I have a new goal in life: be notable enough for my own Wikipedia entry. It is not a massive goal and, other than being awesome, very little I can do to make it happen. Why can’t I just create my own entry? There are two reasons: conflict of interest and notability. In today’s entry, I am going to discuss the conflict of interest (COI) policy for Wikipedia.
What’s the Conflict?
For a lot of people and companies, Wikipedia is an important tool for their PR and promotional efforts. You want to make yourself look good when people visit your entry. The inclination is to just hire someone to do it or do it yourself. Wikipedia frowns on this because it’s a conflict of interest. Wikipedia isn’t here to make you look good. It’s here to present verifiable information about you even if it’s bad. You are not a good judge of what is accurate about you. You want to portray yourself in the best light, so you will ignore anything that doesn’t make you look good. You are biased and Wikipedia doesn’t want you to have influence over your entry.
How Does Wikipedia Deal With COI?
The simplest way to avoid a problem with COI is to never interact with the entry in question. If you work for a company, don’t edit their entry. I do only so much on the UMass Lowell pages and that’s primarily reverting vandalism. I don’t touch the content because I have a conflict. If it were my entry, I couldn’t even watch for vandalism because it would put everything I edit into question.
One easy way to acknowledge a conflict of interest is to disclose it on your own account information page, or user page. Many people do this regarding the companies they work for. They might edit entries related to their industry or might suggest content for their company. They make sure other editors know they are aware they have a conflict. Editors also deal with conflict of interest in their own ways. I have worked with people who make suggestions and identify sources for other editors to integrate into the entry.
In the comments, tell me, have you noticed entries that seem biased in favor of a company or person?