It can be tricky to find publicly accessible, objective information about business-related subjects. It’s more common for there to be monetary incentives to advocate, promote, omit, or underplay particular aspects, points of view, or examples. The concepts can also be complex, weaving together theory, history, law, and a variety of opinions. Effectively writing about business on Wikipedia thus requires neutrality, but also great care in selecting sources and the ability to summarize the best information about a topic. It’s for these reasons that students can make particularly valuable contributions to business topics on Wikipedia. They arrive at the subject without the burden of a conflict of interest that a professional may have, they have access to high-quality sources, and have an expert to guide them on their way.
Students in Amy Carleton’s Advanced Writing in the Business Administration Professions course at Northeastern University made several such contributions.
One student contributed to the article on corporate social responsibility, adding information from academic research on the effects of the business model on things like employee turnover and customer relations.
Another student created the article about the investigation of Apple’s transfer pricing arrangements with Ireland, a three-year investigation into the tax benefits Apple, Inc. received. The result was the “biggest tax claim ever”, though the decision is being appealed.
Overtime is something that affects millions of workers, and which has been a common topic of labor disputes. Wikipedia has an article about overtime in general, but it’s largely an overview of relevant laws. What had not been covered until a student created the article, are the effects of overtime. Similarly, while Wikipedia covers a wide range of immigration topics, it did not yet cover the international entrepreneur rule, a proposed immigration regulation that would to admit more foreign entrepreneurs into the United States. As with areas where there are common monetary conflicts of interest, controversial subjects like immigration policy are also simultaneously challenging to write and absolutely crucial to write about.
Contributing well-written, neutral information about challenging but important topics is a valuable public service. If you’re an instructor who may want to participate, Wiki Education is here to help. We’re a non-profit organization that can provide you with free tools and staff support for you and your students as you have them contribute to public knowledge on Wikipedia for a class assignment. To learn more, head to teach.wikipedia.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.