Wednesday, January 10, 2007

 

Wikipedia is designed to suck for advertising

A short while ago, Mark Dilley asked my opinion about a discussion on the Articles for Deletion" forum. Specifically, whether article about the startup -- About Us should be deleted. (It had been nominated for deletion on the basis of lack of notability.)

My response began by stating that I believe that the appropriateness of a subject rests on two criteria, the first being more important than the second:

1. Just how likely is it that someone will look for an article on that subject; and

2. Who benefits more from the presence of an article on Wikipedia: Wikipedia, or the subject?

All of the disputes over "notability", "vanity", "original research", etc. are attempts to provide an objective procedure to define these two criteria. Because of Wikipedia's Alexa ranking, there are a lot of people who believe that having an article about them, their company, or their work, is essential to their success -- these are the people the Wikipedia community is trying to keep out with these rules and procedures. Admittedly, sometimes due to too much enthusiasm, articles on subjects that Wikipedia should are deleted.

My own feeling about this issue -- should Wikipedia have an article on aboutus.com -- is one that the people working at Aboutus.org should not worry about. Aboutus.org needs to succeed on its own merits, and whether Wikipedia has an article about them will not help or harm them at this time. Wikipedia's just an encyclopedia, for goshsakes, our coverage and quality is still uneven, and if someone wants to learn about a given company or organization they ought to use aboutus.org first before Wikipedia when performing their research.

As far as I know, no one has ever made a claim (well, a credible claim) to anyone involved with Wikipedia that the lack of an article about them hurt their business. It's fair to say that this claim would generate a lot of talk both within Wikipedia and outside (e.g. in the blogosphere), so I'm fairly certain that a lack of an article hurts anyone. (Especially when one Wikipedian has stated as a rule, "If the success of your business depends on an article in Wikipedia, then your business is in serious trouble.")

As for this article, I admit that I haven't been involved, in this case out of ignorance but had I heard about this AfD discussion, I would have stayed out of it due to conflict of interest (I consider Mark, Ray King, and the others working there friends). However, I think GTBacchus did a fine job of handling the discussion, far better than I could have: he moved the article from a Speedy deletion category to where it could be discussed, and managed to keep it from being deleted.

(Note: I was responsible for introducing GTBacchus to the folks at AboutUs.org. It shouldn't be a surprise that a little bit of personal contact can go a long way when one interacts with the Wikipedia community.)

Geoff

Comments:
Hi Geoff, glad you made this public, as I think it an interesting conversation. Just wanted to put some context to it via the original email:

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Did you by chance see this?:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:AboutUs.org

and this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/02/AR2006120201111_pf.html

It seems interesting to me, the link, as the only wikipedian I really know, and one with whom I just linkedin with, the stars aligned for me to ask you what you thought.

Best, Mark
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