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Session: SMX Wikipedia Yahoo Answers

Posted on Oct 17th, 2007
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    Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers and Answer Sharing panel

    Raise your hand if you like your opinions to be heard. Good! That’s what I though. SMX Social Media’s session on answer sharing with Wikipedia (#1 reference site) and Yahoo Answers (#2 reference site) gave insight that appealed to those of us with big mouths and a hankering for research.

    Matt McGee, SEO Manager of Marchex, spoke first on Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers is a place for users to ask and answer questions. Ask and answer as many as you like, but don’t answer with garbage. Make sure you do your research to provide the best answer to the users. There is even a small search box within the answer submission page where you can do a little online research and provide links in your answer to make it better and more believable. It will help your reputation as a Yahoo Answers contributor.

    Yahoo Answers has a points system in place to keep people involved as much as possible. When you sign up for a Yahoo Answers account, you are given 100 points. You gain 3 points for every answer given, and you lose 5 points for every question asked. This difference in points ensures users will be focused on answering questions and participating in discussions to increase their points to move up in the Yahoo Answers levels.

    There are many, many categories of questions in Yahoo Answers, so skim through the categories you know the most about and help others with their inquiries. Or, if you don’t want to spend time on the Yahoo Answers pages, every category and sub-category have RSS feeds, so subscribe to a category you know about, and answer through your reader. Yahoo Answers makes it very easy for users to participate.

    Yahoo Answers is also like most social networking sites discussed at SMX Social Media in that you can create a profile and make friends. It is also clearly stated in the Yahoo Answers guidelines that marketers are welcome to provide their expertise. It is also stated that it is okay to accompany your company’s URL in a good, compelling and knowledgeable answer. However, Yahoo Answers is mostly a traffic driver rather than a link driver, as the Yahoo Answers links have a nofollow tag on them. But traffic and brand recognition are both important in themselves, and Yahoo Answers can definitely help with that.

    Jonathan Hochman, who recently became an administrator on Wikipedia, spoke next about Wikipedia. (And, just so you’re all aware, Wikipedia ranks #1 on Google for the terms “social media”.)

    To use Wikipedia, it’s important to become a contributor of worthy content. Answer questions, interact with editors and report spam if you see it. You will not be welcome in the Wikipedia community if you are advertising or going out and forcing your company or clients or products on them. Also, don’t write only about yourself in an amazingly selfish manner. Answer sharing in Wikipedia and in all social media is about karma. Do unto others…

    Stephan Spencer of NetConcepts spoke next about Wikipedia from an SEO standpoint. When you are editing Wikipedia, you want to make sure your edits aren’t reverted. Some ways to better solidify your edits to content are to add a profile that conveys who you are and that you are an upstanding member in your community, incorporate good content with links you place in a Wikipedia, edit and communicate with the main editor before adding in an external link so the editor of that entry doesn’t think it is suspicious. Also, if you add links into the references section, you are adding value to the article rather than in the external links section, where anyone can place their links. If your link is in the reference section, you have credibility in sharing more information related to the content of the entry.

    When you add new articles to Wikipedia, you need to first establish credibility, or the administrators will first and foremost believe your entry to be spam. Make sure there is no connection between your profile and user account, and the entry you are creating, or you will be deleted for self-promotion. And use reference links from reputable and mainstream media sources for your entry to be seen as credible. And after you add this new content, protect it by making friends, monitoring the pages you have an interest in and update your profile frequently.

    Up next was Don Steele of Comedy Central to discuss how to use Wikipedia the right way. He gave an interesting example on Wikipedia on the entry entitled “More Crap” and how they used it to promote the show South Park and Comedy Central, while also referencing P.F. Chang’s and Bono. The content was accurate and beneficial, and is still on the Wikipedia site in case anyone needs to know how why and when there was a world record set regarding, well, nevermind.

    Comedy Central has also added links to their site on the Wikipedia individuals’ biography pages. When Snoop Dogg roasted Flavor Flav recently, a link to the Comedy Central website went up on Snoop’s Wikipedia page and drove a significant amount of traffic to the site.

    Lisa Broer, yet another Wikipedia administrator, finished up the presentations on answer sharing and how to make sure what we use doesn’t ruin our brand reputation or even our career. She monitors cases and requests for withdrawal, and makes sure we are all doing it right.

    What we need to make sure we do is basically make sure we aren’t being too promotional or “sales-y”. The Wikipedia administrators spend a lot of time and effort in making the site a quality reference source, and if you violate their rules, they will ban you or put you on the Wikipedia spam blacklist. And a lot of outside sites take that blacklist and use it for their own site to make sure those who are blacklisted aren’t spamming their sites. So be careful when making edits on Wikipedia, and Lisa says to “have class about it.”

    While Wikipedia is a longer, more referential and more collaborative website where anyone can contribute to the entries on the site, Yahoo Answers is a place to get your answer out no matter what. And other users of Yahoo Answers, not just administrators, vote on your answer and choose best answers from those submitted. Both can be very informative and, when used correctly, can drive a significant amount of traffic to your website

    So, like in all other aspects of social media, the point of answer sharing it to be kind to others in the community and offer them something they will benefit from. It all goes back to karma.