Talk:Why the lucky stiff

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Real name

anyone know his real name or history? Or the origin of his nick? -BioGeek 00:37, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

I've heard from various sources that his first name truly is 'Why', though the origin of it is mysterious. -- 21:14, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

I, too, came here trying to find the origin of the phrase "why the lucky stiff." It's very familiar, in fact I think it may have come from a farside comic. Anyway, that would be very appropriate content for this page. 15:30, 19 September 2006 (UTC) -Trav

I had the pleasure of eating dinner with _why at rubyconf 2002 and according to him, it's a nickname given to him by his sister. Whether that's true or not is another story. :) (talk) 14:16, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Just for the record that's why I came here too. I am also curious where the underscore in _why comes from. --nertzy 07:48, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Probably from an IRC nick (talk) 11:17, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

If you watch, you'll see that Why doesn't always use the underscore. He told me that he uses it in situations where the word "why" would otherwise be ambiguous. Glv 23:35, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

"Why, the lucky stiff!" is said in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead page 112. Perhaps that is where it is taken from. Chiok 20:40, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
It is on page 112 in the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition, but apparently on page 92 in the original version according to Scribd. Ossguy (talk) 21:13, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
I had been familiar with the expression without having ever read the The Fountainhead, and suspect that it must have appeared elsewhere since, if not before. However, that is indeed the only Google Books result for the phrase. The phrase "the lucky stiff" by itself predates this appearance: the earliest Google Books result being a the review of a 1873 novel by Craig Rice titled 'The Lucky Stiff'. (talk) 03:27, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

I think this page deserves a discussion of (a) why _why doesn't use a real name (surely he's talked about this on his blog or in person or ...?) and (b) what his real name may/may not be (based on sourced statements, obviously) Natebailey (talk) 10:59, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree with not putting his real name here. Besides it being his wish to remain anonymous, we cannot be sure it is his name until he himself verifies it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:55, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Not putting his real name here is rather ridiculous. It is basically censorship. And my statement that was removed was sourced. Deadtrees (talk) 04:34, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Your source isn't a reliable source according to the Wikipedia policy (see WP:RS), it's an anonymous blog, and it could very well be a scam. Properly sourcing an article is very important articles about biographies of living people (see WP:BLP). This policy only applies to articles, though, so I agree with you that deleting your comment amounts to censorship. AFAIK, editing someone else's comment is also against WP's policies. -- (talk) 11:50, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
To clarify, BLP does not apply only to articles; see Wikipedia:BLP#Non-article_space.  Skomorokh  12:02, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Shouldn't the edits about the real name be cleaned up for privacy reasons? -- (talk) 10:37, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
If you think so, please place a request in Wikipedia:Requests for oversight.  Chzz  ►  10:44, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
An admin could already delete the contentious material... It's the usual procedure AFAIK. Then users with oversight powers come after to clean up what's been deleted. Or can I send an RFO right now. I've asked in the BLP IRC channel, but I didn't get any answer.
The revisions to remove are :[1] to [2], [3] to [4], [5] to [6] and [7] to [8]; and on the talk page: [9] to [10], [11] to [12], [13] to [14]. -- (talk) 13:24, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Be a scam? Well, I am not the author of that blog, but come on - _why disappeared after his REAL NAME was exposed by someone else. You can still google it up. I am not adding fuel to the fire, but let's be real here - exposing his real name caused _why to abandon ALL his projects. (talk) 01:57, 25 November 2009 (UTC)


This got cut from the main article because it was unsourced. But it's still interesting so I want to put it here:

This article is a stub which clearly should be merged with the main entry, Elf With Ham. 14:01, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

_why is 13 years old and from Norway. I knows it. I sure it. I knows it from here!

_why exists on alternate dimensional planes. Sometimes he shows up in Harrisburg, PA as a person who isn't him.


Hey Hu12, why don't you actually look into the external links you're removing as "spam" before removing them. This is a biographical article, and I was inserting a link to why the lucky stiff's blog titled RedHanded. He's known for his writing there more than anything other than his book... --Sinned 22:51, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

P.S. that means I recommend someone else add the link to RedHanded that Hu12 removed, as I'm not doing it or he'll try to ban me for not listening to him. --Sinned

No problem, Sinned. I also added _why's photo blog (which is awesome), hopefully that'll survive Hu12's wrought iron fist. -- Klondike 18:11, 8 January 2007 (UTC)


Hi, I cleaned up the article and rewrote some of it. some thoughts about it:

  • Some bits may not be NPOV though. Is it possible to pay celebrities or journalists for nice quotes to put in Wikipedia articles?
  • I need someone to fix the Paul Adams quote.
  • I hope my changes don't break the mousehole hack btw, I don't have mousehole here.

