Talk:Brian Dunning (author)

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What more needs to be added[edit]

I think the article stands as a reasonable basic Wikipedia article on a living person. It states the basic facts (Brian's claim to fame is the Skeptoid podcast which is highly ranked in iTunes) and does not promote him in any sense.

I understand the warning about non-POV, but don't see it in the article at present. Recommend that this article is reviewed and the warning removed if possible.

Brian is worthy of a Wikipedia article, as a few quick searches online find his articles highly rated by Google as a basic source of information on a topic. His books also attract reviews on Amazon (though haven't linked these to the article as it might be considered advertising).

GrantB (talk) 07:00, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Tags deleted and refimprove tag added. (Welcome back to WP, Grant.)--S. Rich (talk) 07:15, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Controversy -- lacking RS[edit]

The following material, copied from the article page, might be of growing concern to the skeptical community, but it lacks WP:RS.

"For the celebration of the 250th Skeptoid podcast, Brian Dunning had a musical centerpiece entitled "THE HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE" http://skepticblog.org/2011/03/24/the-history-of-knowledge/ created which partners a few historical moments in time with musical depictions of "woo" that could be associated with the given time period.
"The choice of cover art for the expected iTunes version of the piece has received some negative feed back on his own page http://skepticblog.org/2011/04/08/anatomy-of-a-musical-take-2/ and others such as the SkepChick's blog. http://skepchick.org/2011/04/photography-and-sexism-in-the-skeptical-movement/"

[reference formating deleted] --S. Rich (talk) 14:51, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

  • It's a nontroversy. One site - skepchick - has (correctly) identified that Dunning's Fleetwood Mac spoof is clumsy and a bit crass, but it lacks the traction of the controversy that was generated by his being suckered by the DDT conspiracy theorists. Guy (Help!) 23:11, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

eBay Controversy[edit]

A real controversy is Dunning's being named in a civil suit from eBay for fraud (http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/5:2008cv04052/206526/) and a criminal indictment for wire fraud from the federal government (USA v. Brian Dunning, Northern District of California, 10-cr-0494-jf). More info here: http://www.nickycakes.com/digital-point-owners-indicted-out-on-100k-bail/ The charges are that Dunning's company, Kessler's Flying Circus, engaged in "cookie stuffing"--putting eBay affiliate cookies on the computers of website visitors who were not engaged in eBay transactions without their knowledge, in order to obtain affiliate compensation if any of those visitors subsequently engaged in eBay transactions. It's not clear what websites were used for cookie stuffing. The civil case has been stayed pending resolution of the criminal case; the next hearing in the criminal case will be on October 27, 2011 at 9 a.m. in San Jose in the courtroom of Judge Jeremy Fogel. Dunning has pleaded not guilty. Lippard (talk) 15:47, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Requests from Brian Dunning[edit]

Hello editors - This is Brian Dunning here, and this page is about me. Any chance I could request a couple of changes? I do not consider myself an "atheist" and I really wish the page did not have that link at the bottom that says "American atheists". Also could the page be called Brian Dunning (author) or Brian Dunning (science writer)? (skeptic) is not only vague, it's a bit insulting. If these changes can't be made, it's not the end of the world. Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Briandunning (talkcontribs) 02:11, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Brian I've taken off the Atheist category. I wish I could change it to just Brian Dunning but apparently there is another Brian Dunning that is a flutist I think, he had his page first. I think you get about the same amount of hits so not sure how to duel that out (rock paper sissors?) Anyway, I don't know how to change the title on your page to reflect something other than (skeptic) Even still, it is what you are known for isn't it? Sgerbic (talk) 02:58, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

