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Monitor Your Organization's Online Reputation

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I received a phone call this afternoon from a very upset individual representing a North Shore Community. I thought I would write some notes on our phone conversation and what I had explained to her for more general use.

With social media more powerful then ever, the web is a changing environment where users are the content. Sites like Facebook flourish because the content is updated by the users which leaves the power of the web in the users hands.

This makes it easy for website owners, like me, to run websites as the amount of work required in these complex sites mostly happens at the very beginning and then goes downwards as time goes on whereas in years past, updating content used to be a primarily concur of the staffers.

Involved in the phone call that prompted this writeup is, Wikipedia. The representative found issue with what was written about this Island community, and so did I. However in her eyes, I had written the content. Sadly, that's not quite the case through the ability to utilize RSS Feeds and API's.

Wikipedia, being an open sourced community drive encyclopedia, allows anyone and everyone to edit the content of the site when ever they wish. I'm sure Wikipedia has some controls in regards to swearing and such but Wikipedia does not represent or verify accuracy.

Anyone can edit the Wikipedia information at any point in time. Upon editing the wikipedia content, without registering, the information is then displayed on their site without any verification besides perhaps some swear word filters.

Hundreds of websites will then utilize the data that is being stored on Wikipedia to display on their own sites. Copying and pasting some of the lines from the Wikipedia entry "Prince Edward Island" shows 188 other websites with the same content.

Therefore, if there is false information within the entry "Prince Edward Island" on Wikipedia, it will show up on 188 other websites incorrectly. Not knowingly to the website owners nor is it knowingly placed online by Wikipedia. The information is displayed online as-is, where is.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has gone on the record to encourage University students not to source material from Wikipedia due to it possibly being unreliable. Instead, he encourages users to go directly to the sources that are posted on Wikipedia to verify the information.

Therefore, it is extremely important organizations monitor their online presence to ensure the information that is being displayed is correct and not falsely representing their organization.

One way you can monitor what is being said about you online is through a program like Google Alerts which is free and will email you a summary when ever their system picks up someone using your keywords. This will allow you to be notified for anything new on the website which is relevant to your group or organization.

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