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Friday, 04 April 2008

Cyberclinic: Blowing your own trumpet

Rhodri_on_wiki By Rhodri Marsden

I received a slightly sheepish email earlier in the week from someone – who should probably remain anonymous – that said: "What are the 'rules' behind creating creating a Wikipedia entry for yourself? I was thinking about creating one, but I have a feeling you're not supposed to."

It should be said at this point that the person concerned probably does warrant their own Wikipedia entry but, for some reason, no appreciator of their work has seen fit to create one. Which is a shame, but what can they do? Risk ridicule by quietly suggesting to someone that they write one for you? Actually, maybe that was the whole point of the email...

Anyway, Wikipedia's rules are pretty clear on the subject:

Things to avoid:

Articles about yourself, your friends, your website, a band you're in, your teacher, a word you made up, or a story you wrote. If you are worthy of inclusion in the encyclopedia, let someone else add an article for you. The article might remain if you have enough humility to make it neutral and you really are notable, but even then it's best to submit a draft for approval and consensus of the community...

Of course, you tend to be able to tell immediately if someone has written their own Wikipedia entry. It sticks out a mile, generally because, a) you've never heard of them, and, b) it advises you in no uncertain terms that they're amazing. It's common for bands to stick up their own entries that read like press releases, over-using words like "legendary" and comprehensively listing every demo they've ever recorded. And I have to admit that, when I come across them, I tend to scythe them down. I'm such a killjoy. But that kind of thing is really meant for your own site where you can let your vanity run wild – not in an encyclopedia.

But perhaps this is where Biographicon comes in. There are no such notability guidelines on this site; anyone can put up details about themselves without fear of being nominated for deletion – although, as it uses the same wiki-concept as Wikipedia, there's always the chance that someone will log in and alter your entry to include the time you cried on a school trip because someone stole your sandwiches. Trivia is encouraged, and they're hoping that the site will become an enormous latticework of biographical information – although you can't help feeling that their boast of "all the people of the world" on their front page is something of an impossible dream.

Of course, the fact that absolutely anyone can be on Biographicon means that getting on Wikipedia will always represent a more burning ambition. I'm in the unusual position of having an entry on Wikipedia – and I'm very grateful to the kind soul who created it, whoever you are – but not on Biographicon. I suppose I'd best get to work, eh.



I wouldnt' worry too much about not being on Wikipedia - the whole thing is somewhat of a con and not in any way to be trusted. If you think college students should be writing encyclopaedias, then fact checking them, then maybe time to think again.

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