User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 19

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Hi Jimbo

This is doug jensen —Preceding unsigned comment added by Big D-unit (talkcontribs)

Hi Mr. Wales

Dear Jimmy:

How are you? Could you tell us the topic interested you? And we also wish to know the time and place for the interview in Japan. can we make an appointment to discuss the detail of this interview by phone? We also have something for you. Please give me some feedback.

Best wishes,

Business weekly magazine

Hung-ta Lin

Disturbed User

I am disturbed by the Ockenbock sockpuppet craze from this IP. This is a school, and people like me want to edit positively without being blocked Sincereley, Catholic male


I am from the AACD and posted the information pertaining to the Academy. Is that ok for me to do?

Thanks, Anna Velten

Swedish wikipedia and neoliberalism

Swedish wikipedia has in the last few years beeen known as a neoliberal propagandaportal. I startades edeting wikipediapadges last year and soon found out that the reputation was true. Just this day an admin told me "Yes wikipedia is supoused to be a neoliberal propagandaportal" (in swedish). I started a discussion about it on a big swedish comunity and most people agreed.

Is this the way it should be??

Link? Jimmy might not be able to read Swedish, but there are others who can. ;-) // habj 13:06, 27 February 2007 (UTC) 19:38, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Hehe! He made a joke... you asked a rhetorical question, and he gave you the answer you wanted. Actually, it is much more common that svwiki gets accused of being "leftie". If there is criticisms from both sides I guess it is somewhat OK. // habj 21:30, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
No its not a joke of any kind. And there is no doubt about swikis obvious stand for neoliberalism among most swedes. Maybee its a try to be a bullie, becouse he knows the neoliberals have swiki and can do what they want, 15:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)


I would be honoured if you signed my autograph page! --Cremepuff222 (talk, sign book)

I'm totally against the idea of asking you this myself, but it would mean a lot to me if you could sign mine as well. // DecaimientoPoético 01:09, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
ha ha! I wonder what Jimbo feels against me; I remember I was the first person to ask him this. Hopefully, he doesn't mind. But do keep in mind that Jimbo is a busy man; try not to pester him too much about it. Later, Jimbo! :) Tohru Honda13 01:17, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
Mr. Awesome? :/ Not that he isn't, of course. And what's with the <big></big>? :P —  $PЯINGrαgђ  01:26, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
Wow. There seems to be quite a list here. I'd ask you to sign my autograph book too, but I'm not sure how to make one! Face-devil-grin.svg ----User:Chiefsfan364 |User_talk:Chiefsfan364 17:15, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Photos of living people

Hello. Perhaps examples of the "replaceable fair use policy" in action will help. Please look at the infoboxes for Jack Nicklaus and Benoît Mandelbrot. Is the first representative of a person who was at one time the greatest athlete in his field? Why is a photo of someone with their mouth open all right on Wikipedia and not in any marketing or communications department imaginable? Newly elected U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was in similar shape until a day or two ago because a free image existed—a snapshot taken at a picnic and placed in her infobox until the time her official portrait is released. Why would a living person want to risk being in such an encyclopedia? -Susanlesch 03:07, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

  • Honestly, I hope these folks are a little upset by their images— upset enough to release high-quality portraits of themselves under a Wikipedia-compatible free license. This would hardly require a great sacrifice on their part, and it would improve the encyclopedia significantly.--Pharos 07:37, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Hmm, "Wikipedia can use a lousy photo until and unless you give a free one to a user?" "Wikipedia can use any old photo until you are dead, when a user can then defend fair use of a professional quality photo?" In the meantime, this stuff is showing up in Google Images,, derivatives and who knows where else. As a wise man once said, anything anyone posted to the Internet has already been copied and will be around forever. Thoughts? -Susanlesch 17:29, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
  • No matter how bad the picture is - and I don't believe that having someone's mouth open in a photo is a cardinal sin - that isn't a good reason to use someone else's copyrighted work in what is supposed to be a free-content encyclopaedia, legal excuse or no legal excuse. The photos listed look amateurish, that's undeniable, but this is an encyclopaedia written entirely by amateurs. If anyone is surprised by a poor quality photo then I would think it encouraging that we've managed to raise their expectations to that extent. I really doubt that subjects might actually be offended by low-quality photos of them, unless it showed something embarrassing like being caught yawning during an important political speech or playing footsie with the Junior Minister of Paperclips sitting next to them, in which case we obviously shouldn't use them (at least not at the top of the article). Most people only ever have amateur photos taken of them, except when they go to a wedding. --Sam Blanning(talk) 18:02, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Hello, Sam. Yes, it is a good sign that people take Wikipedia seriously. And apart from the fact that some must because of the importance it receives from the Google PageRank algorithm. But. No, I think people are offended. While trying to get a better free image—the only way a poor one can be displaced, I called one of the subjects mentioned above and talked to their associate who said, "Oh no, I saw that again today. It is awful. Can you get it out of there?" My impression is they will be trying to circulate a free image but they don't have a presence on Wikipedia and are already too late to replace the image in question (it's around everywhere I looked). From the little I understand of the policy and dynamics of user contributions, what they consider to be an "awful" photo was irrevocably uploaded for all to see because Wikipedia added the "replaceable" requirement over and above fair use. Possibly more valuable than free imagery, goodwill might be gained by switching the defaults to say "it's okay to replace fair use images with free images that improve on them." -Susanlesch 19:28, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
  • You don't have to use these amateur photos. Having no photos on a page is also an option, until time comes when we get a high quality photo. --Aude (talk) 19:33, 26 February 2007 (UTC)
  • The chances of a free use photo improving on a fair use photo are close to nil. Copyrighted photos are taken with professional equipment, possibly even a dedicated studio, and with the subject co-operating not just to take time off from whatever they are doing to sit still for a few seconds but to go through make-up etc, then have someone touch the photo up afterwords. To spend the time, money and effort to do all of that and then release it for free is fairly rare, and the US (and some other governments) are more or less the only large non-profit organisations who would bother. Individual volunteers equalling that, let alone improving on them, is pretty much not going to happen.
  • Do you know the filename of the image that the subject's associate objected to? --Sam Blanning(talk) 01:21, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
  • [Sam, I made a minor spelling tweak to my username in your reply.] For several reasons I would prefer not to say. But thank you for asking. -Susanlesch 16:54, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In any event, they have a simple solution to this, release a professional photo under the GFDL or an appropriate creative commons. (In fact, I'd say that if this continue, this might actually encourage people to do so simply to preempt the use of less satisfactory images). JoshuaZ 03:31, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
  • The thing about the GFDL is that it allows derivative works, so if someone releases their photo under GFDL they give free rein for anyone to mock and deface it as they wish. Of course people do that anyway with celebrity photos, but actually making yourself complicit in your own denigration makes it very different. So I can understand why notable people might be understandably unwilling to release photos under free licences. Though I can't sympathise with anyone unable to bear the sight of their own face without makeup. (I'm speaking in general terms here, not specifically about the photo Susanlesch mentioned that the subject's associate objected to, because I still don't know which photo that is and whether it really is that bad.) --Sam Blanning(talk) 10:42, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
  • At least in the US, fair use allows for parody and criticism anyway, generally anyone using a celebrity photo to ridicule or criticize would be protected under that. GFDL wouldn't make a significant difference on that note. Seraphimblade Talk to me Please review me! 11:14, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
  • What I said still applies - actually saying it's OK to do anything to a photo of you is very different from being unable to get away from it because of the legal system. --Sam Blanning(talk) 11:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

This is a bomb on the matter, inspired by this thread. 11:25, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

User page vandalism

Hi, Mr. Jimbo Wales. I am concerned that your user page is more likely at risk become vandalized by register users and IP anons. I really consider that you should fully protect your user page. If you would like to contact me, please visit my talk page. Thanks! — Meteoroid »  04:19, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Given protection is always an imperfect solution and the number of people watching this page I would have thought protection a bad idea for the image it would give of the project, SqueakBox 15:47, 26 February 2007 (UTC)


Hi Mr Wales I just wanted to know what are we suppose to do when Usernames are created just to chat with each other and there is no significant contribution to Wikipedia as a whole because I have seen a couple and I dont understand why is it being tolerated so Pliz can you elaborate on it a bit more and tell us what is to be done to those who are doing this and how can it be stopped..thanx..--Cometstyles 16:09, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

The Wikimedia foundation is a non-profit organization that has an educational charter so its money is not supposed to be used for noneducational purposes. So use of Wikimedia resources for mere chatting is not acceptable and wikipedia policy spells that out. Our fine admins have the task of enforcing these policies. So if you see this sort of thing going on, tell the admins and let them do their job of evaluating and acting. They may evaluate the situation differently than you do. In any case Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents is a place you can contact the admins with an incident report. WAS 4.250 17:47, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Housecleaning article images

Please undelete: Image:Upright vacuum cleaner.jpg Image:Scrub sponges.jpg

Image:Yarn toilet brush.jpg

They are needed for the Housecleaning article I'm writing User:Chuck Marean/sandbox4. -- Chuck Marean 23:04, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Stable and Live versions?

Hey Jimbo, are we ever going to see some of the things you mentioned in this article, specifically, the part about "stable" and "live" versions of pages. Mr.Z-mantalk¢ 03:34, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Possible back door to admin features

Let me first apologize if I have violated any rules, it didn't occur to me until after I just blocked a new user that I may have. I found my way into the new user logs through a link on WP:BLPN specificlly [1] in the logs I foundUser:Yourmotherisawhore and noted the instructions on the Log regarding placing a block. Afterward it dawned on me that only WP:ADMINs have that power. I'm still relatively new to Wiki software so please forgive me if I'm wrong and the user has not been blocked. Thank you for your time. Anynobody 08:13, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

The user is not blocked. All you did was put a template for blocking on the front page. Anyone can do that but it is usually only done by admins after they have blocked someone. I don't think you've violated any rules since you did not intentionally pretend to be an admin. Either way, it would be nice if a real admin could block that username violating account. Gdo01 08:17, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Done. Titoxd(?!?) 08:21, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Good deal, thanks for the prompt attention. :) Anynobody 03:23, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Rounded corners on boxes (using -moz-border-radius)

This page used to have rounded corners on the boxes, and I thought they looked nice. User: changed some things to make them no longer be rounded, but also broke the CSS formatting at the same time. I undid the changes, but has done them again, this time mentioning they were intentional to remove the rounding. They are again broken tags. I don't want to get into an edit conflict on this, so I am asking public opinion. Should they be round or not? (for the browsers that show them rounded). Either way, the tags need to be fixed up, as they are currently malformed.(They either need the whole thing removed, or the other half put back, they were originally "-moz-border-radius:15px" and are now just "-moz-border", which is invalid since there is no value in the key:value pair). So, should they be rounded, and if so, could someone else please do so? See [the diff]. Kaldosh 10:36, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Translator question regarding the section about you on foundation:Board of Trustees

Business titles are often difficult to translate, since many countries/languages don't share US - or English speaking world? - conventions. In the best of worlds all the people translating would be experts on the stuff they translate, but reality will often be slightly different... I have been given two very different suggestions on what "Research Director" in your bio on foundation:Board of Trustees might mean. To help us translators choose, could you possibly provide like two sentences explaining it in context? Head of development department (if so it's easy), or something very different?

