again return to the thorny issue of how can you 'know' stuff, but not have an opinion. Also what is Greenpeace? Is it only paid workers of Greenpeace who have a conflict of interest? Or is volunteers as well? Or what about occasional campaigners, activists and donors? Do ordinary 'supporters' have a COI? And what if we flip it round. Who has a BP COI? The PR team? The PR agency? A manager? A petrol pump attendant? A happy or unhappy customer?