Talk:Robert Spitzer (political scientist)

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Wikipedia BLP Policy[edit]

"Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material about living persons must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libellous."

It is very clear. There is a LOT of work to do on this page. I have kept sections even if they only had one citation. The two sections cut had no citations at all. If citations are found, they can be put back in, but there is already plenty of work to do with the salvagable part of the article. BLP policy is arguably the most important policy on Wikipedia and must be aggressively enforced, as Jimbo says. --Sue Rangell 00:17, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Wow. I had only been working on this stubby article an hour before being - helped?
There is a source citation added now - not by me - that doesn't work. I tried to figure out what it was supposed to link to, but I couldn't. Also notice that "political activist" has been added to the lead. Not sure I would add that at all to a living scholar's article... let alone the lead.
On a related note, I have created a stub article for Robert J. Cottrol. I hope I will be given a little time to work on that before being "helped" there, too. Lightbreather (talk) 00:51, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Concern about the direction this article suddenly took[edit]

I was working on the Gun politics in the United States article when I realized how undeveloped this (Robert Spitzer) article was. I decided to update this article AND to create an article for Robert Cottrol, who is also cited on the U.S. gun politics page. As I have argued in Talk:Gun_politics_in_the_United_States#Qualifying scholars I think we should emphasize their scholarly positions. Another editor immediately (within one hour) followed me to this page, added that he is a "political activist" to the lead, and added a political activism section. This brings up the same darn argument that has been made on the gun politics tak page. For comparison, if you go to John Lott's page, you'll see he is called an economist and "political commentator" even though he is cited regularly by gun-rights advocates and has written numerous articles and books advocating for gun rights.

I would like to nip this pro- gun rights (or maybe anti- gun control) pushing in the bud and I am asking for help. It seems to me that it can only heat-up already prickly working relationships (rather than cooling them down). Certainly if Lott is not identified as an "activist" there is no reason to be pushing that label on Spitzer. Lightbreather (talk) 03:41, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

It is not good to have article ownership issues, and you know for a fact that I am pro-gun-control, as well as a fan of Spitzer. There are serious Wikipedia BLP issues with this article, and if you look at my user-page, you will see how important these things are to me. The edits are not politically motivated, and you know that. Politically I am on the same side you are, Lightbreather, but we need to put Wikipedia ahead of our politics. You do not own the article. The only thing that needs to be "nipped at the bud" is the lack of sourcing. Read the Jimbo quotes at the top of my user page if you still do not understand. Be well. --Sue Rangell 04:22, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
I hope no-one feels that they own this page. I sure don't - nor any other on Wikipedia, with the exception maybe of my own space. As I stated above, when I realized how undeveloped this one was, I came to improve it (I was gathering information, including source citations), and within an hour you were over here too, deleting pretty basic existing material (and certainly not a "TON"), which I was easily finding sources for, and you were adding controversial material, which has only one source - and an unverifiable one at that. (Unless you've fixed it in the last hour or so - the URL did not work.)
I am an experienced real-world editor, and an intermediate level Wikipedia editor. I certainly have the skills necessary to improve this article on my own. I think rushing to add the terms "political activist" and a "political activism" is odd at the very least. I wonder how other editors would feel if I followed them around and edited pages they chose to work on? WITH THAT, I will wait to see what other feedback this page gets, if any. Lightbreather (talk) 05:01, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Following you around?? I am going to pretend that you did not say that. You are the person who invited me to these gun control articles. It is very odd to hear you make such an accusation now that I am here, and I hope you retract it. Thank you. --Sue Rangell 05:17, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Wow, someone - not me - has also added a JPG labeled Robert_Spitzer_Political_Activist to Dr/Professor Spitzer's Wikipedia article. Prior to last night, I could find no preponderence of reliable, verifiable sources that calls this man a "political activist." And voila! overnight, thanks to one editor on Wikipedia, he is now a "political activist" for anyone who googles him. (PS: I only ever explicitly invited you to one page, five months ago.) Lightbreather (talk) 15:00, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Robert Spitzer as an activist[edit]

My dictionary states: ac·tiv·ist [ak-tuh-vist] noun 1. an active advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.

How does this not apply to Robert Spitzer? It's the proper word.

(Preceding - dictionary definition of "activist" - inserted by Sue Rangell 15:36 13 JAN 2014) Lightbreather (talk) 22:56, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

I do not understand the resistance to saying that Robert Spitzer is an activist. There is nothing wrong or negative about being an activist. I say this as one of his fans. He is clearly on one side of the issue. He uses very passionate language. He speaks at Gun Control Rallys. I believe he has even called himself an activist in one of his books. What is the problem? There are MANY possible sources that can be used to cite that he uses words such as "fight" and "war". here is just one of them, a transcript from a radio show. It was the first one that came up in the search, it's easy to get more if needed. can we put this issue to rest? --Sue Rangell 20:28, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

I believe the decision is based on what reliable, verifiable sources call him. And when it comes to WP:BLP, the highest quality reliable, verifiable sources. Am I wrong about this? Lightbreather (talk) 20:41, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I've cited his own words into the article. --Sue Rangell 21:29, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Which words are you referring to? The ones that you attached the Huffington Post citation to is: "On several occasions, Spitzer has referred to the gun control debate as a "war" or has described the cause of gun control as a "fight", establishing himself as a passionate supporter of Gun Control." That citation does NOT support that choice of words. And the longer statement (paragraph) that follows has NO citations. Lightbreather (talk) 22:13, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Can't find an instance of the word "fight" in the source you gave (an interview between Diane Rehm and a panel of five guests, including Professor Spitzer). Two quotes (Spitzer's) include the word "war".
1. In response to Rehm's question: [Do] you think that carrying a running total publicly of every single person killed in this country by guns of one sort or another would help to raise the public awareness of what's happening? "Well, I certainly think it would. Americans read about local crime in their newspapers and the ways they obtain media information from the local communities, but it's hard to have a sense of kind of the overall national picture. One of the things it does underscore, though, is the war over information on this issue, and this is one subject that has received very little attention, and it's also a subject where it's very difficult to kind of make political hay out of, yes, we need more information."
2. In response to a listerner's email comment: I find it odd that the NRA is saying mental health issues are the cause of the recent mass shooting and should be addressed, yet they managed to have a law put in place in some bill that makes it illegal for doctors to ask patients about their gun ownership. "Yeah. It's symptomatic of this notion of throwing up as many barriers as possible to obtaining better information. And it's really kind of a hidden political war behind much of what's going on, which is to essentially keep us as ignorant as possible about what is going on with respect to gun ownership, gun trafficking and related matters, which are..." [Rehm interrupts with a comment]
In both of these statements, he's commenting on a lack of information, not fighting for gun control. Still, based on these two statements - from which the word "war" has been taken out of context - Wikipedia should declare a living scholar a "political activist"? As I said, until you gave him that label last night, his name and that label were not connected in any high-quality sources that I found. Why pigeonhole him in this way? (Again, Wikipedia refers to John Lott as an economist and political commentator - a much more neutral term.) edit conflict Lightbreather (talk) 21:32, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

There is little point in belaboring this. As I said, his own words speak for themselves. I don't appreciate you depicting me as some sort of attack dog. I am a big fan of Spitzer, and have all of his books. I am pro-control. So is Spitzer. It isn't pidgeon-holing the man, it's just a simple statement of fact. He is a passionate supporter of Gun Control and there is nothing wrong with that. --Sue Rangell 22:00, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

I hope to own more of his books. I traveled to a nearby city just to see his entries in the most recent edition of Guns in American Society (not in my city's library). And I bought the most recent edition of The Politics of Gun Control. I just don't think a living scholar merits such a restrictive label - but more importantly: no preponderance of high-quality sources call him that. Lightbreather (talk) 22:19, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
His books are excellent. Being an activist isn't a bad thing, and one can be a scholar and an activist at the same time. You may be surprised to find him calling himself an activist in one of his books and as soon as I find the reference, I will cite it. If the term doesn't bother him, why should it bother you? There is no negative connotation to it. It just means that person is passionate about whatever it is that they do. Anyhoo, definitely get the rest of his books, they are all good. be well. --Sue Rangell 22:30, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Robert Spitzer has edited this article[edit]

I don't want to revert the edit because I think it was done in good faith even though it's technically a WP:COI violation. I doubt if the man has the time to spend learning wikipedia rules. Shall we keep the content? I think we should, at least this one time. I have mentioned this at ANI to make sure an admin can ok it. I think his edits were done in good faith and overall added to Wikipedia.

Hello--I am Robert Spitzer, the subject of this entry. Forgive me if I am not entering this information in the appropriate place, but this is all quite confusing--I do hope it makes its way to the proper person or persons. In any event, I check my Wikipedia page periodically, and discovered a series of dramatic changes. Most notably, it now identifies me as a "political activist." I am not. I am a college professor who comes to the subject of gun control (which seems to be the chief bone of contention) through nearly 30 years of research and writing on the subject. I have never spoken at a political rally in my life, nor campaigned for candidates. While my research has and does have public policy consequences, that is a consequence of its content. It is neither my vocation nor my avocation to be an "activist" and this misrepresents my career. As for the edits I made, it was my observation that there seemed to be some kind of dissatisfaction with a dearth of footnotes, so I have inserted them, along with an expanded explanation of my research to cover not just gun control, but other areas as well. None of this seems to be in violation of any rules of Wikipedia that I can discern. I am not lavishing praise upon myself, but simply describing, in biographical fashion, my work. And the reference to my comments on the Diane Rehm Show do not in any respect buttress any notion of me as an "activist." As the extended quote makes clear, I was offering my analysis of the "hot" politics of the gun issue. The "war" analogy pertaining to one aspect of it is just that--an analogy. I am offering analysis, and that is what I do. I am more than willing to provide additional citations, etc. to buttress and clarify all this. Please advise. Thanks for your time, Bob Spitzer67.255.22.154 (talk) 00:02, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Thank you, Dr. Spitzer. We will study what you've added and let you know if we have any questions. Thanks for the update. Lightbreather (talk) 00:10, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the info! I have sorted through it. Some of your sources did not qualify and have been removed (Not by me, I'm a fan). Also please be aware that it is considered a Conflict of Interests on Wikipedia to edit one's own article, please in the future make your proposals here, and allow other editors to make changes. I know this may be frustrating, but the WP:COI policies exist for very good reasons. Thank you again for the information and citations they have been very helpful. --Sue Rangell 00:20, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

OK. But let me be clear one one point--it is factually incorrect to label me a "political activist"--I am a scholar whose writings are about public policy subjects, but I do not come to this subject, nor am I paid by my employer to be a "political activist." I am well aware of the meaning of this term, as I am a lifelong student of politics/political science. It is inappropriate. And I give many public talks, but they are either at colleges/universities or before public civic groups, such as the League of Women Voters, local historical societies, and (most recently) our local "Lawman of the Year" dinner. Someone in this exchange mentioned John Lott who, by way of comparison, does not have a university affiliation (although he did in the past), did have an affiliation with a political think tank (AEI), which I have never had, and has engaged in specfic political advocacy. For example, he spoke at a rally of the Second Amendment Sisters (a gun rights advocacy group) on Mother's Day in 2000 in Washington, DC on behalf of their cause. He is perfectly entitled to do these things; I mention his example to clarify the difference between political advocacy and political/policy analysis. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:28, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