Most parts of that page will probably be around for a fairly long time. It can also be expected to eventually be translated to lots of languages. I am convinced translators of different languages will often have the same questions regarding the source texts, so we should probably create some page om Meta where questions from translators and answers to them can be compiled. For now, if you would answer here I promise to copy it to the relevant place on Meta once that place is created. // habj 13:23, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Perth April 24

G'day Jimbo, the editors at Wikipedia:WikiProject Western Australia have been made aware that you will be in our City, we would like to invite you to a wikimeetup while here. The discussion is currently going on here. We recognise that your schedule will have limited time we are able to meet at a time and place suitable to you, please leave a message there or contact any of us directly via email. Gnangarra 13:38, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Cascading protection

Please do not use cascading protection, as you did on Lucy Noland, unless applying full protection. See bug 8796 for details. --cesarb 23:11, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Constant Errors

Its been happening a lot nowadays whenever I click submit it asks me to donate money, and it says Wikimedia is having technical issues, so view the google cached page.

When are the board members of the Wikimedia Foundation, come together next inorder to expend some money for bandwith, hardware, servers etc etc. --Parker007 03:13, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

It happens with me as well. --Meno25 09:32, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia talkpage

Can talk pages be modifed so that persons commenting on it cannot delete/modify other persons' comments either by accident or on purpose? It can be made like a blog-in which replies appear below comments but comments themselves cannot be edited

David v Goliath

You might want a look at this guy's request for arbcom intervention:


He alleges an admin took community action without actual consensus and his arguments are persuasive.

Is this not David versus Goliath all over again? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:50, 28 February 2007 (UTC).

I don't think David was quite this verbose...--Isotope23 19:24, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

The New Yorker quotes you

The New Yorker has added a correction to the Stacy Schiff article in which they quote you. You apparently have no objection whatsoever to Essjay, one of your top administrators, lying to the major media. Instead you hire him at Wikia and promote him to the Arbcom at Wikipedia. Would you care to explain yourself? -Daniel Brandt 17:23, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Essjay has always been, and still is, a fantastic editor and trusted member of the community. He apologized to me and to the community for any harm caused. Trolls are claiming that he "bragged" about it: this is bullshit. He has been thoughtful and contrite about the entire matter and I consider it settled.--Jimbo Wales 14:40, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
A fantastic editor, certainly, but is he really a trusted member of the community (as opposed to trusted by you personally)? Most editors do not directly interact with him everyday and their main piece of information about him is that he lied to the media while representing the project. Can we require these editors to trust him? Zocky | picture popups 14:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I haven't seen an apology to the community? Where is it? My trust for him is severely diminished, and at this point I'm not comfortable going to arbcom or submitting checkuser/oversight requests. That compromises my ability to work on the project comfortably. I would very much like to trust Essjay again at some point, and highly regard his work here. I just think it will take some of us time and in the meanwhile he should not be on arbcom and in checkuser/oversight roles. Regards. --Aude (talk) 15:02, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, Essjay had not apologized to the community at the time Jimbo made his statement above. He subsequently did so here. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 20:40, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Here's the link to Essjay bragging about lying to the New Yorker in a six-hour interview with Schiff and a subsequent two-hour interview with one of the magazine's fact checkers. The fact that you hired him at Wikia and promoted him to the Arbitration Committee after knowing he perpetrated a fraud on the media casts serious doubt on your judgment. WP:RFA states that administrators "are held to high standards of conduct, as they are often perceived as the 'official face' of Wikipedia." If Jordan remains in a position of any power at all in Wikipedia, it demonstrates this standard utterly false. 16:04, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Is the cursing really necessary? This issue is getting a lot of media attention and many young people may be reading.MikeURL 01:25, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Plain and simple Essjay was attempting to protect his physical person. Especialy with people like you who post personal info about wikipedians, Including their birth date and where they live. Betacommand (talkcontribsBot) 18:09, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm shocked that a Wikipedia administrator would be less than truthful about their anonymous identity. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 19:29, 28 February 2007 (UTC) Striking - ABCarter (below) has a point. Anonymity is one thing, exaggeration is another. Will try to stay out of this. --21:18, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
While it's important that people can remain anonymous, I am stunned that someone in a position of trust on Wikipedia misrepresented themselves and their credentials. I have to say this really concerns me that Essjay has checkuser and oversight permissions, as well as serves on Arbcom. It's important that I can fully trust people in those positions, but sad to say I can't. Essjay has done lots of great things for Wikipedia and I had great respect for him. It's real shame to see this. --Aude (talk) 19:42, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Just to add... I'm entirely willing to forgive Essjay, but think these charges are serious enough that he should not be in a position of handling private information. --Aude (talk) 19:44, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
While I have always had issues with the amount of anonymity that is allowed on Wikipedia, I understood the rationale and accepted it. However this is no justification for passing off as true a persona that obviously exaggerates ones qualifications and to allow it to be quoted in a major publication is simply inexcusable. A B Carter (talk) 21:11, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
So how many Wikipedians have been murdered through information from their userpages? Essjay was "protecting" himself... from what exactly? He says that he believes his fabrication was already well understood... then how did it serve as "protection" at all? 02:40, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

This creates a credibility problem for Essjay since many people will be shocked at his display of a lack of personal integrity. Essjay needs to deal with this. WAS 4.250 21:32, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Since qualifications don't matter here, who cares? WP:V and WP:RS are required both from PhDs and jr high kids if they're editing articles. As far as personal integrity is concerned, in cyberspace nobody knows you're a dog; people make up personae right and left around here. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 21:36, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
We enjoy our fantasy of an exclusively merit-based system, but it really is nothing more than a fantasy. If someone says he has a Ph.D., no amount of protesting the egalitarianism of the project will change the effect this claim has on other editors' opinions of him (or, in this case, the opinions of the New Yorker's readership, who are doubtless accustomed to put much stock by advanced degrees). He could easily have chosen a set of fake characteristics which did not carry such strong preconceptions if he wished to be anonymous. He has introduced a biasing factor -- I cannot say whether it was deliberate, but we cannot pretend it has no effect. — Dan | talk 21:45, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
But unless he tried to persuade people of his views with respect to articles on religion (and I didn't check and don't know one way or the other) why would this necessarily matter? I wouldn't put extra stock in the views of a Ph.D. outside his particular subject matter. Most decisions on Wikipedia outside of article editing rely mostly on a person's common sense, which is often inversely proportional to his educational achievements. Even when editing, most people don't look at who made what edits to an article. Of course, people are free to draw their own conclusions about his integrity. ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 21:51, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
The fact that he "confirmed" the details on his userpage to the New Yorker, regarding a story on "Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?", disturbs me. The New Yorker also talked with User:William M. Connolley who really is an expert in his field. And it bothers me that Essjay is a position of trust, on Arbcom and with checkuser/oversight. Someone in those positions needs to be held to higher standards of ethics. Essjay owes us an apology, should step down from those positions (until time he regains trust from the community), and Jimbo owes us an explanation. --Aude (talk) 22:00, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I feel compelled to mention that the only person the ArbCom answers to is Jimbo. ? Peter M Dodge (Talk to Me) 22:05, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Several quick points:
  1. Absolutely correct, if you write an objective, verifiable, coherent article it doesn’t matter if you’re a tenured professor or a fifth grader. So why put on airs?
  2. If Essjay had portrayed himself as a character out of Warcraft I would have found it silly but OK. But if his self-description is not obviously false then I assume good faith and believe him.
  3. What is unacceptable is that he was referred to by Jim Wales to represent Wikipedia, and he doesn’t tell the truth. Can you think of anything more embarrassing?
A B Carter (talk) 22:04, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

For those with an interest, I've been trying to engage essjay about this for the last couple of weeks - because I think it's a serious issue too (take a look through my contrib.s...) . I've been unsettled by his refusal to engage in any kind of dialogue, and was also upset to see that in addition to the New Yorker thing, he'd also written to another college professor [[3]] compounding the mistake. I think essjay does great work, but just needs to step up now and say that mistakes have been made. I'm not sure he's a good pick for the arbcom right now..... Purples 22:58, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

This is a really big deal, and needs to be dealt with. I concur: at the very least, Essjay doesn't belong on the ArbCom while this is being dealt with. This is a significant blow to the credibility of the project: in an environment where we are constantly defending the credibility of an encyclopedia anyone can edit, how do we explain when a senior administrator is intentionally misrepresenting himself and allowing those misrepresenations to get into the media? Something needs to be done here. JDoorjam JDiscourse 23:46, 28 February 2007 (UTC) Read more of the postings below, and am ruminating. JDoorjam JDiscourse 23:52, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, but this needs to be said: This letter by Essjay coupled with Jimbo's cavalier reaction ("it's no big deal") should be enough to get the Wikipedia Foundation to remove BOTH Jimbo and Essjay from the project. 00:34, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

This is a complete disgrace. It's an insult to everyone who has made a real contribution to Wikipedia or donated money to the foundation. Take it like a man, Jimbo, it *is* a big deal. -- 10:40, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Larger issues of pseudonymity

I can understand how someone using a pseudonym on Wikipedia could yield to the tempation to exaggerate his or her real-life qualifications. It's an error of judgment, but an understandable one. The larger question is whether our encouragement of the use of pseudonyms encourages this sort of dishonesty. Personally, I'm very glad that I decided to use my real name when I created a Wikipedia account, in part because that prevents me from falling into the trap that it seems Essjay has. I'm increasingly of the opinion that we would have been wise to follow MeatballWiki's "UseRealNames" policy. I recognize the advantages of anonymity, but if anonymity leads to dishonesty we should evaluate the culture we've created.

