Who decides who and what qualifies for a Wikipedia entry?
Like all things Wikipedia, it’s a collaborative effort, but the governing principle is something Wikipedia calls “notability.” If a person or thing doesn’t meet the criteria for “notability,” they don’t get a Wikipedia entry.
Sounds unfair, right? Many agree. But it is what it is. If you don’t qualify for a Wikipedia entry because you’re not notable enough, the easiest move (at least in the short term) is to look for alternatives.
And there’s no shortage of those. Here’s what to work on now instead of trying to get your own Wikipedia page.
1. Target Wikipedia Alternatives Like Wikialpha
Clones? Not quite. But “open” Wikipedia alternatives like Wikialpha feel undeniably familiar. They’re great places to replicate the Wikipedia experience without the strict entry requirements.
The Wikialpha entry for Michael Capiraso, a senior advisor to JoggingBuddy and former CEO of New York Road Runners (the organization that puts on the NYC Marathon every year), is a good example for would-be Wikipedians who aren’t quite notable enough to get a page of their own. It contains everything a Wikipedia entry should, except the name itself.
2. Create a Medium Page and Start Writing
Medium is a high-visibility blogging site that’s easy to scale into a legitimate-looking publication. Which means it’s perfect for posting thought leadership content read by more than the six or seven relatives who regularly visit your personal blog. Make it as bloggy or professional as you’d like; keep at it and you’ll get noticed either way.
3. Build a Really Special LinkedIn Presence (Yes, Really)
LinkedIn is not like other social media sites, and not only because it’s built for professionals. It has more robust publishing tools than Facebook or Twitter, and it’s made to cultivate deeper, more rewarding relationships too. See LinkedIn’s own guide to best practices for hints on how to make your LinkedIn presence truly special.
4. Claim YourName.com (If It’s Not Already Taken) or the Closest Alternative You Can Find
If you have a common name, it’s probably too late for this. Try variations instead, like adding your middle name or middle initial, or tacking on your profession to the end if it’s not too much of a mouthful.
If your name is less common, yourname.com could still be available. Claim it and build a basic website around it to showcase who you are and what you do. Don’t forget to grab “defensive domains” like yourname.co and yourname.net too; otherwise, sketchy domain squatters could.
5. Establish a “Professional” Social Media Presence
Finally, a robust social media presence is rocket fuel for your online visibility — and notability — especially if you’ve done most of the above already. Target popular, general-purpose platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, all of which have enough SEO juice to appear on the first page of your Google SERPs.
For ideas on how to put together a first-rate professional social media presence, check out NPR host Kai Ryssdal’s Twitter account, with its mix of “hmm, interesting” retweets, earnest replies, and authoritative self-promotional content.
Wikipedia Isn’t Everything
Wikipedia might as well call its notability standard the “kind of a big deal” standard. As in, if you have your own Wikipedia listing, you’re kind of a big deal.
But there are millions of Wikipedia pages, so having your name on just one of them isn’t that special. Anyway, being Wikipedia-famous isn’t the only way to boost your public profile. From targeting less strict alternatives like Wikialpha to using LinkedIn or Medium to broadcast your brand, there’s a lot you can do right now that doesn’t involve persnickety Wikipedia gatekeepers.
Here’s to being notable on your own terms.