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How companies can fix a Wikipedia entry

What is the correct way for a business to get changes to a Wikipedia page?

This answer comes directly from founder Jimmy Wales, during his keynote speech to the Direct Marketing Association:

  • imageDon’t just change the page. You will look like you are trying to manipulate it unethically (even if you aren’t).
  • Every Wikipedia page has a "Discussion" tab.  Enter your questions, additions, and complaints here. 
  • The editors will read them and address them. 
  • Most important: It demonstrates that you, the business, understand correct Wikipedia etiquette.

That’s not too hard.

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Important: If you try to manipulate Wikipedia for marketing purposes, you will definitely get busted.  Don’t even try it.

Read this article from Forbes by Andy Greenberg: The Perils of Wiki PR

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<begin rant>

Wikipedia makes businesspeople insane. 

  1. It’s supposed to be open to everyone … except us. 
  2. The most qualified experts on a product are usually employees (especially the engineers who built it). But they are forbidden to participate or share their expertise. 
  3. Adding/fixing truly objective facts (such as features or scientific data) is considered inappropriate if it comes from a business.

Wikipedia rules should apply to the action, not the actor.  If I contribute well, I should be allowed to participate. If I break the rules, I should be thrown out and censured.  It shouldn’t matter where I work.

This anti-business bias is hard to reconcile with Wikipedia’s open and inclusive philosophy.  We all have jobs. Are we good people after 5 and evil during the day?

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Comments

  1. Nihiltres December 13, 2007 at 5:36 pm #

    Actually, the most important thing is communication. There are a lot of companies who have, at one time or another, whether officially sanctioned or not, had spam inserted into Wikipedia on their behalf. That gets deleted, because it would be a problem if it weren’t. It doesn’t mean that people who are involved with something can’t edit a topic – it just means that they should be very clear about what they are adding, why, and show third-party sources. One of the problems is that most people don’t read Wikipedia’s conflict of interest guideline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest), which actually doesn’t prohibit people with conflicts of interest from editing, but merely cautions that they’re dealt with strictly if they misbehave. It’s an attitude that has grown on Wikipedia as a defense against those who would use it as a platform for spam, and it is effective. If you announce who you are and what your goals are on Wikipedia openly, I doubt you’d have any troubles unless you’re really doing something wrong.

  2. Janet Meiners December 18, 2007 at 4:00 pm #

    Andy,
    First, nice to meet you and attend your speech last night in Salt Lake.
    Second, I’m with you on Wikipedia. It has more biases than any other community I’ve tried to join. The editors speak a cryptic code and are suspicious of everyone. If they haven’t heard of you they assume no one has.
    The learning curve on how things work and the politics is steep. And yes, they have a very anti-business bent.
    They let some in and bar others (I’ve essentially copied a format and tone of another company but my entry still got deleted almost instantly).
    Why can’t every person have a Wikipedia page when there is so much space? Isn’t that the point of the Internet?
    It’s a brilliant idea that works remarkably well but it needs some reform.
    -Janet

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