Creating a Wikipedia page is much more than just heading over to the site and clicking “Create Page.” It can be a complicated and frustrating process, especially if you are new to editing the site.
After going through the process and submission a draft, many people wind up with a declined Wikipedia submission.
Although anyone is allowed to edit Wikipedia, there are a ton of rules that need to be followed. Run afoul of those rules, and you can get your Wikipedia submission rejected time after time. These rules are in place for reason. After all, people wouldn’t use the website if they constantly ran across poorly-written Wikipedia articles.
Through the years, Wikipedia editors have created guidelines that are more or less enforced stringently.
If you fail to follow even one of the guidelines, you could be looking at rejection after rejection. And, if you know all the guidelines, it is still possible that an editor reviewing the draft interprets them in a way unfavorable to you.
For example, a draft for Donna Strickland, Nobel Prize winner, was declined because an editor stated there was not enough significant coverage. This shows that sometimes editors make mistakes with declining drafts. However, it is still up to you to ensure that the draft you are creating meets guidelines.
With that in mind, I want to go over some of the most common reasons why a draft can be declined.
Top Reasons Why Your Wikipedia Draft is Declined:
- Lack of Notability
- Promotional in Tone
- Making no Improvements
- Conflict of Interest / Undisclosed Paid Editing
- Topic Already Covered
- Neutral Point of View
- Copyright Violation
Hopefully this helps you address the issue and you can get your Wikipedia page approved.
Lack of Notability:
Lack of notability is the most common reason a draft can be declined through Wikipedia’s articles for creation process. It is the most common reason because it is the gatekeeper for all Wikipedia entries.
By this I mean if a topic is not notable, no amount of editing is going to get the page approved. You are simply wasting your time.
If your draft is declined because of notability, do a re-evaluation of the sources.
Are the sources reliable?
Do they talk about the subject in-depth?
Are they independent of the subject of the source?
You need to make sure to include significant coverage of the subject. This means that the references need to focus on the subject and not just mention it in passing.
The sources also need to be considered reliable. This means no low-level blogs, directories, etc. Wikipedia keeps a list of some of the most common sources that can be used to establish notability (and those that do not).
So, if your draft is declined because of notability, make sure the topic is in fact notable.
If you are still unsure after your review, you can always ask for a second opinion at the Articles for Creation Help Desk.
Promotional in Tone / Advertising:
A notable topic is often declined due to having promotional tone. Sometimes it is referred to as “advertising,” but editors are merely saying that it is more of something promoting the subject than an encyclopedia entry.
Here’s an example:
The above draft was declined for being promotional. It uses phrases like “leading discount” and “offers discounts” as if Wikipedia is a platform to promote the company. This is a no-no which is why it was declined.
And, rightfully so.
When creating a Wikipedia page, it is important that it reads like an encyclopedia. Sometimes it is easy to use wording that is more favorable to the subject. It can appear as if the article is a press release or a website owned by the subject.
Wikipedia needs to be cut and dry. Basic facts summarized by what reliable sources say. Nothing more, nothing less. Having a Wikipedia submission rejected for promotional tones means you likely went a little too far.
To correct the issue, remove anything that is not necessary to get the page approved.
And no, do NOT add it back once the page is approved. This can lead to tagging or deletion.
I like to tell clients that it is better to have a Wikipedia page that is boring than have no page at all.
Making No Improvements:
It bugs me when on-boarding a client and I see their previous professional Wikipedia editing service made no changes between draft declines.
Here is what I mean.
Their service provider submitted the draft. The draft was declined. Then, without making any changes noticed in the decline, they resubmitted the draft.
This is what Wikipedia can consider tendentious editing.
Basically, it is disruptive editing because volunteer editor’s time is being wasted.
Behavior such as this will not get the draft approved. In fact, expect another Wikipedia submission rejection and possibly even a block. Wikipedia editors do not like things being shoved down their throats. Do not think that they will change their mind on the previous decline simply because you resubmitted it.
Not Declaring a Conflict of Interest:
Sometimes, a draft will be declined for failing to disclose a conflict of interest. This is more likely because of you having a paid interest in having the article published.
Yes, there are rules for paid editing on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia takes disclosure of conflicts seriously and if you fail to do so they will likely decline your draft.
