Monday, May 21, 2012

Wikipedia: Understanding How It Works – Part 2

Posted by Leah Ludwig

In the first part of my Wikipedia: Understanding How It Works post, I shared details about what Wikipedia is and the site’s core policies. Now, I would like to share what I learned during the second portion of Jake Orlowitz’s “Learn to Speak Wikipedia” program – specifically addressing Wikipedia and the PR profession, as well as some best practices and resources to help along the way.

As I previously mentioned, Orlowitz spoke about the historical conflict between PR and Wikipedia and how it can be resolved with a proper understanding of the two cultures’ roles and processes. He further explained that PR professionals, who are editing their clients Wikipedia articles, can often have a conflict of interest because of their role. These professionals can save themselves countless hours of frustration by learning the best practices for editing and transparency through disclosures on behalf of their client (addressed further under Best Practices below).

Wikipedia Best Practices

What I found most useful during the program (and think you will as well), was the best practices that Orlowitz provided to ensure that PR practitioners are successful on behalf of their own companies and clients.

Register with an independent username: He explained that in most cases you should register with a completely anonymous name – unrelated to your company, product or service.

Read the notability guideline: As per Wikipedia, “Notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a topic can have its own article.” The notability guideline can be found here.

Declare your conflict of interest: If you are writing and/or editing an article for your business, a client, etc., it is always best to be transparent and share a disclosure statement in the article comments for the Wikipedia editor(s) that you are working with to complete the task.

Start with a draft: This is a highly recommended best practice and there are resources to support these efforts such as The New Article Wizard. This tool will allow you to create an article for editors to review and provide feedback at no consequence to your organization. Orlowitz explained that, “Articles and edits started this way have the best odds of remaining in Wikipedia after other editors see what you have done.”

Sources, sources, sources: You should not use self-published materials, but instead summarize what published, reliable sources have said about your organization, product or service.

Neutralize your conflict of interest: I shared details about this best practice in part one of this two-part blog post. It is important to know and remember that a neutral point of view is valued and the only view accepted by Wikipedia and the Wikipedia community. Articles mustn't take sides, but should explain the sides fairly and without bias.

Avoid spam: Orlowitz explained that articles should not include promotional pages or content.

Have other editors review your draft: As mentioned previously, it is important to get the feedback of other Wikipedia editors before attempting to publish your article.

Don’t rush: Although there are always deadlines, do not rush. Wikipedia does not run on deadlines and operates in the scale of months, years and decades.

Accept that other editors can and will edit your content: Once an article is published and live, it is public property and can be added to, edited and/or removed.

I know that this is a lot of information to process, however, Orlowitz provided a plethora of very helpful resources to make this process less painful (WikiProject Cooperation, the Wikipedia Help Desk, Live Help Chat, etc.). Best wishes to you in your next Wikipedia article endeavor!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wikipedia: Understanding How It Works – Part 1

Posted by Leah Ludwig

Just this week, I attended a PRSA Philadelphia event titled, “Learn to Speak Wikipedia” featuring Jake Orlowitz, a Wikipedia editor; author of The Plain and Simple Conflict of Interest Guide; designer of The Wikipedia Adventure, a dynamic learning game for new Wikipedia editors; and the list goes on.

The event was held to address the following topics: Wikipedia’s size, scope and PR impact; core policies that keep Wikipedia functioning and reliable; best practices for writing effective Wikipedia copy; and much more. The event was packed with information – in fact, I could write a short thesis on what I learned during this program, but instead I’m going to share the topline tips that I believe will be most helpful to The PR Lawyer readers – in a two-part post.

What is Wikipedia? As stated by Orlowitz, “It is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, whose mission is to summarize published reliable sources. It is not a dictionary, a publisher of original thought, a soapbox or means of promotion, a blog or social network, a directory, etc.”

Core Policies of Wikipedia

Orlowitz shared Wikipedia’s four core policies which really are the standards and guidelines that the entire Wikipedia community follows:

Neutral point of view: It is important to know and remember that a neutral point of view is valued and the only view accepted by Wikipedia and the Wikipedia community. Articles (referring to what you and I may consider an entry or profile) mustn't take sides, but should explain the sides fairly and without bias.

Verifiability: Articles published on Wikipedia must reference verifiable and reliable sources. Verifiable and reliable sources mean previously reported information from a fact-checking source such as a newspapers, book, website, radio, journal, etc.

