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The article has a name[edit]

The article has a name. It is Climategate. It is not the least ambiguous. It is a 'slam dunk'. By chasing people away, bullying, threatening and generally wearing them down, people who wish Climategate did not happen have consistently steered the debate away from its only sensible conclusion. It is a testimony to how badly wrong things have gone on the Climate pages that someone was able to erase Climategate as a page title and is now cheeky enough to suggest the term be rubbed out altogether.

Climategate is a subject all by itself and has only a tangential relationship to the thing that is being used to erase it from Wikipedia. There is no doubt that there is a thing called 'Climategate' in the rest of the world. There is little doubt that people have an interest in it. It is clear from all the sound and fury around it that it is notable. From what I can tell from the substance of and the fallout from the scandal it is a big subject and an important one. It is, BTW, a scandal for heavens sake. There are more Google hits right now for "Climategate scandal" than there are for "Watergate scandal" (571K vs 337K). If something is going to lose it's 'gate' suffix it sure as heck should not be Climategate.

It seems as though nothing will reach the camp that decided that the salient points of Climategate were that it was an alleged hacking of a server at a 'research unit' and that it was merely an 'incident'. The awkward name of "Climatic Research Unit hacking incident" is NOT best under Wikipedia guidelines. Trumping its actual name in current usage (Climategate) is not even allowed from my reading of guidelines. No other entity on earth called Climategate by this name, even after millions of pages had been created. In fact, even though Wikipedia and that embarrassing name was at the top of a Google search for months, less than one hundred pages refer to it by that name. Whatever this thing should be called it is clear that the current title is not it. Nothing should trump its actual name in current usage (Climategate).

Wikipedia has very clear guidelines for such a dispute. They are unambiguous and clearly call for the article to take the name Climategate and no other. Here is the relevant section from the Wikipedia guidelines for naming an article (emphasis is mine):

  • Where proper nouns such as names are concerned, disputes may arise over whether a particular name should be used. Wikipedia takes a descriptive rather than prescriptive approach in such cases, by using the common English language name as found in verifiable reliable sources; proper names for people or events which incorporate non-neutral terms - e.g. Boston massacre, Tea Pot Dome scandal, Edward the Confessor, Jack the Ripper - are legitimate article titles when they are used by a consensus of the sources.

Here is how the examples above stack up in 'googlespace' vs Climategate right now:

  • Name/Hits
  • "Boston Massacre"/310K
  • "Tea Pot Dome scandal"/<2K
  • "Edward the Confessor"/536K
  • "Jack the Ripper" 2,180K
  • "Climategate" 12,100K

Google is hardly the arbiter, of course. However, it is pretty clear from the above that if you are to go to major newspapers, networks, any involved institution, congressional records, blogs and other current reference sources you will find this thing and it will be called 'Climategate'. There are six thousand times as many references to Climategate than there are to the least prominent of the examples given in the guideline. Climategate has more than four times the references than all the examples combined. There is no judgement call here. According to Wikipedia guidelines and its customs this article belongs under the name 'Climategate' and WP visitors deserve to see a proper treatment of the subject.

There is no reasonable argument for keeping up the charade that Climategate does not exist. Redirecting 'Climategate' to its current ridiculous name is tantamount to claiming 'Climategate' either does not exist or is not called 'Climategate'. Neither are true. It is not going to go away, even if the most likely place anyone would look (Wikipedia) tries to 'disappear' it. The thing to which the term 'Climategate' currently refers misleads the reader into thinking that the term (or even topic) 'Climategate' is entirely promoted by non-neutral sources. It attempts to misdirect attention from the real topic to a supposition about how it started. That supposition is needlessly prejudicial and likely not even correct. Worse, it tries to put that front and center in the title and the leading paragraph.

At one point, there was a ridiculous discussion as to whether or not the term 'Climategate' should appear in the lead at all, even though the actual subject is Climategate. It is well beyond ridiculous how long this sore has existed here at Wikipedia. It is a dreadful embarrassment, not just that we get it wrong, but that we seem simply unable to correct the mistake. Worse, as the title of this section implies there exist mechanisms at WP sufficiently poisonous that they might be able to permanently block even any attempts at putting it right. Regardless of how one feels about Climategate, surely anyone with a sense of fair play would agree that the article on Climategate should bear the name of its subject.

This has been hashed over, but should be mentioned to be complete. The supposed argument against the moniker 'Climategate' is that it is 'POV'. Setting aside the fact that WP guidelines are clear that in this case it is OK to be POV, the current title is not only much more *POV* it is entirely misleading. It attempts, under the guise of creating a neutral point of view, to prejudice the reader into thinking the salient point is that a computer crime occurred. That is, first off, not the salient point and second, not proven. In my opinion, it is not even correct. It also minimizes what has happened. When this initially broke, the AGW camp (not moi, obviously) tried to say 'nothing to see here, move along'. For while, I think they came within a whisker of pulling it off. Clearly, though, there was quite a bit to see. Using WP:AGF, one might be able to argue that the original name change was a well meaning mistake. As of this point in time, though, this is not just on the radar, there has been serious fallout including discussion by major governments, investigations at Universities, calls for resignations, (finally) the release of information, a promise by the MET to undertake a major review of part of the data, etc. Unlike the 'alleged hacker' and their 'alleged crime', there is now evidence that a real crime *was* committed and it was committed by at least one of the subjects of the revealed information, not the person who (allegedly) released it. This went well beyond the 'incident' stage months ago. Only Climategate is appropriate. I think that elsewhere I chipped in to say I oppose a title change to some other thing intended to substitute for Climategate. If people are not going to call this by its real name, then it is preferable to me that it continue with its current ridiculous name -- name and shame, I say.

I am, since I am pretty opinionated on the topic, going to recuse myself from entering material in any of the Climate articles for the foreseeable future. I strongly suggest that anyone with strong opinions do the same. The topic has clearly been dominated by a group of people who are much, much too close to this to speak sensibly to the subject matter. The only honorable thing to do is to stand aside and let cooler heads prevail. In case someone is confused -- if you have made more than two dozen edits to Climate articles you should probably step aside for a while.

If any truly neutral editor sees this, I hope you will intervene to at least correct the optics here. Let people who think Climategate is a manufactured smear campaign complain about that on the talk page. Heck, I don't think it would be out of line to have a section on that dissenting opinion in the article even if it turns out to be a minority opinion. However, the current state of affairs is just plain wrong and it is not getting any less wrong as time passes. DeepNorth (talk) 00:13, 8 February 2010 (UTC)