I respect the (Wikipedia) project, but equally Dr. Spitzer's right to contribute to his own page, within the rules, per WP:BLPEDIT. Also, per WP:BLP, the burden is on us - that is to say, Wikipedia - to provide the highest-quality sources for claims that are challenged or likely to be challenged. Lightbreather (talk) 00:36, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
I am beginning to wonder if you are actually Robert Spitzer. You are not writing in your normal style. I have all of your books, and I am pretty certain that you have actually referred to yourself as an activist. I am going to try to find the citation. If I find it I am going to report this IP as a sock-puppet. The dictionary definition of an activist is above, and by definition, Robert Spitzer is definately a gun control activist. I have seen him speak in person, and am a big fan. Don't be offended, but an IP account could be anybody. --Sue Rangell 00:37, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
PS Please don't take that as a negative. I hope you understand, but you wouldn't want somebody coming to Wikipedia imitating you, correct? You can rest assured that nobody will do that here for very long without being caught. You have too many fans here. I suggest that you create a Wikipedia account and go through the WP:Identification process as a security measure. That is the best defense against imitators who sometimes make trouble for high profile authors such as yourself. --Sue Rangell 00:47, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
I find no citations in the article referring to Dr. Spitzer as an activist in this article or anywhere on the Internet, except this article. I think he may have been confused with another Dr. Spitzer who had created controversy with activists in another area. In any case, there is no basis for calling him an activist unless merely being interviewed makes one an activist. I'll wait a bit for comments, but I think this claim should be removed as soon as possible. I am One of Many (talk) 01:10, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
Since there is now a consensus to remove the term. I will remove it. I don't understand this, but I will go with the flow at least for now. It's a bit like someone who races bicycles insisting on being called a "Racer" instead of a "bicyclist". It's not as if the word doesn't apply. I will replace the terminology when I find where he called himself an activist in his book. --Sue Rangell 01:20, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
I think that is the right thing to do. In academia, being an activist is not generally viewed as a positive thing. So, unless we have a couple of good sources for this claim like the New York Times and NPR, we are removing a claim that good be construed negatively without sources. I am One of Many (talk) 01:30, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. Maybe it's just that I don't see the negative connotation to the word. But a consensus is a consensus, and I am here for Wikipedia. I removed the offending word. be well. --Sue Rangell 01:56, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello again--this is Bob Spitzer. This is indeed me, and not a cheap imitation. I do not know how I can demonstrate this to a certainty to anyone who doubts that this is me, but I would welcome any suggestions, and be more than happy to comply. I could send/email a PDF of my driver's license perhaps (with the ID number covered up). Would that do? To Ms. Rangell, you have all of my books? I am flattered, but also frankly stunned. Let me say that I am most grateful that you have agreed to remove "political activist"; however, there are a number of organizational problems that remain. In the spirit of following the proprieties, let me propose the following: --at the top, I am initially identified as "Robert J. Spitzer is an American political scientist, active proponent of gun control, and author." "active proponent of gun control" is inappropriate--when listing a few key words, it should do just that. I would propose the simpler and cleaner: "Robert J. Spitzer is an American political scientist and author, specialist in American politics, gun policy, American presidency, and the U.S. Constitution." These are my areas of expertise, as is clearly reflected in the corpus of my writings. "Active proponent" is a synonym for "activist," and is similarly problematic. The text to follow can get into specifics about the nature of these writings, but it is neither appropriate nor accurate to load the top brief descriptor in this way. --instead of "gun control advocacy" (which is also problematic), I propose a heading "Gun Control Research" (which is more accurate, as my writings are not about advocacy). I am not, per se, a "gun control advocate." That is not what I am about. Yes, there are certainly gun policy recommendations that flow from what I write (e.g. my Huffington piece that you cited about gun carrying on college campuses), so I can see the legitimacy of that notion, but the heading as is is really not correct. My job is not "advocate." It is incorrect. This section can then be the repository of information about what I have done on the gun issue, including the information on gun policy writings under the heading "Books" (which doesn't make sense either, as my books are also discussed in the section above it, headed "Public Policy Research"--note the P and R should also be capitalized). --I propose rewriting the first sentence under the current heading "gun control advocacy" roughly like this: "Since the 1980s, Spitzer has written books, given many lectures and talks, written articles for newspapers, and appeared on countless radio and television programs in large part on the gun issue. Spitzer’s analysis of the gun issue finds most gun regulations to be compatible with America’s political and legal history and traditions, as well as with viable contemporary public policy." It is an inappropriate overreach to say that I am "a passionate and robust supporter of gun control." On what basis would someone who does not know me validate such an assertion? As it turns out, I am passionate/robust about my work as a scholar generally, which extends well beyond my work on the gun issue, because I enjoy what I do, but that is a different thing. (While my wife might consider me "passionate and robust" -- or so I hope! -- that is hardly appropriate to insert as a descriptor in an encyclopedic entry about my professional life.) --in the last sentence in the section currently titled "Gun Control Advocacy," there is a quote, at the end of which appears "citation needed." The citation for this article is that the quote is from "The Politics of Gun Control" and appears on page 39 in the 5th edition, but I do not know how to insert this electronically. Can you do so? Or perhaps insert an old-fashioned footnote indicating this citation with page number without an electronic link? Let me know if I can assist. --I would propose changing the heading of "Books" to "Other Scholarly Work" or "Other Writings" which can then be the place for description of my work on matters other than gun policy, including the presidency, the veto power, etc. etc. This makes the important point that gun policy is not, by any means, the only focus of my research and writing. Indeed, as you know from having my books, most of what I have written is on subjects other than gun policy. Does this make sense? And again, I can supply electronic citations for most things, as needed.

I believe this covers everything. Again, let me know if I can be of assistance. Thank you all for your time and effort. (talk) 16:22, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello again, Dr. Spitzer. I will try to explain a few things until/unless Sue is able to explain better/more. First, re: verifying who you are, a Wikipedia admin (neither Sue or I are admins) will soon make something of a determination based on your IP address. I think that's how it works. You might also consider the WP:SIGNUP process as Sue suggested - though it is NOT required - and maybe the WP:IDENT process she suggested, too.
If this helps, follow this link and you can see the history of your article over the past several days. If you scroll up and down through those history pages, using the "Next edit" to move up toward the most recent edits, it will give you an idea of the WP edit process and how your article got to its present version. Also, WP:CS1 gives some WP citation formats. You don't want to edit the history pages, but even if you did - don't worry because mistakes can be reverted.
Wikipedia has its own unique style rules, and when it comes to section headers, we only capitalize the first word, except for proper nouns. As for your body of work, although I am content to accept your word, the WP rule (for biographies of living persons) is sources must be the highest quality reliable, verifiable source. I see your CV is on one of the URLs. I don't know if that counts, but if it does, we can probably cite that. I will wait for feedback from some of the more senior editors.
BTW: On your Google sites page, a copyright notice and date might help, as I see its been tagged on your WP article as a possibly self-published source. That's OK... it would just be helpful to know. Hope these comments help. Lightbreather (talk) 17:38, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
Hi Lightbreather, we don't have to verify his identity. We can evaluate the requests independent of knowing for sure (though I see little reason for doubt). As far as I can see, the suggested edits are all quite accurate for his academic research. In addition, the IP address does serve New York and he has announced his conflict of interest, and thus it is not against policy for him to edit the article. If there are any problems, edits can be changed, reverted, and discussed here. Cheers. I am One of Many (talk) 18:54, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks very much for this response immediately above by "I am One of Many"; much appreciated. Based on this, it seems that I am clear to engage in direct editing of my entry (i.e. "it is not against policy for him [i.e. me] to edit the article," and that my proposed edits are "all quite accurate for his [i.e. my] academic research." Unless other issues or questions, I will plan to proceed on this basis. Thanks again to all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:53, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, it is not against policy for you to edit your article. Of course, it is up to the Wikipedia community to make sure that your edits (which holds for everyone) conform to policy such as including only sourced information, that is neutral, and not promotional. Basically, what one should expect to see in an encyclopedia. I am One of Many (talk) 21:22, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

This seems quite fine. I am a great fan of footnotes, frankly, and was impeded only by the fact that I was unfamiliar with how to insert them. I think I have the hang of it, but will keep at it. One other question: there is a box at the very top of the entry saying that the entry needs more footnotes. How can I satisfy the sourcing requirements in order for this box to be removed, and is there some particular procedure for this? Thanks again--Moak7509 (talk) 21:48, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

I am happy to remove it for you. I think the qualifications have been satisfied at this point. --Sue Rangell 01:29, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Problem with images used in this article[edit]

I have two problems with images used in this article. They are "" and "". Both image files have "activist" in their names - which is absolutely unnecessary. They should simply be Robert_Spitzer_Political_Scientist.jpg and Politics_of_gun_control_book_cover.jpg. Lightbreather (talk) 18:02, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

I think enough is enough. The word was removed from the article. You are free to upload your own images if you like, but if you plan to upload identical images just with the intention of whitewashing a single word, that seems a little crazy. The man is an activist. If you don't like the dictionary definition, or see some negative connotation to it, there are plenty of synonyms to use. --Sue Rangell 19:58, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
If Robert J. Spitzer, political scientist, is an activist, there should be plenty of high-quality, reliable, verifiable sources who call him an activist. You (and by extension, the Wikipedia project) are calling him that based on your own research and a dictionary definition. That's WP:OR and against WP:BLP, IMO. I hope more, better editors (than you or I) come along to fix this. I'm tired of having my edits reverted. Lightbreather (talk) 20:07, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
I am not calling him anything. I removed the word per consensus. I even removed it from other pages. But that's all I'm doing, as I am not the one taking issue with the word. I am not on a crusade. Use whatever word you like, so long as it accurately describes the man's politics. (ie. "advocate", "proponent", "promoter", etc., all are fine) --Sue Rangell 20:42, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

The word "advocate"[edit]

I will point out that if you look at the Wikipedia Category Structure, you will find that the word "advocate" is the word Wikipedia uses for people on BOTH sides of the issue, for example "Category:Gun Rights Advocates" or "Category:American Gun Control Advocates". There is already a wide consensus to use that neutral word, so it should be the word we use. Those categories literally have hundreds of happy BLPs in them. Hopefully, this information will allow us to move on to more important things now. --Sue Rangell 02:29, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Lightbreather, you broke the page[edit]

Lightbreather, if you do not know how to upload images, please have someone help you. I replaced the broken image with a new one. It does not use the word "activist". Also please use the discussion page and get a consensus before making these edits. You do not own the page. Wikipedia is a community effort. Thank you. --Sue Rangell 01:26, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I didn't upload anything. Are you maybe referring to the renames that User:ANGELUS made by request? There is a history of those changes on the talk pages for the image files. I made the request per advice at the Teahouse. Lightbreather (talk) 04:58, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
My apologies for making that assumption, you did the right thing attempting to get someone to help you. I will take the issue up with him. --Sue Rangell 05:06, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Spitzer is not an activist or an advocate.[edit]

This article unacceptably labels a researcher as an activist or advocate.

