I have been a professional Wikipedia editor for some time now. In fact, it used to be a part time profession but became my main full time profession in January 2013 (thank you, Wikimedia Foundation for launching my career). I received many emails on a daily basis inquiring about editing Wikipedia for their client, be it a person, company, product, etc. I am still amazed that with the amount of information out there on what is and is not allowed on Wikipedia, people still ask me to spam.
Wikipedia has been a landing point for spam since its launch. Once marketing professionals figured out that links from Wikipedia were do-follow and powerful for their clients, the damn holding back spamming broke and the floodgate of poorly sourced articles and spam links began flooding the site. In response, Wikipedia changed their do-follow links to no-follow links, but that hasn’t seem to change the power of a Wikipedia backlink, nor has it stopped marketing professionals from spamming Wikipedia.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure that it is clear that I am a professional Wikipedia editor, not a hired gun to attack Wikipedia or a covert editor who goes in and places poorly sourced information or removes credible negative information. As a professional, I constantly give advice to clients concerning Wikipedia. Many time, I tell them to avoid editing Wikipedia altogether. What makes my blood boil is when someone asks me to spam Wikipedia. That is something that I will not do. Not because I cannot do it as there is plenty of money I am leaving on the table by turning down such business, but because I take my profession seriously and will only take on clients for the purpose of helping them within the guidelines set forth by Wikipedia.
Here are some of the common requests that I get and my responses to each.
1. Can you just add my link to the external links of the article?
Absolutely not. External links are reserved for links that are “accurate and on-topic” such as the official website of the article name (e.g., the company or personal website that is the subject of the article). External links should also be reserved to the most useful sources of information related to the topic. Simply because you own a website that makes iPhone apps does not mean that your site should be included under external links for the article software applications. There are specific restrictions on placing external links and they should be adhered to strictly. Parsing the meaning of these restrictions is also no excuse and cannot be used in a manner to convince me otherwise. If your website contains information that is useful on the topic and can be cited within the article as it is a reliable source, then I will gladly add the link. The only problem is that unless you are the New York Times or Wall Street Journal (just to be clear, neither has yet to contact me) it is highly unlikely that your website is considered a reliable source in accordance with Wikipedia guidelines.
2. My competitor has a Wikipedia article that is sourced from their website. Can you just source ours from our website as well?
First, let me point out that you are using a major fallacy that is frowned upon by Wikipedia editors. It is a term referred to as “other stuff exists.” Just because your competitor has a Wikipedia article does not necessarily mean that you meet the guidelines for an article. Chances are your competitor is not notable and their article should be deleted, but just because the article still remains cannot be used as an excuse or an argument to defend creating an article.
Keeping that in mind, your article will need to meet notability guidelines on its own, not by comparison of your competitor. So, as a professional Wikipedia editor I cannot and will not create an article for you using only your website as a reference. Creating an article based on references that you authored (your own website) would be considered using self-published sources. Since self-published sources are not considered reliable according to Wikipedia standards, then it is impossible to prove notability using simply your website. If you are the subject of significant coverage in reliable sources (e.g., this means real articles in reliable sources, not press releases, self-published blogs, etc.) then there is a good chance I can create an article for you, regardless of your competitor’s article.
3. I know that the reference says ABC, but can you state XYZ in the article?
This question is far more common that you think. Many times people will ask to include information about a certain topic but they want it done in a way that is contrary to what the reliable source says. For instance, the reliable source used to support the number of employees a company has could state 350. Sometimes a client will state that they are actually at 500 employees and what the article to state such. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not about facts….it is what the source says about the topic. If the source used states 350 employees, then 350 employees is what must be stated in the article. Normally simple things such as the number of employees can be sourced to the company website without too much objection from the community, but this is just an example of adding information that is not stated in a source.
4. Can you add information about a competitor to their Wikipedia article?
While not technically spam, I will not add negative information to the article of someone’s competitor or someone they want to retaliate against. If you are not the person related to the article you want me to edit, this is the same as spam to me. I will not do the dirty work of destroying your competitor, even if the information you want me to add is well-sourced. I am about making sure that information about you is written about neutrally on Wikipedia, not making you look better by making others look worse.
While there are dozens more examples that can be used, I will spare you the time of reading any more of this long-winded article. Simply put, I will not spam as a professional Wikipedia editor. There are some out there that will so please keep searching if you want me to violate the editing guidelines of Wikipedia by adding content contrary to established guidelines of the community.
by Michael Wood – Michael Wood is an online marketing expert and owner of Legalmorning.com. He specializes in reputation and brand management, article writing, and professional Wikipedia editing. He is an expert Wikipedia editor and has helped hundreds of businesses and people post their articles to the site where they have otherwise failed. He is a regular contributor to many online publications including AllBusiness Experts, Yahoo, Business Insider, and Social Media Today.