Joining the wikipedia nerds

By nature, Wikipedia is an unstable source of information.  For this same reason, editing wikipedia can be frustrating and the huge nerds who edit it a lot will get upset if you do it incorrectly.  Although I’ve edited and created numerous wikipedia pages (from the subcontinental divide to the short bus), the correct information that I posted is still being changed by different users.  A friend of mine asked me the other day how to make a new wikipedia article that he wrote more legitimate.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Create an account – this is more credible, anonymous users can’t edit pages which are vandalized a lot and can’t create new pages, and it’s a nice way to monitor articles that you’ve edited.
  • Make sure the article doesn’t already exist.  Sometimes a redirect from an acronym or to a synonymous page is a much better edit than to make a page for no reason.
  • Have as many third party sources as possible and learn how to correctly format and cite them.
  • Learn how to format different styles (headers, sub headers, etc.) and link correctly.
  • Explain all the changes you made in the “Edit Summary” field.
  • Click “Show Preview” before “Save Page” – saving numerous minor edits in a row will irritate the wikipedia geeks.
  • Keep your information neutral – avoid writing about things for which you have a conflict of interest (see just one example below)
  • Correctly categorize your article.
  • People will probably change what you’ve written.  Find more sources and communicate why it’s correct.

I Found Incorrect Information About MY Company or Organization, What do I do?

Someone at a Web & Multichannel Marketing Meeting that I organized for my job asked me how to properly edit your own company’s wikipedia page a few weeks ago.  Generally, it is never recommended to edit your own wikipedia page, whether you’re Microsoft or Michael Jordan.  However, if you must do it, from what I can tell this is how you should proceed:

  1. Post your issue on the article’s discussion page and clearly identify yourself (being logged in under a user name is always more credible) and explain the discrepancy.  Citing third party sources will always make your argument more credible too.  Eventually (hopefully), a reputable wikipedia editor will notice the discussion and make the change for you.
  2. Strategically insert “citation needed” tags after incorrect information.  Here’s how to do it.  Eventually (hopefully), someone will notice the lack of sources and make the change for you.
  3. Contact the author who posted the incorrect information, introduce yourself, present your case (with sources), and request that they correct their post.
  4. If all else fails, sometimes you can get away with making a change yourself.  Correcting simple facts, such as dates or names is considered by some to be ok.  However, for more complex information, there’s a debate between whether it’s better to make the change anonymously or logged in with a user name, but in my opinion it’s best to be as transparent as possible when editing.  If some wikipedia nerds were to find out that a company employee was editing wikipedia anonymously it would not go over as well as if it were edited with a user name (just my opinion). 

This Post Has One Comment

  1. David K

    This is your most nerdy blog post of all time.

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