Wikipedia:FAQ/Organizations

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Organizations FAQ
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Wikipedia is an incredibly popular website and the fact that anyone can edit it means that it attracts many publicity agents and employees and supporters of a variety of organizations, from businesses to governmental agencies (including militaries) to non-profits, who may decide to edit pages about their organizations. Such employees, as well as individuals who edit articles about themselves or friends, obviously have a vested interest in creating or modifying an article and may have a conflict of interest.

If you are one of these people, then this FAQ about how to edit without displaying a conflict of interest is for you.

May I advertise my organization or its campaigns, clients, products, services or leading individuals on Wikipedia?

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No. Wikipedia is not a place for you to post promotional material for your services, products or to promote any other cause. While a list of the notable services your organization provides might be appropriate, such a list should only include those that are a part of the primary mission and are necessary to adequately describe the organization. Our policy on neutral point of view mandates that promotional material and advertising be removed. Advertising may be in addition considered spam and will likely lead to penalties such as blocking or even banning.

Am I allowed to edit articles about myself or my organization?

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An important guideline here is our guideline on conflict of interest. You are discouraged from writing articles about yourself or organizations (including their campaigns, clients, products and services) in which you hold a vested interest. However, if you feel that there is material within an existing article which is incorrect, or not neutral in its tone, please point this out on the article's talk page. Likewise, if you have content which you think should be added, please discuss this on the talk page. Editing articles that you are affiliated with is not completely prohibited; you may do so as specified within the COI guideline, but you must follow our policies. Note that the guideline very strongly discourages direct article editing if you have a financial conflict of interest; see WP:NOPAY. You are expected to allow other editors to revise your contributions as they see fit. If you follow our basic rules, your edits may be accepted by the community; if you don't, they may be reverted. You may end up being blocked if you attempt to insist on your version or otherwise hinder the collaborative efforts of your peers to reach a version of the article based on the consensus of the community.
For more suggestions see the essays: Wikipedia:Search engine optimization, Suggestions for COI compliance, and Wikipedia:Best practices for editors with conflicts of interest.

Do these rules apply when the organization is not for profit?

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Yes. The policies make no distinction between for-profit and non-profit companies.
See also the essay Wikipedia is not here to tell the world about your noble cause.

Can you "lock" an article so that it stays on my preferred text, or so that only certain people can update it?

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No. We can temporarily protect articles to halt vandalism or end a content dispute, but both our neutral point of view and page protection policies prevent administrators from using the tool to enforce a particular version. Also, per Wikipedia policy, nobody owns any article in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a vanity press, and "official" descriptions and biographies do not belong here.

What rules should I follow while editing Wikipedia articles?

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It is best to avoid editing articles relating to your organization entirely, due to the conflict of interest involved. If you chose to do so anyway, then please announce your conflict of interest on the talk page of the article. If you do edit such an article, there are two important policies that you must follow while editing. Edits that don't conform to these rules are likely to be removed.
  • Verifiability: Content that is added must be published by a reliable source. This means a third-party source - for most content, your company website does not count as a source. You need to avoid original research. This means that information that is included must have been published by someone other than yourself (or your company).
  • Neutral point of view: Wikipedia strives to keep the tone of its articles neutral. Both favorable and unfavorable information may be included, but advertising is not permitted and neither are attacks. If you can quote the opinions of relevant authoritative sources, please do so, but disproportionately favoring one viewpoint is not allowed; such edits will be removed and will most likely lead to a block if you are editing under a conflict of interest.
To put it another way, articles should be written in natural, but neutral, language and merely summarize factual information from third-party articles, studies, reports and books that are already in print. This is in contrast to what many people with a conflict of interest often do, which is to write in a promotional tone summarizing their own highly favorable personal knowledge and opinions of the topic. If you can write articles just by summarizing sources in a neutral tone, it is much less likely that you will run into any kind of problems with other editors.
For further information on editing with a conflict of interest, see Wikipedia:Best practices for editors with conflicts of interest.

Why doesn't Wikipedia have an article on my organization?

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Many people see that a similar organization, campaign, product or service has an article and assume their organization is also entitled to an article. However, writing an article about yourself or your organization creates a conflict of interest (see above), and such articles are often deleted if even slightly inappropriate. There are also restrictions on userpage content. Note that Wikipedia is not a directory of all companies.
Wikipedia requires significant coverage in multiple independent sources for articles on organizations and companies per Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies). Independent sources should provide enough neutral and factual information to write a proper article. You might choose to add to your own website a comprehensive list of any independent reliable sources, such as newspaper articles, that have been published about your organization. Such a list can help Wikipedia understand why you think your organization is notable.

I think my organization deserves an article on Wikipedia but none exists. What can I do?