I think we can set up a new article and then create a re-direct to it. He is listed in the [Category:American skeptics], but is the only one with the "skeptic" qualifier in the article title. So, as Sgerbic asks, what is the best description besides skeptic?--S. Rich (talk) 05:34, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Author, I've boldy moved it per the request. It also aligns more with the lede. IRWolfie- (talk) 15:47, 9 July 2012 (UTC)
Wonderful! Sgerbic (talk) 02:22, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Hello, Brian Dunning himself here - it's probably not cool for me to edit my own page, so I'll just make some comments here. First, my occupation is executive director of Skeptoid Media, Inc., and has been since 2008. I am no longer with Buylink, so my "occupation" could probably stand an update. Regarding this lawsuit, no court document or document filed by the plaintiff ever alleged that I personally ever made any amount of money - certainly nothing in the neighborhood of $7 million, that's a laughable figure. Similarly, neither eBay nor the prosecution ever alleged that I made "much of that money" through any sort of illegal activity. Also, it is the court that dismissed eBay's civil claims against me, not eBay themselves. I can say a small amount of publicly available information here. I was an employee at a company that grossed over $5 million over several years. The plaintiff has alleged that some portion of that (never quantified) may have been earned outside the terms of the contract; obviously we spent several years disputing that until the court dismissed it. I would really appreciate it if someone would remove the flagrantly emotional anti-Brian claims on this page, and just stick to the verifiable facts. The Business Insider article is something that we all passed around the office and laughed at; I suggest sticking with findings by the court. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Briandunning (talkcontribs) 23:26, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the input. A paragraph from Wikipedia's "Biographies of Living People" guidelines, linked at WP:BIOSELF, gives some guidance to subjects of Wikipedia articles. As you guessed, editing your own page is generally uncool, except for "very obvious errors", but input is welcome, and there are steps you can follow to escalate a concern if it is not addressed satisfactorily.
I removed the obsolete Buylink occupation from the "infobox" (the sidebar on the right of the page), but did not replace it with anything, as I could not find a source to cite that you are executive director of Skeptoid Media. (I tried Googling "brian dunning, executive director", "executive director brian dunning", and several other variations).
I also removed the statement saying eBay dismissed the lawsuit. That was a bad mistake, and is an example of one reason Wikipedia generally frowns on using court documents as references: laypeople often misinterpret them.
Concerning the $7 million earnings, that was based on Business Insider's statement that "Dunning had earned $7 million in commissions from eBay over time, the court papers say." One limitation of Wikipedia's editorial policy is a general adherance to what are deemed reliable secondary sources, rather than what is true, summarized in a 2007 essay Wikipedia:Verifiability, not truth. Two ways this could be addressed, and hopefully other editors will weigh in: (1) we could simply agree that the BI articles are not reliable sources of information and not cite them, (2) we could present the BI claim alongside the seemingly competing claim by the LA Times that a company formed by Dunning and his brother was paid $5.2 million by eBay, with in-article attributions. Or we could leave the statement as is, although my hunch is that the BI articles really aren't reliable sources here.
Regarding the request to remove "flagrantly emotional anti-Brian claims on this page, and just stick to the verifiable facts", all claims should already meet Wikipedia's verifiability standards (WP:V). I am not sure which claims you're including, besides presumably the $7 million earnings claim, and as said, that was based on a BI article. If your request means to include other claims, it would probably best to mention them specifically.
Regarding the suggestion that we stick to findings by the court, that can be difficult to balance with Wikipedia's editorial guidelines, but it's something we could look into. Wikipedia guidelines at WP:BLPPRIMARY say "do not use trial transcripts and other court records, or other public documents, to support assertions about a living person", though "where primary-source material has been discussed by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to rely on it to augment the secondary source..." subject to various limitations. (Italics are in the Wikipedia guidelines).
Agyle (talk) 01:30, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Occupation[edit]

Would it make sense to include "Podcaster" as current occupation? I gather that is his primary source of income now. Myk (talk) 08:01, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Wire Fraud Case[edit]

I'm not understanding the reason the citation that he plead guilty to wire fraud (as a plea deal) has been removed. Is the citation source the problem? Or what?Sgerbic (talk) 03:12, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

