Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons/Archive 8

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Removal of conflicting aims on BLP policy page

I think some of the language on this page is causing confusion with some editors who are taking some aspects of the text out of context. I direct you to the following discussion on the BLP noticeboard regarding Richard Gere's marriage to Cindy Crawford. [1]

In that discussion User:FNMF has latched onto two sentences on this policy page section that state:

  • The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity and strict adherence to our content policies;
  • Biographies of living people should be written responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone.

He is using this as a way to try to stop well-sourced allegations from being added to the article, by saying that the inclusion of allegations is "insensitive, contentious, and non-conservative". He uses the above two policy sentences to justify that the text regarding the marriage should be reduced to only "Gere was married to supermodel Cindy Crawford from 1991 to 1995".

On the other side of the discussion I am applying this part of the policy to allow well-sourced allegations to be included on the page:

  • In the case of significant public figures, there will be a multitude of reliable, third-party published sources to take information from, and Wikipedia biographies should simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources, it belongs in the article — even if it's negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it. If it is not documented by reliable third-party sources, leave it out.

As you can see considerations of "sensitivity", "responsibly", and "conservatively" in the first two texts conflict with allegations, claims or facts that are negative and the subject doesn't like in the third text.

I propose that the first two pieces of text should be changed to:

  • The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity and strict adherence to our content policies
  • Biographies of living people should be written responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone.

I think that these changes would clarify the BLP policy, be more internally consistent, and help avoid conflict by stopping petty narrow interpretations. Thank you for your comments.

NOTE: Please discuss the proposed text changes here, and the actual Gere discussion on the BLP noticeboard. Sparkzilla 18:23, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

  • I support your proposed changes. The three terms – "sensitivity", "responsibly", and "conservatively" – are subjective and unnecessary as long as WP:NPOV and WP:V are followed. The three words can also be misused. Imagine accusations that "It's not sensitive to note that the person X was convincted of murder." -- Black Falcon(Talk) 19:00, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
    • That said, I just looked at the discussion on the BLP noticeboard, and it seems to me that the inclusion of the more detailed information in the Richard Gere article is unnecessary. He was married to Cindy Crawford from 1991-1995 ... that's important. The details of the divorce or of problems with the marriage ... not as much. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 19:43, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
  • I oppose any change here. Will some dick twist the word to mean nonsense, and remove perfectly legitimate stuff? Yes, but that will always happen. But this isn't simply about 'strict adherence to NPOV and V' it is about the spirit of NPOV too. I've often had the opposite problem with someone creating an excellently referenced hatchet job - digging up every piece of dirty and allegation - indeed every criticism any old journalist has ever launched at the subject. Then when I remove the section - I get challenged as 'hey it is all referenced' and 'it is factually reported'. So strict adherence is not enough - we also need to ask - is the article fair overall. Even if this bit of stuff is verifiable and neutral, is it relevant? Does it fairly and sensitively describe the subject. We are not a tabloid newspaper. Yes, we do want NPOV article. But with biographies, if their is any bias, it is usually better to err on the side of sensitivity to the subject, and not the other way around.--Docga pox on the boxes 19:13, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Doc, I understand your point about people trying to add any kind of allegation, but as has been argued on the Gere issue, the quality of such allegations is not a BLP issue, but a content issue. There have been hundreds of allegations about Gere in the past, but they are neither from reliable sources nor are the allegations notable, so they are quite rightly left out. In this case though Gere placed a letter in the Times, a notable statement in a reliable source.
As I understand, BLP exists to make sure that contentious material is firstly properly sourced, after that it becomes a content dispute. As it stands, the policy wording allows some editors to deny notable statements from reliable sources based on an arbitrary standard of "sensitivity" to the subject. Surely a "sensitivity" policy is not necessary? Content issues can be better handled through WP:RS, WP:Note, WP:Weight and WP:NPOV. I think that having such wording here is internally inconsistent and not in the spirit of BLP policy and I humbly ask you to consider this again. Thank you. Sparkzilla 01:36, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
    • Well, I don't disagree with erring on the side of caution or excluding material if there are questions about its relevance, but is there a need to do so via the use of subjective statements in the BLP policy? Can't we just "follow the spirit, not the letter" of NPOV in the absence of this seeming redundancy? -- Black Falcon (Talk) 19:21, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Sensitivity is the essense of BLP

The John Seigenthaler Sr. Wikipedia biography controversy gets more press play and more notice here at Wikipedia than the Daniel Brandt problems. But Daniel played a role in the former: He looked up the IP address in Seigenthaler's article, and found that it related to "Rush Delivery", a company in Nashville. He contacted Seigenthaler and the media, and posted this information on his Wikipedia Watch website. So the two are related. But BLP got its start when I read the back and forth between Daniel and Wikipedians on some talk page in December of 2005 (perhaps the talk page of the article on him, but I no longer remember exactly) and one of Daniel's comments was that living people deserve a special sensitivity. That immediately struck me an undenyable both true and important so I created a guideline/policy proposal (I thought it made a better guideline than a policy myself) with a single sentence saying exactly that and links to relevant policies and guidelines. Then I notified User talk:Daniel Brandt and User talk:SlimVirgin (the two key people involved with the debate on the article Daniel Brandt). Here is the edit where I notified Daniel (14:53, 17 December 2005): "Due to all this, I just now created Wikipedia:Biographies on living persons deserve a special sensitivity as a proposed guideline. If its a good idea, people (like you) can fill it out. WAS 4.250 18:53, 17 December 2005 (UTC)". SlimVirgin fleshed it out. It was renamed and other people joined in and improved it further. It became a guideline. Jimbo asked on the mailing list why it wasn't a policy and what would it take to become one. So more modififications were made and it became a policy. People are still tweaking it for better or worse. So Daniel inspired it, I started it, SlimVirgin is mostly responsible for writing it, and its a policy because Jimbo wanted it to be a policy. WAS 4.250 02:44, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

The above is from User talk:WAS 4.250/Archive 05#Talk:WP:BLP. WAS 4.250 02:44, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

I appreciate your comment and review of the history of this page. As is said in your text, policies need to be tweaked from time to time. I have encountered a situation where an editor is using the BLP policy "sensitivity" text to block sources about a public figure that are notable and reliable. he is saying that BLP trumps WP:RS and WP:Note. In fact, the editor has gone so far as to say that he will not abide by any consensus or vote, and will only change his position if BLP policy is changed. On the other side, I have been told by several editors on the BLP noticeboard that this is not a BLP issue, but a content issue, so I would like to clarify that distinction in this policy. As I read the spirit of BLP it seems to be a policy to ensure that items are sourced properly.
So how should this dilemma be solved? Should editors be allowed to define an arbitrary level of "sensitivity" backed by this policy, or should such sensitivity issues be dealt with in the appropriate content policies ie. in WP:Note, WP:RS, WP:Weight and WP:NPOV etc?
I have suggested removing certain words, but perhaps there is another way to deal with this issue. Thank you for your comments and advice. Sparkzilla 02:57, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Being an encyclopedia and WP:NPOV trump WP:BLP in that we do not omit encyclopedic data due to being sensitive nor do we censor negative information that is needed to provide balance, objectivity, and due weight. Opinions will differ on "what is encyclopedic" versus "what is tabloidish". Opinions will differ on what information is needed to make an article NPOV. But just cause it is sourced and notable doesn't mean we include it. It has to be sourced to a certain standard. And it has to be notable in terms of being encyclopedic, not just notable as in people are gossiping about it so tabloid news covers it. WAS 4.250 03:24, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Am I right to say that you are agreeing that this is a content dispute? If an event has reliable, multiple sources, with due weight, balance and objectivity, then it should be included. FYI, the marriage was reported in The New York Times and the Independent. Gere's letter was placed in The Times and reported by world media. Why should claims of sensitivity trump such a notable event? Sparkzilla 03:36, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Forget the "content dispute" thing. We distinguish between content and behavior issues for many things and our discussion on this page is about content not behavior. This policy does cover "content disputes". In reply to a similar question on my talk page I said: It is possible for a "false and malicious allegation about sexual behaviour" to be encyclopedic, but it is very rare. Whether this is such a case or not should be decided by unbiased well-informed established-wikipedians. I am not well-informed on the issue in question. WAS 4.250 03:47, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

(<---)Sorry, but I don't know what you are on about. I haven't even mentioned behavior. I have a problem with an editor who I think is applying policy from this page innappropriately, and am petitioning to change the policy so that it is clearer. Please try to clarify the actual questions I set out above, with respect to this policy.

Should editors be allowed to define an arbitrary level of "sensitivity" backed by this policy, or should such sensitivity issues be dealt with in the appropriate content policies ie. in WP:Note, WP:RS, WP:Weight and WP:NPOV etc? Sparkzilla 04:02, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

BLP is a content policy. WAS 4.250 04:16, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
What change are you looking to make, Sparkzilla? SlimVirgin (talk) 04:19, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I see from the section above that you want to remove "sensitivity." I would oppose that, because as WAS says it's the heart of the policy. It's a question of common sense as to how to apply it in practical terms, but a good rule of thumb is: when in doubt, err on the side of caution and sensitivity. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:23, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
I understand that we have to be sensitive when dealing with biographies. If you will bear with me, I am trying to find out how that sensitivity is defined. Could you give me some guidance on what to do when an editor uses the sensitivity clause to trump notability and reliable sources? Sparkzilla 05:19, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
May I propose the following change that keeps mention of sensitivity in, but does not make it an arbitrary item up for debate? I think something like this may avoid the confusion above.
ORIGINAL: The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity and based on strict adherence to our content policies
PROPOSAL: The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity, based on strict adherence to our content policies Sparkzilla 05:32, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
The difference is so slight it would escape most people. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:50, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
You do understand what a comma is, don't you? Any policy should be clear, unambiguous, and internally consistent. As it stands the statement has two clauses that are in conflict, especially as "sensitivity" is not defined. The proposed text will allow interested editors to understand that sensitivity is not an arbitrary and undefined concept, but is defined by the content policies. Sparkzilla 06:46, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
In reading this thread I'm coming away with the opinion, shared apparently by others above, that the phrase "edited with a degree of sensitivity" is currently not defined well enough in the policy. Personally, I feel that the primary considerations should be accuracy, verifiability, NPOV and that the article remain focussed on information relevant to the topic (ie not go off on trivial tangents). I am not really too concerned with whether or not relevant and accurate information also happens to be potentially embarassing to the subject. So to that end I would place the phrase "sensitivity" at a lower tier than the other considerations I mentioned.
Now that being said I am ok with the idea that we should be sensitive to requests by living subjects on promptly dealing with reports of inaccurate or inherently biased information in their Wikipedia biographies. Certainly I would say that biographies should have a lower tolerance for unreferenced material and be more likely to delete rather than simply tag information that isn't well referenced. So in that sense I would agree that biographies should be more "sensitive" than normal to policy and guideline violations, lack of references and biased language.
Therefore "verifiability, staying on topic and lack of bias" should be, I think, the central concerns. Beyond that, though, biographies should lean toward removing questionable content, rather than simply tagging it for correction, and should have a process in place to allow living biographical subjects opportunity to quickly correct errors, etc. Now I don't know whether there needs to be a change in the language of this policy to reflect some of those concerns, but that's my personal opinion of what "sensitivity" should generally mean. Dugwiki 15:14, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
"I am not really too concerned..." - Well, we are, and so is Wikipedia. Just because something is true and verifiable does not necessarily mean it needs to be included in a person's biography. Wikipedia is not a scandal sheet for living persons. FCYTravis 06:18, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Moving material to other articles

I'm moving this from the policy for discussion (I think it was added a few days ago, though I've copy edited it since then):

If a biography that is proposed for deletion contains material that has been published by reliable, third-party sources, but there is doubt as to whether the biography as a whole should be retained, consider moving the material in question to another article, if an appropriate one already exists.

My concern is that this will be used by bad-faith editors as an excuse to retain material that others are voting to delete. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:26, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with SlimVirgin's concern. A good example are so-called "urban legends." In the currently disputed Richard Gere case, it has been argued that a false and malicious allegation may be included because it is an "urban legend." When editors objected to the inclusion of this material because Gere has never responded to these false accusations, and hence argued that they are not notable in relation to the topic of the entry, the argument was put that the material could simply be placed in the entry on urban legends themselves. This argument was in my opinion put in order to find a way to retain such material. FNMF 05:33, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
That's a good example of what this sentence might encourage. Although the BLP policy applies to material about living persons whether in a biography or not, I can see this sentence leading to endless arguments, as material that's deleted because a BLP is deleted resurfaces elsewhere, apparently with this page's blessing. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:37, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
As far as I know Richard Gere's biography has not been nominated for deletion. Sparkzilla 05:41, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
That's not the point. The point is that if it's inappropriate for a BLP on the grounds of this policy, it's almost certainly inappropriate to be added elsewhere for the same reasons. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:49, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes. There were (and are), of course, other grounds than simply non-notability why this false and malicious material violated WP:BLP. But in order to try to get round what was perceived as the stumbling block to inclusion, the argument was put that an "urban legend" must be notable in relation to the entry on urban legends, and thus could surely be included there. It is clear how the sentence identified by SlimVirgin encourages this kind of thinking by editors who wish to include material that violates WP:BLP. FNMF 06:02, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
However this is a case where BLP adherence to sensitivity appears to contradict, or at least takes precedence, on standard application of NPOV. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is both far more malicious (in intent and practice) than the sordid Urban Legend regarding Gere, and undeniably false in a manner that the rumours regarding Gere and Crawfords marriage have not been proven. The Protocols article remains since it is appropriately cited and is based in fact (that is that the forgery exists, not its allegations).
Sensitivity is surely a consideration with special regard to BLP rather than defining it, as matters that are notable should be allowed (in a sensitive manner) even if they a hurtful toward the subject matter. In so far that Gere and Crawford took out an advert which specifically addressed the prevailing rumours then the subject(s) have self identified the matter as notable, and it is Wikipedias job (if not duty) to provide the context of the notable event, properly sourced and with all due sensitivity.LessHeard vanU 13:05, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Addition of recent paragraph

In borderline cases, the rule of thumb should be "do no harm". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid. It is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives. When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic.

I am concerned that this addition expands BLP more than necessary. Tabloid claims are already covered in WP:RS, WP:V and WP:Note and are generally excluded. This paragraph can be used to stop well-sourced claims that appear in credible sources from being included. For example, are we to not include well-sourced details of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction because it is "titilating?" Sparkzilla 05:56, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy Titilating, but well-sourced... Sparkzilla 06:03, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

I think this has been on the page for quite some time, as has the sensitivity clause (from the very beginning, in fact). There's no point in going through the policy trying to remove long-standing material, SZ, because it has strong consensus, and especially not if you're motivated by trying to keep material in a BLP that others are trying to remove. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:05, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
That section appears to have been added quite recently. It wasn't there two days ago. A few weeks ago, sorry.
The problem with adding in all these subjective words (titilating, sensitive, conservative) is that these concepts are unecessary. They weaken this policy because they are open to wide interpretation and abuse because no-one can define them, and the concepts are already dealt with much more effectively through other parts of Wikipedia policy. Sparkzilla 06:09, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Most people feel this policy works pretty well, because it lays out general principles, then asks people to use their common sense. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Agree with SlimVirgin. While such terms as sensitive and conservative may be "subjective," what this means in practice is that editors must use judgment. Wikipedia trusts that its editors are capable of the level of judgment required, and thus trusts that its policies can include terms requiring such judgment. A tabloid journalist is of course defined by their lack of interest or belief in such judgment, so long as they have a "source" for their "story." But Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia rather than a tabloid, and this is reflected in policy, notably in BLP policy. Thus I agree as well with WAS_4.250, that sensitivity is the essence of WP:BLP. Giving up on the requirement that editors be sensitive is what will turn an encyclopaedia into a tabloid. I think WAS, as the creator of the first version of this policy, and Slim, as the editor who first edited this policy, are to be thanked for the effort they have put into maintaining one of the most important planks of Wikipedia policy, and there is every reason to expect that a strong consensus to retain this policy in a similar form will endure for the foreseeable future. FNMF 06:23, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Once again, WP:RS, WP:V and WP:Note clearly deal with any potential "tabloidism". No need to mention it here.
I am bringing this issue because the inclusion of weasel words is causing a real issue in application of the policy. I think reliably-sourced items should be allowed. Another user thinks that we should be "sensitive" or not be "titilating". But how are those defined? Who decides what is titilating or sensitive? Is there a WP:Titilating or a WP:Sensitive?
Over the past few days this policy has apparently moved from a place to tell users simply that contentious items should be properly sourced, to a place that now says that sensitivity trumps notability/reliable sources, and that potentially titilating items are not allowed. That is a great pity. Sparkzilla 06:28, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
"This policy is supposed to tell us what to do differently in the case of living people. This policy overrides other policies in this area, because something that would be acceptable in another area isn't for a BLP because of the nature of BLPs. However, how to deal with tabloid material is covered in other policies, and doesn't even need to be here at all. Other policies do apply for BLPs. The problem with this language is that it is stronger than the language in the other policies, in that it can be interpreted that sensationalist and titillating stuff doesn't belong, when it doesn't matter what the information is, the verifiablity is what's important. Sensationalist and titillating is fine, as long as it's verifiable, and boderline cases are covered by the other policies, and more so by language already in this policy that stengthens those rules:

"Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just highly questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from Wikipedia articles".

"Considering that this information is covered elsewhere and BLP more than aqdequetly, and that's not what this language says, this really shouldn't be here. Miss Mondegreen | Talk   06:42, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

There is simply no reason to have the text about tabloids and sensationalistic or titilating items. Tabloids and their claims are already deemed unreliable sources according WP:RS, WP:V and WP:Note


In borderline cases, the rule of thumb should be "do no harm". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid. It is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives. When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic.


In borderline cases, the rule of thumb should be "do no harm". When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic.

Sparkzilla 08:44, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

"Tabloid" here refers to a type of information, not whether the information is sourced, neutral, or on-topic. (unless you want to stretch the meaning of "on-topic" excessively) Ken Arromdee 15:11, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

The main issue is that undefined and arbitrary definitions of "titilation" and "sensationalist" should not be allowed to trump reliable sources, notability, verifiability, NPOV. What Wikipedia is not is also dealt with at WP:NOT. Sparkzilla 22:51, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
If something is excluded on the grounds of being sensationalist, it is not trumping reliable sources, etc.--because those policies describe the *limits* on what we can put in. Everything without a reliable source should (ideally) not go in--but that doesn't mean that everything which does have a reliable source should. We are not trumping policies when we decide that something which is allowed by the policy should be excluded for some other reason. Ken Arromdee 04:48, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Give me a good example then... Sparkzilla 15:00, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

The meaning of sensitivity in BLP

The meaning of sensitivity in BLP is well identified by the very contents of the policy itself. "Be sensitive to living people" is the policy. The whole content of the policy is an expansion of that. So when we say:

  1. respect privacy rights
  2. we are not a tabloid
  3. don't retain questionable material live in the article while we are debating whether or not to include it
  4. don't apply eventualism to claims about living people but to instead insist on attribution to reliable published sourced before adding the claims

these all are what the policy is identifying as what wikipedia means when it says to be sensitive to living people in the editing of wikipedia. While sensitivity to living people at wikipedia is not necessarily limited to the specifically identified items within this policy, editors can not arbitrarily expand the meaning and insist their expansion is policy. They must make their case and convince others. WAS 4.250 11:16, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Very well put. FNMF 11:31, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
WAS, are you talking of a specific case? Otherwise I do not follow. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 21:51, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
While this was in response to Sparkzilla's various questions and charges concerning the meaning of sensitivity in BLP, I tried to write it to rise above the specific current context. WAS 4.250 22:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
I think WAS has it exactly right. So I would suggest, using the example of A Famous Married Couple's marriage and the rumours that were circulating regarding them and the marriage at the time;
  1. The Couple waived their right to privacy regarding certain allegations by placing an advert in a national newspaper well regarded for its journalism, in a context that addressed the rumours.
  2. we are not a tabloid, but an encyclopedia. We publish notable events and notable people. The couple are notable both individually and for their couple status, and their advert was a notable event of itself.
  3. accepted.
  4. the possible reasons why the couple chose to make the announcement they did have been discussed in the media, are easy to cite, as are the comments relating to this event when they announced shortly after that the marriage had ended.

WP need do nothing but record what has been written elsewhere, once we have judged that it is notable and verifiable. Nothing more than that has been proposed. The above example, taken from an ongoing discussion, should satisfy the requirements of BLP. LessHeard vanU 21:55, 1 May 2007 (UTC) amended per below LessHeard vanU 12:50, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

This page is not to discuss specific cases. The place to do that is at the article's talk page. Thanks. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:25, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I have now changed it to a generic "famous couple" as an example, since it was the Gere and Crawford marriage "problems" that instigated this debate here. LessHeard vanU 12:50, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I do not believe this policy talk page is the appropriate forum to argue the case regarding the contentious Richard Gere material. Although I initially raised this here, I did so purely as an example to illustrate a point being made by SlimVirgin. I did not intend to initiate discussion of this case on this page. For the record I disagree with the analysis by LessHeard vanU. FNMF 22:47, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Please do not be disingenous. You are the person who is using the 'sensitivity" text to keep the Gere/Crawford material off the Gere page. You also said that you would not change your position until BLP policy was changed. That's why we are here. This is the perfect example to bring here, because it shows that highly notable, verifiable material is being removed due to an editors obsession with "sensitivity" concerns, backed up by BLP policy text. I think that this narrow interpretation of BLP is not what this policy is about, and not isn the spirit of Wikipedia.
I would also like to make it absolutely clear that, despite your claims, the example at hand is the Gere/Crawford marriage and NOT the gerbil urban legend. Sparkzilla 23:03, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
I don't know about that. Your proposed changes to this policy would pretty well wipe out grounds to keep the urban legend issue out of the article, too. Perhaps you have not been aware of some of the controversies related to biographical information about living people - several very senior editors/admins/arbitrators and Jimbo Wales himself have all indicated this is one of the biggest challenges facing Wikipedia. I foresee this policy becoming more exclusionary rather than liberalized in the coming months. People are justifiably complaining that trivial hurtful things are being put in their biographies - just ask anyone on OTRS. Risker 23:19, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Could we not have a policy page called WP:GOLD which refers eager BLP editors to Golden rule? Would it not be breathtaking if ethical reciprocity was Wikipedia's official BLP policy? We all expect that notable people must somtimes be treated differently by society (example: as politicians, where more personal information is necessary to ensure that a mentally ill person doesn't get command of the nation's nuclear arsenal, for example). Whether Wikipedia should participate in this, is another matter. But even if so, there seem to be many people here who think this same ethic should apply to (say) movie actors, for whom there is no rational reason to pry into their privacy, except bloodimindedness. And even for politicians and others with power (for example wikipedians who have wikipower) is there any reason to treat them in a BLP, in any way OTHER than you'd want yourself to be treated if you were the policitian? Or a loved one was the politician? SBHarris 00:39, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
You miss the point again. All items on wikipedia, whther the marriage or the gerbil should be assessed on the validity of the sources, not on an arbitrary definition of "sensitivity", or 'titilating". Is the source reliable, iis it notable, is it NPOV, is it verifiable. Do we really need to create WP:Sensitivity when we already have plenty of tools to assess material?
Another suggestion that can help mitigate this problem is to move the word "sensitive" out of the intro into the writing style section. In other weords: Find quality sources first, then use a writing style that is sensitive. Sparkzilla 00:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I think the particular case of Gere should be discussed on the noticeboard. Sparkzilla, the sensitivity clause is a key part of the policy, and has been since day one; the expansion of it ("we are not a tabloid" etc) has strong consensus and is backed by the Foundation. I'd say you're flogging a dead horse trying to remove it. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:31, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Excuse me? I have a clear POLICY problem here, that I have tried to explain using a clear example. The implications of the policy issue are wide-reaching on Wikipedia. The policy issue has also been noted by at least two other people on this page. Who are you to say that the policy issue shouldn't be discussed here. You do not own this policy. Sparkzilla 00:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
You've made 400 edits to the encyclopedia. You've been thwarted in your desire to add something to a BLP. You've therefore arrived here to try to remove from the policy wording that is not only long-standing, but that is absolutely integral to the spirit of the policy, as several experienced editors have explained to you. You're doing this despite having no experience (that I can see) of editing this or any other policy, and judging by some of your comments, you're not familiar with this policy or its history. You're also trying to discuss a particular case here, when we have a BLP noticeboard for that. Please pursue the Gere issue on the noticeboard or the Gere talk page. Regarding the sensitivity issue, I can only repeat that you're flogging a dead horse. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
While I respect your experience, there is most certainly a problem with this policy, as other editors have also pointed out. The policy says two contradictory things. On one hand it says we need to be sensitive, yet in the public figures section it says that contentious material that may not even be liked by the the subject can be included, if well sourced. I am looking for comments here, and your attitude is simply not helpful. Most of your comments have simply been "well, it's always been like that" and "you won't get anywhere" and your attempts to pull rank are all not actual discussions of the issue. Because something has been here for a long time, or has been arrived at by consensus does not mean that it is does not need adjustment, or that the consensus may change. I direct you to WP:consensus.
So to continue the actual discussion, would you mind answering the following question: Will you please say why the sensitivity argument allows an editor to exclude information about a marriage that a major celebrity posted by themselves in a major newspaper, and that was reported on by world media? Sparkzilla 01:01, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I can't discuss specific cases here because I don't know the background. My concern is only with the policy. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:11, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) Sparkzilla, I can give you some pointers about your question. Note that reliable sourcing is just a starting point. Once you have that, you need to determine relevance, notability, and due weight. Even the sourcing is not a black and white issue: is the source a primary source (e.g. raw piece of 'evidence') or a secondary source (e.g. an article discussing the relevance of that evidence to the BLP subject's career). Obviously the latter would be more likely to be includable. And WP:UNDUE is always an issue: would including the item in question give it more than its due weight relative to other facts about the subject that haven't yet been mentioned, or that have been barely mentioned? All these, plus the relative notability, must be considered to determine includability, and the 'sensitivity' aspect mandates that we always give the subject the benefit of the doubt anytime there is anything derogatory that does not clearly meet all these inclusion criteria. Crum375 01:17, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Exactly! Can I propose to change the policy to reflect this definition? Sparkzilla 01:31, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
These are my own explanations of what the policy means, but they are all included in WP:V, WP:NOR, WP:NPOV and the need for sensitivity to the subject, all part of the current policy. A policy should be worded in a simple and concise manner, and I think it is fine as it stands. You are welcome to suggest improvements if you see any specific missing or incorrect pieces. Crum375 01:45, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I would also argue that the sensitivity issue is designed to alert some editors that want to add information to a BLP. just because it is sourced. Well, that is only one part of the equation. You need to add to the mix WP:NPOV, and WP:NOR and be very cautious as expressed in this policy: if the aspect is contentious, be sure that you have multiple sources, that the sources are of high quality, that there is some basic consensus of sources, and that the material is 100% related to the person's notability. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 01:23, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Jossi, we have many, many high-quality sources, and 100% relation to the person's notability. The item is in other biographies of Gere. Does sensitivity trump everything else? I feel this is not in the spirit of wht BLP is about and that is why I am trying to discuss the issue here. Sparkzilla 02:52, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Sparkzilla, please do not speak on my behalf. The statement you attribute to me is not a statement I have ever made. The argument you attribute to me is a misrepresentation. FNMF 02:57, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Reworded, mainly because I can't be bothered to go back and find the original passage where you refused to accept consensus, and said you would only that you only change your mind if the policy was changed. Sparkzilla 03:26, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I cannot help but note that your your explanation of your removal of your misrepresentations itself contains further misrepresentations of my statements. For the third time, please cease speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting my position. FNMF 03:43, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
This is what you said: "And now: do you suppose you might attend to the issue of whether inclusion of these allegations is sensitive, conservative, factual, neutral, and encyclopaedic? Because from where I'm sitting, it ain't." Seems to me that you think sensitivity is an issue and when you said "Please feel free to open an RfC. Please note, however, that a vote cannot make it OK to blatantly violate WP:BLP. Only a change of policy could make it OK to include false and unsubstantiated malicious and non-notable allegations on the pages of Wikipedia". That pretty much states your case I think. No misrepresentation.
You have been told many times that the allegations are notable. The sources include multiple independent secondary sources (The Independent, Entertainment Weekly, People) plus L'Humanite L'Humanite, a couple of published books, [2] [3], The New York Times [4] , The Biography Channel [5], BBC News [6], and of course, The Times itself [7] [8] [9]. That clearly meets our definition of Wikipedia:Notability.
So will you accept that the item is notable, or will you continue to use sensitivity as a catch-all to avoid inclusion? If you continue to say that the item should be excluded because BLP says that we should be "sensitive" and will not budge unless the policy is changed then I suggest that the policy should be changed to make it absolutely clear that your narrow interpretation of BLP policy is not acceptable. Let me remind you what the policy says about public figures:
In the case of significant public figures, there will be a multitude of reliable, third-party published sources to take information from, and Wikipedia biographies should simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources, it belongs in the article — even if it's negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it. If it is not documented by reliable third-party sources, leave it out.
Sparkzilla 05:55, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Sparkzilla, you have been politely asked numerous times to cease speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting my position. You have been politely told numerous times that this is an inappropriate forum to argue specific BLP cases. You continue to speak on my behalf, misrepresent my position, and argue about a specific BLP case. I no longer wish to respond to you about these matters in this forum. FNMF 12:16, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I notice that yet again you refuse to answer the question. Are those sources notable or not? Sparkzilla 14:45, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, the "and" in the sentence below in the current BLP policy creates an equvalence between sensitivity and quality of sources, leading to misinterpretation by some editors. I have included parts of your comments in the proposed text below.
ORIGINAL: The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity and based on strict adherence to our content policies
PROPOSAL: The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity, based on strict adherence to our content policies. It is not enough simply to have a source. Always give the subject the benefit of the doubt anytime there is anything contentious or derogatory that does not clearly meet WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NOR, WP:Note, WP:NPOV and WP:UNDUE.
This proposal would eliminate the interpretation that sensitivity trumps other considerations, and provide a high standard for inclusion of items in a biography. I am interested in your comments. Sparkzilla 02:24, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
The proposal already says what you're trying to say. What you've encountered is a content dispute that boils down to editorial judgment. This policy isn't a substitute for editorial judgment, just a helping hand. People have to use their common sense, and if they don't have any, this policy won't help them anyway. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:28, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for your comment. Appeals to common sense are not good enough. There is a clear inconsistency in the policy that needs clarification. Sparkzilla 02:36, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
If there is an inconsistency, I don't see it. The importance of sensitivity is on par with sourcing and all the rest, and as Jossi noted, serves to alert editors that we should not add any material 'just because it is sourced'. Not every sourced tidbit needs to go into a BLP. Crum375 02:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Then may I ask you how we should deal with the situation at hand, where we have many, many high-quality sources regarding the Gere marriage, and 100% relation to the person's notability. According to the public figures section of the policy, information that the subject may not like can be added, if it passes other criteria (notability etc). But because this policy says sensitivity is equivalent to everything else that the item should be excluded, and that the item should stay out until there is a change in the policy. In this case, does sensitivity trump everything else? I appreciate your comments.Sparkzilla 02:58, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Sparkzilla, I again ask you not to speak on my behalf, not to atttribute statements to me that I have never made, and not to misrepresent me. It has also been previously pointed out that argumentation about the Gere case ought not occur at this forum. FNMF 03:02, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Reworded as above. Sparkzilla 03:26, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, really, this discussion has to move elsewhere. That's what we have the noticeboard and article talk pages for. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:05, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I have to agree with both SlimVirgin and FNMF. Whether intentionally or not, this proposal comes across as "I want to add information about Richard Gere's sex life, so I will just go change the policy to make sure nobody can say it is against policy." Many editors are giving the message that changes in policy must be very well founded and based on more than just a desire to modify a single article. Risker 03:14, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Oppose Sparkzilla's proposal. There is no inconsistency. Editors must adhere to more than one aspect of Wikipedia policy. That is clear and consistent. The proposal is an attempt to water down WP:BLP. FNMF 02:42, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
No, what I have been saying is that multiple editors who have multiple sources about a particular aspect of a person's life and are being denied adding the material because of claims of "sensitivity", backed up by a single piece of text here. The same issue also can occur on many other pages, and raises questions about how we deal with any kind of scandal. Are we not to mention scandals or accusations, no matter how well sourced, because they are not "sensitive" to the subject? I feel this is against the spirt of the other section on BLP that discusses public figures, which says such information IS allowed. I await more comments on the proposed text. Sparkzilla 03:33, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Let me also add that EVERY Gere biography and multiple reliable and authoritative news sources (see sources in para. above) mentions Gere's letter to the Times AND mention that it was written in reaction to rumors of homosexuality and a sham marriage. Who are we being sensitive to? Certainly not Gere - he is a public figure. The policy says as a public figure we can include the material despite sensitivity issues. So can someone tell me why, even though every other credible source mentions this material, that an arbitrary BLP "sensitivity" policy is being applied to exclude this material? Sparkzilla 09:58, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
In reply to Risker. It does not matter which BLP article Sparkzilla wanted to add to, nor what he wanted to add. He came across an impediment to adding, in good faith and according to WP policy according to every other subject matter, information according to an interpretation of the context of sensitivity within BLP guidelines. I support his position. If we return to referring to one subject matter, and one incident, it is because that is the catalyst. It is to be understood that we are talking about the principles involved, using this one case as the example.
Also (and this is to a number of respondents) please do not first request that we do not use the example by name and then reprimand us (by which I mean me) for then altering those comments as per the request. I am quite aware of the protocols of talkpages, and the use of WP:IAR when procedure is being used to stymie meaningful discussion. Please address the points, and not divert the debate by complaining of the style used. Thank you. LessHeard vanU 21:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Proposed text for public figures

