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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Contact the author who posted the incorrect information, introduce yourself, present your case (with sources), and request that they correct their post.
- 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).