I've invited Essjay to join this discussion and explain his actions. I hope that we can handle this like adults, without excessive finger-pointing and recriminations. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 23:05, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

  • Essjay made up a persona to protect himself from stalkers. That one of his stalkers got upset when he found out essjay was doing this doesn't shock me. This should not be a problem. Wikipedians have a right to protect their real-life selves from online stalkers.  ? Peter M Dodge (Talk to Me) 23:12, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Folks, if you go over to WR you will see a thread by Daniel Brandt where he triumphantly note the New Yorker correction. The thread begins in July with "he spends too much time on Wikipedia and I'm sure it's bad for his health and warps his mind." Later, when several people tell him they have no problems with Essjay, Brandt says "If I was competent, and in charge of propaganda for a competent intelligence agency, I'd form a small, tight committee to sign up under a single username, and avoid alienating everyone...I say he's a competent, professional spook who manages several employees to help him out on Wikipedia." Then after Essjay was hired by Wikia and disclosed his identity, Brandt sent a letter to a priest he thinks Essjay might know, asking to confirm details of his identity. This is sick behavior. Brandt has a web site dedicated to disclosing the personal information of every Wikipedia admin. I frankly admire Essjay's campaign of disinformation, which sent Brandt on a months-long wild goose chase. Essjay has commented on this issue extensively on his talk page, but because he archives so often you have to go looking for it. And he responded quite politely to Purples until it became clear that Purples wants his pound of flesh and nothing you can say to him will deter him. Thatcher131 23:13, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to pop up here, but Thatcher's characterisation of me is so unfair i can't just let it stand. I've consistently just wanted to talk to essjay about this because i thought it could do damage to wiki's reputation. It muddies the waters horribly to start accusing me of being hostile or dangerous - i'm not. I just thought the behaviour was unethical no matter what the motivation and wanted essjay to recognise that. cheers, Purples 00:38, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I only just discovered the previous discussions on this subject, in Essjay's archives here, here, here, here, here and here. This does explain the context of Essjay's misrepresentation of himself. However, I wager that I'm not the only person who had this talk page on my watchlist and not Essjay's, and so learned about this matter only today. Other people may learn of this matter from other sources, and get an incomplete picture (as I initially did). Because of this potential for misunderstanding, it would be good if Essjay could make a public statement explaining his reasons for misrepresenting himself. It is not only important that we be honest, it is important that we be seen to be honest.
Essjay's "disinformation" campaign is understandable, given the obsessive nature of Brandt et al., but without that context it looks like someone inflating their credentials to seem more authoritative. Imagine a policeman who goes undercover, and in that undercover "role" commits misdemeanor offences. Now imagine that the policeman is up for promotion, perhaps becoming Commissioner of Police. The press gets wind of his previous misdemeanors, and makes a big deal of them. Wouldn't it be appropriate for the newly appointed Commissioner to make a public statement explaining his actions?
I now understand why Essjay did what he did. However, we should face the fact that when he extended his "disinformation" campaign to the New Yorker, a major media source, and it was subsequently revealed, the consequence damages Wikipedia's public image. The New Yorker correction doesn't give any context for Essjay representing himself as a professor of theology. Essjay should, and not just in his archives. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 23:47, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Are you aware that Brandt has been browbeating the New Yorker for weeks over this, including contacting the author of the story, the author's agent, and the author's current publisher? All purely in the name of upholding the New Yorker's reputation , of course. Thatcher131 23:51, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
No, I was not aware of that. And neither will anyone else who comes across that New Yorker article be. All the more reason why it is important, for the sake of Wikipedia's reputation, that Essjay explain his actions once again, in public. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 23:55, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
The implication that Essjay's deception was a reaction to Brandt is bogus. Essjay's false credentials were well-established on his user page before Brandt even had a stub on Wikipedia. It was that stub that first caused Brandt to become interested in Wikipedia. Scroofan 03:32, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
An afterthought: even if this is a form of swiftboating, it's important that Essjay — and, frankly, Wikipedia as a whole — respond to it before it becomes more widely reported without context. Essjay's side of the story is currently buried in his archives, and not terribly easy to find. It needs to be told prominently. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 23:57, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Why is Brandt's relationship with the New Yorker relevant here? If Brandt drinks coffee from Starbucks every morning, does that mean Wikipedians should avoid Starbucks? If the tipoff about Essjay's deception had come from an active Wikipedia contributor instead of Brandt, would there be any more cause for concern about Essjay's behavior? Sethg 14:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Why should anyone concern themselves with who anyone is off-Wikipedia? The only thing that matters here is what they do on-Wikipedia. If Essjay has been judged trustworthy enough to be granted the admin rights he has, and he has done nothing on Wikipedia to abuse that trust, then anything else is nobody's business, and repeated attempts to "engage" him on this topic are harrassment. Corvus cornix 23:15, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Fear of stalkers is a good reason to adopt a pseudonym. It's not a sufficient excuse for waging a calculated effort to deceive people about academic credentials you do not possess -- especially since he lied to the New Yorker and to a professor he contacted regarding Wikipedia. I'm sorry to say this, because I'm a huge fan of this project, but if Jordan remains in a position of authority at Wikipedia it will show there's no accountability at all. Rcade 23:29, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't think he did either — but it can certainly look that way to an outside eye. We don't just need to be honest, we need to be seen to be honest. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 00:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm still disgusted, even after reading his talk page archives. You can hide your identity and use a pseudonym without inflating your credentials. What Essjay did is unethical and I don't trust him, in regards to any arbcom, checkuser, or oversight matter. People in these positions are in a position of trust with the community. --Aude (talk) 00:16, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I'm a bit less sympathetic now after examining the timeline a bit more closely. As far as I can tell, Essjay was misrepresenting himself long before Daniel Brandt was on the scene. And while the desire to avoid stalking from Brandt can be used to explain why the false persona was maintained on Wikipedia, it does not excuse lying to the reporter (either directly or by omission). There were other ways to maintain his anonymity. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:16, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I am also quite shocked by this revelation. I would like Essjay to explain himself. Respectfully, Fang Aili talk 23:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

While I respect Essjay's right to anonymity here, it is unclear to me why Essjay would allow himself to be made a central figure of the New Yorker story in the knowledge that this would involve his false identity being reported as truth to a large audience. This cannot be defended on the basis of preserving his anonymity, because it would have been far easier simply to decline to participate. Certainly, it appears he approached that situation in bad faith. The ultimate damage to Wikipedia from the incident is probably of little accord, except that the media and other outside parties will be less likely to assume good faith of Wikipedians in their future dealings. The damage to Essjay's personal integrity, unfortunately, may be far greater, especially in the eyes of those who know him only tangentially. Christopher Parham (talk) 00:43, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:16, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
As do I - I've never interacted with Essjay to my recollection and I've not chimed in on this issue before, but reading that article and seeing that Essjay had chosen to represent himself as a 'professor of theology' (and in so doing to horrendously overrepresent his credentials) creates exactly the wrong impression to combat the sometimes-heard concern that WP is expertless and dominated by net geeks, rather than informed amateurs or experts. Essjay's decision was extremely poor judgment - lying to an investigative reporter is a BAD IDEA. One can simply DECLINE TO PROVIDE IDENTIFYING INFORMATION, if one is willing to risk losing their moment in the limelight. IMHO, it's poor judgment to have such conduct presented as representative of WP.
I don't care about the machinations or recriminations, but WP looks a lot less reliable today than it did the day before Essjay lied about his lack of academic credentials. He could have said 'NO COMMENT' and it would have resulted in LESS exposure of his actual identity. -- User:RyanFreisling @ 20:51, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, but this needs to be said:

This letter by Essjay and his statement to The New Yorker, coupled with Jimbo's cavalier reaction ("it's no big deal") should be enough to get the Wikipedia Foundation to remove Essjay AND Jimbo from the project. I hereby call for both to resign. 00:34, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

For Essjay to maintain a false identity in the face of harassment is one thing, and I couldn't care less, but I find that letter to be of much greater concern, as it appears an attempt to use that false identity to project authority. Essjay has been a valued member for a long time, and I don't think we need a witch hunt over this, but it would be very helpful if he would choose to explain his actions. Seraphimblade Talk to me Please review me! 00:42, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) How can the Wikimedia foundation remove Jimbo from the project? At the very least they would have to buy him out as wikipedia belongs to him and not to anyone else, SqueakBox 00:56, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Brandt, please go away. You're not helping.  ? Peter M Dodge (Talk to Me) 00:51, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
He thinks we're censoring information, and he won't leave until he proves that we have. I don't give a damn if Essjay has a Ph.D. in real life or not; he's still a very helpful contributor. I respect him for his actions, not who he says he is. Maybe the New Yorker should do that too. Oh, and by the way, Essjay doesn't seem like he wants to comment on this affair, which is probably a good idea (see [4] and [5]) PTO 01:02, 1 March 2007 (UTC).

