I’ve been sitting on this one for a while but still wanted to address it. Chris Abraham wondered whether the Wikipedia would be the next front for promoting new TV shows, movies or other popular culture. For anyone who may have read Abraham’s post and thought it sounded like a good idea I have one word: DON”T!!

The Wikipedia is supposed to be a community effort where people can go for unbiased and factual information untouched by spin and promotion. In fact, the guidelines for submission specifically state this. There’s a difference between viral marketing, where you plant something that gets passed around via word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing, where there’s a popular groundswell over an issue. The difference is who’s in control. With viral campaigns the guiding hand is still those “officials” who created or are overseeing the campaign. Grassroots efforts are firmly controlled by the general citizenry. It’s best to make sure official sources don’t interfere with grassroots efforts since often they do nothing but muck them up.

If someone starts a Wikipedia entry, a fan-blog or any other sort of communal or citizen effort because they enjoy your TV show, movie, record or anything else you should reach out to them and acknowledge their support and hard work – even link to them off of an official site. But don’t get involved in creating them. It reeks of the old days where movie marketers would leave breathless praise for a movie on a message board, only to be outed and discredited within days (or hours) and have whatever good will the movie may have engendered smashed to bits. Let the ordinary folk have their tools for spreading enthusiasm and fan excitement.