I removed [1] as it is inadequate for a BLP about a criminal charge. I see another source was found. With breaking news of that nature, it is often better to wait until the secondary sources come along to avoid OR or getting it wrong. IRWolfie- (talk) 16:12, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Okay in order to clear everything up and write this factually. I have obtained the actual court document. I live very close to San Jose where the court house is located. It is not available on-line (yet) but I have this in my possession and it is very clear that the newspapers that we are quoting are very wrong. He admitted guilt to writing one specific cookie, the max term is 29 months (not 20 years) with no fine, and there is no specified dollar amount for what Ebay thinks he took. (that is really weird just in itself, I think that if they can't site damages then this probably will be thrown out of court). Therefore I am going to reflect these changes on the main page and remove the other accounts as they are incorrect. The document is public, but I believe you have to go to a CA courthouse (or possibly it can be mailed?) to obtain it. I suggest that anyone interested should do as I have done and get the actual plea deal. Here it is... UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, b. BRIAN DUNNING, Defendant. United States District Court, Northern District of California. No. CR 10-0494 EJD. Plea Agreement, filed under seal. April 15, 2013. Sgerbic (talk) 21:46, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I doubt that we can accept your contribution in this regard. Looks like a noble undertaking, but it's OR. The newsreports may be wrong, but WP is not based on WP:TRUTH. – S. Rich (talk) 23:06, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Sgerbic, sealed plea agreements are, quite obviously, not verifiable, public sources and people cannot just go and obtain them. The fact you apparently have a copy indicates you must be very close to the case. With respect, some of your other changes, like swapping from an "FBI investigation" to an "ebay investigation" and "wire fraud" to "cookie stuffing" also smack a little of whitewashing.--Icerat (talk) 00:23, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes people can go out and obtain these documents. Check out FB right now, I've already seen one person quoting from the document. I stand by my edit, I am choosing my words carefully, and without bias. There was no mention of the FBI in the document.Sgerbic (talk) 00:52, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
I have no idea where on Facebook to look! While the plea deal is supposed to be sealed there are many public documents though, including the complaint and the actual FBI interview with Dunning (which he tried to have removed as evidence). Not to mention the press release from the FBI which describes the case and plea. --Icerat (talk) 11:13, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Why do you think it is still meant to be sealed? IRWolfie- (talk) 19:41, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

The FB post has been removed :-(. I will hold off on my edits until someone decides to post the court documents or report on them or something. I am not comfortable posting them myself. As the page stands it is correct if we are using only the sources we have. I understand that editors are not able to just take my word for it. Possibly I don't know enough about law to understand completely the documents I have, and might be missing important information. I do know that the 5 million number is wrong, as is the 20 years. I searched for FBI in the document and it was not there. When an edit depends solely on a book that is not available on-line, or an article in a obscure journal, or behind a pay-wall, how is it handled?Sgerbic (talk) 15:18, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

  • @Icerate, the issue here is that you are trying to counter a primary source with your own original research. A court document is a valid source, even if you don't have it to hand. Note that even the FBI are publicly discussing the plea deal, and Sgerbic got a copy, so it's pretty obviously unsealed. @S. Rich, you've actually got it wrong. If we, the editors, know a source is incorrect, we don't use it. Especially if the secondary source is self-evidently contradicted by a primary source. Having the actual court documents is that verification. Also, the reason we go for verifiability is to make sure it is the truth, not because we value it more than the truth. See this footnote: [2]. For that reason, "verifiability, not truth" was removed from policy pages. I think it's clear that the FBI [3] are quoting the regular "maximum statutory penalty", not the actual penalty under the plea deal. Saying Dunning faces that is misleading. IRWolfie- (talk) 19:33, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
IRWolfie, what OR are you talking about? It appears the source you removed was an AP article in the Sacramento Bee, which (a) was not a source I added and (b) is most certainly under WP guidelines to be considered a reliable, verifiable source. While court documents don't need to be online, sealed court documents are, by definition, NOT verifiable as they are not public, ie "published". --Icerat (talk) 19:11, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
You assume I agree that the documents are sealed. I am unconvinced. On what basis do you say they are still sealed. The Sacremento Bee article is unreliable because it does not appear to agree with the FBI statement; unreliability is a case by case judgement. IRWolfie- (talk) 19:21, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

Plea Agreement, what does it say?[edit]

While it has been noted that there is no requirement for a source to be online, if others can not look at the seal plea agreement, how do we know what it says? This isn't like a book or journal article that others can look up at a library, which I would have no problem including in an article. Has the person who has included this looked it up on PACER, or are they repeating only what they have heard from others? --Hardindr (talk) 18:06, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

