Talk:Cathy Davidson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
WikiProject Biography / Science and Academia (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the science and academia work group.
Note icon
It is requested that a photograph or picture of this person be included in this article to improve its quality.
Note: Wikipedia's non-free content use policy almost never permits the use of non-free images (such as promotional photos, press photos, screenshots, book covers and similar) to merely show what a living person looks like. Efforts should be made to take a free licensed photo (for example, during a public appearance), or obtaining a free content release of an existing photo instead. The Free Image Search Tool may be able to locate suitable images on Flickr and other web sites.
WikiProject Chicago (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject iconThis article is within the scope of WikiProject Chicago, which aims to improve all articles or pages related to Chicago or the Chicago metropolitan area.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
Note icon
This article has been automatically rated by a bot or other tool because one or more other projects use this class. Please ensure the assessment is correct before removing the |auto= parameter.

Lacrosse case[edit]

I've restored the section on the Lacrosse case/ad issue. Before re-removing, please state why it isn't notable. I do realize that, in general, BLP prescribes that potentially damaging claims be referenced, but considering it included a link directly to the article that had the reference anyway, a simple 'fact' tag likely would have sufficed. Either way, it's a moot point now. I just copied the reference from the other article. (talk) 08:27, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

It was originally challenged as not factual because there isn't any citation that Cathy Davidson was one of the signatories. After spending some time researching the issue, it seems that the original ad ( does not "attack the players" or "prejudge" their guilt or innocence. The ad seems to be a compilation of student comment about racism and sexism at the time of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. I further researched for any substantiation on the "Group of 88" and couldn't find anything outside of the Wikipedia entry about it. The entry mainly quotes articles about the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, which has its own wikipedia entry, and the works of KC Johnson. There was quite a controversy over the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, and all political statements at the time received quite a bit of press hype. But, it seems that this section is an unsubstantiated and sensationalist claim, that can, at best, be considered an argument held by a minority group. Given that this is a BLP, wikipedia editors must err on the side of caution. There are several tags that could have worked here - WP: UNSOURCED, WP: VALID, WP: UNDUE, WP: NPOV, WP: WELLKNOWN. It just seemed like the simplest tag was that it was unsourced. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:05, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Erm... actually...
First, you seem to be making a personal judgement over whether or not the ad really was fair. Besides being Original Research, it's entirely beside the point. Reliable sources have decided that it's noteworthy, as is membership in the so-called 'Group of 88'.
(That said, "These students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman..." pretty much discards any notion of not pre-judging)
If you feel that the 'Group of 88' itself is non-notable, then you should probably address that at the appropriate article, rather than here; since that would be the central point to debate it. However, I'm not sure what you mean when you claim to be unable to find any other substantiation of the Group of 88 outside of Wikipedia. It's It is easy to find references to the Group of 88. So, it was certainly a documented and notable term, irrespective of judgement over their actions.
If you're referring to proof that she was a member of it, there are a couple of links across the articles to lists of signatories.
If you think it's undue weight by virtue of size, then try to refactor it. If you think it's undue in the sense of irrelevant to her, well, in addition to adding her name to the ad voluntarily, she's since explicitly commented on the whole affair. So, she certainly felt that her involvement in the ad was notable.
I'm not sure what this 'minority group' argument is about. You need to be more specific if you're going to blank an entire section.
I'm restoring for now because your personal Original Research isn't a valid argument, and notability has been more than established. Everything's sourced. So, even if it isn't written well, it certainly doesn't meet any threshold that would warrant entire section-blanking. If you wish to rewrite it, do so (while still preserving relevant facts). However, there's already clearly more than enough evidence that outright blanking isn't warranted. (talk) 19:01, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Let me try to be clearer about my concerns. According to WP: BLPDEL, "Summary deletion is appropriate when the page contains unsourced negative material or is written non-neutrally, and when this cannot readily be rewritten or restored to an earlier version of an acceptable standard." When you first restored it on Feb 17, it had been removed (not by me) because the sources did not link Cathy Davidson to the 'Group of 88'. I understand you have found two sources to provide that link. So, it's not entirely unsourced. But, it is written in a non-neutral, negative way. The flags on this subject, going back a couple years indicate that it cannot be restored to a previously acceptable version. I also don't see a way to edit the section to provide a balanced view without making it even longer than it is now.

As it is, the subject is already given undue weight. According to WP: UNDUE, "Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views as much of, or as detailed a description as more widely held views.... Discussion of isolated events, criticism or news reports about a subject may be verifiable and impartial, but still disproportionate to their overall significance to the article topic." This topic of the article is Cathy Davidson. The accomplishments listed in her career section are quite short entries. For instance, she co-founded HASTAC, which has been around for 10 years and has 10,000 members. That ten years has one sentence in this wikipedia article about Cathy Davidson. The section on the Duke Lacrosse controversy, which concerns one advertisement and one statement by Cathy Davidson in 2006, is four sentences long, and has its own section.

