Making Wikipedia work for your project

I’ve heard recently of a couple of instances of colleagues creating pages about their work in Wikipedia, only to find them deleted. Hoping to prevent that frustration, here are some tips I’ve learned from my meager engagement with WP.

1. Make sure what you are writing about is notable (i.e. has been mentioned in secondary sources such as newspapers or journals). Even if you think it’s important, it might not be notable in the sense appropriate for an encyclopedia.

Important note: there are multiple perspectives within WP, and different factions have ascendancy at different times. At the moment, the ones who want to trim down anything which isn’t notable seem to have the upper hand, so any page you make has to have references to news sources or journals, or someone will nominate it for deletion.

2. One way to spam WP is to create new pages from an anonymous account. Hence these pages are under the most
suspicion. So before making any significant change, register for a named account with a profile and declare any potential conflicts of interest.

3. Assume that your new article (or major change to an existing article) will be deleted. There are various good or bad reasons why it might be. Check on it shortly afterwards to see whether it has been nominated for deletion. For example you might see a notice like this on it (in which case you have to act quickly to avoid your work disappearing!). Querying the deletion may well get the attention of someone who will help you meet the criteria to avoid deletion.

4. Neutrality is a core policy of WP. Anything that looks like advertising will be especially suspect and likely to be deleted. It’s understandable to have a positive advocacy of your work on your own site, but such text looks out of place in an encyclopedia.

5. If you want to be super-safe, propose your changes on a relevant Talk page, then see if there’s any objection, then apply your changes.

6. Make lots of little improvements to things so that other users can see that you’re a useful contributor.

7. Consider whether it’s really Wikipedia you want to contribute to, rather than one of the sister projects such as Wikiversity, Wiktionary or Wikisource.

8. The best way to use Wikipedia to promote your work probably isn’t to make an article about your project. What has worked is visiting articles about the relevant topics and improve them as objectively as you can. For instance the Economics Network have focused on the articles for Economics Education, Economics and individual subjects, removing some dubious content and adding more valuable links or content (if we have it).

Thanks to Phil Barker for some improvements to the first version of this text.

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