Sue, I am very sorry to see that your zeal to keep checking the details of Lightbreather's editing has carried over into an article about a living person and has lead to concerns by that person. You need to back off here and leave the editing of this article to other editors. Others can watch what Lightbreather does. You have stepped outside your area of expertise here. Articles about living people carry certain responsibilities. And you are not familiar with the academic world.

About sources: Biographies of living persons may never use self-published sources as sources about the subject unless they are written or published by the subject. See Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Avoid self-published sources. As long as the article is not based primarily on sources written by the subject they may be used as sources of information about themselves. See Wikipedia:Verifiability#Self-published or questionable sources as sources on themselves. What is that self-published source tag doing on the first reference? We expect to see professors' websites as sources on their pages.

About pictures: Using a copyrighted image of a living person in an article is not "fair use". It is a copyright violation. See Wikipedia:Non-free content#Unacceptable use.

About the academic world: Spitzer is a political scientist. His work is studying gun control, not advocating for gun control. He is not a gun control activist. He is often interviewed as an expert on gun control. An appearance on the Diane Rehm show is not advocacy. He is there as an expert who studies the area and can answer questions about and analyze what is going on. Nothing in that interview nor the one in the Huffington post shows him doing the advocating. Neither Activist Views nor Gun Control Advocacy is an appropriate name for a section in this article. Both labels could be used to argue that he is not an unbiased researcher. He is correct in objecting to this.

Sue, you have written the sentence "Since the 1980s, Spitzer has written books, spoken at public gatherings, written articles for newspapers, and appeared on countless radio and television shows in support of gun control, and has established himself as a passionate and robust supporter of gun control." The references that you put at the end of the sentence don't say this. They are just the record of two interviews (the npr link only goes to the main page). The conclusion appears to be your own. An encyclopedia article just reports. It does not do analysis nor draw conclusions, though it may report on analysis done by others. A paragraph on who has interviewed Spitzer belongs in a "puff piece", not here. In this state this article reflects poorly on Wikipedia.

StarryGrandma (talk) 14:16, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello to StarryGrandma, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am the aforementioned Robert Spitzer. I have approval to make changes in this entry (above), which I will proceed to do. I did include a reference to my google page because earlier, information about the degrees I earned and other very basic biographical information was deleted, and in an effort to provide a place for readers to go to see this information, I cited the google page. I would most welcome any suggestion regarding this, especially since there is now a warning box at the top of the entry regarding citation to a self-published source. Again, any suggestions or assistance most welcome.Moak7509 (talk) 16:42, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I just wanted to make the point again that you don't need permission from anyone to edit this or any article. You have stated your conflict of interest, which is all that is asked. Keep in mind that anything that you add that anything you added that is not neutral or is promotional will likely be removed, but as long as it is reliably sourced, there should be no problem. Cheers. I am One of Many (talk) 17:42, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. But I am having difficulty right now in completing the edits that have been discussed above. They were finally ready, but when I pressed the button to submit them as final changes, I received an error message saying that someone else was also editing the entry, and when I looked at those changes, they were again deleting some of my basic biographical information and referring to me inappropriately as an "advocate" or "activist" or the like, which I thought had been resolved (above). I will return to try and post this. Any advice/assistance welcome. Thanks!Moak7509 (talk) 18:04, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I have completed the basic changes (bizarrely, some of the changes were undone, including restoration of a self-published source I had previously deleted). I have since eliminated the one self-published source with an outside, objective source. Can the flag at the top of the entry about self-published sourcing now be removed? Thanks.Moak7509 (talk) 18:25, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, Prof. Spitzer. I have removed that tag. BTW, please don't think that self-published sources are never acceptable. They are under certain circumstances described at the WP:BLP page under Using the subject as a self-published source. Thanks for working with us on this. Lightbreather (talk) 19:41, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Much appreciated. Thanks to all of you for your work.Moak7509 (talk) 20:17, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

RfC: Is it important to show that Mr. Spitzer is pro-control?[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Quoting our own BLP policy "BLPs should be written responsibly, cautiously, and in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement." Furthermore, the subject os notable for other non-gun-related material. Thus the word "activist" or (to a lesser extent) advocate is potentially polarising and misrepresentative. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 00:49, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Before I start, for those who do not know me, I want it out in the open that I am pro-control, and a fan of Robert Spitzer. That having been said, I see a highly POV trend to portray Mr. Spitzer as some sort of neutral political commentator when it comes to the subject of Gun Control. I do not think this is a good thing since he is so obviously on the pro-control side of the issue. EXAMPLE #1 EXAMPLE #2 EXAMPLE #3 We have discussed several "words" to describe his political leanings, but nothing seems to satisfy. Wikipedia uses the word "advocate" to describe those who lean to EITHER side of the issue. Should we describe his political leanings?Sue Rangell 21:23, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Sue, I have asked you to back off on this article. You do not have the experience with the academic world nor and you seem unfamiliar with what an article about a professor should be. Whether or not Spitzer is an advocate or an activist is not something to be determined by a poll of editors, most of whom may also be unfamiliar with what it means to be a political scientist, studying political issues. That means not only doing the research but writing about the results and being interviewed as an expert. One of Spitzer's fields of research is gun control, a highly politicized topic in this country. He is vocal about his work, not his politics. This can be confusing to the casual reader when they read about his work. But Wikipedia holds itself to higher standards. This survey is not an appropriate approach. StarryGrandma (talk) 05:15, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Sue, you moved this comment away from what I was commenting on. I am putting it back here. Never edit or move another editor's comments to change its meaning. You are changing the meaning of what I said by moving it away from what I was commenting on. See Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Others' comments.
She also moved one of the subject's comments a few hours before she moved yours, from the Survey section to the Threaded discussion, without asking permission (that I can see) or notifying him. Perhaps he meant it to serve as his vote? Considering that he's inexperienced at editing in Wikipedia, and considering that he's had to ask repeatedly about the disappearance of his additions to the article, it seems like it would have been nice to ask him where he wanted his comment, and move it with his permission. And she's changing her own posts without markup. That's misrepresents the flow of discussion, and it's poor form for an experienced editor. Lightbreather (talk) 20:16, 17 January 2014 (UTC)


  • Support as per above. Sue Rangell 21:23, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
  • OPPOSE per WP:BLP policy and WP:BLPSOURCES. NO preponderance of high-quality, reliable, verifiable sources call him this. (I can't find ONE high-quality, reliable, verifiable source that calls him this.) Further, WP:BURDEN - the first item under WP:VERIFY policy says not to leave unsourced or poorly sourced material in an article if it might damage the reputation of living people. Calling a scholar an "activist" or an "advocate" could damage her/or his reputation. (StarryGrandma explained that earlier.) WP:BURDEN also says that "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material.... (That's Wikipedia's emphasis, not mine.) The project is skating on very thin ice pursuing this, against both the subject's complaint and WP policy. Lightbreather (talk) 21:52, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
How does being Pro Gun-Control damage someone's reputation? In one of the examples above he says "Gun control advocates need to keep fighting." I really do not understand this opposition at all. It's very weird. --Sue Rangell 22:00, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
As StarryGrandma wrote above: "Both labels could be used to argue that he is not an unbiased researcher. He is correct in objecting to this." As Spitzer said prior to that, calling him those things misrepresents his career. As for the "quote" you just attributed to him, that's what the reporter, Mark Barabak, wrote. It was followed by an actual quote from Spitzer: "'If you're Bloomberg and Gabby Giffords and all the rest, you don't push all your chips in and hope for one big win, then say you're done,' Spitzer said." That's his analysis of the gun-control side of the fight to the run-rights side of the fight. Equally important - more so for this discussion - what does the reporter call Spitzer? A professor at the State University of New York in Cortland and author of several books on guns and politics. Lightbreather (talk) 22:33, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Untrue, read it again. Spitzer said "Gun control advocates need to keep fighting." The only other way to read it would be to say that the reporter was referring to Spitzer as a "Gun Control Advocate" Which way do you want it? --Sue Rangell 22:51, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Sue, maybe your browser is displaying this differently than mine, or maybe one of us is being redirected to a different version of the article. There are no quotation marks (indicating a direct quote) in the sentence I am reading. Please re-read it again, and re-read what I wrote at 22:33. I don't believe what I wrote is "untrue." Can't we just sit back and let some of the other, uninvolved editors consider the evidence for awhile? Lightbreather (talk) 01:10, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. His body of work serves the gun control crowd, exclusively. It seems only fair to identify such advocacy, with the appropriate cites, of course. (Or, he could demonstrate where his work has ever served the gun rights crowd, even occasionally.) If a body of work quacks like a duck, ... Miguel Escopeta (talk) 21:58, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Support This subject's notability seems to be his advocacy. Without the advocacy he might not meet notability requirements. Capitalismojo (talk) 22:14, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Good question. I have been asking it since about 10 JAN 2014. I have searched. Sue is searching. After days we still have not found one. (I'm still looking. I just went to Next, I'll try the NRA and the SAF. But are those high-quality, reliable, verifiable sources for a BLP?) Lightbreather (talk) 00:16, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Besides examples like THIS, there are several examples above in the subjects own words. If the above quotes do not suffice, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, more. Do we need to cite them all? The entirety of the article is cited from the subjects own works. His pro-control stance is the very reason he is notable. --Sue Rangell 00:31, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
When did that third example get thrown in there? Aren't editors supposed to underscore inserted material? At any rate, Spitzer already addressed that quote elsewhere. (See paragraph two of Threaded discussion). The second example I addressed in our discussion under my "opposed" vote. The first, at best, shows that Spitzer is opposed to civilians carrying on campuses (which the Supreme Court is OK with).
Your question is "Is it important to show that Mr. Spitzer is pro-control?" No. It's important to say that he is a political scientist who studies and comments on gun policies - and let his works speak for themselves. It is not for us to label him. (Though I do see Capitalismojo found a book by William Vizzard calling him a gun-control advocate. I suppose, depending on Vizzard's notability, that might call for a statement in the article that says William Vizzard calls him an advocate.) Lightbreather (talk) 00:59, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Rather than you interpreting the examples given, I suggest that editors read them for themselves, without filters. Or even google their own examples. There are thousands of quotes such as "...much of our gun culture has also been badly distorted by Hollywood and gun zealots." Which very clearly define the man's politics. It would simply be a mistake (and terrible for Wikipedia's accuracy reputation) to portray the gentleman as not having a stance on the issue. --Sue Rangell 01:11, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per Capitalismojo. I have also never heard of this person before, but after reading the article it seems to me that removing his advocacy for gun-control would eliminate the notability of his biography. Comatmebro ~Come at me~ 07:28, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Oppose. I have pasted below ten random, different media outlet references to me (Spitzer) that include the reference and a link to the actual stories. As you can see, I am referred to as professor/scholar/political scientist 8 times; as author/writer 8 times; as department chair 3 times. No references to me as advocate or such like. (My apologies for the length of this, but if evidence matters, then important to present it.) Guests • Frank Newport: Editor in Chief of Gallup. • Bob Spitzer: Professor of political science at State University of New York at Cortland and author of three books on gun control including "The Politics of Gun Control."

