How do you edit your company's Wikipedia entry?
December 29, 2006 1:34 PM   Subscribe

How do I make a correction to a Wikipedia entry?

My company's chairman has discovered some errors on the Wikipedia entry describing our company. How would we go about editing the entry?

Some of the errors are blatantly incorrect pieces of information. Others are more open to interpretation, and are definitely shaded in nuance and can go either way.

Please understand that we're not looking to clean this up for good PR, but to do the honest thing and put real fact in place of innuendo.

So how does one go about doing this? Is there a process of addressing grievances? Or do we just go in, click "edit this page", and just start writing?

Links to helpful HOWTO's and READMEs would more than appreciated. Also, comments are welcome, too. Is it bad form for a company to edit its own wikipedia entry? Again, we're not interested in a PR whitewash, merely a correction of clearly erroneous or outdated information. No flames, please.
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think the preferred thing to do on Wikipedia, if you're a member of the company that the article is about, is to go into the discussion page for the article and state your case there. In the case of blatant factual inaccuracies, provide documentation if possible that substantiates the correct facts. Then someone else (unconnected with your organization) can edit the page itself, using the information you provided.

This is considered somewhat more ethically sound than just editing the page about your organization yourself. Although if you want to, I guess you can just do that; it's frowned upon but it happens all the time. But if people realize who you are, they may revert the page to its old state just out of spite, and because of the obvious conflict-of-interest you'd have.

But the "right way" is to bring the inaccuracies to the attention of other Wikipedians, via the discussion page, plus some carefully-placed "citation needed" tags in the article body.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:42 PM on December 29, 2006


Similar to Metafilter's prohibition against self-linking, Wikipedia policy forbids (or at least strongly discourages) self-editing.

Leave a note with suggested changes on the article's Talk Page, and it should eventually sift back to the article. If you want to speed events (and possibly source some of the bad data) you can try tracking down the article's original creator or the person behind the fallacious data and ask (nicely!) that they correct some of it themselves.
posted by The Confessor at 1:42 PM on December 29, 2006

Response by poster: Okay, sorry, I did walk into that one.

Let me clarify. I can see the "edit this page" link clearly at the top. Can anyone just go in and edit this or is there a process?

For instance, anyone can post to Digg. But it's considered bad form and rude for a company to post to Digg about its own news.

I'm trying to avoid a flamefest BEFORE we start editing our own entry. I'd love to hear from people who have actually edited Wikipedia entries (their own or others').
posted by zooropa at 1:46 PM on December 29, 2006

Here's the "official" Wikipedia policy on this. Like all other Wikipedia policies, it has very little relationship with reality or expected community standards, because it's written by wannabe bureaucrats who spend their free time writing official Wikipedia policies.

I don't see anything wrong with correcting factual errors, as long as you cite sources. Stay away from editing matters of opinion, and post a compliant to the Talk page.
posted by cillit bang at 1:46 PM on December 29, 2006

See also:
posted by !Jim at 1:47 PM on December 29, 2006

Wikipedia does not like it when you heavily edit articles about yourself, but people do minor edits all the time and it's fine. I've edited the MetaFilter page and the page about me, mostly for small stuff, and it's been okay. If you want to do a good job, here is what you should do

1. register - this means that your edits can all be linked to your handle and it's less likely that people will accuse you of just trying to sneakily edit your company's pages
2. sign in and then edit the matters of fact and include sources/citations [read more on wikipedia for how to do this and make sure you go by wikipedia's idea of what a reputable source is]. Include short notes in the "edit summary" section so you can explain what you did.
3. for the nuance issues - go to the discussion page like Kadin2048 suggested. This means that people can discuss potential changes, you can even include your suggested edits and people can workshop them.
4. expect your edits to be edited. If your boss does not grok that this is how Wikipedia works, spend some time explaining this to your boss otherwise you're in for a world of hurt.

The people I know who are the most unhappy with Wikipedia are often people who are unhappy that people edit them, or unhappy that other people don't see the "truth" of their edits. Wikipedia is big and messy and while it's popular, it's got a lot of flaws and parts that don't work so well. Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with some of the procedures and this will make you a better editor even if you only wind up editing the article about where you work. I'm an editor there, same name as here, feel free to email if you have other questions once you get started.
posted by jessamyn at 2:06 PM on December 29, 2006

You are not not not suppose to edit your own entry. Period.

But it happens all the time. And it's usually not a problem.

Welcome to one tiny part of the Wikipedia lunacy.

As someone who does a fair bit of editing -

1) Make your case on the discussion page. Provide sources.

2) Contact the person who has done the most work on the page recently, via their user page. Ask that they correct the errors.

3) If that fails, make the changes with an anonymous account. Provide sources.

The "provide sources" part is key. Wikipdians love sources.

If you get busted, big deal. Keep pressing your case, and if your accuracy is ironclad, keep making the edits.

I tolerate Wikipedia dumbness only so far. At some point you just need take action. If you're right and they're wrong, fuck 'em. But it probably won't go that far. You'll make your case and the info will be corrected.
posted by Tiddles at 2:10 PM on December 29, 2006

On submit - I notice jessamyn seems to be suggesting you be honest about your identity. That will bite you in the ass. Just my opinion.

