By Dianna Huff published November 15, 2011

How to Develop a Wikipedia Page that Sails Through the Approval Process

When I first decided to create a Wikipedia page for my client’s technology, I had no idea what I was in for. I had made simple updates to existing pages, so how hard could it be to create a new page?

Hahahahaha. I’m here to tell you it was incredibly difficult. Writing for Wikipedia is akin to writing a college term paper — you can’t get by with just creating easy, breezy marketing copy for this type of project.

But, the effort was worth it. My client’s industry-changing technology — which their founder invented — is now an official part of Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page tells the story of the technology and includes photos of my client’s product. Most importantly, the page generates traffic to my client’s site.

Reasons to create a Wikipedia page

Wikipedia is a living, breathing encyclopedia where anyone can add their own pages, articles, and knowledge. Topics cover just about anything: Green Day (the band), pinball, carbon black and, yes, even content marketing.

Should you create a Wikipedia page? Here are a few indicators that this type of content may meet your needs:

  • You have an industry-changing technology that your company invented or developed. This technology can be anything from mechanical to chemical to musical (e.g., iTunes).
  • Your founder or company is “notable.” Wikipedia editors apply a “notability” test to determine if your subject warrants a Wikipedia page. If your company has invented something or if your founder is a person-of-note (e.g., a famous author, the first person to row a boat across the ocean), then your company or founder might be a good candidate.
  • You can’t find any information about your technology or topic in Wikipedia. This is what prompted me to suggest creating a Wiki page for my client’s technology.

To learn more about what topics Wikipedia considers notable and worthy of inclusion, read Wikipedia’s article on Notability first.

Steps to creating a Wikipedia page

The steps outlined below provide a brief overview of the Wikipedia page creation process. You’ll find much more detailed information on Wikipedia’s Help pages as well in the articles and guides mentioned below.

1. Do your research first. Before creating any content on Wikipedia, learn about the Wikipedia community and how it works. Learning the ins and outs of being a good Wikipedia citizen will help ensure your page won’t be deleted or challenged after you’ve submitted it for review. I read a number of articles before creating my client’s page, including How to Game Wikipedia, by BNet, and MarketingSherpa’s, How to Get Your Company Listed on Wikipedia, Part I.  I also found Eloqua’s, The Grande Guide to Wikipedia, very helpful.

2. Create an account. You must be a registered user to make changes to existing Wikipedia pages and articles, as well as to create your own. Creating an account is pretty straightforward. I advise using your real name and email address.

3. Start small. It pays to start by making small edits to existing pages to test your skills before trying to create new content. I started with pages with which I was already familiar. My son’s fencing coach, for example, is an Olympic medalist and has a Wikipedia page. I updated it by adding some biographical information I found on the internet and added a link back to his fan club’s website.

By making these small changes, I was able get more familiar with the site’s content management system and build my Wikipedia user profile. Once you create an account, every change you make on Wikipedia is recorded on your user page, which anyone can access — anyone being Wikipedia editors and other users. With enough editing and creating activity under your belt, you can become an “auto-confirmed user.” This gives you permission to perform certain restricted functions, such as uploading images and moving pages to the public space.

4. Gather your sources. While you’re feeling your way around Wikipedia, begin gathering sources for the page or article you want to create. This will save you a huge amount of time once you’re ready to create your page.

Sources are tremendously important in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia (not another marketing channel for promoting your product), and this means everything on your page needs to be verified. I can’t stress this enough.

Even if you’re a notable inventor or a famous person who rowed across the Atlantic in a plastic tub, you can’t simply sit down and write a Wikipedia page based on your experience. Sorry, but you’ll need third-party sources such as printed material (books and magazines) and online material such as websites, articles, or video to support the information you provide.

Your content must be factual and unbiased. When creating my client’s technology page, I had to include information about competitors and their technology, as well as links to their sites. You’ll want your facts to be straight so you’re not accused of any misrepresentation.

Also consider including images. You’re only allowed to use images you own or images not subject to copyright. I learned this the hard way — I had to delay the launch of my client’s page while I walked them through the process of uploading their copyrighted images.

5. Write the copy. After all those other steps, you are finally ready to get down to the writing and posting of your Wikipedia content. I wrote my client’s page in Word first, cut and pasted it into the Wikipedia interface and then formatted it from there. You can add your page to the Sandbox, where you can format it or you can add it to your My Talk page (part of your user account), which is what I did. I chose the My Talk page as content is regularly cleared out of the Sandbox; keeping it in My Talk ensured it wouldn’t be deleted.

Formatting the page using “Wiki code” took a little while. It’s a tedious process even if you’re HTML savvy, which I am, so be sure to allow time for this or hire someone to do it for you. You can learn more about Wiki Code by reading Wikipedia’s Help Pages.

6. Submit the page for review. Once your page is complete and error-free, you will need to submit it to Wikipedia for review. This process can take as little as a few days or as long as a few weeks or more to get a response.

After waiting about 12 days for a response, I saw that other pages that had been submitted around the same time as mine had gotten their approvals, or challenges, or had been deleted. Eventually, I assumed mine was fine and went ahead and moved it to the public space.

However, shortly after it went live, I noticed that an editor had changed the title of the page and made other edits (but, thankfully, nothing substantial was changed). I now monitor the page and update it as needed (for example, my client recently introduced a new technology-advancing product, which warranted a Wiki page update).

Having gone through this process, I’m now a confirmed Wikipedia admirer , which before this experience  I was not. True, I wanted to tear my hair out at times, but it was well worth the effort.

What has your experience been with Wikipedia? Have you created pages or articles? Have you run afoul of Wiki editors? Have you had problems correcting erroneous information posted by others? Post your comments below.

