User:David Gerard/scratch

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IABC draft[edit]

Final version is out now. Various gratuitous wording changes, but substantially the same.

How corporate representatives can work better with Wikipedia[edit]

Public relations professionals have had a rocky relationship with the Wikipedia community. Fortunately, the problems can be resolved to the benefit of both.

What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia can be daunting to people who are unfamiliar with it, because it works like almost nothing else out there. The key is to understand that Wikipedia itself is not an organisation, but a community - made up of thousands of individuals, with varying opinions and motivations, but all directed to the project of writing an encyclopedia. They're amateurs, doing it for love, and if anything comes from outside that seems it might interfere with that, they hit the roof.

The problem

Every day Wikipedia editors deal with large volumes of poor edits from corporate advocates that aren't familiar with our content policies, or with appropriate etiquette for editors with a conflict of interest. Worse, a lot of these label themselves "PR representatives", even the ones that are really just spammers. Many Wikipedia editors grow weary or resentful of cleaning up vast quantities of low-quality promotional editing.

There's also the philosophical conflict: a corporate representative is a paid advocate, but Wikipedia is all about neutrality.

Working with it, not against it

PR professionals that spend the time and effort to learn Wikipedia's content policies and behavioral etiquette for conflict-of-interest editing will help both Wikipedia and themselves. If you respect the community, you will generally receive respect in return. Those that put in the effort to participate on Wikipedia properly will find editors willing to spend their time helping them. Companies that provide value to Wikipedia will find Wikipedia providing value to them.

It's worth trying your hand at Wikipedia yourself. See if you enjoy just contributing to Wikipedia on topics not linked to your work. If you see something wrong and you have a reference to support it, hit "edit" and add it! Be utterly upfront about who you are, where you're from, your client list, your conflicts of interest. This is not for everyone, but it is the quickest way to understand Wikipedia from the inside.

Image contributions, under a proper free-content licence, are also both useful and good for your reputation.

Solving your problem

Not everyone wants to take up Wikipedia as their hobby. If all you want to do is correct factual errors and fix other overt problems, it's easy to ask for help. Articles' talk pages aren't always monitored, but there's a {{request edit}} template to flag that an editor with a conflict of interest needs help. There's also {{help}} and the conflict of interest noticeboard. If there's something seriously problematic (e.g., defamation of a living person) or that you would like handled in a non-public forum, you can email us at

Conflicts of interest

Don't edit the article page itself. Wikipedia's guidelines say you can edit an article about you in certain circumstances, but, based on personal observation, I would advise against this - the media and general public have repeatedly pilloried editors and companies with a conflict of interest, even when they were arguably acting within reason.

What's a conflict of interest? It's what the phrase means in conventional English. Would the papers and general public think it was a conflict if they looked through your work a year later? Don't do it.

Neutrality is king. Your client may superficially want to bias things to their apparent favour, but neutrality is better in practice - because if bad stuff is in the public record, someone will find it. If you don't say it, someone else will.

Come work with us

Engage with the people as people. There is no individual at Wikipedia who can give you permission to do a particular thing (including me - this article is advice, not a set of rules) - and if you see a guideline and look for loopholes, you've got the wrong idea and things aren't going to go well. But if you see other Wikipedians as your fellows, they will see you that way in turn.

Wikipedia is not like writing copy for a newspaper. It's a culture of collaborative writing where what really matters is contributing ideas and thoughts to the topic at hand and achieving a synthesis. That writing process can appear to be very robust from the outside, and it certainly takes some time to get used to. But the results are that one of the top ten websites in the world is an encyclopedia, of all things. So something's clearly working. And you can work with us.

Motif of harmful sensation[edit]

A fantastically useful essay on the topic ... but the title is a neologism and it's basically a collection of original research. User:David Gerard/Motif of harmful sensation to do work on it.