Wikipedia-logoSocial Media & Wikipedia Combined in New York City During April

So I told you about how I like to dive into the ocean of knowledge last time, right? Well it suits #usDragons, as we are a naturally curious breed. In doing some light research on using Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia effectively, I tapped into a vibrant, living community making an effort to reach out to more users. They were, in fact, hosting a social gathering on April 26th, open to all users in the Greater NYC area. I have my first Real Dragon Project: learn Wikipedia! And yes – although getting lost was part of the process, Social Media came to the rescue, via the use of navigation tools and the Wikipedia phone App.

Video: I Seized the Opportunity to Join Wikipedia & Seek Editing Help From Friends.

As soon as I arrived, one thing was completely obvious (besides my repetitive speech):


Face-to-face networking is going to be a major point of Wikipedia community engagement, both locally and internationally. Because in essence: Wikipedia is everyone.

My biggest Discovery: Wikipedia is the Product of Individual Contributions

Like…a massive product. See, what I neglected to tell you in the beginning is that the Wikipedia meetup I attended – was a Wikimedia meetup [collective gasp]. That’s right – Wikimedia. At this meetup I learned the loose organizational layout of the online mass-edited encyclopedia site. And it goes a little something like this:

  • Wikimedia Foundation – the incorporated, organized governing portion of Wikipedia. They are behind the big banners above the articles you look up, asking you to make a small donation to keep the entire information resource on the web. A small note about individual contributions? Those individual monetary contributions during the six-month fundraising drive amounted in over $16million in operating funds from international users who support Wikipedia and its mission.
  • Wikimedia Projects – these are all the other wiki’s that you may or may not have surfed before, in pursuit of a debate-settling answer. Wikimedia Foundation notes (and you should, too) *only* those properties listed in its own description are affiliated with or endorsed by the Wikipedia family.

Of these projects, the ones we are most interested in are:

  1. Wikimedia Commons – the single location that contains all media (photo, video, audio and otherwise, that may be used on any Wikimedia Foundation project. Its policy also requires that any piece of content added to this database release it for complete and free-of-charge use throughout the internet and printed publications.
  2. Wikipedia – the Free Encyclopedia; also the first project of the Wikimedia Foundation using MediaWiki, and is at this moment being translated and authored in a myriad of languages.
  3. MediaWiki – the actual software that powers Wikipedia along with many web sites not affiliated with, but patterned after, Wikipedia.
  4. Wictionary – the Free Dictionary; also the second project of the Wikimedia Foundation using MediaWiki, and is at this moment being translated and authored in a myriad of languages.

You’re intimidated, right? How can you wade through all that just to edit one page that lists “current” information on your business from three years ago?

There is no central Wikipedia Editing Guideline for Business. YET.

The editing community within Wikipedia (they prefer the term Wikipedians) is largely made up of “hobbyists,” librarians and heavy users who fall between ages 18 and 25. There is an intense distrust of “press-release” talk and “marketing language.” Since the online resource which is free for everyone to read, use and edit cannot make a blanket denial to everyone working in a PR, marketing or other professional capacity regarding editing Wikipedia, a solution has been undertaken.

A Wikipedian, whom I met that night, is in the midst of creating a central Wikipedia editing guide to address those who are in business and are concerned with incorrect information on a Wikipedia page, or who have any questions on best practices for using Wikipedia – both for Wikipedians and for business-side editors. Of course I was excited that this Wikipedia is a Mid-Hudson Valley resident!

Have you considered that whatever it is your business offers, a general search for that topic online reveals a Wikipedia page at or near the very top of search results? Like it or not, Wikipedia is a potential river of organic SEO traffic for you – if used correctly, responsibly, and relevantly.

Oh hey – did I mention this meetup was only the beginning of my Wikipedia adventure? They have outreach classes, too.


This entry was posted on Friday, May 27, 2011 and is filed under Social Media in Marketing.

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