How to write your own biography in Wikipedia. From the renowned author of “Deconstructing Quantum Sufi-Yoga”

Last night, the benevolent god mahi-mahi came to me in a vision and instructed me in a mix of Urdu-sounding Hindi, Hindi-sounding Urdu, Klingon, and C++ to form the Khudbakhud Uttarvedantic Wikipedia Society, a charitable organization exempt from US federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). As you know, articles in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia are among the top hits in internet search engines. The goal of our tax-exempt Society is to create our own biographies in Wikipedia and pass off to family members, jealous colleagues, prospective employers, and random, uninterested Facebook friends as evidence of our great standing in science and letters. In this guide, I will lead you in the art of creating your very own personalized Wikipedia autobiography.

One way to get on Wikipedia is to to actually do something worthy of recognition. You could write a bestseller or come up with a major scientific discovery and the world would most certainly notice. Someone would write a Wikipedia entry for you. But let’s be frank. I’m writing a blog and you’re sitting here reading it. Frankly, it ain’t gonna happen for either of us. Fortunately, Wikipedia is written by people like you and me, and so there are tons of mediocre people (just like you and me) who are writing their own over-hyped articles on Wikipedia as we speak. And even if you did have the talent to do something worthwhile in life, why would you take the trouble anyways? It is much easier to become notable through Wikipedia than to become notable and then get on Wikipedia.

Here are the steps to creating your own autobiography on Wikipedia:

Step 1. Start websites with legitimate-sounding domain names. In the mafia, you need a shop to act as a front. In the web popularity game, you need to get your name out on Google by posting comments with your name on as many websites and blogs as possible and starting a few fake websites of your own. If you’re a scientist, write about how great you are on your fake website New Sceintist, which sounds a lot like New Scientist. Steal html templates if you can. If it looks similar, it is just as good. Most people can’t read, so who will notice?

By getting your name out in cyberspace, you’re increasing your hits on Google, a primary index used to determine if you’ve done anything worthy of Wikipedia.

Step 2. Make a list of important-sounding fake publications. This is the most important step. If you’ve ever written anything in life, you need to put it on Wikipedia. For example the essay you wrote on the cow in primary school should be written up as A post-modern analysis of the sociological and economic importance of Bos indicus var. dudhwali in the South Asian subcontinent. Anything will do, but you will need to use words such as “deconstruction,” “post-modern”, “quantum”, “paradigm”, as well as a smattering of South Asian keywords (preferably with religious connotations). That way later if your article is tagged for deletion, you can always challenge the Wikipedia editors. If they dispute the South Asian part, tell them they are perpetrating colonialist stereotypes. If they attack the science, appeal to the art. No one on the planet understands both Derrida and Bose-Einstein statistics.

It is as easy as 1-2-3. Follow my example. By putting some very esoteric words in the title of this article, I am enhancing my own reputation as a pundit. Web aggregators will pick it up and soon enough I will be known as an expert in Deconstruction, quantum mechanics, Sufism, and yoga. Repeat after me: “I am as smart as I fake myself out to be”.

If you haven’t done anything creative in your life, then use the approach of making up something extremely important. For example, say that your magnum opus is A Long History of the World (Vol I-XX). Always use Roman numerals for volumes and throw in some French or Latin if possible. If challenged to produce your work, say that it was originally written in a now-extinct Andamanese dialect and that the editor is being a racist, Eurocentric pig. If you’re a woman, claim to be the poor victim of a male-dominated society. You can’t lose!

Step 3. Create an account on Wikipedia. You’ll need an account to look legit. Without one, editors will flag your IP address. Choose something distinguished such as Rabindranath_Tagore or S_Radhakrishnan and put an embellished resume up on your page. For example, if you know that Achtung is not the sound of a German sneezing, mention on your page that you have native-level comprehension of the German language.

Step 4. Find a list of editors you can win over. For the most part Wikipedia is edited not by professional experts, but by hobbyists who know all the levels in Tekken, but not which side of the bread is buttered. Win them over by commenting on their personal pages. They don’t have money, power, or social lives. I mean, why else would they write for no recognition or money?

Step 5. Make some very basic edits on other Wikipedia articles. If the first thing you do is to write your own article, people will get suspicious. Do some very basic copyediting on one of the thousands of incomprehensible articles on the site first.

Step 6. Steal the template for an existing high-quality Wikipedia article on someone you admire. Wiki-markup is easy, but stealing is easier. Take an article written about a famous person in your discipline and use it as a template. It will have all the category tags built it and it is as easy as “plug and play”.

Step 7. You are who you want to be, so write creatively. Journalists are very good at this, but everyone should be instinctively good at using weasel-words. Use “many”, “most”. and other non-specific words to blast across how awesome you are. As you write, think carefully. If you ever sent your flop book to someone, say it was “well received” (omitting the fact that the postal service is efficient). If your mother really liked your painting, say “many experts found it breathtaking in scope and originality.” If you know multiple languages, then use non-Roman script for your works. Again, you are working on the vanishingly small odds that there is someone who is both a polymath and a Wikipedia junkie.

A final word of advice  for those lucky few in positions of power. Get your employees or students to do the work for you. Say that you are just about to work on their annual performance review or grade their test papers. You’ll be surprised at how common people who don’t deserve to be on Wikipedia grovel just to keep us celebrities happy!

© Text, 2010-2012, Anirban

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76 thoughts on “How to write your own biography in Wikipedia. From the renowned author of “Deconstructing Quantum Sufi-Yoga”

  1. Holy Cow! (that’s what I don’t mean to say) That’s just so damn bad!! lol. The easy bad, actually. I’d create a Squidoo page for myself rather than creating a dumbo Wikipedia page with all the sucking fake things.

