Wikipedia’s Disclosure Rule: The Impact on Marketers

by Tiffany Current on December 9, 2014

In June 2014, Wikipedia made a big change that affects the crowdsourcing community by adding a new amendment to its terms of service. It requires anyone who receives compensation for editing Wikipedia articles to divulge this information. Gone are the days for business stakeholders and marketers making anonymous edits for the companies they represent. Instead, Wikipedians are required to “disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation.” To read the complete regulations, visit Wikipedia’s FAQs page.

This new regulation opens the door to a lot of questions.

Why did this happen?

Wikipedia prides itself on being a reliable online encyclopedia written by the people for the people. In order to maintain the neutrality and trust of the website, this new amendment was enacted as a way to prevent conflicts of interest. By asking editors to disclose paid contributions, it keeps a level of transparency when it comes to potentially biased edits.

Does this change impact everyone?

No, it doesn’t. Unpaid volunteers and people contributing for fun can continue editing Wikipedia as usual. If a client, organization, or another entity is compensating you (through “money, goods, or services”) to make an edit on their behalf, you must disclose this information. Disclosure requirements are a little more lax when it comes to GLAM (gallery, library, archive, museum) employees. For example, if you are a librarian asked by your employer to write about your general area of expertise on Wikipedia (and not about your employer), you can do so without disclosing your association. For more information, read Wikipedia’s FAQs on GLAM employees.

How do I disclose my contributions?

If you are being compensated for your Wikipedia contribution, you simply need to state whom you are affiliated with and the nature of your relationship. For instance, if your company asks you to edit their Wikipedia page, you could state, “I am editing this page on behalf of X.” This disclosure needs to be made in one of three places:

  • Your Wikipedia user page.
  • In the “edit summary box,” before saving an edit of a Wikipedia article.
  • On the appropriate talk page, before or after making a contribution.

What happens if I don’t disclose this information?

You risk having your Wikipedia article flagged and/or getting banned from making any edits to Wikipedia.

To find out the latest Wikipedia news, visit their blog.

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Site Redesign SEO: Redirect Best Practices

by Gradiva Couzin on September 17, 2014

Redirects are crucial in any redesign in which URLs change or old pages are retired. These redirects ensure a seamless user experience, and also help search engines to update their indexes from old URLs to new URLs and transfer SEO power from old to new pages.

We’ve worked with many site redesigns; many that were seamless and some that suffered unfortunate bumps along the way.  The best practices described here are intended to head off some of the most common errors and glitches we’ve seen in redesigning sites. Here are the SEO Redirect Best Practices we share with our clients:

  • Each old URL should be 301 redirected to the most appropriate matching new URL.
  • If possible, old URLs that are being eliminated should be 301 redirected to an appropriate new URL.
  • If an appropriate new URL does not exist for a page that is being retired, it is okay to allow the page to become a 404 File Not Found error
  • Ensure that any broken URLs receive a 404 status code with a nicely-designed 404 error page that helps direct users to new pages
  • All internal links to old URLs should be eliminated on the site and replaced with links to the associated new URLs.

For the sake of clarity, we recommend 301 (permanent) server-side redirects. The following are not recommended for most redesign situations:

  • 302 redirects – these are only used for rare situations when a temporary redirect is needed
  • a sequence of more than one redirection per page.
  • meta refresh
  • retiring a large number of URLs without redirecting them
  • mass redirecting old URLs to the home page.  If a good replacement page doesn’t exist, you can let the old page become a 404 error.

Pay particular attention varying forms of URLs, to make sure that every form of the originating URLs will redirect.  Be sure that all of the following get redirected:

  • URLs with and without the WWW
  • URLs with and without a trailing slash (folder/ and folder)
  • URLs with and without a trailing /index.html
  • URLs in all variations of lowercase and uppercase

Follow these best practices and you’ll be helping your users enjoy a smooth transition, and giving your site the best chance of consistent ranks in Google and Bing.

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We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

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