User:Sapph/AGF Challenge Exercise Answers

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To comment on my answers, please post in the appropriate section here.

My wife is not a coauthor[edit]

Suppose someone has coauthored 10 books with their wife. And suppose that this person also wrote 10 books on their own, and on this second group of 10 books, their wife is not listed as a coauthor. All 20 of these books are listed on a website belonging to the couple for sale, and on various other websites, with the authorship list for each book listing either the person, or the person and his wife. All of these websites and descriptions of these 20 books agree with each other. Suppose that in interviews, this person is quoted as saying that his wife had coauthored some of his books, and that this person listed this coauthorship in his autobiography.

Therefore, in the biography of this person on Wikipedia, we state that this person has coauthored some of his books with his wife. And then this person contacts WP, using the OTRS system, and threatens to sue Wikipedia for describing his wife as a coauthor of some of his books. He wants Wikipedia to assert that he wrote all the books himself and his wife was not involved.

What should Wikipedia do? Do we just state something that is contrary to more than a dozen reliable sources, which all agree with each other? Do we state something for which we have not a single source except a private email purportedly from the subject of the biography (but of course we do not know for sure)? What is the ethical thing to do? What is the encyclopedic thing to do? What precedent would your actions set, if any? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

Given that WP:BLP is involved, I don't believe this is something that can be dealt with lightly. First, I would try to confirm the validity of the article as it stands - by checking with the original sources. If the 10 books do indeed list a coauthor, that would be prima facia evidience, that the article should stand. Further, if the autobiography does state that some books were coauthored - especially if it states specifically which ones - I feel that would be definitive, although I would probably look for other sources (ie, book reviews) that confirm this. The email is, under no circumstances, a reliable verifiable source, however it can certainly be a prompt to double check our information.
I feel that Wikipedia's policy should be to verify the information present in the article. If verified, the policy should be explained to the author. Wikipedia's duty is to its readers, not its subjects. The ethical AND encyclopedic thing to do is to present the verifiable truth as best we know it. Hopefully this would set a precident of taking BLP claims seriously, but not backing down to threats. I would think that this process wouldn't take more than 3 or 4 editor-hours.

My town's library[edit]

You run across an article, created a few days ago, that reads:

A quaint little library established in 1939. Set in the delightful village of Smithille, Iowa, this library has seen many changes in it's time, not least the new wheelchair ramp laid in place in 1995 due to new government legislation. A controversial move indeed. To rub salt into the wound, two disabled parking spaces were placed outside in spring 1998 (Iowa council). Lois Cooper, Beverley Sixsmith and Jill Chesser were the original founders, Lois being the only sirviving members. Lucy Keene a former employee commeneted on the late Ms Sixsmith: "An admirable woman. A sufragette to the end." Realsiing the need to move with the times in 1993, the library implemented a late night closing on Tuesday evenings, remainin open until 18:00 instead of the usual hour of 17:30. Although this incited industrial action from the current staff, Lois failed to backdown from this radical new policy.

Other smithville attractions (past and present)

terry's Cockney Chuckles Chelone Deux Clothesline Curtainline Wow (later West Iowa video) Belle veux Wool o' the west Whitewoods Shoestring The Cabin Deli Select and Save (David's) Brenda C's Johnnie loves Lucy Scissor's Duo Hurst's Tudor Lounge Bakewell Cafe (Toby Jug) The Ginger Jar Bread basket Tony's and Doreen's bargain shop (moved to newberry, now bust) Briscoe's books Plumbley's Bread and Cakes Tony's Eve's Electrical Live Wire Traidcraft Geoffrey's Rainbow fish bar Double dragon Turning heads

You do some web searching, and find nothing about this library on the internet. What should Wikipedia do with such an article? How would you handle this situation? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

Wikipedia should keep any article that can be sourced and verified, and discard any article that cannot. To this end, I would tag with {{local}}, {{merge}}, and {{not verified}}; add it to my watch list; and leave a message on the author's talk page that their article may be subject to deletion as being a non-referenced article about a non-notable location, linking them to WP:LOCAL, and inviting them to provide any offline sources that could save the article. After 7 days, if there is no response from the author and no sources added to the article, I would tag the article as {{prod}}. If there is minimal evidence of the location's existance, but no indication of notability, I would note the location in the article for the Smithville, Iowa article. Depending on the availability of offline sources, it could take between 1-5 editor-hours.