This is a proposal to make sure that considerations of sensitivity are consistent across BLP policy ;)

ORIGINAL: In the case of significant public figures, there will be a multitude of reliable, third-party published sources to take information from, and Wikipedia biographies should simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources, it belongs in the article even if it's negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it. If it is not documented by reliable third-party sources, leave it out.

NEW AND IMPROVED: In the case of significant public figures, there will be a multitude of reliable, third-party published sources to take information from. Wikipedia biographies should not simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources but is in any way negative to the subject or the subject dislikes all mention of it we should take special care not to allow it in Wikipedia. However well sourced and notable, if material is in any way sensitive, then leave it out. We must make sure that public figures are protected. This is not a tabloid.

Sparkzilla 10:41, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

  • It would be very much appreciated if LessHeard vanU and Sparkzilla were to read and comply with talk page guidelines. Other editors are responding to comments which are subsequently being rewritten by the authors, having a negative effect on the flow of this conversation. Risker 13:28, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Please answer the question above. Can someone tell me why, even though every other credible source mentions this material, is an arbitrary BLP "sensitivity" policy is being applied to exclude this material? Thank you. Sparkzilla 14:45, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Sparkzilla, you have been asked repeatedly, by many editors and administrators, to keep the questions about Richard Gere in either the talk page of that article or the BLPN section with reference to that article. Your continued insistence on discussing it here, in the talk page of a policy that applies to hundreds of thousands of articles containing biographical material about living persons, has become disruptive. Please stop. Risker 14:59, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
This is a policy issue. I am pointing out that the policy is inconsistent, using a particular example to illustrate my point. I am seeking answers to this issue in good faith, because I feel that this issue does affect thousands of pages. Lets start excluding all kinds of arbitrarily decided "sensitive" information from pages. Why don't we start with the allegations that Michael Jackson molested boys? Those are well-sourced also, but just to be sensitive to MJ we should leave them out. I'm sure he doesn't want to read about them on Wikipedia...This is not a tabloid. Wait! I hear you say, we've got lots of sources for that...even the New York Times. So what?...we have to be sensitive to him. But, why stop there...take any celebrity and remove any negative allegation or claims about them, however well-sourced, just so we can be "sensitive". That's what you are doing with the Gere/Crawford situation. Why should any public figure's pages be held to a differnet standard than Gere's Wikipedia pages?
You have no right to ask me to stop asking valid questions about the policy. There are other editors here that have a similar concern to mine, and it is fair that we are heard. Now, I wonder, instead of telling me to shut up will you answer the question? Can someone tell me why, even though every other credible source mentions this material, an arbitrary BLP "sensitivity" policy is being applied to exclude this material? Thank you. Sparkzilla 15:16, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Your question has been answered numerous times in numerous places by numerous editors and administrators. If you cannot see the difference between reporting a trial - by definition the government taking action against an individual - and gossip, there isn't much anyone here can do to help you. Risker 15:24, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Please answer the question at the end of the paragraph please. Sparkzilla 15:33, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Sparkzilla, since you asked, and since I've been following, and somewhat supporting, your efforts elsewhere ... I realize you're being sarcastic, but that's not a good idea. It's somewhat close to Wikipedia:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point, and won't easily get other people to support you, which is, after all, your goal, right? My suggestion is to make the actual proposal you hope will be accepted, don't make a proposal that is the opposite of the result you want. It's just too confusing otherwise. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 16:05, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for your concern. I thought it might lighten the mood, and help people understand the issue better. Actually, I checked the "Do not disrupt WP" page before I posted. Real disruption would have been to go to hundreds of pages and to remove well-sourced material that is not sensitive to the subjects ;) thank you for your support. Sparkzilla 16:17, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

It is now 12 hours since I posted my question: Why, even though every other credible source mentions this material, an arbitrary BLP "sensitivity" policy is being applied to exclude this material? The lack of response lends me to think that this arbitrary concept of "sensitivity" is poorly worded. Here is a new proposal that clarifies further.

ORIGINAL (rationale section): The article itself must be edited with a degree of sensitivity and based on strict adherence to our content policies.

PROPOSAL (as a single item in the rationale section): The article itself must be edited based on strict adherence to our content policies, and written in a sensitive tone. It is not enough simply to have a source. Always give the subject the benefit of the doubt anytime there is anything contentious or derogatory that does not clearly meet WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NOR, WP:Note, WP:NPOV and WP:UNDUE.

OR (as a list in the rationale section)

  • The article itself must be edited based on strict adherence to our content policies
  • It must be written in a sensitive tone
  • It is not enough simply to have a source. Always give the subject the benefit of the doubt anytime there is anything contentious or derogatory that does not clearly meet WP:V, WP:RS, WP:NOR, WP:Note, WP:NPOV and WP:UNDUE.
  • If the subject edits the article, it is important to assume good faith and deal with them politely (see Wikipedia:Autobiography for content decisions in this regard);
  • If an anon IP address or a new account turns up to blank a page about a living person, or a section of it, it may well be the subject. Try not to act aggressively, but instead engage the person in dialogue, and check that the article in question does not contain any unsourced or poorly sourced criticism. If it does, delete that portion.

I fail to see how this kind of clarification of policy can hurt Wikipedia. It is clear and fair. It would...

  1. make sure that application of the policy was not based on arbitrary ideas of "sensitivity"
  2. include exactly how to be sensitive to the subject (sensitive tone and strong benefit of doubt)
  3. It would allow well-sourced negative claims and allegations from reliable sources to be included if, and only if, they follow the other pillars of Wikipedia. Sparkzilla 18:02, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Sparkzilla, the incident you want to include happened more than 10 years ago. The information you want to add is not going to go away in the next few hours, days, weeks or even months. Where I come from, the adage is "if you want an answer right away, then the answer is no - if you give me some time to consider it, the answer might be yes." Please be patient. Risker 18:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for at least considering this. I really appreciate it. I would like to be patient, but now it appears I am being threatened with being archived! Sparkzilla 18:32, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I would like to archive this discussion soon, because it's going nowhere, taking over the page, and Sparkzilla is changing comments that people have already responded to, so increasingly it's making no sense. If anyone other than Sparkzilla objects to archiving, please let me know. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:18, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I am making a reasonable suggestion to find a consensus to adjust policy that I feel is unclear. Other editors above also note that the policy is unclear. Could you please comment on the actual issue. What exactly do you object to in my proposed text? Thank you. Sparkzilla 18:29, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
If you come back in a month's time with a proposal that has nothing to do with this case, then I'll certainly give it due consideration. At things stand, you're posting about this here, on the BLP noticeboard, on the article talk page, on the talk page of the Notability policy/guideline, on user talk pages, you're refactoring comments here so that responses make no sense, and apparently you've started doing the same at the article RfC. It's too much excitement, and no policy changes should be made in that atmosphere. Policies need a degree of stability. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:37, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
There is no mention of Gere in the policy change above. Would you mind answering the question? What exactly do you object to in my proposed text above? If you'd like some time to consider please feel free, but I would like to understand why you might think it would not be acceptable. Sparkzilla 18:44, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I would like some time, as I said above. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Let's give a specific link. A Wikipedia:Request for comments has been opened on this issue at Talk:Richard_Gere#Request_for_comments. Let's discuss the specific text in question there, and this general policy here. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 18:38, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

BLP deletion standards

I thought we had a consensus for BLP deletion standards but apparently we don't. It is unacceptable for a closing admin to have arbitrary power over what content may occur elsewhere in wikipedia. WAS 4.250 12:19, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Not sure I follow, WAS. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:19, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
What do you not understand? WAS 4.250 20:26, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
This sentence "It is unacceptable for a closing admin to have arbitrary power over what content may occur elsewhere in wikipedia." SlimVirgin (talk) 21:46, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Abe says delete my bio. We have a deletion review. The majority say keep or move the data. Closing admin decides to delete and explains why based on very low notability and the subject's desire to have it deleted that 40% saying delete was good enough. Betty moves some of the former content of the bio to a different article. The closing admin deletes that data from the nonbio article claiming their closing judgement precludes the moving of data that a majority said to retain. I am against the closing admin overriding consensus in the moving of data from a bio that was deleted against consensus. Deleting that data from the other article must be a consensus decision by the community. Notable data can not be subject to deletion by a semi-notable person even tho a semi-noable person should have the right to not have an article masquerading as a biography when it isn't really a fleshed out biography. This is an encyclopedia and even non-notable people will occasionally have their name be an encyclopedic datum in some article. They have no right to censor wikipedia. They have a right for us to treat them sensitively, which can mean not having an article titled after them. WAS 4.250 22:30, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I understand. That issue is being discussed in the section above called "Moving material to other articles." But the section you removed has nothing to do with that. It said:

When closing AfDs about semi-notable BLPs, the closing admin should give due regard to whether the subject of the article has expressed a desire to see the article deleted. There is currently no consensus as to the weight that should be placed on the subject's wishes, so this is left to the discretion of the closing admin.

SlimVirgin (talk) 22:38, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

(<--)The version that I thought had consensus said :

The closing admin may take into account the desire of the subject to not have an article and the degree of notability of the subject. We lack a consensus on the exact weight that should be placed on these factors, but it is clear that they are factors to be considered when closing a seminotable BLP deletion discussion. Moving encyclopedic information and linking to it rather than deleting it should be seriously considered in all cases.

Notability here is concerned with the concept of "has been noted in published reliable sources" as we are concerned with the relevance for Wikipedia. We use that concept for the related but different questions of "Should this claim be in Wikipedia" and "Should this article (title) be in Wikipedia?" The semi-notable middleground consists precisely of claims that are notable enough to go in Wikipedia, but there is a lack of consensus for the article (title) so that moving the notable claims to other articles makes sense.

How would you like to change this version; considering my concerns stated above? WAS 4.250 00:16, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Three separable issues/concerns:
1. I thought we had something approaching consensus for a stronger section than this i.e. the reversal of the presumption in favor of keep, though I'd have to go back and read the responses again;
2. The notability issue, and the moving of material elsewhere: see the section above called "Moving material to other articles" for the problems with that provision;
3. The rest of it seems to be the same, just copy edited, so I'm assuming that can go back in, and added to or not, depending on the "Moving material to other articles" discussion. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:26, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
By (3), I mean, do you actually object to the material you removed (notwithstanding that you would like to see it expanded)? "When closing AfDs about semi-notable BLPs, the closing admin should give due regard to whether the subject of the article has expressed a desire to see the article deleted. There is currently no consensus as to the weight that should be placed on the subject's wishes, so this is left to the discretion of the closing admin." SlimVirgin (talk) 00:27, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

1)There was no consensus to reverse the presumption in favor of keep to a presumption in favor of delete. That was your position not consensus position. My position was to give it some specific weight like 40%. But everyone had a different weight. There was no consensus on the weight, merely a concensus that in some case (semi-notable or private persons or defining one as the other -there was not even a consensus on this wording) the subject's desire to "opt out" should be given some weight. WAS 4.250 01:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

2)Yes, I acknowledge that you have a concern here. Which is why I invited you to edit the above to see if you could create a wording that we would both agree has consensus. I'm not clear how to do that. WAS 4.250 01:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

3)So long as it is made clear that moving data in such a case is to be given serious consideration, I have no problem with the wording you quote above. WAS 4.250 01:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

So maybe I do have have a suggested wording:

When closing AfDs about semi-notable BLPs, the closing admin should give due regard to whether the subject of the article has expressed a desire to see the article deleted. There is currently no consensus as to the weight that should be placed on the subject's wishes, so this is left to the discretion of the closing admin. Moving data in such a case is to be given serious consideration. WAS 4.250 01:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Naturally I like my own version better, but that'll do. WAS 4.250 01:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

That takes us back to the previous point, that editors will use this as an excuse to get the material in elsewhere. I take your point that a closing admin shouldn't be allowed to control content in other articles, but this sentence will encourage WP:POINT-type editing, and people will move material from deleted BLPs to non-BLP articles, and may even create them for that purpose. I've seen it happen. So we need to find wording that allows the possibility of moving without encouraging it, while warning that it should not be done to thwart the spirit of the deletion. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:38, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Could another clause be appended to WAS's final sentence? For example: "Moving data in such a case is to be given serious consideration, while not forgetting that WP:BLP applies on all pages of Wikipedia." This instructs closing admins that they may move material about semi-notables to the entries where this material may be relevant, but also instructs them to bear in mind those aspects of WP:BLP that continue to apply. FNMF 01:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that's good. I'd like to make it a little stronger still:

When closing AfDs about semi-notable BLPs, the closing admin should take into account whether the subject of the article has asked that it be deleted. There is currently no consensus as to the weight that should be placed on the subject's wishes, so this is left to the discretion of the closing admin. When a BLP is deleted, moving data to another article should be given serious consideration, bearing in mind that this policy applies to all pages of Wikipedia. Material should never be moved from a deleted BLP as a way of thwarting the point of the page deletion.

SlimVirgin (talk) 01:55, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I moved SlimVirgin's version immediately above to the project page. I would like to thank both SlimVirgin and FNMF for helping to craft an excellent BLP deletion standard that I believe reflects the current consensus of the community. WAS 4.250 02:10, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

And thank you for writing it up in the first place. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 02:16, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
At what point did this gain consensus? This seems like a pretty radical thing to codify into policy. --badlydrawnjeff talk 19:00, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
As Jef said, where is the consensus for this? If I recall, post the last Brandt matter we had an attempt to make some sort of policy like this and there was clearly no consensus for it. JoshuaZ 19:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Didn't the text say, "There is currently no consensus as to the weight that should be placed on the subject's wishes, so this is left to the discretion of the closing admin." Seems like it was not asserting consensus, but suggesting that it may or may not be appropriate to consider... I certainly have seen AfDs where, when the subject was involved, the articles was deleted; then again, I have seen the opposite play out. --Iamunknown 19:08, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Read the discussion above, Joshua. In fact, I think we have consensus for something stronger. But with respect, Jeff's position is so extreme that it can't be allowed to affect policy development. He'd oppose this even if 100 percent of the people who responded supported it. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:10, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I've read the discussion above, and while I think it is true that Jeff's position is extreme, he is correct in that there was not the last time this became very widely discussed any indication that there was a consensus. A discussion that occured over a 48 hour period with no notice on VP or elsewhere is not an adequate measure of consensus. JoshuaZ 19:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Josh, the discussion took place over more than 48 hours. Have you read it? SlimVirgin (talk) 20:03, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
It started on April 22. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Whoa whoa whoa, back up here - at what point is my position extreme, and at what point does that give you or ANYONE the right to dismiss it out of hand? --badlydrawnjeff talk 19:15, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
A fundamental principle of Wikipedia editing is that extreme views are dismissed; it's written right into the WP:NPOV policy, for example. That's why people are tending to dismiss your views on this subject. Jayjg (talk) 20:02, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
As I don't hold an extreme view on this issue, I fail to see where you're coming from on this. But, hey, if you can marginalize those you disagree with, go for it, right? Who cares about actual consensus, just dismiss the contrary folk! --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:41, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Can we try to head off a protracted edit war by actually discussing this further instead of forcing the issue? Please? --badlydrawnjeff talk 19:59, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Sure. Lead by example, please. Jayjg (talk) 20:02, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
You're the one who's reverting everything, Jeff, whether you agree with it or not. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Um, your wrong. Check the edit history. --Iamunknown 20:09, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Actually, looking back at this discussion (it has been a long time), I realize I was wrong. Sorry, Iamunknown 02:32, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Jayjg's edit summary here implies admins get more of a say than non-admins which is not only not policy but completely against the spirit of weikipedia. being an admin is about getting extra buttons, it is not about getting an extra say or being more important than non-admins, SqueakBox 20:02, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

20 admins vs one Jeff. Well, Jeff must be right, of course.--Docg 20:10, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Actually, what I explained to AnonEMouse was that in a sense you are correct about adminship, but mostly only in theory. In practice, admins generally represent longer term, experienced editors who have gained the trust of the community; thus, their views tend to be weighed more heavily. And when you see a large group of admins saying "policy is X", and a small group of non-admins saying "we don't agree, and want it changed to this", well... Jayjg (talk) 20:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Parts of the policy describe admin best practice. It's a bit odd when several experienced admins are saying we do X, for others to say no you don't. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Funny, I don't seem to be the only person with an issue on this. Funny how this is being spun. Not shocking, but funny. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:36, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
In that case you'll be able to leave it to the others to deal with it. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:41, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
No, I don't believe that's an option, SV. You will not be marginalizing me on this issue, I won't allow it. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:42, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
You marginalize yourself, Jeff. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:48, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I've done nothing of the sort. Stop assuming as such, and we'll be getting somewhere. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:54, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
It makes sense that more experienced editors are given greater weight and I am commenting generally not in this particular case, SqueakBox 20:39, 2 May 2007 (UTC)


Bored it out, then change. —Phil | Talk 20:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. Anyway, my main objection is to the addition of the line that any admin may protect any deleted biographical article, without any further explanation. It's a new addition, it wasn't there at the start of this nasty edit war. [10] Unfortunately, that will quickly lead to at least one admin protecting all deleted articles, forever, then citing this policy when someone objects or tries to unprotect. Everyone above talks about how experienced admins will show restraint - well, then say so. I understand that we don't want this page to get too long, but it doesn't take much, just add a link to "see WP:SALT for details", one sentence fragment. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Please stop going on about that. It's what we do. You're suggesting instead that admins have to wait until deleted BLPs are repeatedly recreated, which is nonsense. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:26, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
We can compromise, something about "with a high risk of being recreated" if you like - of course that's more words. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:36, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
What if there is a low risk of recreation, but the consequences are more serious? Bottom line, I don't think you can 'legislate common sense', and simpler is better. Crum375 20:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
"What if there is a low risk of recreation, but the consequences are more serious?" Excellent point! ElinorD (talk) 21:34, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) It's what we do? Who's we? Also, although the statement that "admins must have discretion" has been repeated ad nauseam, no good explanation has been provided as to why one would want to preemptively protect a deleted BLP that was created just once? What's the rationale behind it? -- Black Falcon (Talk) 20:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
It's what experienced admins do. That's who "we" are. Some deleted BLPs are protected against recreation immediately, often because created as an attack page; some only after repeated attempts to recreate; some never. It depends on the circumstances and on the admin's judgment about those circumstances, obviously. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:44, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
True, but notice that it was done so without this sentence in the policy. That's what made it the experienced admin's judgment call. Putting this sentence in the policy without any clarification encourages inexperienced admins to go wild; there is nothing urging restraint, not even a pointer to the problems with doing so. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
There's no evidence that inexperienced admins would "go wild", and there are so many ways of dealing with that problem in the unlikely case it were to happen. Don't forget, deletes (or protections) are easily overturned; on the other hand, failure to deal promptly with a serious BLP issue can have long-term serious implications for both the individuals involved, and for the Wikimedia Foundation. The policy for BLP should be written to err on the side of caution, exactly as Jimbo has explicitly stated we should do. Jayjg (talk) 20:51, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
They're easily overturned if they're just an admin's judgment call. They're not easily overturned if they're based on this sentence in policy. If we really want to err on the side of caution we could write "First, the person must be dead." as the Brockhaus encyclopedia does it (Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons/Archive 2), but we don't. Look, I'm not asking for no protection of deleted BLPs, just a pointer to a cautioning page. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 21:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I likewise support the protection of deleted BLPs, but would like the policy to provide some sort of guidance aside from "whenever someone feels like it". SV, you raise two valid issues above (attack page and attempted recreations): how about we note those in the sentence? -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:15, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Because there may be other examples we don't think to mention. That's why we let admins use their discretion. They deal with the particulars; they know the background; if there are sockpuppets involved, they may have investigated, and so on. We can't get into specifics on a policy page. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:18, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not against codifying admin discretion ... but at least have the policy provide some sort of guidance aside from: "you can do it if you want". In what cases should they probably do it? When should they probably not do it? The purpose of policy is not to legitimise the actions of experienced admins (and I'm pretty sure there are experienced admins out there who'd disagree with you); it's to provide information and guidance as to appropriate action. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:27, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
This is the only guidance that we have consensus enough to make as policy on this issue at this time. WAS 4.250 21:57, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Of course, whether there's consensus that this is really the proper guidance is the wider issue. --badlydrawnjeff talk 22:00, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
WAS 4.250, the version proposed by SV provides no guidance. It just says ... "you can do it", without any specification of why or when one might want to do it. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 22:17, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

(<---)When you argue using quotes that you yourself have invented but claim they are what "It just says", it might be for any of many reasons; none of which lead me to conclude that a this is a useful dialogue. WAS 4.250 22:45, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

For any of many reasons? And what would they be? If I was going to falsely accuse the BLP page of stating something ridiculous, you can rest assured that I would be more devious and write in an official tone worthy of a policy. Your response simply skirts the issue (maybe that's a sign that this is not a useful dialogue). The statement "any admin may choose to protect the page against recreation" is substantively no different from "any admin may do it" (oh, yes, it's longer and more official). It states that admins may choose to protect a page, but does not state under what factors they should consider in determining whether to do so. That is, it provides no guidance. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 01:07, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Whoops! My bad. I'm sorry. My mind was totally on the BLP deletion paragraph and not at all on the salting of articles (that is what you are talking about, right?). I don't see salting as a big deal because there is no way to salt all possible permutations of a title. Say John Smith is salted. Then I can create John F. Smith or J. Smith or John Smith (actor). See? I just don't see it as anything important. Again, I'm sorry. Is there anything else I can do for you? WAS 4.250 01:25, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
No worries. I also apologise for the sarcastic undertones to my comment ... I'm very rarely devious O:-). Yes, my comment was in regard to salting, on which you raise a good point: deleting and salting Albert Q. Vespucci III won't prevent a dedicated vandal from creating Albert Q Vespucci III or Ablert Q. Vespuci 3. If by "BLP deletion paragraph" you mean the one in the section below, stating that "the closing admin should take into account whether the subject of the article has asked that it be deleted", then I agree with that paragraph (and its wording). I only desire on that matter is that we have a mechanism whereby we may verify that the person requesting deletion is indeed the subject of the article. Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 01:33, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
The mechanism for that is the same mechanism as for every other content decision - the diligence of the community. WAS 4.250 02:49, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

The section in question

When closing AfDs about semi-notable BLPs, the closing admin should take into account whether the subject of the article has asked that it be deleted. There is currently no consensus as to the weight that should be placed on the subject's wishes, so this is left to the discretion of the closing admin. When a BLP is deleted, moving data to another article should be given serious consideration, bearing in mind that this policy applies to all pages of Wikipedia. Material should never be moved from a deleted BLP as a way of thwarting the point of the page deletion.

