Wikipedia profiles for people

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So, you want your own Wikipedia article, or “Wikipedia profile.” Or perhaps you want one for your friend or relative. How can you get one published?

It’s important to have a Wikipedia profile—if you deserve one. As we explained, Wikipedia content is very powerful in its reach. Journalists and authors reference it before writing about the profiled person. Search engines modify their algorithms to display much of the profile content on the first page of search results. Finally, endless proliferation and mirroring of Wikipedia content seals the immortality of the individual in question.

Figuring out whether the person deserves a Wikipedia page

Why doesn’t this person already have a page? We discussed some of the reasons behind gaps in Wikipedia, but the biggest reason is that they may not be “notable.” In Wikipedia, “notable” is defined as “worthy of notice,” but what makes a person worthy of notice is complex and takes studying.

Before you put effort into writing, it’s important to answer this notability question. A Wikipedia article about a clearly non-notable person will likely be deleted within an hour, leaving no trace of its presence. A Wikipedia page of questionable notability will get a nasty red banner at the top stating that it is “nominated for deletion.” This banner can stay atop the article for weeks or even months, and then the page will often be deleted.

To determine Wikipedia notability yourself, read the Wikipedia policy pages that explain what it takes to be notable, especially the specific notability criteria for biographies. Then follow the links that apply to your person. Along the way, you’ll also need to learn what “verifiability” is. Study those pages, too, as verifiability is very important once you start writing. You’ll have a lot of questions on what certain technical words mean and how they are applied. Find some recently deleted pages and read through the discussions among the editors (on the History tab) to learn more.

We can check notability for you. At Wenard, we often check notability of people for our projects, such as our American Heritage or Forgotten Women projects. We have a few highly skilled people volunteers to check notability for you, we can do this for a small donation. The donations we receive help us offset costs of the research databases we use for our projects. Check a person’s notability.

Once you have established that the person is notable and deserves a Wikipedia profile, the next step is to create one. Wikipedia makes this difficult. Let’s look at the options.

Write it yourself

Even though this method seems to be free, it is likely the most expensive option. If you have never created Wikipedia pages before, you’ll need to put about 40 hours of study into before you even start to write. You’ll need to study many rules and policies, learn how to edit pages (HTML experience would be helpful here), and figure out licensing policies if you want to add a picture. If you make a mistake, your new page may be slapped with “clean-up needed” banners, and it still can be deleted. Even if your subject is notable, the burden of proof is on you. If your article doesn’t prove their notability, all your work is for nothing and it will be deleted.

What’s worse, according to Wikipedia policies, you are not supposed to write articles about yourself, your boss, your relatives, or anyone else that puts you in a conflict of interest. (A conflict of interest is when you stand to gain something from your actions on their behalf.)

This makes sense, because Wikipedia’s purpose is not somebody’s self-promotion, but rather an objective summary of a person’s life story based on what is known from trustworthy sources. This has to be done by an independent third party—someone not involved. If you get caught breaking the conflict-of-interest rules, all your work will be wasted.

Hiring a specialized PR service

What about hiring people who call themselves “Wikipedia experts” to write a page for you? Depending on where the PR company or individual is located and the size of the profile you need, the cost can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. And because you are paying them for a favorable article, all these companies are bound to break the conflict-of-interest rule as well.

Here’s what has happened over the years. If a PR company is truly professional and effective, it gets successful and becomes very active in Wikipeida. Once this happens, they get busted by Wikipedia administrators, and the Wikipedia community starts combing through all its contributions to delete them. The worst cases and clients are outed in the business press, creating negative publicity and causing PR damage that exceeds any PR gain from the short-lived Wikipedia profile. This is why we do not recommend this approach.

What can be done?

On one hand, it’s wrong for you to create the profile yourself. Hiring someone to do it is a bad idea. And the Wikipedia community is busy—in fact, falling further and further behind—and may never produce the profile you need. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  1. Find Wikipedia pages about people in the same field and with similar accomplishments. Using the “History” tab, figure out the members of the Wikipedia community who write on similar topics. Then ask them to create the page you want. You can help them with illustrations and links to information, but do not try to tell them what to write. If the person is notable, they will be of interest to someone, and your page will be created someday. Remember, the person’s Wikipedia profile should reflect both the good and the bad; this is only fair.
  2. If you have trouble locating and contacting the right people, and you’re sure that the subject of your planned Wikipedia page really deserves it, contact us. We may be able to fit your subject into one of our projects. If not, we may connect you with an experienced editor who works in similar topics. They may be interested in using your research to get another Wikipedia page under their belts.