Zorbid 18:18, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia material?

This looks like a home page of a Jackie Brown as it is... "look at me", "here's what I like to do", "my hobbies", "photoes of my pet cat", "look look what I have drawn"... ouch. --Sigmundur 12:44, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Agree. How many bloody backlinks does the article have to his site? Smells like PageRank whoring to me :p Davedx (talk) 19:06, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
Totally agree. This is for deletion. Kokot.kokotisko (talk) 23:55, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
See my response on Talk:Why's (poignant) Guide to Ruby. —Tom Morris (talk) 19:57, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

regarding hoodwink.d

The link seems dead, it's normal. It is only accessible to people with the technical know how, as described in . (Assuming it's still up, since I'm barred from accessing it from behind this firewall).Zorbid (talk) 15:18, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

It's in fact down... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:26, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Jack Black

_why looks like Jack Black. I'm sorry, it just has to be said. :P Jesset77 (talk) 09:36, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Thank you, I thought the exact same thing. :D -- (talk) 20:35, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Ditto! Destynova (talk) 01:40, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Is the article photo a joke? Is ALL THIS ARTICLE a joke? The guy is Jack Black!!! Sebasbronzini (talk) 06:28, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Twitter request

On February 23, 2009 _why tweeted with a request for his page to be edited. [15]

  • Should this request really be executed though? The new alias returns no result on Google, and it seems like an attempt to play with Wikipedia. (talk) 16:30, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I originally also wanted to add it, but the person above me has a point. It's only as true as his other tweets and they're missense. It's also a yes or no question rather than a direct request, so we're not even certain he really means it. - DaoKaioshin (talk) 04:58, 27 February 2009 (UTC)


I've added quotes by John Resig and Tim Bray.

They were self published, but the high notability of both authors turns them into WP:RS. -Zorbid (talk) 17:51, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Origin of the name, "_why the lucky stiff"

I don't know if this counts as notable, so I'm putting it here: "Why, the lucky stiff!" appears on page 114 of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, as seen at <>. Noah Tye (talk) 05:22, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Possibly, that book seems to have quite a bit to do with _why... --Devynci (talk) 23:20, 15 October 2009 (UTC)


I am going to remove the large "disappearance" sections and reduce them to a small mention of today's events. The information currently on the page openly states that little is known except for speculation and sensationalism, so I feel that a simple "His online presence has been mostly removed" will do until sourced information emerges. Max (talk) 18:05, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

I think that sounds like the right approach. Wikipedia is a place for facts, not speculation. Josephgrossberg (talk) 18:08, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, yes, but how about at least some minimal mention of that fact itself, that there is no satisfactory explanation yet of said disappearance? That would be more helpful than total silence on the issue. Toddcs (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 13:43, 15 November 2009 (UTC).
So, on (or about) 11/17/09 I added the following sentence: "The exact circumstances of Why's sudden disappearance are at this time still the subject of considerable conjecture and debate." And I added a reference to this discussion page itself. But skomorokh removed all of the above, objecting that we need to stick only to the facts. Well, as I see it, said conjecture and debate *are* in and of themselves undisputable facts. So go figure. Toddcs (talk) 10:19, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
the disappearance goes beyond "mostly" though, as far as I've seen it nothing of his online persona remain (apart from the servers, which still resolve and run but don't accept requests anymore). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Masklinn (talkcontribs) 21:22, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I believe the same notice should be placed in the links section Dmitriid (talk) 08:07, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Here's a RS regarding this topic:

And here's another:

I'm a bit pessimistic about this. He had been very quiet lately, with this message staying for about one month at the top of his twitter log.

why the lucky stiff (_why) on Twitter "i'm trapped in a labyrinth of my own design." 10:19 AM Jun 3rd from web

Then he came back, committed himself to work more on Shoes rather than Potion (on the Shoes ML), worked some more on Potion and Greg (until the 18th of august) then abruptly pulled the plug.-- (talk) 10:39, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

This might be relevant only to Hackety Hack, but _why had pulled all available code for Hackety Hack, and changed the site prior to his art and code presentation. The site said that a new version would be released shortly there after, but this never happened. So to me, the "dissapearance" doesn't have one hard date like August 19th 2009 but rather started a few weeks prior to art and code, which was on March 7th 2009 A colleague who attended claimed that these lectures didn't occur, but I can't confirm that as it's unsure if they just didn't find them in time while attending. Dlamblin (talk) 06:44, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

