A large technology company had a Wikipedia page that focused almost exclusively on their controversies. These controversies were genuinely a significant part of the company’s history and reputation. However, it wasn’t right for the controversies to be the main emphasis of the page. They contacted Ethical Wiki about creating a more complete, comprehensive, up-to-date, and balanced Wikipedia page.
Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View policy covers the concept of “due weight.” The idea of due weight is that the emphasis an article places on different perspective or topics should be representative of their weight in the total body of literature on the topic. For example, it is possible for a company to be primarily known for a series of controversies. Their Wikipedia page may focus primarily on these controversies and Wikipedia would consider this neutral, even if the page is very negative.
When a page is about a living human being, Wikipedia’s Biographies of Living Persons rule applies. Generally, this is interpreted as requiring that Wikipedians trim controversial or negative content if it is excessive compared to the rest of the article. The trimmed content is usually preserved so that it can be reincorporated once the rest of the page is further expanded.
No similar rules exist for corporations. When a Wikipedia page is not about a human being, editors are allowed to focus exclusively on controversial issues that interest them, while leaving the rest of the article un-developed. The reasoning behind this is Wikipedia’s philosophy towards incremental improvement. The idea is to leave it there for now and let someone else improve the page in the future.
Wikipedia’s editors contribute on a volunteer basis. Unlike professional writers, they are motivated to write by their enthusiasm for the topic, not by a paycheck. Even most businesspeople do not have enough enthusiasm to write about business topics in their free time.
There are few editors with an enthusiastic interest in corporate histories, but many with an interest in controversies, especially those that infuriate them. The result is that there are many company pages where the controversies are almost all that’s been written about on Wikipedia, because it’s the only thing volunteers have shown an interest in.
The controversies genuinely belonged in the article. Our goal wasn’t to make significant changes to the controversies, but to develop “the rest of the article.” We’re here to fill a gap left by Wikipedia’s volunteer model. To develop content nobody else is willing to do on a volunteer basis.
I prepared a draft article as a proposed replacement that was more balanced and comprehensive. The draft included legal disputes that are a part of the company’s history. However, those disputes were just a part of the chronological narrative of their corporate history, not the main emphasis of the page.
I shared the draft with Wikipedia’s editors, while clearly disclosing my connection to the company. They agreed the prior version of the article was highly imbalanced and unfair. They adopted our version of the article after I made some changes the editor requested. Later on, the page was ranked as being among the top 1% best articles on Wikipedia.
A month after being ranked, a new editor arrived on the Talk page. This particular editor had strong negative attitudes towards corporations contributing to Wikipedia. The editor accused us of using Wikipedia for advertising, said we should be indefinitely banned from Wikipedia, and made other derogatory remarks. Because the content was neutral and we were transparent, the editors we previously engaged came to our defense. The hostile editor did not make any changes to the page.