Talk:Robert Clark Young

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News This article has been mentioned by a media organisation:
  • Andrew Leonard (17 May 2013). "Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia". Salon.com. Retrieved 17 May 2013. "The fact that Qworty’s very first action as an editor was to make it just a little bit more difficult for the casual reader to stumble upon discussions questioning whether Young was involved in editing his own page raised a red flag for the Wikipediocracy editors investigating Qworty. They were further intrigued to discover that two additional edits had then been made to the archived Talk page. These edits removed the reference to Young’s supposed admission that he had written his own page and deleted the conversation in which one editor had questioned the true identity of the other editor." 

Revision proposal[edit]

I'm planning in the near future to do some extensive work on this article. Let me first state clearly...I have no dog in this fight. I came across this article and the story after reading it on Wikipediocracy several months after the scandal died down. However, reading this article, I see some severe problems with WP:BLP policy, WP:UNDUE, and recognize that this article needs to be revised. Some of the weight of this article feels like gravedancing and unduly vindictive, and that undermines the impartial encyclopaedic truth we should be seeking. Young is also known for his novel's and short stories, and for his work on elder care (two subjects largely glossed over and unanalyzed)--the few flubs on Wikipedia aren't all this man is about--to have the article heavily weighted toward our internal scandal makes our fellow Wikipedians look like hungry sharks after there's blood in the water. So this is just to let anyone interested in this article know that I hope to revise and expand this article in the coming weeks. I will do so fairly and impartially, covering all the bases appropriately. I don't intend on whitewashing or hagiography, or to let this article turn into a "Two Minutes Hate" denouncing and thrashing by orders of the politburo, I would aim to make this a more balanced and informative article that is more focused on facts rather than the various opinions that have dominated the discourse over the last few months, and as such I would like to fairly discuss and resolve any differences of opinion or fact as they arise during the revisions. FYI: I will be adding a few proposals below in the next few days as I do my preparatory work for the article. --ColonelHenry (talk) 20:04, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

I agree with there being issues of undue weight. Though I feel the current amount of material about Wikipedia is about right, the rest of the article needs expanding and the lede should serve as a more general summary of his bio.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 20:15, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
In particular I suggest removal of the 4th paragraph of the Career section. It acts as an accusation against a LP, made by someone known for making unsubstantiated accusations. the relevant material in the article on Brad Vice was rewritten appropriately, and that article is where the ubject belongs. DGG ( talk ) 02:36, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
What you are suggesting is essentially the opposite of what Henry is suggesting (reducing focus on his other activities and thus increasing the focus on Wikipedia). The Vice dispute is a noteworthy incident in Young's life and should be covered here. If anything, it is not covered sufficiently relative to its notability.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 05:10, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Keep in mind that the subject's notability, aside from his Wikipedia transgressions, is quite slim. Also, the comment above from UserDGG a appears to pose it's own BLP issues. Whitewashing is going to be very much a concern, especially given the sad history. MarkBernstein (talk) 04:40, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I criticized the handling of this article during the initial Wiki flap, and I'm pleased to see a resurgence of such sentiments now. The problem here might have a little to do with extra information (BLPPRIMARY is usually taken to ban trial transcripts, so why are we citing Wikipedia ArbCom proceedings that I wouldn't trust if they said the sun shines?) but deletions aren't my interest. I find it more disturbing that the article showcases the Wikipedia bit in the lead, while omitting the far more notable NEA vs AFA controversy. But worst is that the anti-Young people, in the name of correcting bias he may have put on the article by editing it, took out specific information about his books. That's just not right - a biography of an author should focus on covering the books as the meat of the article. Also, I see [1] is a new one to add. Wnt (talk) 22:29, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Thanks Wnt for mentioning that anti-Young editors may have removed worthwhile material--I hadn't thought about that and will have to sort through the past versions of the article to see if there is anything to glean. I'll probably start adding/revising after 1 February to give ample time for comments and ideas and after I get a few other projects out to the way.--ColonelHenry (talk) 23:02, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Proposed outline for the article[edit]

I look to revise the article around this kind of structure...

