An article was published today on Search Engine Land called “SEO Tips & Tactics From a Wikipedia Insider” and it has to be one of the most interesting and best written articles I have seen in a while. The article was written by a lady by the name of Durova who is “a Wikipedia administrator who confronts some of the site’s most disruptive editors. She uses a pen name to avoid harassment in real life.” (this is a snippet from the bio at the bottom of the article)
The article is about how, in some cases, a marketer can work with Wikipedia in an ethical manner while still emphasizing an online presence. The tips are great and obviously well thought out but I found the most fascinating to be Durova’s examples of how underestimating Wikipedia can be a dangerous business. In her examples she notes how the transparent nature of Wikipedia has caught anonymous users on government-based IP addresses editing political Wikipedia profiles to delete unflattering content.
For example, Durova cites how the Wikipedia listing of Tennessee state politicians Matthew Hill and David Davis was edited to remove the information that they had both accepted contributions from pharmaceutical companies. According to Durova, the IP address used to make the edits came from a congressional computer. The best part of Wikipedia is that, much to the chagrin of the illicit editor, each of these edits are publicly available - transparent indeed! Here are the official edit pages: Matthew Hill edit 1, Matthew Hill edit 2, David Davis edit 1, David Davis edit 2. In each case, Durova noted, “none of those inappropriate edits remained in Wikipedia’s live version very long. Site volunteers reverted most of them one minute after implementation; the longest endured for nineteen minutes.”
The example above is a great example why being ethical with Wikipedia is really the only way to go - anything less is likely to come right back at you.
If you plan on editing on Wikipedia at all be sure to read the full article at Search Engine Land and take note of Durova’s great tips for working with, rather than against Wikipedia.