Robert Clark Young

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For American athlete, see Robert Young (athlete).
Robert Clark Young
Born 1960 (age 54–55)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Writer
Known for Fiction and essays

Robert Clark "Bob" Young (born 1960) is an American writer of essays and short stories. He has also written a novel, entitled One of the Guys, published in 1999. Young has been involved in several prominent literary controversies including a series of articles published in May 2013 revealing that Young had been using a pseudonym to make malicious edits to the Wikipedia biographies of his personal and professional adversaries.[1]

Young was raised and educated in Southern California. He served in the U.S. Navy as an educator.[clarification needed]

Early life[edit]

Born in Los Angeles in 1960, Young was raised there and in and San Diego.[2] He studied writing at the University of San Diego, the University of California, Davis,[3] and the University of Houston.[4]

During 1987 and 1988 Young worked for the United States Navy teaching remedial English to sailors on ships deployed in the Far East. He based his 1999 novel, One of the Guys, on this experience.[5]


Young released his debut novel on May 1, 1999. Entitled One of the Guys (Harper Perennial, 2000),[6] the book was a satirical work about a man impersonating a U.S. Navy chaplain. Reception of the novel was poor, with reviews citing a contrived plot and a bland lead character, though it was moderately financially successful.[5][7][8][9]

To finish the novel Young used money from a $5,000 grant he received from the Ohio Arts Council. Due to the novel's explicit sexual content and the American Family Association's (AFA) perception that the book denigrated Christianity, the group criticized the fact that some of the book's funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. As part of the AFA's campaign against the NEA, the group attacked Young's book as "horror art" and criticized the NEA for the funding he received.[10][11] The AFA specifically objected to passages depicting Navy personnel patronizing child prostitutes.[5]

In a Washington Post op-ed, Young responded that it was strange that "an organization that claims to uphold family values and to oppose the federal funding of obscenity is not protesting the part of the military budget that goes to support pederasty in the Far East."[10][12] Although Young claimed that details in the novel were exaggerated for effect, he said that these details were based on outrages that he had witnessed while working for the navy.[5][9][10]

In 2005, Margaret Butler, a librarian from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, noticed that a short story by author Brad Vice appeared to be plagiarized from work by Alabama author Carl Carmer.[13] Butler's accusation was by no means universally accepted.[14] Young published a "derisive" article in the New York Press on the incident.[15][16]

Wikipedia editing controversy[edit]

In May 2013, Young was accused by Salon reporter Andrew Leonard[17] of editing the Wikipedia articles about his personal and professional adversaries in a biased and negative way under the username "Qworty"; he had also added puffery to his own biography and deleted criticism of his work. Other writers soon added their commentaries about the situation.[18] After initially denying Leonard's claim, Qworty admitted to being Young, and to having edited his own article along with those of writers with whom he had feuded. For instance, according to Andrew Leonard, Young "devoted a significant amount of intellectual and emotional energy" to attacking Brad Vice and two other writers at the Sewanee Writers' Conference because of the perceived disrespect he had experienced there.[17] Soon after the story broke, Qworty was indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia.[17][19]

According to a followup by Leonard, a backlash against Qworty was so fierce that his userpages were "blanked as a courtesy"; i.e., all content was removed, in order to reduce the extent to which the pages would be spread across the Internet. As a result of Leonard's reporting, an investigation was made by Wikipedia editors to determine the extent of Young's editing under different usernames.[20][21] Jimmy Wales responded to these reports by stating: "I would have banned him outright years ago. So would many others. That we did not, points to serious deficiencies in our systems."[20][22] In an additional Salon article, Leonard wrote that Young's personal opposition to neo-paganism led to him pursuing a systematic campaign against Wikipedia articles on the topic. Leonard noted that the fact that Young was able to get away with that behavior for such a long time raised concerns "about how well Wikipedia's internal safeguards protect its integrity."[23]

Selected works[edit]

This section lists published works of fiction and non-fiction by Young.

  • Robert Clark Young (Fall 1992). "One Writer's Big Innings". Black Warrior Review.  (essay)[24]
  • — (1994). "Impurity". Bless Me, Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780452271548.  (essay)
  • — (Fall 1996). "Bus from Oaxaca". New Millennium Writings.  (essay)[25]
  • — (Spring–Summer 1997). "The Final Exit of Xavier Jones". Gulf Coast A Journal of Literature and Fine Art (University of Houston).  (short story)
  • — (1999). One of the Guys. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-019365-4.  (novel)
  • — (Spring 2003). "Mimi and Cecilia: A Recollection". Santa Monica Review.  (essay)
  • — (Winter 2008). "The Death of the Death of the Novel". The Southern Review 44 (1).  (essay)[26][27][28]
  • — (2012). Thank You for Keeping Me Sober (in 3 volumes).  (non-fiction)[29]


  1. ^ Geier, Kathleen (May 18, 2013). "The unmasking of a troll, and Wikipedia's Achilles’ heel". Washington Monthly. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ Sherwin, Elisabeth (November 12, 1999). "UC Davis graduate publishes first novel". Davis Enterprise. Retrieved May 26, 2013. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Sherwin, Elisabeth (October 15, 2000). "First Amendment Sweethearts, Bob and Isabel". Davis Enterprise. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ Young, Robert Clark (2008). "The Death of the Death of the Novel". The Southern Review 44 (1): 160ff. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b c d Hansen, Suzy (March 22, 2001). "Our Wolves in Uniform". Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ ISBN 978-0060931896
  7. ^ "One of the Guys by Robert Clark Young". Kirkus Reviews. April 1, 1999. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Fiction Review: One of the Guys by Robert Clark Young". Publishers Weekly. May 3, 1999. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Collier, Gene (October 25, 2000). "NEA Foes Miss Boat on Satire". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Garvin, Cosmo (March 1, 2001). "Moral Minority". Sacramento News and Review. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  11. ^ Quinn, Brad, In the Navy Cincinnati CityBeat, November 16, 2000
  12. ^ Young, Robert Clark (December 15, 2000). "A Strange 'Family Values' Attack on the NEA". Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Milofsky, David (January 1, 2006). "Plagiarism charge clouds a new writer's future". Denver Post. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (subscription required)
  14. ^ Jake Adam York (November 13, 2005). "Fell in Alabama: Brad Vice's Tuscaloosa Night". Story South. 
  15. ^ Baker, Tom (December 11, 2005). "Plagiarism Scandal Derails Vice's 'Train'". Daily Yomiuri. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (subscription required)
  16. ^ Sledge, John (December 18, 2005). "War of words raging in Vice case". Mobile Register. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (subscription required)
  17. ^ a b c Leonard, Andrew (May 17, 2013). "Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia". Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Indefinite block notice on Qworty's discussion page.
  20. ^ a b Leonard, Andrew (May 21, 2013). "Wikipedia Cleans up its mess". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  21. ^ Sockpuppet investigation on Qworty.
  22. ^ Comment by Jimbo Wales
  23. ^ Leonard, Andrew (May 24, 2013). "Wikipedia's anti-Pagan crusade". Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  24. ^ Winner of the Black Warrior Review's Best of the 1990s Nonfiction Award in 2002
  25. ^ "New Millennium Writings, Volume 1, Issue 2".  Winner of essay prize
  26. ^ "The Death of the Death of the Novel". Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Editor's Notes". Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Southern Review....Reviewed by Rachel King". Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  29. ^ Khari Johnson (April 12, 2012). "IB Author's New Book Makes Amazon List of Hot New Releases". Retrieved May 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]