I hate to further bog us down in discussion of citations, but most of the citations here aren't reliable sources. WP: SOURCES says to "Base articles on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.... The best sources have a professional structure in place for checking or analyzing facts, legal issues, evidence, and arguments. The greater the degree of scrutiny given to these issues, the more reliable the source." And, according to WP: BLPREMOVE, wikipedia users are supposed to "remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced." These are the citations currently in use:

1. Johnson, KC. "Source Notes for Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case" Retrieved on 27 July 2012. - There is no description on this webpage that actual says it's "source notes" for KC Johnson's book, and there's no indication that this list was actually published.

2. The Johnsville News: Duke Case: The 'listening' statement. (2006-11-10). Retrieved on 2012-04-20. - This is a blog post without a declared author, which doesn't qualify as a reliable source in wiki's policy.

3. Bauerlein, Mark. (2010-05-26) The Group of 88 Is Doing Just Fine – Brainstorm – The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved on 2012-04-20. - While this is on the Chronicle's website, it is a blog post, with the comment next to it that: "Posts on Brainstorm present the views of their authors. They do not represent the position of the editors, nor does posting here imply any endorsement by The Chronicle."

The two additional citations you gave are: 4. Whatever Happened to the Group of 88? - This is an "essay" posted as part of Minding the Campus online magazine, but there's no description of the editing or fact-checking process that happens to their "essays." It looks quite a lot like a personal blog post to me.

5. "Group of 88" faculty hears criticism in the wake of lax scandal - This does cite a published news article. It gives a much more balanced account, though, including comments about how "the advertisement's content has been widely misinterpreted." Then, we've looped back around to the section being written in a biased and negative way.

Any of these three reasons is sufficient to blank the whole section, especially because this is a BLP. I'm not trying to be abrasive by quoting the wikipedia policies, but my references to the tags wasn't providing enough context to explain the reasons why this section should be blanked. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

I think it needs a rewrite, but, in the meantime... "...when this cannot readily be rewritten or restored to an earlier version of an acceptable standard." pretty much guarantees that blanking was the wrong course of action. I know your heart's in the right place, but the action was certainly wrong.
I'd also say that it does need to still be included because (as our friend has pointed out on the BLP page) it's not only documented, but also addressed by Davidson herself.
I tried taking a look, and I don't have it quite figured out yet. My closest rewrite is, During the 2006 Duke University lacrosse case, she was one[12] of the so-called Group of 88 professors who, shortly after members of the university's lacrosse team were accused of rape, signed a controversial letter thanking protesters for "making a collective noise" on "what happened to this young woman."[13] After a year-long ordeal, the lacrosse players were found innocent of the rape charges.
To be honest, it has a bit of a 'whitewash' feel to it, though, because it takes out all notion of prejudging, which "what happened to this young woman" certainly does. It wouldn't be hard to find a citation pointing out the prejudging, but the other IP thus far has only found Ann Coulter, right? Technically valid, but I think I'll borrow his/her 'shudder' on that one. Still, other than that one aspect, what do either/both of you think? (Additionally, since that'd make it shorter, I'm not sure that the section header would really be necessary, but first-things-first, n'est-ce pas?) (talk) 04:12, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

A wiki administrator blanked it on Dec 20, so I still don't think it was out of line to take it down, especially if the section needed this much attention. Also, Cathy Davidson has an active blog and there are lists of articles by her. If we included everything she'd commented on once, her page would be tremendously long!

If we're considering rewriting, I found a few citations that would be helpful: 1. Text of the paid advertisement: 2. Text of Cathy Davidson's commentary: (the Raleigh News & Observer archived article is linked off of this page:, but the link doesn't seem to work) 3. Another blog post for the list of signatories - - It shows 89, rather than the notes of KC Johnson that gives 88. I know there's some controversy over this, but this was the most reputable list I could find, and it's still only a blog post.