Not convinced myself that a Florida based IP is Brandt, SqueakBox 00:56, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Brandt's not stupid; I bet he knows how to use open proxies. PTO 01:03, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh there are plenty of ways to get an ip address that isnt one's own of which open proxies is but one (even Windows XP has a method whereby one can control someone else's computer with their permission let alone the various other softwares easily available on the net that will do the same) but I am still not convinced. Either way I dont think the anon should be taken too seriously, SqueakBox 01:07, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. ? Peter M Dodge (Talk to Me) 01:30, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Aren't you the same person who just said Essjay might have faked academic credentials for years for innocent reasons? Rcade 03:07, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Guys, you can go back and forth debating whether that anon IP was Brandt. While you do that, let me ask, why is it ok that Essjay was representing himself as a PhD-holding professor? Beyond simply trying to mislead anyone, here he is promoting himself as having experience and credentials he does not. It appears that, at the very least, he allowed the New Yorker to misrepresent him. That's actually a problem, and I don't think it's behavior which should be lauded. Should Jimbo resign over it? ... That's rather silly. But this goes to the heart of our credibility, and really needs to be addressed as more than Jimbo's casual dismissal of the issue. JDoorjam JDiscourse 03:39, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

1. It is perfectly acceptable and logical to create misinformation so crazy stalking nutters like Brandt can't stalk you. 2. If you believe what people say on the internet, you are stupid. 3. There is no honesty policy on wikipedia, and people have a right to protect themselves. 4. Essjay is not still making those claims so what's the big deal? Whine all you want but this information changes nothing. 5. If the New Yorker is stupid enough to believe everything everyone tells them, that's their problem. 6. If Brandt didn't go around stalking admis, no one would have to defend themselves from his insanity. 7. Root cause: Daniel Brandt is a nutter. Chipclip 04:04, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

No, root cause: Essjay lied while representing Wikipedia. You're not the first to make an argument along the lines of, "The New Yorker believed something on Wikipedia -- that's their fault!" Well, I'd like us to be believable. I'd like us to be wholly credible. There's a difference between misinformation as Essjay had it on his user page, and actively going out of one's way to lie about one's credentials to the media and to others who care about those credentials and place a value on them, both of which Essjay has done, and done while in the capacity of representing the project. We all lose credibility when one of our senior members lies about himself while representing the project. I put a lot of time and effort into this project, as many others do. I don't like watching its credibility bruised by a member of the community who really ought to know better. JDoorjam JDiscourse 04:53, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, Chipclip, I don't think that the timeline works for blaming all this on Brandt. Essjay is claiming to be a professor on May 10, 2005 here. I'm not an expert on Daniel Brandt's dealings with Wikipedia, but the earliest edit of Daniel Brandt (talk · contribs) is on October 14, 2005. So Essjay was falsely representing himself long before Brandt started stirring things up.
I can understand why, once Brandt did start stalking people, Essjay felt it necessary to maintain the false persona he had created. I don't fully understand why he created that false persona to begin with, but I am willing to assume good faith as far as that is concerned. The point at which I believe Essjay made a major mistake was when he agreed to talk to the New Yorker reporter, and either lied to her or allowed her to believe that his userpage biography was accurate. It would have been better either to decline the interview, to explain his "persona" to the reporter (if there were good reasons behind it, he could presumably have explained those reasons off the record), or to say "I'm happy to discuss my work on Wikipedia, but please do not mention any details of my real life." The last might not have been completely honest, but would at least have prevented the current situation, in which the credibility of Essjay, Jimbo and Wikipedia have all, to varying degrees, been compromised.
Blaming the New Yorker for this isn't particularly productive either. If you're a reporter doing a story on Wikipedia, and the Wikipedia authorities recommend someone to you as a trusted member of the community, it's understandable that you might not do a very thorough background check on your interview subject. After all, you're not talking to this "Essjay" person about his professional life as a professor of theology, you're talking to him about his hobby on Wikipedia. The apparent fact that he's got a Ph.D. in theology is merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.
It was a mistake, it turns out, for the New Yorker reporter to accept Essjay on face value. But she accepted Essjay because Wikipedia accepted Essjay. We presented Essjay to the world as one of our best, and now we have to deal with the consequences. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
The fallacy of these arguments is that Essjay was accepted by the community because of the work he did here, not because of his "credentials". Wikipedia specifically is based on not caring what your credentials are. No one cares what you do for a living, therefore, whatever you say it is is irrelevent. On wiki, the only thing you can judge people by is the work they do here. And Essjay's work has been good. I'm sorry but there is no crime here. If you think there is, you are as bad as Brandt. (btw, who cares if he protected his identity before Brandt came along? Its a well known fact that there are nutters on the internet. Prevention isn't a crime either.) I'll say it again, 'cause you seem to have missed it. Wikipedia has no honesty policy about personal details. You are acting like we do. If Essjay hadn't revealed this, you wouldn't have known a damn thing. I applaud him for doing so. It takes guts when nutters are out there. So, AGF, and get over your moral snobbiness. Chipclip 05:32, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Chipclip, I'm sorry that my sense of morality isn't determined by Wikipedia policies. The issue of Essjay misrepresenting himself on-wiki is troubling, but far less so than the issue of him misrepresenting himself to the world at large via a major media outlet. Listen, I agree that Essjay's work on Wikipedia has been good — no, it's been exemplary. That doesn't change the fact that to maintain a false persona to a reporter is a serious error in judgment. And Essjay's judgment is important to his work on Wikipedia, especially since he's been appointed to ArbCom.
I've had my share of interactions with nutters on Wikipedia — I've even had to handle a death threat. I know that there are loonies out there. And although I have made a different choice, I understand why some people prefer to work under a pseudonym on Wikipedia. But working under a pseudonym and creating a misleading identity with inflated credentials are two different things. When the false identity stayed on Wikipedia, it was fairly insignificant. But in the real world, that sort of misrepresentation isn't looked on kindly.
Wikipedia's Achilles' heel is its accuracy and reliability. We have Stephen Colbert regularly ridiculing us as an example of "truthiness". If an individual chosen by Wikipedia's management to represent us to the world via the media turns out to be exaggerating his credentials, that will seem to reinforce every negative impression of Wikipedia out there. That's why we need to deal with this ourselves. I'm not asking for a pound of flesh here. I don't want to see Essjay or Jimbo "removed from the project" (whatever that might mean). I'm just asking for an explanation and a response from Essjay and Jimbo, about why this happened and how we go forward from here. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think people are suggesting that Essjay violated any particular Wikipedia policy, but the fact is that people in the course of their lives are often evaluated in ways unrelated to Wikipeida policy. Essjay, at least in my view, violated standards of honesty that are applicable to all people, Wikipedian or not. The fact that he violated them repeatedly over a long period of time makes him look bad, and the fact that he violated those standards while acting as a representative of Wikipedia makes Wikipedia look bad. I don't see that this should really influence his work on Wikipedia, except to the extent that his activities require others to trust his integrity and judgment. In light of these events it is impossible for me at least to hold those in esteem. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:53, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
While I have in the past had the utmost respect for Essjay, I have to agree with Chris here. Especially having told this to the New Yorker was unacceptable. Making a fake online personality to avoid stalkers is possibly ok, lying to a major magazine when you are representing Wikipedia is problematic. At minimum, Essjay should have oked with some of the higher ups that he was going to lie about this to the magazine (and if they had oked it, I'd be very upset). JoshuaZ 05:59, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
1. Your personal morals are not what dictates how wikipedia is run. You are offended. I'm not. So what? 2. Essjay never portrayed himself as any kind of official representative of the foundation. 3. Jimbo is in charge, not you and he doesn't have a problem with it. 4. No one on this thread has done anywhere near the amount of good work for Wikipedia Essjay has. 5. Don't you have anything better to do? Chipclip 06:07, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Replying by the numbers: 1. It's not just about the morality of any one Wikipedian, it's about how this is going to look to the outside world. You have to admit that this damages Wikipedia's credibility. 2. The New Yorker article says "Essjay was recommended to Ms. Schiff as a source by a member of Wikipedia’s management team because of his respected position within the Wikipedia community." This means that an official representative of Wikipedia (if not the Wikimedia Foundation) recommended Essjay to the reporter. Essjay went along with this; therefore he was allowing himself to be portrayed as a representative of Wikipedia. 3. I accept that Jimbo is in charge. I'd just like to hear an explanation from him. 4. It is true that Essjay has done a tremendous amount of good work for Wikipedia. That doesn't mean that he's infallible. 5. I could ask you the same question. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:18, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo already commented. You just didn't like it. Chipclip 09:26, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
It's not uncommon for editors here to protect their identities, and as someone who has been harassed off wiki, that is why I do. I did so from my very first edit here because I know that harassment, stalking and other forms of identity invasion are things people encounter all the time on the web. Essjay simply continued his ruse about his real life achievements to protect least, this is the way I see it.--MONGO 06:48, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
It's entirely possible to protect one's identity without faking and inflating credentials. People in positions of trust, such as Arbcom and those recommended to reporters, need to be held to higher standards. --Aude (talk) 06:57, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
There's no issue here. No great injustice has been done. Get over yourselves and stop all the drama. Maybe what he said wasn't the best thing, but give it a rest, the guy's human, and it really is a trivial issue. If anyone really thinks this is a big deal, slap yourself a few times and wake up. In the words of 4chan: tits or GTFO. -- Ned Scott 07:44, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Pardon? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 08:06, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Are you asking about the whole thing or just the "tits or GTFO" part? -- Ned Scott 08:08, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
"Tits or GTFO". That bit was Greek to me, except that I understand a little Greek... —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 08:13, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Literally translated it means "show us pictures of women's' breasts or leave" (GTFO standing for, get the fuck out), but is also said in response to a "boring" or undesirable threads of discussion. Its use is often humorous, given the nature of the inappropriate request being made in an otherwise serious discussion. For this case it's being used to lighten the mood, rather than being a real request. (zomg) -- Ned Scott 08:21, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Ah. Thanks for the translation. I don't speak 4chan. (Is there a Babel box for that?) I suppose I will GTFO now, mainly because it's 3:25 in the morning where I am, and I really should sleep at some point. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 08:25, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Would someone care to explain how this consititues just protecting my identity?-- 07:50, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

The issue is credibility

Essjay is a paid member of Wikia - a for profit enterprise that encourages people to contribute time there rather than here - a competitor. Is it a conflict of interest for Essjay to be paid to promote Wikia and also to be a member of arbcom? Does Essjay have the credibility so we can believe him when he claims there is no conflict of interest? The issue is his credibility as a decision maker and not his contributions to the articles. The credibility issue must be dealt with. WAS 4.250 08:15, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

