How to Write a Wikipedia Entry



If you run a search for anything, somewhere in the top results of the search will be a Wikipedia page. So even before Facebook decided that your company or business Wikipedia entry would make good support for community pages, you had good reason to consider a Wikipedia page. Say what you will, the site is a good source of content on the most disparate topics.

What is Wikipedia? It's a free, Web-based collaborative encyclopedia in many languages. The project is supported by the Wikimedia
Foundation
. Its name is derived by combining the words wiki (a
technology for creating collaborative websites, from Hawaiian "quick") and encyclopedia.

The site more than 14MM articles, 3.1of which are in English, have been
written by volunteers. Almost all
of them can be edited by anyone with access to the site

There is a whole conversation around Wikipedia being reliable, how so few editors decide what the content is going to be, and so on. I was pondering this while reading a newspaper article about how the whole history of the unification of Italy was written without the women that contributed to it in it – in other words, they were edited out.

Indeed, even history is written by the perceived winners. With that in mind,and for a couple of obvious reasons — search along with third party validation — you may want to figure out how to create content on Wikipedia.

To write an entry in Wikipedia, you'll need to register on the site. Other things to think about are:

  • plan the entry — figure out how to structure the content, what information and images (search for images in the Wikimedia Commons) you'll want to include, the format you'll follow — chronological order, for example — the categories you'll include, etc. before getting online
  • play in the Sandbox to get familiar with the process — it was set up so that people would figure out how to get started. Experiment here
  • research references ahead of time — whenever you make a claim in your content, you'll need to have a reliable source to back it up, just like in an academic publication, a book, or any other credible source. Third party content works well here
  • add links to other entries in Wikipedia — since links are the currency of the Web, you will want to reference other entries whenever possible to improve cross-referrals among articles
  • improve or add a stub — you probably saw them, these are incomplete entries the eventually become full articles. Wikipedia describes a stub as a short article in need of expansion

Once you write an entry, you'll see how the community reacts to information you post. If you created a page about a business, you'll probably notice that unless you have third party validation on claims, they get stripped fairly rapidly by the volunteer editors. Follow Wikipedia on Twitter for more tips and factoids.

Have you created a Wikipedia entry? What was your experience? 

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0 responses to “How to Write a Wikipedia Entry”

  1. Thank you for these ideas – I never considered Wikipedia as a part of my online marketing / social media strategy. I’ll have to check this out.

  2. I’ve amended a few Wikipedia entries and I find the editors to be wildly inconsistent. Even getting the material approved by an editor before posting doesn’t mean that another editor won’t flag your changes.
    As more companies are waking up to the usefulness of Wikipedia, it will be interesting to see how they deal with companies amending their product or company pages. Wikipedia frowns on people that work or have an association with a product or brand from editing their own pages.

  3. The approval process for Wikipedia pages is so painful that I ended up giving up. Luckily Chris Kieff is actually a wikipedia wizard and has helped me out with some of these (esp for Age of Conversation). IMHO it’s actually worth paying someone to help you out if you don’t know how to do it.

  4. @Annie – glad the post gave you an incentive to research a potential option for your business.
    @Stefan – it’s definitely an interesting process. As a company person, I would consider it my duty to amend incorrect information. Pointing to unbiased, third party sources, can be very helpful in doing that. Over the years, I’ve had more issues with incorrect information written by third parties and not confirmed with the sources. For example, media stories… a conversation for another day.
    @Gavin – good to know about Chris 😉

  5. Thanks for pulling this altogether. Makes a really interesting post. I’m really enjoying your blog………….

  6. When I create a new Wikipedia page, I look at the code behind another page that is similar to the page I want to create. That way, I can follow conventions and have the result look similar to other pages in terms of layout. This makes it easier for users.
    I often create the content (with formatting code and link code and all) in a separate text editor file and paste it into the Wikipedia edit page when I’m ready.
    And of course, always Preview before Saving.

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