Joshua, this was the section you objected to. Can you say why you feel it's not an accurate summary of the discussion here? SlimVirgin (talk) 20:25, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Ah. I didn't realize that there was that larger section above. I thought you meant the section that started on May 1st. That does seem to be an accurate summary of that consensus. I'm not happy with that, but the consensus seems pretty clear. JoshuaZ 20:36, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Okay thanks. I'm not entirely happy with it myself, because I think the consensus went further than that, but I'm willing to keep it like that if others agree, and they seem to. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:46, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure it's an entirely accurate summary of that discussion, honestly. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but it seems like there's a sizeable opposition with legitimate concerns that weren't addressed, much of it coming after it was advertised in some areas, leading me to believe there's a lot of people who don't watch this page who disagree with it. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:39, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Do we have any processes by which the subject of a biography needs to prove they are the subject. I could otherwise pretend to be say Cris Ericson and demand that my views be given greater consideration and in fact just bve pretending to be her because I want the article deleted. I see know porceesses whereby an admin even can check that the subject is who they claim to be, and that kind of verification should be done by the foundation, IMO. it certainly shouldnt be left to the blind judgement of an admin, SqueakBox 20:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it should be left to the judgment of an admin, who can confer with other admins if there's reasonable doubt. It doesn't take much to establish that, on balance of probability, you're speaking to the subject. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:50, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Isn't that what the OTRS stuff is for? I'd trust that before a random administrative judgement. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:54, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
OTRS is staffed by admins. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
No, really? Of course it is, Slim - it's also official and holds more weight than any random person in the midst of a discussion. --badlydrawnjeff talk 21:24, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
In certain cases it is preferred that OTRS admins do not advertise the fact that an edit or deletion is being made based on information derived from OTRS e-mails. This is done to preserve privacy and to avoid the WP:OFFICE effect of drawing unwanted attention to an issue. FCYTravis 04:00, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Either admins are trusted to take admin actions or they're not, and any action they take is easily enough overturned. When you say you don't trust "random administrative judgement", you make it quite clear what the real issue is here. Jayjg (talk) 20:56, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
We can trust admins without assuming they're omnipotent. There's no way to immediately/intuitively know that an the operator of an account is who he/she says he/she is. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:00, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
No one's talking about intuiting. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, we can trust them, and if they make a mistake, the error can easily be fixed. It's not all that hard to figure out if someone is who they say they are, and there are lots of places to go for second opinions of you're not certain. Jayjg (talk) 21:01, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Right, so why not entrust it to the one group that deals with those instead of assuming bad faith about people who are looking for alternative options? --badlydrawnjeff talk 21:02, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand your point. Jayjg (talk) 21:07, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
You're the one who's assuming bad faith of admins, Jeff. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm doing nothing of the sort. --badlydrawnjeff talk 21:24, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
My point is that we need a better form of verification than "This admin says so." We have something in place that can do just that. --badlydrawnjeff talk 21:10, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(ec) Jayjg, of course we trust them, but that doesn't mean they intuitively can know the identify of someone on the Internet. They're admins not telepaths. If, as you claim, it's not that hard, then please tell me how you or an admin would figure it out? -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:05, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
It's easy enough to ask for some sort of evidence, and the evidence would depend on the individual in question. Jayjg (talk) 21:07, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
What kind of evidence? It's not like we can demand passport numbers or the like. You can't require evidence that would constitute an invasion of privacy ... well, you can, but I'd rather Wikipedia not turn into a security agency. Much of the remaining "evidence" would be information that can easily be found online or in the article itself. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:11, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Usually an e-mail should be good enough. For example, if the hypothetical Professor John Anybody of the University of Florida sends you an e-mail from, then it's pretty obvious. Jayjg (talk) 21:24, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Ok, that would account for people associated with educational institutions and/or corporations, but what about That doesn't tell us anything. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:30, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(ec)That sounds like a recipe for disaster IMO as actually it wouldnt be difficult to pretend to be someone else and balance of probability sounds unsatisfactory given that there are many people who have their own agenda to want to delete a bio article and it is just leaving a gaping hole whereby bad faith editors could game the system, SqueakBox 20:58, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
"Recipe for disaster"? Pish posh! What kind of "gaping hole" would be left if we didn't have an article on, say, Shelly Jamison, the article for which AnonEMouse received the "Barnstar of Rescue" for saving it from AfD; would Wikipedia suddenly be considered unreliable? Jayjg (talk) 21:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(ec) The good faith effort of editors being deleted for absolutely no reason except that a vandal was able to fool us is a disaster. Why contribute to a project where your contributions may be randomly deleted if some vandal decides he doesn't like it, creates an account, and requests the article's deletion? -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:07, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
You must have a very strange definition of "disaster"; this kind of stuff happens all the time, things are speedy deleted, prodded, AfDd etc. and the creators think they shouldn't have been. There are lots of ways of fixing this in the rare case when it's done in error, and the damage if we don't delete when we should have can be huge. Exactly how often do you think we actually get the subjects of articles asking for the article to be deleted? It's extremely rare, and usually well justified when it does happen. Jayjg (talk) 21:29, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not talking abou twhat the creators think should have happened. I'm talking about deleting articles on the mistaken premise that the subject requested them when the person who requested deletion really is Whilly on Wheels. When we start treating vandals with such deference, that is a disaster. As for "extremely rare" ... I'm quite sure it will become less rare if we start deleting whenever someone claiming to be the subject requests it. In fact, I'm feeling a bit Isaac Asimov-ish at the moment. Hmm ... Now, that said, I do not oppose the wording propsed above by SlimVirgin (i.e., that admins should give some weight to the subject's request). I'm only insisting that we have some mechanism for figuring out whether the person requesting deletion is indeed the subject or some innovative vandal. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:45, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict x3) SlimVirgin, the wording proposed above is not something I'd object to. I'd only suggest two changes. First, we should be sure that the subject of the article has indeed asked for deletion. If User:George W. Bush requests the deletion of "his" article, we oughtn't necessarily take it at face value. Second, the last sentence starting with "Material should never" seems redundant ... WP:BLP applies to biographical content in any article, so moving biographical content from a biographical to non-biographical article does not remove that content from the scope of WP:BLP. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 20:55, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(ec3) I don't think "on balance of probability, you're speaking to the subject" is enough or even accurate. If you believe my hypothetical claim that I'm Nicole Kidman or Helmut Kohl, then you're very much in error. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 20:58, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
We should never have policies that are easy to game, indeed making policies as hard as possible to game is surely vital in policy construction. Giving potential power to bad faith users in this way is what would be the recipe for disaster not whether the article on Ericson or other marginally notable people remain. Its obvious in a cse like Brandt nbut cases like Ericson (who someone using her name started the article and then an ip address claiming to be her wantyed it deleted. it could be equally harmful if the subject of an article was presumed not to be the subject and had no way of verifying their identity, SqueakBox 21:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Enough, please. Admins know how to determine whether someone is who they claim to be. Not 100 percent of course, but good enough for our purposes. This isn't the UN. All these protection/deletion decisions can be undone in an instant. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:22, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
In theory, yes. In reality, of course not, and you know that as well as any of us do. --badlydrawnjeff talk 21:24, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
No, in reality these things can be undone in an instant. Keep in mind, the harm done by an erroneous deletion is, well, absolutely none, but the harm done by a failure to delete can be huge. Again, we're not talking about the George W. Bush or Stephen Hawking articles here. Jayjg (talk) 21:26, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
In reality, the hoops a typical user would have to go through to get such an article unlocked are often barely worth the trouble. It's easy to sit there and say "yeah, just one click, all set," but we both know these things don't work that way. --badlydrawnjeff talk 21:27, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
If the typical user can't persuade people to suppport him, it probably means the article should be protected/deleted/whatever the issue is. You're all for consensus when it supports you; when not, you despise it. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:06, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
What's with the dishonest attacks, Slim? What the hell? --badlydrawnjeff talk 22:09, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Nonsense. This is about article deletion and protection, which is quite rare compared to article protection. Moreover, it is about article deletion after the subject asks for it to be deleted. How often does it happen - once a year? Twice? Maybe it will even rise to ten times a year, one day. Oh, the horrors! Imagine if two of those deletions really maybe shouldn't have happened, and now our Shelly Jamison article is locked and protected. How will Wikipedia ever be taken seriously as an encyclopedia? Jayjg (talk) 21:32, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Jayjg, I think you are simply wrong. The harm done by an erroneous deletion of an article is not non-existent: (A) it discourages good-faith contributors and (B) it creates an environment where the addition of material becomes pointless (after all, it's subject to random erroneous deletions). Also, who cares whether the article is Shelly Jamison or someone else? One good article on a notable person is as valid as any other. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:39, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Also, an encyclopedia that deletes perfectly good content out of ... well, I'll try remain civil. Wikipedia will not be taken seriously if it has the self-preservation instinct of a kamikaze. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 21:40, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
For me failyure to set a process for subject verification is in itself enough reason to consider rejecting giving extra weight to the subject of an article, SqueakBox 21:46, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
There are clearly more than 2 people who want their articles deleted, I can think of half a dozen that I know of myself, SqueakBox 22:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
This policy isn't going to be handed over to extreme inclusionists and process fetishists. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:08, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
It shouldn't be handed off to ANY group. --badlydrawnjeff talk 22:09, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
(ec)It shouldnt be handed over to anybody, extreme inclusionists or extreme deletionists, nor to people who want to see articles deleted and to achieve their ends pretend to be someone they are not, SqueakBox 22:11, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
The reality is all wikipedia editors are treated equally and have the right to be anonymous so we are absolutely moving into new territory by saying that anonymous ediotrs can claim to be the subject of an article and with no verifying of their claim to be who they are, leaving admins to guess, we will give theis particular class of editor more rights than everybody else is a trend I find extremely disturbing and, by offering illicit power will attract the bad faith user to game the system in this new way, SqueakBox 22:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
No one is saying that; your interpretation is ridiculous, and I'm going to have to stop responding here. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:20, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
SV, no policy is being "handed over" to anybody, in part because none of us own this policy. I also resent the implication that anyone who disagrees with you is either an "extreme inclusionst" or "process fetishist". The wording you've proposed above requires some sort of mechanism to ensure that random claims of identity are not unquestioningly accepted as true or accepted/rejected on the basis of some over-the-Internet intuition. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 22:25, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
IMO setting up such verification is to defend the reputation of our project and not to do so will, IMO, weaken our reputation as a viable project, SqueakBox 22:31, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Performing this verification, to a high level of certainty, is the job of the admin receiving the request. Each case is different, and we need to let common sense dictate the specifics. Crum375 22:46, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Common sense sounds vague and we dont necessarily even give the admins the tools whereby they can verify. We musnt assume that all admins are adults or capable of verifying such a thing and by putting procedures whereby verification can be ensured (in my opinion through the media foundation) is merely protecting the integrity of the project. Foe an individual admin to opaquely investigate is a recipe for disaster. There are many tasks we can trust to admins to do but I dont believe this is one of them, and especially without check user resources etc, SqueakBox 22:50, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

(<--)There is nothing in this that authorizes any single person to act on their mere assertion that some seminotable person has requested that an article on them be deleted. It is up to the community to decide if the article is about a seminotable person. It is up to the community to decide if the person the article is about has requested it to be deleted. In some cases there will be no doubt. In other cases people will ask questions and must recieve convincing answers. Just like every other decision made by people that affect wikipedia contents (other than foundation decisions). WAS 4.250 23:34, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

If things work out as you suggest this would be okay, ie the decisions being in the hands of the community and publicly debated rather than behind the scenes and the repsonsibility of a single admin, SqueakBox 23:53, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
I do not believe that identifying somebody as the subject of the article is a serious problem. Subjects who wish to identify themselves shall find ways of doing so. Email is not the sole form of communication upon which people can rely. Furthermore, the section in question only states that the wishes of the subject should be "taken into account", and goes out of its way to avoid stating what weight should be placed on those wishes. It seems to me the section serves as an effective reference point for administrators faced with these questions, and the rest of the section makes important statements about how to view the question of the fate of deleted material. The real point of the section is: deleted material may be placed in other entries, but only so long as it still conforms to BLP policy. This is a valuable contribution to policy. FNMF 01:37, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. This is simple and sensible; the wording should actually be strengthened. Marskell 07:12, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Relevence to Notability

This section really seems strangely worded. I think I can guess what the relevent to notability section is supposed to be about, but I'm not sure. Let me offer a hypothetical example that explains why the wording is weird:

Suppose Scott Tremaine places on his personal webspace at the Institute for Advanced Study that he was born in Toronto, Ontario. Biographical articles usually contain birthdates/places, so I might like to include this in the opening paragraph. But I can't - the information is not contentious, it's not selfserving, it's indisputably from Scott himself. It's not a claim about a third party (well, except maybe about his mother, and where she gave birth) and is about an event that relates to him (clearly). But it's unusable as a source because it has nothing to do with his notability. If he was born in Cornwall, Ontario instead, it wouldn't make him more or less notable - it really wouldn't matter much at all.

Anyways, I realise this is probably not going to get changed soon, but I was wondering if there really is some reason this should be excluded, or if it is just an unintended casuality. WilyD 22:15, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not yet know how to handle articles titled with the names of semi-notable people. The first inclination was to make them stubs with whatever information anyone knew about them and eventually they would become encyclopedic biographies. Then sourcing became all the rage and the criteria was all the verifyable (attributable to reliable published sources) information would be added but there was no rush as Wikipedia is a work in progress and we are not done yet. Then vandalism of rarely read bios hit the media and and we rushed to make sure we didn't realy on eventualism but instead insisted bios be cleaned up from vandalism as a priority. Then Brandt complained fiercly and convincingly about privacy and how insensitively he was being treated and this policy was born to fix all these issues concerning our bios on living persons. Then data about living persons not on bios came up so that was added as being covered. We just now formally added that a seminotable person's opinion that he doesn't want the burden of an article named after him should carry some weight, yet we still lack concensus on how much weight. You rightly point out a future needed improvement which is that Wikipedia does not yet know if it wants to write actual biographies about seminotable persons or whether we want to prioritize the privacy of seminotable persons and stick to what is notable about them. Some kind of mix would probably be best, but what kind of a mix? We don't know. WAS 4.250 23:20, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia cannot serve as a dumping ground for random biographical material about everybody. We have recognized this, but we've made the mistake of connecting that process and the rightness or appropriateness of it, with "notability", which really is a legal matter, and actually is only loosely connected with the fundamental morality of this whole process.

Look, the only living people we really have any fundamental right to keep public tabs on details of their biographies, are those for which we do it for reasons of what amounts to self-defense. These are people like politicians and violent criminals. In other words, either people who have great power (and may misuse it), or else people who are thought to be possibly dangerous still, because they've done something in the past to make society rightly wary of them. That's it. In those cases, it's an invasion of the subject's privacy for everybody to know what they've done that is bad, but it's balanced by the public's need for security and by its need for protection against mentally ill people (of a certain type) being able to win power in elections or live next to you, anonymously. You probably don't want an elected judge or law enforcement officer who kicks his dog or beats his wife. And it's a terrible infringment of privacy to know people's home addresses-- unless they're known to be violent pedophiles with long records, in which case you'd probably like to know exactly where they are as much of the time as you can.

For the rest of BLP info, we have to admit that we'd probably be outraged if the kind of information that finds itself in BLPs of famous, or marginally famous, BLPs on Wikipedia, found its way into one of these BLPs for ourselves, or those we love. We'd understand the tradeoffs if we had a president or judge or a convicted child molester in the family. But we'd be outraged to think that everybody thought they had the right to keep tabs on this stuff for somebody in our family, just because somebody in our family is an actor, or has been the victim of a spectacular crime or bad luck, that made it into the papers.

So again, let us focus a bit less on the idea of notability, and more on the matter of self-defense and the golden rule. These are among the principles which need to be balanced, even in a fully mature society. A really great civilization shouldn't be any more interested in whether or not Richard Gere is gay or Mel Gibson has antisemitic views, than whether or not Joe Schmoe, your brother-in-law is, or does. But we are. Wikipedia, you see, is trying to balance an issue which really doesn't deserve to be in tension in the first place. So that's our FIRST mistake. We followed the law, which effectively penalizes famous people just for being famous, whether or not they sought fame, and whether or not their fame is a potential danger to us all. And that's bad. It was a bad decision made because tabloid readers wanted to know about movie stars as much as they wanted to know about politicians and criminals. But just because the law screwed up, does not mean that we need to, here. We can make our policies anything we like, and I hope that the ones we come up with, are more enlightened than the ones in the society we presently live in. Why not? There's certainly plenty of room for improvement! SBHarris 02:32, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

While all of this is philosophically interesting, it doesn't seem to address the question I'm asking: Why does BLP prohibit self-published material that is not contentious, self-serving, not about any third party and is undoubtably from the article's subject if it is not elevant to the subject's notability? It seems to be evident to me that if it's self-published information, privacy concerns aren't important, since the guy is already telling everyone. But if it's standard biographical information (like a place of birth) that you might otherwise include in a bio, why is it prohibited? WilyD 03:06, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Self publishing on a site that ranks 300 on google is different from that same data being on google's number one or two site for your name and further that information is now rewritten, combined with other material (perhaps negative), able to be vandalised by everyone, looks authoritative and sometimes the person feels that his right to privacy has now been violated because he feels the information is now being unfairly used against him helping to create what amounts to an attack site against him. While public figures generally learn to deal with the fact that they can not own data once it has been released, sometimes this makes people feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, violated, angry, and upset. Are peope justified in feeling this way? Not legally. But Wikipedia is about more than just staying legal. So we seek to achieve our mission of a free encyclopedia that is as good as we can make it; but with as much sensitivity towards living people as we can without compromsing our mission. To what degree this element of this policy helps with that goal is debatable. I think it is a good first draft on the issue of non-notable data for semi-notable people, but it needs to be refined. WAS 4.250 03:41, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
One reason (and there are many others) is that it's hard to verify the identity of the person claiming to make changes to his or her own bio. It might be worth the trouble if the issue was getting rid of the whole thing, once and for all. But for every little bit and change to things like birthdates and places and sibs, it's not worth the work of checking, which must be born by others (volunteers). So it's inherrently disrespectful, like littering, and not that different from vandalism (since even if intensions are good, you're still requiring others to you do your dishes and clean up your mess). Let such people go to Who's Who, or start their own Fan-Site to themselves. SBHarris 03:56, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I must be really tired or something, but again I don't understand at all what you're saying. If this source has some trivial but relevent detail (like a birthplace), why is that unacceptable, when some notability establishing tidbit is fine? What is it about self-publishing a birthplace that makes it unsourcable, when it would be sourcable if it was published somewhere else? For what it's worth, I'm not Scott Tremaine - I was just shocked that someone of his stature and importance didn't have a little blurb, so I put together an article. Which meets the intention of this policy very well, if I don't say so myself. I'm just curious about part of the policy - I'm not even trying to use some self-published source for anything. Just so I know - for the future. THanks WilyD 04:06, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
This policy is a work in progress, especially the part you are concerned with. WP:IAR is also policy and feel free to use it when it makes wikipedia a better encyclopedia. Now stop asking us to justify an inadequately written provision or suggest something better that adresses all the issues we told you about. It ain't easy balancing all the factors involved. Bottom line: just write the best articles you know how. WAS 4.250 04:21, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I come off as insisting that someone justify it - that's not my intention. I just wasn't able to confidently guess why this condition existed, and was curious if anyone knew. Given the long replies I got, it seemed as though this was some very important point, though I couldn't figure out why. Which is why I asked for clarification. I'm sorry if I've upset you. It wasn't my intention. WilyD 04:53, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
I personally would say that it is fine to be interested that Mel Gibson is anti-semitic. The reason is that Mel Gibson is a director and producer--i.e. he creates material which expresses political and religious opinions. Knowing what he thinks of Jews is relevant to understanding his works. If Mel Gibson were, say, a famous computer scientist, it wouldn't be relevant.
As for the birthplace question, I agree that the restriction is ridiculous. Ken Arromdee 08:43, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Subjects of biographies need more respect

Assuming that these revisions stick, in two or three weeks I may ask an admin to start an AfD for my bio. It's my bio, and I presume that it's my privilege to ask an admin of my choosing to start the AfD. Some points are not yet covered: What if someone hijacks and frontloads an AfD on my bio the way that DennyColt did recently? I need to know that when I ask an admin to start an AfD, this same admin will in fact be the closing admin. I'm looking for some language that says if an AfD is requested by the subject of the bio, that such an AfD has special status by virtue of the subject's request. This special status should override any recent or current AfDs without this special status, and the designated admin should have the authority to prevent any premature hijacking, frontloading, or speedy closing of the process by other users. Without language like this, I'm not sure it would be worthwhile for me to make an AfD request. -Daniel Brandt 22:51, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

The closing admin would not be the admin who nominated it. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:07, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Under current policy at least. Perhaps an exception could be considered for cases where the subject is himself wanting the article deleted? SqueakBox 00:09, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Your statement merely confirms my point that if we are to give you power of over your bio it is reasonable that you verify who you are, (not that I am doubting you personally but anyone can claim to be you merely by editing from a Texas IP). I tend to think that if you and others can verify your identity to the media foundation then I think your request is not unreasonable, and would support it myself, SqueakBox 22:56, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Daniel Brandt, I doubt very much that you will get that change to this policy. I think you should request Jimbo, or another board member , or a member of arbcom to start up the deletion proces one more time, when you feel it is appropriate. I think you should be clear in your request that you only wish the data moved and the article to be made as small as possible: deleted being best, redirected a second choice and made a disambig as on the article's talk page at the very least. This would almost guarantee direction in the direction you wish, and no decision at wikipedia is permanate, not even deletion, so progress in the article and in your reputation in the community is very useful to your goals. WAS 4.250 23:49, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

- ::Well then, I'll move along. I did ask Jimbo. Actually, he asked me if I was dropping my appeal, and I told him "no." I explained that I will reassess the BLP situation on May 18, and if I conclude that a revised policy is in place that will likely lead to a deletion of my bio, then I will wait until June 15 before taking the next step, which is an appeal to the Board. If I conclude otherwise, then I won't wait until June 15. I don't want a one-time courtesy nod from Jimbo, I want a new policy. That way the next person who wears my ill-fitting shoes won't have to walk 19 months just to find a way out of Wikipedia-google. -Daniel Brandt 00:27, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

While appreciating your desire to also work for others I think you underestimate the trend towards the eradication of personal privacy that not just wikipedia but the internet as a whole is bringing. Some claim it wont be long before Google or its rivals can tell us where anyone was last Thursday afternoon. Its called progress and I think it is unstoppable, and I certainly dont think wikipedia is to blame, SqueakBox 00:33, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
There are a great many multifactorial problems with our world for which no single cause is to blame. From the murder rate to overpopulation to global warming to loss of species to the rise in health care costs. But it doesn't help, whenever anybody identifies some factor in the problem, for somebody else to say it's not entire cause. Maybe not. But it's *A* cause. And not a minor cause. And it's something we can do something about, unlike the war in Iraq and the CO2 level. So get cracking. This is NOT progress. Whenever the internet treats you or your family in a way in which you don't like to be treated, you've lost something. And whenever you identify some putz who's helping with the process and obstructing all efforts to fix it, you've identified a person who's part of the problem, not part of the solution. SBHarris 01:46, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Without being fully aware of the history and details of this issue, I would nevertheless like to make a comment. The notion advanced by SqueakBox that the trend toward the eradication of privacy is unstoppable sounds like an abdication of responsibility. Wikipedia certainly has responsibility to address these privacy issues, whatever trends there may be, especially given that Wikipedia without doubt plays an important part in determining those trends. I do understand that where there is a lack of consensus to act in relation to these concerns, it becomes extremely difficult for concerned editors to achieve the outcomes demanded by subjects of articles. It appears that there is no consensus about what weight to give the subject of an article requesting deletion. Without determination of that weight, subjects entering into the process of asking for their article to be deleted are taking a real gamble: the risk not only that their wishes will in the end not be acceded to, but that a whole slate of new material may arise in the course of debating deletion which will then be permanently located at Wikipedia, thus compounding their dissatisfaction. In this context, Brandt's desire not to accept that this risk is the only avenue open to subjects of articles is very understandable. It is also understandable that he may conclude that, in the absence of community consensus, the only way to achieve a change in how these matters are dealt with is if Wikipedia is forced to confront these matters. That may be by convincing Jimbo or the Board to make some kind of intervention, or through some more drastic measure. My point is this: I think concerned editors should realise that, even though it sounds like sensible advice to instruct subjects to follow the deletion process, for the subjects of articles themselves, and in the absence of the community taking the lead on these questions, there are serious reasons why that option is seriously unattractive, and serious reasons why they may seek remedy at a more authoritative level. FNMF 02:01, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
I dont think facing up to reality is abdicating responsibilty. I am a strong defender of DB's right to comment intelligently here on wikipedia, and he has certainly made me think hard about privacy issues. For instance one of DB's mosty striking criticisms is that Google trawls talk pages and puts them only second in importance to article pages, but that is a Google issue not a Wikipedia issue. And personally I am yet to be convinced that what we can gain through not having privacty as a consequnce of the internet isnt worhtwhile given the gems to advance the human race that the web has to offer us. I consider myself a political opponent of DB and nothing else, as a human being I respect him and here his issues, SqueakBox 02:15, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
The idea that the issue you point toward concerns Google and not Wikipedia also sounds like an abdication of responsibility. Wikipedia, and the Wikipedia community, certainly ought to take responsibility for the consequences of Wikipedia, whatever are the other causes of these consequences. And your further argument that on balance the loss of privacy is outweighed by the gains to the human race made possible by the internet, suggests the reason you wish to abdicate responsibility on such matters is because, on balance, you do not weigh these concerns as heavily as do others. Given that Brandt's notoriety is in part derived from his alleged violations of the right to privacy of others, it is perhaps surprising that the "opponents" of Brandt in the end argue against the importance of privacy issues. FNMF 02:27, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Well I always argue that the benefits of the internet outway the problems but that is a personal choice and maybe I am wrong. I live in a country with almost no surveillance whereas in my country you cant go anywhere without being filnmed tens of times on each short journey. I think the privacy issue is far larger than either wikipedia or the internet and is to do with the inevitable march of technological progress. I also think Andy Warhol was right about people wanting that 15 minutes of fame and that there are far more people who want an article here than those who dont. Having been outed by Brandt I certainly learnt that I dont have any rights to privacy either, and if that means my past catches up with me then so be it, and in that sense hios outing me was counter-productive. That admins should verify their identity to the wikimedia foundation to get those extra buttons seems a no-brainer to me, SqueakBox 03:53, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

To be fair, I should add that when I speak about "abdication of responsibility," I am not intending that as an attack or even really as a comment on SqueakBox at all. Rather, I am intending to make a comment about that general position in relation to Wikipedia and privacy, in order to indicate where I think that position goes astray. Nevertheless, of course, there is some relation to SqueakBox's own personal responsibility, as there is to mine and every contributor to Wikipedia insofar as we are each constituents of the Wikipedia community. Furthermore, my initial comment in this section was in a way even more directed at WAS_4.250's advice to Brandt, not in order to criticise that advice, but in order to indicate why that advice may appear insufficient to parties such as Brandt. I trust SqueakBox et al took my comments in that spirit. FNMF 04:04, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I certainly did take it in that spirit, SqueakBox 15:49, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not have a social responsibility to the subjects of articles. It does have a legal responsibility not to publish information which is untrue and libellous, in order to avoid lawsuits. However, if an individual has been the subject of multiple coverage in reliable sources, and if all negative statements about them can be sourced and verified, they can and should be included in Wikipedia. Whether they like it or not. Walton Need some help? 10:48, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
You know, this is the second discussion of privacy I've come across where a policy of social irresponsibility was preached (for the first, see Wikipedia talk:Protecting children's privacy). That basically puts anyone who isn't a public figure in the justifiable position of routinely suing the foundation to have their biography removed. The standard of reliable sources simply isn't good enough. A biography of John Doe appears, and it is an attractive nuisance for gratuitous Seigenhaler-style drive-by slander. Yes, the victim can demand to have the slanders removed, but like as not (because of the process-worship here) he'll get foot-dragging and routine resistance; and at any rate patrolling is necessary to catch problems.
BLP should be restricted to public figures. Period. And BLP articles should be semi-protected as a matter of course. Period. If we cannot be responsible, then we need to take that strong a step to account for our irresponsibility. Mangoe 11:37, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
What I actually said was that Wikipedia does have a legal responsibility to remove unsourced and defamatory information. To clarify, I am not proposing any changes to existing policy. It's quite right that "drive-by slander" and other vandalism to living persons' articles should be reverted on sight. However, I'm talking about the following common situation:
  • Person X, who is not particularly famous, has a Wikipedia article created on him/her. Person X is only notable because of one negative event in their life, e.g. they've been accused of being a serial killer, or something like that. This is stated in the article.
  • All the controversial information in the article is referenced to reliable external sources, e.g. the news media. Multiple reliable sources are cited in the article. Therefore, it isn't an
  • Nonetheless, someone puts the article up for AfD, saying "OK, this meets WP:BIO, but this person is only famous for this bad thing that happened to them. They don't want the world to know about it. Do we need to put them through more hell?"
In such a situation, the article should be kept. By referencing its statements to the published news media, Wikipedia protects itself from legal action. To be honest, it's not our problem whether this person's life deteriorates as a result of their Wikipedia article, as long as they don't have grounds for legal action. Wikipedia isn't here to be nice to people. Walton Need some help? 12:28, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
By the way, two AfDs with situations similar to the one I outlined above: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Bonney Eberndu and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Amir Massoud Tofangsazan (2nd nomination). Walton Need some help? 12:31, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm a bit mixed on this situation. On the one hand, I don't know that we necessarily should have biographies on people where we can't write a complete one. I'm generally pretty well against "news-only" coverage anyway. If someone's only notability is "15 minutes of fame", be that being accused of or a victim of a crime, or anything else, but little other biographical information is available, we probably don't need that biography.
On the other hand, my feelings on Brandt specifically (and I've seen the material about me the last time on Wikipedia Review, do feel free to post more), is that he's undeniably a public figure. You can't go around happily granting interviews to the news media about your work, but then cry "I don't want to be a public figure!" when it suddenly becomes inconvenient. You just can't have that one both ways. Seraphimblade Talk to me 12:39, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
THat's perfectly consistent. You could agree that the policy needs to say that if the subject requests deletion it should require a consensus to keep the article - and then !vote keep on Brandt. I can agree the same policy int he certain knowledge that if Tony Blair asks nicely 95% of us will still say 'no'. A policy that makes it easier to get a bio deleted on the subject's request would still leave the community in control of which requests we should grant and which refuse.--Docg 13:00, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

"Wikipedia isn't here to be nice to people."

