Talk:Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street)

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The original article here was indeed copied directly from the Sesame Encyclopedia, by an anon, likely a newbie to Wikipedia. However, subsequent versions of this article are in no way derived from this other resource.

Sincerely, I think the complainant merely has sour grapes that we're replacing the need for his limited focus guide, by replacing the need for his fan-site with a superior format compendium. -- user:zanimum

Mr. Johnson and Anything Muppets[edit]

In the article Anything Muppet Fat Blue is listed as a type of Anything Muppet, and Mr. Johnson is listed as an example of the type. The article Mr. Johnson refers to some non-Muppet person, so I created Mr. Johnson (Muppet) as a redirect to this page.--Larrybob 13:44, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

January 2008[edit]

I've removed and summarized many of the specific examples of the character's skits, as they appeared to be extraneous. As the skits are so similar to each other, a summary seemed appropriate. There was already such a summary, so I expanded it and added some material. I also commented out several images, as they appeared to be largely similar to one another. I played with the format a bit as well, to break up what was otherwise a solid string of photos. Please have a look and correct any errors I made. Thanks, UltraExactZZ Claims ~ Evidence 15:28, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Name Flat Blue[edit]

Can anyone provide a reliable source which calls him Fat Blue? I realize he's called that on another wiki, but that is not a reliable source and names fans make up for things are not reliable, nor notable. Someone is going to have to provide a citation which gives him this name or else we have a problem here.--Crossmr (talk) 08:56, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

After viewing a clip on youtube where Big Bird explicitly refers to him as "Mr. Blue" I'm going to propose the page be moved to this title. I'm sure someone can cite the exact episode this comes from which can be used a primary source for the name. The clip is one in which grover tries to sell Mr Blue some wigs. the intro to the clip includes a segment that looks like some kind of event being held in Grover's honour.--Crossmr (talk) 05:57, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

"Fat Blue" is the name of a Muppet "puppet-type" (there are several types), not of an individual character. (Though there have been characters named similar names, possibly due to the name of the muppet puppet-type.)

This should probably be better clarified in the article. - jc37 05:05, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

