For many people, Wikipedia is the “go-to” source for information about a company, product or other topic.
With good reason. The English Wikipedia includes more than 6.5 million articles, averages more than 500 new articles per day, and has about 200,000 active users.
Wikipedia often ranks high in search engine results, so it makes sense that many people and organizations want a good Wikipedia profile.
The trick is complying with Wikipedia’s myriad policies regarding notability, conflict of interest and neutrality. Here is some background:
Notability is a “test” Wikipedia editors use to “decide whether a given topic warrants its own article.” In general, “passing” the notability test requires at least five original, in-depth articles about the topic. The articles need to be written by journalists and published in mainstream publications.
I’ve been advised that these requirements exclude:
- Original news releases
- Paid promotions
- Announcements, unless part of a significant feature story with original reporting
- Opinion pieces
- Content from the company’s website
- And coverage in trade journals, “hyperlocal” publications, and media outlets that do not have a reputation for “editorial accuracy”
Wikipedia has a list of perennial sources, which can help you evaluate your topic’s “notability” in Wikipedia’s eyes.
No conflict of interest
Wikipedia’s conflict of interest requirement discourages anyone associated with the subject from posting or editing content. At the very least, you have to publicly disclose your connection to the subject. It’s possible that your content would face closer scrutiny than if it had been submitted by a disinterested third party.
Another way to comply with the requirement is by contracting with a reputable Wikipedia service that would, in turn, disclose that it was paid for the submission. If you go that route, a good place to start is the “never-blocked” section of this list of Wikipedia services: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:PAIDLIST
Finally, Wikipedia requires that the content have a “neutral point of view,” which means it represents “fairly, proportionately and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic.” In short, the content needs to read like an encyclopedia, and needs to be verified by the “notable” sources discussed earlier. You run the risk of having your material cited or deleted if it is deemed too promotional or inaccurate.
Wikipedia has a host of other requirements, which I won’t go into here. And, of course, once the content is on Wikipedia, it can be edited by people who may know less about the topic than you do.
That is the risk. However, Wikipedia’s popularity means many companies and individuals are willing to take that risk.
What about you? Do you or your organization have a Wikipedia profile? What advice would you give? I’d love to hear from you.