I often get questions about Wikipedia and how a corporation should work with and through Wikipedia. This article will focus on how to make Wikipedia administrators and users work for you and not against you. [Please make remarks on spelling.]
Basically there are some groud rules for Wikipedia. These “rules of engagement” are stated in Wikipedias five pillars.
- Wikipedia is an Encyclopedia
This basically means that opinions are not welcome, facts are. If you cannot support your facts, they could and should be removed. Also, if you are a small company, you might not be relevant for an encyclopedia. Thus, if your company is not known by the general public, then perhaps try to get listed in the Yellow Pages first.
- Wikipedia must have a Neutral point of view
This basically means that all known facts about a company has a place in a Wikipedia article. It should reflect what is known about you. Hence if you have done 1% bad stuff, your article should contain a proportional amount of bad stuff. Wikipedia does not take sides, it tells both sides of the tale.
- Wikipedia is Free content
This means that all that is there can be used by others without you being able to charge them for it.
- Wikipedia has a code of conduct
This basically means -> be nice. Not pretentious nice, but treat people with respect.
- Wikipedia does not have firm rules
Except for the above given, there are no rules to Wikipedia. There is neither a voting system. All wickeid discussions should reach consensus. If you’re a diplomat -> Wikipedia is the place for you.
So how should you start out working with your Wikipedia article?
Well for each article there are two pages. One public page and one discussion page. If I was you I would create a Wikipedia user account. Then I would to the startpage of Wikpedia and search for my company name. Read the article, if good, don’t mind, keep an eye on it. If there is something you want to change however I would recommend you go about doing it this way.
When I get to the article, click “discussion” in the top left corner (yeah just next to the text “article”).
Enter the discussion – Yes, that means start writing!!
Now click on the text “edit this page” to the right of the discussion option. IMPORTANT: Remember to click discussion first and then click “edit this page”. If you don’t you will be editing the article, which you really do not want to do at this stage. Especially not if you are a well known company. Remember, you want to engage, this article is about how to get the administrators on your side. To just edit the article is really counter productive. You will get niq’d right away.
Then write the following Wikipedia article code:
==From The Company==
Below it you should introduce yourself. Tell the other people engaged in the discussion that you are there from the company to aid with resources such as annual reports, news articles, facts sheets, white papers etc. It can look a bit like this.
My name is [YourName], I work as [YourPosition – really cool if CEO of big corp]. I work from IP [YourIP] and am here to answer any questions, aid with resources etc about [YourCompanyName]. I will start out by learning how this works by editing my own profile. Could anyone of you please help me get going with this? Any best practices around?
When you’re done, press show preview. If satisfied, then press save page.
This is a formidable introduction and will probably get some steam going right away. If you’ve got some haters out there they will make themselves known right away. But since you are not touching the article, but introducing yourself on the discussion page, you will gain as many supporters -> given you are not McDonalds, Starbucks or some other minimum wage corp that is perceived (never get the i and the e right in that word) as being deceptive and greedy.
You just cannot go wrong if you lean on Wikipedia
Either way. Stand your ground. Ask people to respect the rules of engagement and that Wikipedia is open for everyone, and that includes you as a corporation. You respect the neutrality rules and thus you are there to provide facts as you see them.
You will not edit the article unless you are prompted to do so by another user etc etc. yada yada… sometimes these initiation parties can take quite some time. But as long as you can cover your arguments in some Wikipedia document, you will be fine.
Now I know what you’re thinking!! So, let’s get into the PR stuff
How do you build a credible PR-profile, make bad stuff disappear, etc etc. Well there are a couple of ways to do this. Generally you cannot get rid of the stuff that is true with one very significant exception. If there is a person who did the bad stuff by themselves -> then argue that the bad stuff should be put in an article for that person and not on the main page.
There can be a reference to it, but no more. The whole history about the evilness of this past employee of you should not contaminate the beautiful nature of your Wikipedia article… remember… it should be neutral… and thus, giving disproportional weight to any facts are simply wrong.
So what about suggesting entries
Well, there are a couple of ways you can do this. If there are arguments about your article, you can provide useful links, contact administrators and ask them kindly if they want to update some part of the page. Marks & Spencer was until late very successful in using their Plan A to spread their CSR initiatives in Wikipedia. They edit their article themselves however, and thus it doesn’t look as good any more.
If they would work with the administrators and users, they would get some protectors that could be there to guard the facts of the article. There is a lot of speculation there right now. However, their idea of giving their CSR initiativ a lable and state it as a corporate policy, actually makes it a fact worth mentioning in a Wikipedia article.
Another example is GAP who managed to get their RED investment into the article.
If you want any kind of information such as the above in your article. Then provide the links to logos, policies etc etc, perhaps even an entry suggestion on the discussion page. Ie. The text you would perfer in the article. If you are lucky, someone might just copy paste it into the article as all the references are allready there.
The general rule is that anything positive about you that is allready on Wikipedia can be talked about and linked into your Wikipedia profile. Thus I would recommend you spending some time searching for initiatives you have been engaged in the past few years.
Last but really first – THE INFOBOX
All articles of any good quality should include an infobox. This is for you to really utilize. Most administrators care less about the infobox as it is just quick facts about your company. It is pretty safe to edit the infobox on your own as long as you write in the discussion what you have edited and why you edited it.
As you can see from the above example a corporation such as Microsoft can have their invention products in their info box. I have enclosed the code snippet in a txt-file for a good infobox through a link here.
Well, basically, it is not that difficult to start working through Wikipedia. If you read this article as well as the resources I am linking to from this article, I am sure you will be well on your way to engage in the Wikipedia community. Remember -> Regardless of what anyone tells you, there are no rules to Wikipedia except for the 5 pillars. Almost feels like the first rule of fight club 🙂
Consensus is what matters. Now make good dialogue, and you’ll be fine. You will gain supporters, and you will eventually gain protectors of your article as it’s quality will be so good that it increases the total quality of Wikipedia. Once it does that… you will reckon yourself untouchable!
I might give some more examples in later articles on good work in Wikipedia. Please make a comment on this post if you have some good or bad experiences. Wikipedia is culture and thus, there might be variations from language to language… cause remember THERE ARE NO RULES TO WIKIPEDIA!!
- Company Wikipedia Template – a coupple to choose from, if your article would not exist allready
- Infobox Code