The Real Scoop on Updating Your Company’s Wikipedia Page
- 6. October 2022
If you’re a content marketer, you are probably used to being able to craft messages about your products and services that meet your precise standards and needs. You typically have complete control over the narrative on your company’s website, social media, and other digital channels. So, it can be a real eye opener when your boss tells you to update your company’s Wikipedia page.
If your business’s Wikipedia page is out of date, incorrect, or even biased, you’re going to want to fix that. But you can’t just start editing at will, you need to go through Wikipedia remediation. That’s because Wikipedia is supposed to be neutral and unbiased. They don’t want marketing folks like you posting stuff on your page just to make you look good. To be fair, you also don’t want your competitors editing your page to make you look bad. Wikipedia has a lot of conflict of interest rules in place to prevent those issues, and you’ll need to navigate those.
Remediation can be a long, onerous process full of pitfalls and false starts. I’ll walk you through the best practices we’ve learned as an agency.
Learn the rules
Wikipedia has strict conflict of interest guidelines, and will enforce them with the blanket reversal of edits from a user, or even deletion of that user’s account, if they perceive the writing of the user is biased or advertising in nature. It's imperative to take the time to learn the editing rules, and the conflict of interest restrictions before you start suggesting changes.
I’d recommend you start with the Organizations FAQ which is part of Wikipedia itself. This FAQ covers ground rules for editors in your position and it contains links to related policy governing everything from conflict of interest and appeals. As with much of Wikipedia, it is self-referential, so with this page as a starting point, you will have an excellent resource for an overview of not just the special organization guidelines, but all of the editing guidelines. There are very few exceptions, so take note that even non-profit organizations are not exempted from these rules.
Establish yourself in the community
Make an account - it's easier to become part of a community when you have a fixed identity. Remember that it's against Wikipedia policy to share an account (e.g an ‘organizational account’), so having one or two dedicated team members with individual accounts is the way to go here. Every time you make a communication, be it an offered citation, suggested edit, or asking a question, don’t forget to fully disclose your relationship with the brand or organization. Every move you make will be scrutinized - that’s okay, that’s what you want at the beginning.
Start small, like suggesting an update of outdated financial information, or pointing out a change in published organizational staffing. Be trustworthy and impeccable with your words, and you will become trusted.
Set a schedule
Wikipedia has rules and guidelines for almost everything, so I was initially astonished when I could find almost no essays or official stances on page maintenance. After considering this for a while, however, it started to make sense. The idea behind Wikipedia is crowd sources, organic updates, so it then becomes reasonable that there is no codified policy or best practice on the systemic maintenance of one's page(s).
This one is the one item that is going to be completely up to you; consider a pace that matches the flow of your organization, but take into consideration that Wikipedia may be slow to update outside exceptional circumstances.
After you’re established
Keep the shine on your good reputation -- don’t change anything about your conduct! Users who reach this point may be tempted to start making minor edits on their own, but it's a slippery slope, and the potential of having all of your edits wiped is not worth it. Be patient.
If you’ve followed the steps above, you should be in a good position to help guide your Wikipedia page forward into the future. Always keep in mind that Wikipedia is written and maintained by a community of volunteers using a democratic model of collaboration. You will run into snags, you may sometimes disagree, and that may make you tempted to try and steer against the current. Don’t. Stay calm and level-headed, pick your battles with care, and happy editing.