The Business Owner’s Guide to Wikipedia Part 6: Dos and Don’ts

When editing articles that relate to your business interests on Wikipedia, you need to do so as uncontroversially as possible, with as much credibility as you can muster. There are plenty of ways in which you can do this, but there are plenty of pitfalls too. Here, we have assembled a list of dos and don’ts to help your Wikipedia edits stick.

Do:

Create an account

If you want your changes to be seen as credible and uncontroversial, it can help to create an account. If you don’t any edits you make will have your IP address attached to them, which could give away more information about yourself than you might like. When choosing a user name, don’t use your company name, as Wikipedia will see this as being promotional. Instead, use something bland but memorable, and remember to log in before making edits as it is relatively easy to get logged out without realising it.

Create a User Page

Wikipedia allows its users to remain anonymous, but if you are going to work on or comment on pages where there may be a potential conflict of interest, you need to declare these interests. This means creating a user page where you mention the relevant companies, organizations, issues, or individuals.

Use the Talk Page Before Making Edits

It’s generally considered to be good form to enter a dialogue with the other editors of a page before you make any edits to it. When leaving comments, be sure to make your point politely, succinctly, and clearly, and if you have a request for evidence, place links to it here. If the talk page is inactive, add the {{request edit}} template to the top of your note and someone should get around to it eventually. You should also disclose your interests here.

Learn the Conflict of Interest Guidelines

It’s important to know what non-controversial edits you can make without risking the ire of your fellow contributors or needing to ask for help. Tapping WP:CONFLICT into a search engine should bring up Wikipedia’s guidelines regarding conflict of interest. Examples of non-controversial edits include correcting spelling and grammar errors, and adding citations to reliable sources. If you know what type of edit you are going to make, then you will stand a better chance of success when you execute it.

Take the Time to Work on Other Pages

One way to lend greater credibility to your editing activities is to get involved elsewhere on the site. Users are encouraged to “Be bold” when editing pages that don’t relate to their own interests, with the relevant guideline urging users to improve anything they see that can be improved. So do some research, do your best to improve a few pages that interest you, and your credibility as an editor will be improved markedly.

Don’t:

Fail to Include Citations

If you can back up your edit or suggested edit with a reliable source, your edit will be much stronger and more difficult to dispute.

Format References Incorrectly

If you don’t put double-quotes (“”) around links to non-Wikipedia pages that you use as references, it will become an outbound link rather than a citation. Links within Wikipedia pages should only ever link to other Wikipedia pages, and any outbound links should be contained within the citations section.

Ignore Wikipedia’s Style Guide

It’s quite easy to fall foul of Wikipedia’s style guidelines without realising it. This can be avoided by checking out the guidelines in Wikipedia’s Manual of Style (WP:MOS), especially the “Words to watch” (WP:MOS) guideline.

Get Involved in an Edit War

If someone changes one of your edits, it’s important to resist the temptation to change it back immediately. This can lead to an edit war, and if you revert an edit three times within a 24-hour time period, you may find your account blocked temporarily. Instead, you should take the dispute to the talk page, and if you can’t resolve it between yourselves, bring in another editor to mediate, or in extreme cases take it to Wikipedia’s “Supreme Court”, the Arbitration Committee.

Forget to Sign Talk Page Comments

Signing your comments lends them credibility. If you don’t do it, a bot will sign them automatically for you, which is less than reassuring for the people that you are trying to connect with on the talk page.

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