percent of Wikipedia articles about companies contain factual
errors, according to a new research, which warned people not to
rely on the website for accurate and balanced information.
"It does not surprise me that so many Wikipedia entries contain
factual errors," said Marcia W. DiStaso, assistant professor of
public relations at Penn State University, who conducted the
"A high amount of factual errors doesn't work for anyone,
especially the public, which relies on Wikipedia for accurate,
balanced information," says DiStaso.
DiStaso surveyed 1,284 professionals from Public Relations Society
of America, the International Association of Business
Communicators, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, the
Institute for Public Relations and the National Investor Relations
Institute to assess their working relationship with Wikipedia, the
Public Relations Journal reports.
Results of the survey indicate a gap exists between public
relations professionals and Wikipedia concerning the proper
protocol for editing entries, according to a Penn statement.
When respondents attempted to engage editors through Wikipedia's
"Talk" pages to request corrections of facts in entries, 40
percent said it took "days" to receive a response, 12 percent
indicated "weeks," while 24 percent never received any type of
According to Wikipedia, its standard response time to requests for
corrections is between two and five days.
Only 35 percent of respondents were able to engage with Wikipedia,
either by using its "Talk" pages to converse with editors or
through direct editing of a client's entry.
Respondents indicated this figure is low partly because some fear
media backlash over making edits to clients' entries. Respondents
also expressed a certain level of uncertainty regarding how to
properly edit Wikipedia entries.
Of those who were familiar with the process of editing Wikipedia
entries, 23 percent said making changes was "near impossible".
Twenty-nine percent said their interactions with Wikipedia editors
were "never productive".
"What is surprising, however, is that 25 percent of survey
respondents indicated they are not familiar with the Wikipedia
articles for their company or clients. At some point most, if not
all, companies will determine they need to change something in
their Wikipedia entries," said DiStaso.
Without clear, consistent rules from Wikipedia regarding how
factual corrections can be made, this will be a very difficult
learning process for public relations professionals.