Unfortunately, Wikipedia does appear to be here to be nasty to people. Given the bias against advertizing, and the emphasis on reliable sources which points away from positive things said on company websites (as a for-instance), biographies are likely to be hostile. And Wikipedia is obviously valuable as leverage in denigrating one's opponents. Besides, privacy is intrinsically valuable, so being "outed" with a Wikipedia biography is on that level a loss. Mangoe 14:37, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

It's true that our doctrine of reliable sources tends to favour third-party mentions in the press (whose economic interest is in digging up dirt on people) rather than company sites and so on. But the reality is that we live in a society in which the media is absolutely free to publish hostile information about people, as long as it's verifiably true (thereby protecting them from a libel suit). WP:NPOV and WP:ATT don't mean that we should determine what we think is fair coverage of a person; instead, the weight given to positive vs. hostile information in the sources should determine the weight given to them in a Wikipedia biography. If there have been hundreds of news stories in the mainstream media about Person X's status as a suspected serial killer, then we can't justify not covering that in his Wikipedia article. If this ruins Person X's reputation, then too bad; it's not our problem, as long as we source it to reliable external sources in the media. Thus the external media sources get sued, not us. Beyond our legal obligations, why should we care? Walton Need some help? 17:25, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
Contributing to invasion of privacy might be illegal; Florida does have invasion of privacy laws. The fact that the Wikipedia article ranks number one in Google in a search for that person's name is Wikipedia's problem, not Google's problem. Wikipedia could reduce its Google footprint if it wanted to, and it could keep Talk pages out of Google just by adding a "noindex" meta in the header. A Wikipedia biography doesn't disappear the next day like a newspaper article; it lasts forever and it has to be patrolled forever against vandals. Of the 150,000 BLPs in Wikipedia, how many are serial killers? 17:54, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
"Why should we care?" Um, because some of us are civilized people? You aren't even remotely addressing the issue, what with the hyperbole about serial killers; the presumed benefactors of this are not the grandly notorious, but the professor or doctor or random web person who find himself stuck with a Wikipedia biography. Or even semi-prominent: my brother-in-law has a Wikipedia biography, which means that it's something that, if he were aware of it, he would need to police. Fortunately there's little that can be said about him-- as far as I know. But some crank could easily come along and drop some off-the-wall or even plausible allegation on it, and unless someone checked for it, it would become True at least until someone else changed/fixed it.
You, Walton, are way too casual about hurting other people. The ephemeral media aren't reliable enough sources in this regard; they are (as you more or less admit) too addicted to scandal-mongering to be trustworthy for biographies of minor (or not) notables. The web is even less so. And sins of omission are very important: incomplete information is often enough inaccurate information. I don't think we ought to be adopting a policy that we don't care how much we hurt people. Mangoe 18:09, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
I think what Walton was trying to say (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that it's not Wikipedia's job to make judgment calls, even if it means "not being nice" to someone. If something is reported on by reliable sources, even if it "hurts" someone's image, then it belongs on Wikipedia. Again, it's not our place to judge, it's our place to report. If you don't like the "scandal-mongering" media, then change the media, not Wikipedia. Rockstar (T/C) 19:40, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
Um, I think not. One expects an encyclopedia to take a longer view on this; writing one does involve making judgments as to what is worth preserving and what isn't. And then we get back to the attractive nuisance aspect of this. Besides the drive-by slander perpetrated by vandals, there's the simple issue that any article out there calls out for expansion, simply because that's the Wikipedia ethos. So some poor shmuck ends up in the paper through some mischance-- I dunno, maybe he gets hit by some drunken celebrity. Anyway, that a "reliable" source, so he gets stuck with a Wikipedia bio. So now there's a bulletin board to post slanders on, but there's also a push for compulsive wikiphytes to seek out more stuff on him. More info is always better, right? So the guy is now stuck with the possibility of being some kind of low-grade celebrity. And that's if the media get it right; if they're wrong, it can be a never-ending battle, because of that verifiable but untrue report out there. Our poor fellow is better off in the courts of law than in the processes of Wikipedia, because the latter aren't really trustworthy. Remedies may not be permanent, and too many of the participants are manifestly incompetent. Mangoe 20:02, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia doesn't exist to whitewash negative information about people. Having said that, on reading many BLPs recently, it's apparent there is a pattern of including minor and/or trivial "negative" information into biographies while completely underreporting important and relevant information. I've read biographies of film stars that list only half their movies, summarize their entire 20-year career in two paragraphs, and spend 10 paragraphs talking about events that have little or nothing to do with the reason the person is notable - oohh but there are reliable sources that talk about this rumour or that smear campaign so they MUST be in Wikipedia. No they don't - and certainly not when the reliable sources are saying "there's no truth to this." Risker 20:11, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
  • [Outdent] I agree with most of the points above. We need to do this because we would (I hope) like to retain some of our humanity and be the sorts of decent people we'd like to have for friends, or look in the mirror at. This takes judgment. But we perform astonishing acts of social judgment on Wikipedia, anyway, all the time, in the process of doing administrative chores! Considering the catfights I've seen here over editing on matters of minutia, it's pretty funny that we're getting flack about how somebody is going to stop the present computerized and perfectly balanced article creation process with a new BLP policy. LOL. Why do we do it? Because if, when somebody came to nail the notable or semi-notable crime victim or accusee or performer, we didn't stand up for them because we ourselves weren't any of those things, we might find that by the time somebody came to nail us, there wasn't anybody left to stand up against what had become a de facto policy. And so we would find we were stuck in a world with one more bad thing in it, like no-knock searches, universal outdoor telesurveillance (soon with license plate and face recognition), and computerized cold-faxing and calling based on credit card buyer-preference databases, and so on, because nobody did anything about it, when it started. The reason we have so much spam and worms and phishing on the internet, is basically because nobody did anything about it when it began. We continued to buy OUTLOOK or whatever and said, "It's not my problem." Now, it's probably too late. This is just one more internet piece of ugliness. And if you don't care, this is just one more thing you're helping to create, which will one day come back to bite you, or somebody you care about. SBHarris 20:59, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

(re Daniel Brandt potential AfD). That would be an interesting debate, where WP's policies on notability and BLP run against the fact that WP provides the context of notability. LessHeard vanU 22:12, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it's self-referentially and maddeningly recursive. If you weren't Google-notable before somebody did a BLP on you on Wikipedia, you are forever after, just by virtue of THAT. Anyway, I've tried to point out that "notability" and "public-figureness" are legal issues. They aren't ethical issues and here we need not follow them blindly. Actors who don't seek publicity don't somehow deserve to be targets of "stalker-azzi". Nor anybody else not seeking a position of power, or found in the past to have been a public danger. Doesn't matter how famous you are, I see no "public need to know" about your life that overwhelms anything, unless those criteria are met. But the courts have found one. That's because the judges and juries who made those decisions weren't subject to public fame, either, or perhaps they'd have had a different view of things. SBHarris 22:32, 4 May 2007 (UTC)
I was thinking more along the lines that DB may have some argument under WP:Undue weight or even WP:CSB as regards notability in an AfD as their notability largely resides in their interaction with WP, who then are asked to decide if the subject matter meets their criteria. It would fascinating if a number of correspondents were able to step away from who they are to objectively debate what they are.
The subtext of WP inclusion defining a degree of notability per se, even though it is discouraged to use WP as a source in establishing notability, is yet another facet. LessHeard vanU 23:13, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

The idea that we *don't* mention something negative because it's not notable enough within the body of a person's biography, is already covered under Undue Weight. There is nothing at all about being living that makes it applicable to this page. The idea that we don't mention it because the reliable source itself says something like "this information isn't reliable" is actually the reason why we *would* mention it. Wikipedia is not here to simply be nice, we are here to supply all the information anyone could want on a notable persons' biography, using reliable sources. "Sum total of all knowledge" should outweigh "let's all get along". Wjhonson 23:51, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Sometimes. But since living people can be affected by what appears here, it is especially important for BLPs that we make sure that articles are truly compliant to policy. Does that mean that sometimes part of the knowledge we should have isn't here? Yes. But unfortunately, Wikipedia doesn't exist in isolation from the rest of the world. -Amarkov moo! 02:57, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
And isn't the easy way not to be affected "Stay out of the newspaper you!". Seems like a pretty easy way to not have reliable sources quoting that you were hauled off to jail for 30 days, or were filmed biting the head off a cat or something. Give an example of something that has negatively affected someone through a wikiarticle that they didn't actually bring on themselves by being a media whore. It's a lot easier to work with specific examples. Wjhonson 03:18, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
We've given you many here. The Duke Lacrosse rape case had bios of two of the accusees-- before charges were dropped against them (wups). We also had a bio of the accuser within five weeks of her accusation, long before there was any good evidence there was anything wrong with it. Wups. The implication being you get a bio for alleging rape, even if you WERE raped. In fact, that one's still up, even though SHE has yet to be charged with a crime. There's somebody in EVERY edition of EVERY daily news paper who is notable for having something bad happen to them that they had nothing to do with. What's the matter, Wjohnson, can't you pretend you were notable without your consent, for a moment? And why should you "consent" to notability just because you choose to go into the entertainment profession, anyway? What's the difference if you write math equations for a living, instead of successful musical lyrics? If people like your work, you're going to be in the papers. This does not constitute a social contract to have your privacy invaded!

Oh, and by the way, when I see you saying something like "And isn't the easy way not to be affected "Stay out of the newspaper you!". , it makes me want to refer you to the wiki bio of author J.D. Salinger. Read it carefully. SBHarris 19:32, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with what Rockstar and Wjhonson have said above me. Basically, if negative reports about someone appear in the media, it's not our responsibility to whitewash them. It's not our problem. Like I said earlier, if the information turns out to be false or exaggerated, but it's sourced to a mainstream news report, then the newspaper will get sued, not us. If you don't like the culture of the media, then complain about the media, not about Wikipedia. Walton Need some help? 12:04, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
Again, I cannot control reporters or the media. But here's our chance to control Wikipedia policy. Refusing to contribute as an amplifier of possible evildoing, is not whitewashing. It's just refusing to maybe amplify evil. Amplifying what may be evil is an action which bears responsibility, and you can't just blame it on the source. It passed through your mind, and whatever you say, you had every opportunity to say to yourself: "If this was about me or a member of my family, would I want to pass this on?? What if it's false? And even if it's true, is the truth always something everybody should know?" Wikipedia is NOT a neutral ineffectual reporter of the status quo in the media, however much you'd like it to be. It's a huge loudspeaker!! So be careful what you put into it, since it's pointed at the ears of the world.SBHarris 03:11, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
"The sum total of all knowledge" sounds exalted, until one realizes that we're talking about "knowledge" roughly in the same sense that pron videos sent over the internet are "information". Perhaps for BLP we should change our motto to "the sum total of all (well-referenced) human gossip". Mangoe 12:13, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
Mangoe, I take your point, but the problem is that categorizing certain information as "gossip" is fairly subjective. The fact is that we live in a society where the press is free to rip people to shreds (provided it verifies its information), and routinely exercises that right. Why should Wikipedia follow different rules from everyone else? The tabloid press don't worry about hurting people (as long as they don't get sued), so how can you expect us to? Walton Need some help? 12:21, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
Slight redirection. If I quote the Washington Post as saying that "A document recovered through the Freedom of Information Act shows that Bush knew that Osama was in Pittsburgh last week." then I have cited my source for that negative statement. I'm not citing the Weekly World News, that is, I'm not citing a Tabloid and Yellow Press, but a assumptive reliable source. It's to be expected that perhaps at least a small percentage of well-cited sources will turn out to retract what they've said. In those cases, we can also repeat the retraction. You will note, will you not, that even the Encyclopaedia Brittanica corrects and amends its own articles over time. If the disagreement is over whether the source cited is actually a reliable source that is an issue already covered there, and we don't have to cover it again here. So my point is we are not repeating "gossip", we are repeating cited statements in reliable sources. Quite a different animal. Wjhonson 17:52, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
I have to say that this isn't germane to the present discussion. Quoting the Post on this the day after it is published may or may not be reasonable, but that's really a matter of reporting about major political stories, not biography. And it has nothing to do with the kind of minor biographies that are the issue at hand.

"If you don't like the culture of the media..."

As far as establishing a moral equivalence between us and the tabloid press, that pretty well says it all. Mangoe 00:03, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

We are the media. The tabloids are into it for the money to be made off the voyeurism of the populace; we (or at least, very many of us) are into this for the prestige of working on the summation of human knowledge. Either way, it's about using other people for the entertainment value. Mangoe 00:20, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make here. It's true that we aren't subject to the same economic incentives as the commercial media, and hence that our motivation is different. But all I was trying to say was that our primary responsibility in maintaining our credibility (and avoiding lawsuits) is to cite every controversial statement we make to an external source, so that (to be quite blunt) the source gets blamed for it, not us. A good example is Prince George, Duke of Kent; admittedly not a living person, so not directly relevant to this policy, but imagine for a minute that he were still alive. The article on him is full of sordid details about his turbulent personal life and alleged homosexual affairs, and various conspiracy theories about his death - all tabloid-type material, which would certainly be damaging were he still alive. But it's all sourced to published external sources. Those sources, generally, don't prove most of the allegations they make; but it's the books to blame, not us, and it's the authors and publishing companies that would get sued if he were still alive. Not us. So I repeat my question earlier: why should we care? As long as we don't get sued, is it our business to uphold any sort of "social responsibility" or standards of "Wikimorality"? Walton Need some help? 15:43, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
To "blame the source" for living people means to say "it's not our fault that this person was harmed by the article". We have no business doing this. A dead person *can't* be harmed by an article, so the question of who is at fault for the harm doesn't arise--"blaming the source" just doesn't mean the same thing as blaming the source for a living person.
I was using the article for a dead person as an example to illustrate a common occurrence - there are plenty of articles on living people in which a similar situation arises. Walton Need some help? 19:10, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
And the answer to your question is: All decisions in our life are subject to morality. Wikipedia is not exempt from this. Ken Arromdee 18:44, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
You misunderstand me. Of course all decisions are subject to morality, but morality is inherently a subjective and personal framework for decision-making. What is moral to one person is immoral to another. Therefore, Wikipedia policy regarding biographies cannot reasonably be based on morality, since there is no chance of defining consensus on what is a "moral" approach to BLP. Policy can be based only on Wikipedia's legal obligations. Walton Need some help? 19:09, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Nonsense. There is no legal reason to bar personal attacks; it is simply a matter (1) of expediency in keeping discussion on track, and (2) simple human decency.
As far as the example you cite is concerned, it has huge problems as it stands. Half of it is gossip, all sourced to a single book which is basically a hatchet job on the royal family. I cannot find any responsible reviews of this book (Amazon user reviews don't count), and the only non-bookseller links I could find were in a defunct magazine (whose review I could not access) and a news report referencing a dubious and disputed claim about the queen mother's death. It's tagged as of disputed neutrality and somes signs, frankly, of being WP:OWNed on the basis of the allegqations made about the subject's sexuality.
Be all of that as it may, it's not representative of the kind of problems non-notables face as being subjects of biography here. One might even venture to say that royal families, in this day and age, exist to some degree to be written about in the tabloids. But university professors, businessmen, and random people caught up in the glare of momentary fame or notoriety are often enough victims of collateral damage in the quest for purient entertainment (in the major media) or fame as Wiki-contributors (in our case). No platitudes about the subjectivity of morality are going to get past the universality of the Golden Rule, but what you are saying is that any person unlucky enough to catch the attention of a Wiki-biographer can be used for the biographer's pleasure. Because that's what it is. Knowedlge is not really being expanded; what's mostly happening is that editors get to self-congratulate on their contributions. If all the bios of those who aren't public figures were to disappear, it would be a negligible loss to Wikipedia, but it would be a great gain to the subjects of those deleted articles. Mangoe 19:39, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but what you're advocating still involves Wikipedia editors making subjective, POV decisions. The reason we have the primary notability criterion - "multiple non-trivial coverage in reliable independent sources" - is because it's objective. A person has either been the subject of such coverage, or they haven't. If we start bringing in things like "will this person's life be harmed by their Wikipedia article?" and "will deleting it be a significant loss to Wikipedia?" then someone, somewhere down the line, has to make a judgment based on their own opinion, which, ipso facto, is POV. Walton Need some help? 19:46, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Ultimately, creating any article means making POV decisions. Even the notability criterion does--"non-trivial" is still a matter of opinion, and in some cases so is a source's reliability.
Human decency means we need to make these decisions. Saying that material that hurts people should go in because we can't find an objective reason to leave it out abdicates our responsibility as human beings. Ken Arromdee 20:27, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Allow me to address each of your sentences individually.
Ultimately, creating any article means making POV decisions.
The motivations behind creating an article are irrelevant as long as the article is created properly ... that is, the topic is notable and its content is verified and neutral. I may dislike Madonna, but that doesn't prevent me from creating a good stub about her.
I was responding to Walton, who seems to think that the motivations behind creating an article are relevant, and specifically referred to making POV decisions.
Even the notability criterion does--"non-trivial" is still a matter of opinion, and in some cases so is a source's reliability.
You are correct to note that the definition of "non-trivial" is not definitively fixed, but editors mostly agree about what it allows and what it precludes. For those areas in which there is disagreement, decisions are reached through discussion.
I was responding to Walton, who seems to think that only objective analysis should be used, and that making a judgment should not be done.
Human decency means we need to make these decisions.
"Human decency" is a tricky thing and I am automatically wary of an argument based solely in a particular interpretation of "decency". For instance, one may argue that, given how many people use Wikipedia, it would only be "decent" for us to create a database of the names, criminal histories, pictures, and current residences of rapists. After all, the argument might go, that would help protect people, which is a decent thing to do.
There's a difference between a positive action and a negative action. A rule which says not to include something is inherently less of a problem than a rule which says to include something.
Saying that material that hurts people should go in because we can't find an objective reason to leave it out abdicates our responsibility as human beings.
If we include negative material about BLPs, that means that material has already been published elsewhere and by others. If Wikipedia is to be neutral and to provide, when possible, comprehensive coverage of a subject, a ban on negative material is not possible. It's negative to state that Bill Clinton was the subject of impeachment hearings, but it is factual and relevant to his life and presidency. It may be negative (considering the standards of Hollywood) to state that Kirstie Alley at one time weighed over 200 lbs, but it's factual and it's relevant to her life (not the weight per se, but everything that happened because of it). -- Black Falcon (Talk) 22:42, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
It is true that a ban on negative material won't work. But there's a wide gap between "ban negative material" and "treat negative material like everything else". Current policy demands that rumors included in a BLP must be notable *and relevant*. If it's notable, but it isn't relevant, it's not supposed to go in. "Notable, verified, and neutral" is *not enough* when it is a biography of a living person. And this isn't some proposal, it's current policy. Ken Arromdee 00:24, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
We are in agreement on the first point: biographical content that is negative in tone should be treated with more care than regular content. But, I want to clarify my interpretation of WP:BLP on the matter of relevance. When it comes to article inclusion/exclusion, "notability" suffices. When it comes to article content, "verified" and "neutral" are the two overarching principles. With regard to negative content, "relevance" becomes a consideration. If an article contains no negative content, then "notable, verified, and neutral" is enough. I'm not sure whether this was in effect your argument as well ... A final point: although you're right that "a rule which says not to include something is inherently less of a problem than a rule which says to include something", we need a good reason to implement an exclusionary rule. I think Walton is correct that we should avoid making non-objective judgments as much as possible ... if an article is neutral and verified and is about a notable person, the odds are that the article will be free of any BLP violations. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 03:11, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
One can see from patrolling Wikipedia:Articles for deletion that the evaluation of triviality is painfully subjective. In practice few things are too trivial to register, and few articles attempt to meet the "multiple non-trivial coverage" standard. Now, it might improve matters on BLP if multiplicity and non-triviality were pinned down further, and brutally enforced on BLP articles. It still wouldn't solve the attractive nuisance issue on those that remained, however. And any attempt to impose more rigorous standards will come up against the desire for all the fans to enumerate every last person, place, or thing that falls into their area of interest.
Ultimately the claim is being made, implicitly or not, that articles on all these people, and any dirt we can dig up on them, advances the cause of Wikipedia. For major public figures, that's largely an inarguable point-- not because it's objectively so, but because everyone's subjective evaluations happen to agree. Your justification for doing it to almost anyone seems to add up to, "because we can." Well, maybe we can, though it's clear that in practice patrolling these for adequate proof of notability isn't going to happen, because it isn't happening now. But whether we should: yes, that is subjective. So which way do we give the benefit of the doubt? Estimation of the benefit to Wikipedia (which really means, to Wikipedia's readers) is just as subjective as estimation of the benefit to the the subjects not to be written about. But there is an objective cost to the subjects: it is simply a fact that people put slander and other misinformation into these articles. Therefore those articles most be patrolled by the subjects, who then must find someone to fix the errors. (Or they can sue, which is perhaps more efficient.) The penalty for not doing so is to risk having defamation be presented as one of the top few Google search results on that person's name, or for that matter, in anything else that puts that article in Google's search results. One could even do a statistical analysis of what they risk is. By contrast, the benefits of having this stuff is much harder to quantify. Mangoe 20:31, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
If our goal is the exclusion of defamatory content from BLPs (and I believe it is), we have several options.
  1. Delete all BLPs and ban the creation of new ones. Since we are a general encyclopedia, we must include biographical articles. This is not a viable strategy.
  2. Protect or semi-protect all BLPs so that only admins or established users may edit them. This violates the spirit of an "encyclopedia that anyone can edit". As this challenges a foundation issue, I think it's safe to say that this is also not a viable strategy.
  3. Try to convince people not to vandalise biographical articles. While one should try to educate new users about Wikipedia's policies in order to stop them from introducing unsourced material into BLPs, vandals (by and large) are unlikely to be convinced.
  4. Ban any biographical content that is potentially negative. Potentially negative information should be handled with care, but to ban it altogether undermines Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, which is non-negotiable for any encyclopedia.
  5. Fix articles that have BLP problems and watchlist them. I think this is the only viable, long-term solution. Many of Wikipedia's biographical articles are in need of attention, but there is no quick policy-based fix that can solve or even ameliorate the problem without creating new ones or violating foundation principles. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 23:44, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, I think we should semi-protect all BLPs as a matter of course. And I think we should consider deleting all BLPs that are not for public figures. Mangoe 02:54, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
As tempting as it may be to semi-protect all BLPs, I don't Wikipedia can claim that it is "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" if such a large percentage of its articles cannot be edited except by registered users. Besides, any user will be exempt from semi-protection 4 days after registering. As to your second point, how do you define "public figure"? The reason I ask is that all BLPs of non-public figures are subject to deletion even now. Being the subject of published works (i.e., satisfying the notability guidelines) almost by default makes a person "public". -- Black Falcon (Talk) 03:18, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm sure we can debate the minimum threshold of notability at length. At the moment, editors aren't really paying attention to the official standard for notability; right now any band member, any actor, any professor, any semi-pro athlete seems to be viewed as a candidate for inclusion. But as for the "anyone can edit" bit, it already isn't true. And if the courts sink their teeth into "the encyclopedia that anyone can use to drop slanders into without fear or retribution", they may simply shut the whole thing down. Something really needs to be done about the drive-by slander problem. Mangoe 14:00, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Dont you mean they may shut it down in America? Wikipedia could relocate and my guess is the US would be damaged more than wikipedia. Rather than make for higher standards of BLP and continue allowing editors and even admins to be here anonymously I would have thought it better to keep a low standard of inclusion for notability, make special provisions fort he tiny minority that doesnt want to be included and demand that especially admins but also possibly editors do not edit anonymously, SqueakBox 14:44, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Mangoe, your comment seems to mix together two distinct issues -- the addition of unsourced controversial material and the creation of articles on non-notable people. Regarding the first, we can't do anything to prevent libel entirely ... all we can do is remove it after it's added (which is why I think watchlisting and monitoring is the only viable solution). Regarding the second, if "editors aren't really paying attention to the official standard for notability", then the problem lies with editors and not policy. We generally can't fix editors; we can only try to enforce policy. Lastly, the statement that "any band member, any actor, any professor, any semi-pro athlete seems to be viewed as a candidate for inclusion" is an exaggeration ... thousands of articles are deleted every day (via CSD, prod, and AfD) for the simple reason that they do not prove their subject's notability. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 15:17, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, I agree that we can't fix editors, which is why I think that for BLP at least we need to be pre-emptive about enforcing policy. I've taken to following AfD, and if it's unclear how effective the policing is, it's also clear that there is a continuous rain of dubious bio articles. There is definitely a need for some research here, some of which could be done quickly, I suspect, by someone with direct access to the database. (It could be done without such access, but it would laborious and time-consuming.) Notability, however, isn't the only issue. One of my brothers-in-law has a bio here. He's maybe notable (as a CEO) but his bio is totally unsourced. It's hard to say how much it could be filled out with public news sources. But at any rate, it's now there for anyone with a grudge against him (or for that matter, anyone who is just randomly mean) to drop claims in. Even if they are unsourced, someone still has to hunt for them and delete them; and in practice it's pretty clear that his bio is not being monitored, because there are trivial errors which would be apparent to anyone. I don't intend to fix them, because it would create a link from him to me, and possibly compromise my anonymity. But nobdy else is fixing them either. And of course the Wikipedia page is the third link in a Google search; the only reason it isn't #2 is that there's someone else notable enough with the same name. Mangoe 16:43, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

I think it's pretty clear that, as has been said earlier, there are two separate issues here.

  • Firstly, whether BLPs should be routinely semiprotected to prevent addition of libellous content. I have no opinion on that.
  • Secondly, whether we should apply tougher inclusion standards to BLP articles than to other types of article, and delete BLP articles which fall in the "grey area" of notability (such as professors, business leaders, people who've been in one news event, and so on). Ordinarily, we keep such articles, because there are just enough external sources to write an article on them. But what some people seem to be arguing is that for an article on a living person, the presumption should be in favour of Delete rather than in favour of Keep. This is what worries me. As far as I'm concerned, if there are multiple reliable sources about someone, then they are notable enough for an article - and the article stays, whether they like it or not. If the page needs to be semiprotected to protect it from libel, then so be it - but that's a separate issue. The issue is one of inclusion, and I say when in doubt, include. Walton Need some help? 17:31, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Why inclusion and semi-protection are linked

A point which hasn't been addressed here is that the concern for notability is perhaps producing a bit of a bias towards inclusion of not-all-that-notable people. For instance, here we have Analog Devices, an article about a semiconductor manufacturer. Maybe it's notable and maybe it's not; there's not a whole lot of info on the page that didn't come off the company website. But be that as it may, there's an article on AD's CEO, Jerald G. Fishman. Now, this article says next to nothing except to drop some ownership info about how he's Jewish and from a school in the Bronx. So let's say that eventually there is a change at the top, and Mr. Fishman gets replaced by, say, Mr. Troutman. OK ,then, is Mr. Troutman now notable, and Mr. Fishman no longer notable? I'm going to guess that most people would say, "no". But let us further suppose that the article on AD hadn't been created until after Mr. Troutman succeeded Mr. Fishman. Well, judging by the links to Mr. Fishman's article, he wouldn't have one. His article was only created because he is presently the CEO of AD, and it's pretty likely that, barring some catastrophe on his watch, his article is going to remain the stubby thing that it is now. But anyone with a grudge against him will have a forum for their denunciations or anything else negative that they want to say about him, pretty much forever. Right now these articles have to be policed, which may or may not be effective. Semi-protection at least cuts this down a bit; speedy deletion of anything insufficiently sourced as to demonstrate notability would be even better. Mangoe 18:19, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I looked at Jerald G. Fishman. If this article were up for AfD, I would vote Delete. Although it's sourced, the sources are just lists detailing his salary, board positions and so on, which I wouldn't class as non-trivial coverage to meet WP:BIO. I don't believe that CEOs and so on possess notability ex officio; unless they meet the primary notability criterion, they're non-notable. So feel free to put that article up for AfD, along with the many others which fall in the grey area of notability. But you haven't shown anything wrong with existing policy and practice. Walton Need some help? 19:58, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Is there a list of BLPs somewhere on WP? These things would be a lot easier to keep track of, police, and make sure they were up to policy, if you could look at a list of them. SBHarris 23:19, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
I believe Category:Living people is the best list, but of course it's not complete, and way too big to deal with as a normal human. (btw -- I'm one of those people who keeps putting people into Living People and then changing them, darn case sensitivity) --Myke Cuthbert 23:32, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps I don't have that much of a problem with current notability standards, then, but the practice seems to be to ignore them. Of the ~30 entries at the top of the page on Category:American chief executives, maybe four are unquestionably notable (Dick Cheney, Bill Gates, Wesley Clark, and Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.. Many of them are only "X is CEO of Y." It wouldn't surprise me to find that related categories are worse. I could put all but those four named through AfD, but I'm sure very many of them would be contested. Many people seem to think that simply having citations is good enough. That's one of the things that makes me think we need a more aggressive process to clear these out. Mangoe 01:50, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Yet another reason why no consensus should not be a delete, because apparently the notability of Lee Iaccoca and Steve Jobs and many more in that category are perhaps not above failing to achieve a consensus. Carlossuarez46 03:31, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
There are thirteen footnotes in Iaccoca's article, and forty-six in Jobs's article. Attempts to get either deleted ought to get speedily kept as bad faith nominations. Mangoe 03:45, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Usage of blogs

Material found in self-published books, zines, websites or blogs should never be used