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First, see the question directly above this one. If your organization is notable enough to deserve an article, and you wish to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the best thing to do is to provide any useful sources and request that an independent editor create the article. Specifically:
  1. On your user page, disclose your relationship to the organization.
  2. Go to Wikipedia:Requested articles and find a category under which to list your request.
  3. Describe the very basics of what your company is, no more than a couple of lines, and avoid puffery. Be up-front about your conflict of interest by mentioning it in the request.
  4. Find at least two independent reliable sources that have substantial information about the topic, and provide links to them in the request. Your own organization's material about itself does not count as such a source.
  5. Optionally, find a WikiProject related to your organization's campaigns, products or services, if one exists. On the WikiProject's talk page, post a link to your request, and make sure to mention your relationship to the company so the person who creates the article understands where the request is coming from.
If the topic has promise, a member of the WikiProject (or any editor that regularly responds to article requests) may start an article in article space based on your sources. Keep in mind that due to the nature of Wikipedia and its community, being honest in your relationship with your company will increase the chances of your article being improved by the community, rather than deleted.1
It may be helpful to create a draft of an article in a user subpage, for example here. You can also submit a draft through the Wikipedia:Article wizard, if you feel strongly that you can meet the requirements of neutrality and sourcing. However, be aware that even in a user subpage or through the article wizard, advertising is forbidden, so you should not create a draft unless you are reasonably certain you can do so within Wikipedia's expectations. Do not be surprised if such a draft ends up deleted as advertising, and be willing to adjust your approach.
If you have little or no experience with editing on Wikipedia, please realize that starting new articles that are not soon removed can be very difficult for new users. Wikipedia has a lot of policies and guidelines that are not very obvious and may trip up new users who start from a blank page. The result is that we delete many articles from Wikipedia every day; see Why was my page deleted? A gentler introduction to Wikipedia is to begin by making small edits to existing articles, to gain experience and understanding before adding new articles, and to demonstrate a good faith interest in helping the Wikipedia project and not just your own organization. See our Cleanup and Maintenance pages for lists of articles that need work. You may also request adoption by an experienced user who will help you learn to edit productively here. If you can find a similar organization that already has an article about it, then examine its style and tone and its wikisource and use that as a model for building your article. Take your time and build your article in a page under your own userpage. When you are ready, have an experienced editor review it and then deploy it by copying it into as a regular article with an appropriate article title.

My organization's article has been nominated for deletion and I think it should be kept. What can I do?

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The most reliable method of convincing people that an article should be kept is to provide a list of multiple independent, third-party reliable sources that describe the subject in detail, such as newspaper articles or critical reviews. Sources do not have to be available online or for free, but they must say more than one or two sentences about the company or product, and they must not have been written by your own company.
Avoid comments along the lines of "I like it" or "But it's a really good company". Articles that don't meet our notability criteria for organizations are likely to be deleted.
Please don't try to subvert the discussion by creating multiple accounts to comment from, or getting other people to do that for you. This practice is known as sockpuppeting, and is usually very obvious and results in blocking. As always, you will gain more respect and credibility if you are reasonable when dealing with other Wikipedians.
Consider writing about your organization on another wiki which specializes in information about your type of organization. Specialized wikis often accept a wider range of articles in their subject specialty than Wikipedia does. If your company has a local or regional presence, look for a City wiki in your locality. City wikis generally accept articles about every local organization, with far less concern for notability. You may find a list of specialized wikis at Wikipedia:Alternative outlets.

The article on me/my organization is an attack. What can I do?

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Your first step should be going to the article's talk page. If you feel that the article contains unnecessary attacks or unreliable information for the purpose of portraying your organization in a negative light, please explain why and discuss it with other Wikipedians. Don't misrepresent who you are on a talk page. Openness and transparency will give you more credibility. Say that you represent the organization, calmly and politely present information that makes your case along with citations that back them up. Don't try to spin the facts; it will just lessen your credibility.
If this yields no response, or if you feel that the response is unsatisfactory, you have several options.
  • If a claim in the article is questionable and not supported by a cited reliable source then it may be challenged by anyone. You can put a {{fact}} tag beside it to request a citation. If it is inaccurate information from a dubious source put a {{verify}} tag on it – or find correct information and reference it from a reliable source. You also may use {{Verify source}}, {{Verify credibility}} or {{Failed verification}} tags on it, as appropriate. If the tag has remained there for several days, the unsupported claim should be safe to remove.
  • If unsourced information about an organization is false and especially libelous, Wikipedia policy is "to delete libelous material when it has been identified." While you may remove the material and leave a note as to why on the article's talk page, another or additional option is to send administrators an e-mail via the Wikipedia libel policy page.
  • The same applies to libel against an individual. If an article contains non-libelous derogatory information about a living person that is not substantiated by a reliable source, this is a violation of Wikipedia's "biography of living persons" policy whose policy page lists various options. One is to post a notice for an opinion or help at the biography of living persons noticeboard.
  • If you believe editors are trying to make your organization look bad, you might ask for another opinion at the neutral point of view noticeboard. If you have evidence editors are involved with an opposing organization post a note to the conflict of interest noticeboard.
  • If there is little in an article but libel attacking the person or organization in question, and you have examined the history of the offending page and found nothing but unsourced attacks, this is considered an "Attack Page." Ask an administrator to delete the whole article by adding the code {{Db-attack}} (include the braces) to the top of the page. An administrator will then examine the page in question and delete it if he or she agrees with you that the article is nothing but attacks.
What you should not do is engage in edit wars with other users. If you perform a change and somebody else reverses that change don't simply put the change back. Instead go to the article's talk page and create a topic about it making your argument. Escalating conflict will not help. When users go back and forth reverting each other's edits, we call it an edit war. We don't allow this and if you do this you may end up being blocked. If you are in the right then other users will agree with you and edit the article themselves and/or not continue to revert your edits.
Above all, do not make legal threats on Wikipedia. If you do, you will be blocked until the threat is withdrawn or the legal action is resolved.