On a side note, I was the person who removed the portion about the plea agreement. I apologize for not signing in before doing so. --Hardindr (talk) 18:07, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
The person who originally added the text went to the court house and obtained it; you can do it to, that is how you check what it says. Alternatively you can ask Sgerbic for a copy. There is no requirement that it be online. Check at WP:RSN if you want. IRWolfie- (talk) 18:42, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
The FBI says the plea agreement is sealed, doesn't this mean you cannot go to the court house and obtain it? That's my concern, it's not verifiable. --Icerat (talk) 19:13, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Where and when? The word "sealed" is not used in [4] (which is a press release from the US attorney's office). IRWolfie- (talk) 19:27, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
IRWolfie, You yourself just (re-added) the plea as a source and called it "Plea Agreement, filed under seal". :) I'm trying to find the source where I first saw that. --Icerat (talk) 20:02, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Found a couple of bloggers saying they couldn't access the plea agreement because it was sealed, and wikipedia itself, so can't find any other source. If it's not sealed then it's a public, copyright free document. Sgerbic - could you perhaps load it up on wikicommons?--Icerat (talk) 20:15, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure before it was accepted and agreed to it was under seal, you may want to ask Sgerbic on her talk page since she has not responded in this particular thread. IRWolfie- (talk) 22:18, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
You can go to the courthouse and obtain it. No I won't upload it to WikiCommons as I said before I'm uncomfortable doing that. For the same reasons I would not upload a book. There is a lot of personal information on the document and do not know what should be removed. If I blacked out some info, then someone will accuse me of altering the document. I would feel a lot more comfortable if someone went to the courthouse in San Jose and obtained the document, completely independent of me. I don't want anyone to take my word for it, so I'm not moving forward on pushing my edits. It is possible for someone to contact the Sacrament Bee reporter who first reported on it, or maybe another local newspaper to get the document and report correctly on it. That would be the best solution. I am reading all of your edits, but I thought I was clear with my first statement and did not need to respond. I did not like being accused of white-washing the article, so I'm backing off.Sgerbic (talk) 00:11, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
I will go to the local research university and see if I can get it tomorrow, If the document in question is available on PACER. If I can get it, I will upload it to Wikicommons. I believe that will settle this. --Hardindr (talk) 04:12, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
I went to the law library at the local university and used PACER there. The plea agreement is shown in the system but is not available to view for some reason. I do not know if that means it is sealed or not, but all the other documents associated with the case I looked at were available. I have called the US Attorney office and asked when it will be up on PACER. However, given that other people can not see the plea agreement, does it violate Wikipedia:Verifiability to have it in the article at this time? --Hardindr (talk) 19:36, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
No, as Sgerbic already said, she went down to the courthouse and got a copy. She did not use PACER. There is no requirement for a source to be online. It's verifiable if you go and request it at the court house as she did. You said you rang the US attorney's office, and what did they say? IRWolfie- (talk) 18:55, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
Any document that is filed in a federal court case should be available on PACER, you shouldn't have to go to the courthouse to get it. When I spoke to the librarian at the law library, she said it was very unusual for the document to not be available on PACER, if it indeed was available for the public at this time. I did not hear back from the US Attorney's office in San Francisco, CA, but I am going to keep trying Monday to see what is going on. I find this all very strange. --Hardindr (talk) 19:30, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
Additionally, the PACER FAQ [5] states that any filing becomes available in real time. Since the plea agreement was filed on April 15, 2013 with the federal court, I am starting to doubt that it is not sealed, but I will wait and see what the US Attorney's office has to say. --Hardindr (talk) 19:36, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
After having contacted the US Attorney's office for Northern California and the federal court clerk in San Jose, here is what I have learned: the plea agreement is "limited access" which means only the attorneys of record are given copies, and thus it is not available on PACER. However, if you go to the Federal court house in San Jose, you can obtain a copy, or, write to the clerk at the court house and have one mailed to you. I have opted for the later. It is not clear to me whether or not the document can distributed or posted online. I was told to refer to the local rules for the North District [6]. After a cursory skimming of them, I am not sure what is allowed or not allowed in regards to plea agreements. I should have the plea agreement within the next two weeks. --Hardindr (talk) 14:17, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
[7] fbi.gov is considered a reliable site by wiki editors still, right? Zaphraud (talk) 05:00, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── And per the FBI release, the "evidentiary hearing to determine the loss amount will be held on August 8, 2013." Dunning has reserved the right to contest how much was taken/lost/paid. The determination may have a major impact on the sentencing, etc. Indeed, the loss may be negligible, and the conviction thereby reduced to a non-felony. Still, the conviction will not change Dunning's status as an author. – S. Rich (talk) 05:12, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