In the manners of babies and bathwaters, this appears to be a little more strict then necessary. For example, if I read the blog of director Q. Allan Brocka and he says his upcoming television show will have the voice of Margaret Cho why is that disqualified as a citation, in either the article for him, Cho, or the show?
Further, why does it exclude experts? If SCOTUS blog (an impeccable source, that includes print journalists and practicing SCOTUS attorneys), included a bit of otherwise poorly known information about a person involved a case, why would we discredit that?
In no way do I wish to open a floodgate to the spew of crap and gossip from teenagers on livejournal, but the blogs of recognized experts on specific subjects shouldn't be discarded. I've tried to find discussion that led to this part of the policy in the archives and don't see it. Enlighten me, or let's discuss revising this. SchmuckyTheCat 05:59, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
It shouldn't be used to cover any sort of controversial claim or to talk about a third party. It's permitted to use reliable primary sources (like a band's statement on its website about when the next album release will be) to fill in details that no one's disputing, when they're talking about themselves. It's very important to make the sourcing clear and report the statements as statements instead of as fact unless you're very certain about what they say. (i.e. "Bigname commentator says such and such about this case", instead of "Such and such about this case") Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 02:16, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Why shouldn't otherwise reliable sources be used to talk about a third party? SchmuckyTheCat 02:19, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
They can be, blogs just are generally unreliable. The ones that are reliable usually have some sort of editorial control. Doesn't the SCOTUS blog have an editor or something? Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 02:27, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Well, there's the rub. You say they can be, I say they can be, the policy says they can't be. SchmuckyTheCat 15:15, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
That really is the only way the policy could possibly be phrased. Blogs tend not to be reliable as sources for encyclopedic purposes, because they are by their very nature opinionated and not editorially fact-checked for accuracy, the way, say, a newspaper article or television news story is. In the Brocka/Cho example you used, it couldn't be considered a reliable source because it hasn't been fact-checked and also because it isn't independent of the subject--Brocka is out to create hype for his upcoming project. That doesn't mean we should assume he's lying, but we should hold off on including the information in Wikipedia until a realiable source, such as Variety, has reported it. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 17:06, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
There is no fact to be checked when the creator of a creative work makes a statement about it. They are the source of all sources on that subject. Motive isn't at issue, for our purposes the issues are NPOV and V. There's nothing POV about it, and the V is covered by the source. The prejudice here is that is comes from a blog rather than a trade rag - but the source is the same for both. The form of the statement - blog, DVD commentary, live radio interview, press release - doesn't matter. The source is reliable and no policy should exclude a reliable source because of form. SchmuckyTheCat 23:22, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
However, in other cases like the SCOTUS case or using Panda's Thumb then the people are independent experts. The real issue is that for the few really reliable ones they aren't really "blogs" so much as websites with good oversight and editorial control that call themselves blogs. In general WP:RS is a guideline and the cases where blogs are reliable are rare. So it isn't that mcuh of an issue. JoshuaZ 20:25, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
In this case, as in any, if you can make a decent case for ignoring the rule, you can do it. But it would be a very exceptional circumstance that a blog would be a reliable source. In 99.99% of cases they're not reliable at all, in the remaining .001% we'd still generally have to use great caution because it's likely self-published. Most of what we see in these cases is someone trying to source "John Doe eats babies!!!!" to "Mr. X's Blog". In general, if the information is verifiable and notable, it will be reported on by independent sources anyway. Seraphimblade Talk to me 23:46, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Rather than invoke IAR, it'd be easier to just remove the bolding and replace "never" with "rarely". SchmuckyTheCat 00:11, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
I very strongly oppose altering the wording of one of our most important and sensitive policies just because a few exceptions might exist. There are common-sense exceptions to every rule on WP, that's why IAR exists. Policies are not meant to consider every possible-but-rare circumstance, nor should they. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 13:44, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
Why? They aren't that exceptional. A reliable source is a reliable source, and increasingly in the 21st century, that means it might be a blog. No one is advocating quoting the six million teenage girls on LiveJournal, but the number of respected journalists, commentators, and other experts who maintain "blogs" on their subject matter is absolutely incredible. Never means never, rarely takes into account the possibility. SchmuckyTheCat 14:50, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't matter how "respected" they are. No self-published third party sources in BLPs. None. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:17, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
You say that, but I've looked through the archives and I don't see where the consensus discussion took place to make it that strict. I'm trying to make that discussion here, and there isn't much response. SchmuckyTheCat 03:45, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
Oh, they're extremely exceptional. Technorati alone tracks 80.1 million blogs, and even that is just a sliver of the overall number in existance (each one of MySpace's 175+ million accounts includes a blog, etc.) Let's be conservative and say there are 250 million blogs out there, total. Of those, how many have oversight by an editorial board? A small handful. How many are reliable enough that they could reasonably be used to source sensitive information on a living person who could potentiallly sue for libel? Just a few, and those are probably either not real blogs (see above), and/or are editorially connected to a respected publication anyway. Bottom line: blogs simply are not reliable sources for the purpose of BLP. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 02:17, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
So, it's kind of a semantic issue, that blogs written by professional researchers and writers are more like websites, and should be treated as such, and the blog is just the format? SchmuckyTheCat 02:07, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
No self-published third-party sources are allowed in BLPs, per BLP and V. If you were notable enough for an article, Schmucky, you wouldn't like it if I created a blog tonight, posted all kinds of insults about you, then added it to your article, citing myself. That's what we're protecting our BLPs against here: claims being made about them by parties who aren't subject to editorial oversight and control. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:15, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
Nice strawman argument, because that isn't at all what I've said is it? Reliable sources are reliable sources. To expand that; people who ARE RELIABLE SOURCES, ie, like the casting director of a film, ARE RELIABLE SOURCES on the subject matter of the film - if they cast an actor, and post it in a blog, why is that against the policy? And where was the discussion that led to this strict part of the policy? SchmuckyTheCat 03:45, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

(indent reset) People aren't reliable sources. Publications are reliable sources. A scientist's article which is published in Science is most certainly a reliable source. That same scientist spouting off on his blog about how he believes a colleague falsified research results is not. If it later turns out that person did falsify the results, and the New York Times reports on it, that's now reliable, even if they state exactly what that scientist said. It's about editorial control and fact-checking, not who said it. Seraphimblade Talk to me 07:58, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

the priviledging of sources like the NYT, caught lying or being wrong more than once, over a blog just because the latter is a blog is silly. We need to get away from the idea that all blogs are bad, that no cite from a blog is ever good enough for Wikipedia and towards a policy that looks at the context and content of a blog before passing judgement on it as a reliable source. In general, the fetishation of some sources over others is holding Wikipedia back. --Martin Wisse 19:32, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Many journalists publish their own blogs, as do executives at companies like Microsoft and Google. These, at least, should be treated in the same way as any form of public proclamation/press release/statement from said individual. perfectblue 20:19, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

(to Seraphimblades's comment). People ARE reliable sources, in fact, people can be experts. In my director example, there is no source more reliable, and it is neither controversial or negative. In your scientist example, it may or may not be reliable to source that. It depends on the context - if the scientist isn't just a colleague but a direct partner, it is probably reliable, and should be treated like a primary source with the statements put in the mouth of the scientist.
There is nothing inherently reliable about published sources. And, in their secondariness, they may be missing something, or selectively putting importance on other things. The publication might have an agenda, or the reporter might be stupid. Wikipedia does not have a restriction against primary sources (verifiability), we have restrictions against making novel conclusions about them (original research). SchmuckyTheCat 02:31, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
  • There are some situations where blogs are useful as primary sources, mainly when we need to write about someone's opinion, views, or statements ("Political pundit John Doe, in a posting on his official website, denied the accusitions categorically.") I would say that a small number of "blogs" run by professionals writing in a professional capacity or by people explictly representing an organization might be usable as sources, but that has to be done carefully. Being a even a very famous scientist, say, doesn't automatically make everything you say authoritative scientifically--a proper scientific source is one that was published in a major peer-reviewed journal, not something that was published to, say, Stephen Hawking's personal website. --Aquillion 16:17, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Should articles of living people be deleted if the subject so wishes?

Greetings. I was thinking about this question in regards to the article Archimedes Plutonium, an individual who does not wish to have his biography posted on Wikipedia. Without going into too much detail about the content of the article, his main reason for wanting this is a skepticism about the reliability/accuracy/etc of the Wikipedia project. This raises an interesting point... many people don't like the idea of a Wiki system with their biography on it (namely, the fact that anyone can edit, etc.) Of course, there's a BLP policy, but the fact remains that Wikipedia is not a perfect system. This is fine, because no system is perfect, but Wikipedia entries almost always dominate the top search results for a name. People may feel uncomfortable knowing that when their name is searched, the top result would invariably be an article that anyone with an internet connection can edit. We might say "Well, there's policy here" but they may not trust in that. It seems to me that people should be allowed to have an article about them deleted and salted if they would like to. Of course, articles can still mention the name and talk about events with the BLP policy applying.

Now, I'm not particularly set in this either way. On one hand, such a change in policy may decrease the usefulness of Wikipedia. After all, the internet is not regulated and anyone can make a website. On the other, it seems like it would be friendlier and fairer. After all, most of the Wikipedia controversy surrounds BLP and giving individuals a way to "opt out" seems like it would increase Wikipedia's reputation. Pair that with Wikipedia's popularity in Google searches and it appears that this would be the best course of action.

What do you fellows think? .V. [Talk|Email] 01:08, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

In terms of improving Wikipedia's reputation, I think this has the potential to be counterproductive in some cases, although it could help in the cases you describe above. If it's official policy that Wikipedia will delete a biography at its subject's request, that compromises our ability to maintain a neutral point of view. What would it do to our reputation if George Bush, Tom Cruise, or Charles Manson requested their biographies be deleted, and we proceeded to remove (or stub) them? At the least, we need to draw a line at which we would refuse to remove a biography even at the request of its subject. This raises the question: how notable should a subject be before we favor inclusion over the wishes of that subject? I'd think that topic sufficiently notable to warrant inclusion in an encyclopedia is sufficiently notable to ignore a request to remove it.
In the end, I think you and I would delete the same articles, but I question the value of creating a policy such as you've described. ptkfgs 01:19, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
It's kind of a "rock and a hard place" situation. .V. [Talk|Email] 01:48, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
There is a difference between notability, semi-notability, and non-notability. Different rules apply to each. Notable individuals such as George W Bush clearly belong in an encyclopaedia. Non-notable individuals should be excluded from having entries in the encyclopaedia. Semi-notable individuals are those who are not essentially public figures, but who, for one reason or another, receive a certain amount of public interest. Such individuals may well find themselves with an entry in Wikipedia, and it is a question to be asked in each case whether that entry is justifiable. The answer to the question will depend on the degree to which the entry can comply with Wikipedia policies, including WP:BLP considerations about the right to privacy. For instance, a semi-notable individual may find themselves in the position of having their entry filled with negative material by those wishing to attack him or her. Thus, in the case of semi-notable individuals, the subject's wish to have the article deleted is one factor to consider when deciding whether to delete the entry. In the case originally raised, regarding Archimedes Plutonium, it is clear to me that he is not a notable figure. Despite the fact the entry has survived two AfDs, I do not see how any genuine encyclopaedia could justify inclusion of this entry. The subject's wish to have the entry deleted adds weight to argument that the entry should be deleted, but in my opinion his wish is in this case superfluous to the question: the entry should be deleted regardless of the subject's view. This is an example of a perverse aspect of Wikipedia: a subject's wish to have their entry deleted often has the result that editors resist doing so, because they feel affronted that the subject is telling them how to edit. In fact, the subject's wishes should be given serious consideration, especially when their notability is tenuous at best. FNMF 02:07, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. The subject's wishes should be given no consideration whatsoever. The only criterion which is important in determining article inclusion is whether the subject of the article has been the subject of multiple non-trivial coverage in reliable published sources. If every controversial statement is sourced to a reliable external source, we've fulfilled our legal responsibility not to include false and libellous information. So we can't get sued over it. As far as I'm concerned, it's completely illogical and discriminatory to consider the subject's wishes in the case of a lesser-known (but still notable per WP:BIO) individual, when we would not do so in the case of, say, George W. Bush. The same rules should apply to everyone; if someone meets WP:BIO, they're in. Whether they like it or not. Walton Need some help? 08:27, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
So then: is the answer some ruthless application of the WP:BIO standards? Anyone for setting up Wikipedia:Wikiproject non-notable biographies? Mangoe 18:34, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Considering articles should be about notable subjects in the first place, a "Non-notable biographies guideline" isn't needed. Either the subject is notable or they aren't. If they are notable then an article can probably be written about them using verifiable independently published sources. If they're not notable then they shouldn't have a separate article in the first place. Dugwiki 19:05, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
And keep in mind that "notable" does not mean "famous". See WP:N. Dugwiki 19:07, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Why "ruthless"? If the person is notable, they should have a bio. If they are not notable, they should not have a bio. The subject's desires/wishes should have absolutely ZERO input into whether or not their bio is included in here. Wow, that was simple :) --Tom 19:08, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I can understand how we might wish to respect very borderline people and have their articles deleted. However, if we do so , we need some criterion, like having only exactly two sources. In any event, it should be clear that if we have a large number of sources (as we do in many of the cases where this issue has come up such as Daniel Brandt and Archy one simply can't plausibly make such a claim. Furthermore, every step we give of editorial control to people makes Wikipedia have less independence. We do not need people involved in their content disputes threatening to have the articles deleted if they don't get their way. JoshuaZ 20:23, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Dugwiki and Tom, regardless of dealing with Daniel Brandt (whose hard case is making bad law, or at least bad discussion thereof) there is the issue that people manifestly aren't following the notability guidelines. That's why I'm half-suggesting a project to go through and delete any patently non-notable BLP article, following the guidelines strictly and ignoring the "well, it could be reffed and expanded" lame excuse-making that one sees in AfD all the time. Mangoe 14:40, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
I would LOVE it if we deleted "any patently non-notable BLP article" and would support that big time. I am just too lazy to do it myself :) Cheers! --Tom 15:05, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree 100% with what Tom has said above me. Notability is defined by one factor: the level of coverage in independent sources that is available. As Tom says, the subject's desires should have no impact whatsoever. Walton Need some help? 12:16, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

  • I also agree with Tom on this. Carlossuarez46 23:09, 16 May 2007 (UTC)


Does anyone have a proposed standard of what is "contentious" such that it may be removed (positive or negative) from BLPs? There are no shortage of attribution of ancestry and religion to various BLPs without proper sourcing; should ancestry and religion be per se contentious (my proposed view) or only "contentious" ancestries and religions (figure out an NPOV way to figure that out)? I'd like to hear from some people before I go and delete unsourced "Living Person is half German American and half English American" and "Living Person is a Methodist" or the similar categories into which Living Person is placed. If the consensus here is that unsourced ancestry and religion attributes are contentious, that's what WP:BLP says should be done; if the consensus here is that we don't care whether a Methodist is mislabelled as a Scientologist, or a Hindu as a Buddhist, or a Muslim as a Wiccan, or a person of German ancestry mislabelled as being of Jewish ancestry, or an Armenian-American as a Turkish-American, etc.... then I'd like to see the policy explicitly stated here. Carlossuarez46 02:56, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Statements that aren't properly sourced can theoretically be removed from articles. That applies not just to biographies but all articles. Ideally all statements in Wikipedia should have proper citations. Of course, sometimes you have statements that the consensus seems to agree is probably true but that you don't immediately have a good citation for. In that case it's probably ok to simply tag the uncited statement with a clean-up tag so that the reader knows "this statement is probably true but hasn't yet been fully verified." Dugwiki 19:13, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
No, ancestry and religion aren't "per se" contentious. If you disagree, go remove Michael Jordan from Category:African American basketball players on the grounds that no source for this being his ancestry is cited, and see what happens to you! :-) (It's a Wikipedia:Featured article, by the way.) --AnonEMouse (squeak) 19:54, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
In addition to Minder's comment below, I'll add that something being a Feature article doesn't mean it's perfect. On rare occasion I've removed certain categories from featured articles because the categories were added without any verification or sourcing in the article. Dugwiki 16:50, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
Not the best example since there are probably a billion sources verifying that he's african american. If you tried to add the unsourced claim that he's of Sudanese descent (or better yet, try "scottish"), I'd bet that would be removed quickly per BLP. I definitely think unsourced claims of race or religion can arguably be called contentious - if they aren't or can't be sourced, why put them in the article? --Minderbinder 20:14, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
For many people, their ancestry and religion is indeed a touchy subject. If you can't source it, don't include it. In addition, especially in terms of religion, if there's not a reliable source with the subject self-identifying as a member of that religion, it should be carefully attributed ("X states that Y is an Episcopalian", NOT "Y is an Episcopalian", unless Y clearly self-identifies as such.) Seraphimblade Talk to me 23:51, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
So, consensus obviates the need for sourcing. Heck, people think so-and-so is Fooian, so label him/her such. Hmmmm... And AnonEMouse brings up another good point: if someone were to diligently follow the precepts of the BLP rules by deleting the unsourced statements, then they'll see what "happens to [them]". Yes, there are probably lots of sources about Michael Jordan; but take something more ambiguous: Bruce Willis' religion. According to our article he may or may not be, or maybe once was, Lutheran. So someone (well-meaning no doubt) puts him in that category. I take it that consensus is that once Lutheran always Lutheran? Willis is not unique; Rod Carew comes to mind, but there are probably many others whose position on religion has never been publicly stated by them and even some of the vague statements "I was raised XXXX" hardly equates to being XXX unless we adopt the once=always approach universally (unwise). Seraphimblade's approach is probably the best we can do in the interim (presuming that X is a WP:RS); to facilitate all BLP issues, perhaps in-line citations should be mandated for all BLP's. Ancestry is less susceptible to change – but notable people sometimes find out one or more parents they thought were biological aren't, see Orlando Bloom as an example – so presumably once reliable sourcing is found the data will remain "good". It's just that nearly all biographies from reliable sources rarely include ancestral material, probably for the good reason that it doesn't freaking matter in 90% of cases; which begs the question on why WP insists on classifying people on ancestry that for many XXX-Americans is mixed, not relevant to their notability, up-bringing, or day-to-day lives, and often comes more from anecdotes than from reliable sources given the time passage since emigration of their ancestors. If we take the long view all Americans may be African-Americans (see Out of Africa theory). After some considerable thought on this (including all the various AfDs of intersections of ethnicity and occupation) I think the time may be right to delete all ethnicity categories. Carlossuarez46 00:19, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) I don't. You're overblowing specific cases into a general rule. It's far more often that someone's ethnicity or religion are not controversial than that they are. Yeas, absolutely there are controversies linked with specific cases, but your question was whether they're all controversial, and the answer stands, no, by no means all. We have far more cases that "probably a billion sources" can verify. Similarly, we discuss people's gender, even though some small fraction are intersexed or transsexual or stranger, we discuss people's nationality, even though some people are stateless or have questionable nationality or claim nationality in countries that may or may not exist (Western Sahara, Palestine, Kurdistan...), we discuss people's professions, even though some have false credentials, or work in many fields, or invent their own fields ... People are by their nature hard to categorize, no two are identical, and neither you nor I are exactly the same person this morning than when we went to bed last night - yet we still have to write something. In the specific cases where it's controversial, such as Bruce Willis, absolutely, write a paragraph, cite sources. But it's far more often that it's not controversial, and yet generally useful. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 15:27, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Thanks for the thoughtful response. The difficulty is when an editor adds "Fooian American" or "Fooist" to an article without citation, how can one tell a priori whether that's controversial? Do we use some POV basis like well Methodists aren't controversial because they are mainstream (a concept at WP), but Scientologists are -- And what about race/ethnicity? I won't even try to imagine what ethnicities are controversial vs. those which aren't? So is the rule that we leave claims of Methodism or Lutheranism, but delete Scientologism, Satanism, Branch Davidianism or others in our POV seem controversial? Perhaps that's the rule. I don't like that, and would like to try to change it so that unsourced attribution of relgion and ethnicity be deleted. Carlossuarez46 18:10, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

You know, this topic did make me just realize one thing. You can label statements in an article with "citation needed", or label an article as "unreferenced", but you can't label individual category tags that way (aside from commenting the article source code, which isn't visible to the reader). For example, if someone adds a controversial category to an article, the only options are to leave it in the article or remove it. I can't leave it in but also label that category for verification. In addition, when a reader goes to a category page they can't see the actual article until they click the article's link. So a reader visiting a category page can't tell from the category page what articles may or may not be miscategorized without visiting the actual articles. Therefore this means it's probably even more important to remove unverified categories from articles because it's difficult for casual readers to tell that a category might not be accurate. Better to leave an article out of a category unless there's verification provided in the article that it belongs there. Dugwiki 19:18, 11 May 2007 (UTC)


Might want to link instances of the word "eventualism" on this policy page, to explain what it means. - dcljr (talk) 18:38, 11 May 2007 (UTC)


Is it a violation of WP:BLP to imply that somebody is the subject of an allegation when it is actually the case that whatever was said "about them" was said in a statement made "by them"?

For example would it violate WP:BLP to describe somebody as being an alleged homosexual when they publicly came out, or an alleged terrorist when they openly professed to be a terrorist, in some manned that passes WP:V/WP:RS.

Also, would it violate WP:BLP to describe somebody as being "an alleged ...." when they openly profess to be "..." but the existence of "..." is the subject of doubt. For example, "X is allegedly a member of secret society Y" when they have said that they are a member in a WP:V source, but there is WP:V'able debate as to whether or not Y actually exists.

perfectblue 16:42, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Statements a subject made, which are reported in reliable sources may be quoted and those quotes are never in violation of this article. In fact the more bizarre the statement, the more noteworthy it is. Wjhonson 05:16, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
The question isn't whether those statements should be reported, it's more about how it should be phrased, particularly in regard to things like article titles, disambiguation pages, and categories. Is "allege" a dirty word, including when people make unproven statements about themselves? When a guy says "I have psychic powers", best case is to just quote that and attribute it. But for an article lead or disambig page, there has been lots of recent debate over whether it's OK to say "X is an alleged/purported/self-described psychic" or "X is a psychic". A current example is List of alleged contactees, a list of people claiming to have talked with aliens - there's a proposed move to "List of contactees" based on an objection to "alleged". --Minderbinder 16:48, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
Self-described works. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 17:18, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
My view: when someone self-describes (identifies?) as gay, libertarian, Methodist, alcoholic, or something inherently difficult for an outside observer to know, we just accept the quotation as a RS and say "X is a Methodist"; when someone self-describes as something quite unlikely, say as a martian, the savior, the love child of Napoleon and Queen Victoria, the real Elvis (he's not dead, after all), king of the freaking universe, etc., a healthy dose of scepticism is warranted and we can write "X claims to be a martian" rather than "X is a martian"; and when someone descibes himself/herself in relation to a particular or supposed event or ability, a psychic, a contactee, a "victim" of something, able to jump tall buildings in a single bound, etc., again a healthy scepticism is in order: "X claims to be a psychic". Carlossuarez46 22:45, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Let's look at it another way. If I said that GW was "allegedly a conservative", what does this imply? - perfectblue 18:18, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Possible Relevance to BoLP

Posted on VP

Non evident risk in articles lacking critical references

Related: [Risk disclaimer] [Manual of Style] [Biographies of living persons]

Terms: Non Evident Risk – a risk that that has an established reality, but which within a given context is not apparent.

Current Position: Wikipedia has well established practice in how it approaches ‘risk’ and this is addressed through the use of the Disclaimer statements.

Need for Change: The matter of risk applies predominantly to articles dealing with some form of human activity and in most of those articles the risk that attaches to the activity discussed is entirely self evident, for example Rock Climbing will be understood by an reasonable person as an inherently risky activity. However there are some articles where the tone of the article and/or the absence of critical references, coupled with a received wisdom regarding the activity which endorses it as risk free, effectively disguising the risk even where medical, scientific or reasoned observational evidence suggests that risk exists.

Scope for Change: Any change would necessarily be limited to matters of established physical and psychological risk, as would be understood by as such by any reasonable person.

It seems unlikely that there would be any appetite amongst editors to change the way that Disclaimers are currently used, although it would not be overly problematic to introduce a more prominent display of the Risk Disclaimer for articles where critical references are lacking.

The obvious response is to say that relevant articles be improved by the inclusion of critical references, however without policy change this may not always be achievable as editors may be reluctant to include references which do not precisely link to the subject of the article. (see example)

A further and unequivocally desirable improvement also depends upon an improvement in reference discipline – that is to ensure references and links to organisations which are active in risk reduction in an appropriate field. Here we can return to the example of Rock Climbing where numerous sport bodies actively promote and discuss the reduction of risk in an inherently risky pursuit.

Example of a number of associated problem articles: [[11]] [[12]]

The core article is a Biography of a Living Person and although a number of critical references are included, none address an activity which is presented in positive terms within the core article and six associated articles – that is the practice of meditation, an activity which the subject of the Biography has a long history of promoting. Neither the core article, nor the associated articles use a wikilink to the Wikipedia article [[13]], which itself does include an Adverse Effects section which clearly demonstrates potential risks in meditational practice. Clearly there are editors who have decided that there is some constraint upon linking to the Meditation article, demonstrating either that there is a need to challenge the thinking behind that execise of constraint, or otherwise if wikipedia rules require such constraint, then to re-examine the how the Risk Disclaimer is displayed within certain articles.

Nik Wright2 15:00, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, but... what is this saying? -Amarkov moo! 15:09, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
I guess Nik Wright2 is saying that the article on Prem Rawat should say that Meditation is dangerous. I disagree. Following that logic, articles on sportsmen should say that waterskiiing, mountain climbing, snow boarding are dangerous, articles on doctors should say that surgery is dangerous, articles on military figures should say that war is very, very dangerous... That's the role of the article on the subject, not for every article on anything linked to the subject. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 17:20, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Ah, re-read that. Maybe NW2 is saying that the Prem Rawat article should wikilink to meditation and doesn't. OK, I can buy that. Linked. :-). --AnonEMouse (squeak) 17:28, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
If that's all that's being said, it's quite an nonobvious and wordy way to do it. And inherent risks are in the eye of the beholder should we be adding risk factors to articles such as Adultery which doesn't mention risks of disease, and only tangential discussion of eternal damnation. So, at the risk of WP:BEANS, <sarcasm>should we behoove ourselves to add risk factors to all articles, like adultery and link them in BLP's, so that Bill Clinton, an admitted adulterer, whose article doesn't now link to adultery, would be ameneded to include such a link so that readers can follow that link and will know that such behavior has risks.</sarcasm> Phooey! Carlossuarez46 23:01, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Question on use of multiple sources in BLP

Do we need multiple sources for EVERY item on a BLP? For example, say someone is accused of being a murderer in source 1. Source 2 then reports that he is accused of murder. Now, we have two sources that say he is being accused of murder so we can say he is being accused of murderer in WP. Now say that source 3 says that used a knife (and say that source 3 is the only one that says he used a knife). Is it acceptable to say that the accused murderer used a knife in a BLP in WP, even though only a single source says so? I appreciate your comments. Sparkzilla 00:38, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

The number of sources is not an always the issue. The quality of the source always is. And your example above is a good example of walking to close to WP:SYN for comfort. Look at it this way: If the murder accusation and the use of a specific weapon was notable, it will be reported in multiple reliable sources. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:50, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Self published by subject

Okay, I want to ask about this: it is relevant to the subject's notability; criterion again. I'll admit I've realised an article I've been working on is violating this criterion - the article Peter Goldreich uses Peter's homepage to source that he was a Ph.D. student of Thomas Gold, without which I can only source that he was a student of Gold's but not for what degree. Now - it's hardly a big deal, and Peter's unlikely to sue me for something that's true - and therefor even less likely to win - nor is he likely to be traumatised by people knowing something he puts on his homepage. So I ask -

Is it is relevant to the subject's notability; meant to imply Self-published sources should never be used to establish the notability of any information?

And should it be changed to be more explicit? WilyD 17:59, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree it should be changed, but presumably having a Ph.D. (and the details of where it's from and who one's advisor was) is "relevant" for a university professor's notability; on the other hand, a Ph.D. for a notable stand-up comic probably isn't relevant. Carlossuarez46 00:09, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
    • Yeah, but it's not relevant to his notability that he was Gold's Ph.D. student rather than say, his master's student, for instance. I'm sure that Gold had many non-notable students. WilyD 05:01, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
      • True enough and the same is true of self-published accounts of where he went to school as well. Perhaps we should adopt a framework like the legal system has: negative ("inculpatory") statements about oneself are "admissible" whereas positive ("exculpatory") ones are not (c.f. Federal Rules of Evidence 804(b)(3) "Statement against interest"), but WP does not have to be as rigorous as the legal system, there is no beyond reasonable doubt standards, and after all verifiability not truth is what counts here. Carlossuarez46 22:50, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
        • Of course, determining what's a positive or negative statement isn't straightforward. Let me say the policy currently says:

Self-published material may never be used in BLPs unless written by the subject him or herself. Subjects may provide material about themselves through press releases, personal websites, or blogs. Material that has been self-published by the subject may be added to the article only if:

  • it is relevant to the subject's notability;
  • it is not contentious;
  • it is not unduly self-serving;
  • it does not involve claims about third parties, or about events not directly related to the subject;
  • there is no reasonable doubt as to who wrote it.

These provisions do not apply to subjects' autobiographies that have been published by reliable third-party publishing houses; these are treated as reliable sources like any other, because they are not self-published.

A blog or personal website self-published by the subject may be listed in the external links/further reading section if not used as a source in the article.

What I think it's actually trying to say is this:

Self-published material may never be used in BLPs unless written by the subject him or herself. Subjects may provide material about themselves through press releases, personal websites, or blogs. Material that has been self-published by the subject may be added to the article only if:

  • it is relevant to the subject's notability;
  • it is not contentious;
  • it is not unduly self-serving;
  • it does not involve claims about third parties, or about events not directly related to the subject;
  • there is no reasonable doubt as to who wrote it.

These provisions do not apply to subjects' autobiographies that have been published by reliable third-party publishing houses; these are treated as reliable sources like any other, because they are not self-published.

Self published material from the subject should never be used to establish the notability of said material.

