Why Editing Your Own Wikipedia Page is Off-Limits (And What to Do Instead)

Wikipedia is a highly influential source of information for businesses, individuals, and organizations. When people want to learn about you, they typically turn to Google, which often features "knowledge boxes" filled with content extracted from sites like Wikipedia. As a result, how your brand or reputation is perceived can be significantly impacted by this information. Users might question the credibility of a brand or person if they don't see a knowledge box.

Understandably, individuals and businesses with significant reputations want to create and maintain Wikipedia pages containing accurate and positive information. Those who don't have a page want to create one, while those who do have one strive to ensure it contains positive details.

The urge to shape the information on Wikipedia is natural, as you may want to downplay misinformation or emphasize your version of the truth. You may even be tempted to edit your Wikipedia page yourself, but doing so could result in your page being deleted. In this article, we'll discuss why you can't edit your own Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia's Commitment to Accurate Information

Wikipedia takes the accuracy of its data very seriously. They have numerous rules governing what can and cannot be done on pages, with varying degrees of restriction based on your relationship to the page and the subject. Wikipedia aims for its pages to be:

Accurate: They strive for the information on pages to be as accurate and unbiased as possible, which is why they require sources for many statements on their pages.

Unbiased: Wikipedia's objective is to present factual information and context without making judgments, even for the most notorious criminals.

Free from advertising: Wikipedia does not allow any form of advertising, including self-promotion, except for the occasional annual donation drive.

While there are extensive guidelines on what constitutes relevant information and notability for a Wikipedia page, editors are not provided with formal training. The platform is open to everyone, enabling users to present facts accurately, which is a major strength of Wikipedia. The community enforces this by monitoring and correcting misinformation.

Pages that are frequently vandalized or contain too much misinformation may be protected, restricting editing access. To ensure the longevity of your Wikipedia page, it should meet all criteria for relevance, notability, and factual information. Regrettably, many individuals and brands don't meet the notability guidelines and end up having their pages deleted.

The Problem with Editing Your Page

The primary concern with editing your own Wikipedia page is the conflict of interest it creates. You may be familiar with the idea of a conflict of interest from business, media, or everyday interactions.

The issue is that if you edit your own Wikipedia page, your objectivity and commitment to presenting unbiased information become questionable. You have a vested interest in showcasing yourself or your company in the best light possible. Even if you don't fabricate information, you may be tempted to emphasize positive aspects and exclude any controversies.

There have been numerous instances of conflict of interest on Wikipedia, such as:

United States Congress members editing their Wikipedia pages to manipulate reporting on voting records and positions on issues.

Microsoft employees editing pages on competing coding standards to make them appear inferior to Microsoft's offerings.

British MP staffers editing articles for their MPs, removing "controversy" sections.

A PR firm editing Wikipedia articles on behalf of their clients.

Wikipedia has an extensive page documenting their conflict of interest editing rules and recorded instances of it happening in the past. You can find that document here.

What Penalties Might Occur?

If you edit your Wikipedia page and are found to be violating rules, there are several possible penalties you may face:

Your page might become protected: In cases where a page is controversial, repeatedly vandalized, or subject to repeated edit attempts from sock puppet accounts, Wikipedia can protect the page so that only certain super-editors are allowed to make changes.

Your account might be restricted: Accounts can be restricted if users are found to be biased for or against certain entities. In some cases, accounts may be blocked temporarily or permanently.

Your edits will likely be reverted: The most common penalty is that any edits you made will be scrutinized for accuracy, and in most cases, will be reverted.

Your page may be audited: In extreme cases, conflict-of-interest editing may trigger a full-page audit, which can result in anything from information removal to the entire page being marked for deletion.

Your page may be deleted: If your edits draw negative attention to your page, it could end up deleted. This typically happens with small businesses and individuals who believe they are noteworthy but do not meet the minimum notability guidelines.

Your account may be deleted: If your account is found to be egregiously making edits, Wikipedia might simply delete the account and can potentially issue an IP block to prevent you from creating a new account and resuming the same activities.