2012-07-31 Gun Control in the US

   2012-07-31 13:46:59         Web Editor: Wu You

-Robert J. Spitzer, Distinguished Service Professor, Department Chair, Political Science Department, the State University of New York Cortland. -AWR Hawkins, PhD in U.S. Military history, writer for Guns and Politics

Colby College hosted an address entitled "Guns and Politics". The speaker was Robert J. Spitzer, an author and professor at State University of New York, Cortland who discussed the role of gun ownership and politics in today's political landscape.

Dr. Spitzer is the author of fourteen books, and most recently "The Politics of Gun Control." He is Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department SUNY Cortland. He explores the issue of gun control and politics in light of recent events. "Gun control has proved to be one of the most enduringly contentious, even acrimonious issues in American politics. I set out to discover why," he said. Spitzer identified this way: “Political Science Professor and author Robert Spitzer”

Political scientist Robert Spitzer, author of the book The Politics of Gun Control and a member of the National Rifle Association, has written extensively about the history of the NRA, the Second Amendment and gun control laws. Guests Ladd Everitt, Director of Communications at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Robert Spitzer, Chair of the political science department at the State University of New York in Cortland, and author of "The Politics of Gun Control." John Velleco, director of federal affairs at Gun Owners of America. Juliette Leftwich, legal director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Salt Lake City, Utah – Monday, we're talking to the scholar Robert Spitzer about guns in America.

Chuck Babington, congressional reporter for the Associated Press. Robert Spitzer, professor of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland. Author of “The Politics of Gun Control.” Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

Gun-control advocates have mostly failed in mustering support for tougher federal gun laws over the past two decades, while gun-rights forces have achieved significant successes, according to Robert Spitzer, the author of “The Politics of Gun Control” and a professor of political science at the Cortland campus of the State University of New York.

Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at State University of New York-Cortland who has written extensively on gun control.Moak7509 (talk) 15:33, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

In each of those examples you are being quoted, speaking, or are a guest, etc. In such situations the guest is asked how they would like to be introduced, and then they are introduced that way. That is why these are all primary sources. What is needed are secondary sources, such as a biography written by a third party, something like that. As of this writing there have only been 2 such sources found (Sources where you had absolutely no input). We need more like that. --Sue Rangell 19:49, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

In some instances yes, in other instances no. But all of these sources referenced me, and initially contacted me, because they already knew of my expertise, encapsulated in the descriptors "author," "scholar," "department chair." In all instances, they were exercising their professional journalistic judgment about who I was, and sought my opinion because they knew me to be a scholar, not an advocate; more to the point, none of them used, suggested, or inferred that I was an "advocate" of some sort. In fact, for some of these media moments, they included other individuals who were advocates, representing various gun advocacy groups on both sides of the issue. And if these references are somehow questionable, then the one from the Cornell Daily Sun is as well, since I was interviewed by a student at that publication (that student did not quote me, nor did I identify myself as an advocate; and by the way, student reporters can and do uncover news, but so do non-journalists; the students are students writing for a school newspaper, not professional journalists). No one has written a biography of me, so no such source available. The comment immediately below makes a similar point well. First and foremost, I am defined by my occupation and published writings, which all encapsulate scholar/academic.Moak7509 (talk) 20:42, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

  • Oppose for the "oppose" reasons listed above. I especially want to emphasize that he is a political scientist. He does research on political systems. One of the several he studies is the politics of gun control. His research influences his point of view, but his real focus is understanding and explaining how the politics of gun control work, how they are influenced by what happens, and how they influence society. So, if his research tends to support one side more than another, he would be viewed as taking sides. It's consistent with the sources to say he is an occasional academic political commentator whose research supports some aspects of gun control, but saying more than this would go beyond the sources and would by interpretation and synthesis on our parts. I am One of Many (talk) 18:52, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose I'm invited to comment in the Rfc through feedback service. I didn't know Prof. Spitzer earlier. Following reading the article and the discussion on this page and the sources, I do not find it appropriate to tag Prof. Spitzer with pro-control till some reliable sources are not made available. Not WP:SYNTH. LIke, If one reliable source says A, and another reliable source says B, do not join A and B together to imply a conclusion C that is not mentioned by either of the sources. AnupMehra 09:37, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose labeling him as an "advocate" or with any similar label. He is an academic and qualifies as an academic. His position on gun control should be clearly stated in the body of the article, but he should not be referred to as an advocate (although he is one), because that draws attention away from his academic achievements. Robert McClenon (talk) 01:48, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand that reasoning. Biography articles aren't supposed to be used to burnish someone's reputation, academic or otherwise. They are not designed to focus attention on academic achievements over other acclaim or notability. We are supposed to just state what the RS refs guide us to. We have RS saying he is an academic. We have RS saying he is an advocate. Both should be included. Capitalismojo (talk) 02:38, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

Hello all. As this discussion is about me, I am obliged to weigh in. Since Ms. Rangell is beginning this, she says the following: "I want it out in the open that I am pro-control, and a fan of Robert Spitzer." Clearly her intent is to indicate that she is fair-minded in this matter, yet I fail to find any evidence of that. More to the point, I would point out that her assertion is 1) unverifiable, and 2) irrelevant. Everyone has their own opinions and perspectives, to which they are fully entitled. But in the present matter (and forgive me, I speak as an outsider), what matters, it seems to me, is judging Wikipedia entries by the standards of objectivity and fairness that guide it. Ms. Rangell seems obsessed with hanging the word "advocate" on me, despite prior writings that indicate this to be inappropriate. To turn to the text of my existing entry, it already says this: "Spitzer’s analysis of the gun issue finds most gun regulations to be compatible with America’s political and legal history and traditions, as well as with viable contemporary public policy." and it also says this: "Writing since the two cases were handed down, he said that "the Heller and McDonald rulings have established as a matter of law an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. But although judges can change the law, they cannot change history, and the historical record largely contradicts the bases for these two recent rulings." These assessments flow from my research and various writings, and address the consequences and conclusions of my writing. This, for me, is not an exercise in vanity, but in accuracy, and that is all I request. As for the LA Times article by Barabak from which I was quoted above, it is perfectly plain that I was responding to the reporter's question about what I thought the pro-gun control forces should do in the aftermath of their loss in two special elections in Colorado a few months ago. It is pure political analysis, and nothing more. I'm pasting the link to the original story here for your perusal: (talk) 23:10, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I just noticed that a random (and un-footnoted) quote from me appears in the middle of the entry, saying this: ""For all this, new gun measures will be tough going — as they historically have been — and success is by no means assured. But the time to act is now, and doing nothing is no longer an option." -Robert Spitzer" What is the point of plopping a random quote in the middle of this entry? This quote, it turns out, is the last sentence of an op-ed I wrote for the Daily News a year ago or so about the assignment given me by the News editor, which was this: what should Obama do about his gun policy initiatives then before Congress? The entire article was about that (here it is for your perusal: It was titled, "The President's Need for Speed," which was the main argument of the piece. If Obama didn't move fast, I basically argued, he was dead in the water. And so he was. If this debate in this space consists of plucking random quotes from the ether, then I would suggest that this runs the risk of being neither healthy nor fair-minded.Moak7509 (talk) 23:36, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

And now that we are on the subject, these phrases have again popped up in the essay, saying that I have “spoken at public gatherings” and have “established himself as a passionate and robust supporter of gun control.” As to the first, this wording has two problems: it suggests a degree of informality in talks I have given, and it makes such speaking engagements sound informal or without institutional connections, and neither is correct. The prior wording was better, saying simply (and more accurately) that I have "given many lectures and talks." The preference for this simpler and more accurate wording is that when I speak, it is either at universities and colleges, or before civic-type groups on their invitation. As for "passionate and robust," the author of these words knows, and can know nothing, about my passion and robustness. These terms are unsupported (unless you care to interview my wife about such matters. . .), inappropriate, and a distraction from the presentation of simple, neutral, objective writing--which, as I understand it, is the goal of Wikipedia.Moak7509 (talk) 23:46, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Prof. Spitzer, you should know (I know you're new to editing on Wikipedia) you ARE allowed to vote in the "Survey" section immediately preceding this "Threaded discussion." Lightbreather (talk) 00:22, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Sue, I have asked you to back off on this article. You do not have the experience with the academic world nor and you seem unfamiliar with what an article about a professor should be. Whether or not Spitzer is an advocate or an activist is not something to be determined by a poll of editors, most of whom may also be unfamiliar with what it means to be a political scientist, studying political issues. That means not only doing the research but writing about the results and being interviewed as an expert. One of Spitzer's fields of research is gun control, a highly politicized topic in this country. He is vocal about his work, not his politics. This can be confusing to the casual reader when they read about his work. But Wikipedia holds itself to higher standards. This survey is not an appropriate approach. StarryGrandma (talk) 05:15, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
"Seeking a consensus" is how Wikipedia works. --Sue Rangell 05:23, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

1. A link, please, Sue Rangell to the Wikipedia policy, guideline, or essay that supports Sue's the statement that "Wikipedia uses the word 'advocate' to describe those who lean to EITHER side of the issue." And does this policy, guideline, or essay say anything that would preempt WP:BLP? Lightbreather (talk) 22:06, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Take a look at how the categories are named. He would be placed in the category "American gun control advocates" as just one example, along with a few hundred other happy BLPs. --Sue Rangell 22:36, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Those are categories, not policies, guidelines, or essays. Also, where is the evidence that supports that they are happy BLPs? From my personal past experience on WP:CIVILITY and what Spitzer is himself right now fighting, there could be UN-happy BLPs out there. Or even BLPs who don't know they have bios on WP. We don't know if they'd be happy or not about being categorized as activists or advocates. I'll bet most if not all of the ones who are scholars would not be happy about it.
Also, at the top of Category:Gun control advocates it says: "Articles about individuals who have actively worked for gun control. (This category is part of Category:Activists, and therefore is not intended for people who have merely espoused an opinion.)" There is a similar statement at the top of Category:Gun rights advocates, too.
Finally, WP:BLPREMOVE says first "See also: Wikipedia:Libel, and then "Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced; that is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see No original research); that relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP (see below); or that relies on sources that fail in some other way to meet Verifiability standards." I don't wish to discuss this further with you, but wait to see what other editors/admins say. Thanks. Lightbreather (talk) 23:08, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
It is not libel or a violation of BLP to honestly point to a persons politics, especially when they are so vocal about them. It is WP:SYNTH and WP:OR to attempt to obfuscate them. --Sue Rangell 23:19, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Leaving aside for a moment the "advocacy" question, there is other wording in the entry that has made its way back in which seems utterly inappropriate: 1) "established himself as a passionate and robust supporter of gun control." "Passionate and robust" has no place in this entry. The footnotes do not support it; there is no evidence supporting it; it is a clear case of "conjectural interpretation," and is additionally sophomoric effusion that has no place in a basic, descriptive essay. 2) the headings are illogical. One is titled "Gun control advocacy" (again, leaving aside the question of the appropriateness of the word "advocacy") the intent is to group together my writings on gun control, which is perfectly sensible. But the next heading is "Published works", even though "Gun control advocacy" also has published works included in it. This heading should be what it was before--something like "Other scholarly work" (and agree or disagree with the content, it is factually accurate to say that I have produced scholarly work). In this latter section, there is a second reference to my book "The Politics of Gun Control"--this reference should be confined to the prior section, as it is unnecessarily duplicative to mention it twice without some specific reason. I would beg the editors' indulgence to make these changes at the least. Final point: 3) for some reason, a box has again appeared at the top of the essay, warning about the presence of self-published sources. There are now none in the essay. Can this box be removed? Thanks.Moak7509 (talk) 14:49, 16 January 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Moak7509 (talkcontribs) 14:47, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I would agree with the point above relating to "passionate and robust", there is no ref that supports that. The headings, meh. I could go either way. As relate to SPS, we need refs not written by the subject. Right now almost all of the refs are written by the subject, that is not proper. What we are looking for in a biography article is material written about the subject. The tag must stay until this hole in the article is resolved. Capitalismojo (talk) 15:36, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Let me invite you to reexamine the footnotes. I have now inserted/substituted numerous other sources not by Spitzer (i.e. me) to address this--although the existence of the cites of my work arose in response to criticisms that the information provided needed sourcing, and because much of the writing is about my writing, it seemed logical to direct the reader to the original sources. What think? Thanks.Moak7509 (talk) 19:12, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