Author: Dianna Huff

In business since 1998, Dianna helps companies create effective websites that get leads. She knows her stuff. Follow her on Twitter @diannahuff. Download her free B2B Web Marketing Toolkit for proven web marketing strategies that work.

Other posts by Dianna Huff

  • http://www.danielleadams.com Jeff Dobkin

    Thanks, Dianna…
    For this inspiration to start a Wicki page for my technique to delay brain death in sudden cardiac arrest victims.  The simple technique can be found at our website, Brain Injury Foundation.  Jeffrey Dobkin

  • http://www.marketingtrenches.com Tracy Gold

    Dianna, 

    Thanks for this post! I was very happy when my boss emailed this to me. Before, he didn’t quite understand when I told him writing and getting a Wikipedia article posted would probably take about 10 hours, when something of similar length wouldn’t take long at all. All in all, the process took about 7 hours–but we already had a list of sources gathered and the article was very short. Now, I have someone else to back me up that I’m not crazy, this is hard. 

    Another important thing to know about Wikipedia is that they’re very sensitive about Conflict of Interests (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:COI). If you’re writing on behalf of a company, you should say so on your user page. Also, as I found out while I was searching for an editor to just do this for us, Wikipedia is actually skeptical of paid editing and paid editors are hard to find! 
    Tracy

    • http://twitter.com/diannahuff Dianna Huff

      Tracy,

      Thanks for the feedback on conflict of interest. I didn’t know that! Good to keep in mind.

  • http://www.reklamaster.com/advertisement/libraries/defaults/webpromo-summer-offer.html вебпромо

    Good post really interesting and usefull

  • http://www.ma-dissertations.com/freelance-writing-jobs writing career

    Oh. thanks for this tutorial! I have some problem with wiki in past) 

  • mandy

    Do you have any recommendations for getting your page published once it’s been denied? I wrote the content, following the steps you listed above – except that I didn’t dabble in editing ahead of time (wish I had seen this first). I modeled the content exactly after competitor’s pages, being careful not to say anything promotional. Our first swipe, they didn’t like the citations we used (either not enough or the type, it was not clear) which is perplexing because they are the same sources (media outlets) that our competitors are using. But we got denied. Then communicated directly with one of the wikipedia editors who got us started by writing a small starter-graph on us. We went in and edited that, just adding a tiny amount, and then the entire page got declined again. Do pages get flagged so that all edits to a page get more scrutinized than usual with an almost automatic denial?

    • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

      Mandy — It’s hard to say why you got denied. Do you work for a company and created the page using your company email as a login? I know Wikipedia seriously frowns on this and will deny a page based on this alone. If your editor didn’t like the citations, i would have stuck with that editor and worked to fix things. That way you could have created a dialog and gotten clarification on what he/she didn’t like.

  • http://quharrison.com/ QuHarrison Terry

    Great information here.

  • bublita

    It is terribly confusing! I created a page and I can’t figure out how to upload it or get it to the approval team. I’ve searched all over the Internet for clues… could you help? I also don’t understand subpages.

    • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

      Bublita — Without seeing what’s actually going on, it’s hard to give you answers. Once you’ve created your page, you need to submit it to an editor. Once it’s been approved, you then move it to the public space. Here is the article wizard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Article_wizard

    • Sue

      I too can not find how to upload it for approval. Did you find an answer as no one on this post is answering.

      • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

        Sue — First, create the article in your user sandbox. (You must create an account first.) Once your account in 4 days old and you have made 10 edits on other pages, you’re then given the ability to move your page out of the sandbox into the main space without having to go through an editor. However, if your article doesn’t meet quality guidelines, it will be deleted.

        This link goes to a primer for new comers — it also includes a link to request a review of your article:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:A_Primer_for_newcomers#How_to_move_the_page

  • http://twitter.com/superior_promos SuperiorPromos.com

    Good article, we have had a hard time getting listed on Wikipedia even though we are a leader and one of the original promotional products eCommerce sites.

  • Sujai

    Awesome…really helpful…thanks a ton..I am gonna create one..Thanks Dianna

  • Steven

    Diana,
    A great article. I wish we’d come across this earlier than this, as we were attempting to put something together for our company. However I agree with you entirely that without the expertise and understanding of what is required to upload an article it is incredibly difficult. I also think likening this to a college paper is an excellent point. A lot of research seems to be required.

    Our company decided to approach a website that specialises in creating wikipedia articles, so for those of your readers who are really struggling we’d strongly advise it. For a reference the websites we approached http://www.wizardsofwiki.com. We tried to upload an article and failed. These guys gave us some excellent tips and pointers.

    Steve

  • Sabrina

    Great article Dianna – where do you submit your page to Wikipedia? I wasn’t able to find it!

  • http://www.athleticteamimaging.com/ Athletic Team Imaging

    Dianna,

    Thank you for a great, knowledgeable post. Was very easy to find and follow along, will be implementing and hopefully come back with our results! Thank you!

    Athletic Team Imaging

  • Jim

    Dianna:
    You saved me a great deal of time. I will let you know how my experience turns out.

  • Benjamin

    The article is informative, well done and easy to understand. Although I have not listed any article on wikipedia, I now know how to go about it and the benefits of doing it.

  • Tara

    You diamond! I have just been given the task of getting my company on Wikipedia as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. You’ve really gave me some foundations to build on and hopefully achieve the desired result – thanks!

  • http://www.homeguidance.co.uk/ Gareth

    A few years ago, while working for a small B2B magazine/site, my boss repeatedly insisted on me writing him a Wikipedia entry. He didn’t seem to understand that Wikipedia would not deem him worthy of an entry, and my submission was deleted time and again. Wish I had such a guide to hand back then.