I have a copy of the plea agreement. I will NOT post it here, because it is against the law. And your assessment is more or less correct. I wouldn't bet on the "negligible" part however. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 20:43, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
I too have a copy of the plea agreement in my possession. I am working on contacting a lawyer with experience in the federal criminal court system to see how this document needs to be handled. --Hardindr (talk) 23:46, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Article title change -- needs discussion[edit]

The change of this article title is most significant and should be discussed before hand. At present (for me) it is late and I can't revert. A technical move may be required. WP:RM/TR. In the meantime, I urge other editors to take appropriate action. – S. Rich (talk) 06:35, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Wow, this is an utterly drastic BLP violation. I have reverted it. The discussion for deletion is here: Wikipedia:Redirects_for_discussion/Log/2013_May_24#Brian_Dunning_.28felon.29. IRWolfie- (talk) 09:01, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the revert. I tried to do a revert, but it did not succeed. – S. Rich (talk) 13:32, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Wow that was really ugly. Glad someone caught that quickly Sgerbic (talk) 21:45, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Wire Fraud Again[edit]

Someone added the wire fraud back into the lede. In fact it is the majority of the lede. This is NOT what he is known for. I would think that after how many years, if there was a good case against Dunning it would be in the news and maybe resolved by now? Can we get the lede rewritten correctly for what he is actually notable for? It looks like someone has an agenda against Dunning. 5 books and a very successful podcast I think should count for something. Sgerbic (talk) 16:35, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

Okay it is Dec 24th and no one has responded to this, so I'm changing it. Sgerbic (talk) 18:40, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
More information will be available about sentencing when it occurs in January 2014 (which is when I believe it will occur). I have added some information into the lede about it. As of now, it is not the majority of the lede. --Hardindr (talk) 21:49, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
We have seen dates come and go, and Ebay keeps giving this a pass. I still don't think that wire fraud is what he is most famous for, esp when there has been no sentencing and barely anything in the news about the event. As you seem to know something we don't "(which is when I believe it will occur)" in the feeling of "good faith" I won't argue over the lede for the moment. But I'll keep this page on my watchlist and think that we should revisit the lede in Feb if nothing has happened.Sgerbic (talk) 03:21, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
I have looked up his Federal criminal case on PACER, and there is an evidentiary hearing regarding the amount of money Dunning defrauded Ebay out of coming up in the middle of January 2014, after which the Federal judge who accepted the Dunning's guilty plea will pass sentence. We will have to see what happens, and if he grants Dunning's lawyer(s) more time to gather evidence for the hearing. I believe that Ebay dropped their civil suit against Dunning, et al. --Hardindr (talk) 14:48, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
I stand corrected, the hearing date for Dunning is at the end of January, so we will have to wait until then. --Hardindr (talk) 18:28, 10 January 2014 (UTC)
According to PACER, the evidentiary hearing scheduled for today is "vacated" and sentencing is schedule for April 28, 2014, pending a pre sentencing report from the Federal probation office. --Hardindr (talk) 19:35, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
And that means?Sgerbic (talk) 03:31, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
It means that we will know what his sentence is in April, and then it can be added. Please see your earlier comments on January 2nd of this year. --Hardindr (talk) 04:53, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Sentencing has been moved back to June 2nd of this year. --Hardindr (talk) 19:54, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Sentencing has now been moved back to August 4th of this year. --Hardindr (talk) 16:32, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

