Driving interest by using Wikipedia

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Wikipedia is one of the most popular sources of information on the internet.  This free encyclopedia allows for anyone to submit content.  Entries can be edited with the click of a few buttons.  There are over 36 million pages in 286 languages (according to the Wikipedia Info page).  Community volunteers vet through the postings to check for accuracy, bias, and quality of writing.

Although the practice of open editing raises questions of the information’s accuracy and fairness, Wikipedia can be a great place to flex your expert prowess and knowledge.

Say that you are an expert in hydraulic engineering. You just conducted research that lead to new developments in fluid mechanics.  You can go to the Wikipedia page for Hydraulic Engineering and add these new developments into the corresponding section.  Then you can add your research as the reference.  Any Wikipedia user researching new developments in fluid mechanics will be able to learn about your research.  You have now raised your own profile while helping to further the knowledge of those researching the field.

Speaking as a frequent user, Wikipedia is usually my first stop to find information.  When presented with a question, I type the topic into their search bar and then browse through the results, looking for links to more in-depth posts about the subject area.  Sometimes information is complete and other times there are gaps.  But more often than not Wikipedia is a solid first step for any research project.  I never quote Wikipedia directly; I often use the references found at the bottom of the page as source material. With a few submissions, you can find yourself with a whole new audience.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Create a user-page with as much professional information as possible. This will help the editors vet through your contributions more quickly and verify your expert status.

Add meaningful information to increase your credibility in the community.

Browse pages of other subject areas to get a feel for the general tone and layout used by other contributors.

Note that Wikipedia does block certain IP addresses that are used on “behalf of a company, group, website or organization for purposes of promotion and/or publicity.”  There is a section on Wikipedia about this type of conflict of interest. There is an exhaustive list of guidelines for that bar users from blatantly promoting a company, organization, or website.

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