Wikipedia can be a tricky place. There are so many guidelines, policies and essays about how to edit, that one can quickly become confused. Even experienced editors are often confused and engage in debates over the interpretation of the rules.
Wikipedia isn’t getting any easier to edit. There are more rules that get added each day and the interpretations of them are endless. So much so, in fact, that many people are willing to hire a Wikipedia expert to get content posted on the site.
People often don’t understand that despite paying to get something edited on Wikipedia, there is never a guarantee what they want will “stick.” This could be for a number of reasons, but the most common would be for the topic lacking notability.
This is where things get even trickier.
Even Notable Pages Get Deleted in Wikipedia
Understanding what it takes to be notable for Wikipedia is the key to creating a Wikipedia page. If a topic isn’t notable, it will likely be deleted rather quickly. That is why the first thing I check is if you qualify for a Wikipedia page. If not, there is no sense going into any detail about time-frame, cost, or the rest of the creation process.
But what about topics that are notable?
Well, that is correct, but there are a few other issues that need to be addressed. There is a possibility that the page is written in a promotional tone or doesn’t state why it is notable. It could be because the page lacks references and editors didn’t do enough research to find some.
One reason why notable pages may get deleted is because the people engaging in the discussions do not fully understand the topic.
Although thousands of people edit Wikipedia, there are normally only a half dozen people who engage in a deletion discussion at any given time. So, some pages get deleted because not enough people familiar with the topic are interested in joining the deletion discussion.
Let’s look at a few pages that were notable, yet still got deleted (note that I have not represented any of these people through Legalmorning – I never provide examples of actual clients).
BigDawsTV Thrown Out With The Bath Water
Ever hear the term “throw the baby out with the bath water?” It refers to getting rid of some good things in the process of getting rid of things that are bad. This happened to BigDawsTV when it got lumped into a string of Wikipedia articles about YouTube channels being deleted.
Sometimes editors get a little bit carried away. In early 2017, editors began deleting a bunch of pages about YouTube channels. In their haste, many assumed that just about every YouTube channel wasn’t notable.
Well, BigDawsTv made it to the list of those that were recommended for deletion. Out of all the YouTube channels out there worth following, BigDawsTv is my favorite. Unfortunately, it wasn’t up to me to keep or delete the page.
Some of the best comments on the deletion discussion include:
- “The coverage is not in-depth enough to show notability.”
- “He doesn’t seem like that big of a YouTuber for his own article.”
- “There’s absolutely no “significant coverage”. Little blurbs, passing mentions …”
No significant coverage I guess (eye roll), unless you count People Magazine, AL.com, and even The Daily Caller. While there were many that made good points to keep the page, it was eventually deleted.
So, like the baby with the bath water, BigDawsTv Wikipedia page is no more.
Jay Baer Wikipedia page
Yes, even Jay Baer had a Wikipedia page deleted. For marketers who are reading this, you know that Jay Baer is to marketing as Stan Lee is to comics. This is a deletion discussion that proves those engaged in the deletion did not understand who he was.
Here are some of the comments:
- “1000 of such bloggers are those who just write a blog column.”
- “Insignificant marketing executive and author.”
- “Shilling for a shilly shill, using a charity illegally to spread his name. Get off our damn lawn, kid.”
The first commenter is clueless as Jay Baer is one of about a dozen “bloggers” who are the main influencers in the digital marketing world.
The second comment is counterproductive as even if he was an “insignificant marketing executive,” the commenter doesn’t address if he qualifies as an author. I’m guessing they didn’t take being a New York Times bestselling author into consideration.
Finally, the third comment accuses Jay of being a criminal which is something that is beyond me.
Danny Sullivan, Saved by Matt Cutts
Danny Sullivan even came under attack despite being notable. This page was actually saved thanks to the help of Matt Cutts. For similar reasons as Jay Baer, the article was recommended for deletion by editors who really didn’t understand the SEO industry.
Danny Sullivan has been an industry leader when it comes to SEO and is also the founder of two of the most prominent SEO publications (Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land). Of course, that doesn’t matter when people aren’t familiar with the topic.
As seen in the screenshot above, Matt Cutts from Google, decided to chime in. While disclosing he is a novice at Wikipedia, Cutts was able to bring editors up to speed on who Sullivan really is and what he has done. The page was eventually kept and is still live in Wikipedia as of the date of this post.
I detailed this incident on LinkedIn a while back. You can see the full discussion and review of the situation at this link.
