Wikipedia entries usually rank very high on the first page of Google. In March of this year, Wikipedia was the 7th most visited website according to Alexa’s top site list.
With such a potential influence on the reputation of your company, it is therefore not surprising that as a communications professional you want to have a say in the way your company or how key people in your company are represented on the online encyclopaedia.
But the picture becomes more complex as we hear a number of stories telling how attempts at editing a Wikipedia page have backfired in the past. Editors on Wikipedia keep a detailed record of these “conflict of interest editing incidents” which, quite transparently, starts with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales himself!
If you’re considering editing your company page, here are some relevant tips.
Identify what needs changing and pick your battles
This is the starting point and it’s key. Before you start editing, you need to identify the entries that are most critical for the reputation of your company. It might be inaccurate or outdated information on a product or on your company page, on a director’s biography.
Wikipedia offers page views statistics: this can be a good indication of where to focus your efforts.
Gather your sources
Wikipedia content is based on the notion of verifiability, so you’ll need a reliable and published source to prove each point when editing an entry.
Introduce yourself in a transparent manner
This means that you will need to disclose your affiliation either on your User Page or in the Talk Page for each contribution. At Investis, we have used our User Page to do so and we have reaffirmed our intention to follow Wikipedia’s guidelines and respect a neutral point of view in any case.
Once you have introduced yourself and disclosed your affiliation, you can start contributing. One common misconception is that contributions are necessarily direct edits on a page. There’s actually more happening ‘behind the scene’, in the talk pages of articles. Depending on what you want to change, it might be more effective to start discussing with previous editors in this dedicated space and reach a consensus instead of directly editing an entry.
Monitor your pages and be open to discussion
Lastly, Wikipedia is an open and ever changing space. So once your change has been made, you’ll need to monitor the page to see if it is accepted and respond to any queries from other Wikipedia users.
As it is the case with any third-party website, companies’ contributions to Wikipedia need to be delicately managed as your interactions with the community can either harm or strengthen your reputation.