No, I watched a video of that lecture on Vimeo... there were a ton of people. It was funny. About the Hackety Hack thing, well, he explained that Shoes needed more work before he could continue. There is recent code from Hackety Hack 2.0. On the subject of the twitter post, it could have been related to anything... perhaps he was coding and made a huge mistake, then tried to fix it, frustrated him, then felt the need to post about it. --Devynci (talk) 23:20, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

It's over

_why has closed down. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:31, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

The fact that this happened after the anonymous blog claimed he to identify him make it seem likely that they were correct. Raucanum (talk) 04:16, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

I feel that his "outing" is about as notable as his chickpea burgers. Let the man have peace. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:37, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Real Identity

I think this should be in the article. It's probably no coincidence that the man disappeared after this started making the rounds —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:36, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Until it starts making the rounds in reliable sources, it's irresponsible of us to engage in outing article subjects.  Skomorokh  02:39, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't understand why everyone is so reluctant to put anything up about his disappearance when so much is actually known. I know who _why is through multiple friends of his and I can vouch for the fact that the sources out there are accurate (for example I lived in and grew up in Utah. One of my freelancing colleagues, Todd Wilson, used to work with Jonathan Gillette at Inetz Media and vouched for his interest in Ruby and his genius. Another friend of mine knew Jonathan from a local Mormon hipster message board,, which I also belong to. They met up in person at least once. He said Jonathan was very emphatic that they should not share his personal identity with others. I'm not sure exactly why. Anyway, since I approach it from the angle of someone who knows the information is accurate, I'm not sure why there is so much hesitation to report on something, especially when that posterous blog has collected some pretty convincing digital evidence.Cayblood (talk) 12:18, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
I should add that I don't think that a sentence or two about his identity is inappropriate in a wikipedia article even if it's against his wishes. On the contrary, I think withholding the information out of respect for our interpretation of his wishes is not good journalism.Cayblood (talk) 12:25, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Definitely - there is not anywhere near enough reason to suspect his disappearance had anything to do with that little Wordpress blog. Certainly not enough to describe them as linked on his Wikipedia page. Klondike (talk) 14:30, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Someone should delete that part about The Child Who Was a Keyhole. Is it sourced? That band happens to have a member whose name is the same as the name that some have associated with _why. You've tried so hard on Wikipedia to remove all references to his identity and his real name, it would be a shame if you left that in. (talk) 15:05, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Great note. And while we are at it, you might want to censor google so that search results don't bring in anything of worth. I mean... his name could be exposed again, and we already know he doesn't want to be known ... :-) (talk) 02:00, 25 November 2009 (UTC)


The links pointing to the github repos are now dead. I found an alternate repo at github that seems to have a large percentage of the originals: They seem to be gathering as many of the original repos as possible from a number of different sources(quite evident in the public activity) and merging them into one account. All one needs to do to get to one of the original projects is to replace /why/ in the original url with /whymirror/. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:17, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

It is worth noting is that the links to his code are currently dead links. A mirror, at least, would be helpful. - DaoKaioshin (talk) 05:45, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
I guess I wasn't as clear as I could've been. is about as close to a mirror as you can get (talk) 01:13, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
I am agreeing with you. At the time I made the comment, I could not add that to the page. - DaoKaioshin (talk) 18:53, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Chickpea burger

Why does something posted via twitter about his freaking dinner constitute sufficient notability to wind up on Wikipedia? (talk) 23:05, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Right. Should have mentioned chunky bacon. Look, I just discovered this guy four days ago while trying to learn Ruby, and already he'd vanished. Starved for news or even encyclopedic info. Oh, forget it. _Why is John Galt? Snezzy (talk) 23:55, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Because at least we now know (sort of) that he's OK.--Smerp (talk) 03:40, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Because that's the most recent indication we have that _Why is not in fact now an unlucky stiff. Why do you begrudge people the right to know that someone they care about might be okay? Further, that twitter account appears to belong to someone who actually knows him. I don't care that he went black, I was just worried he was dead. And to some of us that mattered more than notability.
Just for the record (because, taken out of context, I think this deserves some explanation), the tweet in question was by _why's wife, implying that _why is perfectly fine. I guess the point is that anyone close enough to _why will have ways to get in touch anyway. He obviously has plenty of admirers that only know him from his work with ruby. Respect his decision (I'm convinced he put a lot of thought into it) -- in fact, maybe him shifting his priorities in life sh/could be inspiring. (talk) 23:11, 25 March 2010 (UTC)