OK, Feds -- Go Ahead and Edit Wikipedia

By Rebecca Carroll

September 2, 2014

Federal employees make great Wikipedia editors, according to Wikimedia DC -- the online encyclopedia’s Washington-area outreach chapter.

“Government staff are experts in areas of public interest, including very new hot topics,” Wikimedia DC Treasurer Peter Meyer and President James Hare said in a blog post. “They play a promising role in our mission to make a better online reference work, with notable, neutrally phrased, verifiable content.”

The post was in response to recent issues with inappropriate, anonymous edits that inspired Wikipedia to suspend certain congressional IP addresses. The disruptive edits came to light after a Twitter bot -- @congressedits -- was created earlier this summer to automatically tweet anonymous edits from Capitol Hill; the account has more than 30,000 followers.

Some federal agencies have already issued guidance and best practices for editing Wikipedia. Now, Wikimedia DC has offered its own general best practices for editing the website from within government:

If you or your agency are interested in participating as a Wikipedia editor, we recommend these basic best practices:

Also, don’t be silly when you edit Wikipedia.

Wikimedia DC described the entry vandalism from Congress as “the kind of juvenile or disruptive edits that Wikipedia deals with every minute of every day without incident, notable only because of where the edits are coming from.”

Wikipedia has good technology to identify and correct most vandalism, but that's the kind of editing that would get an agency in trouble.

(Image via 360b/Shutterstock.com)

By Rebecca Carroll

September 2, 2014