    But anyway, made me laugh all way to the end. By the way, Anirban, you said you work in writing industry. What do you do?

  2. LOVE these parts:

    *Repeat after me: “I am as smart as I fake myself out to be”.

    *If you ever sent your flop book to someone, say it was “well received” (omitting the fact that the postal service is efficient).

    Brilliant! :)

  3. It is positively alarming how detailed you have got with your instructions.

    You don’t happen to have a wikipedia page in the works as we speak, do you?

  4. Hey just wanted to say that Dont thank me yaar, coz i read it because i love your blog and the way you add that humor thing in a subtle way..Its my pleasure all the way Sir :)

  5. Excellent and funny Anirban! No I do not have a Wikipedia article yet. And I should not need to “fake” anything: I am a well-known musician and musicologist, and in a particular field my books (1st one 1978, last one this year) have sold and keep selling very well and have scarcely any competing works. They have also got very favourable published reviews in specialised magazines.

    Yet those books are conspicuously absent from the 20-odd Wikipedia entries related to my field, some of which I find really amateurish. Most attempts to have myself or my books mentioned in those articles have failed: there is a Wikipedia editor that deletes my additions saying they are “self promotion”, while inferior and obsolete works are instead repeatedly quoted. Eventually, I published this as a scandal in an online forum, where a senior Wikipedia writer read my post and promised to intervine, asking me that I wrote a few corrections to those articles and suggested including my books under “Discussion”. I did. Nothing happened. The editor did not answer any of my subsequent emails. I gave up. Here and there in the field of musicology I find excellent articles … and also abysmal ones, some of them well-known among musicians for their ridiculous statements. A pity.

    Kind regards

    Claudio

    • Thanks, Claudio.

      I am sure you are a well-known musician and musicologist as you mention. I was actively involved in Wikipedia from 2004-2006 and contributed a number of original articles during my time. The English Wikipedia is very US-centric. One of the reasons I left was that the nature of the discussions on topics that had little coverage on the internet was very negative. I found myself constantly having to explain the importance of issues that many administrators did not find important to them.

      On the other hand, there are thousands of articles that are nothing more than advertising.

      Best wishes to you.
      Anirban

  6. Excellent sense of humor. But in all seriousness, I’m still making the occasional cash on Wikipedia articles I write for clients who want to mold Wikipedia to their liking. Jimmy Wales hates me for this. I offered to do it all above-board, in the open, but he couldn’t live with even that, so down underground I went.

    • Good for you. For an encyclopedia which claims to be objective, it should hardly matter who writes the darn article. The focus should be on the content meeting their much-vaunted criteria.

  7. Wait, you created the Joint Forest Management article? I vaguely remember using that in an Environmental Studies Project in school few years ago, This is, of course, before I knew the unreliability of Wiki posts :p

    Hilarious post by the way, love it! :D

  8. I used to contribute to Wikipedia as well! But somehow never got to observe things like you mention in the post or in the comments, perhaps cuz the kind of articles I used to get involved with very different. I gave up on contributing/editing cuz it was becoming a self-destructive obsession with no fixed end-point so to speak of. I’m happy I could come out of that addiction. I’d started contributing out of sense of obligation that I could not make use of all that infomation & knowledge without giving something in return. And in the same spirit, I am and will remain grateful to all those who make information available to others with no incentives, the way we think incentives to be.

    Nice to know you’ve been a Wikipedian as well! :)

  9. Hi,anirban…awsome,brilliant…cant stop laughing till da end… I appriciate ur understanding abt wikipedia which claims to be da online encyclopedia…bt ur sacasm in a funny tone…made da ugly truth so funny…cant wait to read all ur other articles…:)

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  11. I satisfied for the way of writing personal biography of an individual on wikipedia. But it is very hard way of getting chance to write it. Eventhough i dont know the reason that made it to be long procedure to achieve.

  12. Akash Sonker is the play back singer of Indian Music,Soul and Blues
    Also he is an Engineer Architect
    In start he started his career in dancing and get cirtificate cource in dancing
    Akash Sonker have well knowlage of drawing and structural analysis
    Mimicry,Script,lyrics design and fine art his old activity So his friend called him MTB means MULTY TALENTED BOY
    Now worked at Bachlor of Architecture And B-Tech

  13. Am j.tunes am an artist.but I wanna creat my own I.d on google so people can know me very well N my picture will be shown everywh
    ere

  14. shiri guru Arjun Dev g de parkash purab dia aap sab nu lakh lakh vdaia hon g
    waheguru g ka khalsa,
    waheguru g ki fathe……………..

  15. my name is joshua patrick boss, i have good talent to the extent that i have invented many things….i was born in lagos @ isheri olowora…….i studied at the university of ambrose ali at ekpoma located at edo state……i love girls and.i did my secondary school at babs fafunwa millenium senior secondary school…..and my primary school at hon bethel…..i have many friends named:teeworld,Godstime,snieekey,adelogba,dele,johnson……e.t.c

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  17. Learned a great deal from this article and hope I am able to get myself added to Wikipedia without lying, stealing or begging someone else to do it for me at my suggestion. The good news is my accomplishments are plenty so it’s likely to occur.

  18. There are simpler methods,like adding wikipedia to your name,for example ‘vivek narain wikipedia’.Using this name every where in web, say twitter or imgur or whatsapp or in comments on wordpress blogs.

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