You don’t have to be famous in order to be successful. That said, if you want to make it big as a professional blogger and establish yourself as an expert in your industry, then it certainly doesn’t hurt to make a big name for yourself. Getting featured in major media outlets is one part of the equation and you really know you’ve “made it” when there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to you.
The challenge, of course, is getting yourself listed on Wikipedia in the first place. This is equally difficult for both individuals and for businesses. Earlier this year, I was hired by a company to create their Wikipedia page. I told them upfront I could not possibly guarantee that the page would stick and there was a distinct possibility that the page would be deleted due to reasons of “vanity.” And despite all of our efforts (though they didn’t have the budget for all my recommendations), that’s exactly what happened.
Even Wikipedia itself says that getting an article about yourself on the site isn’t necessarily a good thing, partly because it’s an open platform where just about anyone can contribute. What this means is that if you get caught up in a scandal or otherwise receive negative press, it could show up on your page. But, as you know, there is a definite appeal to having a Wikipedia article about you, both for credibility and for your ego.
For my part, the good news is that there is a wiki page for Michael Kwan already created and it has been up for a very long time. The bad news is that it’s for a different Michael Kwan altogether and, for the life of me, I can’t even get a mention on that page. So, what needs to happen?
The Wikipedia standards effectively call for three critical elements: neutrality, verifiable and reliable sources, and notability. The page must be neither positive or negative, the information needs to be suitably backed up by legitimate third-party sources, and the subject needs to be “notable.” That last point is particularly challenging.
Getting yourself listed on Wikipedia is hardly a science. It’s more of an art with a dash of luck and good fortune. There are steps you can take to support your case, many of which require the further support from other Wikipedia members.
- Get referenced in other wiki pages. If you are mentioned or referenced in other Wikipedia articles, this helps to bolster your notability.
- Get mentioned in third party sources. This might start with more of a general PR campaign. If you appear in magazines and newspapers, as well as other media outlets, the perception of your legitimacy and notability is further improved.
- Start with a “stub.” Before you invest your time in writing a 1000+ word Wikipedia article on yourself only to get it deleted by one of the admin folks, start with just a sentence or two. The hope is that the rest of the Wikipedia community will jump in to expand on the stub and this helps with the neutrality requirement.
- Multiple user submissions. If the edit history on your page shows that you are the only user making changes and additions, then there’s a good chance the page will get flagged for deletion. It’s important to have multiple (registered) users contribute to the page and it helps a lot more if these users also volunteer to edit a lot of other Wikipedia pages too. Again, this helps with neutrality and notability.
- Include references. The page may be about you, but it needs to be supported with references to other sources. These can be both internal Wikipedia links and links to external sources.
- Encourage an active discussion page. If multiple users are engaging in a conversation through the article’s discussion page, then Wikipedia can see that people care about the topic (notability) and multiple viewpoints are being represented (neutrality).
All of the above strategies and tactics can help, but none of them will guarantee that you’ll get a Wikipedia article that’ll stick. A lot of it really is outside of your control… until you leverage the power of the tribe.
If Shoemoney can be listed, then I say that all of the readers of this blog can help get a John Chow wiki page to stick too. And getting this “real” Michael Kwan onto Wikipedia can be possible if we all work on it together, right?