I'm a first-time reader of this article, and medium-experienced Wikipedia contributor, and thought I'd weigh in with my observations. I just came here to see if his site Skeptoid.com could be considered a reliable source in spite of its being self-published (i.e. if he's a recognized expert in the field who has been independently published in that field), and stumbled across this discussion. Checking Google, among the first hundred hits I looked at, there were only four independent reliable sources I noticed about the subject (Slate, LA Times, Ars Techncia, and the FBI), and all were about the criminal case. (I'm ignoring The Examiner as a not-reliable quasi-blog.) Looking at the Wikipedia article, I have my doubts that it would survive an AfD notability challenge except for his criminal activity. Most of the Wikipedia article's citations are trivial, used to support the trivia that comprises the "In the Media" section, which obfuscates the serious lack of significant independent reliable coverage about the subject. Meaningful biographical information such as his education or birth cite no references. All of his books, except a co-authored book on Adobe GoLive, seem to be self-published; his DVD is self-published; and obviously his podcast, websites, and social media accounts are self-published. His podcast awards indicate some notability, and I admit I don't know how heavily to weigh those. But if he hadn't been so successful and then unsuccessful as a criminal, I don't see any notability justification for this article. While it's entirely possible he's better known for his podcast, that's purely speculative, and as a fan you're probably overestimating his fame. Among independent coverage usable as Wikipedia sources, he seems best known for his crime, and none of the articles I linked mentioned his websites, books, or podcast. ––Agyle (talk) 07:46, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Notability and due weight are very different questions. One establishes article existence, the other establishes what goes in the article, IRWolfie- (talk) 19:22, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes. While I discuss notability as well, my conclusion addresses weight. Both issues, in this case, are based on coverage. ––Agyle (talk) 21:05, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

3rd Paragraph of Lead Section[edit]

I think this paragraph has a couple of issues.

  • 177,000 listeners / week is no longer current as stated (current is 157,000?), this is the figure at the time of the citation.
  • Cited article is mainly about the FBI investigation, only tangentially mentioning what's in that paragraph.
  • A different figure is given in body (174,000, also outdated, but at least it says the date this figure refers to), I think if a figure is given in the lead section is should reflect what's below in the main body of the article.
  • Lead section usually doesn't use citations (though I fully understand why Paragraph 2 has citations, as it's controversial, paragraph 3 is not controversial).

My suggestion: move reference [3] from paragraph 3 to paragraph 2, and changed the listener figure in paragraph 3 to reflect what's in the main body of the article. (also, perhaps update the figure in the main body of the article) — Lee A. Christie (talk) 17:12, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Lee_A_Christie those changes look well thought out. Why don't you make them and then we can see how it looks.Sgerbic (talk) 05:22, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
I've made the changes now. Hopefully this is okay. Also I used the archiveurl= and archivedate= format for the citation. — Lee A. Christie (talk) 15:40, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

Civil Case against Dunning dropped.[edit]

It appears that the civil case against Dunning has been dropped by the court. Both sides are responsible for their own court costs. Dunning was not fined. I assume that there is still a criminal case pending. Can we now update the page to show that there has been some movement forward with this glacial case? https://www.prolific.com/files.cgi/DIsmissal%20of%20eBay%20v%20Brian%20Dunning?tab=get&uuid=4PM79CBD4287SAVBLM46VDP851QT&filename=DIsmissal%20of%20eBay%20v%20Brian%20Dunning Sgerbic (talk) 02:08, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Tonight I reread the page and realized that someone had added quite a bit to the second paragraph that looked like editorializing. Some was speculation as well so I removed it all and we are left with just the facts. I've also added the court document. Mentioned it in the lede and cited it in the body. If someone feels that it should be worded differently please do so.Sgerbic (talk) 07:03, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
The court didn't drop the case, eBay did. Yes, the criminal case and civil cases are completely separate, the former in Federal Court and the latter in California district court. I hope no one speculates one is tied to another. Ebay may have dropped it for any number of reasons, some of which could be rather unsavory. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 18:28, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
I reverted Sgerbic's removal of information from the second paragraph from this edit. It summarizes Dunning's earlier career, and provides context for the paragraph's discussion of wire fraud. I also saw no speculation. It does not cite sources, as it is summarizing information from later in the article that cites sources, but if the accuracy of any part of the paragraph is challenged, remove it and describe here what's disputed or requires verification. (Since this is a biography of a living person, removal & discussion is recommended over tagging with Template:Citation needed). The addition of a sentence saying eBay dismissed their civil lawsuit makes no sense at that point in the article, when the lawsuit wasn't previously mentioned; in Sgerbic's version, even eBay wasn't previously mentioned. Information on the lawsuit could be added to the paragraph, but I consider it relatively unimportant compared to the details of the criminal case, and it seems sufficient to mention it in the section on the wire fraud case.
SkepticalRaptor, I agree, Wikipedia editors shouldn't try to interpret what the court's dismissal of the lawsuit may mean. It's unfortunate to rely on the court document in the first place, but there does not seem to be a secondary source about it, and it does seem to warrant mentioning given the lawsuit's earlier discussion, which is mentioned in secondary sources. Even a recent article that mentions eBay's lawsuit didn't mention that it was resolved. Perhaps it will be covered after his sentencing. Agyle (talk) 00:29, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
I removed some of the material from the second paragraph, which I restored as described above. Some of the information regarding Dunner's "trades" (screenwriting and computer programming), and Buylink's "collapse", was not mentioned or referenced later in the article, and I haven't seen corroborating sources. There's a podcast that's cited, which I haven't listened to, about his 2002 departure from Buylink, and it's possible that would include information on the company's demise. The citation is improperly vague, in that it lacks the time in which the information is stated, so if someone listens to it, please note the time and include in the "cite podcast" template reference (e.g., "| time=32:45"). Agyle (talk) 02:56, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

