"So, how do you work with Wikipedia, exactly?"
We get asked this question a lot. Sometimes it's from a potential client partner wondering about our process. Other times, it's from an acquaintance at a party when mention that we're "professional Wikipedians". In case you're curious, blog reader, here's a whirlwind tour of our process.
In brief, we follow the "bright line" laid out by one of Wikipedia's founders, Jimmy Wales.
The bright line consists of two parts. The first part says that editors with a financial conflict of interest—that is, editors like us—shouldn't edit Wikipedia articles directly at all. Not to correct a figure, not to fix a typo. No edits whatsoever if you're financially invested in the content of the page.
Image courtesy Husky, 2008, via Wikimedia commons.
But if that's the case, then how do we get anything done?
Each article on Wikipedia has an associated page called a "Talk page". This is a place for editors to discuss issues that might arise with regards to that specific article. This is where the second part of the bright line comes in, which says that editors with financial conflicts of interest are welcome to post on these Talk pages to make suggestions for improving the article.
And this is exactly what we do—we prepare language for the article, ensuring that it complies with Wikipedia's various guidelines in terms of neutral tone, proper citations, etc., and post our suggestions on Talk pages.
Then, we ask volunteer editors to review our proposed changes and, if everything seems okay, implement the changes on our behalf.
There are a number of ways that we might find editors to help. Wikipedia has a large number of what are called WikiProjects—communities of editors who are interested in improving coverage of a topic area, rather than a specific article. The topic area might be quite narrow (like the National Football League) or it might be broad (like France). We might also reach out to editors who we see have made edits to the article in question in the past, or have been involved in discussions on the article Talk page.
Although following the bright line can be a challenge, that difficulty is made up for by the awesome community of volunteer editors on Wikipedia. Though it can take some work to find an editor to review and implement our changes, the time spent leads to beneficial relationships with Wikipedia editors, as well as edits to pages that have been vetted by the community and comply with Wikipedia's guidelines.
And that makes it worth the challenges.