Friday, March 4, 2011

Israeli Gaza Flotilla Raid Ignites War on Wikipedia

Building on my recent blog posting, where I advocated that PR Professionals should not ignore the effect of Wikipedia in crisis communications, an analysis of the Israeli raid on the MV Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010 provides evidence to substantiate my position.

During that crisis, which is widely known as the Gaza Flotilla Raid, Israeli naval commandos raided 6 ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. During the raid, clashes broke out on the MV Mavi Marmara which resulted in the deaths of 9 activists and the wounding of dozens of activists and 7 Israeli commandos

Within an hour of the incident, the first entry on the incident appeared on Wikipedia and, according to Wikipedia's statistics function, the entry received over 80,000 hits and close to 1,500 edits within the first 24 hours. This then peaked in Jun where 4,000 edits were recorded and over 180,000 views.

Thus, as I have advocated earlier, PR Professionals cannot afford to neglect Wikipedia as an important communications platform. The statistics from the Gaza Flotilla Raid proves that in a crisis, stakeholders will rely on Wikipedia as a source of information.  PR Professionals must therefore dedicate resources to monitor and "fight" the Wiki-War.


  1. Kudos for bringing this to the attention of PR and Corp Comm practitioners. Wikipedia is a powerful reputational tool. It's more a like a double-edged sword, yet's ignored by Corp Comm. Past 2 years been conducting research on this very topic. Interviewed VPs of Corp Comm, etc. Twitter (@stellayu)

  2. Thanks Stella for your kind words. It is always great to hear agreement from others in the industry.

    I conducted an informal survey among friends recently and it surprised me to discover that many of them did not know that Wikipedia was totally user edited.

    Herein lies the danger where (coupled with Wikipedia's perceived "credibility") inaccurate facts are seen as truths and left to populate the Internet.

    I look forward to reading some of your research on this topic.

  3. cw -

    very interesting and thanks for this. i am an active social media person, much of which is with editing wikipedia (for over 4 years).

    i am amazed (and still often shocked) how various editors (on both the left and the right) get involved in serious, deep-seated wiki wars. stubborness, name calling, vulgarity and more.

    i would be happy to discuss this with you at length if it is of interest to you. thanks.

    arnie draiman


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