10 Tips to Navigate Complex Wikipedia Rules to Yield a Better Brand Reputation

10 tips to navigate complex Wikipedia rules to yield a better brand reputation

On June 10th, several large public relations agencies pledged to uphold the Wikipedia community ethics and processes for contributing and editing content on their clients’ behalf. 

Why is this significant? 

First, Wikipedia URLs tend to show up pretty high in search results.  Second, the process for updating and adding new content to a company’s Wikipedia articles can be complex due to the high level of scrutiny of individuals and companies who are perceived to have a conflict of interest (e.g. a company or its agency attempting to edit pages). Brands can get into trouble when they attempt to edit Wikipedia article entries without input from the community and this tends to catch a lot of our clients off-guard. 

So, what’s a brand to do? 

Best practices dictate that a corporate user not actually edit or create new content, but instead, petition the Wikipedia community to make changes/updates. Warning – this process can be technical, tedious and long! Still interested? Here’s a primer of best practices for requesting Wikipedia page edits to maximize search results and brand reputation – without breaking any rules:

  1. Assign one point of contact from your organization to communicate with the Wikipedia community. 
  2. Create a User Page (profile) so that you can register to contribute to Wikipedia. Think of a User Page as your personal workspace on Wikipedia, which enables you to recommend new content and article updates for consideration by Wikipedia editors.
  3. Audit your organization’s Wikipedia page to determine any content gaps or errors. Reference competitor pages for a point of comparison. 
  4. Familiarize yourself with your company’s Talk Page, which is the forum used to engage with editors. It also will give insight into editor conversations about existing content and identify possible influencers within the community.
  5. Substantiate content edits and additions to suggest to the community. Explain why the changes or new content are warranted in as unbiased a way as possible.
  6. Pick your battles and prioritize your requests. Since a corporation must rely on the approval (and pace) of the community, the process of editing or adding content can be cumbersome.
  7. Communicate with editors via your organization’s Talk Page. If a specific topic or issue is already being discussed on the Talk Page, add a comment to that section. If not, start a new topic.
  8. Speak in the editors’ language to avoid the “tell” of a newbie user. For example, properly format communications within Wikipedia and sign your contributions by typing four tildes (~~~~) at the end of your comment. 
  9. Address feedback and questions from the community. Do not move forward with any of your recommended edits until you receive the go-ahead from a Wikipedia editor
  10. Crickets? If it has been a couple of weeks, type {{help me}} within the article Talk page where you have not heard a response. 

The process is understandably intimidating, however, in general, the Wikipedia community is appreciative of a good faith effort. The upfront prep time is well worth forgoing the headache of putting out fires later.

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