  • Lede
  • 1 Biography section
    • 1.1 Early life/education/personal information
    • 1.2 Writing career (covering books, essays, etc. Vice and plagiarism)
    • 1.3 Elder care work
    • 1.4 Wikipedia controversy
  • 2 Section on his written works
    • 2.1 Summarising his books, themes, etc.
    • 2.2 Critical reception
  • 3 Works (list)
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Feel free to discuss, add ideas for the sections, etc.--ColonelHenry (talk) 23:14, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

I don't think there is enough material to justify a section for his elder care activities, unless we rely heavily on primary sources, which would be inappropriate. Some mention of it would probably be appropriate, but not much.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 06:33, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
  • I would agree. The section ideas above are very fluid and less intended as a "section" per se but more like a sequence...if there's enough to justify a section, by all means, if not, it can easily be added as an additional paragraph into a writing career section.--ColonelHenry (talk) 06:40, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Addition of more Brad Vice material[edit]

Regarding this. This material creates the impression that Young's accusations of further plagiarism on Vice's part were somehow connected to MSU's decision to dismiss Vice. While this may or may not be true, it is absolutely unsupported by the source cited, which does not mention Young at all. Furthermore I think it's far too much material on Vice for this article, again, especially because the source it's cited to does not relate to Young.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 19:14, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

  • @Alf.laylah.wa.laylah: - I respectfully, but strenuously disagree. I don't believe any such implication or "impression" is made. To say "there was an accusation" and then argue the merits of the accusation, and not mention "hey, this is what happened after all was said and done" is to provide coverage of the issue that is not comprehensive. Sure, it's contentious, but that would be like writing an article about the Defenestration of Prague, giving the reasons and background for the event, and neglecting to mention that people were thrown out the window. When you're with friends, or writing an article...do you tell a story and then neglect to tell the ending just because "well, that's too much material on that one"?....do you start telling a joke and stop before delivering the punchline? Seriously, every time something is added to this article, from a reliable source, there shouldn't be a debate over "too much" or the strange inference of "impressions" or other bullshit. --ColonelHenry (talk) 19:21, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Here's what the paragraph looked like after you added the new material, which is underlined:

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 taken seriously but was by no means universally accepted.[14] Young published a "derisive" article in the New York Press on the incident,[15] in which he accused Vice of further plagiarism.[16] As a result of the plagiarism allegations, Mississippi State University formed an ethics committee to investigate the matter. While the committee recommended that Vice be reprimanded, the university chose to dismiss him from his position as assistant professor of English for "misconduct in ethics in research and other scholarly activities".[17]

Are you seriously telling me that the phrase "the plagiarism allegations" in your new sentence is not most naturally read as referring to the "further plagiarism" that Young accused Vice of in the sentence directly before it? The way you've written it it makes it sound as if Young's allegations played some role in what happened to Vice, when in fact there is no evidence that that's the case. This is not "bullshit" about impressions, this is a matter of the actual English language. If for some reason you feel that it's important to tell the whole Brad Vice story in this article, you should either make it clear that Young played no significant role in it or else find a source that specifically says that his allegations had any effect on Vice at all. Your examples about jokes and defenestrations are straw men.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 19:34, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

ColonelHenry, you ought to read WP:BRD. You're bold, I revert, now we discuss. You ought to self-revert while we discuss it.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 19:36, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

  • I amended the passage, removed the prefatory clause, and added context that implies that Young was once voice on one side of the discussion.--ColonelHenry (talk) 19:39, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
It's still not OK with me. It's ridiculous to imply that Young played any role in what happened to Vice, as your additions do. However, I will be content to wait for others to weigh in. Young's role in this Vice incident was trivial. He wrote an article which was essentially ignored by everyone.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 19:42, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I started the discussion weeks ago stating that I would be adding material and revising--a discussion that until now you've been conspicuously absent from---so your imposition of WP:BRD, claiming that I haven't discussed it, is rather disingenuous. Thanks for your opinion, but I'll continue improving the article as I was discussing weeks ago before you showed up like a bull in a china shop. I don't remember the policy where I had to get your specific approval on each and every addition.--ColonelHenry (talk) 19:45, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I've edited the proposed new language with both of your concerns in mind. I observe, though, that the details of the matter belong on Brad Vice's page (if any), not here. What is of interest here is that the subject wrote a "derisory" (?derisive?) article on the matter for the New York Press, described as "New York’s alternative paper" which at that time may have had a circulation of about 100,000. I'm not entirely sure that this is even worth mention here -- how important is this one article in the context of the subject’s career? -- but as talk seems to feel strongly that this article is notable, a brief mention may be useful. MarkBernstein (talk) 21:04, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I think your edit is good, and I'm OK with keeping it. I have no strong opinions about whether the Vice material belongs in the article at all, though, and would be happy enough to see it all go in lieu of good secondary sourcing explaining why it's important for Young's career. The history of the material is that Young himself, when he was editing the article, had made it sound as if he was the prime mover behind the whole uproar. The paragraph that's in there now is what editors were able to come to consensus on regarding a more realistic depiction of Young's role after his unmasking. As far as I can tell, the only importance of the incident vis-a-vis Young is that he was later discovered to have been exaggerating his role in it.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 21:08, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
p.s. OED on "derisory": a. Characterized by derision; mocking, derisive.; I think I wrote most of that paragraph way back when, but am not sure. That's my phrase there, though.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 21:10, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Fowler’s Modern English Usage recommends "derisive" or this meaning and "derisory" for "too insignificant or futile for serious consideration." American Heritage also prefers this as the primary meaning of "derisory". It's a fine point. MarkBernstein (talk) 21:27, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm not wedded to the term, I just like it. Which edition of Fowler's, by the way, because if it's the modern one I spit in its general direction, but if it's the holy, holy, 2nd edition, I will bow before its might. How do you mean AH "prefers" it? They're the most descriptive of all! (I'm not arguing, I really don't care either way, I'm just interested).— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 21:43, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

