Digital Media, Strategy, Wikipedia

Five Misperceptions Most People Have About Wikipedia

Wikipedia can be an intimidating and confusing world for those who haven’t had an in-depth engagement with its inner workings. In our work with clients who ask for help with editing a Wikipedia article, we hear the same mis-statements repeatedly. Here are the five most frequently cited “facts” about Wikipedia that are, in fact, untrue.

1. You can’t edit your own Wikipedia article, either a personal or a company article, because Wikipedia prohibits this.

The truth is … You can.
There is no “rule” or “law” against this “Conflict of Interest” editing. It is “strongly discouraged” in Wikipedia’s guidelines, and many volunteer editors want you to believe you can’t. But you can do so, as long as you do it in a very specific way.


2. Paid editing is prohibited by Wikipedia’s “rules.”

The truth is … It isn’t.
Just like editing your own article isn’t prohibited, neither is paid editing. Again, Wikipedia’s guidelines “strongly discourage” paid editing. But if you work for a company and you have been tasked with editing its Wikipedia article, you can do so. However, you will need to adhere to a very specific set of practices if you are to be successful.


3. I don’t need to have a reliable media source for something I know to be true.

The truth is … You do.
This often comes up with biographical articles. People believe because they saw something with their own eyes or heard something from someone else, that they can include this in an article without citing a source for the information. But for major events, and especially for controversial ones, you need to have a source for the information in the article. (Philip Roth tested this one and despite his fortune, fame and stubborn attitude, still lost the fight.)


4. We can cite our press release as a reliable source for information in our company article.

The truth is … You can’t.
A press release is something you wrote and, if it’s simply posted on a Huffington type site, it can’t be cited as a source. If a reporter receives your release and writes an article from it, you can use that article. The litmus test is: Did an independent reporter or editor write something about your company? If yes, you can use it. If no, you can’t.


5. Our company is planning on doing something (expansion, IPO, new product launch) so we can include it in our article.

The truth is … Until it happens, it hasn’t happened, it isn’t a fact, and you can’t include it without risking having it removed by a volunteer editor.
Once it happens and it receives reliable media coverage, you can add it to the article.

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