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Digital Transformation

Jimmy Wales vows to 'not let Wikipedia become a PR platform'


By John McCarthy | Media editor

October 5, 2015 | 3 min read

The founder of Wikipedia has issued a call for volunteer editors to combat the whitewashing of its accounts by the PR industry.

Speaking to the Times, Wales said the site is looking to bolster its volunteer workforce which has dropped to around 30,000 people from 55,000 in 2007. This is despite the sheer volume of English articles multiplying by a factor of three.

Wales said he was “definitely not going to let Wikipedia become a PR platform” which he stated would be “so against all of our values”.

To combat the falling numbers the Wikimedia Foundation is looking to make it easier to edit content on the site, with an emphasis on making the nuts and bolts of Wikipedia more mobile friendly.

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Speaking on PR agencies muscling in to force changes on the site, Wales referenced Bell Pottinger’s “ethical blindness” in editing hundreds of client accounts in 2011.

He insisted that Wikipedia has “a heightened awareness of the issue… we do have mechanisms to detect it”.

This comes after Wikipedia last month culled hundreds of accounts allegedly taking undisclosed payments to adapt pages with bias and unsubstantiated views.

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