Wikipedia is clamping down on editors who write with a bias.
Marketing Content Strategy

Wikipedia Aims to Expose Web Content Biases

In a move to improve transparency, Wikipedia’s editors must now disclose any compensation provided for editorial contributions to the website. The new rules are an amendment to Wikipedia’s terms of service.

These compensation disclosures will now be featured on an editor’s profile page. Edits to Wikipedia content that may be affected by this compensation must also be identified.

To address concerns about the transparency and reliability of information online, Web content publishers are boosting their efforts to verify the credibility of their content and let consumers see the inner workings of their content-creation process.

“Wikipedia’s community editors work tirelessly at maintaining the accuracy, transparency, and objectivity of the articles, which requires identifying conflicts of interests and removing bias,” Wikipedia said in a press release.

Editing for pay, the release explains, can introduce these biases into the website’s content. By implementing a transparency clause, Wikipedia hopes to move closer to an information network that is free of promotional content.

While many publishers are concerned about biased content, Wikipedia is more liable than others because of its free-for-all editorial community and massive global reach. Mashable’s Karissa Bell noted that the website’s terms of service amendment was crafted in response to a number of corrupt editors discovered within Wikipedia’s system.

“The site deleted more than 250 accounts in October, following reports that a PR agency was paying editors as much as $1,000 for writing articles favorable to their clients,” Bell wrote.

The rules are designed to address biases stemming from editors writing about for-profit corporations that may be trying to influence their image in exchange for compensation. The website has insisted that it is not trying to target editors who come from academic backgrounds, including those working at or with museums and other field experts.

“If you are employed by a gallery, library, archive, museum (GLAM), or similar institution that may pay employees to make good-faith contributions in your area of expertise and not about your institution, you are also welcome to edit,” according to the press release.

Consumer pessimism regarding online content is a growing concern among credible content publishers, and it remains a threat to the authority of Web content going forward. As content creation becomes more accessible than ever before, publishers need to be keenly aware of how published information can affect their brand’s reputation, including the degree to which consumers trust a particular brand. Wikipedia’s recent bias scandal illustrates just how easily a brand can be dealt a big blow.

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