Here's my try at a rewrite (that represents both Cathy Davidson's and the critics' viewpoints on the issue): In 2006, Cathy Davidson was one of 88 or 89 signatories (cite one of the blog posts?) of an advertisement in the Duke Chronicle that begins by saying that the faculty are "listening to our students....the Durham community, the Duke staff, and to each other" about "the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be the objects of racism and sexism" (cite) during the Duke Lacrosse Case. Some later interpreted the statement "what happened to this young woman" in the advertisement as a presumption of guilt in the case. (cite) In an article in the Raleigh News and Observer, Davidson stated that "the ad we signed explicitly was not addressed to the police investigation or the rape allegations. The ad focused on racial and gender attitudes all too evident in the weeks after March 13. It decried prejudice and inequality in the society at large: 'It isn’t just Duke, it isn’t everybody, and it isn’t just individuals making this disaster,' the ad insisted." (cite) I still think this is giving undue weight to the issue (WP:UNDUE), given that there is one sentence about her 10-year involvement with a 10,000-member organisation.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:45, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

No, there are no WP:BLP issues here and it most decidedly is not WP:UNDUE. It is more likely a case of buyer's remorse on the part of Cathy Davidson . I intend to re-add the information to the article. Ms. Davidson, I am sure, made a very calculated decision to add her name to the list, and to write the subsequent "commentary" on a case that received extensive national attention. I find it very odd that one IP editor wrote that if we "included everything she'd commented on once, her page would be tremendously long!". But then we aren't, are we, just those that have garnered national attention, and that's hardly undue, is it? Hammersbach (talk) 02:14, 14 May 2014 (UTC)
The lacrosse controversy passage was resolved as WP:UNDUE on the Noticeboard (Archive171) in March 2013. I'm removing the section again. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:49, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
Please re-read the applicable section on the Noticeboard. You’ll see that the lacrosse controversy passage was “resolved as WP:UNDUE” as one of the commenting editors (the only registered editor) found the comments to be “clear cases of copy-paste based on negative/controversy blog sources which do not mention any of the living subjects at hand.” That is hardly the case with the edit that I have made and in fact, I am providing a direct quote from Ms. Davidson. Hammersbach (talk) 16:34, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
No, the section was immediately removed because of "the clear cases of copy-paste" but that comment goes on to say "Any hands and eyes as to sourcing and WP:WEIGHT will be appreciated.". It was agreed that a section like this violated WP:WEIGHT and that same editor earlier stated "I'll give the IP a moment to remove these sections. I will curtail them myself if they remain." Helpsome (talk) 12:11, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
No, I have reviewed this talk page and the applicable section on the Noticeboard and I am unable to find anywhere that “It was agreed that a section like this violated WP:WEIGHT…” I would like to point out that the sentence you quote, "Any hands and eyes as to sourcing and WP:WEIGHT will be appreciated", does not imply closure, rather that the editor is clearly asking for assistance. Additionally, it should be noted that this comment was made in reference to the articles on Houston Baker and Anne Allison, not Cathy Davidson. However, the main objection from that editor, correctly in my opinion, is that the passages in questions are “based on negative/controversy blog sources which do not mention any of the living subjects at hand.” That is distinctly not the case with the edit I made. I have used none of the offending blog sources. My edit is balanced, properly sourced and, as I noted above, I am providing a direct quote from Ms. Davidson on the subject. As such, I am restoring the edit. Hammersbach (talk) 16:19, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
I would like to assume good faith but it is impossible to come to the conclusion that you have by reading that noticeboard. Literally everyone except the person adding that information agreed that it violated WP:WEIGHT. There isn't a single comment against that consensus except the IP adding the information. You are adding information that violates WP:WEIGHT and doing so in direct opposition to everyone else who has commented on this issue. Please stop POV pushing. Helpsome (talk) 19:06, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

So, I am "POV pushing"... hmmm... let's take a look! The first thing we should note is that the previous editor points to the quote on the Noticeboard, "Any hands and eyes as to sourcing and WP:WEIGHT will be appreciated." and then declares that it "was agreed that a section like this violated WP:WEIGHT". When I tried to point out that the phrase "will be appreciated" clearly is a request for assistance, not a statement of closure, I was informed that it is "impossible" to come to that conclusion, and this can only mean one thing; that I don't understand the future tense of the King's English, so... push, push, push! The second thing we should note is the mathematical fact promulgated by the previous editor that "Literally everyone except the person adding that information agreed that it violated WP:WEIGHT. There isn't a single comment against that consensus except the IP adding the information." Yut, that's right, I must confess that there was literally only one IP editor who disagreed on the Noticeboard. Now the fact that there was only a grand total of just three editors to comment doesn't matter. The plain fact of the matter is that the third editor made the definitive difference and sealed the ironclad "consensus" on this weighty matter. For me to disagree in any way with this well established consensus is, well... push, push, push! The third thing we should note is that the edit that I have made is distinctly different from the edit that is being discussed on this talk page and on the Noticeboard. The one that is being discussed is a “clear case(s) of copy-paste based on negative/controversy blog sources which do not mention any of the living subjects at hand” while mine is a properly sourced and balanced edit and which directly quotes Ms. Davidson, but apparently that doesn't matter so... push, push, push!


