The benefits of having a Wikipedia article about yourself or your business seem obvious—they rank highly in search engine results, and having one can make your online presence more “professional”.
However, Wikipedia works in a very different way than the rest of the internet. An article is by no means guaranteed; it can seem really difficult for a Wikipedia article for yourself or for your company to remain on the site, thanks to Wikipedia’s strict guidelines on notability and reliable sources.
Because of this, people and companies sometimes offer to create Wikipedia articles for pay.
Wikipedia is free in every sense of the word—it is a repository for the entire world’s knowledge, written by volunteers all over the world, and available to everyone for free without advertisements.
These paid writing services tend to promise the articles will stay up for a long time and be of a certain quality. However, there is no guarantee the article will not be deleted or changed in a significant way by other editors. All Wikipedia articles are open for anyone to edit and improve, in most cases even without an account.
Oftentimes these companies will approach people when articles about them have recently been declined through Wikipedia’s “draft” process, or which have been nominated for deletion through the deletion process.
If you are approached by a person or organization offering to create an article about you or about your business for pay, be aware that these services are strongly discouraged by the volunteer community who write the articles on Wikipedia, and that you are paying for something that is usually developed by volunteers.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you are approached by a company in this manner:
2. Paid editing without disclosure is not permitted.
3. Even if paid editing is disclosed correctly, edits must still adhere to Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines such as conflict of interest and neutral point of view.
4. The volunteer Wikipedia community is often strongly critical of paid editing, especially when the companies are openly advertising exaggerated services. Accounts found to be making promotional edits or making these kinds of edits for pay without disclosure are blocked from Wikipedia by the community.
Your best bet for creating or requesting content related to you, your business, or someone you represent is to first have a look over the policies, guidelines, and other useful guides on Wikipedia that are free to everyone. A good place to start is the English Wikipedia’s “Plain and simple conflict of interest guide“.
Wikipedia, and other Wikimedia websites like Commons and Wiktionary, has helpful links on the “sidebar” on the left side of every desktop (i.e. non-mobile) web page. These sidebars include links to help and information pages. These are generally the best place to find out more about the project and its policies, including what content is appropriate for inclusion and how to request content—if there is a mechanism on the particular project for doing that—if you don’t wish to or if it is inappropriate for you to create it yourself.
Some projects, including English and many other languages of Wikipedia, offer content creation wizards to walk you through the process. You can use language links, contained in the same left-hand sidebar, to find what other language Wikipedias offer a similar tool. And if you have questions, you can always ask the English Wikipedia’s Teahouse for help from experienced volunteers.
It may be that someone writes an article about you unprompted because you’re “notable” by Wikipedia’s standards. Let yourself be surprised!
If you see a problem on Wikipedia in an article about yourself and you have a conflict of interest, there is documentation on the best way to request edits to content.
Remember, anyone can be an editor on Wikipedia, including you! You’re not limited to writing about yourself—if there is something that interests you that you can research and write in an encyclopedic style, by all means jump in and get started.
Joe Sutherland, Trust and Safety Specialist, Community Engagement