Whether you’re a musician, actor, filmmaker, writer, academic or business person at the top of your game, your Wikipedia page still may not be approved. It definitely happens and if that’s you, naturally you have some questions.
First of all, a person can be truly notable—in real life that is—and not pass Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. Conversely, someone may seem to you rather boring and mundane, yet they have a Wikipedia page.
This is because of the nature of Wikipedia’s notability guidelines.
In essence, to establish notability, Wikipedia requires that a topic has “received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.” The article goes on to note that “notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity.”
So, simply in terms of notability, your article—even if it is about a famous, important or popular topic, may have failed because:
- It hasn’t received significant coverage, meaning there is not a wide enough variety of articles, interviews, references, etc. about the topic—or maybe there is, but you just didn’t include them.
- The sources used aren’t considered reliable, meaning perhaps sources you tried to use were social media posts, blog posts, tabloid articles, comments or some other user-generated or otherwise controversial or questionable source.
- The sources used were not independent of the subject, meaning perhaps you cited someone’s own blog to cite their birthday or other biographical information. Perhaps you used a company’s own website to cite information about the company. These are not third-party sources, and Wikipedia requires third-party sources. A journalist or researcher or some other party not associated with the subject must be the source of the information.
A Note on Self-Promotion
Let’s be honest, the reason an artist, musician, company, etc. wants a Wikipedia page is for the added exposure. It’s usually the first result of a Google search. It’s a trusted source for potential customers/fans. It adds credibility to the topic. When hoping to promote a brand, it’s totally understandable you would want a Wikipedia page.
But this isn’t the mission or reason for Wikipedia’s existence. It is designed to be a collection of impartial, encyclopedic knowledge. As a result, any whiff of self-promotion, marketing, advertising, persuasion or public relations is a quick route to deletion.
Wikipedia requires a certain writing style that promotes objectivity. It is usually easy to notice when a Wikipedia article is for the benefit of its subject matter.
The Wikipedia Approval Process
Wikipedia has no centralized organizational structure. Articles are written, edited and approved by unpaid volunteers, likely from their couches and home offices. They are called Wikipedians and they do it for their own personal reasons.
Deletions, posts and edits can be debated—and often are—in the talk pages of every article and Wikipedians often have to come to some sort of agreement or compromise when they disagree. There is no oversight. There is no vetting process or requirements for participating in Wikipedia.
On one hand, this is very open and egalitarian and represents the values emerging from a new, young Internet-oriented global culture where everyone is given an opportunity to participate.
On the other hand, it makes your article’s approval or deletion somewhat arbitrary. The Wikipedian who happens to make the call regarding whether or not your page is approved may not like the topic, or they might be having a bad day, or they happen to be very rigid. In that case, there are no frameworks in place to prevent them from recommending deletion. They will make a case for deletion and a second volunteer will review it and make the decision. Sometimes you’re just not lucky.
This, however, is rare, and it is more likely one of the issues mentioned above. The most common reasons Wikipedia pages are deleted are because the topic isn’t notable or it’s been written from a self-promotional perspective.
That’s why it is best to consult with people who have significant experience in writing and posting Wikipedia articles, people who have been through the trial and error process. Unlike most volunteer Wikipedians, WikiCreators writers are vetted and all have a high rate of approved articles.
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