This article seems entirely sourced/ref'd to the subject's own writings. These are SPS. We need secondary refs. Capitalismojo (talk) 22:22, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I will add some and hope no-one reverts them as after a previous half-day's work. While I'm at it, I'll restore the copy editing and style edits I'd made before that bulk revert. Also, remember, using the subject as a self-published source is acceptable, and I was only just getting starting on improving this article when this dispute over activist/advocate took center stage. Lightbreather (talk) 22:39, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Let's not place a speedy-delete tag on it just yet, I am sure there is a substantial body of material out there somewhere that talks ABOUT the man independent of him. Give me 24 hours.--Sue Rangell 22:44, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
SPS are difficult. We need something about the subject. Capitalismojo (talk) 23:49, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Here is one that talks about him as an advocate. [1]
A 14-year-old-book by a criminologist. Any preponderence of current, mainstream newspapers? The ones I find call him a political scientist or a professor of political science - and leave it at that. Lightbreather (talk) 03:47, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm just happy to find RS that talks about him, as opposed to things written by him. Capitalismojo (talk) 03:59, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Here is another secondary source, and guess says he is a "prominent gun control advocate" --Sue Rangell 04:43, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Student newspapers are not held to the same degree of fact-checking or accuracy of writing as professional publications. StarryGrandma (talk) 05:57, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I don't know how true that is, student newspapers are often the first to break important stories, etc. But it doesn't matter. This article has only TWO (2) such secondary sources, and they both describe him the same way. --Sue Rangell 06:11, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── All three sources that you use for the lead are not reliable sources:

In any case, they only use the adjective gun control advocate to describe Spitzer. To demonstrate that he is an advocate you need sources that analyze Spitzer's work and come to the conclusion that he is an advocate.

You are making basic mistakes in editing a page about living people. You are also making mistakes about adding pictures and about reliability of sources that seem to show a lack of experience in adding sections of new material to articles. You are adding references as bare urls. In your recent unsuccessful request to become an administrator questions were raised about your experience editing articles and your understanding of the reliability of references. Only 33% of your edits are on articles and you were not willing to activate the script to let them see your detailed edit distribution.

Please change the lead back to what it was and remove the section on Gun control advocacy. StarryGrandma (talk) 15:38, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I agree with StarryGrandma 100 percent. Sue keeps insisting that her OR and synthesis be not only included, but also given a place of prominence - based on statements pulled out of context, one report in a college newspaper, and a 14-year-old book by a criminologist who, as StarryGrandma has pointed out, had a friend whose work was negatively critiqued by Spitzer. THESE ARE NOT HIGH-QUALITY SOURCES, as per WP:BLPSOURCES and WP:BLPREMOVE.
Those who have said of the subject, "I've never heard of him before," or "He's only 'notable' as an 'advocate,'" I would advise also to review WP:NPF (and WP:LOWPROFILE) and the NPF warning: "Material that may adversely affect a person's reputation should be treated with special care; in many jurisdictions, repeating a defamatory claim is actionable, and there are additional protections for subjects who are not public figures." I think Sue's zeal to label Spitzer a gun-control hurts not only the subject, the Wikipedia project, too. Lightbreather (talk) 20:02, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Who are you addressing Starry? Perhaps you could take personal discussions about admin campaigns to individual talk pages. Capitalismojo (talk) 16:20, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
At least three people have questioned Sue's edits on this page, so it seems like the best place to discuss them for now. Besides, from personal experience, I know Sue does not take criticism on her own talk page, but will re-direct it to the article talk page anyway. Lightbreather (talk) 20:08, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Re "Shots in the Dark", it is a work published by a major publishing house, one that is seen as RS. It talks about the subject. There is not requirement for RS to be supporters of a BLP subject. We need RS refs not written by the subject in this article, as such we can't remove an appropriate ref because an editor doesn't like the description. Student newspaper's are generally fine, take it to RS/N if you have a problem with this specific paper. Absent these refs there is little to support not deleting the article. We can not have a BLP that only has the writings of the subject as refs. Capitalismojo (talk) 16:20, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Please see comment above at end of "Threaded Discussion."Moak7509 (talk) 19:15, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

A few hours ago, I inserted footnotes that were "not written by the subject" (i.e. me), in response to the suggestion above--from book reviews authored by reviewers in journals, for the most part. But these have suddenly all disappeared. Why would these changes be repealed, given that they respond directly to the concerns expressed in this space? Can anyone assist/explain?Moak7509 (talk) 20:50, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

They are back. The reviews are excellent additions! I particularly like the lpbr refs that review your work. [2] We should integrate the material from this ref into the article more fully. Capitalismojo (talk) 21:48, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I am sorry to say, they were all reverted by Sue Rangell in her "added banner" edit (scroll down), which I have started a discussion about below. (How to make this stop?) I am so sorry that you are being treated this way. I am going to talk with my mentor, who has much more experience than I, and see if we need to escalate this problem. At the very least, if she has "rollback" rights (I think she does), I think she has abused them and should have them taken away. However, I don't know for sure. I hope my mentor can help.
At the top of every talk page there is a tab "View History." It's a good way to review what's been going on with an article. Lightbreather (talk) 21:10, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I have contacted my mentor and I will restore your edits forthwith. Lightbreather (talk) 21:17, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
They were back, as Capitalismojo noted at 21:48, but he deleted the links to the SCOTUS opinions, saying in his edit summary, "rem primary source refs to SCOTUS rulings: these do not mention BLP subject." Capitalismojo, it is clear from where the prof. placed them that they were meant to be a link to the opinions (for the readers), not to support his own analysis of the rulings. This man may be learned in other ways, but he is a newbie WP editor. Might you have talked to him first? Or, at the very least, were you going to tell him about the deletion, or let him wonder again where his contributions are going? Lightbreather (talk) 22:11, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
The wiki-links to the articles are the appropriate way to assist readers to understand the cases. The links to the actual primary source material is not helpful to this article. These links appear in the WP articles on the cases. The links did not ref the BLP subject and so were removed per WP:MOS. I placed a welcome note with links at his talk page to help him begin to navigate the jungle that is Wikipedia policy and style. We all learn by trying here. God knows I'm still learning and I have 5000 edits. Capitalismojo (talk) 22:25, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I did insert links directly to the two Supreme Court cases; their deletion is not a problem for me--I just figured their insertion was consistent with the request for more outside, objective (i.e. non-Spitzer) sourcing. Of greater concern was the deletion of footnotes referencing my work written by outside, objective reviewers from various journals and publications. I've not seen them restored, but am willing to reinsert them--again, this is consistent with the larger concern raised by others. Trust OK.Moak7509 (talk) 23:05, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I must be seeing things, as the objective cites formerly deleted are in fact there. The only other thing I did was delete the very last graph, as it simply repeated mention of book titles discussed in the prior two graphs.Moak7509 (talk) 23:24, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

How to make this stop?[edit]

I added to the lead a source for the subject being a political scientist, author, and commentator. I also removed the redundant use of the word "political" from the lead (which had said "political scientist, author, and political commentator." The edit was reverted with the edit summary "added banner." Indeed, a banner was added to the section, but my entire edit was reverted without reason. This is happening to my edits more and more, and always by Sue Rangell. Either a significant change will go without comment at all (as I just showed), or sometimes even the comment will be untruthful, as it was when she bulk reverted a mass of work I'd done on this article with the edit summary "Reverted unsourced material per BLP." Advice on how to address? Lightbreather (talk) 20:30, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

As a follow-up, I see that Sue is a member of the Recent changes patrol. Does that include having rollback rights? If I'm reading it right, it does, and it would also explain experiences I've had where I worked hard on a bunch of good-faith edits, to see her suddenly revert them all in bulk. (One in particular stands out in my mind, and I am going to go find the diff. I asked about it at the time, with no reply that I remember.) Lightbreather (talk) 20:57, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Your vast array of edits have occasionally been contentious, as I know you are aware. BLP's are difficult enough without adding huge undigested chunks. I have seen good in these edits, and bad. We achieve consensus throough BRD. You have been Bold, you were Reverted, now we Discuss. That's the process, painful as it may be. Capitalismojo (talk) 21:53, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Sue invited me to support her at this page, though I previously have no knowledge of her work and do not involve myself in US gun politics. I have edited Gun politics in Australia over ten years. A persistent problem in gun politics is the misuse of academic credentials by obvious activists in partnership with media elements, and ends-directed research by academics which compromises research design integrity. Past authors of overview articles have found the majority of research on gun politics to be of this type.
Sue appears to be attempting to change the framing of the BLP of Robert Spitzer to reflect his use of institutional and personal academic credentials in advocacy, apparently on a long-term basis. Professor Spitzer appears to prefer that his article frame him as a speaker and researcher with academic neutrality.
While Sue may be right, AFAIK Robert has earned his reputation by a career of honest work. His status as an advocate, as an agent for change via his media work is backed by that reputation. If Sue provides adequate WP:RS for adding this to the article in full compliance with WP:BLP, her changes stand. Until those WP:RS are in place, it is my opinion that Robert has the right of this argument and I recommend that Sue step back and work with him with honesty, and presuming good faith on his part. That would include discussing changes and reverts on the talk page.
ChrisPer (talk) 22:09, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Interesting. The few RS refs that are not written by the subject support the "advocate" characterization, although not the "robust and passionate" descriptors. Capitalismojo (talk) 22:17, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your input, ChrisPer. This is the first time I've done significant work on a BLP. Could you please elaborate on what you mean by "adequate WP:RS"? Quality? Quantity? Currency? Oh! And is a faculty bio page or a CV okay for any particular facts? Thanks again. Lightbreather (talk) 22:26, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I do not claim to special knowledge in this; WP:RS has a plain meaning, and it goes to the source quality. I myself use lower quality sources on non-BLP articles if I feel a fact should be in the article, and try to bring an RS to replace it as soon as I can. If that makes it WP:OR, it should be immediately reverted, and that is Wikipedia. OR is not acceptable on Wikipedia, especially not on BLPs. A faculty bio is usually written by the subject, and is not an RS; but for a person of sound reputation I would cheerfully rely on it until forced to give way by an objector. For an academic crook like that guy that falsified historical sources in a 2000 book claiming American culture came late to firearms, or for out-and-out activists their faculty bios are likely to be compromised by their lack of integrity. ChrisPer (talk) 23:43, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. I didn't know if you might have some insight on the quality of a source. I keep pointing to BLP, which says (as of this date/time):
"Editors must take particular care when adding information about living persons to any Wikipedia page. Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States, to this policy, and to Wikipedia's three core content policies:
"We must get the article right. Be very firm about the use of high-quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be explicitly attributed to a reliable, published source, which is usually done with an inline citation. Contentious material about living persons (or in some cases, recently deceased) that is unsourced or poorly sourced – whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable – should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion. Users who persistently or egregiously violate this policy may be blocked from editing."
The two sources cited for calling the prof. an advocate are verifiable, I'll give you that, but "high-quality" or those other tests that Jimmy says material should pass - or be "removed immediately and without waiting for discussion."? I don't mean for you to stay and discuss with me. I'm just getting my concerns out there. Thanks again. Lightbreather (talk) 00:08, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Robust and Passionate[edit]

While I have now doubt that Robert Spitzer is indeed a "robust and passionate" man, I think that in the absence of RS refs that formulation should be removed. Capitalismojo (talk) 22:15, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Agree. Lightbreather (talk) 23:18, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done --Sue Rangell 03:46, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Moving disputed "advocate" citations here for possible future use/reference[edit]

These are the two disputed "RS" citations for Spitzer as an advocate. I am moving them here from the article main space for possible future use or reference.

