by Erica Driver.
This week, the mainstream press reported that Microsoft made a Wikipedia “no-no”: Microsoft offered to pay an independent contributor — Rick Jelliffe — standards expert and the CTO at an Australian tech company — to investigate the accuracy of, and change, if necessary, technical articles about Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) on Wikipedia. ODF is an OASIS and ISO standard and Open XML is Microsoft’s alternative , currently an ECMA standard and potential ISO standard. Kyle McNabb and I were talking about this incident. Here are our thoughts:
· You know a public Web site is important when a company as powerful as Microsoft tries to pay someone to change its content.
· You can’t trust everything you read on Wikipedia. While this trust incident reached the public eye, it’s definitely not the first. I’m sure there are other people out there who have an interest in a posting and feel stuck because when they change it, others who may not agree with them change it right back again. And I am sure this is not the first time one party tried to pay off another to modify a posting.
· Can you blame Microsoft? They’re somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place. Anti-Microsoft camps would have a field day upon finding out Microsoft made changes to the content in question. Bringing in an independent, objective third party was a good move, but offering to pay them for their time brings up questions of objectivity.
The lesson learned? Information and knowledge managers who put wiki tools in place for enterprise use must take care to address trust concerns . Let internal wiki readers know who’s contributing content and making changes — don’t follow Wikipedia’s anonymity model.