Original research: Wikipedia will only publish analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position. 

Civility: The Wikipedia community is based on consideration and respect. Everyone’s focus should be on improving the encyclopedia and all users are expected to behave politely and reasonably.

The main gist of the first portion of Orlowitz’s program was really to drive home the importance of understanding Wikipedia, how powerful and empowering the site is, and that it is truly a unique and collaborative community. One must truly embrace the site’s culture before it can fully and effectively collaborate within the space.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

YouTube Focuses on User Engagement

Posted by Amanda Walsh

How many times have you clicked on a video thinking it was a music video from your favorite artist, only to be disappointed when it’s a karaoke version from an unknown group? YouTube, the number three trafficked website according to, has been making some changes to cut down on this and improve the overall user experience.

When a video on YouTube ends, other “related videos” typically appear to show the user what other clips have been created around that specific subject. These suggestions were based on the “popularity of a clip” which was determined by the number of clicks on a video. However, this can be very deceiving as many users simply click on videos based on the thumbnail images or titles that they see, which often turn out to be videos about completely different subjects. When the user realizes that the video isn’t actually what they wanted, they move on and continue their search. The inaccurate measurement of “popular videos” was a driving force behind YouTube’s motivation to create new algorithms to stop this chain of events. YouTube will now determine popularity of videos by the length of time a user watches the clip. This will ensure that high-quality videos with accurate titles and keywords will be suggested to YouTube users more often.

I read about these changes in an article by Ivan Nelson on, which explores the implications of this seemingly simple change. Ivan foresees advertisers will begin using YouTube channels more frequently, creating videos that will offer high-quality and engaging content to the viewer. “Good viral videos will continue to make it to the top from time to time but one group stands to gain the most from these changes: YT channels. Episodic content that survives the test of time and continues to generate new subscribers will rise to the top of rankings,” he wrote.

In fact, one example of a YouTube channel that has seen viral success is Pantless Knights. The channel was created by Seedwell, a California based firm that creates viral video campaigns, commercials and films. One of the partners, Peter Furia, is Gina Furia Rubel’s cousin. Peter and the two other partners at Seedwell were recently interviewed on about what it takes to create viral videos based on themes such as: parodies, high cute-ness factor or making users think, “did that just happen?”

If a video is catchy and engaging, it will eventually rise to the top of searches and be shared, especially with sharing capabilities at users’ fingertips through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. All of these changes on YouTube mean that we, as communications professionals, must continue to focus on creating high-quality videos with accurate keywords and SEO techniques in order to attract the right audience and keep them watching.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Optimal Times to Share Links on Social Media

Posted by Amanda Walsh

According to a report on, bitly, a link-shortening service, recently released a data report about the best and worst times to post content on social media for it to go viral. The bitly blog notes that the company has been “exploring how content propagates (or “goes viral”) through social networks, particularly how the day and time something is posted affects the eventual amount of attention it will receive.”

Using the data shared, we have created an easy to use chart for readers’ reference below. Keep this data in mind, the next time you have important news or content to share with your audience. Note: all times are in EST.

Social Network Best Time  Worst Time
Facebook Any day between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Wednesdays at 3 p.m.
After 4 p.m. during the week
After 8 p.m. and before 8 a.m.
Twitter Mondays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. After 8 p.m. during the week
After 3 p.m. on Friday
Tumblr After 4 p.m.
Friday evenings
After 7 p.m. gets the most clicks

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Gina Rubel to Participate in CB Cares' Celebrity Chef & Waiter Gala

On May 20, 2012, Gina Rubel will be one of the guest servers helping to raise money through tips earned for the 5th Annual Celebrity Chef & Waiter Gala, the signature fundraising event for local community organization CB Cares, held at the Doylestown Country Club.

Other local celebrity servers also earning tips for CB Cares include Thompson Networks President Sean Galt, Central Bucks East Principal Abe Lucabaugh, State Representative Marguerite Quinn and local screenplay writer Thomas Phillips.

This year, Caleb Lentchner from New Hope's Marsha Brown, Jon Spivak from Chive Café and John Ripley of the Doylestown Country Club will be whipping up delicious food in the kitchen for event guests.

Tickets for the event are $125. For more information, visit or call 215-489-9120.

More coverage of the upcoming event can be found on Doylestown Patch.