Where’s the college Wikipedia police? Photo by flickr user Steve Punter

Whilst browsing my own school’s Wikipedia article, I noticed something interesting. During the section discussing LMU‘s limited Greek system, I found these sentences:

There are non-registered and un-recognized groups that exist on campus and are NOT affiliated with LMU or any of its departments. Any group that claims it is a part of LMU has no validity unless registered through Student Leadership & Development. More information can be found at www.lmu.edu/greeklife

The statements in these sentences are true. They don’t, however, belong on our school’s Wikipedia article and were quite obviously added by someone working at the school. (While it’s not outright forbidden, it’s usually considered bad form to edit an article of something that you are personally a part of.) This person also is clueless to proper Wikipedia formatting.

Here, someone at LMU has taken it upon themselves to remind any reader of the Wikipedia article that unsanctioned fraternities are not associated with the university.

How Many Schools are Doing This?

So the question is: how many schools are doing this? How many of them have realized that their Wikipedia article is better marketing than a Princeton Review profile is?

After doing some more research, it appears that poorly veiled Wikipedia entries are only from second-tier universities. Loyola Marymount only has a 1:1 ratio of references per page of text. Pepperdine keeps their article pristine and well-cited at a 2.5:1 ratio. (Curses!) The Notre Dame page has nearly 200 references (4:1 ratio)! 

The Effects

While the repercussions of editing out any information are not huge currently, they have recently become a bigger deal. Two years ago, a tool was released that tied Wikipedia edits to companies and organizations via their IP addresses. There was a kerfuffle about the CIA editing pages like Ahmadinejad’s. Chances are, there will not be a huge fallout from a university caught editing their own Wikipedia page.

But the effects of this dishonesty will slowly start to creep up to them. Just as cigarette companies of yore were unable to squelch information about shady dealings and the lethal effects, so too will universities be unable to Ctrl Z their mistakes.

Does your university or college edit their own Wikipedia page?