A blog or personal website self-published by the subject may be listed in the external links/further reading section if not used as a source in the article. </nowiki>

This is just my perception. Plus, the phrasing is awkward. But I wanted to see what people thought before I monkeyed with anything. WilyD 13:25, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

The very recent dead

To what extent, if any, ought BLP be construed to apply to the recently deceased?Proabivouac 09:09, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Ideally every article should meet this standards - but moreso the recently deceased than say, Charlemagne, who's less likely to make an upset phonecall to the Foundation. WilyD 16:07, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
    • I don't understand this. They're dead, so how are they going to care? Even if an afterlife exists, I doubt that the people in it would be concerned about what's happening here! mike4ty4 20:29, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
      • Their Husband or Wife, Daughter or Son, Cousin or Uncle might get upset. WilyD 23:25, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
        • If the overriding rationale is libel/slander/defamation, the law in the US is you cannot libel/slander/defame the dead; so dead is dead. As to long dead being less testy, try putting something negative and controversial into Muhammad, Jesus, or Moses. Carlossuarez46 22:54, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
          • The end truth is partially, but the reputation of the project is an important consideration, and the general don't be a dick philosophy. For what it's worth, every article, not just bios, should adher to these standards. No article should have any unsourced information. WilyD 13:18, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
            • I agree with your final statement, but that's not BLP specific, so a dead person's bio falls into the "general" category of do's & don't's. Carlossuarez46 20:54, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I think it's a good idea to keep stronger BLP restrictions in place for a few days. Some death reports, of course, turn out to be hoaxes. And there is the stampede to edit the daylights out of the thing once the reins of BLP are loosed by death, e.g. Jerry Falwell, which has been edited in excess of 800 times since rumors of his death first appeared. (That's an edit every 11 minutes, for those keeping count.)One wonders how much of this is simply the result of being in the news, and how much is people catching up on saying all of the nasty things they couldn't say about the living. Mangoe 23:12, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
    • I also agree with your statement until sufficiently confirmed. Carlossuarez46 20:54, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Somebody's recent death is not an excuse to include material that would be excluded under WP:BLP. A recent relevant comment on this matter can be found here. FNMF 00:28, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

The first line of the "Rationale" for WP:BLP is: "Wikipedia articles that contain information about living people can affect a subject's life." This is the basis of the policy requirements to edit sensitively and conservatively, etcetera. This rationale clearly does not mean that negative material must be excluded, but it stipulates that unsourced negative material, or non-encyclopaedic material (tabloid allegations, etc.), must be removed. This stipulation is not only about defamation laws, but rather, as the rationale states, is due to the fact that Wikipedia can affect people's lives. And, even though this rationale states that information can affect the subject's life, it is also clearly the case that it can affect those people close to or surrounding the subject. Thus there is a difference between writing about Henry VIII and writing about somebody who has recently died, and who may have a spouse, children, etcetera. Wikipedia editors ought to be sensitive wherever the potential to negatively affect people's lives is clear. Again, this does not mean negative material must be excluded. But this requirement is a very good reason why, in my opinion, WP:BLP continues to apply to those who have died but whose relatives and associates remain alive. There is nothing to be gained for the encyclopaedia by asserting that this policy does not apply in such situations. FNMF 01:04, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Simply, the recent dead will often have living relatives, business associates and friends (and enemies). Any contentious material (that which is disallowed, or needs examiniation, under BPL) may involve one or more of those parties, which raises the possibility or irate phone calls and (threatened) legal action from them. Applying BPL to the recent dead allows editors time to ensure what is written is suitably sourced/referenced, especially when a death is the catalyst of "kiss and tell" type stories (which need to be treated very carefully anyway, IMO). LessHeard vanU 12:49, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
How about Wikipedia:Don't add tabloid style crap to any articles at all? Seraphimblade Talk to me 18:47, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
I don't think WP:DATSCAAA will ever fly as a policy or guideline, but as far as style goes; I sincerely hope not. Mind you sometimes the tabloid press will uncover pearls simply as they are prepared to swim amongst the swill. Sometimes legitimate content can be found. It is preferable to wait for the quality press to catch up and publish, though, before it is cited. LessHeard vanU 20:04, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Recently dead people's bios are no different than other articles; someone "near" to the subject may be p.o.'d by the contents; this is very different than the subject being p.o.'d at his/her own bio. Take for example, something negative in an article about an organization or a country - a member of that organization or citizen of that country may take offense. Just source, source, source no different than other articles. I don't see a policy reason why critical but sourced material of the recently dead and long-time dead differs. A RS saying that Gerald Ford (recently dead) was a lousy president and the same source saying Franklin Pierce (long-time dead) was one too seems equally includable. Carlossuarez46 21:01, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
The quantity (if not the quality) of reference sources are considerably different between the recently dead and the long time dead. When Ford died there was an item from every US TV network, and I would suggest from all major non-US broadcasters, national and international periodical publishers likely carried a piece (either inhouse or syndicated), and every newspaper in the Western World (and most beyond) carried an article. What sources do we have for Pierce? A couple of biographies, correspondence in the White House library, some mentions in other peoples biographies, a few worthy books about his life and Presidency, and... ? All of the surviving text has been filtered through the perceptions of the intervening years anyway. No, recently dead people suffer the same problem as the living - the sheer diversity of sources and opinion that is available; thus we have to be more careful than those who died before we were born. LessHeard vanU 21:22, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Regarding this whole above discussion, I think that anybody whose reaction to anybody's death is "Woohoo! He/she's dead now... WP:BLP doesn't apply, so I can start digging up all the nasty dirt I can! Great!!!!!" probably isn't somebody with the sort of attitude we'd want editing an encyclopedia, don't you think? *Dan T.* 20:13, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

The reverse side is that the demise of a notable person is very likely marked by a sudden increase of literature about said person, resulting in a corresponding increase of useable references. Also, this potential resource of good information may not last too long. It would be a tardy editor who didn't make good use (under the appropriate guidelines and rules) of the available material. LessHeard vanU 21:29, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Interesting. If we apply this policy to recently deceased people, then we would have to apply WP:BLP1E to Rosa Parks and speedy delete it. M (talk contribs) 13:51, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Adding rationale?


I was going to add the following bit of rationale for one of the rules about self-published sources: "* it is not unduly self-serving (this is due more to issues of general neutrality than actual harm to the subject)" (rationale underlined.) What do you think? I'm going here for approval to add the rationale since this is an official policy page. mike4ty4 20:35, 19 May 2007 (UTC)

Mmmm I am not so sure that adding that sentence helps. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:52, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Mumbai underworld

Has anyone seen this? Is there somewhere to report this kind of thing? I don't want to find I'm the only person defending this particular article. AndyJones 13:02, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

This is absurd

People have now started to use this policy in a terrible way. Apparently, you don't even have to give a coherent reason why something is a BLP violation anymore; you just have to declare an article disgusting, and anyone who does not agree with you is being stupid and/or misinterpreting BLP. Oh, and the community doesn't get to decide what's a BLP violation; only admins who delete BLP violations may do that. -Amarkov moo! 23:59, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

You can bring any specific issues at the BLP noticeboard, where these will be reviewed. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:26, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
The specific issue I have in mind is actually going fine without that, but the problem I have is that this kind of event is starting to be routine. -Amarkov moo! 04:12, 24 May 2007 (UTC)


I've edited this sentence: "This means approaching the subjects of our articles with compassion, grace and understanding."

  • "compassion and understanding" -> "compassion, grace and understanding"

The message is that we're to avoid brutality of expression. Our articles are never to be hatchet jobs, and graceless writing should be a warning sign that we're not treating our living human subject, be he a mass murderer or a rape victim, with humanity. --Tony Sidaway 04:46, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

The Ann Coulter article is a longstanding hatchet job, endorsed and justified by admins. We understand that it's OK because they don't like what she says, but that doesn't change its status as a hatchet job. Lou Sander 12:58, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Move material to the notable event

This policy should require material to be moved to the notable event in cases where the event is notable and person not except for the event. I have asked SlimVirgin to come up with the actual words to add to the policy. She is really good at this sort of thing. WAS 4.250 08:29, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Have a look at the words being discussed in the section immediately below this one. Uncle G 13:53, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

The new section people are putting in

The text is as follows:

Remember: not everything in Wikipedia requires presentation in the form of a biographical article. That a person receives a namecheck in a larger article about a subject that involves that person does not automatically warrant a redlink, or a biographical article for that person. We should not present things in a way that the sources do not. If sources for biographical information only cover the person in the context of something else (such as an event or a court case), and are not wholly separable from sources for that something else, then there should not be a biographical article in Wikipedia separate from an article on the something else. Court cases, crimes, conflicts, and controversies, for examples, should be presented as unified articles that involve all sides, not as individual articles, pretending to be biographies, that present each of the sides separately. Not only does this give undue weight to the events in the context of the individual, it is also generally wasteful and creates redundancy and additional maintenance overhead In such cases a redirect is usually the best option.

For discussion - this seems unnecessary and I don't believe accurately reflects the undue weight clause anyway. Furthermore, it appears to be added simply due to someone's opinion at a DRV, an opinion that is contrary to the current status of things there anyway. So instead of trying to force it in, here's a good place to discuss it. --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:34, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

What's your substantive objection to it?--Docg 12:36, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
It assumes too much, mostly. Part of the harm is knowing the context it's being presented in, where the subject of the article, who gained prominence due to a contentious incident, is having a redirect forced due to this sort of thought process. The problem, of course, is assuming that if a person gains prominence due to one extremely noteworthy thing, any extra unrelated notability can be discarded. That doesn't reflect this policy, it doesn't reflect NPOV, and it doesn't reflect community consensus or encyclopedia building. In some cases, a redirect is proper. That should be discussed, not simply assumed and codified into policy, especially without discussion given the contentious issues we're dealing with currently. --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:40, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Sooner or later you are going to have to accept that consensus and policy are against you on BLPs. I can't follow your objection for now. What was inserted was for guidance and left room for discussion on individual case. But biographies are for subjects for whom we can write biographies, however they became notable people. We don't have biographies if all we can say is 'child was switched a birth and then disappears from the public record.'--Docg 12:44, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Again, policy articles should be edited after careful consideration, not to support your side in a current debate depending on that policy. There does not seem to be consensus, given the DRV debate. If there is, it can be put in after things have cooled down. The way, the truth, and the light 12:49, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Yup. Uncle G gave it careful consideration (he is exceptionally good at that), and his words at that DRV debate are (as usual for Uncle G) exceptionally well-reasoned, go to core policy, and clarify that which many of us do by insitinct. Careful consideration having been given, in they go. Guy (Help!) 13:04, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Is policy against my current belief? Absolutely, but I have no problems with following it. I'm currently in line with the consensus on BLPs, which is what's codified here, and not this section above. I'm sorry you can't parse my objection, how can I make it clearer? --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:47, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
It just clarifies WP:UNDUE. Redirects should be the standard way to deal with single-event "notability". Kusma (talk) 12:45, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
It really doesn't. --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:47, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
It really does. Guy (Help!) 13:01, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm curious how not writing about the only incident a person is known for, whether positive or negative, gives undue weight... if article go by what is written about a person, then wouldn't the weight be accurate? Maybe I'm missing something. Milto LOL pia 16:09, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
"Joe Smith is the person who did (abysmally foolish thing)" versus "(Abysmally foolish thing) was an event which occurred in year, it was done by Joe Smith". I see a pretty clear difference in weight there. Guy (Help!) 19:52, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, I put it in because it is self-evident good sense, takes us straight to the heart of WP:UNDUE in these articles and also examines the problem highlighted by WP:COATRACK, and I can't believe we didn't think of it before. It's not a surprise that it took Uncle G to clarify this, but it is bloody good work. So: refine it, by all means, but I think it needs to stay. Guy (Help!) 12:54, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
WP:COATRACK is not a policy or guideline, and frankly, it doesn't really make much sense. The problem it's ostensibly trying to address is one I've never seen on Wikipedia, but by the end of the essay, it's changed into a restatement of WP:UNDUE. The way, the truth, and the light 13:05, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
No, you see, this is Wikipedia, we don't assess an argument in project page solely by whether it's policy or not, we read it and see what argument it makes. WP:COATRACK makes a valid point about articles which exist for a purpose other than to document the purported subject. In this case, that's absolutely true - the Duke guys really really want an article on this woman, including every single last piece of dirt they can dig up. But what you're supposed to do is read the linked pages, which are philosophical arguments made by established editors, and then come back, not just say "bah, not policy, ignore", because that's just Wikilawyering and a waste of everyone's time. Guy (Help!) 13:16, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
That's some bad faith you're putting out there regarding people's motives, y'know? Assuming that people who want and see an encyclopedic topic in the person in question like that isn't helpful, and, more importantly, isn't true. Established editors on both sides are making coherent arguments on the topic, and no one is more important than anyone else. --badlydrawnjeff talk 13:57, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
WP:AAGF. The argument was invalid for the reason stated. I was trying to help. Guy (Help!) 15:44, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
It's hard to assume good faith when people attempt to change policy in the midst of two ongoing controversial discussions. Evidence to the contrary and all that. --badlydrawnjeff talk 16:32, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Nobody's changing policy, this is a clarification of how many people currently interpret policy. Quite different. If you want to see unilateral creation of policy, look right back at the beginning of this page. That is what I call a policy change! Guy (Help!) 19:50, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
No, it's a change. This has nothing to do with an interpretation. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:46, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • "If sources for biographical information only cover the person in the context of something else" then the information on the person should be merged into the article of that something else. >Radiant< 12:55, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Folks, don't edit war over this. I protected the page for 30 hours, please use that time to discuss and reach a consensus. (H) 13:03, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
If we don't have enough information to write a decent biography we need either a redirect or a short note explaining how the person was involved in the larger incident. Fred Bauder 13:11, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • This is a subtle point that many people would not realize at first impression. I think it is very valuable to explain this. Jehochman / 13:19, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I very much support the intention behind this addition. Commonsensical, good job. One thing that might need further clarification is how to deal with existing or future articles that violate this new rule. Do deletions or forced mergers made under this provision fall under the general carte blanche of BLP, in terms of being exempt from normal process, 3RR and everything? Fut.Perf. 13:22, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
And in unclear cases, are we supposed to go to AfD, or delete first and then review if needed? Trebor 13:26, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

I was in the process of pointing some talk pages to Wikipedia:Deletion review/Log/2007 May 23#Crystal Gail Mangum, in order to provoke some wider discussion of such cases and the application of the neutrality and no original research policies (in addition to the verifiability policy) thereto, and I find that discussion on this here has already started. Uncle G 13:31, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

I for one like the addition. It's articulate, and explains how to handle some touchy situations in a sensible way. Mangojuicetalk 14:35, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Question: At what point does notability for a crime or incident force having an article? I mean in clear cut cases like Osama bin Laden there is no dispute but what about people like Jeffery Dahmer? He's notable only for a couple murders and keeping people in his freezer. How about the BTK killer? Does murder or serial killing make the cut, while say Looter Guy or Lootie (which has been deleted and actually under this policy should be merged into Media involvement in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina) does not? How about the Wendy's finger case? Under this proposal, all of those articles face deletion. And what about famous celebrities with incidents, such as Michael Jackson's molestation trial or the Mel Gibson DUI incident? The wording says that sources that talk about a person in the context of something else should not be separate from that something else. The wording needs to address a) incidents involving very famous people who are already notable (the current wording is ambiguous on this), b) what types of incidents possibly warrant articles (serial murder, for example), and c) when someone is /only/ famous for an incident but is continuously in the news at what point they become a celebrity (a la Barbara Schwarz and Cindy Sheehan). -N 14:40, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
    • Well the murderers gained infamy through actions of their own, which makes a big difference. Sjakkalle (Check!) 14:42, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Crystal Gail Mangum was the one who lied and ruined the lives of three college students; it's not quite murder, but it was certainly something over which she had full control. Horologium talk - contrib 03:52, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps a change to BLP ought to be discussed before updating the policy, and we would then not have a revert war over it? For the record, I support the addition of the section, since biographies ought to give in some ways a full story of the person, not merely his or her role in a news event (and if the notability is tied up to the news event, the role is better kept in that article). Nevertheless, a good discussion here might be in order, so let it run for a while. I don't agree with Jeff's points here, but I understand his reasoning. Sjakkalle (Check!) 14:42, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

    • (ec) Excellent question. Anna Ayala is a good test case, I think. Here's the question: has there been significant interest in her as a person, reflected in sources? There certainly has for Jeffery Dahmer and the BTK Killer. If Ayala as a person has not attracted any interest beyond her involvement with the Wendy's finger case, or has attracted only minimal surface interest, enough to give background in articles that are really about the case, that says something about her level of notability. Namely, that she's not notable, but the case she was involved in is notable. On the other hand, there may be real interest in her life because she was involved in that case (this is what happened to, say, Dahmer), and if so that would be reflected in the sources, in which case, it would be appropriate to have an article focused on the case rather than on her. However, in some cases, we might reach the conclusion that no article is necessary on the person, but rather on the incident.. but not every such incident has a name or an article, and that's where things get touchy. What would people do with, for instance, Armin Meiwes? Mangojuicetalk 14:57, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes it is a good question. I would say that we should take our cue from the reliable sources, as usual. For example, there are whole books about Myra Hindley, you could make a compelling case for her notability transcending the crimes even while being founded on them. Guy (Help!) 15:46, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I like this addition, and I think it should be given more prominence. Maybe say something in the lead about how persons who are only famous in the context of a single controversy/incident/crime may not warrant a biography. Also, I'm not sure it's necessary to restrict this to negative incidents--if a person briefly becomes noteworthy because of a single positive incident, they don't need a biography. Another issue: what about murder victims? They don't fall under BLP, but we've got at least one article I can think of, Lucie Blackman, which is not really a biography but a description of the events surrounding her death. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:50, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
    • Actually I was thinking something like "People who are involuntarily famous, or are famous only because they happened to be at the scene of an incident such as crime victims, petty criminals whose crimes are in no way noteworthy, or private figures whose image has been published without permission, do not necessarily merit articles unless the incident they were involved with itself meets the notability requirements" -N 15:02, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I like it too. It is about time we recognize that Wikipedia is important. As we grow in importance, we have to exercise responsibility toward LPs, and this new wording reflects that understanding and demonstrates maturity. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jossi (talkcontribs) 15:00, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • This is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind in the above "Move material to the notable event" section. Well done. I fully support it. WAS 4.250 16:01, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • The only outstanding issue I can see is that it becomes problematic if someone is not "independantly covered" but is covered in the context of two or three events. In that case, you clearly want the ability to connect things, but you're motivation for not having an article on the person doesn't change. Probably something should be said. WilyD 16:09, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I, too, support the idea behind the proposed new section, but I would urge the people who like tinkering with policy to adjust WP:BIO accordingly also. It's the notability threshold of "single event notability" people we're discussing here, after all. Sandstein 16:30, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • It might be worth discussing (although there may be no easy answer) the threshold past which a person is considered notable outside of the single event for which that person is primarily known. Salient examples might include Monica Lewinsky, Debra LaFave, Scott Peterson, Divine Brown (prostitute); should any of those be redirected/merged? JavaTenor 17:33, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

A distinction should be made between libelous malicious material which must be shot on sight and questions of appropriate coverage. Those can be discussed. We can't discuss malicious libelous material on site. Fred Bauder 17:59, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

I think the wording proposed here is good, and quite subtle. The use of the term "does not automatically warrant" does not mean "cannot possibly have". For instance it's generally agreed that having a Monica Lewinsky or a Lee Harvey Oswald article is sensible. Oswald's life in particular has been extensively researched and has been the subject of detailed commentary and controversy. There are several biographies, not least being Gerald Posner's Case Closed. On the other hand, it may be more appropriate for Marina Prusakova to be a redirect to his article because her only real claim to fame was her marriage to Oswald and emigration to the USA. But that doesn't preclude having such an article, especially since she has led an independent life since her husband's death, in which she has given interviews and made public appearances. --Tony Sidaway 20:59, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

  • I really like this addition. Why focus on the person when the event is what was notable? This isn't just a matter of policy, this is a matter of logical writing technique. ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 23:11, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
  • On a side note, I agree that there is a line between "singe-event notability" and someone who is the focus of a set of stories over an extended length of time. I think this section is realy aimed at those who qualify under the "15 min of fame". ---J.S (T/C/WRE) 23:17, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

This is hardly a clarification of WP:UNDUE. The relevent policy reads that articles should "fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a verifiable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each". It is not out of place to have the article focus be on the subject's reason for notability, nor for the article to reflect what the vast majority of reliable sources have reported. If someone is notable for a reason and most sources discuss the person in that context, it is the exact opposite of undue weight for the article to be focused in that direction. Vassyana 07:22, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Anonymous subjects

I skimmed the page and it doesn't look like there are any special provisions for anonymous subjects (like Lootie). Maybe there should be a special section on it somewhere? I'm sure there'd be differing standards of some kind. Milto LOL pia 16:31, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

See Star Wars kid. The young boy's name has been removed from the article, although the sources (some of which name him) remain. I think this is a useful template for producing articles about anonymous individuals. Note that the article does not provide a picture of Star Wars kid (although a professionally produced spoof is illustrated). --Tony Sidaway 21:10, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Suggested addition

I suggest the addition of "If a living person is only notable for a very few seperate and distinct things which can be adequately covered in seperate articles and sufficient personal biographical information to write an adequate biography is lacking from published reliable sources, then the bio article should be a disambig page as suggested at Talk:Daniel Brandt#Proposal." or something like it. WAS 4.250 17:50, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Some don't like using the term "disambig" for this. Fine. Call it a "multi-redirect" page. Or a "bio-link list" page. Whatever. The point is not the name. The point is to not pretend we have a biography when we don't. WAS 4.250 18:52, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

You could just make it clear that it's not a thorough biography, just a summary of some events. Brandt's entire article only covers his public activities, from a glance at the TOC. Even a privacy activist shouldn't have much to complain about if we're only publicizing things he sought attention for anyway. The essence of summary style is pointing to main articles with brief pieces pulled together. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 19:41, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Well. Brandt did actually have some very cogent criticism of the Wikipedia article about him, and it was precisely based on the fact that there is not enough public material available to produce a properly sourced biographical article about him. Insofar as his activism forms the core of a accountability activism-related article, it may be more appropriate to place the material in such an article with a suitable redirect, than to produce a somewhat slanted picture of the man through the lens of his activism. So while reserving comment on WAS 4.250's proposal, I think I can see his point. --Tony Sidaway 21:05, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Aesthetically, I don't like it. The thought isn't crazy, but the execution is really ugly. For someone like Brandt, who's involved in so much (apparently) notable stuff, it's hard - a highly "summary style" biography with links might look okay, but the bullet list - just looks ugly. WilyD 21:23, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
I thinki that just means Brandt would fail the proposed test - if it can't be done simply and neatly then it is probably the wrong solution for that article. Guy (Help!) 14:45, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Alternate wording for new addition

Articles about living people notable only for one incident

Not every person mentioned in Wikipedia requires a biographical article. Where a person is mentioned by name in an article about a larger subject but has no other notability claim, we should not have an article on them (and so a 'redlink' is not always desirable). We should present things in the manner of our sources. If the reliable sources for biographical information only cover the person in the context of something else, then a separate BLP is unwarranted. Court cases, crimes, and natural disasters, for examples, should be presented as unified articles that involve all sides. Marginal biographies on people with no independent notability give undue weight to the events in the context of the individual, and create redundancy and additional maintenance overhead. In such cases a redirect is usually the best option.

Where a person has achieved notoriety for repeated or on-going events, the material may be better treated in a BLP. For instance, the activities of a serial criminal should be treated in their biographical article, rather than in separate articles for each crime. Marskell 11:36, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Well yes, but that is just the corollary, and I believe that is obvious enough. The benchmark here is what the external sources say. If the external sources do not set out to be primarily about the person, then neither should our article. There are external sources about most noted serial killers, because the series of killings tends to be considered under their name (though not always: moors murders for example). Guy (Help!) 14:29, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
I added last per concerns in earlier threads; it's not essential. The principal aim is to reduce wordiness in the first paragraph and emphasize "no other notability claim." I think it's slightly more emphatic. Marskell 14:51, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I support this addition. Mangoe 18:22, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I would tone down we should not have an article on them to we should avoid having an article on them. To leave some openness on a fairly "straightjacket-ish" policy, and given the seriel killer exception and the like. Otherwise, I'd definitely support this phrasing. WilyD 18:32, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
  • In any case, it probably requires rewording to fit with WP:BIO, which (while only a guideline) is longstanding and has broad consensus. Clearly, articles for people who meet WP:BIO on multiple points should not be deleted. --Aquillion 03:27, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Despite the name of this page, Wikipedia has not previously required biographical articles to be proper biographies. This is a major policy shift. It additionally contradicts, or at the least further restricts, existing guidelines and policies. Such a significant change should be widely discussed and reflecting existing consensus. Beyond that, I feel this proposal has a number of critical flaws. The single subject notability and outside context restrictions are absurdly broad, to me. This, as stated, would exclude a ridiculous number of politicians and musicians who are only notable due to their respective professions and the related contexts. The court cases and crimes restriction is similar absurd in scope. I am not opposed to the idea behind the proposal, but this proposal is far too broad and vague. I also believe this angle would be better dealt with at WP:N and/or WP:BIO, since it is trying to establish a notability standard for article inclusion. Vassyana 07:18, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
I added the first paragraph but left off the serial criminal example to wait to see if people think it necessary.
Re BIO, it sets a pretty high bar, doesn't it? I've always thought it a nice idea that every third entry on Newpages violates. Marskell 06:58, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
  • After some thought, I oppose this strongly, mainly for one reason: As written, it would bar us from having an article on Lee Harvey Oswald. He's only famous for one event, isn't he? Plainly, it must be rewritten to allow people who are famous for one event, as long as that event generates enough coverage of them personally for verifiable bibliographic information to become available. The only time when this is a concern is when coverage only touches on them in passing and, therefore, grants an incomplete view. --Aquillion 08:03, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
    • I have just deleted Oswald. But I think this a quibble, rather than a deal-breaker. It's covered by "If the reliable sources for biographical information only cover the person in the context of something else." Marskell 08:09, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

I've put some thought into this and have come up with a possible compromise revision.

Not every person mentioned in Wikipedia should have a separate article. If reliable sources only address the subject in a one-dimensional fashion in relation to a limited context or event, a separate article is not warranted. Marginal biographical articles that focus on single events should be avoided. In such cases, a redirect to the particular event is suggested. Biographical articles, like other Wikipedia entries, should have enough available references to build a complete encyclopedic article. When notability is founded in repeated or on-going events, the material may be better treated in a biographical article. For instance, the activities of a serial criminal should be treated in their own article, rather than in separate articles for each crime.

I believe this avoids the overly broad prohibitions, while addressing the essence of the concerns leading the proposal and staying well-grounded in existing policy and consensus. Thoughts? Vassyana 09:03, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

I think that wording captures and addresses the concerns raised. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:30, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
Playing Devil's advocate here to some extent. Especially in the case of certain types of crimes (kidnappings, some types of assault and abuse, certain murders), the event itself is generally referred to in the context of the name of one (or more) of the involved people. Does this proposal suggest that the salient points of this article should instead be located at 2002 Salt Lake City child kidnapping case? I worry that this style of titling is 1) insufficiently specific in many cases, 2) original research, and 3) will provide a marked discontinuity in naming convention versus material about events even 30-50 years ago (Lindbergh kidnapping, Beaumont children disappearance). Serpent's Choice 08:31, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I support Vassyana's revision, but, as Serpent's Choice writes, it seems to need even slightly stricter limits that I haven't quite figured out how to phrase yet. Consider Elián González, clearly only notable for a single event, and I doubt any source will not address him primarily in the context of that event, yet surely an article on him is virtually required. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:46, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Which is the motivation for a seperate article may not be warrented rather than a seperate article is not warrented. On some occasions, (like Gonzalez, or Oswald) a person famous for a single thing is still notable and the article should probably be at their name. WilyD 20:55, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Still strongly opposed until actual necessity is demonstrated. --badlydrawnjeff talk 20:49, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

I made this change: [14] changing "in the context of something else" to "secondarily to the coverage of something else" which hopefully will clarify the meaning while retaining the intent. The idea is that no one will ever write about John Hinckley, Jr. without giving strong weight to the Reagan assassination attempt - but still, enough have written primarily about him and his life, while only secondarily focusing on the event, that we should have an article on him. Meanwhile, the article about QZ have really been primarily about the Internet meme, not really about his life. That still doesn't completely fix the Elián González case, since there is no way to write about the incident without using his name as a large part of the title of the article, but it is better than nothing. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:42, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Confused statement

This statement is confused: "Material found in self-published books, zines, websites or blogs should never be used." I think we need to switch the "or" to an "and" for logical consistency. The issue that makes a source unreliable for BLP purposes is self-publication, not the mere format of the source. For instance, the New York Times website is a perfectly acceptable source, and so is the Information Week zine. Jehochman Talk 08:16, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Surely then it should be re-worded to "Material from self-published sources, including books, zines, websites, and blogs, should never be used"? Merely swapping the "or" for an "and" would not alter the parsing of the adjective, merely require (on a certain reading, at least) that it be sourced from all of the examples.
James F. (talk) 11:58, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Semi-protecting semi-notable BLPs as a matter of course

No doubt this has been suggested before. Is there any consensus on the idea? A significant potential downside is that if the subject themselves shows up anonymously they'll not be able to edit. But a template can illuminate on the steps needed to edit. Workable? Marskell 18:00, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

I think we should be carefuly with biographies, but that stance would be against one of the only actual rules of Wiki projects. Semiprotection would be justified if there were an established problem with anon contributions per WP:PROT but without that, it's not necessary. Mangojuicetalk 18:42, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
There is an established problem with anon contributions to BLPs per WP:PROT—anons are most likely to post vandalism and unsourced POV. Of course, any restriction on anon contributions affects a primary foundation issue—this isn't an idea we could institute tomorrow. But the existence of the protection policy has already established that restriction can occur. Marskell 18:54, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Statistical fallacy - just because most vandalism comes from anonymous users does not mean that most anonymous edits are vandalism. I'm pretty sure this is a non-starter, but I said the same thing about Category:Living people, so what do I know? -- nae'blis 19:14, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I didn't say most anonymous edits are vandalism and I didn't mean to imply that that's the principal concern. It is libel, not vandalism (in the "graffiti" sense), that is a clear and present danger. Editors with accounts don't generally post it, and can be blocked quickly if they do. Marskell 19:34, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
What I meant was, if there were an established problem with anon contributions on that particular page. You have to look page by page here. I can imagine that an unpopular local politician (*cough cough*) might draw a lot of inappropriate criticism, while the same would not be true for some semi-notable musician or sports figure. Mangojuicetalk 19:44, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

anon self edits, what to do?

