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10 things you need to know about Wikipedia

However strong a company’s SEO, it’s almost a certainty that its entry on Wikipedia will be one of the top search results for its name – and yet there’s a lot of uncertainty as to how best to manage what appears on the site.  

Here, Lansons’ Head of Digital Russ Graham gives his top ten pieces of information for companies seeking to manage their reputation on Wikipedia – along with some very important dos and don’ts.

  1. Wikipedia is not just an online encyclopaedia; it is an online community of 25 million users who have created 5 million articles in the UK. 750 new articles are created each day. It is the original crowdsourcing project.
  1. You cannot simply create, delete or change articles – you need to work with the Wikipedia community to debate changes in an academic fashion.
  1. On the 7th February 2014 the “Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms” was established.  This is an agreement between PR agencies and Wikipedia on how Wikipedia should be managed and it received recognition from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).
  1. Wikipedia is governed by numerous community rules that everyone needs to abide by. For agencies and organisations this means declaring conflict of interest, being transparent with intentions and respecting the Wikipedia community among others.
  1. Likewise, if the Wikipedia community is not respected and rules not followed; changes are immediately reversed, offending users may be banned and negative actions could become a negative news story. I’ll refrain from naming names…
  1. Be wary of the “Streisand effect” – the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of publicising it more widely. Also, when a Wikipedia page is created the information on it is largely outside of an agency’s control and attempts to edit must be handled very carefully
  1. Everything on Wikipedia is written in the neutral point of view and must be referenced by reliable sources (PR generated media coverage does not count). It’s important that sources are independent and from a variety of places (books, academic papers, government, media reports, etc).
  1. There are no quick turnarounds on Wikipedia as any changes must be debated with the community. Most Wikipedia activity is about waiting for users to come online and as the vast majority of Wikipedia editors are volunteers, it can take weeks to get articles changed.
  1. One of the biggest challenges on Wikipedia is copyright violations. Be mindful that all content used on the site is original. You cannot copy and paste copyrighted content and all images must be available under Creative Commons Licensing.
  1. Any argument on Wikipedia should relate back to the foundation’s core goals: to be an objective, accurate and up-to-date collective resource. In addition, Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia and articles should be written factually with that in mind.

If you would like to discuss online reputation management with Russ or another member of the Lansons digital team, please contact us at digital@lansons.com or on 020 7490 8828.