That appears to be a name created by fans. And this article seems to focus solely on the one that Grover interacts with who seems to be either called Mr Johnson or Mr Blue, but never Fat Blue.--Crossmr (talk) 06:20, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
No, it's an "in-house" name for this specific type of Anything Muppet.
Check out this image of a 1979 style-guide: [1] - jc37 08:48, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Which unfortunately isn't a reliable source. It doesn't change the fact that the article seems to be solely about the single muppet who interacts with Grover.--Crossmr (talk) 15:04, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
The style guide isn't a reliable source as to what the people who made these Muppets called these Muppets? I'm sorry, but I wholly disagree.
And yes, I agree that the page needs cleanup. - jc37 19:08, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
"Fat Blue" is definitely not a fan name. *But* as Jc37 has noted, it refers to the pattern and type, not the character. The style guide is a reliable source, and many other CTW documents use the phrase as do interviews and other sources, so this is the one Anything Muppet pattern which has never been subject to "fan" errors. Fans have made up names as to what to call Anything Muppets at various times, but that doesn't apply here or make the style guide less reliable (it was used consistently in the 1973 and 1979 guides, and likely in others which just haven't surfaced yet). What is unreliable is the way the article makes claims that other puppets using this pattern (like "Uncle Louie") are his brothers. As for the character name for the *specific* Fat Blue which most of the article is about, he's most often referred to as simply "the customer." But in a specific skit from the 1980s, he's called Mr. Johnson, and that's what Sesame Workshop has used more recently, in an interview included as a bonus with the Old School: Volume 2 set, written by Sesame Workshop staff. The "interview" includes a quote which either clarifies or confuses further: "Of course, some people call me Fat Blue, for my big blue round head...." and he later implies that Mr. Johnson, as an Anything Muppet, has played all the other roles using that pattern: "I was even Simon Soundman for a while." As a final note, though, in the past and in general, CTW (now Sesame Workshop) has been less of a stickler for character names than fans are, *but* the pattern name has never changed. I have no real opinion on the article title; over at Muppet Wiki, where we have separate entries for pattern and individual characters, we use Mr. Johnson, but the article also notes "Mr. Blue" (used in a single video), "The Customer" (used in the credits of one video and a variant of which is most often used to describe the character, i.e. 'Grover's customer"), and "Mr. Smith" (used in one book). So it would probably be easiest all around to leave the title as is and focus on fixing and sourcing the content instead (in addition to the DVDs and the current broadcasts of the show, has an extensive video library, and a keyword search for "customer" reveals a large number of relevant Grover/customer skits). -- Aleal (talk) 21:34, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
The style guide is, that image isn't. If the staff have been calling him Mr Johnson then we should change it to that, unless this article is going to be changed to be about all the different fat blue characters on the show.--Crossmr (talk) 21:53, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm a little confused, Crossmr. "That image" is a direct scan from the style guide, so I really don't follow you. Unless you're saying any scans of reliable sources become unreliable once they're put online. There's two main sources for Mr. Johnson, one from the skit back in the 1980s and the recent booklet, but that's the best sourced outside of just using the pattern name, so I'd support that move. EDIT: Aha, seems the character list at also refers to him as "Mr. Johnson," so that's a very strong indicator that that's the name they've finally more or less settled on. -- Aleal (talk) 21:58, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
And I just took a stab at cleaning up, removing anything referring to other Fat Blue puppets. Some of the other stuff was technically correct but I'm not sure how relevant it is on Wikipedia (as opposed to Muppet Wiki), i.e. random references to his mother in Chicago and so on. The overall sentence structure is still a mess, though. -- Aleal (talk) 22:38, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
A scan of the guide hosted on an official sesame street or CTW site is reliable. Hosted on another wiki or other self published site is not. We can site the guide directly, but linking to a copy of the guide on site considered unreliable can't be done. This type of thing has been talked about before on the RS noticeboard regarding things like official videos hosted on sites like youtube (selfpublished) or scripts hosted on fan sites or wikis (again self-published). Its a primary source and if we're going to link to it it needs to come from somewhere official. Otherwise we site it without the link. I'd also be okay with moving this to Mr Johnson.--Crossmr (talk) 01:01, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm still more than a little confused. You said the source was unreliable, not linking to it. But I guess it doesn't really matter in this instance anyway, and I can understand caution, but it still seems odd since in general, CTW has no real interest in uploading older documents, it's researchers and fans who do, and as long as the document is authentic and that's generally easy to confirm or disprove, I'm not sure why hosting matters; is there a link to such a discussion anywhere on Wikiped, not on a noticeboard? It still strikes me that it's *the source* that's either reliable or unreliable, and if it's clearly a copy of the original document and verifiable as such, I don't really understand why that would be an issue. If the concern is linking as in throwing *traffic* to another site, though, then I can understand that in keeping with general link limits in that area. The original wording made it sound like "someone else who wasn't Sesame Workshop scanned this so we need to reject it outright and pretend it doesn't exist," but I gather that really wasn't your intent. Still, if you can point out the appropriate discussion or policy page dealing with this, I'd appreciate it. -- Aleal (talk) 01:57, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Because no one can prove or disprove without having a copy of the original that a copy on an unreliable source hasn't been tampered with. Not saying that someone has, and nothing against muppet wikia or anyone else there, but that is the view the community has taken. We only link to reliable sources as citations. We source what's reliable what's not. The reliable source in this case is the document itself and not the copy on muppet wikia. they might seem like the same thing, but they're not.--Crossmr (talk) 09:29, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Again, can you link me to the policy for this and so on? And I'm still confused. You're using links and citations kind of interchangably, so again, if you mean we can use the info but just not link to it (and it is *very* easy to check that it's not been tampered, easier with documents like this than screengrabs), then I follow. And if necessary, I can ask the person who has the physical copy and scanned to weigh in, unless the community view is to automatically reject that as unreliable as well. -- Aleal (talk) 16:39, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
(de-dent) The guideline you may be looking for is WP:AGF. We presume that images aren't fakes unless there is evidence to indicate otherwise.
That said, while I don't know what the Sesame Street wiki's policies/guidelines are concerning this, I don't think that we could use the image itself on Wikipedia since there doesn't seem to be a notice explaining the use of the image (can it be considered public domain? fair use?), or even the source of the image. (Is this just a copy from another website? Did the owner scan it themself?)
I won't claim to be anywhere near to being an expert on images on Wikipedia, so I'm going to drop a note to someone who tends to be fluent in such things at WP:CMC. - jc37 21:11, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
That would be me...
Looking over this (the discussion, the article and the image hosted at Muppet Wiki) a few things pop out:
  • Restrictions on "reliable, verifiable sources"
    • Wikis: The general feeling is that any wiki, Wikipedia, Wikia hosted, or otherwise, are considered unreliable because anyone can edit them. With text this is unavoidable since anyone can add a comment to one to justify adding it to another. With images it gets a little trickier since all of the wikis, Wikipedia included, are inconsistent about nailed down original sources for the images. If the scan of the 1979 style guide were hosted on Wikipedia, Aleal's attestation as to the original source would be a good start to a fair use rationale.
    • "Off line" sources: To the best of my knowledge editors are not limited to only source material that is accessible on the Internet. If they have a book, tape, video, picture, or whatever that would be considered a source for writing a book or producing a documentary, that source can be used as a source for adding to Wikipedia. It must though, be cited so that others with access to similar physical copies can verify the information and that what has been added isn't in violation of copyright. Again, Aleal's statement about the image is a good indication that the style-guide is a reliable source for a statement in the article along the lines of "The "Fat Blue Anything" Muppet was used as a base for, among others, "Sam the Sound Man" and the customer in the "Grover the Waiter" sketches."
  • Article name/scope: A solid decision needs to be made about exactly what this article is about. If it's going to be about the blank Muppet style, then "Fat Blue" seems a solid choice. If it's going to be limited to only the one character for a specific sketch series, then Customer (Sesame Street) or Grover's customer would be better choices. In the later case, the specific names associated with the character and the skit can be noted in the article.
I'd also suggest that if the article shifts to focus on the Muppet blank, then the style-guide scan, with a full fair use rationale, is a better infobox fit than the current one.
- J Greb (talk) 23:07, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Either way, sounds like a split may be in order.
The only place I might differ is that if Sesame Street is "officially" going with "Mr. Johnson", then that should be ok for the article name (though possibly with the (Sesame Street) dab phrase). We can always create "Mr. Blue", etc. as redirects. - jc37 03:27, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification, J Greb! I admit to being partial, as an admin at Muppet Wiki, but more than that, I haven't been that active at Wikipedia in years and know a lot of policies have changed, so if this was the case, I wanted to know what was being referred to specifically and where. And yeah, like other wikis, Muppet Wiki has a looser "fair use" image policy (screengrabs, merchandise book scans, etc.) which with a few explicit exceptions (portfolio sites and such) has worked for us, but clearly wouldn't apply here; though not officially endorsed or connected, Henson and Sesame Workshop people are aware of us and very friendly, and the Workshop has even reworked provable well-sourced facts for some of it's own articles. That does raise a question about Mr. Johnson, actually, if part of the reason they're using it now is because they realize that was the sourced name in the sketch and now want to be consistent (documents show that early on, things were a lot looser). Anyway the image probably isn't public domain, *but* it was bought from a former staffer and scanned personally by a fellow Muppet Wiki admin and images are used primarily to source the very thing Crossmr asked about, fan names versus what was actually used (which is also why we don't have image tags or explanations, they're on the talk page). It was an official internal document and specific details on that "Character Book" can be found here, so it sounds like it could qualify as fair use with the appropriate rationale. And I certainly understand the verifiability aspect of text, which is why Muppet Wiki, as it has evolved over nearly three years, has emphasized sourcing (either from shows, sketches and merchandise or reliable third sources). A split makes sense to me, if it's deemed relevant and important enough (in general "Fat Blue," whether referring to the customer or the pattern or the type, is the only pattern commonly mentioned in history books and mainstream publications and is generally common knowledge, which combined with the number of recurring supporting characters from that type, probably justifies a page here.) -- Aleal (talk) 22:33, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Based on the discussion above, I've moved the page to Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street). That appears to be the most current name, and more reflects the content of this article. It also allows for Fat Blue to be developed as a separate article. - jc37 04:24, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

