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Wiki Words

Almost everyone I know has consulted Wikipedia for one reason or another and in the marketing world, the value of being represented there is immense. The site gets millions of hits a day and while the credibility of its information is sometimes questioned, my own experience has proven that getting an entry posted to the site can be tough.

For the record, here are the top seven things I’ve learned about writing for Wikipedia:

  1. The primary criteria for getting an entry posted to Wikipedia is notability. If you or your organization are not significant in any way, forget the quest to get a listing.
  2. You may be notable – but can you prove it? Wikipedia requires citations for most of the claims you make for your accomplishments and you need to supply credible web links that back up your statements about who you are and why you are important.
  3. Wikipedia entries must follow a standard format. The site provides dozens of pages of detailed information outlining how to do this; slogging through it all is challenging and the process of loading an entry onto the site is time-consuming.
  4. Every new posting is subject to editorial review prior to being approved and if it does not conform to Wiki’s standards or conventions, it is put on hold; a list of editorial transgressions is provided and if they are not remedied within a specified time period, the entry is deleted from the system and you have to start over.
  5. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry at any time. This is unnerving, since it means the original author – or his or her agent – does not have editorial control over the information; malicious or untrue statements might be made. Again, however, there is a process of editorial review and Wikipedia editors will only accept the provable truth. A certain amount of trust is involved in getting a Wiki entry but it can be monitored to ensure the integrity of the piece remains intact.
  6. Editors are helpful people. Comments I’ve received about information I’ve submitted have been delivered in a professional and collegial fashion. By the same token, when working with Wikipedia, I maintain a respectful and appreciative attitude.
  7. Wikipedia prohibits blatant self-promotion in its entries and editors are vigilant on this issue.

Like many other people, I used to wonder about the validity of Wikipedia information and, like other people, I used the resource anyway. The site changed its rules a year or two ago and while many original entries were posted in a more lax editorial environment, my experience has led me to believe new information should be more reliable – which of course begs the question of “Which is which?”

Imperfect though the system might be, Wikipedia is part of a global culture that expects quick hits of comprehensive information delivered in a consistent format. It will likely continue to be widely consulted for quite some time to come. If you or someone you know would benefit from a listing there, I’d be pleased to discuss how I might help make that happen.

If you’ve had experience with Wikipedia, please share! I’m always learning and I appreciate the chance to extend my own understanding of the process so I can bring more value to client work.


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