Can you anonymously edit your own bio? An anon ( which who is lists as being owned by Koch Industries, Inc. has been editing Koch bios, is there any policy on this? In all fairness, it's not clear if this is someone editing their own bio, or their subordinate, but the question stands. Pdbailey 18:38, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

What you're looking for is WP:COI. Mangojuicetalk 18:42, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Deletion log

Some users think that BLP is a reason for deleting articles without comment or process. This is just plain wrong - it is giving people the excuse to delete something they think is not worthy of inclusion here rather than because it contains content that shouldn't be reported about people. At the very least all such activities should be logged so that other admins can check over the deleted edit history and retrieve content where necessary. violet/riga (t) 09:01, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Special:Log/delete. --bainer (talk) 11:54, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Don't be ridiculous - who the hell has the time to spend their days trawling though the deltion log. ViridaeTalk 12:10, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Indeed - such deletions are lost in the masses there. violet/riga (t) 12:31, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Then use the text search function in your browser to look for certain words used in deletion summaries. --bainer (talk) 12:33, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
It shouldn't be so covert and up to individuals to come along and argue about. We should not have a system where anyone can delete articles based on their interpretation of the article content and the BLP policy. violet/riga (t) 12:39, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Then in that case we need to abolish admins, or else replace them all with bots. --bainer (talk) 14:44, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, you're really trying to help the situation with comments like that. violet/riga (t) 14:47, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely not. Discretion is a major part of BLP deletions. Most of these articles need to quietly vanish with as few more eyes hitting them as possible. Phil Sandifer 12:34, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
When an article has been on for three years and mirrored around the net? I think you're overplaying the impact it would cause to have a page linking to red-linked articles that have been deleted because of BLP! Just doing that would mean there is at least some form of process that admins must follow rather than hitting "Random article" and deleting them. violet/riga (t) 12:39, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Do me a favor. Take one of the articles you undeleted yesterday. Google the person's name. See what comes up as the first or second hit. That's why we do not and cannot mess around with this. Our articles have major real-world effects. We became a top website. This isn't a game or a little project to see how good an encyclopedia we can build anymore. This is "oh shit, we're in a position to cause major harm to somebody." So yes. We should kill BLP violations as fast as possible. The end. Phil Sandifer 13:48, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
You have to first show why they are BLP violations. And thus far, with the exception of CGM (which was fairly whiffy) everyone has failed to do so. using BLP as a blunt club to get rid of articles YOUDON'TLIKE is what is pissing everyone off. ViridaeTalk 13:52, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Ditto on Phil's comments. Marskell 13:54, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
They're BLP violations because they say things that shouldn't be said on Wikipedia. It's difficult to tell you what these things are without defeating the purpose of the deletion. Phil Sandifer 13:58, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
(EC)Both of these positions have some merit - articles that violate BLP should be dealt with immediately (although historically WP:OFFICE's response was to cut the article down to Johnny Nobody is a person and protect). But there does need to be some oversight - some at least quasi-transparent oversight process. Obviously on what can be a delicate matter the process needs to reflect this. I don't know what that process should be, but it should exist. WilyD 14:08, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Currently, the process is that the deletions get discussed by an ad hoc committee of whoever is there in the Wikipedia admins channel on IRC. It prevents rouge deletions, gives a few pairs of eyes, but keeps it to an unlogged and ephemeral medium where it doesn't do any more damage. Phil Sandifer 14:13, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
You might have noticed that I am admin, can view the deleted pages and STILL strongly assert the lack of a BLP violation. ViridaeTalk 14:11, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps you are blinded by the discussions but you are clearly not reading what I have suggested here. What you are replying to is the matter of deletion, while I am clearly stating that the articles can be deleted, but not without any form of log of its existence and subsequent deletion. The people that worked on the article deserve to know that it is a (supposed) BLP violation and should have the chance to fix the situation. violet/riga (t) 14:07, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
In my experience there have not been problems with people who work on an article noticing the deletion. Phil Sandifer 14:13, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
It was pure chance that I noticed it, and your experience will clearly be with people that have noticed, with the other ones forgotten about. violet/riga (t) 14:46, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
When a non-admin clicks on the deletion log they see the admin who deleted, correct? If so, what's the issue? barn 14:51, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
The deletion log, yes, but you are therefore expecting an average user to notice that an article no longer exists and then search for it in the deletion logs - not really something we should expect. violet/riga (t) 15:00, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I think what s/he means is the page specific deletion log: "If a page previously existed at this exact title, check the deletion log..." not Special:Log/delete. Non-admins are provided that link and they can then contact the deleting admin. Marskell 15:05, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Let the record show...

So we can work it out, the last two reverts were:

  • User:Black Falcon reverting User:SlimVirgin to readd: "If content is unsourced and controversial, but not negative in tone, it should be removed from article, but the article itself should not be speedily deleted";
  • My reverting User:Nardman1 to remove: "Note that the BLP policy is not itself a reason to delete an article without complying with standard deletion policy."

Others can comment on the first. The second is just plain wrong. BLP provides sufficient deletion grounds in-and-of itself. Marskell 14:04, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Is the second one wrong? It seems like (in principle) the argument for speedy-ing BLP problems is Speedy Deletion criterion G10. WilyD 14:12, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
The second implies that BLP is somehow subordinate to CSD and is not a self-sufficient policy. It is. G10 coincides with the purpose of BLP but you don't have to rely on G10 to delete—you can rely on BLP itself, which provides sufficient grounds and instruction on when to do so. Marskell 14:18, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Marksell is right: BLP policy is sufficient to delete. SlimVirgin was also right: the addition by Black Falcon is an unnecessary qualification that comes across as an attempt to introduce a potential loophole. Such additions to this policy should be prevented without establishing a consensus to do so. Black Falcon's addition to the policy ought to be removed as soon as possible. FNMF 15:51, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
BLP policy is not sufficient enough to delete sourced material that is not negative in tone, or articles that are sourced and neutral. --badlydrawnjeff talk 15:52, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Allowing speedy deletion of a BLP simply because it contains content that is "unsourced and controversial" (rather than negative) creates the rather ridiculous situation whereby the article Elvis Presley can be deleted for stating (hypothetically) that "Elvis Presley was a famous American singer." The sentence is controversial as "famous" is a POV word. So, which should this guideline recommend ... removing the controversial content or deleting the Elvis Presley article. I have no particular attachment to the version I re-introduced. However, I would like those oppose that wording to provide an alternate wording that avoids such potentially ridiculous situations. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 17:11, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
On the second point, I agree with Marksell's removal of Nardman1's added text. If nothing else, it was quite ambiguous. Although I realise that its intent was to advise against speedy deletions based on BLP, the wording that "the BLP policy is not itself a reason to delete an article" seems to imply that WP:BLP should not even be used as an argument in deletion debates. So that we may focus the discussion, could someone please present an example (real or hypothetical) of an article that they feel would need to be speedy-deleted per BLP and that is (1) not already covered by one of the other speedy deletion criteria, and (2) that should not be handled via {{prod}} or AfD. Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 17:23, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Ridiculous is right. The example is ridiculous. Why? Because it would never happen, and because, if anybody tried it, the deletion would be rapidly undone. Anybody who deletes the Elvis entry on the grounds that the word famous is POV and that this is controversial, and that because it is controversial the entry must be deleted, will soon be informed that their comprehension of policy is sadly lacking. There is no need to pretend that we must be protected from ridiculous hypothetical situations: we are not talking about undoing a death penalty, we are talking about policy enforced by a community. Incorrect applications of policy can always be undone. The question is: is there a reason or a necessity to add the qualification, and the answer is no. The only effect of such an addition is to add a potential loophole to BLP policy. The policy is fine without it. FNMF 17:30, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I admit that the example is rather extreme, but the point is still relevant. While it may be absolute policy-wonkery to delete Elvis Presley based on the "unsourced and controversial" wording, that action would be protected by the letter of the policy. "Incorrect applications of policy can always be undone," but they are harder to identify and more likely to occur when policy is vague or inappropriately broad. The argument that people will use common sense should only be taken so far, considering that Wikipedia has tens of thousands of editors of different ages, from different backgrounds, and of different moral, political, social, and philosophical views. The articles covered by what you term my proposed "loophole" are precisely those whose on-sight deletion is not supported by community consensus. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 18:01, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
When there is a big problem with the deletion of BLP entries that should be retained, then we can look at changing policy. I do not believe there is such a problem, and I don't believe it is necessary to change policy to cope with invented problems. All the addition does is give fuel to those who oppose deletion: they will simply claim that the information wasn't "negative." That's the loophole. There is no good reason to give them this fuel, because there is no problem that needs solving with this remedy, whereas there is a problem with people opposing deletions on any grounds they can come up with. FNMF 18:10, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I would rather think that going with "controversial" is a change in policy, in that it does not follow from CSD.G10 and is a wording that has not attained consensus support. "Negative", on the other hand, has. Regarding your second point, it would seem to me that "negative" is a more precise term than "controversial". I doubt anyone would argue that "XY is a rapist" does not reflect negatively on XY.
Regarding your final point, let me assure you that my goal is not to give fuel to inclusionists. I haven't been an inclusionist ever since I started trying to fix articles with {{notability}}, {{advert}}, and {{unreferenced}} cleanup tags a few months ago. :) Then again, my goal is not to give fuel to deletionists. My goal is, quite simply, to arrive at a wording that is not overly ambiguous, that most people can accept, and that minimises the potential for unproductive and often damaging controversy. I am referring to a series of recent incidents involving multiple AfD debates, DRV discussions, at least one RfC, and two requested ArbCom cases. My personal views on those incidents are not relevant in this case, but their occurence does prove that speedy-deletion of BLPs that do not meet the existing criteria and where such deletion may be contested can and has led to significant problems.
Finally, I have yet to see an advantage to making on-sight deletions that one knows to be controversial. Why not simply make the article BLP-compliant (even if that involves deleting most of the text) and, if necessary, {{prod}} it? If the goal is to save time, speedy-deletion of BLPs that do not meet the existing speedy deletion criteria is counter-productive to that goal. Such deletions often take up more time and discussion than if one had simply {{prod}}ded the article. Since deletion in those cases is out-of-process, someone might take the article DRV, where it could be overturned and relisted at AfD, someone might start a RfC case, there'll be accusations of admin abuse and of process-wonkery, and so forth. Is our goal to assert some sort of philosophical principle or just to fix or get rid of BLP non-compliant content in the most efficient and least problematic way possible? -- Black Falcon (Talk) 18:43, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I feel you have failed to grasp my point (no doubt my fault). But you have not convinced me of the necessity of this addition. I also continue to believe it constitutes a loophole likely to cause problems. FNMF 19:36, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I've understood from your comments that you believe that content non-compliance with WP:BLP should be a speedy deletion criterion because BLPs should be held to a higher standard than other articles. I firmly believe in the latter part of the sentence, but do not agree that the former (speedy deletion) follows from it. In essence, I have not seen a convincing reason that the presence of "controversial" (itself a vague and 'controversial' adjective) content in article should justify the speedy deletion of the entire article, even when removal of the content is an easy alternative to outright deletion. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 23:28, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
My point was rather that the addition is unnecessary and more likely to cause problems than solve them, and thus that SlimVirgin was correct to delete the sentence. FNMF 01:15, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

{{uw-biog}} series

Since the page is protected, I don't want to be too bold, for once :). There are shiny warnings templates done by the WP:UW project that might be better than the old {{Blp0}} series mentionned here: {{uw-biog1}} (good faith), {{uw-biog2}} (neutral), {{uw-biog3}} (firm warning), {{uw-biog4}} (final warning). Does anyone disagree with this change in the page? -- lucasbfr talk 20:42, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

I don't disagree. To account for the possibility that the old warning templates are still occasionally used, we could subst all transclusions and then redirect each to one of the new templates. For instance, {{Blp0}} corresponds to {{uw-biog2}}, {{Blp1}} corresponds to {{uw-biog3}}, and so on. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 23:35, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Does anyone know why new templates are being created that involve more typing, such as the above, and changing sprotect2 to whatever it is now? The longer they are, the harder to remember. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:51, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not a member of WikiProject user warnings and don't know for certain, but I'd guess that it's to standardise all warning templates with the "uw-" prefix and per the 4-level scheme here. In this specific case, I think it is also to introduce {{uw-biog1}}, which (unlike subsequent levels) explicitly assumes good intentions. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 03:10, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

When to have a separate bio, when to add material to an article about an incident

Regarding when to have a separate bio, people were disagreeing about the addition of the sentence:

Criteria used to make such decisions should include whether ordinary people are likely to recognize the person's name independently of the incident.

Some editors argued that there are lots of names ordinary people won't recognize, so could we add that the criterion is whether people who are knowledgeable in a relevant field would tend to recognize the subject by name or only by description? That is, would people who know about Olympic swimmers be likely to know the name of the swimmer John Smith, or would they only recognize the description of him as "the guy who just missed silver in the 1974 silver-medal scandal"? If the former, have a bio; if only the latter, then confine material about that person to the scandal article.

The important point is that we shouldn't make someone more notable than they are already. We should be reporting notability established elsewhere, not establishing it ourselves. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:49, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I unequivocally oppose the addition of that sentence. It essentially endorses WP:IDONTKNOWIT arguments. 50% of Americans don't know the name of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Should we merge John Roberts into Supreme Court of the United States? I'd bet that 99+% of North Americans and Europeans (who comprise the majority of WP's editors) have no idea who is the current president of Zambia. Should we merge Levy Mwanawasa into President of Zambia? I'm quite sure that only a handful of the 4300 very active editors on Wikipedia know (without looking it up) the name of the member of the United States House of Representatives representing Ohio's Sixth District from 1981 to 1993 ... that is currently a featured article.
We don't (and, of course, shouldn't) make people more notable than they are ... we write articles with information that is publicly available. Since information in Wikipedia has real-world consequences, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that our biographies on living persons are accurate and do not overemphasise information that reflects negatively on their subjects. But we should not base any decision about what do with a biographical articles on whether we've heard about the person. Inclusion in Wikipedia should not be a popularity contest where the top 5 contestants on American Idol are included because millions of people know them, but the head of government of Bhutan is not because we have few Bhutan-specialists in our ranks.
Any criterion that is based in arguments of the type, "I wouldn't know him from a hole in the ground", is not viable. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 03:32, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

The wording is problematic because people reading it are reaching different conclutions about what it means. The wording needs to be discussed here and a better alternative found. I have no suggestion at this time for such a better wording. WAS 4.250 04:58, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with your reasoning, SV, but not the wording. However should this be here, surely that is a Notability guideline, rather than part of BLP policy? BLP should be short and firm about what it is supposed to achieve - and given the recent applications of it - and arguments over those applications, do we really need to muddy the waters further? ViridaeTalk 23:25, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm leaning towards simply striking the word "ordinary", and I'm also with Viridae as to whether this is more of a general biographical notability guideline-- though we may want to emphasize it here anyway. Mangoe 02:00, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Mangoe, I agree with you that we may want to somehow emphasize some version of the point here, but I don't see that merely striking "ordinary" would resolve the issue. "Whether people are likely to recognise" immediately brings up the question of "what people"? Who? How can we know whether "people" are likely to recognise the subject of a BLP other than by presenting concrete proof that they have indeed recognised him or her? Thus, we go back to WP:BIO's requirement for reliable secondary sources. In essence, I agree with SV's idea too ... but I feel that it is sufficiently covered by the notability guidelines. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 02:53, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
How about this then:
Criteria used to make such decisions should include whether people unfamiliar with the incident are likely to recognize the person's name.
Is that better? Mangoe 17:39, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
It is an improvement, but it still requires essentially unfalsifiable speculation about whether "people" are "likely to" recognise the name. Again, I support the goal that the statement wishes to advance, but believe it is lacking in its methods. To that end, I view the concrete criterion of "Has a person been written about in reliable sources? If so, prove it by citing those sources." to be better in this respect. Also, to continue one of my examples from above, most people will not recognise the name of the President of Zambia; if they are unfamiliar with the context (i.e., the government of Zambia), then they will almost surely not recognise his name. I think the article's current wording, as backed up by WP:BIO, is sufficient. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 17:54, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's as speculative as that. We could spell it out: Criteria used to make such decisions should include whether there is notable documentation on the person outside sources about the incident. Mangoe 21:20, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
I find that a much better and more rigorous criterion ... however, instead of "notable" did you mean "reliable"? Sources themselves need not be notable. Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 23:05, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
No, actually I chose "notable" for a reason: to forestall the padding of underweight BLPs with trivia and intrusive personal detail. Mangoe 03:14, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Ah, I see now ... you're addressing the point of "relevance" present throughout the BLP policy. I agree with the idea but worry that "notable" might be confused with our notability guidelines. The information should be notable in the context of the subject's life, but the source of the information itself need not be notable per Wikipedia:Notability. How about:

Criteria used to make such decisions should include whether there is reliable and noteworthy information on the person outside of his or her involvement in the incident.

I think it expresses essentially the same idea, with a few changes. First, it uses "noteworthy" instead of "notable", which I think reduces the likelihood of confusion with our notability guidelines. Second, it re-emphasises the requirement of reliable sourcing. Third, it shifts the focus toward the information contained within a source rather than the identity and nature of the source. Does that seem OK? Cheers, Black Falcon (Talk) 18:44, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Anonymouse's criterion

Anonymouse entered this criterion:

Criteria used to make such decisions should include whether ordinary people are likely to recognize the person's name independently of the incident.

This may need some work, but I think omitting it altogether is a mistake. It is an expression of Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Undue_weight (WP:WEIGHT) ans was exemplified most notably in the recently endorsed removal of the piece on Crystal Gail Mangum. That piece was redundant with material in the lacrosse scandal article except insofar as it delved in an unencyclopedic manner into her past life, apparently using much the defense or some other party had dug up and fed to the newspapers. From a simple matter of reducing the potential for mischief, the criterion Anonemouse raises is a very good one.--Tony Sidaway 22:48, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

But there are many, many, notable people who the average person would not recognize at all, in relation to an event or not. Case in point: Brian Greene. Pretty prominent string theory physicist, but you probably haven't heard of him unless you have some interest in the field. There is an issue like you say there is, but not a BLP issue. -Amarkov moo! 22:54, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
First, CGM was never actually endorsed, it was overturned. Second, it's too broad in theory (Anon was DEAD ON with his example), and it's too broad in practice (WP:OSTRICH all over again?) Way too subjective for any sort of a policy. --badlydrawnjeff talk 23:00, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure this is an idea actually being used in discussions. For instance, would anyone recognise Monica Lewinsky independently of her incident? It seems more to be about how the person deals with their publicity: whether they encourage it, or try to make money from it, or whether they are written about involuntarily. (If I'm misunderstanding the meaning of this, apologies.) Trebor 23:04, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
Any version of that needs desperately to be reworked. Johnny Nobody probably doesn't know who Roger Penrose or Alain Aspect are - but these guys (for instance) are highly notable (and encyclopaedic) people. The point the sentence is trying to address is a reasonable one, but it misses it completely. WilyD 23:13, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
The text of anonemouse's addition says "Criteria used to make such decisions should include". I dare say that other criteria apply particularly in the case of Ms Lewinsky. She was not just any woman, but a White House intern. She courted publicity, and so on. So yes you should take into account the fact that she's only famous for one thing, but no it isn't always definitive. And in the case of prominent string theorists you cover them because they're prominent string theorists and that's enough.
Is this criterion being used in discussions? It ought to be, because expressed in another way it's there in the Neutral point of view policy. It won the argument in the Mangum case. The Mangum article died because it was a fork that presented facts out of context, an attack piece in the form of a biographical article. It wasn't endorsed, you say? If that were the case it would still be with us. --Tony Sidaway 23:16, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
So why must it be expressed in a different way here? More importantly, why is it necessary to make it part of BLP, the one policy which can be enforced with no regard for edit warring? -Amarkov moo! 23:19, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
WAS 4.250 when he started this policy was clear that it was just an elaboration, for emphasis and detail and sensitivity, of existing policies. I don't think that's changed at all.
The Neutral point of view policy is a foundation issue so I don't see a problem with stating the obvious: that enforcing it especially in the case of biographies of living persons takes primacy before all other policies. -Tony Sidaway 23:49, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
"Sensitivity", "in marginal cases do no harm", and "respect privacy rights" are all new and original to BLP in terms of spelling them out and not mere elaboration or hard-ass application of prior policy. NPOV tops them in a sense. But privacy rights and defamation are legal concerns (thus financial concerns) that top even NPOV. The priorities are first don't get sued over something stupid as we don't have funds (ask: "will people donate money to pay for lawyers if we get sued for X"); second we are a neutral free encyclopedia (that trumps "being nice"); third the point of being a neutral free encyclopedia is to make the world better so be sensitive and in marginal cases do no harm (to the extent it does not diminish us as an encyclopedia). WAS 4.250 08:22, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I would argue that being sensitive when editing BLP entries enhances rather than diminishes Wikipedia as an encyclopaedia (I know this isn't what WAS was saying). FNMF 10:02, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
If the "should include" was changed to a "may include" (to allow for exceptions like the Nobel prize winners, etc.), then I'd be alright with it. I still don't think it's crucial, but it's a reasonable addition. Trebor 09:04, 30 May 2007 (UTC)


  1. that's not my user name
  2. that's not my criterion, in fact I'm rather against it, for all the reasons stated above and then some
  3. and I didn't enter this line, I removed it.

But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:24, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Flattered as I am to have this section named after me, misspelled, and in direct contradiction of my actual aim, I'm going to move this down as a subsection of another section apparently discussing the same thing. Ah, yes, my fame was fleeting. No, no, don't tell me I'm too modest ... --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:52, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Negative v contentious

My memory is that this was agreed months ago, but BlackFalcon has reverted me [15] (and I may be misremembering):

The choices are (emphasis added)"

  • "Administrators encountering biographies that are unsourced and contentious in tone, where there is no NPOV version to revert to, should delete the article without discussion ..."
  • "Administrators encountering biographies that are unsourced and negative in tone, where there is no NPOV version to revert to, should delete the article without discussion ..."

My recollection is that we decided to refer to unsourced contentious material throughout this policy, rather than negative, because to comply with NPOV, it's not only negative unsourced material we're looking out for, but overly positive material too, if it lacks a source. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:19, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material — whether negative, positive, or just highly questionable — about living persons should be removed immediately and without discussion from Wikipedia articles,[2] talk pages, user pages, and project space.

That's right out of the intro, and I think is the whole point. WilyD 19:01, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, I agree that contentious information in BLPs should be deleted on-sight ... as WilyD notes, that's the whole point of the BLP policy. However, I do not think it follows that admins should speedy-delete articles that contain even a bit of "contentious" unsourced information when they can simply delete the contentious parts of the article. The difference here is between removing content and deleting articles. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 19:30, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, articles should only be speedied when removing all the contentious information leaves no article at all .. I'm not sure if that's what's being done generally. Even User:Jimbo used to use WP:OFFICE to reduce articles so that a contentious article on Johnny Nobody would be reduced to

Johnny Nobody is a person.

and then protect it, rather than deleting them outright. Certainly CSD G10 can be used in some cases to justify a speedy - otherwise I don't know. If BLP provides a speedy deletion criterion beyond G10, it should probably be made clear and added to the WP:CSD. WilyD 19:44, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with your point, BF, about not deleting a whole article just because of some contentious information, but where the overall tone is contentious and it is unsourced or poorly sourced, then it should be deleted. Not just an overall negative tone, but an overall contentious one, along the lines of "SlimVirgin is gorgeous, has an astonishingly high IQ, and is about to sign up with a major Hollywood film company. Source: Slim's website." Not negative, but we need to get rid of it. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:47, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Let's consider something a little more plausible ;)
Oi! ;-) SlimVirgin (talk) 22:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

SlimVirgin is a computer technician at Wikipedia Institute. She is gorgeous, has an astonishingly high IQ, and is about to sign up with a major Hollywood film company.

Yes okay, so long as the key points remain. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 22:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the above hypothetical article needs to be deleted, but why does that content justify a speedy deletion per BLP? Why not just {{prod}} it? Or, why not remove the contentious content by deleting everything but the first sentence and then either prodding the article or speedying it per A7? My point is that before speedy-deleting a BLP for being contentious in tone (but not negative), one should try to see if the article can be made un-controversial (or at least give a proposed deletion patroller the opportunity to do so). -- Black Falcon (Talk) 22:19, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Does it matter what policy it's deleted under (prod, BLP)? The point is that it needs to disappear. Yes, it's true that it needs to disappear particularly fast if negative, but I remember there were objections when this policy began, because we emphasized that we were focusing on negative material, and people turned up to object on the grounds that NPOV must remain the king, and that therefore we had to say we were focusing on contentious unsourced material, positive or negative. That's why the rest of the policy is worded as it is, and I think this sentence needs to be consistent with the rest of it. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
It matters if it's creating a hostile editing environment, which (I think) the evidence suggests in some cases it is. WilyD 22:32, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Wily took the words right out my mouth. Believe me when I say that I am not a fan of process for its own sake. I like IAR, have used it before, and will use it in the future. However, one of my criteria for invoking IAR is whether the benefit to be gained from invoking IAR outweighs the harm. I do not think that the benefit of not having to wait an extra 5 days (after, of course, removing the contentious material) outweights the harm of fostering mistrust, time-consuming controversy, and tension. As for your last point ... the rest of the policy is primarily about the inclusion or removal of content within articles, rather than the retention or deletion of articles themselves. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 22:59, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Problems with BLP as it is

  • It is not stated anywhere whether the BLP policy applied to dead people, and this has caused confusion.
  • The authority that BLP gives to administrators to delete articles is not clear.
  • The policy states that articles that are not written "responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone" can be deleted, but articles have been deleted that are acceptable under these terms.
  • The importance of the word "and" appears to be ignored in "unsourced and negative in tone" with appropriately-sourced articles having been deleted.

In my opinion the BLP policy needs changing to deal with the above problems. I see no end to the disputes if it is not updated to reflect recent controversies. Deletions based on one administrator's interpretation of a policy should be done with caution and openness. At the very least I feel that a placeholder article should be created after the article is deleted, giving a reason for its removal similar to {{copyvio}}. violet/riga (t) 18:20, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

  • It doesn't apply to dead people; that would an odd thing to emphasize given the title of the policy.
  • It's left to the discretion of the admin if there are BLP violations for the reasons listed in the policy.
  • Do you have an example of the third? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:51, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
  • It should be unsourced and contentious, not negative. Again, do you have an example? SlimVirgin (talk) 18:51, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
I thought the same about the first one (dead people), but others clearly see it differently. The articles I have in mind for all of this are the ones being scrutinised by the Badlydrawnjeff arbitration. violet/riga (t) 18:55, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I'll take a look. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:49, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
  • The real problem, I think, it that everything is very, very unclear. Both what is supposed to be happening and what is actually happening are uncertain and disputed. People want clarity and transparency. Confusion is only creating conflict, and many people believe they know what's going on - but they have conflicting ideas. This policy needs to be made much clearer - but I'm not sure anything needs to be done differently. Mainly because it's hard to tell what's actually going on. WilyD 18:57, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
  • It also doesn't help that people are asserting things are here that aren't. That does need to be dealt with. --badlydrawnjeff talk 19:46, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
  • What's going on is quite simple. We've been irresponsible in the BLP area, so we're trying to improve. We want to get rid of BLPs that seem designed to trash people, to exact revenge, to draw attention to someone who's otherwise not notable, and that rely on poor sources or none. The way different admins go about this differs. Some feel very strongly about it and will be hard-hitting. Others won't be. It's the same with all policies: how they are applied differs. That doesn't affect the value of the policy itself. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:53, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, generally, no we haven't, no we don't, no we're not, and no we shouldn't. --badlydrawnjeff talk 02:49, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Presumption in favor of privacy (reordered)

I've reordered this for emphasis and also renamed the sections. The terms "public figure" and "private figure" are legal terms in some jurisdictions and thus we're often seeing arguments over whether a person is a public or private figure in some legalistic sense. What really matters of course is the quantity of reliably sourced material available to write articles from.

It now reads as follows:

Biographies of living people must be written conservatively and with due regard to the subject's privacy.
In case of doubt, the rule of thumb should be "do no harm". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid. It is not our job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives. When writing about a person who is only notable for one or two events, including every detail, no matter how well-sourced, can lead to problems. In the best case, this can simply lead to an unencyclopedic article. In the worst case, this can be a serious violation of our policies on neutrality. When in doubt, biographies should be pared back to a version that is completely sourced, neutral, and on-topic.

Real people are involved, and they can be hurt by your words. We are not tabloid journalism, we are an encyclopedia.

— Jimbo Wales [1]

Well known public figures
In the case of significant public figures, there will be a multitude of reliable, third-party published sources to take material from, and Wikipedia biographies should simply document what these sources say. If an allegation or incident is notable, relevant, and well-documented by reliable published sources, it belongs in the article — even if it's negative and the subject dislikes all mention of it. If it is not documented by reliable third-party sources, leave it out.
Example: "John Doe had a messy divorce from Jane Doe." Is it important to the article, and has it been published by third-party reliable sources? If not, leave it out.
Example: A politician is alleged to have had an affair. He denies it, but the New York Times publishes the allegations, and there is a public scandal. The allegation may belong in the biography, citing the New York Times as the source.
Material from primary sources should be used with great care. For example, public records that include personal details such as date of birth, home value, traffic citations, vehicle registrations, and home or business addresses, as well as trial transcripts and other court records, should not be used unless cited by a reliable secondary source. Where primary-source material has first been presented by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to turn to open records to augment the secondary source, subject to the no original research policy. See also Wikipedia:Verifiability.
People who are relatively unknown
Wikipedia also contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, editors should exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability. Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source. Primary source material from the subject himself may be used with caution. (See Using the subject as a source).'