Can I add a link to my organization's website?

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If your organization's article does not contain a link to your official website, you are welcome to add one.
However, you should avoid adding other External links to your or your organization's website. If the link is relevant, helpful and informative and should otherwise be included, please consider mentioning it on the talk page and let neutral and independent Wikipedia editors decide whether to add it. Whilst it may be tempting to linkspam, editors often notice and will remove them. Persistent linkspammers are usually blocked and may have their website(s) added to the Wikimedia spam blacklist. Our blacklist prevents links from being added to any area of Wikipedia.
It is important to understand that our blacklist is public, many website operators use this list for their own websites so if you end up on our blacklist other websites who use this list may block your link as well.

Can my organization have an account?

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It is against our local policy for two or more people to share an account for any reason. If there is evidence that an account is being shared, it will be blocked.
  • Usernames that match your organization's name or website name are usually viewed as inappropriate under Wikipedia's username policy. (e.g., "Widgets Company")
  • Usernames that indicate a role at a company, without identifying a specific individual, are usually viewed as inappropriate under Wikipedia's username policy. (e.g., "Sales at Widgets Company" or "Widgets Company CEO")

Instead, please have your organization's representative register an individual account (which may usually include your company name, e.g., "Mark at Widgets Company") and declare the affiliation on the account's user page. Corporate usernames are very often blocked on sight.

What materials can I upload? What do I need to know about the CC-By-SA license?

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Public relations (PR) agents often copy and paste content from organizations' websites into their Wikipedia articles. Please be aware that all text on Wikipedia must be explicitly licensed under the CC-By-SA at its original point of publication, and almost all images must be under a free license. Additions to Wikipedia that do not fall under such licenses will be removed.
Images uploaded under a free license are more likely to be retained, as we are able to use them however we please. The CC-By-SA and other free licenses mean that other people can come and take your contributions and modify them however they see fit. However, many free licenses like the CC-By-SA often require reusers of your contributions to credit your work on the reused items. Failure to attribute your work in such reuse violates these licenses and may allow you to sue the reuser(s) for copyright violation. You are welcome to upload images, diagrams, logos and other media, and will receive a warm welcome if you license them freely. However, images that are overly promotional may be deleted.
Be aware that PR copy is almost always inappropriate in tone for Wikipedia, even if released for use under the CC-By-SA. The tone of a Wikipedia article must always be neutral, but promotional materials have an inherently non-neutral tone. Use of peacock terms common in PR, such as "innovative" and "exciting", contravene Wikipedia's Manual of Style and may provoke cynical reactions. Content added to Wikipedia will almost always have to be written specifically for Wikipedia—by somebody other than your PR agent. If your PR agent adds promotional material to Wikipedia for you without disclosing their professional relationship, that's astroturfing and will be removed.

Can I use Wikipedia as an organizational wiki?

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The short answer is No, but you may download the MediaWiki software for free, the same software which powers Wikipedia, and set up your own corporate wiki. There are also many other wiki software packages, some of which may better meet the needs of your organization. For more information, see: b:Starting and Running a Wiki Website, mw:Manual:Installation guide, and mw:Manual:Wiki on a stick.
People who work in organizations of all sizes visit Wikipedia. Some become aware of how well Wikipedia allows physically remote strangers from around the world to work productively together without the need for physical travel. MediaWiki is probably one of the most effective systems for telecommuting yet invented, and one of the easiest examples for the general public to study. The effectiveness and low cost of MediaWiki's remote, distributed, collaborative editing model naturally causes some business and non-profit employees to think about using similar technology in their organizations.
Wikipedia itself is not a suitable platform for organizational or corporate wiki activity, because much communication among such employees fails to meet Wikipedia's requirements (including: reliable sources, notability, and no original research). Wikipedia also lacks security and privacy features which are usually necessary for organizational or corporate work. Content on Wikipedia falls under the CC-By-SA, so an organization would give up any ownership of employee contributions. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, rather than a general-purpose organizational or corporate information appliance. However, for people who want to make good-faith edits to encyclopedia articles, Wikipedia is an excellent place to learn wiki editing, with our tutorial, our extensive internal documentation, and the Help desk and other assistance pages. Wikipedia has accumulated a huge amount of know-how for remote collaboration, and people who have become respected contributors on Wikipedia can quickly become productive on a corporate wiki.
Questions relating to corporate wikis occasionally appear on the Help desk. You may search for them and read the answers for more information.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ User:Durova (2007-07-17). "SEO Tips & Tactics From A Wikipedia Insider". Retrieved 2007-12-05. 




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