Regarding the dismissal of the eBay case, I've restored the info but simply said "dismissed". Technically the court dismissed the case, but did so at the request of the parties. (Not untypical, especially when a plaintiff requests a dismissal.) I do not think WP:BLPPRIMARY is violated with the link to the court document. The document only says the case was dismissed, and has nothing about the parties themselves or their activities or the allegations. – S. Rich (talk) 00:46, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

For background, the old statement was "The civil suit against Dunning was dismissed by EBay on May 23, 2014. All parties are responsible for their own court costs." The new sentence is "Pursuant to an agreement of the parties, the EBay civil suit was dismissed on May 23, 2014". Both cited this court document as the source.
My interpretation of WP:BLPPRIMARY is that this the court document should not be cited. It says "do not use trial transcripts and other court records", and the exception for court records discussed by a reliable secondary sources doesn't seem met here (I haven't seen the dismissal document discussed in reliable sources). The document lists Brian Dunning, briandunning.com, Kessler's Flying Circus (the company he cofounded), and other defendants it calls "collectively, the 'Brian Dunning Defendants'", and the sentence is obviously in this article because it refers to Dunning. I don't quite follow S. Rich's "nothing about the parties" rationale. It seems almost like a technicality; if the sentence had said "the eBay civil suit against Dunning was dismissed", that presumably wouldn't be okay since it's about Dunning, so omitting the implicit "against Dunning" shouldn't change that. Agyle (talk) 02:06, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
We cite court documents all the time. For example, Brown v. Board of Education, which deals with plaintiff Oliver Brown (civil rights). Primary sources can be used with caution in BLPs, and to be fair to Dunning we should make note of the dismissal of the civil case against him. The criminal case continues on, before the same judge, and sooner or later it will be resolved. "About the parties" is used in the sense that the court documents do not "support assertions about living person[s]" [emphasis added] in particular (like address, dates of birth, prior marriages, wealth, etc.) If BLPPRIMARY meant "do not use court documents, trial transcripts, etc" ever, it should say so. But it doesn't. – S. Rich (talk) 02:33, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
Ok, that seems to make sense; I had thought "support assertionsa bout living persons" was broader. Thanks for clarifying. Agyle (talk) 03:34, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Dunning blog post removal regarding fraud case[edit]

A 2011 skeptic.com blog post by Dunning, which was cited in the Wikipedia article, has been removed by Dunning, with a note saying "This post has been voluntarily removed by agreement." (Linked here). (My uninformed guess is that he and eBay settled their lawsuit, and the settlement terms either mentioned the post or included some prohibition about discussing the case in public). The blog post was the basis for a quote in the Wikipedia article that said the lawsuit was improper, and I think the basis for another statement regarding Dunning's assertion of innocence and the psychological toll of the case. I removed these statements, as they are no longer verifiable, unless they are were repeated/reported in another reliable source. Archive.org does not have a record of the blog post, due to a "robots.txt" file instructing it not to create archival copies.

