Because you can’t.
It seems like every few weeks I get an inquiry about Wikipedia from a client. Usually they are upset about their entry. Most of the time they want to delete negative portions of the entry and infuse it with their marketing messages.
My response is always the same.
Leave it alone.
In fact, the policy at my agency is that we won’t touch Wikipedia and we always recommend our clients heed by our policy.
Because it violates Wikipedia’s terms of service for a representative of a brand to change or alter the brand’s Wikipedia entry. Wikipedia is an independent, crowd-sourced encyclopedia and the entry does not belong to the brand. Any one with a conflict of interest is forbidden from altering entries.
There’s also a penalty for doing so. Brands and their representatives who mess with the entries can be banned from Wikipedia.
To put an exclamation point on this point of view, Wikipedia this week is threatening to sue Wiki-PR, a firm that specializes in cleaning up Wikipedia entries by allegedly creating fake accounts and altering entries without disclosing its conflict of interest. To be fair, Wiki-PR denies the charge.
According to Wikipedia’s lawyers in a cease and desist letter to Wiki-PR:
“When outside publicity firms and their agents conceal or misrepresent their identity by creating or allowing false, unauthorized or misleading user accounts, Wikipedia’s reputation is harmed. Sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry are especially harmful when used to disguise secret works of advocacy.”
I have to agree. Paid submissions are fake and against the spirit of how Wikipedia works.
Brands should focus on the content they can control – their own websites, microsites, blogs and social media channels. Stressing about a Wikipedia entry is a generally a sign of unsophisticated content marketers and an unfamiliarity with the digital landscape.
Move on. Don’t get tangled up with Wikipedia.
Just like you can’t change a bad newspaper article or magazine feature once it is published you can’t change a Wikipedia entry – without a whole lot of potential damage and lots of frustration.
What do you think of Wikipedia threat to sue Wiki-PR? And what is your own brand policy for Wikipedia?
Wikipedia Rattles its Saber at Wiki-PR (via MediaPost)