Whether or not the previous editor chooses to assume good faith on my part or not troubles me not at all. The bare fact of the matter is that Ms. Davidson choose to insert herself, through the media, as a member of a group and as an individual, into a controversy that had gained national and international attention. I have attempted to add this fact in a neutral, balanced, and impartial way, and one that is completely different from the previous version. If my edit has violated WP:Weight then I would like to know specifically how. As it stands right now, I find the accusation that I am "POV pushing" to be inaccurate. Hammersbach (talk) 01:09, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

Conflict of interest violations[edit]

I thought it was suspicious how there was no mention of Davidson's role in the Group of 88 in this article so decided to examine the various IPs who have all been so firmly against such inclusion. made quite a few Davidson related edits accords Wikipedia. While some were uncontroversial, at least 6 significant edits were made opposing the Duke Lacrosse scandal material in 2013, either posting here and on noticeboards or simply removing engaging in wholesale removal of the content. While the initial version of text added did have some minor sourcing issues it's extremely clear that the material in question is highly notable and not UNDUE in the slights as was incorrectly being argued. Perhaps most worrying of all was that the IP also opposed inclusion of any such mention of the group of 88 controversy for any of Davidson's colleagues either, some of whom played even more significant roles in the Group of 88 than she did. A WHOIS check of the IP shows it to be from Duke University, who were Davidson's employer at the time.

On 1st of July 2014 a second IP started editing the page, their very first contribution being the removal of the Duke lacrosse material (despite the sourcing now being improved). The IP is question belongs to Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Davidson started work there on the 1st July 2014 (her husband also moved from Duke to CUNY at the same time). The CUNY edits, reasoning, style and knowledge of the issues appear remarkably similar to the Duke IP, therefore suggesting it may be the same editor who used both IPs. Term dates show the final examinations were on May 18th and the next semester begins on August 28th [1], meaning there are few students around thus significantly increasing the likelihood that the edit was made by a staff member.

As far as I'm aware, neither of these two IPs disclosed their WP:COI on any of the issues at any time. I've now tagged the IPs and reminded them about our policies on this matter. The various comments above and elsewhere by the IP should therefore be viewed in the context of the conflict of interest of the author, and I'd ask them to be a little more honest about this in future please.

Update - some further "interesting" edits from a different Duke IP [2][3]--Shakehandsman (talk) 16:02, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

I note the account User:Nigel Pap was registered within an hour of my posting of the above revelations. Nigel has almost exclusively made posts in support of removing Group of 88 material, in a manner quite similar to the COI IPs and also appears to have a similar level of familiarity with Wikipedia policies and proceedures.--Shakehandsman (talk) 17:18, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
I have no affiliation with with Duke University, CUNY, any of the professors in the Group of 88, or anyone else involved in the Duke lacrosse case. I have no conflict of interest. The fact that I registered shortly after these comments were posted is a coincidence. Although there may be a connection between the IPs listed by Shakehandsman, I see no reason to assume that they are Cathy Davidson herself or that they have a conflict of interest. Nigel Pap (talk) 19:31, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
You clearly misunderstand our polices here. It's reasonably certain that the two IPs are related, but even that doesn't matter so much. We've proved beyond any doubt that they both belong to institutions that employed Davidson at the time of the edits by the IPs. For those affiliated with Duke and CUNY to be removing Group of 88 material represents a blatant breach of our COI guidelines. If it's not Davidson making these edits then its likely to be one of her colleagues (possibly another member of the 88?) or perhaps one of her students and none of these things are allowed. It wasn't so terrible the first time when the sourcing/prose was less than perfect, but the most recent edits in particular really do not seem motivated by a wish to improve the article. Anyway. please read up on our COI guidelines, it's important that editors understand them. I should also note that none of those IP editors have reappearance since Nigel joined us here, and while that proves nothing in itself, is it a little strange on top of everything else--Shakehandsman (talk) 20:58, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
It would be reasonable to expect that students or educators at Duke (or other institutions) would be especially interested in this issue. There is no conflict of interest simply because the IP is associated with Duke. Nigel Pap (talk) 22:28, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes there is. Any person seeking to gain a qualification from Duke has an interest in the reputation of the institution and that reputation is damaged by the scandal (particularly for any of the departments strongly associated with the 88). Very few of the 88 lost their jobs as a result of their actions, and most seem to still be there today so its not as if we're taking about ancient history or simply the actions of former long-gone staff. Now there's nothing wrong with these COI editors engaging in this discussion, though of course they should declare their COI first, the real problem is the censorship of group of 88 material by these COI editors/editor--Shakehandsman (talk) 22:48, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the info. I see they now both work at CUNY so it's quite brave a of him to do that.--Shakehandsman (talk) 03:17, 14 July 2014 (UTC)