Talk:Essjay controversy/Archive 2

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Archive 1 | Archive 2 | Archive 3


User image uploaded by Essjay

I am restoring Image:Essjay.jpg, as it was uploaded under GFDL and illustrates the subject of an article. I do not intend to take part in the discussion for or against deletion of this article; but unless/until the article is deleted, I see no reason to delete the image. -- Infrogmation 23:21, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Do you believe including this image in this article at this time makes us a more valuable encyclopedia? Newyorkbrad 23:23, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
Chill? Gwen Gale 23:25, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Isn't it original research to say that this image illustrates the subject of the article? --Random832 16:36, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I believe Essjay uploaded the image himself so cannot be regarded as OR. There could however still be a question of if it really is himself. Munta 16:38, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
As Essjay was only here till recently and could still return I dont see any justification for deleting this image right now, SqueakBox 16:44, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I'll offer a dissenting view. For some people, such as major political leaders, photographs in their articles are essential. For others, it's useful but not essential; and for marginal figures, a photograph is completely beside the point. I think the photograph of Essjay is problematic because (1) even though he uploaded it, we can't "verify" that it's really him; and (2) his role on Wikipedia, and the scandal that led to his departure, are completely unrelated to his real-life appearance. Since the photograph's positive usefulness is null, I think it should be deleted in deference to BLP (i.e., he shouldn't have to suffer real-life embarrassment for his Wikipedia miscues, and a photo might cause him some trouble). I make this lengthy argument because I'm afraid that the article won't be deleted (which is my preferred outcome). YechielMan 08:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Absolutely agree 100% with what YechielMan says. ElinorD (talk) 11:50, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Erm, it's true, that pic could be as MUDdy as his CV. Would altering the caption help this? Gwen Gale 11:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I would support the caption change. He claimed it was himself and therefore it warrants being in the article - Munta 12:04, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
we have to consider that, in view of the veracity of the other information on Essjay's user page, that this image could not be him and therefore should be removed until it is proven to be him. On the other hand... who cares about seeing his image anyway AlfPhotoman 11:37, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't wanna be mean or anything, but has anyone else noticed that in the shadowy low contrast lighting, his T-shirt collar looks kinda like a clerical collar? Gwen Gale 11:45, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

We continue to use the adjusted self-uploaded image Image:Alanmcilwraith.jpg despite doubts about other information from the individual concerned. --Henrygb 17:23, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The image is at the very bottom of the article with a caption which clearly says there is no evidence as to whom it truly depicts. Gwen Gale 17:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Essjay's rationale for his bogus CV was to protect himself from stalking. But he uploads a picture that he claims is a self-portriat. Doesn't this raise any questions for anybody? If it does, then the picture is highly relevant and suitable for inclusion in this article. M (talk contribs) 20:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The picture is in the article, at the bottom. Gwen Gale 20:26, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Keep. The picture is in the article. A picture of the person of interest adds to the article. --QuackGuru 02:11, 7 March 2007 (UTC)


Does this work? — MichaelLinnear 02:51, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

New York Times

In case no one noticed, I added a link to a New York Times article. We've hit the big time. Uh-oh...--Jayzel 06:04, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

hmm... this is the point where I should be saying: Without malicious glee .... AlfPhotoman 12:05, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


[1] It's not working! Milto LOL pia 16:02, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Unless a pattern of disruption develops there's really no need to protect at this point. (Netscott) 16:25, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm more concerned that it was protected and not unprotected, but the protection isn't working. Milto LOL pia 16:28, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
The logs show that it was deleted and then restored after it was protected. Perhaps a deletion undoes a protection? ElinorD (talk) 16:30, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
It does. I have re-protected on the basis it was probably an oversight. -- zzuuzz(talk) 16:33, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

For the record

It appears some admin took it upon themselves to send an entire section and its history down the memory hole. --Jayzel 16:43, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

It does appear that the article's early history is gone. Gwen Gale 16:46, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, that too, but I was referring to a section here on the talk page. --Jayzel 16:59, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Ok, let's move on

El C has said he doesn't care if someone relists it, let's just do it and unprotect. Milto LOL pia 17:01, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Name change

Do you think a non-discussed move in the middle of an already messy situation might not have been the best idea?--RWR8189 02:57, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

