Gone are the days of a dusty, old encyclopaedia being the go-to guide for facts and information. With thanks to new media, information can now be searched, accessed and edited all in a matter of seconds. The evolution of online wikis has encouraged the sharing of information between online communities. According to The Social Media Bible, the original term ‘Wiki’ means ‘quick’ and refers to the rate that a wiki can be made. The largest online encyclopaedia is Wikipedia, which is a non-profit organisation that contains over “30 million articles in 287 languages” (Wikipedia, 2014). Since Wikipedia allows anyone to edit and contribute to the articles, the site experiences a constant struggle with vandalism and inaccurate information being entered.
PR Daily reported back in 2012, that 60% of organisations with Wikipedia articles contain factual errors. This can be particularly frustrating for public relations agencies, which want to present the most truthful and accurate information to the public on behalf of their respective client. The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) outlines Wikipedia guidance for PR professionals, highlighting that they “should not directly edit Wikipedia pages relating to their organisation or brand”. The guidelines suggest for PR practitioners to suggest any amendments to Wikipedians, which is the name for the community of Wikipedia editors.
While it is not recommended to cite information from Wikipedia in essays and assignments, many academics still suggest to visit the online encyclopaedic as a first source, to gain an overall understanding of the topic. With over 30 million different articles to choose from, the amount of information available is almost limitless making Wikipedia the perfect go-to source for knowledge.