Why Do People Not Monitor Their Wikipedia Pages?

In my own experience working at WikiPatrol, a software company that offers services to monitor Wikipedia pages, I have noticed that very few people monitor Wikipedia with the attention it deserves. Whether it’s individuals who have pages or PR firms,  the lack of resources dedicated to monitoring Wikipedia pages is astounding. I am amazed  that everyone knows about Wikipedia’s pervasiveness, yet finding anyone who properly manages it is nearly impossible. You can search “Wikipedia” in the news tab of any major search engine and find articles demonstrating Wikipedia's vandalism and false information. With 32.5 millions users and hundreds of millions of views per day, you would think people would obsess over their Wikipedia pages to ensure that only correct information stays up on pages, but clearly that isn’t the case. Why is this so?

The Bureaucracy

Wikipedia has established an unbearably condescending bureaucracy for newcomers, and although Wikipedia has an entire article dedicated to welcoming new users (type Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers in the Wikipedia search bar), the general tone towards people who edit inaccurately, mostly due to inexperience on the website, is that of condescension and negativity. In addition, experienced users enjoy flashing their Wikipedia jargon in situations where it is extremely ineffective for communication, which leaves new users unable to understand and subsequently correct their mistakes. Although Wikipedia touts a democratic form of article creation and maintenance, there is an informal hierarchy of editing power that should be honestly addressed so that new users can understand the path to having impact. The culmination of all these ‘structural’ issues on Wikipedia makes editing seem out of reach for many people who are harmed by the constant vandalism and false information behind many edits.

Seen as a Lost Cause

Wikipedia encourages anyone with an internet connection to create and edit Wikipedia pages, with or without a username. That is a daunting proposition for someone who is trying to manage vandalism on their page- having hundreds of users all trying to edit in information they judge as important. Many people have just given up or tried to ignore Wikipedia, hoping it would decline in popularity and solve the problem itself. Unfortunately, Wikipedia has not solved the problem itself and vandalism only seems to get worse as the site gains in popularity and trust. This increasing trust in Wikipedia became clear when digital assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri started to source information from Wikipedia in order to answer questions their users ask. The helplessness that many brands and individuals feel while attempting to correct bad information on Wikipedia is usually concluded with a fallacy that nothing can be done.

Monitor? But how?

Wikipedia offers the ability to watch a page that enables alerts while being logged into Wikipedia- Wikipedia users receive these alerts when there is activity on a page they follow. But how often does someone log onto Wikipedia and continually check for notifications? Especially when minutes of false information staying on a page can have a negative and long lasting impact on your brand. Historically, the best-case scenario was to log onto Wikipedia if you remembered and hope to catch vandalism early enough to minimize the damage, often hours or days later.  And when hundreds of millions of people view Wikipedia pages per day, it becomes obvious how important instant action is in protecting a brand or personal image.

These issues are what drives the WikiPatrol team. We offer instant edit notifications of  each page you want to watch, in all languages. You can add features to sort through the edits for sentiment, doing much of the  work for you. With a platform that encourages anyone to edit pages, the best way to combat vandalism and false information is to be extremely vigilant and responsive to every edit.

Have you been monitoring your page?


Thea Fries