I used to take the stance not disclose a conflict of interest when editing Wikipedia. This was years ago when there weren’t really guidelines for paid editors and volunteer editors used to work as vigilantes to destroy any article written by a paid editor.
Things have changed over the years.
The pendulum has swung to a more neutral ground where everyone tolerates paid editing. Yes, there are still some vigilantes. But, for the most part, you should disclose if submitting a draft through the articles for creation process.
If you fail to disclosure and it is clear that you are receiving some type of financial compensation, don’t expect editors to play nice. You may wind up with more than just your Wikipedia submission rejected – it could be deleted and then protected so it cannot be recreated.
Or even worse, wind up in the media for such conduct.
On a side note, if you failed to disclose and have been called out for it, do not double down. Editors calling you out already know so denying it is only going to make things worse. Disclose, apologize, and hope for leniency during the next round of draft reviews.
Topic is Already Covered (Or Draft Already Exists):
It happens on occasion, but some people submit drafts on topics that are already covered in Wikipedia.
How would this happen?
Well, some people create drafts on topics in an attempt to “coatrack” information. They likely are not notable enough to have a standalone Wikipedia page so they choose a topic related to their field and include information about themself. But, they sometimes fail to check and see if the topic is already covered.
Here’s an example (not, I do not know if this is an attempt at coatracking, it’s just an example of a topic that already exists):
A draft was declined for “business exit strategy” as shown in the following screenshot.
Seems cruel to decline that topic since “business exit strategy” is a real thing. However, Wikipedia already covers the topic under the name “exit planning.”
Another thing that can happen is you submit a draft on a topic that is already in the draft space. This sometimes happens if someone attempted to create a draft and then hires a Wikipedia editor to assist. If you do not hire a professional, they may fail to see the other draft and wind up submitting a second.
If a draft already exists, you are more than welcome to edit that draft. No one “owns” Wikipedia pages or drafts. Simply update it and submit (or resubmit) if you feel it meets guidelines.
Not Written from a Neutral Point of View:
This may sound the same as promotional tone or advertising but it is much different.
Writing from a neutral point of view is one of Wikipedia’s core policies.
Everything in Wikipedia must represent all significant views “fairly, proportionately and without bias.”
So, when a draft is declined for this reason, it is usually because the draft is slanted way too positive or way too negative compared to the available sources.
Here is what I mean:
Let’s say someone has some negative articles about them online. They decide to submit a draft to Wikipedia that talks about all the good things in their life. Unfortunately for them, Wikipedia editors do an online check for sources in a review so they are likely to notice that negative information is available, but wasn’t included in the draft.
Another thing that happens is someone submits a draft to Wikipedia in an attempt to smear a person or business. While the information in the draft may be true and verifiable, creating a Wikipedia page with all negative information when there is positive coverage available would violate this core policy.
In order to get the draft approved, you must give appropriate weight to both the good and the bad per the site’s policy on neutral point of view.
Wikipedia takes copyright violations very seriously.
If you submit a draft that contains copyrighted material, the draft will declined and in the majority of cases, deleted.
The screenshot above is an alternative to deletion. Editors were able to redact the copyrighted information so that the submitter had a chance to work on it. This is rare and the majority of the time you will have to start from scratch.
To correct the situation, you will need to completely rewrite the content.
Summarize the content on a source instead of reprinting it word-for-word.
Paraphrase what is says instead of copying large blocks of text.
After you complete the draft, you can run it through a copyright program like Copyscape to ensure that it is not a violation.
Finally, do not use ChatGPT or any other AI program to write your Wikipedia draft. While these are good tools to use to get you started, it can sometimes wind up causing you to have a copyright issue. And, Wikipedia now detects AI written content and as of 2023 is deleting it.
Having a Wikipedia submission rejected can be frustrating. Just remember that creating a Wikipedia page can be tough, but there are ways to overcome the rejection.
First, ensure the topic is notable. If so, simply follow the advise on the decline notice. Whether it be promotional in tone, not referenced properly, or a number of other reasons for decline, most are simple to fix.
If you are still having trouble with a draft getting approved, feel free to reach out to me for a free assessment.