How to Determine if a wikiHow Article Violates Brand Name or Commercial Guidelines

While wikiHow encourages the creation of useful articles about how to shop and buy things in general, we have policies about the use of brand names and links to commercial web sites. Sometimes, it is necessary to nominate an advertisement article for deletion. This information may help you at those times.


  1. 1
    Understand the purpose of the wikiHow community.
    • Our terms of use clearly state, "wikiHow exists to help people, not for product promotion. While we encourage useful articles about how to shop and buy things, writers should refrain from creating articles to purely promote one specific business without providing useful insights to our readers. While you are welcome to post an external hyperlink, the wikiHow community reserves the right to delete hyperlinks or entire articles that over step the bounds on self-advertising."
  2. 2
    Read the article in question. Get a feel for the over-all tone and the intent of the original contributor.
    • Was it written by an unbiased contributor as a legitimate guide to demonstrate how to use a product?
    • Was it written in the tone of a self-promotional advertisement taking advantage of wikiHow to market a commercial product or service?
  3. 3
    Understand the purpose for nominating some articles for deletion by reading our deletion policy and What wikiHow Is Not.
    • "wikiHow is not an advertising platform for products or services."
    • Does the article contain obvious wording to market something? "Wonderbrand DVD Ripper is the fastest, easiest, most affordable, etc."
    • Does the article subtly promote a commercial product or service? Clever spammers format their advertisements to look like our helpful how-to articles. Not-very-clever spammers just copy and paste directly from their commercial site and expect wikiHow volunteers to format for them. Either way, it is spam.
    • Does the article contain a list of features? Our policy states, "Articles written to hawk a product or list its features will be deleted as advertising."
    • Does the article contain images or screenshots of commercial products? Are these images necessary to help our readers or are they included as self-promotion?
  4. 4
    Understand the wikiHow policy relating to the use of external links.
  5. 5
    Look for external links used in the article. Watch for links to a site that is attempting to sell something rather than providing useful content to our readers.
    • Does the article use multiple inline links to their website? Occasionally, an embedded external link in an article can be useful to our readers, but advertisers can be spotted by an over-use of links to their site for their own benefit and not to benefit our readers.
  6. 6
    Look at external links used as Sources and Citations.
    • Does the article use external links as a legitimate attribution for legally imported content, or were the links posted to promote traffic to a website? About wikiHow asks, "Don't spam us. Please only add external links if the site was used as reference for information you added to an article."
  7. 7
    Look at other contributions by the original contributor as well as his or her Talk Page.
    • Have multiple articles been created for the purpose of promoting the same product or service?
    • Have other articles been created with links to the same commercial website?
    • Have others asked this user to stop creating articles that violate wikiHow's policies?
  8. 8
    Understand the wikiHow policy relating to the use of brand names.
    • Brand names should not be used if they can be replaced with no loss of meaning or helpfulness to our readers. For example, "How to Line a Birdcage with the New York Times" could be improved by "How to Line a Birdcage with a Newspaper".
    • Don't fall for misdirecting titles. Some articles are created under a general title, but contain instructions on downloading software or using a brand name product as the method to accomplish the task. For example, a title may say "How to Cleanse Your Pores" then include steps that only relate to a brand name product, "Step 1. Apply Wonderbrand Ointment available from http: //".


  • Expect good faith. Assume that an article is written by an unbiased contributor about how to use a specific brand name product or service.
  • It is helpful to ask yourself, "Who benefits from this article? our readers? or a commercial marketer?"
  • Be bold to tag articles that were not written in good faith. Allowing subtle advertisements to remain on wikiHow takes away from our mission. Re-formatting advertisements on behalf of spammy contributors is not the best use of our volunteer resources unless the benefit to our readers outweighs that cost.

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Categories: Patrolling