When The Clan Watson Society decided to create a Wikipedia article on Clan Watson, we’d assumed it would be a straightforward case of agreeing on the content and then publishing it. We were spectacularly wrong, to the point that we almost gave up on the idea, but through dogged determination and – it has to be said – a lucky encounter, we finally got the article online.
Why Create a Wikipedia Article?
Firstly, you get to control the narrative. You are almost certainly best-placed to write a fact-based article, as the clan and family associations tend to put a lot of effort into establishing what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to their name.
Secondly, you get free search-engine optimisation! As soon as your Wikipedia article is approved and published, it will appear right at the top of Google’s search results; it is the first result for pretty much every Scottish name out there, and in those rare cases where it isn’t, it is second!
A proposed article must be deemed to be of interest and to be capable of helping other people to gain useful knowledge.
The article should not replicate, or overlap considerably with existing articles.
The article must be verifiable.
The article must be written from a neutral point of view and should avoid opinion, supposition or any facts that are not supported by published data.
There must be no conflict of interest between the proposed article and the person writing it.
You cannot use an article for the purposes of promoting your association or society
Work out what you want to say, which facts and timelines you wish to present, how you wish to structure the article, which visuals you want to include, which other articles you want to link to and, importantly, which sources will be used to support it.
Before you can make any changes to Wikipedia or create new articles, you will need to create a user account. Although the Clan Watson article was created by one of our members using his private email address, when I created an account to edit the draft, I used an email address with a “clanwatson.org” domain name. In hindsight, this should have been avoided.
What To Include
A brief summary (one or two short paragraphs).
The origins and history of the name, clan or primary family.
Other notable families or individuals of the name.
Locations of interest associated with the name or prominent families.
Any heraldry associated with the name, including the clan crest and motto (if available).
Things to Avoid
Articles about yourself – so keep the names of people associated with your association out of the article!
Advertising and promotion.
Attacks on people or organisations.
Okay, I’ve Finished My Article – What’s Next?
Once the article is finalised, you need to submit the article for review – and then it’s waiting game, I’m afraid! It can take many, many weeks for a Wikipedia editor to get to your article, but hopefully if you’ve followed the tips here and on Wikipedia’s site, your article will get published. If that’s the case for you, well done! You can stop reading now!
After waiting what felt like an eternity, our article was rejected and set back to Draft status, with the stated reason being “unverifiable sources”. We overhauled the links all the same and it was rejected several times over the course of a few months. Alexander Brodie of Brodie, Chief of Clan Brodie, is an amateur heraldist and Wikipedia editor and the Watson heraldry in our draft article that attracted him. Alexander cleaned up the whole article and eventually our article was published.
If you are a Delegate or Alternate of a COSCA Organizational Member, you can learn more about successfully publishing a Wikipedia page here: https://www.cosca.scot/wikipedia-page