Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wiki Ethics

A post over at Tech Crunch intrigued me today. It was a post regarding Microsoft paying someone to edit certain pages relating to Open Office Standards in Wikipedia. Microsoft did not tell the person what to write, but this behavior was controversial nonetheless.

As Michael Arrington explained in his post, Microsoft is in an interesting position. Editing a Wikipedia page about yourself is frowned upon. Hiring someone else to edit the page is also a bad idea. The proper way to deal with this is to clear the record in the discussions portion of that page.

I find all of this interesting for a number of reasons.
  1. I am just starting to work with wikis. I had never even thought about this sticky situation before, but now I can see a need to teach my students about this type of wiki-etiquette.

  2. I've never spent any time reading the discussion section of any page I was using in Wikipedia. Now I see this might be a powerful way to teach students about the strengths and challenges of using Wikipedia as a resource. It could give them clues about how to interrogate a source. It could also help them unpack whatever they were researching in the first place.

  3. I hadn't realized that companies such a Microsoft thought Wikipedia had enough impact to warrant this type of intervention.
These are new thoughts for me and I think I'm going to chew on them for a while and to see where they take me. I welcome your comments on it all.