Wikipedia is an extremely popular website that attracts a large number of visitors, ranking at #8, just behind online giants like Google, YouTube, and Amazon. It's known for providing reliable information on almost any topic, with a high degree of accuracy that can be trusted. Although Wikipedia is a platform that allows community editing, it emphasizes factual and unbiased coverage, making it a valuable tool for reputation management purposes.
However, there is one significant issue: Wikipedia is well aware of its reputation and is highly vigilant about preventing transparent efforts to manipulate it. You cannot use your Wikipedia entry as a propaganda tool since it will be either removed entirely or edited to enhance its factual accuracy or to expose your attempts.
Wikipedia's meticulous oversight, revision, and pruning is what has established it as an authoritative source. Even Google trusts its accuracy, resulting in Wikipedia articles appearing in more than 90% of Google searches. With such widespread influence, it's not surprising that businesses may be interested in utilizing Wikipedia to improve their reputation.
However, there are several obstacles to overcome before utilizing Wikipedia as a reputation management tool. The following criteria must be met:
- The information presented must be factual and aimed at counteracting misinformation.
- The content must be written in a factual, unbiased manner.
- There should be multiple sources supporting the information provided that are not controlled by the company.
- The company should be noteworthy to some extent.
It's important to note that Wikipedia has regulations against creating or altering one's own Wikipedia entry. According to their business FAQ, they strongly discourage self-promotion or articles about organizations, products, services, or clients in which the writer holds a vested interest.
To maintain its authority, Wikipedia employs a strict level of overview, editing, and pruning. This is why over 90% of all Google searches feature a Wikipedia article, as even Google trusts their credibility. As a business owner, you may be interested in utilizing Wikipedia to manage your company's reputation, but there are several roadblocks to navigate.
To use Wikipedia for reputation management, you must ensure the following criteria are met: the information you share is factual and combats misinformation, your writing is unbiased and factual, the sources you use are not under your control, and your business is notable enough. However, it's important to note that creating or editing your own Wikipedia entry goes against their guidelines and is considered a conflict of interest.
If you encounter a factual inconsistency in a Wikipedia article, you can request an edit. However, attempting to publish an unbiased article with transparency carries the risk of being disregarded. It's recommended to read Wikipedia's FAQ for businesses to understand their guidelines fully.
To elaborate on these guidelines further, let's explore how Wikipedia operates and how it can (or cannot) be used for business purposes.
One of Wikipedia's fundamental requirements is factual information. Wikipedia articles are typically dry and factual, similar to academic writing, rather than sales copy or press releases.
Wikipedia's emphasis on factual accuracy is no accident. Its goal is to be a reliable source of information, like a print encyclopedia. Thousands of editors monitor content to ensure that it is factual and unbiased. However, editors can make mistakes or overlook inaccuracies, and the sources they use can also be flawed. This can be problematic for businesses seeking to manage their reputation on the site.
Businesses must present only factual information and ensure that their articles are unbiased when editing or creating content on Wikipedia. This is especially important because there are many editors who are familiar with commerce and English-language business operations. Businesses are under close scrutiny, and any inaccurate or biased information can be quickly removed. It's crucial to be meticulous when editing or creating articles to ensure that they meet Wikipedia's standards.
A quick glance at a business page on Wikipedia, such as the one for the Walt Disney Company, reveals a dry, factual history of the brand, with bullet points detailing noteworthy eras and actions. You won't see any biased information about the quality of executive leadership or the performance of various divisions. Instead, you'll find simple facts, such as financial histories, executive management lists, and key business information.
Even a company as big as Disney could not pressure Wikipedia to publish a biased article. Their page is unbiased and factual. Similarly, MyPillow, an American pillow company in the news for its political activities, has a neutral Wikipedia page, including both its philanthropic and political actions. The article isn't deleted because of political pressure, nor is it written with glowing praise because of political support. The page is neutral and factual, solely about the company.
If your company is trying to recover from a public relations disaster or a negative CEO, a Wikipedia page is not the answer. A page will cite and reference those events, and you can't use it as a press release to sanitize your reputation. Wikipedia requires a neutral presentation.
Wikipedia Demands Reliable and Noteworthy Sources
Unlike biased sources such as company websites or press releases, Wikipedia requires reliable sources of information to ensure factual accuracy. Consequently, many company pages are deleted for lack of sufficient sources or for not meeting the GNG, or General Notability Guidelines. These standards apply to all topics, and only noteworthy subjects are eligible for inclusion on Wikipedia.
The GNG sets a high bar for what constitutes noteworthiness. For example, MyPillow qualifies due to its high-profile involvement in US politics and the resulting controversy. However, even large companies like marketing giants Moz and Backlinko, or well-known entrepreneurs like Neil Patel, may not meet these standards despite being noteworthy in their field. Therefore, simply having a page on Wikipedia does not guarantee success in managing your company's reputation.
One of the most crucial documents you should read is What Wikipedia Is Not, which outlines the things that Wikipedia is not and can assist you in understanding why a business page may not be significant enough to warrant inclusion. In particular, the following points are highlighted:
Wikipedia is not a tool for marketing.
Wikipedia is not a directory.
Wikipedia is not an exhaustive collection of information.
Simply because your company exists, even if it has received media attention, does not automatically qualify it for a Wikipedia page.
Transparency vs. Covert Operations in Wikipedia Editing
When it comes to creating or editing a Wikipedia page about your company, there are two paths to take: transparency or covert operations. The conflict of interest guidelines on Wikipedia discourage editing or creating your own article, but if you choose to do so, being transparent and following all guidelines is better than trying to hide your connection.
To be transparent, use your real name, edit from a computer in your office, and make it clear who you are on the page. However, this puts your edits and page at risk of being removed or rejected for bias. On the other hand, you can try to hide your connection by using a proxy or unrelated username, but this is risky and can result in blacklisting if discovered.
There's no right answer, and it's up to you to decide where to draw the line. Creating a Wikipedia page when there isn't negative press or anything particularly noteworthy going on can increase your chances of success. If you already have a page, it's easier to make edits, but remain factual and unbiased. Adding a section to refute allegations or deleting a controversy section will backfire, so be careful and use your judgment.
To increase your chances of successfully creating or editing your company's Wikipedia page, it's recommended that you establish yourself as a reliable Wikipedia contributor first. This involves making factual edits to other pages and company pages within your industry before attempting to build your own company page.
Wikipedia is not an ideal platform for dealing with immediate PR crises, but it can be useful for long-term reputation building. However, this requires expertise in reputation management and Wikipedia editing, which is why it's recommended to hire a professional with an established history as a Wikipedia editor and contributor.
The only situation where short-term reputation management may be viable on Wikipedia is if your page has been vandalized or misrepresented. In this case, it's important to establish facts and remove misinformation.
Although creating or editing a Wikipedia page for your company can be challenging, it's a high-value target that's worth pursuing. To increase your chances of success, consider hiring a professional with expertise in Wikipedia editing, such as our company. We know the ins and outs of Wikipedia editing and can help you achieve your goals.