... What? I'm sorry, but is there a conflict of interest if, say, my wife wants me to spend time with the kids rather than Wikipedia? They're not competitors because they use the same software.. Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia Wiki, and Wikias are very specific Wikis. Sometimes we even cross link between the two site! Hardly a conflict. Oh, and Jimbo Wales also works there too.... and probably a lot more people. Is Jimbo's talk page always this funny? I might have to spend more time here, I almost peed my pants after reading this last one. -- Ned Scott 08:26, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
You don't see a need for a reputation for truthfulness in members of arbcom? WAS 4.250 08:29, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I know you titled your message about creditability, but if you look at it you are trying to make a point about his employment at Wikia a conflict of interest. And I don't recall him ever lying about being a part of Wikia... Again, there's no conflict of interest. I'm amazed that you even think so. I'm amazed that you see the two sites as competitors. You clearly don't understand the situation. -- Ned Scott 08:40, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
And as far as what actually matters, I trust Essjay completely with all the access and positions that he holds. No one's perfect, but that doesn't mean it's a trust issue if someone made a questionable approach to their identity online. -- Ned Scott 08:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
A reputation for truthfulness? Not really. A reputation for being able to solve problems is far more useful there. --Carnildo 08:42, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo trusts him. There is no evidence that he isn't a competent arbcom member. None. If Jimbo thought this would damage Wikipedia's reputation beyond repair, he wouldn't have appointed him. Personally, I think its a non-issue. As I suspect Jimbo does too, considereing his comments. Chipclip 09:07, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Carnildo, in a way, is sticking up for Essjay by saying that the issue in question doesn't make him a bad arbiter. There's no need to get mad at him for that. While some of us don't think trust is a factor, the point is a good one. -- Ned Scott 09:22, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Who's mad at him? If you read my comment, you'll see I'm agreeing with him! Chipclip 09:28, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Going forward from here

People argue above about whether Essjay violated any existing Wikipedia policies. Putting that aside, I believe strongly that we should have policies to ensure that this kind of incident doesn't recur. The most urgent issue isn't deceptive self-descriptions by an editor, an administrator, or even an ArbCom member. The serious problem is Wikipedia's public face. From now on, the Wikimedia Foundation should not designate or recommend as a spokesperson anyone who will not be completely candid in dealing with people outside the project. This should apply regardless of whether the editor has a good reason for putting false statements on his or her user page.

This doesn't necessarily mean full disclosure. If an editor's attitude is, "I edit under the username 'Nighthoover on Wheels' and I'm unwilling to disclose my real name or other personal identifying information," that's fine. Some journalists may not accept that and may refuse to quote someone who's effectively anonymous. That's their decision. What's important to the project, though, is that if we (the community, not just one individual) do choose to tell the public something, then that statement can be trusted. JamesMLane t c 13:25, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

What reporter would trust the Wikimedia Foundation and its management on anything, given its role in this? It's not clear whether Wales, Beasley or someone else recommended Jordan as an interview subject to the New Yorker, but he wrote on his talk page that he admitted the ruse before being hired by Wikia in January and it hired him anyway. Jordan bragged on his talk page about fooling the magazine over eight hours of interviews. After finding out, no one at Wikipedia told the New Yorker it had been scammed. There's no accountability at the top here, and to me that's a huge problem for an institution as credible and important as the world's most well-read online encyclopedia. 14:08, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Feh. The Wall Street Journal called me the other day for a chat, am I supposed to send them to someone else? Why? All they would have to do is register an account and ask a civil question on a talk page and they would get the same stuff. The fact that someone chose to engage in a bit of Walter Mittyism is hardly a Wikipedia problem, it's just one of the many tens of thousands of real world problems that also come up on Wikipedia sometimes. Guy (Help!) 14:12, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
My suggestion addresses Foundation policy, not what any individual user should do. If you nevertheless want my advice about the next time you get a media phone call, I'd say you shouldn't lie to them. Give them (for example) your actual academic career for publication, or give them that information only if it's off the record (they won't print it), or decline to give it. Don't follow the fourth alternative of making up a degree. In the huge pool of Wikipedia contributors, there will always be some people who (to be Walter Mitty, to elude Daniel Brandt, or for some other reason) select that fourth alternative. My point is only that people who have done or plan to do that shouldn't be identified by the Foundation as spokespersons or reliable sources. Surely there are enough people choosing one of the first three options that the Foundation's media outreach wouldn't be seriously inhibited. JamesMLane t c 18:41, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Just another user

If during an RFA, you found out that a user had faked his credentials on his talk page, would you support him based on his contributions to the project, irrespective of this blatant lie. The answer is no, you wouldn't and just because Essjay is trusted by Jimbo and is already a bureaucrat\checkuser\oversight\whatever, doesn't mean his actions can just be excepted. I think the most reasonable thing to do would be to put him up at WP:RFA so the community can reassert its faith in him (or not). Yonatan (contribs/talk) 15:41, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Essjay is already an admin, SqueakBox 15:51, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
We know that. Doing a new RFA would allow us to see where the community stands and this and if the community still "trusts" him. --Aude (talk) 15:58, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Exactly what I was trying to say above (apparently unsuccessfully). Yonatan (contribs/talk) 16:53, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Trying to refocus the discussion

(and wondering if this is really the right page for this discussion)

There are really 3 separate issues here, and they should be discussed separately:

  • AFAIK, Essjay is not a foundation spokesman, and Wikipedia doesn't have official press contacts. Essjay's interview with New Yorker and the problems with it are mostly between Essjay and New Yorker. But still, some press stories treat this as something Wikipedia has done. Are we failing to communicate that individual users don't represent the project?
  • Checkusers, oversights and ArbCom members have access to privileged information. Both the fact that this information is sensitive, and the fact that access to it is limited, so it can't be checked by a regular user, requires trust in these people. Should we require these candidates for these functions to reveal their real-life identity? Does being elected/appointed to these sensitive positions make them de facto representatives of the project in the eyes of the world?
  • We don't require editors to identify themselves, and the idea that we should is not going to be seriously considered. But obscuring one's real-life identity is not the same thing as inventing an alternative real-life identity. Should lying as opposed to not telling about your real life be frowned upon?

Zocky | picture popups 16:58, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

    • In reality they do represent the project, especially when they are administrators and bureaucrats specifically recommended by the project. To claim otherwise is silly. When Wikipedians speak about Wikipedia or act regarding Wikipedia, the things they do may reflect on Wikipedia. In this particular instance, the fact that Jimbo made a statement on the matter further ties the incident back to the project. Should lying be frowned upon? I don't think it really matters here. But in the world at large, it is more than "frowned" upon, and that is not something we can change. When someone speaking for the project is then identified as a liar, this worsens Wikipedia's image, especially given the nature of our mission. Christopher Parham (talk) 17:15, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
You have missed out the bit where Essjay chose a fake identity which was used to give leverage in on-wiki debates about articles. I think people would feel less betrayed if Essjay had chosen a fake identity which was neutral, and did not serve to make himself more important than he really is in real life. Mak (talk) 17:14, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok, seriously, you need to prove that allegation. He has explicitly stated he did that to protect his identity. Find me an example of him using that to leverage on wiki debates. You know that people's credentials count for nothing here. It doesn't matter who you say you are, you get treated the same. It is the fault of silly people if they let that influence them. pschemp | talk 20:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Here are a few idiscretions, pschemp. [6], [7], [8], [9] - and of course [10]. Purples 21:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Your diffs prove nothing. He never once says, I'm a PhD, you must respect me. The first one is a reference to a joke, and the rest just claimed he studied Catholicism, which you can do privately and without a PhD. You could study Catholicism too Purples. I still so no abuses of admin tools or positions on Wikipedia. pschemp | talk 23:07, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
"He never once says, I'm a PhD, you must respect me"? In this post [11], Essjay states, "This is a text I often require for my students, and I would hang my own Ph.D. on it's credibility." Anyways, I admire that you are defending your friend no matter what. 04:51, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
It can't be an accident that Essjay chose to represent himself as a 'professor of theology' rather than a gardener or bus driver. Bad form in general, but when involved with the press, such deceit is a very bad idea - and has reflected quite poorly on the project (at least among those raising the issue in RL with me). -- User:RyanFreisling @ 20:55, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Wiki Policy Proposal - WP:HA Honestly Anonymous

Perhaps we can move forward if we shift away form talking about Essjay and Wales and discuss general policy.

I hope it is clear that, whatever your view, there is a substantial group of Wikipedians for whom honesty is bedrock, a principle that informs each of their actions. Honesty matters not so much because it is a moral principle but an essential part of what makes Wikipedia work. It is of a piece with a general attitude of being sincere, open and direct. Rudeness is not returned with rudeness but with a simple request to desist. Discussions are not disrupted to make a point WP:POINT and opinions are expressed “directly in discussion, without irony or subterfuge” We understand that assuming good faith entails behaving in ways that justify the assmption of good faith. To represent yourself as anything other than who you are is to undermine that assumption and corrode the bonds of trust that has made Wikipedia a success.

It is also clear to me that there are real reasons for wishing to be anonymous. I’ve spent the last couple of days reading about some of the things that have occurred in the past. Much of it is truly disturbing. I’ve read death threats that at a distince are almost comical but are anythign but for those who receive them. I can see now why some have strongly defended any encroachment on the right to be anonymous.

So my proposal is simple: preseve anonymity and demand honesty. There is no requirement to identify or in any way describe yourself; only a prescription from any self-attribution known to be false. This addresses the need for honesty without infringing on the right to privacy. Please note that I’m not expecting such a policy to be applied with any degree of vigilance to user pages, but I would expect a thorough vetting of any person who is nominiated any position within Wikipedia. The proposed policy is consonant with the majority of the points that have been made here and the present behavior of Essjay. I would like to think that this merely codifies what is the behavior of the vast majority of Wikipedians.