While I still am inclined to think that this article should not exist if it is going to exist than this name is much better than the previous name. This article is not about "Essjay" but about the scandal. (Netscott) 03:00, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I think something along the lines of Essjay incident or Essjay scandal would be just as descriptive without being as long.--RWR8189 03:02, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Concur, but this is not exactly a well-known name. We should discuss a better replacement. The article isn't really about the editor or the person as much as the incident. Cool Hand Luke 03:03, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • It should be obvious: don't change the page name during an AfD. If someone wants to suggest that an article be renamed it should be done either during the AfD discussion, or afterwards -- but please don't confuse things even more by moving the page around while discussions are still in progress. As an additional note, "scandal" is a non-neutral article title; "controversy" would be preferable. --LeflymanTalk 03:07, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Disagree that scandal is non-neutral. Watergate was not a controversy. Neither was the doping scandal in baseball. Jimbo called it a scandal on his talk page. Everyone sees it as a scandal, not as a controversy with two supported points of view. Isn't it taking sides to NOT call it a scandal?Eh Nonymous 18:21, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I think the delay before a name change should be measured in weeks. After things settle down the best name can be selected based upon the contents of the article. (SEWilco 03:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC))
Essjaygate? Neil (not Proto ►) 12:58, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Umm, *smile* John Vandenberg 13:14, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Spooky thing is, it's somewhat supported. Gwen Gale 13:16, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
May I suggest What Essjay is not - ;) - Munta 14:35, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Haha aye, give it a few weeks and slip it by as a stealth redirect. Gwen Gale 14:43, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Essjay controversy would be preferable as it is more neutral than the curent article title. -- T. (湯瑪斯) 13:19, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Scandal is far to POV. Incident is mealy mouthed and possibly POV in playing down the situation. Controversy seems to fit the bill perfectly. But as SEWilco says, its perhaps best to leave it for a while Munta 14:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I'd suggest 'Essjay misrepresentation controversy' or just Essjay controversy. Anchoress 14:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
That would be helpful. Gwen Gale 14:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Essjay controversy sounds about right. ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 14:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I forgot to say, with redirects. Gwen Gale 14:33, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
IMO the name is better but far from perfect. Essjay wikipedia scandal or Essjay (wikipedia user) scandal would be better but I support the name change, SqueakBox 15:02, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
"Essjay Controversy" is a lot more neutral than "Essjay Scandal" - scandal implies moral or legal wrongdoing (not the case), whereas controversy is ambiguous, bereft of any negative connotations. Sfacets 15:31, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Whatever happens, I think the name should include 'Wikipedia'. The only reason this controversy has attracted any attention in the media at all is because it involves Wikipedia. If no merge happens, I'd suggest changing the title to something like Wikipedia academic credential controversy. The identity of the user in question is of no particular interest outside of the Wikipedia editor community, merely what he claimed about himself. JulesH 15:46, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with JulesH about including "Wikipedia". This is self-reference and the title should make it clear, such as Wikipedia Essjay controversy. --Henrygb 17:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
This article as built is not self reference. The text is supported by cites from secondary sources. Gwen Gale 17:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia credentials controversy? I would support such an article that didnt just focus on Essjay (ie I woul;d change my afd vote), SqueakBox 17:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
So far Essjay is the only one who's been outed. I feel bad for Essjay but he's all over the news now. Gwen Gale 18:03, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Second. If there were multiple people being outed and covered unfavorably whose connecting link was false or no credentials, that name would make sense. But so far it's all about Essjay and to a lesser extent, Jimbo's support of him. --Gwern (contribs) 20:43 7 March 2007 (GMT)
Maybe we should just wait for some news outlet to come up with some sensationalist name à la CNN. Sfacets 10:40, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Some links to info that has been"disappeared"

