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.