Promotion or Contribution?

On: October 3, 2010
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About Joris Pekel
I’m a MA. New Media student at the University of Amsterdam. In november 2009 I graduated as a bachelor theater, film and televisionstudies at the University of Utrecht. After that I started an internship at Kennisland where I worked on a project called Images for the Future. My main interests go to: Social media and how they can or can’t be useful, online copyright, Creative Commons and privacy issues. Other than that I’m an improv-theater actor and music lover (check out my famous Dutch eclectic-farmerband “Skitterend Mooi!”)


Wikipedia is the biggest online encyclopedia in the world. In the English version one can find almost 3,5 million pages. With more than 640.000 pages, the Dutch version comes in the fifth place, next to Italy and Poland. So to find a subject where I could write something about, and one that did not already have a page, was quite hard. I decided at that point to write something about the one thing I absolutely know most about in the world: my own band.
My entry could not just be a copy from our bio that I wrote about a year ago, that was for promotion. Wikipedia demands a neutral article without any opinions and judgements.
With that in the back of my head I started writing, constantly wondering, is this not too much my own opinion? With that thought it is pretty hard to write about something that is your own.

After a while I decided it was time to add my first entry to Wikipedia. I published the text I wrote and started to look for a way that I could add a photo. For visual content, Wikipedia has a very strict copyright policy. Therefore I took a picture that a friend of mine once made during a concert. If I selected the option that it was not me who took the picture, the picture was probably not accepted instantly, so I decided to tell Wikipedia that it is my own work. I guess that the original author of picture does not have a problem with that. After that I started to create a form where all the standard band information (name, members, genre, etc.) can be found. All famous bands have one on their Wiki page, so we had to have one too.

Then it happened, 5 minutes after I finished my page, all the sudden there was an announcement on top of the page saying: “This page is on the list for deletion”. The reason was that they doubted the neutral point in my entry. It was noted as an advertisement or propaganda. I immediately responded and edited my post to an even more neutral article and waited if this was accepted.

In the discussion part about articles that are nominated for deletion, I found two comment concerning my article. The first one was that this article is self-promotion. This is because they could see that it was written by the singer of the band so maybe I should not have taken my real name as a user name. The other reason was the fact that at the end of my article I wrote: “at the end of 2010 their first album will be released”. The user ‘Fred’ made a comment that we first should release this album before a Wiki page is justified. After that I edited the page once more and now, a week later, I’m still waiting what is going to happen to my entry. If you type our name in Google you can find the entry in Wikipedia, so it is still not deleted. Is this because they are not sure about it or just because nobody of the moderators has found the time to actually delete the page?

This got me thinking, how do the moderators decide that your subject is not important enough to be on Wikipedia? Probably none of them have ever heard about us, but how do they find out that almost nobody in the Netherlands has ever heard of us? What are the criteria? And for that, what happens when somebody writes a really interesting article about a subject that none of the moderators have ever heard about? Who is going to decide if the article is approved or not? Especially today, where all the general subjects have their own page and it is hard to find one that does not have one. How do they decide that it is an advertisement instead of a contribution?

For now I think my entry will be deleted. Just for the fact that we have had so little succes up till now. Maybe after a while, and after the release of the album, I will try again, with a different user name…

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