Instead of editing your own page, consider working with a professional editor who can maintain an unbiased perspective and help you present accurate, reliable information about yourself or your company on Wikipedia.

In extreme cases, you may be subject to legal action. Depending on the size and scope of your company or your interests, and the degree and content of the edits, it’s occasionally possible to violate laws against covert or false advertising. The two main jurisdictions for this are the EU and the USA, though Canada also has ad standards that you need to watch out for.

Why You Might Want to Edit Your Page Anyway

Despite the risks and potential penalties, there may be good reasons why you would want to edit your Wikipedia page.

For example, maybe a major story is breaking, and you want to get ahead of it. Major reputation crises can occur, and Wikipedia is generally considered an unbiased source of information. Thus, if you can get ahead of the issue and post your side of the story first, you may be able to establish it before others put a less flattering version on your page.

Of course, you need to be factual and unbiased when you do this. Otherwise, you’ll simply be called out, the unbiased information edited in, and perhaps even evidence of your edits added to use against you.

Another reason you might want to edit your page is if you’re making a change to your company in some way. For example, if you’re rebranding and changing your business name, you might want to edit your Wikipedia page to reflect the new name, with a section identifying the old name of the business. For example, the company Altria has a line in the first sentence of their page stating who they previously were.

It’s also possible that you’ve noticed factual errors in your page, or even something as small as a typo, and you want to fix it. These kinds of edits can generally be made without fear of reprisal or auditing since fixing a typo isn’t a conflict of interest.

There are certainly legitimate reasons why you might want to edit your own Wikipedia page. The question is, how can you go about it?

Options for Editing Your Wikipedia Page

You generally have three choices when getting your Wikipedia page edited. Note the phrasing; you’ll see why in a moment.

Option 1: Editing it yourself in plain view. By disclosing your connection to the business, sticking to factual edits with unbiased sources, and making no attempt to hide your association, you can get away with more than you might expect. People will likely give your edits more scrutiny, and there will be a warning that edits with a close association to the subject are discouraged, but it’s still possible to do.

This option is fine if you’re making minor edits and generally trying to stay factual. The primary risk is simply that an editor might decide that your page isn’t noteworthy enough to keep and removes the whole thing. Still, if you don’t do anything to draw attention to yourself, you may be able to keep up with factual edits with no issues.

Option 2: Editing it yourself while hiding your association. The primary ways Wikipedia uses to detect association are generally name-based and IP-based. For example, if you’re editing your Wikipedia page and your IP address traces back to your headquarters, it’s pretty obvious it’s you or a member of your staff. Likewise, if Justin Trudeau’s page was being edited by a user named ‘JTrudeau’, you can probably assume he’s editing his page.

Many people choose to obfuscate their association with the pages they edit. By choosing an unrelated screen name and using a VPN or a proxy to edit from a different IP address, you can often hide that connection. At that point, your edits will only receive the same scrutiny other people do. Unfortunately, one mistake can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

Option 3: Hire a Wikipedia editor like our agency. There are perhaps thousands of Wikipedia editors who sell their services on the side. This is also against the Wikipedia rules, but it’s much harder to detect and often passes under the radar.

Hiring a professional agency or editor with experience in editing Wikipedia pages can be a beneficial option. These editors have a deep understanding of Wikipedia's guidelines and policies and can help you navigate the complexities of editing your page without violating any rules. They can create well-sourced, unbiased, and accurate content, making it more likely that your edits will be accepted and not flagged for conflict of interest.

However, it's essential to research and choose a reputable agency or editor who adheres to Wikipedia's guidelines and ethical standards. Working with an agency that disregards these rules may lead to penalties, such as having your edits reverted or your page deleted.

In summary, editing your Wikipedia page can be challenging due to the potential for conflicts of interest and the need to adhere to Wikipedia's strict guidelines. While it is possible to edit your page yourself, hiring a professional editor or agency can help ensure that your edits are accurate, unbiased, and in compliance with Wikipedia's policies.