A copy does still exist on a website called archive.today, and archive.today explains why they ignore robots.txt requests, but I think it should not be linked due to possible legal issues. I think I read a Wikipedia guideline instructing against linking to possibly copyright-violating archival copies of published material, but don't recall where. If someone else thinks this should be linked, please give a heads up here first, and I'll see if I can find the guideline.

The information about the fraud case lacks the balance of Dunning's own view now, but this seems largely due to legal advice Dunning followed, and an agreement concerning the blog post, not due to an intentional non-neutral point of view. The original blog post, if you read it, described this Wikipedia article (as of 2011) as being "factually true, through grossly misleading", and I'm guessing he may still feel the same way. I think this article follows third-party sources fairly well, though care should be taken when referring to Dunning vs. Dunning's company (e.g., the $5.2 million in payments were made to Dunning's company, according to the LA Times, not to Dunning himself), and when a secondary source explicitly attributes a source of its own for a fact, that should be repeated here.

Agyle (talk) 04:08, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

August 2014 Sentencing - Source?[edit]

I note that Allecher has removed a citation regarding Dunning's sentencing (correctly) per WP:BLPSPS, which does not permit the use of self-published sources in this case. I think we could do much better if we could find a source that is not hosted at a blog for this information. Perhaps a court document hosted at a reliable source or an archived copy would be sufficient? If there is a copy of that PDF that is not hosted at a blog, I think we should probably be able to use that. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. Nmillerche (talk) 21:55, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Will this do as a source? http://www.plainsite.org/dockets/i8l05f83/california-northern-district-court/usa-v-dunning/ > https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/doc1/035112042076 -- requires PACER login --173.11.43.145 (talk) 23:20, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestions. I've run into similar problems before on other pages and honestly never really understood why some editors would not allow links to court documents. That seems to be reliable to me but I'll await other comments here too. Allecher (talk) 20:08, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
If I'm not mistaken, this should fit the Template:Cite court format:
  • United States vs. Brian Dunning (California Northern District Court August 5, 2014). Text
Nmillerche (talk) 00:35, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Upon closer reading of WP:BLPPRIMARY, we are not to use court documents to support assertions about BLP subjects. The subject has also released a statement regarding the sentencing and wire-fraud case, and my understanding is that it can be used insomuch as no other BLP subjects are discussed, as it is a self-published source, albeit by the subject, per WP:SELFPUB, provided those guidelines are followed, namely that the coverage remain NPOV and not unduly self-serving.

Really? We're going to use a self-serving message from a felon to whitewash this article? Too bad we can't contact Ted Bundy to sanitize his article. They weren't serial murders. They were merely misunderstandings, and the government was out to get him. Hah. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 04:51, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
There is: [8]. Not sure how reliable it is, Second Quantization (talk) 17:40, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Imperial Valley? I'm a life long Californian, and I couldn't point out where that is on a map if it identified the location in 50 pt font. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 04:53, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Maybe Imperial Valley will help. (The magic of the internet and wikilinks!) – S. Rich (talk) 05:40, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Seriously, Dunning will be having a new set of experiences to undergo and consider over the next year. What he makes of them remains to be seen. But for our purposes, we need to simply state that he got convicted, and that he anticipates spending some time in the wikt:graybar hotel. We can use his WP:ABOUTSELF statement in this regard. Going beyond his anticipated vacation, e.g., into motives, victims, family, etc., would not be encyclopedic. (WRT template:cite court above, I do not think it is appropriate here. It deals with decisions that are reported as case law, which is not the situation here.) – S. Rich (talk) 06:28, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with your concern, SkepticalRaptor. That's why I suggested that if this material were used to include any information in the article, we'd need to take extreme care to make certain we did not cover it in a self-serving way, per WP:SELFPUB. On matters pertinent to the case, I expect we could quote Dunning without "whitewashing" the article, but we obviously can't expect Dunning's account to be neutral, and I'd rather use secondary sources. EDIT: I now note that the secondary source that Second Quantization found has already been added. Nmillerche (talk) 19:38, 9 August 2014 (UTC)