Be anonymous, be honest; the two are not incompatible.A B Carter (talk) 18:35, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

There's a lot of merit in this proposal, and I hope that it is seriously considered. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 18:49, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it makes a better guideline than a policy (due to the likelilhood that enforcement of incidents of violations of such a policy would require actual proof of identity), but I agree completely with the thesis. Honesty = the best policy (regardless of whether you're a media darling or not). -- User:RyanFreisling @ 20:57, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I'm fairly new to Wikipedia and still learning about basic procedure. Even after reading some of the guidelines I'm still fuzzy about the distinction between policies and guidelines; nonetheless a guideline appears to be more in keeping with my intent. A B Carter (talk) 03:55, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes absolutely. Paul August 21:21, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed as well. If a person would like to maintain his or her privacy, what's wrong with just using a pseudonym and refusing any requests to disclose personal information at all? Seraphimblade Talk to me Please review me! 21:25, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
A B Carter writes: "Please note that I’m not expecting such a policy to be applied with any degree of vigilance to user pages, but I would expect a thorough vetting of any person who is nominiated any position within Wikipedia." My main objection is that I don't like having a policy or guideline that's expected from the start to have major unstated exceptions. That's why my suggestion above (#Going forward from here) was confined to people who were designated to be part of Wikipedia's "face" in non-Wikipedia contexts. I had in mind the Board and anyone identified by the Foundation as a spokesperson or source to the media. It would, I suppose, be feasible to extend that to the ArbCom, developers, bureaucrats, and anyone with CheckUser access. I think that "any position within Wikipedia" is too broad, though -- let's not try to apply this standard to everyone requesting adminship or seeking to become a mediator. Still less should it apply to every user page. JamesMLane t c 21:44, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
My first reaction is that we are far more in agreement than anything else: i.e. I am far more concerned that a misrepresentation was made to the New Yorker than I am about what an occasional user says about himself. Second, in reviewing my intial remarks, I am fairly satisfied with what I said with the exception of the quote provided by JamesMLane. In retrospect I probably should have deleted it because it confuses the main thrust of my remarks. In direct responce, let me state that there are no exceptions: I do expect everyone I deal with at Wikipedia to present him or herself in an honest and forthright manner. In the end the point is just that I'm going to give a lot more slack to the newbie than someone high up in the Wikipedia hierarchy. The point applies with any policy or guideline: I am far more tolerant of rudeness from an occasional editor than a Wiki admin. A B Carter (talk) 04:51, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like good advice for anyone running any kind of foundation with any hope of legitimacy. I have great faith in the project and I'm sure it'll work out, but this had better be a learning experience if we are to regain public credibility. -- User:RyanFreisling @ 22:03, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Related to (but not necessarily the same as) this is an essay I started at Wikipedia:Honesty. Anyone interested in helping define community feelings as relate to the concept is invited to edit away. This isn't the kind of essay I ever thought would be necessary, but perhaps it will be useful to help avoid any other misunderstandings on the issue. - CHAIRBOY (?) 22:51, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Considering how admittedly little Essjay contributes to the actually encyclopedia directly (you are tempted to take this out of context; don't), I'm puzzled as to how him lying about his credentials matters at all. I don't care for one if the person running checkusers and blocking vandals was a theology doctor, a teenage inbred or a sickly green monkey. Milto LOL pia 01:35, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
He is also an oversight, meaning that he can see the maliciously posted information that is so sensitive that we don't want even administrators to look at it - things like people's home addresses, phone numbers, etc. While it may be irrelevant if a person who receives such trust is a theology doctor or a green monkey, it is very relevant whether they are a lyer and whether they know when it's appropriate to do what. Wikipedia is not a game. These things matter. Zocky | picture popups 01:57, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't matter on a day to day level. It matters if he is (grossly) misrepresented his credentials when representing the project (which in the case of the New Yorker article, he clearly was). Of course things like this are likely to reduce public confidence in Wikipedia. I just can't understand why he did this. It is reasonably easy to maintain anonymity- which in my view at least is completely sensible- without making up a load of bollocks about one's qualifications. It seems to me- especially from the letter linked above- that, with respect for all his many good works for the project, the only reasons he did this were to inflate his own ego and for use as leverage in discussions. I'm not sure at all that any official censure is in order, but I'm surprised that Jimbo especially has dismissed the matter so lightly- this surely is a fairly severe, and completely unecessary, blow to the project's public image. The whole thing is just really, really bizarre. Badgerpatrol 02:07, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
  • That can be taken as support for "honesty's the best policy", btw. If one feels it necessary (it almost always isn't) to manufacture a real life pseudonym for broadcast on-wiki (i.e. on user pages) at least try for one that approximates your actual situation, whilst changing the details to protect the innocent. The reasons to protect one's real identity on-wiki are voluminous- but the only reason to inflate one's credentials is self-aggrandisement. I can't see any other excuse reallyBadgerpatrol 02:44, 2 March 2007 (UTC).
Who cares how "the project" looks? It's not an exercise in online popularity or an experiment to see how wonderful a website can look in the media, it's an encyclopedia that runs and functions (or should, anyway) independent of outside opinion. On one hand, you have inmeasurable help to the encyclopedia by Essjay, and on the other, you have a PR stint that, frankly, is the least of Wikipedia's "media image" problems. Why are you worried about this anyway? Are you known for your real name/statistics on Wikipedia? If not, your personal reputation is not at stake here. If you're worried about Wikipedia's reputation, you should probably stop and just think about encyclopedic work because frankly, you and I will have very little influence on Wikimedia's PR actions or whatever. Anyone who goes by a screen name and doesn't identify themself has no place complaining IMO, because it's just an internet identity and this is just the internet. The people behind the usernames "Zocky" and "Badgerpatrol" are not going to suffer because of this. The only one who possibly looks bad are Jimbo and the Foundation (and Jimbo has said he has no problem with this) and Essjay himself. If any lesser known editors, with full real life details, have their IRL reputations affected whatsoever by Essjay's actions, I'll eat my own head. Milto LOL pia 03:55, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
What on earth ar you talking about? Crap like this affects very much our public image, and our public image affects both the donations and the structure of people who are likely to want to join. None of us was born here, we all joined because we heard stuff about Wikipedia from other people and media.
The other thing, influence on Wikimedia's PR actions: I'm currently on ComCom committee, which I joined simply by helping out. I'm not very active, but my input occasionally does influence foundation's press releases. It's all done exactly by people like you and me, there's no automagic about it. Zocky | picture popups 04:15, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Ultimately it comes down to people who are assessing the PR effect this will have (the concerned over which do not include Jimbo, who has dismissed it like so much bilge) and people who are assessing its affect on the encyclopedia. Yes, you have an opinion on the matter, and yes, your opinion has some influence on the press releases, but that doesn't mean your reputation is being affected at all here. People need to stop worrying so much about the internet. It's just the internet. I've got people writing nasty things about me on at least two different websites. It doesn't affect me at all because it is an internet screen name that means nothing. Even if the news outlets blame you personally, Zocky, for this travesty, it doesn't matter, because this is just the internet and it's an internet screen name with no real ties to the real person behind the computer. That's all I'm saying, mostly: it's the internet, people should stop worrying about how this will affect their internet reputation and be gratefulf or all Essjay has done for Wikipedia. Milto LOL pia 04:23, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Actually, I used my real name the few times I did anything press-related. But that's totally beside the point. This is not about my reputation. It's about the reputation of the project I'm working on. Some people actually care for things other than themselves, you know. Zocky | picture popups 05:04, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Eh, I guess what I meant by saying that we can move forward if we shift away form talking about Essjay and Wales is that . . . we can move forward if we shift away form talking about Essjay and Wales. Essjay has already apologized for his actions and at this point is presenting himself in a completely honest manner, so I'm not sure what point is being made by some of these remarks. I hazard to guess that Essjay is both surprised and bewildered at the present course of events. This leads to the one point of contact between my intent and the previous remarks, that this "can be taken as support for 'honesty's the best policy'". Exactly right. I'm struck by Essjay's statement that he had talked with Ms. Schiff for over six hours and in the end she managed to write about just those few assertions where he had not been entirely honest. I have little doubt that Essjay had no clue at what the consequences would be when he first spoke to her. That's why we develop policy, or perhaps guidelines, not to rehash over and over again the mistakes we made in the past, but to avoid the same kind of mistakes in the future. A B Carter (talk) 05:25, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Creative use of pseudonym "protection":
I am an administrator of the online encyclopedia project Wikipedia. I am also a tenured professor of theology; feel free to have a look at my Wikipedia userpage (linked below) to gain an idea of my background and credentials. 02:54, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
There are other quotes doing the rounds. This has little to do with a need for anonymity and much more to do with inventing a fantasy life in order to influence debates. Does anyone believe he used to be a paralegal and account director at a fortune 20 company either? Most of us manage to be anonymous without looking ridiculous and the anonymity issue is a red herring.
"If you'd like to start an RfC on the matter, I'd be happy to offer the community my evidence; I am, after all, one of Wikipedia's foremost experts on Catholicism" [12] (clearly using his fake credentials as a threat)
Offering "expert testimony" on Catholicism [13]
"I've been a Catholic scholar for years, and I couldn't tell you know how many times I've heard this myth, in and outside class"[14]
"This is a text I often require for my students, and I would hang my own phd on it's credibility"[15]

I think you are wrong to promote and defend him - your Walter Mitty fantacist is a gift to our enemies. Secretlondon 07:24, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Community noticeboard discussion

Jimbo Wales, given the increasing notoriety of these revelations I have started a thread at Wikipedia:Community noticeboard#Essjay-The New Yorker community discussion. I invite you to join the discussion. (Netscott) 04:51, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Wikipedia is failing

Dear Mr. Wales,

I think the efficiency of wikipedia would become much higher if we can design new rules for controversial articles(a negligible percentage of wiki articles). A lot of our energy is wasted in dealing with these articles. In comparison with all wikipedia articles, they are not too many. If we can ask a couple of experts to form a board and we interact with them in writing the article(rather than writing them ourselves), that would be great. Can you please let me know your idea? Thanks --Aminz 07:24, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Surely that would destroy the whole wikipedia idea and all it represents, SqueakBox 01:33, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

99.999% of the articles can be edited using the regular procedure. --Aminz 01:39, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Well that would mean there are about 16 articles that couldnt be edited normally. Which ones? SqueakBox 01:41, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I didn't mean there are 16 but a tiny fraction. I can generally think of "Criticism of X" related articles, or those talking about persecution or discrimination of one group towards others. --Aminz 01:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
It strikes me (as a manager in my real life) that the volunteers here are the best resource wikipedia has and to exclude not particular editors but everybody apart from as chosen panel of experts from editing any article goes entirely against the principles of wikipedia and would be counter-productive as people are attracted to volunteer here precisely because of the freedom to edit any article that they are wish to, SqueakBox 01:49, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I understand that and I don't suggest we give the whole process to experts. But on the other hand, in reality those who are emotionally involved in these issues would give a headache to others. These articles simply become a wiki-battle-war. I think wikipedia really needs special policies for dealing with these articles. The presense of an expert(who is not emotionally involved) is really needed. --Aminz 01:55, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I think these policies have been developed already over the years, eg WP:3RR. Nobody is forcing anyopne to engage in a particular article so if people are getting a headache they can choose to withdraw. I basically think the solution would be worse than the problem, SqueakBox 02:04, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

