Saturday, October 4, 2014

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Wikipedia Consultant

1. What is your approach to disclosure of your work on Wikipedia? If a consultant suggests that they will not disclose their connection to you on Wikipedia, or recommends that you do not declare a conflict of interest, this is a major red flag. Nondisclosure is a violation of Wikipedia’s Terms of Use, and an NDA will not be seen as a legitimate justification.

2. What kind of timeline can I expect? Fixing just one section may take a few weeks; proposing substantial changes to an article, or creating an entirely new entry, can take months. There are two reasons for this. First, your consultant should research the topic themselves so they can be confident that any proposed edits are aligned with the goals of Wikipedia. Second, your consultant should be working through Wikipedia’s community, almost all of whom are volunteers with limited time to help. Be wary of anyone who promises a quick turnaround.

3. Are you an active contributor to Wikipedia yourself? It’s a good idea to ask the specialist whether they are a member of the Wikipedia community outside of any paid consulting they may do. Chances are very good that someone who edits Wikipedia on their own time will supply you with better advice. Ask them to provide you with their username so you can review their profile.

4. Can you provide references to previous clients who have been satisfied with your work? As in any specialist field, ask to speak with previous clients to confirm that your consultant actually does what they say. Ask to see the Wikipedia article(s) they worked on, and do your own due diligence: look at the article’s talk page to see if there is evidence they discussed changes with volunteer editors. Have there been substantial changes to their work since completion? If there have been disagreements over content, how were they resolved?

5. Can you help me [do something this manual tells you is contrary to Wikipedia’s rules]? Don’t be afraid to play a little dumb, and ask a question that you know the answer to should be “no.” If the specialist advises why not to do this, and offers another solution instead, you can be more confident you are hiring someone with a solid understanding and ethical stance regarding Wikipedia.

Wikipedia and the Communications Professional: A Manual