Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy is there to obviously protect against the very real threat of people ‘white-washing’ pages or generally abusing one of the core pillars of Wikipedia; its neutral point of view. It is not however there to get in the way of people genuinely trying to improve Wikipedia’s content.

That being said, I am aware of institutions banned from editing Wikipedia until 2020 because staff were involved in editing the institution’s Wikipedia page.

So if you find you have looked at the Wikipedia page for yourself or the institution you work for and believe it could be improved then what should you do? The question would be who is best placed to do this given Wikipedia’s stance on conflict of interest in order to a) preserve Wikipedia’s intergrity as an objective tertiary source and b) avoid the editor being blocked on account of Conflict of Interest editing.

Ideally, the best person would be a third party; someone clearly independent of the institution/individual being written about so that objectivity can be better demonstrated.

This is not always possible however so in the National Library of Wales example they asked a volunteer to sit for an afternoon with the necessary material to update the NLW Wikipedia page. Thus, there was some degree of distance between the writer and the written about.

The main area of contention is paid editing – where someone has a financial interest in the page being written about but writing about a friend, family member or close work colleague is obviously not advisable either. Asking a volunteer to do the editing gets round this. (Although this can lead into a philosophical debate as to whether anyone can be truly objective… or altruistic for that matter).

Sometimes it is also not possible to find an objective 3rd party volunteer to help in which case it is permissible, though not strictly advisable, to edit the page yourself if, and only if, you fully disclose on your userpage the conflict of interest (e.g. Displaying that you are related to person X or work for company Y).

Full disclosure and transparency of purpose are the key.


Wikipedia:Plain and simple conflict of interest guide

I note with interest the following line from the Plain and Simple guide to COI page.

Practices not regarded as COI

Employees at cultural and academic institutions:

We want experts editing Wikipedia articles. Merely being employed by an institution is not a conflict of interest.”


The main thing is disclosure of your link to the institution hence why an edit to an existing page is probably best suggested on the article’s Talk page disclosing your own connection to the subject being written about and having a disclaimer on your user page.

In terms of the format of how to write this disclosure on your userpage there are a great number of examples linked to from Point 3 in the Advice section of the Plain & Simple Guide to COI.

Although you could just have something as simple as: I work at the University of ____________ and am chair of the __________________.


If you want to completely avoid any perception of COI then you can also request that someone else edit the page from the Wikipedia community using the {{request edit}} template in the Source code of the article’s Talk page although you’d have to wait to see if anyone picked up on the request.


While the advice is that you are strongly discouraged to edit affected articles and a more objective third party is much more agreeable to the community, as long as you disclose your connection and observe Wikipedia’s rules stringently to avoid any possible suggestion of bias so that even a competitor would be happy with the objectivity of the edits then there should not be an issue. Suggesting the edits on the Talk page in the first instance or in a relevant WikiProject may also go some way to assuage any community concerns.

So the advice when you perceive a conflict of interest is:

“You are strongly discouraged from editing affected articles.

You may propose changes by using the {{request edit}} template on talk pages.

The short version:

  1. Learn Wikipedia’s rules.
  2. Be up-front about your associations with the subject.
  3. Avoid creating new articles about yourself or your organization.
  4. Avoid making controversial edits to articles related to your associations.
  5. Don’t push people to change their minds about issues relating to your associations.
  6. Ask for help appropriately.