Wielding the Power of Wikipedia – Part 1

Understanding Wikipedia

Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia online and one of the highest ranking websites on the Internet, so anybody serious about building a strong online identity should take advantage of this.Wikipedia Logo

Occasionally I’m approached to author Wikipedia articles, but all too often I notice a lack of understanding of how Wikipedia works.  So in this article I’m going to explain exactly what Wikipedia is and how you can use it to your advantage… without violating any of its terms and conditions!

To succinctly define it: Wikipedia is a collaborative online encyclopedia built on the wiki software.

Now what exactly does that mean?

Wikipedia Defined

A “wiki” is a website which allows users to add, modify, or delete its content through their web browser using a simplified markup (programming) language or a rich-text editor.  There are many different wikis so when somebody refers to “wiki” they are referring to a certain type of website, not Wikipedia itself.  The “collaborative” aspect implies there are many authors, or in Wikipedia’s case there are thousands of authors from all around the world.

Being an encyclopedia there are articles on every topic imaginable, the fact these articles include professional and organizational biographies makes Wikipedia relevant to any budding entrepreneur or futurist. However, given anybody can create a Wikipedia account the quality of its articles vary considerably.  In fact, the quality throughout an individual article can vary depending upon the authors who have contributed to it.  One section of the article may have been written by an author with exceptional literacy skills while another may have been written by someone with rather modest skills.

Fortunately Wikipedia has both automated and peer review systems to maintain a certain standard but these are not foolproof.

Why would I want a Wikipedia Article

Primarily it’s to expand your online presence and offer the public another outlet for learning about your history and achievements.

Secondly, by authoring the article yourself you have more control over how it’s written, rather than having a complete stranger writing one, which you would most likely be oblivious to unless you regularly search Wikipedia for your name.  Yes, that’s right, ANYONE can write a Wikipedia article about you providing they have credible references.

Thirdly, while there isn’t any direct SEO benefits as Wikipedia instructs Search Engines to ignore links to external websites, people can still find your website via Wikipedia.  Given Wikipedia is a highly ranking website there is a good chance an article relating to you will appear in the Search Engine results, so naturally you want to take advantage of this.

Fourthly, content from Wikipedia is “aggregated” (that means transferred) to Answers.com, another large website so it’s like a two for one deal!

So what is the problem?

When it comes to authoring a biography people assume Wikipedia is like a Social Profile (like Facebook or MySpace) in which they can write whatever they please.

Not so!

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia so all information MUST be fully referenced from external sources.  If the information cannot be verified another Wikipedia author is within their right to flag the article for failing to cite sources.  The more flags a Wikipedia article has, the less credible it appears, and in some cases this could hurt your online identity.  In more extreme cases the article may even be deleted!

So if you haven’t built a collection of news sources or better yet an online Media Kit filled with newspaper articles, radio interviews, TV interviews, magazine articles, etc. authoring a credible Wikipedia article is extremely difficult!

Some have attempted to compensate by writing a comprehensive “About Us” webpage on their official website.  While official websites can hold a certain degree of legitimacy and are suitable for Wikipedia references, imagine if you came across a Wikipedia article which only cited one reference which was a particular website.  Would you find that article credible or might it look a little suspicious?

In part 2 of this article we shall examine what makes a good Wikipedia article and how you can avoid having your Wikipedia flagged for being inappropriate or deleted.

If you have any questions about Wikipedia authoring, or require assistance in writing or updating your existing Wikipedia article, please contact me via the form below.

To your website’s success!

Your Web Design Expert

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