GDFL question[edit]

Presuming that the Sesame Street wiki is GDFL (of which I am not certain), then I wpild presume that it would be ok to copy anything/everything from there to here, presuming that the sources are tagged/noted appropriately? - jc37 03:29, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

I can answer this. Muppet Wiki is indeed GDFL (GNU specifically), but after various Wikia revamps, the statement is no longer as obvious or easy to find. Here's the relevant page: [GNU Free Documentation License]. So copying is fine. However, some advice on sourcing, which has caused problems in the past. Like I said, we've actually improved vastly on sourcing, but the page as it stands includes internal links as sources (i.e. to specific sketches which members took screengrabs of and documented in a table, either of the full episode or of themed sketches). Most of that can now also be verified on the Sesame video site or probably falls under "good faith" (specific source episodes are noted, which in at least one case is still in rotation on the cable channel Sprout, so it would be tricky but possible for someone to check the episode themselves). Anyway, as long as adjustment and source clarification is made (instead of links just copied and pasted indiscriminately), it shouldn't be an issue ("eka" The associated talk page has some useful info too (especially the fact that the generic Fat Blue pattern, with a moustache and sometimes similarly garbed, was played by Jim Henson at times, and fans have assumed it's the same as "Mr. Johnson"/Grover's customer). Working on some other projects right now (and more importantly, suffering tooth pain which requires rest), so I probably won't be doing much of the copying myself, but if any help or verification is needed, I'd be happy to assist. -- Aleal (talk) 22:33, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

I wonder if Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street) referred to as "Mr. Smith" has a first name?[edit]

Mr. Johnson (Sesame Street) was referred to as "Mr. Smith" in The Sesame Street Dictionary. I wonder if Mr. Johnson has a first name when he was referred to as "Mr. Smith" in The Sesame Street Dictionary? You know, maybe something like, "Mr. Max Will Smith", as in "Mr. Maxwell Smith", like a combination of people like Max Smith (who served as a second tenor to the Mellomen from 1948 to 1966) and Will Smith (who was the fresh prince of bel-air and also provided the voice of Oscar in the 2004 DreamWorks animated film, Shark Tale). SonyWonderFan (talk) 04:16, 2 May 2010 (UTC)