One more tip - I've been involved with an entry where a company continually tries to rewrite a page so that it becomes part of their marketing effort. Myself and others with a passion for the topic go after that with some fierceness. Not because it's someone editing their own entry, but because they're adding false information. At this point I'm willing to revert edits that are probably true if they have even the tiniest bit of marketing spin. My point being - Just make sure you tell the whole truth, or it might backfire.
posted by Tiddles at 2:22 PM on December 29, 2006

On submit - I notice jessamyn seems to be suggesting you be honest about your identity. That will bite you in the ass. Just my opinion.

Know what bites more? Someone finding out the company edited its own page anonymously and then said someone telling people the company was being sneaky and dirty. Whether the person is right or wrong, now it certainly doesn't look up-front.

Wikipedia is full of (no offense) nerds with nothing better to do than figure this shit out. Don't give the Internet Detectives something to figure out, and all they can say is that you publicly made changes to your entry.
posted by secret about box at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2006

Mmm, methinks somebody has a little axe to grind there...

Still, WCityMike has a pretty good point woven into that grinding: if you have good online cred, your Wikipedia edits will be taken in good faith. If you don't, they probably won't.

So if you've never edited Wikipedia before, and you start out editing your own company's page, you're certainly going to meet with a whole bunch of resistance.

I think the best advice is to just put on your flameproof pants, wade in, and keep calm. If your intentions are truly good you'll eventually be able to convince the WikiPolice of your credibility.
posted by jacobian at 3:37 PM on December 29, 2006

1) Hit the talk page first
2) CITE SOURCES. As others mentioned, they love sourcing over there now.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on December 29, 2006

"Whether the person is right or wrong, now it certainly doesn't look up-front."

I was thinking about this very thing on the way home. At the risk of being pedantic, who cares? The truth matters more than the stupid sensitivities of Wikipedians who have "NPOV" tattooed over their heart. Who will it not look up-front to? General public Googlers? Or a tiny bunch of panty bunching gits?

Buttomline - Tell the truth when editing Wikipedia. And use sources. The hardcore editors can sit and spin.

Directly to the OP - Welcome to your company's nightmare - An authoritative source which is run by well-schooled monkeys with typewriters.
posted by Tiddles at 4:42 PM on December 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Who will it not look up-front to? General public Googlers? Or a tiny bunch of panty bunching gits?

The panty-bunching gits that will fight you to the fucking death in an edit war for the next six months, because they're not busy running a company.

Seriously, there's no reason to be sneaky here. Zero benefit.
posted by secret about box at 7:36 PM on December 29, 2006

Just go ahead and fix it, with sources. The hell with the "rules". If it's really just factual corrections, no sensible person will care.
posted by equalpants at 8:11 PM on December 29, 2006

You are not not not suppose to edit your own entry. Period.

This isn't strictly true (in fact, it's not for this particular case). If there is something that is factually incorrect (like your company's founding date, location, CEO, etc.), you're allowed to change it.
posted by oaf at 8:59 PM on December 29, 2006

Don't put too much effort into it, because it'll probably be deleted within a few months anyway.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2006

The hell with the "rules". If it's really just factual corrections, no sensible person will care.

People who spend lots of time on Wikipedia are anything but reasonable.
posted by blasdelf at 11:21 PM on December 30, 2006

For anyone reading this in the future:

I do not speak for Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation; I'm just another editor (as I write). But much of what has been written above is not going to help you get resolution.

Wikipedia actually has a range of recommendations for dealing with problems for article subjects.

First and foremost, editing the article yourself is NOT recommended unless you can cite an independent source such as a newspaper article.

(Nevertheless, simple adjustments of minor facts, such as the year a company was founded, will rarely be disputed if there is a citation, regardless of independence. But see below.)

Second, post a notice about the problem on the article's Talk page. Be upfront: "I represent Widgets, Inc. and there is an error about our lawsuit against Gizmos Worldwide. It never went to trial and was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount."

Third, if you have a serious problem with an article (e.g. libel or copyright), or if the other methods have not worked, consider contacting Wikipedia (that is, the Wikimedia Foundation) directly. The Wikipedia:Contact us/Article problem page will have updated information on how to do this.

At this writing all such communication with the foundation is entered into a ticketing system called OTRS. An appropriate person from the Foundation (generally a volunteer administrator) will contact you back and discuss how to proceed. For instance, an administrator might remove libelous information, nominate an article for deletion, or "stub" an article with real problems. That OTRS action is not something that ordinary editors are likely to challenge, in contrast with editing the article yourself.

In particular, if you DO edit a page and you ARE reverted, do not get angry or defensive. Just bring it up on the Talk page. The less confrontational you are, the more likely you are to win over suspicious editors. Finally, if you do choose to edit, avoid marketing language as if it were radioactive, and stick to the bare facts as much as possible. But I really recommend you skip this for anything that might be challenged, such as positive or negative claims (i.e. subjective opinion).
posted by dhartung at 5:50 PM on December 14, 2007

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