Sunday, February 12, 2017

Is A Wikipedia Page Worth Having as an Author or Business?

“How do I create a Wikipedia page about myself?”

“How do I get my business listed on Wikipedia?”

As an author and business owner myself, I’ve heard many different versions of the above questions from fellow authors and entrepreneurs, but I feel like they’re not asking the right questions. My company, Mindstir Media, was listed on Wikipedia for a few months in 2016 (more about that later), and during that time, I learned some valuable lessons I want to share with authors and business owners alike. Surprise, having a business Wikipedia page isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, it can be a nice ego boost to stumble upon your name on Wikipedia, and it can add credibility to you and your company, but there are some major downsides to having a Wikipedia page that you should consider as well…

  • Many pages include inaccurate information. Anyone with an active Wikipedia account can create a page or edit one, so Wikipedia is notorious for providing inaccurate information and not always being the most reliable source. Yes, the site has some amazing, hard-working volunteer editors, but they’re imperfect people nevertheless, and they lack knowledge on certain topics.
  • You’re not supposed to promote or advertise on Wikipedia. As part of Wikipedia’s long list of editorial guidelines, a page/article is supposed to be devoid of advertising or promotional copy. It needs to read as an unbiased encyclopedia entry and include reliable and independent references. So, basically, the copy needs to be dry and unwelcoming. It’s not the place to write a fun and exciting bio about yourself or your company.  In fact, you’re not allowed to write about yourself at all! Don’t expect a Wikipedia page to “promote” your company.
  • You need to constantly monitor your Wikipedia page. I noted above that many articles have inaccuracies and you are not allowed to write about yourself. Well, you’ll also need to keep a close eye on your Wikipedia entry for any sudden changes so that you can take action if needed. In most cases, inaccuracies are just honest mistakes. In few other cases, changes to your page are meant to harm you or your company.
  • Making lasting changes to your Wikipedia page is difficult to do. Since you can’t edit your own page, you’ll need to enlist a trusted Wikipedia editor to make necessary changes if you detect anything erroneous or questionable mentioned on your page. And then hope and pray that the changes stick and aren’t reversed by another editor/admin. Keep in mind that Wikipedia frowns upon “paid editing,” and it will be incredibly difficult to locate a volunteer editor to help you with your article.
  • Your page can be deleted at any time. There is a long list of editorial guidelines on Wikipedia. Again, the editors and admins are imperfect, so mistakes are made often. Articles are deleted every day for various “reasons.” That’s what happened to the Mindstir Media Wikipedia page a few months back. One day it was there in all its glory and the next day it disappeared because the editors decided suddenly, after several months, that the references in the Wikipedia Mindstir Media article weren’t independent or large enough sources. Of course, there are other companies far less notable on Wikipedia. This was a tough pill to swallow initially, but ultimately, I saw it as a blessing in disguise for Mindstir Media.

Due to all the reasons above (and more), I’ve concluded (for now) that Mindstir Media is actually better off without a Wikipedia page. In my opinion, you’re probably better off staying away from Wikipedia, too. Your time and resources are much too valuable to spend on a website that you can’t update yourself; isn’t in any way promotional; needs constant monitoring; and can be altered or deleted at any time without your consent.