When Dianna Huff decided to create a Wikipedia page for her client’s technology, she had no idea what she was in for. Making updates to existing pages was simple. How hard could it be to create a new Wikipedia page?
Incredibly hard, as she found out. The lengthy process felt more akin to writing a college term paper than to writing marketing content, Dianna said.
But she felt the effort was worth it. Her client’s industry-changing technology became an official part of Wikipedia and generated traffic to their site. And the article she wrote about the process remains one of the most visited articles on this website 11 years after it first appeared.
We’ve recapped her solid advice and added a few updates and ideas from other experts. We’ve also kept the comments from Dianna’s original article so you can learn from others’ experiences.
Reasons to create a Wikipedia page
Almost everyone is now familiar with Wikipedia, the living encyclopedia where anyone can suggest or contribute pages, articles, and knowledge about just about anything: Rolling Stones (the band), video games, Mount Vesuvius, Web3, and even content marketing.
Few realize, though, the stringent threshold for article acceptance.
Should you still create a Wikipedia page (or try to have one added) about something related to your brand? Yes, if the subject meets a few essential conditions. Dianna recommends trying for a Wikipedia page if:
- Your company invented or developed an industry-changing technology. The tech can be in any category, from mechanical to chemical to musical (e.g., iTunes).
- You can’t find any information about your technology or topic on Wikipedia. Dianna explained that she created a page for her client’s technology when she couldn’t find any mention of it on Wikipedia.
- Your founder or company is “notable.”Wikipedia editors apply a “notability” test to determine if your subject warrants a Wikipedia page, and passing that test is a requirement for publication.
Keep in mind, Wikipedia’s understanding of notability may differ from yours. If your company has invented something or your founder is a person-of-note (e.g., a famous author, the first person to row a boat across the ocean), then your company or founder might be a good candidate, Dianna explained.
But you need a unique story or angle – not every executive or brand is sufficiently notable for Wikipedia.
To be considered notable, you need to be able to cite articles from reputable sources. As Jonathan Ricks notes in his recent article: “You need to develop a case, using only sources that Wikipedia recognizes, which explains why the entry warrants inclusion in a global encyclopedia,” he says.
Notes: A blue checkmark on Instagram or a page on IMDB does not guarantee notability.
TIP: Read Wikipedia’s page on notability go deeper on the topic.
Steps to creating a Wikipedia page
Though you should visit Wikipedia’s help pages for more detailed information, Dianna shares this outline to provide a brief and helpful step-by-step version to create a Wikipedia page.
1. Do some research about Wikipedia
Learning the ins and outs of being a good Wikipedia citizen can help you create pages that are less likely to be deleted or challenged in the official review process review.
TIP: Explore Wikipedia’s conflict of interest guidelines before you begin.
Only registered users can create or edit Wikipedia pages. Dianna advises using your real name and email address.
3. Edit existing pages
Test your skills by making minor edits to existing pages before creating new content. Dianna says to start with topics with which you’re familiar. For example, she updated her son’s fencing coach’s page (he’s an Olympic medalist) with new biographical information not available elsewhere on the internet, and she linked to his fan club’s website.
“By making these small changes, I was able to get more familiar with the site’s content management system and build my Wikipedia user profile,” Dianna says.
TIP: Wikipedia tracks all changes made through your user account. With enough editing and creating activity under your belt, your user level can become an “auto-confirmed user.” This level lets you perform restricted functions, such as uploading images and moving pages to the public space.
4. Gather your sources
Verifiable, third-party sources are tremendously important in Wikipedia. After all, it’s an encyclopedia, not a marketing channel.
The content should be factual and unbiased. For example, Dianna had to include information about competitors and their technology (and links to their sites) on the page she created about her client’s technology.
TIP: You may know you, but unless your story is verifiable with objective sites or printed materials, Wikipedia doesn’t believe your first-person sourcing.
TIP: Images are only allowed if you own them or they’re not subject to copyright.
5. Write the text
Now you are ready to draft the content for your proposed Wikipedia page. You can type it directly into the Wikipedia interface or cut and paste it from your text software.
On the top right of your user page are headers – Sandbox and My Talk. You can use either to create, but My Talk ensures the page won’t be deleted.
Dianna says she found formatting the page using Wiki code took a little time even though she’s HTML savvy.
TIP: Though Wikipedia has a process to request an article (submitting a brief description and reliable, independent sources), it’s just a list of ideas that may get feedback from editors, writes William Beuhler. No one will create the suggested page, and Wikipedia encourages you to submit a draft article instead.
TIP: Read through Wikipedia’s Articles for Creation for additional explanations and guidance.
TIP: You can learn more about Wiki code by reading Wikipedia’s Help Pages.
6. Submit the page for review
With your page complete, submit it to Wikipedia for review. The process can take a few days or a few weeks (or more).
Dianna waited 12 days after submitting her client’s page. After seeing approvals, challenges, and deletions for other pages submitted when she submitted hers, Dianna assumed her page was fine and moved it to the public space.
One more thing
Shortly after it went live, a Wikipedia editor changed the page’s title and made other non-substantive edits. If you do get a page published, continue to monitor and update it as needed.
Dianna became a confirmed Wikipedia admirer, though she wanted to tear her hair out at times during the page creation process. “It was well worth the effort,” she says.
Have you tried to publish an article on Wikipedia? Share your learnings in the comments.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute