By Joanna Fletcher
Just as Google has become a first point of call when searching for information on the Internet, Wikipedia has become a trusted name for information. It is aggressively current because anyone can update it; and it can be a serious business liability for the same reason.
Wikipedia – Gateway to the World
There is no doubt that a Wikipedia article is a significant benefit to a business trying to make a name for itself. Wikipedia listings are usually in the top 10 sites returned by Google and other search engines. The information will be maintained for free by volunteers and will be consistently available internationally for the foreseeable future with zero effort from the business itself.
Getting a Listing
It can be seen as a marketing coup to have article about your business in Wikipedia, as unlike traditional media, you simply cannot buy or bulldoze your way in. Every article must be about something notable, as defined here. There are links on this page to the Wikipedia core content policies of neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research. Basically, Wikipedia and its dedicated volunteers are committed to an encyclopedic site — only holding articles about things that are already a verifiable part of the public dialogue, and explicitly prohibiting advertising, self-promotion, or autobiographical material.
Writing Your Own Article
As with most social media, Wikipedia requires a big investment of time in the platform before you can use it to stealth-promote your business. If you are caught trying to post a profile about your own business, without adhering to the guidelines, the article will be unceremoniously deleted. If you are writing your own article, you probably do not have the sources and public profile required to support it. Once you have that kind of visibility, another Wikipedian will probably create an article about your business without any prompting.
Editing Existing Information
Can you go on Wikipedia and correct erroneous or embarrassing information about yourself or your business? With the advent of software that allows everybody to see who is updating which pages, you can be sure that edits to an article about you or your business will probably be deleted. At best, you will be required to provide further verification, and may face charges of trying to craft a public image rather than simply provide better information to readers. Wikipedia does not edit pages about itself, and neither should anyone else.
Making it Work
The first thing to do is go to Wikipedia and search for your company name and your own name, remembering to use quotation marks around multiple words. You may find that you are listed in some personal capacity or your business is mentioned in another article, in which case you can add information yourself once you have learnt the ropes. If you are not findable, you may find your time is better invested in becoming worthy of an article than just trying to get listed.
About the Author
Joanna Fletcher is a netizen who has lived, worked and played in virtual space for most of her life. Her entrepreneurial flair is topped only by her tolerance for failure.