In November of last year we took note of the decline of Wikipedia volunteerism voiced by readers of a WSJ post. I introduced the idea I’d like to respark today, that the lack of community involvement (or lack of quality of that involvement) that can frustrate us, is also what empowers us. Were more editors to be involved, our editorial control would diminish, yet since Wikipedia is full primarily of reviewers, all we have to do is avoid red flags that will initiate deletions.
In this way, our goals as marketers are somewhat at odds with Wikipedia’s goals – that were recently covered once again – to get more participants, especially experts.
Wikipedia doesn’t necessarily have the credentials that would appeal to experts. The rants and raves of expert contributors on Wikipedia and their frustrations go on for pages (see their complaints here, here or here.) Despite studies dating back as far as 2005 showing that Wikipedia is just as accurate as Britannica, user experiences, my personal experience and anecdotal evidence shows why experts are so frustrated trying to contribute to an online world owned by the uninformed masses.
Nevertheless for all the social media buzz around keywords like “conversation” and “engagement” it’s interesting to see an area where the lack of quality participation and initiative by most readers – while frustrating – is actually to our benefit. If Wikipedia is someday successful to the point where there are numerous active participants in the Wikis on our clients, our voice will only be one of many. The innate, automatic editorial quality of the community may improve, but our opportunity to influence perceptions through those Wikis would diminish.
So it’s with a mixed heart that I hope experts make Wikipedia a better place with more information and more accurate representations of commonly understood facts on specific topics. But – in the back of my mind – the way it is now presents corporations with a lot of opportunity.