Working with Wikipedia and other Foundation Projects

The first section looked at how and when you might, or should not, edit a Wikipedia article where you have a conflict of interest. This might be a page about the MP you work for, an issue they’ve campaigned on, or their constituency.

Other subjects

By definition, every MP, (and every AM, MEP, MLA, or MSP) meets the criteria for having a Wikipedia biography. After every election there’s a flurry of activity to write the new articles that are needed (and to update the rest, of course). But other people, such as their staff, projects worked on by them, or candidates for election, may not meet the requirement, which is that there must be “significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the topic”. Once again, if in doubt: ask on a talk page.


To avoid confusion between people with the same or similar names, like Jane Jones the MP, Jane Jones the artist and Jane Jones the chemist, Wikipedia uses a number of identifiers, such as VIAF and ISNI (which are both used for cataloguing in libraries). If you know that an MP is referred to by an identifier, then you can include that at the foot of the article about them, too. If the MP has written articles, papers or books, or a PhD thesis, they can register for an ORCID identifier, and that can be included, too.

Other languages

It is convenient shorthand to talk about “Wikipedia”, in the singular, when we really mean the English-language Wikipedia. But that’s just one of 290 Wikipedias, in different languages, ranging from Dutch to Japanese, Russian to Urdu.

Of particular relevance may be the Welsh (Cymraeg) Wikipedia, reputedly the largest online resource in that language (at the time of writing it has around 66,000 articles, compared to the English Wikipedia’s 4.96 million), as well as those in Irish (Gaeilge; 36K), Scots (33K) , Scottish Gaelic (G‡idhlig; 13K) and Cornish (Kernewek; 3.6K). There’s also a “Simple English” Wikipedia (115K), for learners of English, children, and people with learning disabilities. If an MP is well known internationally, perhaps because of an office held, or work overseas, there may be an article in other languages, too. And the languages of their constituents may also be relevant — the constituency might have a large Bengali- or Polish- speaking community, for instance.

While each Wikipedia has its own community standards, the issues discussed in part 1 apply generally — especially the “bright line” rule on declaring paid editing.

You might want to ask someone who is bilingual to translate the English-language article about the MP you work for into another relevant language, if none already exists (or if the other article is very small or our-of-date); or even to do so yourself. This is encouraged, but attribution must be given for any content that is reused, even in a new language. Wikipedia has a special guide on how to do this, “Translate us“.

Reusing Wikipedia content

All Wikipedia text is under an “open licence”, meaning that its authors (including you if you make an edit) have agreed that it may be used by anyone for any purpose, even commercially, so long as attribution is given. That means that you can take a phrase, paragraph or whole page from Wikipedia and include it in something you’re writing — so long as you say where you got it.

The same applies to many of the images, too — but always check, by clicking on the image, to see its description page, as there are some exceptions. For images, as opposed to text, the original creator, not Wikipedia, should usually be credited.

Contributing images

Perhaps there is no image of a particular MP on Wikipedia, or only a poor or out-of-date picture, You — or they — can contribute one, with two conditions. Firstly, the person providing the picture must own the copyright. If you’ve employed a photographer, they may retain those rights, so check the terms in the contract, or get them to agree in writing. Next, you (or the copyright holder) must agree to an open licence, as described above. A statement saying “OK to use on Wikipedia” is not sufficient. Images for use in articles are uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, another WMF project, so that they can be used by any of the Wikipedias or other WMF projects. If you upload a picture taken by someone else, you may be asked to provide, by email, evidence that the copyright holder has granted such a licence.

Voice recordings

Wikipedia invites everyone who is the subject of one of its biographical articles to submit a short audio recording of their spoken voice, so that people can hear what they sound like and — crucially — hear the definitive pronunciation of their name. The suggested script is:

Hello. My name is [name]. I was born in [place], and I have been the Member of Parliament for [constituency] since [year]

but that can be varied. Again an open licence must be applied. For more information, see this blog post.

See also:

Editing pages about your MP, or other areas you’re involved with.

Andy Mabbett

Andy Mabbett, FRSA, (ORCID: 0000-0001-5882-6823) is a consultant who specialises in advising organisations about Wikipedia and its sister projects, and training people to edit Wikipedia. He has worked as a “Wikimedian in Residence” for a number of museums, art galleries and learned societies.