How to Help Your CEO Understand Wikipedia

So, there are probably two scenarios at play here.

  1. You think Wikipedia should be part of your company’s marketing strategy, and want to know how to get your executive team on board; or,
  2. Your executive team has asked you to create a company/CEO Wikipedia page, but you’re afraid that their expectations aren’t realistic.

Both can be tough situations, but they aren’t impossible to manage.  We’ve got the facts you need to impress the importance of Wikipedia on your executive team, as well as the information you need to realistically draft a page that has the best chance of making it through Wikipedia’s other editors.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is Wikipedia?

You might know, but your executive team might not.  Here are some facts to grab their attention.

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers.  It contains an ever-growing number of articles (6,143,211 in English at the time we published this blog), and is the second most visited website in the U.S.  You can consider it, at the very least, a trusted jumping-off point for anyone researching a new topic, person, or business.  This makes it pretty likely that potential customers, investors, or the press will visit your company’s page to see what’s what.  They might even visit Wikipedia before visiting your company website.

Wikipedia also almost always ranks as a top 3 search result on Google.  This means that your Wikipedia page can be used to bolster your online reputation by scoring you top billing on Google without requiring you to pay for ads, and by pushing any negative press further down in the SERPs.

Those all seem like pretty great reasons to have a Wikipedia page, but pages aren’t for everyone.  Read on to find out why.

Wikipedia’s Thoughts on Notability

If you think that your company isn’t ready for a page, or that execs have unrealistic expectations of how detailed a page will be, you’re likely dealing with notability issues.

Wikipedia has very strong opinions when it comes to what topics merit their own pages. Before any topic can enter the encyclopedia’s hallowed halls, it has to pass the notability test. This means that your company must prove that trusted, third-party sources are writing substantial amounts of content focused on your company.

Look for sources that provide the following:

  • The sources must be written by a professional journalist. Stay away from interviews as they don’t meet Wikipedia’s fact-checked requirement.
  • At least 2-3 of the sources should be from national media publications. Smaller, local news sources can work, but they cannot be the only sources used.  Personal blogs, or anything published by your company, cannot be used.
  • The sources must provide substantial and in-depth coverage of your company.  Sources that merely quote a spokesperson from your company, or mention your company in a sentence or two, do not count.  There should be several paragraphs focused on your company.
  • These paragraphs need to focus on facts as opposed to thought leadership or personal interest matters – i.e. look for information on when and where the company was founded, a recent round of funding, a newly released product, an acquisition…

If you cannot provide at least three sources that meet the above requirements, your company is not ready for a Wikipedia page.  If you can only provide 3-5, your company might be ready for a stub page: a shorter Wikipedia page, oftentimes only a few paragraphs long.  If you can provide six or more sources, each with unique information, you should be in good shape for a Wikipedia page.

Drafting a Page

Once you’ve got your 3+ sources, it’s time to start drafting a page.  But first, there’s something else you need to let your executive team know: because of your affiliation with your company, Wikipedia doesn’t want you publishing the page yourself.

We know, we know. It’s one step forward and five steps back.  This is the information you need to have though if you are going to successfully explain Wikipedia to your executive team and get a page on Wikipedia. 

So, if you shouldn’t publish the page yourself, what do you do?

First, go ahead and draft it.  Determine what information is a must-have, what would be nice to have, and what is a long shot.  Then, using reputable, third-party sources, organize the information into a Wikipedia page.  For companies, this usually entails organizing the page based on:

  • History
  • Management / governance
  • Finance and operations
  • Subsidiaries  
  • Products / services

Be sure to write objectively.  Remember, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and articles need to be fact-based.  Take care to avoid writing anything in a way that is overly promotional.

Next, you can go here to request the article be created. Be sure to state your connection to your company when you make the request.  Then you wait for a Wikipedia editor not affiliated with your company to review the request, approve it, and create it for you.

Editing a Page

The process for editing an existing page is similar.  Rather than editing yourself and getting called out, visit the Talk Page (tab on the upper left) and state your request.  Be sure to back it up with reputable, third-party sources.  Then wait for another editor to add the content in for you.

What if it Doesn't Work?

Does that all sound too iffy?  Would you or your executive team rather create the page yourselves?  You can, but there are risks.  For starters, your account or IP address will be saved when you do any drafting/editing work on Wikipedia.  It’s easy for other editors to find out if you’re using an IP address associated with your company.  This can result in your page being deleted or smacked with a Conflict of Interest flag.

Flags are at the top of a page, making them the first thing that anyone sees. COI flags or flags that the article is overly promotional or written like an advertisement can signal to people that the page isn’t to be trusted. This can mean all your hard work was for nothing, especially if the page is deleted.

What if the Page Changes Over Time?

It’s important to remember that whether you successfully publish the page without anyone noticing your affiliation or successfully publish it with other editors’ help, control of the page is not in your hands.  Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time.  Other editors might add information that you don’t like to your company’s page, delete something you did like, or simply add a few sentences that aren’t written in the style you would prefer.  There is basically nothing you can do about this.  The only exceptions are if there really was no reason for information to be deleted, or if the information added is not true or not neutral in its tone.

In the first case, go to View History (tab on the upper right) and see if the editor gave a reason for the deletion.  You can request the information be added back in and explain your reasoning.  If you don’t get anywhere with that editor, you can move the conversation to the Talk Page.

In the second case, you can request that the content be removed or reworded, once again using the Talk Page.  Be sure to have reputable sources to back up your claims. 

If you want to keep an eye on the page, use a page monitoring tool:

  • Wiki Alert: Add an extension in your browser, hook it up to your Watchlist, and every time a page you follow is updated, you’ll get an alert in your browser.
  • Wikipedia’s Emailing Tool: Get alerted by Wikipedia anytime one of your tracked pages is edited. Visually, the Wikipedia tool is on the technical side, and each page can only be tracked by one account and one email address.
  • The Mather Group’s Tool: Our tool allows you to input your email address and track any pages that you’d like, without being tied to a single Wikipedia account. When one of your tracked pages is edited, we’ll send an email containing the visual differences of the page before and after the change.

Good Luck to You

Wikipedia is much more complicated than it seems at first glance, and it can be tricky learning its quirks.  We hope this helps you communicate with your executive team and plan the best way to get your company an up-to-date Wikipedia page.  If you have any questions, we’re always happy to chat.

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