Last week, I was contacted by a reporter from Press Gazette, a British trade magazine, asking if I’d been making edits to my Wikipedia entry. A technology journalist who has previously called others out for editing their pages editing his own? Sure, sounds totally plausible, I said. The story never appeared.
But it did get me thinking, because I’ve come across a lot of pages recently that have the whiff of autobiography about them. And they’ve all had one thing in common: they belong to that vacuous sub-species known as “entrepreneurs”. So I’ve been brushing up on my Wikiquette and I’m now in a position to offer you some tips, should you find yourself staring at a 404 page where your own lovingly-crafted entry should surely be.
1. Education is only important if you went somewhere posh
Did you go to Eton? Bingo. That’s your key to notability. Editors on Wikipedia are all angry and working-class, so although they’ll hate you for it, they will grudgingly admit your innate superiority if you went to a top public school or first-rank university.
Pad the Education section out with your years of study and anyone famous who went to your school, ideally if they were in the same year as you. (It doesn’t matter if you ever spoke to them or not.)
2. Write it like your mum…
The tone you’re going for is “critical sycophant”. Imagine your mum cooing to her friends over a glass of wine about your professional achievements while mentioning the fact that you’re still tragically unmarried, and you’re nearly there.
3. … or like a wide-eyed local newspaper journalist.
Alternatively, this entry is a master-class in self-promotion and reads like something the Bournemouth Echo might run about a local X Factor contestant.
4. You’re friends with famous people
Wait, you aren’t? It really doesn’t matter. Make up a dalliance or just hint at your excellent connections. After all, entrepreneurs are the new rock stars, right?
5. You’re working with famous people
Do you have a “celebrity” business partner, however Z-list, discredited or simply acquired through marriage? Whack it in. Relatively respectable people like James Caan are used to having their names whored out by entrepreneurs, so are unlikely to call you on it. And even if they did, you don’t edit your own page, do you, so it’s hardly your fault.
Remember, if you once yelled, “Duncaaaaaaaaaan, I’ve got a brilliant idea for some elastic-free knickers,” at one of the Dragons’ Den investors at a crowded cocktail party, you can totally claim your idea was “being mulled over for investment by one of Britain’s most prestigious angel investors”.
6. Don’t forget to add the “dramatic skyline” pic…
No one will take you seriously until you’ve had your first print profile. As soon as it comes out, buy the rights to the photograph you had done and have it uploaded to your profile. Even very famous people generally have ropey Wikipedia pictures, so you’ll be ahead of the herd in no time with your own dramatically composed “I run this city” vanity snap.
7. … or a Rolex placed casually in shot
At all times, you should exude confidence, wealth and power. In no way does adjusting your hire purchase wristwear so it captures the flash, overshadowing your face, a sign of desperation or vanity. Extra points here for the extravagant Photoshopping.
8. Name your children exotically
“Song”, “Otter” and “Hero” are sure to be parody names inserted by some cruel internet critic, but you can come almost this close to a bad Catherine Tate sketch with a bit of creative thinking. Just think: you too could join the hallowed ranks of Gwyneth Paltrow and Paula Yates by ruining your child’s life with a name like “Apple” or “Fifi Trixibelle”.
9. A source is a source
Even if that source is a magazine no one has ever heard of, such as Business Because. It’s important to have sources because then you can pepper the rest of the article with self-aggrandising nonsense. A few links to somewhere else on the internet and the whole thing has a veneer of truth about it, you see?
10. Don’t make it so obvious
This, apparently, is a tell-tale sign.
So there you have it. If only I’d known half this stuff before I supposedly put together this concatenation of smack talk…