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Digital biographies, real effects

01/13/2012 -by:Silvina Moschini , CEO & Founder, Intuic | The Social Media Agency

The Vatican’s admission to using Wikipedia as a source of information about its cardinals-to-be highlights issues of online visibility for individuals, companies, and institutions.


While the SOPA bill (Stop Only Piracy Act), and its Senate counterpart, PIPA (Protect IP Act) are under debate in the United States, the British newspaper The Guardian has revealed that the Vatican itself relied on Wikipedia in writing the biographies of 22 newly appointed cardinals.

The connection between the Vatican and the U.S. Congress is closer than it first appears. The American proposal—which Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia itself oppose—calls for strict regulation of Internet content and access, but the Vatican’s use of Wikipedia demonstrates the importance of collaborative digital platforms that remain unregulated.

Wikipedia is just the most important of several sites dedicated to the free exchange of information. That it is consulted almost 3,000 times per second worldwide surely confirms its value to users. Its reliability is sometimes questionable, perhaps, but its preeminence on the web is indisputable. Institutions, governments, multinational companies, and celebrities all pay attention to it, whether or not they admit doing so. 

Wikipedia’s power is derived from the privileged position of its articles in Google search and from the simplicity and clarity of its information. It effortlessly answers “who’s who” in any field...even religion. 

Therefore, in publicly admitting its copy-and-paste exercise, the Vatican says less about the limitations of its own internal information systems than about the power of a digital window where everybody wants to be seen. The question, of course, is the quality of what viewers see in that window. 


Virtual modifications, real effects

The rules that govern Wikipedia allow anybody, anywhere, to act as a content editor. This carries with it the risk that erroneous and/or malicious information can be posted in any of the thousands of Wikipedia entries. 

The consequences of such virtual modifications are alarmingly real. For example, the Vatican has had to correct some false information it published on the basis of Wikipedia’s third-party reports. On the other hand, absence from Wikipedia has its own consequences. Would the Vatican consider nominating cardinals without Wikipedia entries? 

Unquestionably, the Holy See has demonstrated the importance of digital visibility. It is not only essential to have a Wikipedia presence but also to ensure that it is positive and factual. The dynamic character of the encyclopedia demands constant attention to changes that will keep the subject’s information current as well as to extraneous changes that require correction in online content. This need is addressed today by WikipediaAlerts.com, an application of OnlineVisibilityExperts.com.

Before you can even think about monitoring changes, however, you have to create an article that satisfies Wikipedia standards and is reader-friendly. Meeting this challenge requires professional skills and extensive experience, now available from Wikiexperts.us <www.wikiexperts.us>. In a world where virtual information crucially affects real life, take care and seek assistance to present yourself positively and accurately.