Robert Clark Young

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For the American athlete, see Robert Young (athlete).
Robert Clark Young
Born 1960 (age 55–56)
Los Angeles, California
Other names Bob
Occupation Writer
Known for Fiction and essays

Robert Clark "Bob" Young (born 1960) is an American writer of essays and short stories. Young has been involved in several prominent literary controversies including a series of articles published in May 2013 revealing that Young had been using a pseudonym to make malicious edits to the Wikipedia biographies of his personal and professional adversaries.[1]

Young was raised and educated in Southern California.

Early life[edit]

Born in Los Angeles in 1960, Young was raised there and in and San Diego.[2] He studied writing at the University of San Diego, the University of California, Davis,[3] and the University of Houston.[4]

During 1987 and 1988 Young worked for the United States Navy teaching remedial English to sailors on ships deployed in the Far East. He based his 1999 novel One of the Guys on this experience.[5]


Young released his debut novel on May 1, 1999. Entitled One of the Guys (Harper Perennial, 2000),[6] the book was a satirical work about a man impersonating a U.S. Navy chaplain. Reception of the novel was poor, with reviews citing a contrived plot and a bland lead character, though it was moderately financially successful.[5][7][8][9]

To finish the novel Young used money from a $5,000 grant he received from the Ohio Arts Council. Due to the novel's explicit sexual content and the American Family Association's (AFA) perception that the book denigrated Christianity, the group criticized the fact that some of the book's funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. As part of the AFA's campaign against the NEA, the group attacked Young's book as "horror art" and criticized the NEA for the funding he received.[10][11] The AFA specifically objected to passages depicting Navy personnel patronizing child prostitutes.[5]

In a Washington Post op-ed, Young responded that it was strange that "an organization that claims to uphold family values and to oppose the federal funding of obscenity is not protesting the part of the military budget that goes to support pederasty in the Far East."[10][12] Although Young claimed that details in the novel were exaggerated for effect, he said that these details were based on outrages that he had witnessed while working for the navy.[5][9][10]

Wikipedia editing controversy[edit]

In May 2013, Young was accused by Salon reporter Andrew Leonard, as well as by the Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy, of editing the Wikipedia articles about his personal and professional adversaries in a biased and negative way under the username "Qworty"; he had also added puffery to his own biography and deleted criticism of his work. Qworty had already come to attention due to his provocative comments, in particular on a thread relating to a previous controversy about Wikipedia's treatment of female novelists.[13][14]

Other writers soon added their commentaries about the situation.[15][16] After initially denying Leonard's claim, Qworty admitted to being Young, as well as to having edited his own article along with those of writers with whom he had feuded. For instance, according to Andrew Leonard, Young "devoted a significant amount of intellectual and emotional energy" to attacking Brad Vice and two other writers at the Sewanee Writers' Conference because of the perceived disrespect he had experienced there.[14] Soon after the story broke, the Qworty account was prohibited from editing Wikipedia for an indefinite amount of time.[14][17]

According to a followup by Leonard, a backlash against Qworty was so fierce that all content was removed from his user pages in order to reduce the extent to which the pages would be spread across the Internet. As a result of Leonard's reporting, an investigation was made by Wikipedia editors to determine the extent of Young's editing under different usernames.[18][19] Jimmy Wales responded to these reports by stating: "I would have banned him outright years ago. So would many others. That we did not, points to serious deficiencies in our systems."[18][20] In an additional Salon article, Leonard wrote that Young's personal opposition to neo-paganism led to him pursuing a systematic campaign against Wikipedia articles on the topic. Leonard noted that the fact that Young was able to get away with that behavior for such a long time raised concerns "about how well Wikipedia's internal safeguards protect its integrity."[21]


  1. ^ Geier, Kathleen (May 18, 2013). "The unmasking of a troll, and Wikipedia's Achilles' heel". Washington Monthly. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ Sherwin, Elisabeth (November 12, 1999). "UC Davis graduate publishes first novel". Davis Enterprise. Retrieved May 26, 2013. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Sherwin, Elisabeth (October 15, 2000). "First Amendment Sweethearts, Bob and Isabel". Davis Enterprise. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ Young, Robert Clark (2008). "The Death of the Death of the Novel". The Southern Review 44 (1): 160ff. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b c d Hansen, Suzy (March 22, 2001). "Our Wolves in Uniform". Archived from the original on August 21, 2003. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ ISBN 978-0060931896
  7. ^ "One of the Guys by Robert Clark Young". Kirkus Reviews. April 1, 1999. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Fiction Review: One of the Guys by Robert Clark Young". Publishers Weekly. May 3, 1999. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Collier, Gene (October 25, 2000). "NEA Foes Miss Boat on Satire". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Garvin, Cosmo (March 1, 2001). "Moral Minority". Sacramento News and Review. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  11. ^ Quinn, Brad, In the Navy Cincinnati CityBeat, November 16, 2000
  12. ^ Young, Robert Clark (December 15, 2000). "A Strange 'Family Values' Attack on the NEA". Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Leonard, Andrew. "Wikipedia's Shame". Salon. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c Leonard, Andrew (May 17, 2013). "Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia". Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  15. ^ Nichols, Martha and Berry, Lorraine, eds. (May 20, 2013). "What Should We Do About Wikipedia?". Talking Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ Farrell, Nick (May 22, 2013). "Wackypedia admits pagan purge". Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  17. ^ Indefinite block notice on Qworty's discussion page.
  18. ^ a b Leonard, Andrew (May 21, 2013). "Wikipedia Cleans up its mess". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  19. ^ Sockpuppet investigation on Qworty.
  20. ^ Comment by Jimbo Wales
  21. ^ Leonard, Andrew (May 24, 2013). "Wikipedia's anti-Pagan crusade". Retrieved May 24, 2013. 

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