SqueakBox, WP:3RR only prevents edit warring, it doesn't solve anything. There are many people who care about a topic, and that is basically the motivation of many wikipedians for joining wikipedia. So, we can not ask them to just leave. --Aminz 02:07, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely not, no. While I hear your concerns I think to go down the path you suggest would be a slippery slope that wouldn't do wikipedia any good in the longer run for reasons I hope I have stated clearly, SqueakBox 02:10, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Just a quick note, this converstaion may be more appropriate on one of your individual talk pages (Just a reccomendation though). -- Chrislk02 (Chris Kreider) 02:11, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Proof please that Wikipedia:Wikipedia is failing

I went to that article in question, and it offered little or no proof to back up it's premise -namely that Wikipedia is failing. However, and as aptly mentioned elsewhere in this page, Wikipedia is failing: I am the editor against whom an admin recently made a declaration of "Community Consensus," but when I added the votes up, no consensus (not even a "slim majority!") supported any of the several sanctions that were lobbed against me. (I'm proclaiming my innocence here, but for the sake of argument, assume that we don't know if I am guilty or not.)

If an admin can make a proclamation that a "consensus" exists -when not even a slim majority supported his view on things, then this admin is clearly violating WP:Consensus.

The proof that Wikipedia has failed is that, even after many request for ArbCom to intervene by myself and numerous other editors, ArbCom did not take the case -which effectively supports this rogue admin's illegal actions. ("Illegal" here means in violation of policy, not state or federal law.)

Thus, we can conclude that the many news stories we see about Wikipedia not being reliable have some (if not a lot) of merit.

Maybe if they paid their editors -you know, took out ads -then the quality of editing would improve! But, until then Wikipedia is not a reliable source -just a popular source of information.

Here's the proof to my tall tale.--GordonWatts 03:29, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

  • GordonWatts is currently indefinitely blocked due to his reoslute refusal to accept any restriction on his proposing links to his own blogs as sources,. and his continued interminable argumentation about everything relating to such restrictions. Guy (Help!) 14:02, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo in Delhi - same as Times of India office

Hello Jimbo, I see that you are in India and Delhi specifically for another couple of days. I just noticed yesterday, that the Times of India, headquartered there, and apparently the largest daily newspaper in the world, has been plagiarising Wikipedia articles on cricketers. Some of them even copied some unsourced errors and even some OR by yours truly from when I was newbie! See User:Blnguyen for details. Apparently they ran an article just this week discussing the unreliability of Wikipedia! Perhaps you should have a chat to them. Regards, Blnguyen (bananabucket) 03:21, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

WP:V and WP:NOR gone

I was slightly suprised to edit today and discover that both WP:V and WP:NOR, probably the two oldest policies here, have been "deprecated", apparently with little or no warning. Were you aware that this was on the cards? What is your opinion on the matter? Dan100 (Talk) 10:28, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Instead of "deprecated", you should read "unified and superseded by WP:ATT", and instead of "little or no warning" you should read "five months of discussion on its talk page that was advertised all over the wiki". >Radiant< 10:32, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Your signature...

THANK YOU FOR SIGNING MY AUTOGRAPH BOOK! What did you need to edit? --Cremepuff222 (talk, sign book) 19:00, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

That actually wasn't Jimbo who signed your sign book but User:Spawn Man. Yonatan (contribs/talk) 19:22, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Question about anonymous editing

I've heard different arguments about why anonymous editing should or should not be allowed. I personally don't think that it should, because I believe it encourages vandalism by allowing people to vandalize on a whim and therefore creating messes that users have to spend time cleaning up that they could be spending editing and improving pages themselves. I know that the "Wiki way" states that Wikipedia should have an open and non-elitist attitude, but isn't its first and foremost goal to be a good quality and comprehensive encyclopedia? I personally think that by allowing anon editing, Wikipedia is putting its principle of seeming "open" before that which should supersede it, namely that of maintaining a sound encyclopedia, but since you have decided that anon editing should be allowed, I would like to please hear from your mouth the reasons for this decision. Thanks.--Azer Red Si? 01:47, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo will of course decide whether to answer the question for himself, but I know for a fact that if I had not been able to experience Wikipedia anonymously to begin with, it is very unlikely that I would be here now. Newyorkbrad 01:49, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with this view; how does opening an account here indicate an "elitist" attitude? Anyone is free to edit Wikipedia and you'll need to open a (free) account first. What's wrong with that? It is much better for an editor to open an account and have some measure of responsibility for their edits (even if they still vandalise pages) instead of being anonymous and doing the vandalism. Considering how many editors feel that a significantly large number of anonymous edits are some form of vandalism, it causes a paradox as they violate WP:AGF when they suspect anonymous vandalism. Now how's that for a laugh? Ekantik talk 02:07, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Studies show that much of Wikipedia's content is written by anons, and many of our best editors joined exactly because they could poke around without having to register. Besides, it's much easier to revert a vandalism than to find the last typo in a featured article. Zocky | picture popups 04:23, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
I see a lot of good anon edits on RC patrol, in addition to the bad ones, and edited anonymously myself quite a bit (very minor edits, but if I saw a typo or something, I'd just fix it). If I just pop on real quick from a public computer to look something up, and happen to see a typo or something, I still usually will just fix it anonymously-signing in would be more trouble then it's worth. Prevent page creation by anons? Absolutely, 100%. But prevent editing? No way. Seraphimblade Talk to me Please review me! 15:26, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
  • In reference to "I know that the "Wiki way" states that Wikipedia should have an open and non-elitist attitude, but isn't its first and foremost goal to be a good quality and comprehensive encyclopedia?": The ideas are really more equal than what you suggest. Yes we want quality, but not at the expense of freedom to edit. We have already made some sacrifices with protection and not allowing anons to start pages. I think we are at a decent balance. IMO though, I don't think users who haven't reached autoconfirm (4 days registered) should be allowed to start pages except for User and Talk. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 21:16, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Possible SF meetup

Hi Jimbo -- left you a note about this over at Wikia. To recap: would you have any time during your next trip to SF for a Wikipedia meetup? I've been wanting to plan one for ages and haven't yet. When are you leaving on April 7th? Would Friday be a good day? Let me know. Stubby meetup page here.-- phoebe (brassratgirl) /(talk) 02:34, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Problems, and a possible solution

MR Wales.

I am sending this to you, as I have an idea to solve a VERY vexing problem on Wikipedia, and I can't think of any place more appropiate to send it to, since it means creating a whole new section.

The problems are this;

1) There are many ideas floating around in the discusion/ talk pages about ideas for new articles, but people can't make the articles up to the standard required to get them accepted on Wikipedia. This may be due to not being able to find enough referance material and other such things.

I myself am trying to find information of a wide range of subjects, like communities on the internet, Magehounds (people who have an attraction to/ for things with magical properties), which dat back in word to the Inquisition and in concept back to Myths and Legends), Magitech (magic and science used together in technology, but as seperate forces. The seperation is what keeps it apart from Alchemy), The different main types of technology in Sci-fi (most areas I am thinking of exist in real life as well!), and social scenes as a whole, not in its smaller componates like subcultures or communites of interest.

I can't find much on those areas, so I can't start to make the article. I suspect that many other people are in the same situation. However, most people would not raise the subject on a talk page that is for an artcle in a different area!

2) In addition to that, when an article comes up, it is the work of simply one person, and reflects their knowledge, and the limits of it. Often they do not even define WHAT type on thing they are talking about, just describe its characterists! One example is the page on Mad Scientists. It portrays only the sterotypical Mad Scientist in classical fiction, with no set definition! It is neutral, just highly limited.

That fully ignores the evolving of the characters in fiction genres, as well as real life mad scientists. To correct it would require a full overhaul of the page. I am trying to get them to discuse the basic point of WHAT is a Mad Scientist.

In the case of the Antihero talk page, around 95% of it, at LEAST, was people wondering WHAT an antihero is!

3) Other times a subject may be worth writting about on its own, yet any inquire into it is drawn away into other articles that are related, but distinctly different. I have come across this as well on the discusion page about Heroes.

4) I have also noted that occasionaly an article that started out balances ends up unbalanced. Once case is the article on Subsultures. It started out discribing subcultures generall, but it was added to latter, and the new, LARGER section refers to Countercultutures as Subcultures. Counter cultures are just a TYPE of subculture, and this may lead people into thinking all sub-cultures are what s really counter cultures.

5) When a person spots a MAJOR gap in something, they can't added a LARGE amount of stuff to fill it in without talking about it, and the discusions may go no-where. If you DO, then the additions may be deleted with a message saying "Can't we discuse these changes first?" This happened to me with the page on Heroes.

This all was within my first 12 hours on wikipedia! I have tried to help cases when I have come across them, but I am only one person with limited access, and the problems lay in the pages BEFORE they are submitted!

What I propose is this:

A section where people can discuse different ideas, gather together the different referance materials they have and come up with more fully balanced and wider point of view, and a broader range of topics that need to be covered.

It would have discusion pages that can multiple threads and pages that are formed FROM the discusions that lead to them, and not the other way around.

It would be able to link OUT to estables and accepted pages, but no-one would be able to link from the outside in to there. This will help prevent the non-accepted pages influencing the accepted ones.

People would be able to look at those pages in the making and the forums that lead to them.

It will also help more of the pages that are submitted get accepted.

I myself am trying to find enough referance material to create a few articles, but it can be very difficult to find referances to some things, or to get people to understand the concepts behind some (such as communities on the Internet. I have come across about seven passing referances in my time reading about the internet and things on it, but that was over YEARS, and in passing, and I am having a hard time tracking some of them down again.)

