Learning how to navigate Wikipedia and its policies can certainly be challenging, so it often makes sense to hire an external specialist. But hiring a specialist can be its own headache: without your own knowledge of Wikipedia, how can you properly vet your potential consultant? Here are ten important questions to ask your Wikipedia writer to qualify them.
2. Do you disclose your Conflict of Interest?
Disclosure is a requirement for any Wikipedia writer who has an association or commercial relationship with the subject of the Wikipedia article. This helps ensure that Wikipedia remains a neutral and unbiased source of reliable information. In addition to reputational repercussions, failure to disclose conflicts of interest can result in warning banners, username and IP address blocks, and article locks.
3. Are you willing to share your userpage?
Wikipedia is a unique content platform that has a public ledger of everything. Visitor data, edit data, and Wikipedian editor activity. Find out if the freelance Wikipedian writer willingly shares their userpage and username as part of the presentation of their practice of transparency. Furthermore, if the Wikipedian writer also shares their Talk page postings, that evidence will confirm transparency is a principle of their practice. If your Wikipedia writer won’t share their username and userpage, you have no way of knowing if they are conducting themselves accordingly on Wikipedia. Without this level of oversight, you put your company’s reputation on the line.
4.What does your user contributions history look like?
User contributions are to a Wikipedian’s activity as editor history is to a Wikipedia article’s content updates. How many years has the Wikipedian contributed to Wikipedia and where? Those are indicators of their experience with interacting with the Wikipedia community. Though they should not be the only qualification, it should be worth noting that the quality of their interactions is more valuable than the volume of contributions.
5. Do you directly edit articles?
Directly editing articles on which you have a conflict of interest (paid or otherwise) is highly discouraged and Although it seems to run counter to the notion that “anyone” can edit Wikipedia, it is a necessary corollary to conflict of interest disclosures. Small edits, like numerical figures, that carry no risk of being construed as biased can be acceptable, but larger content overhauls should be petitioned with the community, and not directly edited.
6. How long does it take to update a Wikipedia article?
Achieving any success on Wikipedia, let alone long-term success, is a patient and diligent practice of lobbying to reach consensus. Petitions can certainly be published quickly, but oftentimes it can take weeks to find Wikipedians willing to review the proposed content, and longer still to reach an agreement on how the content should be presented on the Wikipedia article.
7. Is the new content going to be permanent on Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is best known for being an encyclopedia “anyone can edit”. A petition submitted by a COI editor is susceptible to scrutiny by a volunteer editor. The distinction of vulnerable content versus encyclopedic content is how it is written and the references. For future-proof content, find out if the Wikipedia writer is aware of the 5 pillars of Wikipedia and reliable sources.
8. Can you add promotional material?
Knowledgeable Wikipedian writers balance a neutral point of view (NPOV) whereby they present potential reputational repercussions with overtly promotional content. Their intention is to ensure content is compliant with Wikipedia policies and your company brand story is well represented.
9. Do you know how to properly release and upload media to Wikimedia Commons for use on the article?
Images on Wikipedia require a unique license issued by Creative Commons. For example Creative Commons license such as CC BY-SA 4.0 allows the image to be modified and used in all purposes including commercially. A writer who has knowledge of both copyrights and the release process will be able to successfully upload media without risk of takedowns and deletion.
10. Are you familiar with any WikiProjects or Noticeboards?
On Wikipedia, there is a multitude of ways to petition a request on Wikipedia. Ask your Wikipedia writer about their familiarity of the micro communities within the community. For example, a WikiProject is a community of Wikipedians focused on a specific topic. Find out if the person you are hiring has deep familiarity of both to ensure that person can be effective in petitioning the update of Wikipedia articles.