Some of us expected this and archived some things with

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 03:48, 6 March 2007

Those were all part of Wikipedia's meta-content, and as such, at best, might be considered primary sources not secondary sources, as required of all articles. They would not be appropriate to base an article's contents on, even if they still "existed". --LeflymanTalk 04:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

so what is the justification for deleting such meta-content? There is even less justification for removing material about a significant event from WP. Removing the article, you are just removing an important article about a N individual; wrong though it may be, that can be recreated. . Removing primary content, whoever does that is removing the basis on which the recreation can be done. Even accepting your rationale, it further prevents the writing by other people of proper secondary articles, which can then be properly cited. It's like removing an audit trail. Removing documents from the record never is a good idea.
Further, it interferes with the discussion of ongoing process about the people who may have been involved in this. Do the quotes around "existed" indicate the hope that they will remain invisible? Will whoever removed them please restore them to where they were. It would restore some of the attitude of AGF that has lessened as a consequence of this incident. DGG 04:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • What "ongoing process" does it interfere with? EssJay has retired from the project -- what more could one possibly want? Tar and feathering? Wikipedians have a "right to vanish" if they desire, and to have their user page and sub-pages deleted. This is the option EssJay exercised, as is his prerogative. There is no point in restoring his words just to hold him for ridicule, no matter how much fun that might seem to be.--LeflymanTalk 05:08, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
The message on User:Essjay/Letter mentions right to vanish, which allows deletion of a user's pages such as that one. (SEWilco 05:13, 6 March 2007 (UTC))
Those are gone for the same reason that his user talk page is no longer editable: the verdict on Essjay's actions has been reached, and he's gone. Therefore it is of no advantage to us whatsoever to allow his continued derision.
Furthermore this talk page topic is in violation of talk page guidelines as it does not involve the improvement of the article, and I move that it, and any other topics which serve no purpose but discussion of Essjay himself and what an "evil naughty boy" he was, be removed both per the talk page guidelines,, WP:NPA, and quite possibly WP:BLP. --tjstrf talk 05:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
The user wanted links added to the article. It does seem to be related. Besides, as noted above, this isn't so much a biography as an article about a controversy. Cool Hand Luke 05:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
All contributions to the project make be taken and used by anyone with attribution. ("If you don't want your writing ... redistributed by others, do not submit it.") Moreover, user pages still belong to the community, a notion at serious odds with the right to vanish. That said, there's no reason to restore his words here. You have them cached, and I'm sure at least some slashdotters do too. We're not trying to destroy evidence; the information's already out. We're just trying to maintain our community. Cool Hand Luke 05:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Cool hand is correct, and I fail to see how having the links here would be a BLP or NPA issue. JoshuaZ 05:27, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
To clarify my statement, the NPA and BLP parts do not apply to this particular thread but will to the general class of threads that I am talking about. Basically, I fear that this thread is just a harbinger of more of the praise/deride nonsense that was going on at User talk:Essjay and am trying to get a preemptive agreement that those not be tolerated here. Sorry if I sounded a bit over reactive, but the IPs who have been posting those links everywhere even remotely applicable are also engaging in general trolling and cabal accusations (e.g. [2]) so my good faith that they "merely" wish to improve this article with some primary sourcing is a bit strained. --tjstrf talk 05:36, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
With all due respect, sir or madam, that is some really pathetic nonsense. How are archives of Essjay's own pages, which are actual historical documents that provide the primary means by which the people of the earth may study and document this case, considered "praise/deride nonsense" in your book? What you have stated is the sort of nonsense that guaran-dang-tees that Wikipedia will continue its pathway into the gutter and financial dry-up. 07:11, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Motive is everything. In 7 edits you have already shown yours to be guided by mistrust, claimed to be a disgruntled ex-editor, and demonstrated your belief in administrative conspiracy. I find this exceedingly hard to justify with your claim that you are posting these links just for the sake of objective future journalism. --tjstrf talk 07:21, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
The above discussion included requests for Wikipedia to restore the user pages. If those user pages are not used as sources, then the topic now shifts to using external forks of the user's pages? (SEWilco 05:39, 6 March 2007 (UTC))
Yes, links to primaries in the talk page are common in biographies and entirely appropriate. However, we really want to avoid using primary sources in the article whenever possible. (I'm not sure which you were advocating, JoshuaZ.) It's difficult to use primaries without violating WP:NOR. Unless covered elsewhere, I see no reason to reproduce here. Moreover, WP:BLP applies to biographical information in non-biographies as well. For embarassing statements and so forth, we'd want to be careful and wait for the press to cite them before we follow. Cool Hand Luke 05:41, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
To clarify, I was agreeing with Cool Hand that having the=is discussion on this page was policy-wise fine. And second, noting that none of the primary sources constitute reliable sources for Wikipedia purposes. Cool Hand is also correct to point out the OR issues. JoshuaZ 05:43, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The following should be included in the "further reading" section of this article:

It is completely normal in many articles I have read on Wikipedia to include links to primary material on the article. 07:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I believe we heard you the first time. Users Leflyman, Cool Hand Luke, and JoshuaZ have all addressed this already as well. We do not use primary sources except as a last resort, especially in the case of subjects which are controversial and open to interpretation. In this case, not only do we have secondary sources in abundance but there is no way to give any context to the links without getting into WP:NOR violation. So they should not be placed on the main page. --tjstrf talk 08:13, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

To put it another way, the whole article must be supported by statements and other material published by outside secondary sources, no self-reference. It's a pain when dealing with WP subjects but it also works as a kind of safety against excessive "naval gazing" or whatever on WP based topics. Gwen Gale 08:21, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I see someone's tagged a "primary sources" section onto the bottom of the article space. I'm ok with that I guess, given all the out of process efforts made to erase it. Gwen Gale 08:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Funny that none of us (IP guy included) noticed until now. The above discussion suggests that they be deleted as nothing more than glorified externally hosted self-refs. You'll notice there isn't a link to User talk:Essjay as a source, or even User talk: Jimbo Wales, whose quotations on that page we cite, for that same reason. --tjstrf talk 08:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah :) As you also imply, I'm ok with them though cuz they aren't used to support any of the text. I'd want to zap them from the article if so much effort hadn't been made to rm them from the project space. Ironically, those efforts in themselves made these items "news." Gwen Gale 09:00, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I was the one who added them and none of the above concerns against their use are grounded since the WebCite archived pages are not used to cite any of the text of the article but are within a "For further reading" section. Most, most obviously, Wikipedia bears no responsibility whatsoever for laying out "context" for links added to a "For further reading" section of a page - besides, it is certainly only the worst sort of twisted logic that would say the article gives no context for the links. Such links must only be related to the subject of the article and be useful additions for readers. No possible grounded argument can be made that the added links are not useful "Further reading" for readers. If citing source documents in articles stemming from source documents are not allowable in Wikipedia, please go remove
As I said, either way I'm ok with them in the article, there is sufficient context for them. Gwen Gale 09:10, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Let me add one more thing. I truly hope I do not hear something so inane as to say that WebCite cached webpages are unreliable. I am very surprised - actually, I am not at all surprised - to surmise that it seems no one here even has prior even known what WebCite is, having called it all sorts of silly names in a vain attempt to downplay it. WebCite is the "gold standard" way to cite webpages in academia and hundreds of academic journals require webpages to be cited thereby. It would truly be a comical scenario if some editors here tried to say WebCite was somehow no good. Moreover, Wikipedia's own policy on What to do when a reference link goes dead encourages users to use WebCite. C.m.jones 09:16, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
For what it's worth I never said that, I only said they were cheats because before (not now), they were being used to support the article narrative. The only worry about them is that they're self-referential to WP but as I hope we've established, the context of all this makes it ok to tuck links to them at the bottom of the article. They are not, however, appropriate for supporting text in the narrative. Gwen Gale 09:24, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't recall referring to them by "silly names", simply calling them what they are: a set of self-refs from a list that is being bandied about by some cabal conspiracy trolls in various meta-discussions. WebCite's credibility as a reliable mirror of content is not under attack here. --tjstrf talk 09:27, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
You must be referring to the "For further reading" links that point to Essjay's pages, et al. You know, the very same historical pages used by the reporters in all those News articles within the same section but that have been deleted. C.m.jones 10:04, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Cite the reporters, not the WP content. Gwen Gale 10:08, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Anyway the images are not appropriate for the body of the article text but I've no wish to edit war about it. I suggest they at least be moved down to the primary sources section. Gwen Gale 11:13, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I'll second that AlfPhotoman 12:03, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

put on a good face

As there is an increasing amount of coverage pointing in this direction, it would be a good idea to clean up any article that this one links to. For example, 24 Hours, Radar (magazine), The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Register all need either infoboxes or general improvement; The Independent and Andrew Orlowski also have some red links that could be hunted down or we could put a stub behind them. Ideally, dont tag the articles as the tags are monstrosities only fit for editors to see; instead, make these article stunning! John Vandenberg 12:31, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Ah~, some good spirits in a bad situation, thanks AlfPhotoman 12:36, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Breaking news