MarkBernstein unlike Alf.whatever I'm not OK with your removal of the material I added in your edit to the paragraph. If you're going to start the Brad Vice story, you have to provide the ending to the story. Vice got fired. That's how it ended. You don't tell half of a story. Otherwise, there's no use even mentioning the entire story at all. If Young's article had no impact, then why bother. I don't think a paper with 100,000 readers is insignificant--especially since Young's role in the matter took a life of its own later. I'm not going to fight over one line here and there since if I add any information piece by piece, it will be cut apart 5 minutes later. I might as well sandbox the entire article and come back in a month with a finished piece--want to avoid the aggravation of dealing with potentially POV-pushing deletionist editors like Alf who prefer to tell half the story.--ColonelHenry (talk) 21:32, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Now I'm a "potential POV-pushing deletionist"? What POV am I potentially pushing and what am I trying to have deleted? And what do you mean about not telling half a story? Where does the story end? What's Brad Vice up to now? What did he do three weeks after the incident? Why not tell the entire story of his life after Young's article was published. If "the rest of the story" about Vice is so important to this article you ought to be able to find a source that discusses it in the context of the subject of this article, eh? And you ought to be able to do it without calling names, too.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 21:47, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
  • I added two sentences that concluded the paragraph, and it was not excessive. You have wasted more than enough of my time today with your insidious drive-by deletionism.--ColonelHenry (talk) 21:48, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
"Insidious drive-by deletionism"??!? Look here, friend, and see who's "driving by." You're the newcomer to this article. In any case, the fact that you're reduced to name-calling rather than supporting the changes you wish to make with sources and reasoning makes me think that, on some level, you're starting to realize that your case is weak.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 21:55, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Let me add evidence of your ownership mentality and needlessly obstructionist, too, as your edit history show you've been insistent in this behaviour.--ColonelHenry (talk) 21:57, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Blah blah blah. Do you have arguments to make about the content or do you just want to call names? Good lord almighty. Ownership... what's next, a noticeboard report?— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 22:00, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
yawn. noticeboard...sorry, I don't deign to hang out with the intellectual 4chan.--ColonelHenry (talk) 22:15, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I have no idea why, for several years now, editors here and there have wished to suppress from Wikipedia the fact that Vice was fired for his plagiarism, in addition to having his book withdrawn. It seems they want to tell every aspect of the story except for those two salient facts. FYI...circulation of the New York Press in 2005 was over half a million.--ColonelHenry (talk) 22:31, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I have no idea either, except that Brad Vice's career seems to have little to do with the subject of this article. As I understand it, he wrote a single article; I took Wikipedia's estimate for circulation in 2006: "the paper's weekly circulation in 2006 topped 100,000", and you might want to correct that page if it is wrong. MarkBernstein (talk) 00:27, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • On the narrow issue of the edit described above, it should be clear that the article describing Vice's dismissal gives no credit to Young or his further allegations. I don't know they didn't have a role, but if so find a source. Why don't you people do something more useful, like figure out how Young happened to be writing this article for the New York Press, and whether this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him (and if so why), or whether he has written many others in the same or comparable outlets (and if so where). Wnt (talk) 04:03, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Suppression of Vice material[edit]

Starting a new section here, as the old one is overrun with accusations of drive-by ownership. No one is trying to suppress anything about Brad Vice, OK? The question is whether or not the material that you inserted belongs in this article. Why do you think it does? The only semicogent argument I've seen from you so far is that "you don't tell half a story." But in fact, we do tell half a story. We tell the half that belongs in the article being written. You yourself want to leave out info about Brad Vice concerning what happened to him after MSU fired him. Why don't you want to tell that part of the story too? What does your material have to do with Young, the subject of this article?— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 22:35, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