I want to verify my commentary on Vizzard re: Kleck and Spitzer. Am putting it here for now until I can do that.

--Lightbreather (talk) 23:18, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, um no. These are virtually the only refs not written by the subject in this article. If you have issues take them to RS/N. Capitalismojo (talk) 23:25, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
That is untrue. Since this is a BLP, and several editors object to use of the term, and the living subject objects to its use, can we please at least move it out of the lead while the article is developed a bit more? Do y'all not recognize that this could be damaging to his career? If you remember, this all started when I came over here to develop the article. Sue followed me here within one hour of my arrival, inserted this label (well, she started with activist). The next day, the prof. appeared as an activist on a Google search. This is all we've discussed since.
Out of the lead. Is that acceptable for now? Lightbreather (talk) 23:45, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Damaging to a career? Really? That isn't likey given the subject's massive public appearances on this issue. Who is surprised or concerned when a prominent and well-respected academic who has publicly advocated for reasonable gun control for decades is described in a brief bio as an "advocate"? I am reading SUNY Cortland professor advocates a sensible approach to guns, from New York to Arizona from the Syracuse Post-Standard [3] It sure seems like a public proclamation of advocacy. As the newspaper's headline identifies him as advocating national gun policy it doesn't seem to have hurt. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:36, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
More to the point, to put into a bio what reliable sources say about the subject of a biography is how Wikipedia works. That's how it works no matter what the subject of the bio might like. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:36, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

I have made one last attempt[edit]

I have made one last attempt to bring this article into unequivocal compliance with WP:BLP. I remove all instances of WIKIPEDIA calling Spitzer a gun control advocate, but I did add a statement to the On gun control section that says, "In his 2000 book Shots in the Dark, William J. Vizzard called Spitzer a gun control advocate." Tomorrow, if these edits are allowed to stay, I will work on fleshing out this bio - as I meant to do when I came here nearly one week ago - and cleaning up the existing citations, and finding more high-quality secondary sources. Otherwise, I will seek counsel from my mentor. Lightbreather (talk) 01:17, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

The consensus at the moment is weighted against this, so it would be a bad idea. --Sue Rangell 08:22, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Per WP:CON, consensus is NOT a vote. And the vote here is split. More importantly, it goes against the objections of the LIVING subject, and of StarryGrandma and ChrisPer - your own pick for an outside opinion. WP:NOCONSENSUS is important here, too.
I wash my hands of this article now, though I feel badly for Prof. Spitzer. (Prof: if you don't already know, there is some advice for you at WP:BLPCOMPLAINT. Good luck!) Lightbreather (talk) 15:21, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

A couple of other factual things. I previously raised the matter of the two quotes from my writings more or less randomly dropped into the middle of the entry. I can see no particular sense in doing so. Having said that, the first quote is innocuous enough, but the second is misleading--as I noted previously, it is from an op-ed I wrote in January 2013 that dealt very specifically with Obama's then-pending legislative initiative of gun measures before Congress. But presented on its own here, it is neither time-keyed, nor content-keyed--i.e., lacking the reference to what was going on a year ago; therefore, it is misleading, and should be dropped. Also, footnote 8 cites the Volokh web site in support of the phrase in the text that Spitzer "has established himself as a strong proponent." The cite takes one to a Volokh page in 2003, and makes no mention of Spitzer (i.e. me). The footnote needs to be either corrected or dropped. Can these things be corrected? Thanks.Moak7509 (talk) 17:19, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Footnote 12 similarly goes to a random web page relating to the subject of guns, but no mention of Spitzer there, either. This note needs to be either corrected or dropped. And can the two warning boxes at the top of the essay now be removed?Moak7509 (talk) 17:24, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

My mistake on footnote 12, to this extent: I went to the site again (it's called "Instapundit" and run by a right wing lawyer and commentator, Glenn Reynolds) and it was this quote, posted in 2010: "I’d like to note that a lot of “respectable” commentators were, just a few years ago, calling the individual-rights theory of the Second Amendment absurd, ridiculous, and something that only (probably paid) shills for the NRA would espouse. (I’m talking to you, Garry Wills and Robert Spitzer, among others)." Reynolds, who is a supporter of the individual rights theory, is rather sarcastically criticizing my position on this issue. How does this sentence support anything to which the citation is attached in the text?Moak7509 (talk) 18:29, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Well, my mistake again, apparently. I rechecked Volokh, and it does mention Spitzer. In fact, Volokh (who is also a right wing lawyer) refers to me as "a strong proponent of gun control." These are the exact words that appear in the entry, but the cite appears in the middle of the phrase, and no quote marks appear around the phrase, which technically makes it plagiarism (a subject I teach every semester), so I will change this, even as I disagree with Volokh on this and many other things.Moak7509 (talk) 18:39, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Consensus is not a vote, and I dispute that "The consensus at the moment is weighted against this." Further, BLP violations are highly problematic and cannot be overruled by consensus. Do not write in Wikipedia's voice that which is merely the opinion of others. Do not use questionable, or blatantly unreliable sources for anything. Lightbreather appears to be entirely in the right. Hipocrite (talk) 19:01, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Duplicated Material[edit]

THIS biographical material matches almost perfectly word for word, statements made in the article. I am not concerned about copyvio or anything like that, because it's been chopped up sufficiently at this point, but we need to be careful. Even if the info originally came from a bio supplied to them by Mr. Spitzer himself, there could still be copyvio issues. Be careful. Write from scratch please. --Sue Rangell 08:49, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Gun control advocate BLP vio[edit]

Without strong sourcing, including in wikipedia's voice the disputed "fact" that this individual is an advocate and not just a scholar is a BLP violation. The subject disputes the characterization, and the only sources found so far are either unreliable, questionable, or highly biased. Hipocrite (talk) 19:30, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

The Syracuse Post-Standard SUNY Cortland Professor Advocates a Sensible Approach to Guns [4] Capitalismojo (talk) 19:44, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
I believe we now have three mainstream RS refs referring to advocate, not counting Volokh or Reynolds (who are only reliable for their opinions). Capitalismojo (talk) 19:44, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Where does that article describe him as a gun control advocate? Use quotes. Hipocrite (talk) 19:52, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
We really have to pay careful attention to the meaning of advocate in the contexts in which it is used. To call someone an advocate as part of their profession is to assert that that is what they do perhaps as part of their living . To say that someone advocates a certain position is completely different. It means that the support and defend a certain position, but it does not imply that they are a political advocate as part of their professional activities. Therefore, I see POV being pushed here that he is a political advocate where there is absolutely no evidence that he does political advocacy for a living. This is a serious BLP violation. I am One of Many (talk) 20:52, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Described as a scholar with respect to gun control - [5] - described as a political scientist invited to testify before congress on the strength of his scholarly work.
  • Quoted as a scholar not as a side-taker - [6]
  • Quoted as a scholar not as a side-taker - [7]
  • Specifically defined as not an advocate, but a scholarly proponent - [8]
I wonder why these sources were not earlier presented? Hipocrite (talk) 21:28, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
I completely agree. I am One of Many (talk) 21:59, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Interesting. Good refs to work into the article. I would note that this formulation "Quoted as a scholar not a side-taker" is odd. The refs you have introduced don't characterize the subject at all, except the one that describes him as a "scholarly proponent" of gun control. They certainly don't say he's not a "side-taker", and one in fact criticizes him for asserting a public mandate for increased gun-control that doesn't (in that author's opinion) exist. Capitalismojo (talk) 00:50, 28 January 2014 (UTC)


Who picked those quotes? Why were they picked? Why do you believe they are indicative of his standard quotes? The subject disputes their propriety as summary. Don't you think we should observe the subjects wishes with respect to pull quotes? Hipocrite (talk) 20:21, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

They outline the subject's advocacy on gun control. That is why they were picked. ...and please don't add any 3RR notices to my talk page because I replaced them, they have stood for 4 days. --Sue Rangell 20:27, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
Who determined that they outline his advocacy? Was that an editorial decision by you? Do you feel that's appropriate in light of the subject saying they do not appropriately outline his advocacy, and are taken out of context? Hipocrite (talk) 20:29, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
By "stood for 4 days" you mean "were removed multiple times by multiple people and reinserted by you over 2 days," right? [9], [10]. I mean, come on. Hipocrite (talk) 20:33, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm not going to argue about it. I have a 1RR rule, so if you think I've slipped-up and done three reverts in 24 hours feel free to report it, I'll deserve it. But you'll find that I'm very careful about that. And you can stop trying to bait me. I won't respond to any such nonsense again. Can we go back to talking about the article now? --Sue Rangell 21:02, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
You're at 2 reverts. Sure, let's talk about the article - "Who determined that they outline his advocacy? Was that an editorial decision by you? Do you feel that's appropriate in light of the subject saying they do not appropriately outline his advocacy, and are taken out of context?" Hipocrite (talk) 21:10, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Two words: media law.[edit]

First, writers - whether reporters for newspapers or special contributors - rarely write their own headlines. Editors do that, and it's one of the hardest jobs to do well.

Second, professional journalists study media law.

Third, because of #2, no good reporter or editor calls any living (or recently deceased) person something contentious without a preponderence of high-quality sources to back it, because to do so could ruin their own reputation, the reputation of their publisher, and possibly invite a costly lawsuit.

Fourth, Wikipedia is essentially a publisher. I keep pointing y'all to the WP:BLP policy... What exactly are you not getting? Is our relative anonymity here as editors and contributors a license to defame? You should get current copies of a good writer's guide (like The Associated Press Stylebook) and cozy-up with the media law section. There is also a media law article here on Wikipedia, though I can't vouch for its quality.

