Wikipedia:BLP subject response

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This proposal aims to tackle some of the problems targeted by the Wikipedia:OptOut proposal, but aims to do this in a manner which does not delete information on people who are widely considered to be notable. The goal is to allow the subject of a BLP to make some input without having full control over the biography's content.

The problem[edit]

Biographies of living people are subject to intense scrutiny and high standards regarding WP:V, WP:NOR and WP:NPOV since their existence and potential for wide readership can have a serious real world impact on the person's life. However, even with these high standards, the resulting biography can still be seen upon as unfair by the subject, and this objection may or may not have merit. The subjects concerns may well be legitimate for any of these reasons, and this list is not complete:

  • Even reliable sources may not cover the entire story, and may contain omissions which would have been in the subject's favor.
  • Even reliable sources may get their facts wrong, causing distress.
  • Newspapers and other publications may use sensationalist headings and writing, and therefore treat the subject unfairly.

The result may be a biography where all the facts are well-sourced, contains no hint of original research, but is still negative in tone and may be viewed upon as unfair by the subject.

Allowing the subject to rewrite their own biography in any way which they please is however, not a workable solution. An (auto-)biography written by the subject which just includes the positive aspects while suppressing all mention of something negative is also not in compliance with neutrality. That is not to say that the subject should not have the right to give input however, and this proposal aims to provide for that.

Proposal[edit]

In this proposal, the subject of a Wikipedia biography has the right to post a response to the biography on an on-wiki page, and have it linked to from the biography.

This idea is similar to a right subjects of newspaper articles have when they feel themselves treated unfairly in a news article. Such people may respond and have their rebuttal printed in another issue.

On Wikipedia, this response could be a protected userpage, a subpage of the article or similar. In general, other editors should not be editing the subject's response but the subject who wishes to write a response must also not use this right to push forward libel, unsourced allegations about other living people, personal attacks, harassment and so on.

In addition, remember that using the subject as a self-published source is acceptable. If the subject of the article has written a blog about his or her own activities, and view on the situation, then editors should seriously consider using that in the main biography.

What this proposal is not[edit]

  • This proposal does not mean that we can allow unsourced material about a living person to remain in biographies of living people, since they could just respond to it. Such material is still to be removed as quickly as possible, and the subject should not have to respond to things like that.
  • This proposal is not meant to deal with vandalism to BLPs. The solutions here are to revert, and delete and/or oversight libelous revisions if needed, and block the vandal. If vandalism persists, the biography should be semi-protected or even full-protected depending on circumstances.