I am the best[edit]

"Theobold Johnson III" is notable for having been involved in a football cheating scandal and also writes books about orchids, illustrated with beautiful pictures. Johnson has written several self-published books about orchids, and in their autobiographies and interviews he describes himself as "the greatest living orchid man" and "widely recognized by the academic world as the greatest orchid scholar in the world". Johnson refers to himself as "Dr. Johnson" or "Professor Johnson" frequently in print. Johnson also asserts in print that he is a professor in the Botany Department at the famous "Winthrop College" and has given his mailing address as "c/o Winthrop College" for many years. Johnson often writes that all other people studying orchids are morons and even all other botanists are stupid and vile disgusting fools who should be publicly flogged or worse.

In the course of writing a Wikipedia biography about Johnson, you start to uncover disturbing information. First, you are able to find a mention of a "Theobold Johnson III" on archived versions of the Winthrop College website from 1994-1997, but there is no mention of Johnson on earlier versions of the website, or later versions. A "T. Johnson, III" is listed as a visitor in the Computer Science Department of Winthrop College in the 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 versions of the website, and a phone number is given. You contact the President's office at Winthrop College and the Dean of Science office at Winthrop College and ask if Johnson is or was a faculty member there. Receiving no reply, you ask a friend who knows the Dean personally to ask the Dean privately. The word comes back from your friend that he has talked to the Dean privately, and that Johnson is an embarassment and never had a faculty appointment at Winthrop College and just has his mail forwarded from Winthrop College due to some arrangement he made with someone in the Winthrop College mailroom 25 years previously. Johnson never was on the payroll of Winthrop College and never had an official position at Winthrop College and has not been on campus for 10 years or more. Johnson was listed for a few years on the telephone list and was a short term visitor, but this was just a courtesy and he was one of 3500 visitors a year who get this courtesy. The Dean's office then, thanks to the probing of your friend, issues a very carefully worded "official statement" about Johnson, stating he was never a faculty member at Winthrop College and inviting further inquiries to their Press Office, and sends you a copy.

You do some more checking, and find no evidence that Johnson has a PhD or any degree in botany or science whatsoever, at least from Liberty Washington University, as he claims. You do find a record at Liberty Washington Community College that Johnson obtained a bachelor's degree in history 30 years previously. You also find a report in the local newspaper that Johnson was expelled from Liberty Washington Community College for theft while he was an undergraduate, and then was readmitted and eventually graduated. You look at various lists and directories of prominent orchid scholars and find no mention of a Theobold Johnson in any edition of these directories. You also dig up 5 reviews of Johnson's books on orchids in various scholarly journals from different botanists and orchid scholars from Harvard and University of Pennsylvania and Yale. These reviews are uniformly poor, and state that Johnson is a charlatan and a fraud and his books are replete with errors and the worst possible nonsense. You then find another interview of Johnson published in Sports Illustrated where it is stated that Johnson has no PhD or other Doctorate, but it is a title that people use for him out of respect for his tremendous knowledge and learning.

How would you write a biography of this person on Wikipedia? What would be reasonable and accurate and ethical? What would be fair? What should Wikipedia do if this person contacts Wikipedia and demands that it write his biography the way he dictates? What if this person threatens legal action if Wikipedia does not do what he asks? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

Assuming the given that the individual is notable for the cheating scandal, deletion is not an option. Most of the information provided in the question is original research, and not really useful for the creation of the article. WP:SELFPUB might seem to apply to hiis self-published information, but only if it is not unduly self-serving. Much of this content would seem to violate that.
At this point, our reliable, verifiable sources are: the published official statement from the Dean of Winthrop College, the report from the local newspaper, the reviews of Johnson's books, and the interview from Sport Illustrated. Any facts revolving around his scholastic experience, botanical expertise, and education must come from these sources.
Reporting from these sources and these sources alone would be a perfectly encyclopedic course of action. I would try to gauge the consensus on whether his self-published claims should be included at all, or dismissed as unreliable sources.
As with the first question, legal action is irrelevant - at least at the editor level. If ArbCom or WMF make another decision, that is up to them, but as editors, our first duty must be to the verifiable truth. It seems like far too many editor hours have already been spent, and if the subject's request comes in AFTER all of the above research has been completed, a response should take no more than a single editor-hour.

Arrow of Time[edit]

In the Young Earth Creationism article, an editor with a total of 47 edits to their credit repeatedly inserts the phrase

Fundamaental to both YEC and cosmological / biological evolution is the concept of Time. Time itself, and its perceived or actual forward progress (Arrow_of_time) is a discussion topic that includes the Second Law of Thermodynamics and questions as to whether time existed before the Big Bang.

This appears to have little if anything to do with Young Earth Creationism. After all, the Big Bang produced time itself, according to the Big Bang theory, first advanced by Belgian Roman Catholic priest Georges Lemaître. Discussions of whether time existed before the Big Bang have already discarded one of the main features of the Big Bang, and so are not about the Big Bang, and definitely not relevant to Young Earth Creationism, which does not have a Big Bang associated with most versions of it. It is a confused and somewhat nonsensical statement.