If Wikipedia's reputation is important to you (regardless of your concern for Prof. Spitzer) you'll back off this OR and synthesis. Lightbreather (talk) 21:07, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

I think you are getting a bit precious here. Journalists and editors are notoriously and routinely wrong on some of the facts of their stories, and media law is enforced only when someone has enough money and power to make a lawsuit stick against a giant corporation. What matters in this situation is the rules here at Wikipedia: No OR and RS only particularly in BLP.
Professor Spitzer's characterisation as a pro-control advocate in the media is not necessarily wrong; it just has not appeared in a form that makes it easy to support it in Wikipedia, ie an S that is so R it cannot be refused. The good Professor might prefer to be portrayed with a background of thick leatherbound books and a sunbeam slicing through the dancing motes of the cloister to highlight his long grey beard and twinkling expression of profound enlightenment (eyeroll). It is circular reasoning when he lists himself being introduced as a researcher and political scientist as some kind of proof he is not an activist. When he engages in advocacy those credentials allow him to 'argue from authority'. That authority is a cashable asset that gets degraded if a journalist might one day feel obliged to add 'and advocate'. Damage his career - fat chance, it is his marketability as a speaker and level of credibility as a TV expert for his causes that is at issue.
A BLP on wikipedia can only report reliable sources. If insufficient RS acknowledge his advocacy, there are better ways the facts can be conveyed in Wikipedia. For instance, to accurately and neutrally summarise a series of his public positions, with RS references, instantly shows the general tenor of his advocacy as facts, without potentially contentious name-calling. ChrisPer (talk) 00:26, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that journalists are never wrong, I only meant that journalism schools and newsrooms pound into writers' and editors' heads that when it comes to calling a living person something there could be serious consequences if they screw up. Their publisher could get sued - and they could get fired. I won't comment about what you said about the professor, but I do agree with what you wrote about no OR and RS in BLP. What WP:BLP says is what I've been saying all along: use high-quality sources and write conservatively. Lightbreather (talk) 01:43, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
No sorry necessary. After all, you are right about the standards we are held to. ChrisPer (talk) 04:19, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

BLP compliance[edit]

I am reviewing the editing on this article to evaluate compliance with our policy on biographies of living persons. My initial impression, subject to comment here, is that there is an attempt to place undue weight on adjectives and characterizations concerning the subject's work, as opposed to a neutral description of it. I ask that editors please step back from this sort of behavior so that I don't have to consider taking any administrator action here. Newyorkbrad (talk) 22:11, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. May I remove the contentious material while we await evaluation? Lightbreather (talk) 22:57, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
That would generally be the proper course, although given that you've been involved in the back-and-forth, it would be still better if another editor did it, if anyone else is watching here. Newyorkbrad (talk) 00:30, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
I removed the contentious material and sources, except for Vizzard and Volokh, whose comments I explicitly attributed to them. Lightbreather (talk) 01:31, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello. I see that there is a warning box at the top of the section "Career" calling for more cites to verify my bio. I'm at a bit of a loss about what to suggest here; however, I have found two independent sources to verify two bits of information: that I was president of the Presidency Research Group of the APSA, and here's the link: and here is a very brief one that I was a member of the NYS Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution: The problem with the latter in terms of finding something on the web is that the Commission only existed in the 1980s--before the internet was really in wide use, so stuff just not there. The one link above is a part of a page of a publication of the Commission that lists the Commission members, which includes me. Hope this helps.Moak7509 (talk) 16:19, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

These sources are good. Thanks for looking. Sources don't have to be online. Any reliable published source will do, a newspaper article, an article in a university magazine. The curriculum vitae of a professor is a fine source for factual information in an article about a professor. See Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Using the subject as a self-published source and Wikipedia:Verifiability#Self-published or questionable sources as sources on themselves. Yours is online at StarryGrandma (talk) 17:23, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Linking to my CV absolutely fine--I had done so earlier, but had understood that to be a problem, so I (or maybe someone else--can't now recall) removed it. As for the Bicentennial Commission, it produced numerous books, many of which listed the Commission members. I have copies to consult.Moak7509 (talk) 17:36, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello, prof. StarryGrandma made some good points above. Since an admin is reviewing the page, we need to take it real slow, so I propose working together and documenting every step of the way, not only with detailed edit summaries on the article edits, but with a kind of running log of what we're doing here - at least until the admin has finished his eval.
I woke up sick the day before yesterday, but during my waking hours today, I am going to review all of the existing source citations and where they're weak, I'll try to find replacements or other sources. Remember, self-published sources are acceptable in certain situations:
Self-published and questionable sources may be used as sources of information about themselves, usually in articles about themselves or their activities, without the self-published source requirement that they be published experts in the field, so long as:
* the material is neither unduly self-serving nor an exceptional claim;
* it does not involve claims about third parties;
* it does not involve claims about events not directly related to the source;
* there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity;
* the article is not based primarily on such sources.
That's per WP:BLPSPS and related links. So... I am going to take some time today to look at/for sources. I know we have a link to your CV somewhere in the article history, if it's not still there. I will try to make very clear edit summaries, and comment here, too. Question: Are you listed in a Who's Who? Also, on your Google site, a copyright notice would be a good idea, I think. Lightbreather (talk) 17:40, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, StarryGrandma. I see you provided the link to Spitzer's CV. Lightbreather (talk) 17:42, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
DONE - I have added Spitzer's CV as an acceptable WP:BLPSPS source. It can probably be used as a citation for most of the basic factual elements (degrees, awards, etc.) Lightbreather (talk) 17:53, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
DONE - gave a couple other existing sources ref names and put into CS1 style formats. Moved one to end of sentence it supported (immediately after sentence it had been appended to.) Lightbreather (talk) 18:28, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
DONE - added Presidency Research Group and related source citations and external link. Lightbreather (talk) 18:53, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
DONE - added brief paragraph to On gun control section quoting Spitzer's opinion as published in a NYT letter in 2009. (Note the NYT described Spitzer: "The writer, a professor of political science at SUNY Cortland, is the author of three books about gun control.") Lightbreather (talk) 19:53, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
DONE - reformatted three existing sources to CS1 cite news style, but removed one (about veto power) of those sources from On gun control section. Will use in On American presidency section. Lightbreather (talk) 20:13, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
The first 16 21 of the current 29 sources are now fully sourced. I am going to take some medicine and a nap, and I will resume here later today or tomorrow. Lightbreather (talk) 21:00, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
DONE - reformatting remaining sources, which were in the one paragraph of the last section, Published works. I used WP:CS1 cite web style. Some could probably be improved by the cite journal style, but they're definitely more informative to the reader now then they were. I substituted sources for the last two. Diffs and explanations here. I double-check my work as I go, but I'm now going to go back and check all the references again, just to make sure they all work and go where they're supposed to go. Plus any style issues that I see there (in References). Lightbreather (talk) 21:01, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello. If you need a citation for Spitzer's (i.e. my) service on the NYS Bicentennial of the US Constitution, here are two citations to print sources: Stephen L. Schechter and Richard B. Bernstein, eds., Contexts of the Bill of Rights (Albany, NY: New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, 1990), p. iv. Another source: Stephen L. Schechter and Richard B. Bernstein, eds., Well Begun: Chronicles of the Early National Period (Albany, NY: New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, 1989), p. (talk) 15:03, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Have to agree with Lightbreather here; and add that the use of the word "advocate" here is obvious Wikipedia:synthesis (with the wrong conclusion drawn) and should be immediately removed per Wikipedia:BLP. GenQuest "Talk to Me" 06:44, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

On American presidency[edit]

FYI: I have started collecting some sources for an "On American presidency" section for Spitzer's article in my sandbox. I hope to add that section soon, but right now I'm concentrating on improving the quality of the sources on the existing material. Lightbreather (talk) 19:23, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

This is good. The entire topic of gun control currently is receiving massively undue weight in the article relative to everything else that Professor Spitzer has worked on and accomplished. Newyorkbrad (talk) 21:07, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, Newyorkbrad. I am working on this topic today. Lightbreather (talk) 21:34, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
I added this section. I trust that you (Newyorkbrad) will let me know if I've done anything wrong. I think it's much improved now, IMHO, but I intend to add a little bit more. Lightbreather (talk) 00:47, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

What is this?[edit]

I did a Wiki search on "gun control advocate" and the first two results were

What the heck is that second thing? I don't know enough about WP yet to understand. Also, I'd like to get rid of this and any other stealth labeling of the professor. (I think there may still be a headshot and a bookcover image file or two or three, and redirects, floating around.) Lightbreather (talk) 01:13, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Looks to me like a heading reference. Go to the Contents and click a heading, then read your address bar to see what they look like. As such, you have edited it out and Google will supersede it fairly soon.
All this work done so fast, and you are still Lightbreather! ;-)
ChrisPer (talk) 09:55, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Re: Notability - see WP:NACADEMICS[edit]

Re: a couple editors' claim that the subject is only notable for his comments on gun control: I just found WP:NACADEMICS. I knew there must be something like this somewhere. What I'd found at BLP had some applicable points, like the high- vs. low-profile discussion, but this NACADEMICS thing nails it, so I'm crossing THAT off my list. Lightbreather (talk) 02:26, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Gun control advocacy[edit]