--Tony Sidaway 20:06, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

I am reather neutral about the reordering, but I have a problem with the new subheadings. Though "public figure" and "private figure" may be used by some in a legalistic sense, "well known" and "relatively unknown" are completely subjective. In addition, well known or unknown to whom? The winner of American Idol is known to millions of Americans, but none of them (including myself) know the mayor of Tokyo. Yet he is probably known by millions of people as well. However, since there are more Americans than Japanese in en.wikipedia, I feel that this will inevitably lead to systematic bias. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 22:27, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
In this case there is an objective measure: the quantity of reliable information available at the time the article is written. It may well be that we consider the Mayor of Tokyo to be more worthy, but in real terms we probably have little reliable information about him. Maybe a few speeches, an international fact-finding tour or two, a few visits to encourage international cooperation and trade, and so on. He isn't a private individual by any means, but we may not have enough reliable information to write a full biography. So "relatively unknown" applies better here, especially when you stack him up against George Clooney. --Tony Sidaway 22:37, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
My point is not whether the mayor of Tokyo is more or less worthy (that's a value judgment which I'm deliberately avoiding). My point is: by what standard do we decide whether a person is "well known" or "relatively unknown"? If that standard is the quantity of available information, then the guideline becomes unnecessarily redundant. If information about a person is limited, then we can't write much about him or her by default. We don't need the policy to tell us that, especially in the vague terms of "well known" and "relatively unknown". Compared to George Clooney, almost everyone is "relatively unknown".
There's no reason we should be more considerate of the privacy of Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, than that of Jordin Sparks. To be honest, I think I prefer the legalistic distinction between "public" and "private" persons. The amount of information available on a person tells us how much we can write. Whether the person has or has not chosen to live in the spotlight can inform our decision of how much we should write. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 18:56, 2 June 2007 (UTC)


I'd like to propose a change to the name of this policy page. I've been considering different names and feel that the best one I can suggest is Wikipedia:Biographical content. My reasoning is such:

  1. The current name implies it only relates to biography articles when it applies to all our content, including non-biography articles, talk pages, Wikipedia pages, etc..
  2. After consideration I feel that the policy must apply (at the very least) to the recently deceased, and the current name does not allow for that.

The second point here may still be under discussion but the title would still be an improvement considering point #1. violet/riga (t) 20:25, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

The "living" part is important. Applying it to the recently deceased is controversial, and not necessarily settled. One of the main reasons for this policy is "do no harm", and frequent arguments include that having an article about someone will affect them in job interviews -- obviously, other than in a metaphysical sense, the dead, even the recent dead can't be harmed, and they usually don't apply for jobs (other than occasionally winning senatorial elections). They can, of course, still vote in Chicago. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 21:18, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
As explained that can be discussed separately and the title would still be an improvement based on #1. violet/riga (t) 21:28, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
No. Removing the "living" part makes a big difference. If you want to discuss that separately, add "living" back in. Heck, even SlimVirgin, one of the die hard "delete-em-all-and-let-Jimbo-sort-em-out" folks thinks that having "living" in the title is important. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 21:31, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
No, that's a contentious area that needs discussing. Not having the word "living" in the title does not automatically mean that it applies to the non-living. The policy itself would explain the situation as it stands (ie. right now it would carry on talking about living persons). violet/riga (t) 21:34, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Sending deleted BLP content to the subject?

I'd like to request clarification on something. The recent kerfuffle on AN/I regarding Night Gyr (talk · contribs · blocks · protections · deletions · page moves · rights · RfA) offering to send a copy of an article to the subject of the article has raised an interesting point: Do we send them the text on request? If Joseph T. Blow hears that an article did at one point exist on Wikipedia about him but was deleted under BLP and would like to have a copy, could he have it? Since he's the subject of the article, there wouldn't be an privacy violations under BLP, so if we had a policy of not allowing this, it would probably need to be categorized under a different heading. - CHAIRBOY () 21:10, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

I suggest that there are at least three different issues here, none of which are straightforward. As a general rule, do we want Wikipedia users contacting the subjects of articles? Is there any way to make sure that this is always understood to be them acting as private individuals, especially when it is a "Wikipedia administrator" doing so? While there may be cases in which contact is appropriate, I suggest that someone who has been the subject of unwanted internet attention is probably not one of them. Another question is whether or not administrators' ability to review deleted content should be taken as a license to redistribute that content. It muddies the waters on who exactly is publishing this content. This is of special significance in the case of potential libel. If it is the case that we can or should expect administrators to use their ability to read deleted content in order to distribute it, we are going to need to apply oversight a lot more liberally. Lastly, administrators have not historically been chosen by the community for their ability to act as ambassadors nor to make judgement calls about whose writing gets emailed to who. If this is a new role that adminsitrators are taking upon themselves, the community may reasonably expect to want to reconsider who it gives adminship to. Frankly, I hope that the situation that prompted the question is so unusual that we don't really need to explore these issues, and, as a practical matter, it is probably best to de-sysop administrators who are showing poor judgement by distributing or republishing deleted content than it is to rework our entire approach to deletion and the role of adminship. Jkelly 21:46, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
Also, if the deleted content was defamatory, do we want to supply the evidence to the subject? That should be a decision for the lawyers or courts, not for individual admins. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:50, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
In this particular case, I believe (not having seen the article in question, as I'm not an administrator and it doesn't seem to be in the Google cache) that the content was not defamatory, but was largely sourced to a front-page Washington Post article. I do believe, that individual admins (or individual editors) should generally not be contacting people as representatives of Wikipedia - that's what OTRS is for. The question of whether the subject of a BLP should have input on whether it is kept or deleted is, of course, an interesting issue that has been under discussion previously, although not in quite this context. JavaTenor 22:39, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

The starting point for this issue was Wikipedia:Deletion review#Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. I summarily deleted these two articles because they publicized sexual assaults upon living minors and I was concerned about the minors' privacy and well-being (see longer explanation at the top of the DRV). The deletion of the article on Ben was generally supported. The deletion of the article on Shawn was more controversial, in part because the Hornbeck family now appears to have affirmatively elected to become spokespersons on behalf of missing children and have established a website and a charitable foundation to that effect. These facts led me and some other editors to reconsider whether deletion in deference to privacy issues was appropriate in this instance. In that context, Night Gyr suggested that the best thing to do was to reach out to the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation and ask if the family had a view. I stated at the time that this seemed like a reasonable step to take. For a number of reasons that have been discussed today on ANI, that situation was very different from the one in which Night Gyr is involved today, in which any perceived need to reach out to the subject of the article was materially less. Having given the issue further thought, I conclude that any efforts to reach out to subjects (i) should not take place unilaterally, but only after a consensus that there is a reason to do so, and (ii) should be coordinated through an experienced OTRS volunteer or equivalent. Newyorkbrad 22:58, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

It is a GFDL violation to distribute the content without also distributing the author's name it was copyrighted (contributed) under. In the case of a deleted article, the history is not available on-line so the history would have to be sent with the article to avoid breaking copyright laws and avoid misusing our contributor's trust. A link to the GFDL should be sent, but technically a copy of the GFDL is supposed to be included with all GFDL copyrightd material, I believe. WAS 4.250 00:34, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

  • If an article subject contacts us and specifically asks for something, for a good reason (i.e. not "I want to sue X"), then we should of course consider sending it, but contacting people who are the subject of problematic articles is really not a good idea. It can blow up in our faces in so many ways - one carelessly worded email and we're in deep shit. Plus there's the GFDL issue, and the decision as to which problematic former version we're supposed to send. This kind of communication belongs in the OTRS system and other back-channels, if we're gogin to start allowing admins to do this kind of thing we'll have to weigh every potential admin against OTRS criteria (which includes age and personal identifiability) and probably something more stringent. Ever wondered why foundation want people who deal with article subjects to be known to them and known to be above the age of legal responsibility? There is also, as Brad suggests above, a material difference between contacting a corporate or charitable body, and contacting an individual. This is apparent in the OTRS queues; responses form individuals are different in character from responses from corporate entities, and usually the responses from individuals are enormously more emotional, for obvious reasons. Guy (Help!) 07:16, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Surely, the decision to send or not send should be left to WP:OFFICE. "Do not repost or send deleted material under any circumstances" ought to be the hardest rule admins have. Marskell 08:34, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Does that mean Userfying is now banned? Or any of the other numerous cases in which an admin might supply deleted text to a user to use it to help write a better article, for example Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 14:42, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Userfying involves undeleting an article, moving it to userspace and deleting the mainspace redirect, not simply emailing the text. And userfying is only done in certain circumstances, depending on the deletion reason; if the content was a copyvio, for example, it should not be userfied. --bainer (talk) 02:25, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Fairness in Openness

It seems (to me) to be very clear that the lack of clarity on what's going on is a big source of the ... heated debate on BLP issues and deletion. It has been suggested by some that BLP may provide a speedy deletion criterion apart from G10. If this is true it should be added (in some form) to the WP:CSD. I believe that a lot of the conflict is arising because it seems like things are happening secretly and out of process - if what was going on was open and clear it would alleviate a lot of these hurt feelings and lessen a lot of the conflicts. Now, before I cause a kerfuffle, by open I don't mean that things need to be announced or displayed or what have you. I only mean treated the same as any other speedy deletion candidate with respect to deletion. Undeletion of alledged BLP problems does need to be handled through a more sensitive forum than DRV, I suspect. WilyD 22:59, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

My view on the matter

All of this fracas over WP:BLP seems to be reaching some kind of critical mass in the last week. I've seen disruptive AfD nominations, vast tracts of borderline incivil discussion, and now desysopping over this material. We, as a community, need to come together write some standards here - this kind of endless teeth gnashing by both sides is a terrific waste of time.

Arguments on both sides run all over the place, with people's morals getting tied up in many of them. Personally, I've never really seen the problem. As far as I can tell, all the needs to happen here is to draw the line between whether a person is notable as a person, or notable as part of an event. If they are notable because of the former, then they should have an article about them. If they are only notable because of an event, then they should be merged into the article about the event, and the personal information about them seriously pared down. I think this standard should apply even to people who are dead. A sensible and reasonable discussion about where to draw the line between these two forms of notoriety should be more than enough to draw the line here.

Whether or not the persons "wants" this notoriety, of either kind, or seeks it is immaterial. We should not be making moralistic judgment calls about the possible "damage" to their lives, or seeking to empathize with how they might feel about being written about. Their notoriety, as a person, draws out of their personal reaction the the events in question - do they withdraw, and shun the media spotlight (as Alison Stokke did), or do they step out and become public figures and advocates in their own right (as Elizabeth Smart (abductee)) did. I think we, as an encyclopedia, have a duty to catalog notable events (bearing in mind the blight of recentism), but we must temper this with a respect for private citizens. Events may well be notable - but the subjects of those events may not be. I think a good "litmus test" for whether or not a member of an event should possess it's own page is if we remove the initial event from their page, is there an encyclopedic article remaining. Note, however, that this should not apply to people where the event is not a negative, or damaging one, nor should it apply people involved in crimes as a perpetrator. Your thoughts? --Haemo 23:01, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

When not to revert content deletion without consensus

I believe that "when not to revert content deletion without consensus" is best characterized as when it is cluefully claimed as potentially illegal due to Florida/US law on copyright, privacy rights, or libel. Specifically,

  • the issue is content deletion and not article deletion
  • the criteria for reverting in extraordinary cases should be consensus rather than arbcom or some other criteria
  • "extraordinary case" should be include these considerations:
    • cluefully:a trusted editor or cluefully expressed reason
    • claimed: they must claim it but need not prove it
    • potentially: we are not lawyers
    • illegal:nothing less requires this
    • Florida/US law: we don't and can't go by every nation's laws
    • specify the laws as we are not lawyers
      • people keep leaving out privacy rights which are a key reason to not have a bio on semi-notable people. WAS 4.250 00:38, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

thoughts on an article

Someone take a look at Tori Anthony and tell me if they see any problems. No specific issues, so I'm not taking this to blpn, but it's relevant to recent events. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 17:53, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

  • The burnt out line should be referenced, but the exact phrase comes from the SFgate article. It'd be nice if everything was directly referenced. Ideally, I'd like to see every BLP look like : Scott Tremaine. Inline citations are better, so we can see where everything comes from, you know? WilyD 18:43, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, I just find inline cites annoying for short articles where most of the facts are supported by all the references. I'm going to make a couple inline, but people need to realize that non-inline references are fine for widely reported uncontroversial facts. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 18:46, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Articles about living people notable only for one event

I have edited a paragraph of this section as follows:

If the reliable sources only cover the person in the context of something else, then a separate biography is nearly always unwarranted. Court cases, crimes, and natural disasters, for examples, should be presented as unified articles that involve all sides, based on reliable secondary sources, and not primary-source material interpreted only by Wikipedia editors. Marginal biographies on people with no independent notability can give undue weight to the events in the context of the individual, and create redundancy and additional maintenance overhead. There is also the danger of the singleton article presenting a one-sided account through undue concentration of the role of the individual, which causes problems for our neutral point of view policy. In such cases, a redirect is nearly always the best option.

The long sentence which I have bolded in the above reproduction (but not on the policy page) is introduced justification. The Crystal Gail Mangu article was a prime example of this, being substantially the same material as that in the lacrosse scandal article, with added dirt from her background dredged up by the defense team. The bolded terms nearly always (not bolded in the policy) formerly said "probably". I think NPOV demands something a bit stronger than that. At the moment we've got lots of these coat rack articles and they do need to be sorted out properly. The excellent work carried out the other day by Thebainer, Jimmy Wales and others on the mess of the Anna Halman article provides a template for the future. --Tony Sidaway 14:02, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

"Ah", but you might say, "what about Lee Harvey Oswald?" Well, biographies of Oswald have been written. In particular, Gerald Posner's excellent "Case Closed" contains substantial biographical information about Oswald, covering his childhood, his upbringing, his time in the Marines and his defection to the Soviet Union and subsequent redefection to the USA, and attempting to unravel the complex strands of claim and counter-claim about what happened after that.
And Monica Lewinsky? Well, there is a small paragraph about Lewinsky herself, but the article is substantially about Monicagate. So yes, this article might well be a good candidate for a rename or (if an article already exists on that subject) some kind of merge. I note that the sourced cited for that article seem to be substantially accounts of Monicagate. --Tony Sidaway 14:19, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
The text of that section as it is now, though, just says "If the reliable sources only cover the person in the context of something else, then a separate biography is very likely to be unwarranted." That would still seem to bar Oswald; it doesn't seem like it would be possible to write a biography of him that does not cover him in the context of the Kennedy assassination. And Monica Lewinsky has had biographies published, as well as books of her own... if those are not enough to write an encyclopedic article about her, then we don't have enough to write an encyclopedic article about anyone. There are many people who are covered only "in the context of someone else" that we nonetheless need an article on... the wording of that sentence in particular needs touching up. What does "something else" mean? A great many people who are in the encyclopedia are only here for one thing, whether it's one great accomplishment, one role or office held, one inhereted title, and so forth... clearly, a gold-medal Olympic athlete who is only covered in the context of their athletic achevements requires an article. --Aquillion 17:05, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
I have further edited the section (see diff), though I consider my changes mostly cosmetic. Aside from Oswald, Lewinsky, and Olympic athletes, I think the current wording would also exclude most high-level political figures. You would be hard-pressed to find any sources that discuss them outside of the context of their present or former offices. I understand the idea the section is trying to convey ... but I worry that the current wording is too strict. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 17:44, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
My big problem with this discussion is that by being here it focuses us only on the 'living', when the issue is really on both living and dead article subjects: we still have the same potential NPOV either way. Shouldn't we be making these wording changes in WP:NPOV and or WP:NOT instead? As an example, one article (of many) that raises this issue is Konerak Sinthasomphone - since the crime of which he was a victim was murder, BLP would never apply, but the other policies should. UnitedStatesian 18:06, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Aquillion's points about Oswald and Lewinsky. Those people have acquired extensive literature and it's almost certainly possible to write a proper biographical article about her. On Oswald, well you'd have to read the Posner biography. I seriously question whether we should have an article on every single olympic gold medallist, but again that's a gray area.
I think Black Falcon's copy edit improves readability immensely.
UnitedStatesian is right, really, that some of the issues here apply also to writing about dead people. However they are far more pressing when writing about the living and the recently deceased, where taste and decency are often forgotten in the battle between various factions to assert a point of view. Such a battle is not reason enough to justify having a neutral article just to "balance" those conflicting, highly unwikipedian, interests. Sometimes no article on the person is better. --Tony Sidaway 18:14, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Part of the reason I think this is focusing on the living is that time forces some shifts in the notability viewpoints. It seems to me that one of the issues here is the padding of BLPs with personal detail in order to make them look more notable. That's particularly an issue with the living because of the intrusiveness of such material, but not, perhaps, with the dead. Another factor is that putting a little time/distance between the writing and the events helps tone down the "15 minutes of fame" bias that afflicts writing about current events. Mangoe 18:38, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Disputed deletions

I have added the following text on situations where one administrator looks at a deletion by another, who cited this policy, and disagrees with it. This situation is especially delicate in the case because sometimes the BLP problem may not be immediately apparent, and external circumstances may affect what is often a quite delicate decision. Sensitivity is the keyword:

When a page is deleted by an administrator citing this policy, other administrators should beware of reverting it if they disagree. Always consult the deleting administrator first if this is at all possible, because he may be aware of issues of which you are not. Deleting administrators should fully explain all deletions on request. Where appropriate, disputes should be taken to Deletion review.

As always, please discuss, review, edit, remove, or whatever. --Tony Sidaway 16:56, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Won't taking it to deletion review do more harm than good? Tom Harrison Talk 17:07, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
It depends on the case. This is why I chose the words "where appropriate". Obviously a potentially defamatory article with no clean revisions cannot really be taken to deletion review, so if there is a dispute over this it should probably be handled in a quieter way. We count on administrators to behave maturely and to err on the side of caution in cases involving this policy. --Tony Sidaway 17:10, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
(EC)This should probably be modified to indicate that editors who dispute the deletion (but are not admins) should do the same (except that they obviously cannot revert). WilyD 17:08, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
That situation already pertains for non-admins. I have added the clause to warn administrators of their duty to avoid hasty action in undoing BLP deletions that they dispute. Several unfortunate instances of this have occured lately. --Tony Sidaway 17:12, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
This is the only section that deals with disputed deletions. Since the procedure otherwise would be (optional) discuss before DRV (de jure - it seems like no de facto standard exists yet), this would be tightening the requirements for behaviour, and making things clearer so we have less disputes. WilyD 17:19, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, our deletion policy is actually quite relaxed, and in normal circumstances one can for instance restore a speedy deletion that obviously doesn't match any speedy deletion criterion. I'm in favor of this because it enabled administrators to correct one another's mistakes efficiently. This clause would as you say tighten standards, but only in areas pertaining to this policy. I think it's just common sense. --Tony Sidaway 17:28, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Given that BLP is the source of a lot of disputes, arising from differing interpretations of the policy, making things more explicit is desirable if only because it will lessen the number/severity of disputes and frinedly-ify the atmosphere. There are clear disagreements about what is or isn't common sense in this case - as I'm sure you're aware. WilyD 18:14, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty of undoing an undiscussed revert by an editor called The way, the truth, and the light. Please feel free to revert and discuss. --Tony Sidaway 03:26, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Seeing as you say "discuss, review, edit, remove, or whatever" up above, it seems he was simply following instructions. Can you explain your reasoning for the addition? --badlydrawnjeff talk 03:29, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
And thank you for insulting me in the edit summary. I simply thought the paragraph was unnecessary as it stated what is already the policy regarding administrative actions. I question the motive for it. The way, the truth, and the light 03:35, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I didn't intend to insult anybody. If you read the discussion above you'll see my justification for this. It isn't stated as strongly in the current deletion policy. In particular, there is no instruction in the current deletion policy to consult and await a response. --Tony Sidaway 04:15, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

So why does there need to be instruction? If a deletion is bad, there needs not be a requirement for people to wait for it to be reversed. --badlydrawnjeff talk 04:23, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Consensus seems to be against you on that one. There is even a suggestion by at least one arbitrator that, in the case of this policy, an undiscussed reversal may be wheel warring and may merit sanctions or desyopping.[16] --Tony Sidaway 14:25, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Your positions aren't actually incompatible here. The arb is question says "Usually" and I would suggest that speedies are "usually" not bad. What qualifies as "bad" may be a point of disagreement, I don't know. In extreme cases it might be wise to restore then discuss (I'm not sure of an example, but I'd probably restore today's feature article if it was speedied per BLP but didn't actually have any problems, for instance). Of course "how long to wait" is a judgement call and all this as well - more concrete guidelines would go a long way to establishing a real consensus (which is tenuous if it exists at all). WilyD 14:50, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure your example is a good one. If today's featured article is deleted on BLP grounds, it's much more of a risk if we wrongly restore, so it pays to consult. You don't know what the problem is until you consult (some problem content has to be removed without discussion, per this policy). Tomorrow's featured article can be used as a substitute without incurring any risk. As FloNight says at the link I provided, in extreme cases (restoring a whole series of BLP-deleted articles without prior consultation) this can be a desysopping matter. --Tony Sidaway 15:24, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, the example aside, I'm sure you could come up with some sort of example where it applies - I'm not sure it's too important (although if you really care, I'll come up with one for your liking). The point is that if there in a consensus on how contesting BLP speedies should be handled, then it should be made clear (which events should show you it obviously is not, whether or not you believe it should be clear). If there isn't a consensus on how to handle it, one needs to be developed.
The arbitration committee has as one of its roles providing guidance on dispute resolution in just such cases as this. I think it's likely that arbcom will provide just such guidance soon in the arbitration case. Waiting around for consensus to form on this is unlikely to be productive. --Tony Sidaway 02:30, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, I suppose it might be useful to observe that ArbCom does not act to make policy but only to interpret or apply written policies for which a consensus of the community exists, such that if there is no consensus here for the institution of a particular idea as policy, there surely cannot be any underlying policy on which the ArbCom might base a principle, finding of fact, or remedy. In the diff you adduce, for instance, FloNight appears to conclude that the present version of BLP encompasses a spirit that would counsel against summary restoration of a series of BLP-deleted articles (which conclusion is, to my mind, quite wrong and entirely without a grounding in BLP; we'll see ultimately what others think) and would suggest such a restoration to be quite pernicious, but any ArbCom finding with respect to her conclusion would be rendered moot were the community explicitly to decline, for example, to codify that principle here (i.e., were the community to reject it).
There seems to be a rather profound misunderstanding in several threads here as to the nature of any decisions that may be rendered in the BJJ RfAr; such decisions will serve only to interpret and apply policy and presently constituted and should not be understood as reflecting any broader prescriptions of ethics of policy (even if twelve arbitrators were to decide, to offer another example, that we ought as a matter of policy to obey generally the injunction do no harm, the community could immediately vitiate any relevant decision by electing to remove that injunction from BLP; the community, consistent with WP:CONSENSUS, and not ArbCom, determine policy, and any overriding of the will of the community with respect to a fundamental issue may only be done by the Foundation itself acting pursuant to resolutions or delegations of power authorized by the Board, which has yet to adopt formally—and is entirely unlikely, I think, to adopt formally—any living persons-related content guidelines). Joe 04:46, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Do no harm is very much a mainstream interpretation of the policy, so the arbitrators wouldn't be cutting new ground if the affirmed that. I think they're quite likely to go somewhat further than that, but still without surprising anyone who has been watching the ball.
The arbitration committee does handle conduct issues, and if they decide that restoring a BLP deletion without consensus is so disruptive that it can be sanctionable, ultimately leading to desysopping, we'd better take notice. If the stewards receive a request from arbcom to desysop someone, I don't think they'll be poking their heads in on Village Pump and asking if there is a consensus to desysop. We don't handle conduct issues that way. Guidance on dispute resolution (the phrase I used above) does not mean making new policy. If the arbitrators say "if you dispute a BLP deletion, don't just restore it", and I think they are likely to do so, it would be a very foolish administrator who later did just that. That isn't making policy, it's making sure our policy remains credible and enforceable, by stopping attempts to sabotage it. --Tony Sidaway 20:04, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
<devil's advocate>If restoring a BLP deletion without consensus is disruptive enough to be sanctionable, wouldn't performing (or enforcing) a BLP deletion without consensus* be disruptive as well?**</devil's advocate> Vassyana 21:06, 10 June 2007 (UTC) *Based on no consensus defaulting to keeping the article. **Barring established and uncontroversial exceptions for unsourced BLPs, office actions, et al.


What are the criteria for attaching {{fraudster}} and {{fraud}} templates to a biography page? And, does it matter if the person is dead?

Specifically William Penn Patrick, to my knowledge, was not convicted of fraud or of being a fraudster. Is it a violation of BLP to attach either of these templates to his bio?

Lsi john 19:42, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't see such templates. Do you mean categories? Category:fraud, Category:fraudsters.

The standard for most criminal categories is a conviction. It's tricky when the subject dies while under investigation. But I'd still say we shouldn't include the category without a conviction. However, if the case proceeded against co-conspirators and they were found guilty then there may be enough cause to include the categories. ·:·Will Beback ·:· 21:04, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Don't put them in categories without convictions. This doesn't mean that notable trials without convictions can't be mentioned - i.e. O. J. Simpson definitely needs to mention he was charged with but not convicted of murder. Don't put people into categories without conviction or equivilence. (Lee Harvey Oswald might be put into "Assassins" per the Warren Commision Report. Verifiability, not Truth). WilyD 21:07, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, pardon my newbie(ishness). I meant categories. I recently removed fraudster and the other editor replaced it with fraud. I was seeking to learn the proper way to handle a Bio. article and to learn if we can slap on categories like that, when they have not been convicted of anything. The other editor is doing it, based on the companies the man formed, which were multilevel marketing (and some referred to as fraudulent practices). Lsi john 21:25, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for your answers. I have removed the 'fraud' category from the article. Lsi john 21:29, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Um. In this particular case, the court papers do seem to be accusing him of fraud, and it exactly matches the case of a person escaping conviction only by account of being dead; the court goes out of its way to make it clear that he is guilty of fraud, and requires compensation from his estate. Here (cited in the article) the court describes the business structure of his company in the following terms (comparing it exactly to an earlier case):
  • This is the vice and quicksand nature of 'endless­chain' transactions. And it is so apparent that the promoters must be charged with knowledge of the fraud inherent in it.
  • The very scheme itself bears evidence upon its face that it is a fraud and a snare, and yet so cunningly devised that, in the hands of a sharp, shrewd, and designing man, hundreds of the unwary have been defrauded; and the courts should set their seal of condemnation upon it, and pronounce it, as it is, a contract void on the ground of public policy.
They go on to state, in their conclusions:
  • Respondent William Penn Patrick is the founder of Holiday Magic, Inc. has been and is responsible for establishing, supervising, directing and controlling the business activities and practices of Holiday Magic, Inc.
  • The entire unconscionable scheme which respondents have engaged in was the sole creation of respondent Patrick, and the corporate respondent was simply the means he created to carry out this scheme.
  • It is respondent Patrick whose future conduct must be the concern of the Commission and it is Patrick's conduct which the relief must be designed to effectively restrain if future law violations are to be prevented.
He died before the case completed, but this is as close to convicting a dead man of fraud as you are ever going to get; I think that the appropriate categories plainly belong on his article. The category is fraudsters, not 'people convicted of fraud'; while I would normally say we should be careful, this is one of those cases where you just have to use common sense... he is a fraudster if anyone was. --Aquillion 02:03, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Biographies of deceased persons

Can this policy be applied to deceased persons? I realize that dead people can't sue Wiki, but still: they should have the same right for getting an equal treatment and not risk being put in a bad light. If the answer is yes, or near yes, then I ask you to have a look at this. --Thus Spake Anittas 23:55, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

In general, this policy doesn't apply to deceased persons unless they are quite recently deceased. The premise of having a separate policy for biographies of living persons is that, as content in BLPs can have real-world negative consequences for people, we have an ethical (and legal) responsibility to ensure that such articles are accurate and neutral. Though all of our articles should be accurate and neutral, there is less of a pressing moral or legal responsibility when the subject of the article (or of the content), in this case Voltaire, cannot be harmed. -- Black Falcon (Talk) 00:55, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
In theory, all articles should be held to the same high standards of research, verifiability, and neutral writing (crossing our fingers that "accuracy" will come tumbling shortly after). More thoughts...CharlotteWebb 01:36, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

We need to be sensitive to living people. The recently dead have living kith and kin. Be sensitive. But be neutral even more than sensitive. We are an encyclopedia; not a scandle sheet nor a tribute site. WAS 4.250 02:15, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I concur strongly with WAS. However, I note that the query from Anittas was about Voltaire, who isn't really "recently deceased," so I don't really think WP:BLP applies to those who lived in the 18th century. FNMF 02:21, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, there seems to be general agreement that this policy applies to the recently deceased as well as the living, on the grounds that they are likely to have living kith and kin. For instance Johnny Cash died in 2003 but if someone kept removing unsourced or poorly sourced statements to the effect that he'd been involved in some disreputable activity, for instance, we wouldn't want to block him under the three revert rule or for any other reason. Same might apply to, for instance, John Denver (d. 1997) and Graham Greene (d. 1991), possibly John Lennon (d. 1980) but probably not John F. Kennedy (d. 1963) or even Jimi Hendrix (d. 1970). My opinion only, contents may settle in transit. --Tony Sidaway 03:40, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
Sure, but our other policies cover all that just fine. There's no need for any extraordinary measures in an article on a dead person: when possible, we should let the Wiki process work, and those problems will be resolved. I will note, though, that just because an edit occurs in article about, say, Johnny Cash doesn't mean it's necessarily about Johnny Cash: it might be saying something about his living family or associates or such... so BLP really can apply everywhere. Mangojuicetalk 04:00, 6 June 2007 (UTC)