No sources or references are provided, although this editor is asked for sources dozens of times by several other editors. Other editors remove this phrase, and the new editor responds angrily that he is being censored. The new editor reinserts this phrase 38 times over the next 2 weeks, and never provides references or sources of any kind. When asked for sources, he states it is the responsibility of the other editors to provide them, not him.

On the talk page of the article, this editor posts vaguely obnoxious statements like

It appears that our problem in editing is more fundamental than I first thought: 2 Timothy 3 (Godlessness in the Last Days) 1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

He states that since the other editors do not want to include his statement about the Arrow of Time without a reference, they will be sued:

But, you are going to get WP and yourself sued if you continue to believe WP's rules supercede laws regarding defamation. They raise money, so there are real damages

Everyone is polite to this editor. No one threatens him. No one curses him. He is tolerated.

What should Wikipedia do in this case? What is fair? What is the journalistic thing to do? What is the encyclopedic thing to do? Could someone like this demand that Encyclopedia Britannica include this kind of statement in one of its articles? The New York Times? What sort of chance of success would they have? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

I would hope that before this point, the editor had been cautioned and warned, with, perhaps, an explanation of WP:NPOV. If that has not occured, now is the time to issue them. {{uw-unsourced2}} or {{uw-unsourced3}} would both be appropriate. I would also look at their 9 edits outside this article - are they constructive, or of a similar vien? If the editor has been issued such warnings, it is time for a block. If any of the other edits are disruptive, then I believe this would merit an indefinate block. If not, in this case of two weeks of persistent disruption, I would target the first block around one week.
I think it goes without saying that any of these other organisations would ignore the editor out of hand. As the editor is clearly disruptive and unwilling to reach consensus, minimal editor time should be spent on the situation - certainly no more than 1 editor-hour.


Ghost in the machine[edit]

Some people have decided that sometimes ghosts call humans using cellular telephones (i.e., mobile phones). Strange anonymous cell phone calls are said to be caused by phantoms and spirits trying to communicate with the living. Ringing cellular phones during inopportune moments are believed to be caused by mischievous spirits playing tricks on humans. Static during cellular telephone calls is said to be the voices of those from beyond the grave, that can be heard if you listen closely enough. Crosstalk between calls and other phenomena are said to be the results of spectral beings and supernatural influences. Cats that get strange looks on their faces when cell phones ring, or run and hide, are said to able to hear the ghosts. It is claimed that sometimes cats look into the corners of empty rooms watching these phantoms that are present, and invisible to humans.

Several articles on this "Cellular Phantom Phenomenon" (CPP) are written for Wikipedia. Since there are no mainstream scientific studies of CPP, the editors demand that no negative material or mainstream material be presented in the Wikipedia articles on CPP, since there are no mainstream reliable sources. Conventional explanations for CPP and information about how cellular telephones work and the causes of crosstalk and static are dismissed by the proponents of CPP as WP:OR and WP:SYNTH. The proponents of CPP maintain that the conventional mainstream scientific explanation must be kept out of the articles on CPP, and refer to those trying to include them as "pseudoskeptics" and "not real scientists" and "close-minded". Efforts to try to balance the article lead to huge disputes about trying to distort WP:NPOV and make it WP:SPOV instead, which some claim is an abuse of the policies of Wikipedia.

What should these articles on CPP in Wikipedia look like? Does mainstream science have any place in these Wikipedia CPP articles? What should Wikipedia do in this case? Can the rules of WP:FRINGE be applied or is that inappropriate and unfair? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

At no point in the question is it a given that the CPP editors have any reliable verifiable positive sources. WP:FRINGE certainly applies, and if there are no acceptable sources one way or another, I would nominate the articles for AfD. Claiming that applying WP:SPOV is inconsistant with WP:NPOV are fallaceous on face, as SPOV is merely a facet of NPOV. Considering that there is an undercurrent of support for these articles, editor time invested would likely be higher than in any of the above situations. Regardless of how ridiculous the claims sound to me, it is not Sapphopedia, and it may turn out I am the only person who disbelieves in CPP. If that turned out to be the case, I would likely permanently recuse myself from editing those articles.


Take me to your Leader Extraterrestrial Shape-shifting Reptile[edit]

David Icke is one of a suprisingly large group of people that believe that most of the world's leaders, from Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and George W. Bush to members of the British Royal Family, are blood drinking shapeshifting reptilian humanoids from the Alpha Draconis star system. A little investigation reveals that there are literally dozens of books and videos on this subject, including a number that purport to present "proof" of the truth of these claims. There are also thousands of websites on this subject matter and many many people who believe this to be completely true, and supported by immense bodies of incontrovertable and irrefutable evidence.