I have re-added the advocay information, citing two mainstream sources, The Syracuse Post-Standard and Cornell Daily Sun. A third source where Spitzer himself is commenting on the need for stricter gun control was already in the article. --Sue Rangell 23:23, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't think the issue was a lack of sources in the main last time. I note your change has been reverted. Sue, if you want to argue the case for the word "advocate" , then please open another discussion to gain consensus first. I've fully protected it for the time being to prevent edit warring. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 07:36, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
There was no need for that, I have a self imposed 1-revert rule. Please note that I have already opened a discussion...this one. I would love to hear opinions on the matter. If one will read above, one may note that the idea of ignoring the subject's advocacy was pretty much pushed by a single editor who is now topic banned. I don't see any need to request i-votes at this time, this seems like a "slam-dunk" to me. All agree that there are good sources, so in my opinion the material should be included. be well. --Sue Rangell 23:31, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Sue, I am the person who was and is the editor most opposed to your trying to label Robert Spitzer an advocate, although certainly not the only one. I am not topic banned. Since I am sure you have not forgotten me, I wonder that you are not being accurate in your statement above, trying to say only one editor did not agree with you. StarryGrandma (talk) 06:01, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
The comments above prove otherwise, but that is still ok. What are your reasons for wanting to keep well-sourced material out of the article? If there is some compelling reason other than WP:IDONTLIKEIT or IMUSTSTOPSUERANGELL, I am very interested to hear it. The information is verifiable, well sourced, and is very important and relevant to the subject of the article. It should stay. --Sue Rangell 01:42, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
Rangell's assertions are not supported. StarryGrandma is correct that multiple individuals opposed the change(s) Rangell attempted to insert back in January; I counted at least 8 different responders in the above back-and forth who opposed her changes, not the "pretty much pushed by a single editor" claim made by Rangell. Rangell is not attempting to insert "well sourced material," but to insert her own value judgment, i.e. "advocate." The sources she refers to are already included in the entry. Two comments offered earlier summarize well what is wrong with what Rangell is again attempting to do. I excerpt them below:
“Quoting our own BLP policy "BLPs should be written responsibly, cautiously, and in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement." Furthermore, the subject os notable for other non-gun-related material. Thus the word "activist" or (to a lesser extent) advocate is potentially polarising and misrepresentative. Cas Liber (talk • contribs) 00:49, 28 March 2014 (UTC)”
“there is an attempt to place undue weight on adjectives and characterizations concerning the subject's work, as opposed to a neutral description of it. I ask that editors please step back from this sort of behavior” Newyorkbrad
And finally, I would note two things about my Syracuse Post-Standard op-ed that is cited, and the Cornell Daily Sun article also cited. If you read my January 2011 op-ed, it examines an empirical question: do stricter state gun laws make a difference? I conclude that they do, at least marginally. That does not make this piece an instance of "advocacy." Second, as to the Cornell Daily Sun article (bearing in mind that it is the product of students who are not professional journalists, and is thus not entitled to the dignity of professional journalism), it references me as a "prominent gun control advocate," and also another person who writes on gun issues, David Kopel. He is identified in the article this way, “According to David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, and a strong opponent of gun control. . . .” I then looked to see if Kopel has a Wikipedia entry, and he does. Yet nowhere in that entry is he identified as an "advocate" for gun rights or such like. I am not interested in tampering with the essay about him, but why the double standard? This supports my concern that Rangell is singling me out in this unfortunate, even obsessive way. Bob SpitzerMoak7509 (talk) 15:12, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
As a matter of consistency, and to put to bed any notions that I am being "obsessive", I have edited the David Kopel article to include the advocacy info. I welcome any other similar invitations to edit other articles as well. David Kopel and Robert Spitzer are BOTH advocates. I really don't understand the problem with saying so, especially when the information is so well sourced and important to the topic of the article. --Sue Rangell 19:47, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
The problem with saying so is that the BLP aspect of it and that you apparently sourced them to blogs, which are never acceptable for BLP. WP:BLOGS unambiguously states Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people, even if the author is an expert, well-known professional researcher, or writer. You need to find better sources to demonstrate this. Tutelary (talk) 00:52, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Actually no, The Syracuse Post-Standard and Cornell Daily Sun are not blogs, they are mainstream newspapers. --Sue Rangell 04:01, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

We should not use blogs for BLP. Tutelary (talk) 17:19, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

With all due respect, changing the Kopel entry has no bearing on me, and puts nothing "to bed" regarding me, for at least three reasons. First, Kopel's chief and full-time affiliation is an ideologically based think tank (the Independence Institute), which has advocacy of conservative/libertarian perspectives (and this is not a criticism) as at least one of its goals. That is not true of me. (And my mention of it was not an invitation to anything; I had and have no desire to tamper with his entry, or to encourage anyone else to do so.) Second, the sole source for this is a student newspaper article, which hardly constitutes anything "well sourced"; it is a source, and it is on the internet, but that's about it. Third, it is not "important to the topic of the article." It is a value statement instigated and repetitively pushed by you, Ms. Rangell (in a manner that one may fairly call obsessive at this point), that gives "undue weight on adjectives and characterizations concerning the subject's work, as opposed to a neutral description of it." (cited from above) In short, there is literally no defensible reason for your persistence in this matter, especially in the light of the fact that this has all been vetted months ago.Moak7509 (talk) 23:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
No not vetted at all. There were five opposes and four supports. It was also closed before the mainstream sources were found. If you wish, feel free to open another RfC so that the new information may be processed by the community. I will certainly be happy to abide by whatever the consensus turns out to be. --Sue Rangell 04:01, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I am surprised that you have so little regard for Wikipedia procedures. A reading of the voluminous prior correspondence above indicates that this matter was discussed extensively, and that your efforts were blocked last January by the means established by Wikipedia. And I have no desire to "open another RfC."Moak7509 (talk) 12:59, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Hello. I am the aforementioned Robert Spitzer, the subject of the Wikipedia entry. Back in January, Ms. Rangell began a series of changes to my entry that seemed to have as their chief purpose to mischaracterize and politicize my work in the area of gun policy. She seemed adamant, even vehement, that I should for some reason be tagged as an "advocate" on or for the subject of gun control. After a lengthy back-and-forth that involved a number of contributors, me included, a decision was made to exclude the moniker "advocate" and instead insert the word "commentator." I am indeed a commentator on the gun issue (and on other things). I am not an "advocate," as I discussed in earlier posts. This term has a specific political meaning that does not summarize or capture who I am or what I do. I am a college professor who has written a great deal on this and other subjects, and while my writings are certainly not devoid of evaluations or opinions, they are chiefly empirical--that is, what is true, and what we know--about this issue and other matters. I do not attend or speak at rallies, demonstrations, or political events on behalf of policies on the gun issue, or any other issue. Those are things that gun "advocates" would do (and indeed some who write on this issue and have academic connections do in fact speak at rallies and other events, but I am not one of those persons). Now, after a lapse of 6 months, Rangell is, strangely, back attempting to again shoehorn this label into the entry. While I understand that you cannot and should not allow the subjects of biographical entries to dictate the content of entries about themselves, Wikipedia policies, as I understand them, do allow the subjects to weigh in on these matters, as I am now doing. I can not account for Rangell's interest, even obsession, with tinkering with my entry, but her proposed change adds no useful or relevant factual information, does nothing to improve its accuracy, and seems chiefly designed to be a way to denigrate and minimize what I write about, so that it might be dismissed as "mere advocacy." I thus respectfully ask that this change not be made. I would be happy to provide other information if of use. Thanks. Bob Spitzer — Preceding unsigned comment added by Moak7509 (talkcontribs) 01:38, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Are there multiple RS, not blogs, that call the subject an advocate? I would not use the term based on reading the article as written. Also, the last paragraph under gun control can be removed as non notable commentary. That material could be possible included in the articles of the people making those comments but that would be up to those article(s) to decide. --Malerooster (talk) 04:09, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
The refs above appear to be RS news organizations (see WP:NEWSBLOG) as opposed to personal blogs. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:05, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
From Publisher's Weekly, re The Politics of Gun control: "Spitzer ends the book by suggesting a new public policy based on an international model, one that includes nonproliferation of new weapons and arms control for those that already exist, but whether this form of regulation would work is a moot point." How is that not being an advocate for gun control?--Mike - Μολὼν λαβέ 19:23, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
So, if I understand this right, Mr. Spitzer is now editing out what reliable sources call him, to remove the "gun control advocacy" wording? How is this not a conflict of interest? It certainly a primary source! If he wanted to claim to be something he was not, we would not allow that would we? But, if he wants to claim to be other than what the reliable sources call him, that is somehow allowable? I'm not getting why this is not being corrected to what reliable sources all say... Miguel Escopeta (talk) 19:28, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
  • StarryGrandma asked me for an opinion. I have always thought it bad policy to characterize people's views or positions on item with single terms. (for example, I even think our willingness to characterize as "pseudoscience" is wrong, even though arb com has thought otherwise.), I think NPOV requires us to state the facts, and avoid headline writing and sensationalism. For people writing on polarized issues, some will clearly define themselves, in terms their opponents will often accept. Some advocates of gun control call themselves advocates of gun control, and as far as I know the opponents of gun control generally agree with those who so characterizes themselves. The question is how to handle someone who does not so classify themselves, but some of whose opponents do; or, as in this case, someone who insists that he cannot be so classified, but some people think otherwise--whether supporters or opponents. For truly polarized issues such as this, people who hope their work to be taken objectively will normally try to avoid saying they have a strong position on one side or another, If they do have an agenda, it may be displayed in their writings, but we are not entitled to judge that.
We normally deal with this by providing representative quotations, and the problem here is to make sure they are indeed representative, and are quoted in context, without cherry-picking. We would certainly include any published statement by the subjects in which they explicitly try to summarize their position. We can sometimes deal with this by wordings such as " Her summary that "....." has been widely quoted by people advocating ...." where this is cited by responsible published statements by those qualified and where an effort is made finding responsible sources who say otherwise.
We always use extreme caution in characterizing someone by a term they explicitly deny. In the case of public figures, it can sometimes be justified, if there is truly widespread and responsible sourcing, and a real effort is made to find ones that support the statement. For a private figure I think BLP policy is firm that we never include such a characterization. Is an academic writer of a controversial subject, who is not actively engaging in the public sphere a public figure? only to a limited extent, when the person or their writings are sufficiently prominent, and even so with great care. I think this is the case here.
Looking at sources used, I consider a characterization by Volokh is not conceivably acceptable, Vizzard I am less familiar with (tho I think he may be notable enough for an article). An inspection of his online cv and reviews of his work indicates he too takes a definite position on the issue. I haven;t seen the quotation that is used, and I would need to see it in context to judge whether it is being used fairly. The opinion can certainly not be used, as it is in the present draft, without an exact quotation. Student newspapers are not reliable sources, neither are op-eds, unless the actual writer of the item is an authority.
For opinions about the work of an academic, I would normally look to academic sources. Sometimes non0academic sources can be used, but they would take extreme care. Mischaracterizations and over-simplification of published academic work are very frequent in the general press. I would not normally want to use them without a careful evaluation of reliability and non-selectivity, and only for the most prominent figures. I rarely edit in controversial politics. But the last paragraph here as currently given should be removed under BLP policy, so I did it. Because those wanting to add it are clearly in good faith, I do not consider this BLP special enforcement. But I very strongly advise it not be reinserted without clear consensus--it would be very much better, that if any editor wants to include such a phrase, they find better sources for it. Better sources solve a great many problems around here.
I suggest that the really best way forward on this article would be to include more detailed material on the individual books, including references to reliable published reviews. Most academics keep careful track of reviews, so if Dr. Spitzer listed references to them on the talk page here, I think it would be helpful. DGG ( talk ) 10:53, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
To DGG, I want to thank you for your thoughtful and careful response to this situation. Responding to your suggestion, I am pasting below some links and other information of reviews of three of my books on gun policy. There are more reviews than this, but I only have them as paper copies in my files (could not find them on the internet), so the best I could offer for these is to make PDF copies and email them to whoever/wherever, but this may not be a practical or viable alternative. I do hope this helpful; if anything else, I'm more than willing to oblige. Bob Spitzer
Reviews of “The Right to Bear Arms”: "This volume provides historical and objective information on this timely and controversial issue ... This volume is timely and easy to use. It will be most appropriate for high school and undergraduate libraries because of its basic introductory information."—American Reference Books Annual (this excerpt appears on the publisher’s web page—link above—could not find the original review on the internet)

Here is a link to a review from The Law and Politics Book Review:

Reviews of “The Politics of Gun Control”:

The New England Journal of Medicine: “A rare, balanced look at gun control. Spitzer discusses the legal implication of the 2nd Amendment, then looks at the impact of guns on America from homicides to suicides. The author also explores the intense battle for control of Congress between the NRA and Handgun Control, Inc.” from Kirkus Reviews

Review in “The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management,” Vol. 15, no. 4, Autumn (Fall) 1996: 677-79. (this review is available on the internet, but only through a pay wall, so I could not obtain it electronically)

Reviews of “Gun Control: A Documentary and Reference Guide”:

The publisher (ABC-CLIO/Greenwood) has several summaries of reviews: Moak7509 (talk) 17:57, 8 August 2014 (UTC)