New media outlets publishing articles on the topic; The Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal has possibly new information. Also GOOGLE news search result sorted by date. Anchoress 12:57, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

  • a very thorough article with plenty of extra info for the article. - Nice find. Munta 13:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
This provides some support for the notion that Essjay may have still been fudging a bit about his background in his apologies. However, it does provide support that he has given his true name. Gwen Gale 13:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

BBC News article. – Chacor 15:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I just popped back in to see if anyone had brought up the BBCi article. I'm very glad the article title has been changed to refer to the incident, not the person. Neil (not Proto ►) 15:34, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
It's currently on the front page of the BBC news website. ( Neil (not Proto ►) 15:52, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yep, and in the top three most read stories. – Chacor 15:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Popularity by Area
    • Australasia - 1st
    • Africa - 7th
    • South America - 1st
    • Asia - 2nd
    • Europe - 2nd
    • UK - 2nd
    • North America - 1st Munta 16:22, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The place to mention these numbers is the AfD. JoshuaZ 16:29, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks - just thought it relivant to add to the last comment. I'll place it in the Afd. Anyone - feel free to delete if you see fit Munta 16:37, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


Is there an actual source for "birthplace=United States" or is this an assumption based on his apparent location and background? Gwen Gale 15:47, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

It's probably an assumption. But as it is decidedly non-controversial, it can be left in. Neil (not Proto ►) 15:51, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Non controversial but wholly unsupported. With all due respect, it's sloppy. Why risk getting it wrong? He could have been born in Germany or wherever to a military family, for example. Gwen Gale 15:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think there should be a single word that is unsourced in this. I would remove it now, but this account is to new to edit this page. HowIBecameCivil 15:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I'll second that, if there is something to learn from this it is to delete everything (everywhere) that is not properly sourced and referenced AlfPhotoman 17:43, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Aye, 'tis the only way to wikihappiness :) Gwen Gale 18:04, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Continuing in this vein, his birthday is written as 1982/83. While reliable sources have said he is 24, the fact remains we don't know when he was born. Saying he was born in 1982/83, is essentially saying we don't know... should information we're unsure of be in the article? AniMate 23:06, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

And continuing in this vein, can we be sure that he was actually born? Maybe he just appeared one day in Lexington, Kentucky, strolled into one of their social security offices & got a SSN, then went to a DMV office & got a driver's license, and later that day signed up for some classes at a local college. Can we not be too suspicious of any fact or inference? -- llywrch 04:06, 7 March 2007 (UTC)


This is terrible. Can somepone fix this and remove the clean-up tag please, SqueakBox 15:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Criticism of Wikipedians

I have a great idea for a new article which parts of this article may be applied. Please start a new article titled Criticism of Wikipedians and I will meet you at the stub. --QuackGuru 18:01, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Edit needed

This page is locked, so I can't edit it. Please could someone correct the heading "New Yorker Interview" to "New Yorker interview"? Thanks! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:51, 6 March 2007 (UTC).

Done. Smee 18:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC).

New Yorker interview section

The name at the start of this section is given as Jordan: while accepting that there's evidence that's his name, to me it reads better to have Essjay at the start as the name the interview was given under, followed by the revelation of Jordan's name in the later correction to the article. Fits better with the name of this article, too. Any comment? .. dave souza, talk 18:57, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

His true name does seem to have been confirmed in some news reports. Several reporters have called his former schools (as in community college) and gotten confirmations he attended. Gwen Gale 19:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Dave. The intro should be a reference to the subject matter. We are not discussing Ryan as the article is about his online persona. His name is secondary to the fact that he misled the New Yorker and the wiki community. Lets keep his name out of the intro and in the body, at least out of repect of Ryan and those who would rather this article didn't exist - regards - Munta 19:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree fully with Munta, SqueakBox 19:59, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yep. Gwen Gale 20:09, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • just to add - to be truly encyclopedic, the information in the article should roughly follow the time line of event. Ryans name should not really appear in the article until the section about the New Yorker outing him. If its ok with everyone, I'll make some changes on that basis. - Regards Munta 20:11, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, that looks much better and completely overcomes the problems I had with this when it was a biographical article under the title of Essjay's real name. .. dave souza, talk 20:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)