An editor appears on Wikipedia and wants to include a paragraph or two in the biographies of many politicians around the world alluding to the fact that these politicians are in fact secretly shape-shifting extraterrestrial lizards of some kind. This editor links to one or more of the sources that are claimed to provide "proof" for these allegations. This editor wants to include this material in several hundred Wikipedia biographies. This editor protests vehemently about any efforts to remove this material from Wikipedia articles. This editor angrily denounces Wikipedia as unfair and biased, and the removal of this material as evidence that Jimbo and Arbcomm and many of the admins on Wikipedia are also shapeshifting extraterrestrial reptiles, conspiring to keep this information secret and from the public.

What should Wikipedia do in this case? What would be fair and reasonable? Should Wikipedia allow these claims only in the biographies of politicians and leaders that are already deceased, to avoid problems with WP:BLP? What is the best course of action, and most journalistic and encyclopedic and ethical? How does one avoid offending this editor? What if this editor is joined by 50 others with the same agenda so they can overwhelm any minor response by Wikipedia editors? What sort of precedent would this set? Are the rules of Wikipedia important in this situation or not? Should they be ignored? Whose rules should be applied and when, to which cases? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

This is the toughest case of the page - not because the claims are any more worthy, but because it can seem to fall within the letter of policy. It is important to note that books that have recieved extensive media coverage are notable, but notability and reliability are two different things. Ultimately, that the theory exists is verifiable fact that has recieved significant media coverage. Therefore, the existence of the theory has a place in Wikipedia. However, regardless of BLP, no individual subject's article should mention the theory until a reliable source states it. This sets the precedent of allowing coverage of those WP:FRINGE topics which recieve notable, reliable coverage, but without letting it spread to substantially unrealated articles. Editors involved should have the policies explained. Per standards, cautions follow explanations, then warnings, then blocks.


Related to a saint[edit]

Oacan was an editor whose aunt compiled Oacan's family genealogical history in the 1950s. Oacan's aunt claimed that Oacan's family was descended from the brother of a well known 15th century saint. Oacan then altered the Wikipedia article about the 15th century saint drastically and aggressively, for over a year, to support the claim his aunt had made in the family genealogy. Oacan removed any discussion that was contrary to this claim of his aunt, and any sources that contradicted this claim. Oacan drove off several other contributors because he insisted on creating a biography that supported his aunt's claims and "altering" the Wikipedia articles to do so.

However, Oacan's aunt's genealogy was never published, or checked by a professional genealogist. It also appears to contradict several published reliable sources. In addition, Oacan's aunt's genealogy has gaps in it as long as 95 years.

In this case, what should Wikipedia do? What is fair to Oacan? What is fair to everyone else? Should Wikipedia go with the published material from reliable sources, even if it hurts this editor's feelings? What about the ethical issues? What would a good journalist do? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

This is again a case, where unsourced information should be removed. The policies should be explained to the editor, with an emphasis that we are not saying his aunt is wrong, merely that the information can't be verified in a notable source. Explain what would be required to have that sort of information added to the article, and explain that further disruptions without sourced could lead to a block. There are no ethical issues here - the feelings of an editor, while important, are less important that building a good encyclopedia. It should take less than an hour to deal with this issue, including implementing a block in the future, if needed.


I make my own rules[edit]

One editor who was fond of WP:FRINGE theories such as conspiracy theories and alien abduction theories, and edited articles on these topics on Wikipedia, decided that he disagreed with the standard interpretations of Wikipedia principles like WP:NOR and WP:RS and WP:NPOV. So he wrote his own versions of these policies. He altered all these standard policies to make them more friendly to WP:FRINGE topics, contrary to community consensus and rulings of Arbcomm, etc.

Then this editor proceeded to send out his own "welcoming statements" to new Wikipedia editors, with links to his nonstandard altered versions of Wikipedia policies, similar to the procedure normally followed for new Wikipedia editors.

What is appropriate in this case? Can someone decide unilaterally to design their own policy statements, contrary to those of the community? What is the ethical thing to do? What is the reasonable thing to do in this case? How many hours of editor time should Wikipedia spend to deal with this?

Of everything listed, this is by far the most egregious case. If I were the administrator that discovered this, I would immediately enact a 31 hour block, revert all changes made by the editor, make sure any new editors get the correct policies, and start a discussion on what further measures should be taken. ArbCom has already made rulings on using welcome statements to further Wikipolitical agendas, and these actions violate so many policies (WP:OWN, WP:CONS, WP:NPOV, and WP:EP and WP:CIVIL) that I believe no warning is neccessary for the first short block. That gives us time to repair the damage, and ensure the editor understands the policies. At that point, I would let a consensus form for what needed to happen next, up to and including a ban on policy and talk pages or an indef block.