How To Report Wrong Information On Wikipedia
How To Report Wrong Information On Wikipedia
Since its launch in the early 2000s, Wikipedia has become the largest encyclopedia of information that has ever existed. Wikipedia is dedicated to accessible knowledge for all people. The site has become so large due to its open-source nature, which allows anyone to contribute to the knowledge base.
This accessibility does come at a cost – sometimes inaccurate information is published in Wikipedia articles. This is frustrating for people who are searching for information, or if you have a Wikipedia page about yourself or your company. No one wants to see articles riddled with misinformation.
Thankfully, there is something you can do about false information and vandalism.
Most people aren’t editing Wikipedia with malicious intent, but there are definitely pranksters out there. Wikipedia vandalism occurs when someone edits a Wikipedia page with the intent to disrupt the article. Wikipedia vandalism can include:
- Adding false information (ex. adding a death date to a person’s article when that person is still alive).
- Removing useful, factual information from an article.
- Adding nonsense that has nothing to do with the subject.
Common targets for vandalism include celebrities, politicians, or any trending or controversial topic.
What Happens When Someone Vandalizes Wikipedia?
There are always people out there who are vandalizing Wikipedia. Most of the obvious vandalism is reverted quickly, but sometimes it gets through Wikipedia’s filters. When someone vandalizes Wikipedia, the edit stays in the user history forever and is attached to user IP addresses. Any editor can send a warning to a potential vandal.
Repeated vandalism can result in a permanent block from editing Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia has a 5-stage warning process to deal with false information.
- The first warning assumes that the editor made a simple mistake and was acting in good faith. This step can be skipped if malicious intent is obvious.
- This is the first true warning where good faith is not assumed.
- Bad faith is assumed and the user is warned they could be blocked.
- This is the final warning before a user can be blocked from editing.
- The fifth warning will result in Wikipedia administrator intervention and blocking.
Who Fact-Checks Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is constantly working to stop the spread of misinformation on the platform. Fact-checking is woven into the article editing and writing process. The only reason that Wikipedia is credible at all is that editors must reference their facts from outside sources.
Wikipedia is completely run by volunteer editors, which could be anyone. This means that Wikipedia users are collectively responsible for fact-checking the platform.
There are also about 1,000 Wikipedia administrators who are given special abilities to fight vandalism. Administrators are not employed by Wikipedia. Rather, they are long-term editors who have gained the trust of the community and are elected to become administrators.
That said, every Wikipedia user has the ability to report false information.
Step-By-Step Guide For Reporting False Information
Wikipedia is a collective, communal project. If you see incorrect information or vandalism, you can do something about it! The more people fix wrong information, the more reliable Wikipedia becomes. Follow these steps to correct false information.
Step 1: Editing Wrong Information
Not everyone who adds incorrect information to Wikipedia is doing so maliciously. Sometimes whoever edited the Wikipedia article is either misinformed, or information becomes irrelevant over time. If you have the correct and accurate information or are willing to do research, you can fix it yourself by editing the article.
You can get started editing in just a few simple steps:
- You don’t need to create an account in order to make edits, but it is beneficial to do so. An account allows you to hide your IP address for added privacy, and you get access to more editing features.
- When you create an account, enter a username that is not your real name. Usernames are publicly visible. Choose your password, and enter your email address. Click “Create your account” at the bottom.
- Go to the article you want to edit and click “Edit” at the top-right of the page. If there is no edit section, the article may be protected. In that case, you will have to request edits on the talk page instead of directly editing information.
When making edits to Wikipedia articles, take care to not spread misinformation yourself. Follow these tips to edit information on Wikipedia:
- Get familiar with Wikipedia’s guidelines on citing your sources. You can not use other Wikipedia pages as sources, and your sources must be credible.
- Write from a neutral point of view. State facts only, and do not put an opinionated spin on anything.
- Write in a way that the everyday person can understand, and avoid using jargon.
- Avoid writing about subjects where there is a conflict of interest and stay away from self-promotion.
- Get familiar with wikitext.
Step 2: Reverting Vandalism
Each Wikipedia article has a record of every edit that has been made, including acts of vandalism. Follow these steps to correct the vandalism:
- Click “View History” at the top-right of the article to see who had made edits and what edits were made.
- For simple, single-edit vandalism, select the most recent version of the page that exited before the vandalism occurred, then publish the edit.
- Go to the vandal’s user page and give them a warning.
Wikipedia vandalism isn’t always that simple. Sometimes vandalism can occur over several edits, meaning that if you revert the page, you could be deleting correct and useful information. In this case, you will have to manually edit the information or report it.
Step 3: Using The Talk Page
Sometimes you see false information on Wikipedia, but you are unable to edit it yourself. This could be the case if the article is protected, you have a conflict of interest with the subject, you are being paid to edit, or you aren’t comfortable making your own edits yet. For this, you can use the talk page.
To request an edit, click “New Section” on the talk page. A large area of empty text will appear for you to type in. Edits should be formatted like so:
*Specific text to be added or removed: (add text)
*Reason for change: (add text)
*Sources: (add URL)
You can also go to the edit request wizard and fill out the edit request form.
Step 4: Contacting Wikipedia
If all else fails and you can not correct the misinformation or report it on the talk page, you can contact Wikipedia’s Volunteer Response Team. Their email is email@example.com. In your email, you should include:
- The title of the article and address.
- A description of the problem.
Keep in mind that this team is a small group of volunteers who answer a lot of emails that are sent to them in regards to other Wikimedia Foundation projects as well. They may not be able to help with every issue. In general, you should approach Wikipedia with a do-it-yourself attitude.
Finding false information or vandalism on Wikipedia can be frustrating. But, with these steps, you can help make sure the information on the platform is credible.
Our expert team at WikiCreators is here to help you with all of your Wikipedia projects. If you need help with Wikipedia article creation and management for your company, we can develop a personalized plan to meet your goals.