  • The entire treatment of Vice, Clark's article, is lacking--especially since it played a role later in the Wikipedia editing controversy. Comprehensiveness and providing appropriate weight to set the context. I added two sentences at first to provide a conclusion to that paragraph regarding Vice, and having reading Clark's piece I would have likely added few brief sentences in short order to elaborate on the character of his essay. instead, you rushed club a baby seal, before anything else can be added because 'we already have too much Vice material.' and wasted time that would have been spent adding (as I raised the ideas weeks earlier that I planned to do...and where were you?)--ColonelHenry (talk) 22:39, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
  • And it's no use really talking to you anyway, so I'm going to sandbox the article and come back in a few weeks to a month. Doing it piece by piece, you'd probably frustrate the hell out of me with your WP:OWN issues and penchant to edit-war because "we have too much Vice material"--ColonelHenry (talk) 22:43, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Fine, then find sources that relate the material to Young and we can put it in. Otherwise it's either OR (if it mentions the Young connection without sourcing) or irrelevant (if there is no sourcing relating it to Young). And maybe, as we go forth, you can stop attributing intentions to me. It's really not conducive of a productive discussion. Then we can do it piece-by-piece when you come back.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 22:47, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough on the OR bit. As for "attributing intentions"...I just call it as I see it. --ColonelHenry (talk) 22:56, 20 January 2014 (UTC)


Question: Is Robert Clark Young really a notable participant in the Brad Vice discussion? It appears that he may have had a personal dispute with Vice, and he certainly devoted himself as a Wikipedia editor to compiling unfavorable commentary and arguing to delete favorable commentary. He certainly seems to have held plenty of animosity for Vice and for Sewanee. But a single article in a minor New York paper, referenced by a pair of secondary articles in local papers that are now behind a paywall, seems rather thin. The article itself seems not to have had great influence. We should -- let me phrase this very cautiously -- exercise special care in this matter because Wikipedia has already been a victim here: we know that the subject and (perhaps) his collaborators used Wikipedia (and apparently other fora) to denigrate Vice in the past, and so we really need to be extra-careful to keep this in balance going forward. MarkBernstein (talk) 01:04, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

I really don't think that Young is. I'm not going to go through all the old diffs, but it's my recollection that Young had made his role sound essential and that after the scandal broke the paragraphs that are in there now were what we could all agree on, with many wanting to remove it altogether and others wanting to expand it. I think it's reasonable to take the whole thing out, but I have no super-strong feelings about it. I'm not comfortable with an expansion without solid sourcing that ties it directly to Young.— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 01:15, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Who's got a COI?[edit]

MarkBernstein, I can appreciate your position on being careful in proceeding. I do notice that you have a potential COI (a "dog in this fight" so to speak) seeing that you have written on Young before on your blog. [2], [3] I disagree that the New York Press is to be characterized as a minor paper, two j-school studies indicate a respectable following. Comparatively, Salon.com has 10,000 subscribers, far fewer than any circulation number ever cited for the New York Press.[4]. So it's absurd for anyone to argue that New York Press doesn't count for anything while saying that Salon is the be-all and end-all. Careful and balanced is always to be expected...but I'm not going to refrain from putting in good information--direct information or relevant contextual material, just because someone disagrees with what those sources argue. I have no dog in this fight, no COI, so as I go forward, the only thing I care about is putting reliable sourced information and revising the article to avoid the problematic BLP/UNDUE clusterfuck that it seems to persist on being.--ColonelHenry (talk) 02:24, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Obviously, having mentioned the subject of the article in a written work is not a potential or actual conflict of interest. A COI is the sort of thing the subject of this article had in reference to Brad Vice.MarkBernstein (talk) 16:35, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Point taken. ...sort of thing the subject of this article -- lol. you forgot "sometime editor of this article"[5] as well--ColonelHenry (talk) 16:56, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
ColonelHenry, you yourself have written extensively about Young on one of the most visible websites in the world. Perhaps you too, therefore, have a potential COI (a "dog in this fight," so to speak). Why do you persist in denying it? Now. Do we think it's possible to discuss the actual topic of the article here without one editor continually accusing others of various violations of accepted editing practices such as COI, having a "penchant for edit-warring," and drive-by article ownership?— alf laylah wa laylah (talk) 16:50, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Yawn. It's so easy to tire of you, Alf.whatever.--ColonelHenry (talk) 16:53, 21 January 2014 (UTC)