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Such wiki-ed rules: the rules marketers need to know when using Wikipedia

Posted by: Ashlee Drake on 21 July 2016

I never knew Wikipedia had a rules book until the other day. It turns out the Chartered Institute of Public Relations created a guide a couple of years ago to help marketers understand Wikipedia and its uses. Basically, an all you need to know.

Wikipedia are among the top ten visited websites in the world when it comes to sourcing information and the CIPR guide helps you understand Wikipedia from the creators and the communities point of view. It advises on how we, as marketers, should ethically use the platform, to avoid situations like this.

Below, are some of the interesting points we picked out from the CIPR:

  • Don’t write about yourself…

I know I’ve been tempted to post a Wikipedia page all about myself, my life, my hopes and my dreams. However, according to Wiki this is a no go.

They pride themselves on their neutral point of view policy. Where an article doesn’t promote you but it takes into account both the good, the bad and the ugly; so to speak.

And, even if you think you are above the Wiki gods by creating a page the chances are it will be deleted within minutes of creation. It’ll be that obvious.

This doesn’t mean you can’t create a page or edit within Wikipedia itself. You just have to make sure all editing is carried out honestly and in an open manner.

  • Don’t be tempted to edit the competition yourself

There is fierce rivalry between any client and their competitor in a business. You might be thinking editing their Wikipedia page to make clients look better or for others to look worse is a good idea but it never ends well.

And it’s happened before: take the incident with Stella Artois for example.

Marketing themselves as “reassuringly expensive” Stella Artois soon became known as the “wife beater” across Britain due to high alcohol content and its connection with aggression – a phrase used on their wiki page. That is until a lobbying campaign tried to remove the reference.

Wiki is not there for marketers to influence their clients image – if you have something you want to say about a client or brand then send your request to Wikipedia themselves who will edit it accordingly.

  • Make sure facts have references

Wikipedia makes it clear that they require inline citations for all and any material as well as all quotations. They want each point or fact made through Wikipedia to be seen as a reliable source of information so all references therefore have to be reliable too.

It’s like writing an essay and using someone else’s work – you have to reference so you are not plagiarising. Wikipedia does not want to be seen as a source of incorrect information, especially as they attract millions of site visits every day.

  • Dealing with disputes

If edit wars are taking place and a dispute is ongoing you can ask for a page to be protected. According to CIPR there are various stages to this process, “from full protection, where only a Wikipedia administrator can make an edit, to semi-protection, where only Wikipedia editors who have been registered on the site for more than four days and have made at least ten edits are allowed to make changes.”

It’s all about good faith with Wiki. They don’t want you wasting time trying and failing to resolve a conflict so they have set up The Administrators’ Noticeboard which effectively deals with “obnoxious conduct.” There may be problems but Wikipedia want to make sure they have effective ways to make a situation better.

Ultimately it comes down to fair play. Should you really edit the page? Instead, we suggest you request the edit on the ‘Talk page’ and present your case for why it should be so. To find out more, download Wikipedia Best Practice Guidance for Public Relations Professionals for free.

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