From the examples above (and there are hundreds more), you can see that even topics that meet notability guidelines are sometimes still deleted. It all depends on the consensus of those in a deletion discussion as to whether a page stays or goes. That is why I always recommend clients monitor their Wikipedia pages.
Wikipedia is Not Your Website. You Don’t Have Ultimate Control
Wikipedia is a collaboration project. That means many people could potentially contribute to the page you want to create or edit.
Owned media is something that you have 100% control over. Wikipedia does not fall into this category. Anyone is allowed to edit Wikipedia so what you add to a page today could be gone by tomorrow.
Some people do not quite understand this point. They believe that they should be able to control the content on Wikipedia since they are the topic of the page. This is the last thing that Wikipedia editors want to allow. In fact, they want you to stay away from the page if you are the subject.
Remember that Wikipedia works on consensus. That means that editors as a whole decide what stays and what goes based on their interpretation of the policies and guidelines. If you add something to a page and other editors feel it should be removed, then it will likely be removed.
This is also why I never recommend using Wikipedia as a reputation management tool. Yes, you can create a page with positive information, but you cannot control other people from adding in the negative. As long as it is well-sourced and within guidelines, the information can be added.
Does this mean that even though an edit meets guidelines it can still be removed?
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. It is not an ordinary result, but it can, and does, happen
This can be a tough one to understand. I compare it to going into court in front of a judge. While you may know the law and feel that your case is rock solid based on the law, there is always a possibility the judge decides against you. This is exactly what can happen with Wikipedia.
Can you see now why correcting information on Wikipedia can be so frustrating?
Can I “Lock” My Wikipedia Page so No One Can Edit?
First, keep in mind that there is no such thing as “mine” or “your” when it comes to Wikipedia. As stated previously, it is a collaboration project. So while the topic of the page may be about you, there is no way to control who else edits the page.
No one knows this better than Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, who has in fact tried to edit his own page in the past, something that has not gone over too well with the rest of the editing community.
The above change shows Jimmy Wales changed his Wikipedia page to reflect that he is the “founder” of Wikipedia, not the “co-founder” of Wikipedia. Unfortunately for Wales, consensus governed that edit and it was reverted and remains as “co-founder” to this present day.
I have been asked by clients in the past if I can create a page and then protect it so they can control the content. The answer is “absolutely not.”
Pages are normally only protected when there is vandalism to a page or a content dispute that is so wide scale that locking the page is the only way to keep the content from getting out of control (until a consensus is achieved on the article’s talk page).
To have a page protected, an administrator must do so. It takes a request on a special page and approval of such. You must also provide an appropriate reason (such as vandalism) or your request will be denied. And no, using a reason such as you don’t want others to edit it, will be cause for immediate denial and likely get you chastised by an administrator for even making the suggestion.
Keep in mind that most protection levels are to keep editors away who are only there to vandalize. This includes people who have not created an account and are instead editing from an IP (as opposed to creating a username on the site).
People can avoid such page protections by creating an account and making minor edits to other pages until their account is considered “auto-confirmed.”
The chart above shows the classes of editors who can edit protected pages.
Finally, protection isn’t forever. Pages that are protected eventually have their protection lifted. Wikipedia is also not quick to lock pages as it is a hindrance to its collaboration concept. By locking a page, Wikipedia defeats its own purpose for existence.
Final Thoughts on Wikipedia Guarantees
When hiring a Wikipedia expert, make sure they know the rules. Many “experts” will simply post what their client wants and don’t take guidelines or policies into account. This causes problems down the road when the page is tagged or deleted.
One thing you will find with me is that I tell you direct if something is too promotional, cannot be supported by a source, isn’t encyclopedic in tone, or somehow otherwise doesn’t pass the grade. It is better to know up front and get the content written correctly according to guidelines than it is to go back months later and try to re-post a deleted page.
Even after ensuring that the page meets all guidelines and policies, there is still a possibility that the page is changed from what was initially created. In fact, there is still a chance that it gets deleted based on consensus from the community on how the guidelines and policies apply (rules also change – so what you post today may be something that is removed tomorrow based on those changes).
You also cannot control the content of a Wikipedia page. As stated numerous times, consensus governs content on Wikipedia. Even if you strongly object to the addition or removal of content, it is the community of editors who collaborate about edits that make the final decision.
Finally, locking a page doesn’t help control content. It is simply a tool to keep pages from being vandalized. Using it to control the narrative of an article is something that is never done.