Wikipedia – controlling your online reputationPosted on

Wikipedia is perhaps the world’s most powerful website – at least so far as reputation is concerned. Some achievement for a “not for profit” site.

Google the names of the country’s Prime Minister, football captain or wealthiest man and Wikipedia is the first result.

It is open source, which means that it is manned by volunteers and can be updated by anyone with an internet connection. The natural consequence is that Wikipedia pages are often hijacked, abused and grafittied.

Given the reliance that is placed on Wikipedia by journalists (including my favourite Wikipedia induced error here), consumers and potential business partners it is important to monitor your Wikipedia page and deal with any issues that arise. The key is to deal with the issues properly, though. Here are three tips (advocated by Wikipedia):

(1) Is the information verifiable?

Wikipedia plays host to sourced information. The website does not claim the information on its Pages is true, however, to be included, a statement must be verifiable from a reliable third party source – i.e. if an allegation has been made in a newspaper, then it can be repeated on Wikipedia. If you wish to deal with false claims repeated on Wikipedia the key is to get them removed from the original source.

(2) Should I complain?

Wikipedia encourages honest dialogue and simple inaccuracies, abuse or unsourced material can be dealt with by discussions with editors or volunteers on Wikipedia.

If an issue is particularly sensitive then we have found it possible to take discussions “offline”.

(3) Should I amend my own Page?

In a word “no”. Users leave an IP address when amending Pages, unless they have set up a Wikipedia account. Even if you have an account the chances of being caught out editing in positive stories to your own Wikipedia Page are high and potentially embarrassing.

Michelle Paulson, Wikimedia Foundation Legal Counsel, says:

“Wikimedia’s policies are there to govern how Wikipedia is used. There is a vast global network of volunteers that develop the various policies and seek to ensure that Articles and Pages on Wikipedia comply with them.

Whilst minor, uncontentious amendments or the correction of vandalism on your or your client’s Page could be done by yourself, working with the volunteer team to discuss possible amendments and to raise concerns about potential Policy breaches is often the best step”



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