The fact that an article will have many people working on it at the start, before it submitted, means that there may be lees of a burden on the admin, since people will be trying to get the article balanced beforehand.

Since this means that people discuse the matter BEFORE the article is made, it means that the basic ideas are established, and there will be less chance of changes people are not so sure about latter, but can't think of a reason to argue about them. It will also give the people who want to make the changes a chance to debate them beforehand, and the admin can see the changes in the final submitted work, instead of stumbling on the latter!

You might even have a section that only Admin people can alter, which points out reasons whay it would not be accepted if it was currently submitted.

I am not expecting you to take me up on my idea, but if you start to consider the problems and come up with some ways of helping to ease them, then sending this to you, (and risking being kicked off, which would mean i would have to start a new account using a different Email address I have), has been well worth it.

Corrupt one 03:56, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

P.S. I don't have another account on Wikipedia yet, but if I am kicked off, then I can get one QUICK! I am also willing to send you a page about Mad Scientists that uses what is already there but add onto it greatly. Too much do be allowed to do so at once. It would highlight what I mean about how narrow some of the scopes of the original submitters can be if I could send it to you.

Uh, I think what you are proposing already exists: Wikipedia:Articles for creation. Gdo01 04:02, 2 March 2007 (UTC)


I won't say everything that needs to be said about the Essjay situation, I'll just point to this blog post and say that these are the most jawdropping decisions (hiring Essjay and then appointing him to ArbComm) you have ever made. Suffice it to say that you, too, will regard these as having been big mistakes before it's all over. --Larry Sanger 05:25, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

I suggest you think long and hard before adopting the mean spirited approach Larry recommends. Fred Bauder 22:35, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Amazing. Holding people accountable for years-long fraud, and for facilitating such fraud, is now "mean spirited"? What kind of person are you? --Larry Sanger 00:05, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
Live and let live. Fred Bauder 00:24, 3 March 2007 (UTC) However User:Essjay/Letter does raise issues. Fred Bauder 00:30, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo already knows all about it and has said he doesn't care - if he reacts now, it's only because he'll care about community reaction, unless he somehow sees the light. He's probably more interested in Essjay's extensive contributions to helping Wikipedia run. That's what it's like to run a project that's focused more on its own functionality than the reputations of its editors. Milto LOL pia 05:29, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Isn't Jimbo in India and not going to ever see these messages unless he decides to go digging through his archives once he returns?—Ryūlóng (竜龍) 05:41, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, he is, and it will probably be a week til he gets personally on top of things. In the meantime it is unlikely that the arbitration committee or anyone else is going to make any drastic moves. Jimbo needs a chance to carefully consider this dustup. Fred Bauder 00:33, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
Miltopia, look, I know that you have just as much to say about this as I do, but come on. Jimbo and Larry know each other very well. They don't need any of us to facilitate their communication. Zocky | picture popups 05:51, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
That's very true, I should stay out of it. Still, I think Larry (and everyone else) involved could do well to remember that Wikipedia is not Citizendium, and then everyone should carefully decide which system they think is going to do better. Milto LOL pia 06:10, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
The response from "Miltopia" encapsulates the nugget of the problem: the world's standards aren't our standards; if the community doesn't care, then Jimmy is justified in not caring either. I think Wikipedians like "Miltopia" are about to discover that as much as they hate the thought of it, they are part of a broader world, the broader world (ironically) has higher standards than Wikipedia, and they ignore these facts at their peril. --Larry Sanger 15:05, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo, as much as I admire your core beliefs about Wikipedia and all the work you've done, I do think you shot us in the foot on this one. I disagree with Larry about one thing though. The problem wasn't the internal decisions regarding Essjay - hiring him and appointing him to ArbCom - that was all before the New Yorker piece (IIRC) and it is perfectly reasonable to say that you made those decisions on the basis of Essjay's thousands of useful contributions.
However, when you told the press: "I regard it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it"[16] I think you did some enormous damage. You've always maintained that most Wikipedia content comes from a small group of dedicated contributors who understand our rules and are dedicated to building a great encyclopedia. You just told The New Yorker that those people can lie about their qualifications and we won't care. I think that this completely undermines everything
I know that you were trying to make a larger point. I know that what you were really trying to say was that unlike an encyclopedia where editors are hired on the basis of their resumes, we can't evaluate editors on their education or their background or their supposed expertise. We can only evaluate them on the basis of the quality of their contributions - the strength of the arguments they have made during debates, their adherence to our rules, whether the information they add to an article is neutral and factually accurate. The anonymity of the Internet enables us to bypass many of the biases inherent in traditional social structures. We can't tell if an editor is white, black, hispanic, 75 years-old, 14, disabled, etc. We can't tell that is, unless they tell us.
What you should have told The New Yorker is that it isn't a problem that Essjay lied because he didn't rise through the ranks on account of his (false) academic background. He succeeded because people were impressed with the work that he did for us. You should point out to them that there are top-notch contributors who openly admit on their user pages to being teenagers, being unemployed, suffering from depression, etc. Britannica hires people to write articles. On wikipedia anyone can write an article and the wheat gets separated from the chaff. Not only is this system closer to the kind of meritocracy that Westerners consider an ideal social structure (witness the American Dream and all the fuss made about discrimination), it also enables us to have great articles about topics that Britannica editors, who presumably all come from a similar background, wouldn't consider important or understand.
I took my Dad to hear you speak at the University of Hartford a few months ago. He doesn't understand technology, he probably doesn't have a clue what the open source movement is, but he was absolutely inspired by your talk because I think you showed him a radical new way of doing things than can be successful. If he hadn't heard you explain how we worked he would have read the allegations about Essjay and (reasonably) thought you were out of touch with reality. We have to respond to these allegations by showing people that our very model of doing things is completely different from what they are used to. We don't care that Essjay lied because we don't promote people based on their academic background. GabrielF 16:44, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
With respect, you've missed the point. Nobody cares that Essjay does not have the potful of certificates that he said he had. As you say, none of the roles he is engaged in require any of these, and academic qualifications generally don't (and shouldn't) carry much weight on-wiki- what does matter are the quality of one's arguments and how one locates and uses evidentiary sources. The point is not that Essjay is not qualified- the point is that he lied. A big, egregious, unnecessary, self-serving lie that he perpetuated for years (seemingly from his first few edits on Wikipedia) and which he extended to the press (in his dealings with the New Yorker) and to others off-wiki (in the letter). Ironically, the only person who is actually bothered by qualifications or lack thereof is Essjay, since he obviously saw fit to grossly expand his actual academics (which are reasonable enough anyway in my view) through these fabrications, seemingly with the sole intent of leveraging these as credibility in on-wiki discussions and off-wiki interactions. The point of debate is not "he's not qualified" the point is "he's a liar and a fantasist" (and I don't mean that as a personal attack, it's just a literal statement of what appear to be the facts, unfortunately). Academic qualifications are not important for Wikipedia positions of responsibility. Good judgement, good faith, and the trust of the community mos definitely are however. Badgerpatrol 01:53, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo, I'm with Larry on this one. His blog puts it very well. I have no problem whatsoever with anonymity, yet Essjay's fabrications weren't trivial - they falsely claimed qualifications he didn't have and that real people spend many years of hard work to achieve. Although Essjay's other work for the project has been admirable, it sends the wrong message to countenance that at the highest project levels in positions of trust. DurovaCharge! 06:27, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

These weren't innocent, security driven identity masks (say, an editor in LA claiming a BA in history from USC when it's truly an editor in NYC with a BA in English lit from Ball State). This was a misprepresentation of credentials made up from whole cloth, further maintained offline in at least one incident of correspondence and an interview with a major publication, with details thrown in about editing WP whilst conducting classroom quizes, all given as a nominal, ranking "official" representative of Wikipedia. Moreover, it's been shown Essjay used these fake credentials whilst attempting to sway editorial content. He blatantly scammed, both as a content editor and in the real world. His username should be revoked and he should be allowed to start over with a new WP identity (with whatever admin access Jimbo wants to give him, but hard banned from making user page representations about his educational and employment background ever again). Meanwhile Jimbo's assertion that Essjay's misrepresentation of his academic background was a pseudonym is unsupported, to put it mildly. Gwen Gale 10:27, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

“Essjay was recommended to Ms. Schiff as a source by a member of Wikipedia’s management team... He was willing to describe his work... by confirming the biographical details that appeared on his user page.” [17]

Anyway I don't wanna put too keen an edge on it, but since WP solicits donations, this could be taken as fraud since Essjay was recommended by "a member of Wikipedia’s management team" and the New Yorker piece could have contributed to inducing someone to send a cash donation to WP. Gwen Gale 11:05, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

I am finding my way in from various blogposts and am reading the comments here. Someone up above called for both "Essjay's" and Mr. Wales to resign. This frankly seems the best and most respectable solution. 11:12, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely. Everyking 13:32, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Disagree strongly. Neither should resign or be fired. It's not right that this young man's livelihood should be so adversely affected by this revelation. He absolutely shouldn't lose his job at Wikia, nor should either resign. However, Jimbo and the Foundation will need to work on an appropriate message and response to this incident (and the issue of expertise on WP) that is appropriate to restore the project in the 'court of public opinion'. As I've said, I have faith in the project - not as a valid academic source but as a social information network - but this correction has changed how a lot of my peers view WP. -- User:RyanFreisling @ 16:54, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
I hope it's opened some eyes. Pseudonymity and anonymity and role-playing are a peculiar basis for an encyclopedia, but part of the experiment that is Wikipedia openly embraces this basis. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 17:10, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Thankfully I've never been under any mistaken impressions about WP's accuracy - but the concept of accuracy as an 'emergent property' of a collaborative open encyclopedia has fascinated me. What has changed for me in this episode is that I am now considering the concept of accuracy as an emergent property in a system in which an individual can claim expertise falsely - and in so doing actually short-circuit that 'emergent accuracy' by reducing the extent of verification and debate. I'm not sure whether misrepresentation as an expert by 'rational agents' on WP completely negates the process, but I'm tending to think it is a damper on the desired result (accuracy). -- User:RyanFreisling @ 17:22, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
This is not something that can be papered over with a "message." In any real-world publication setting, this would be grounds for instant termination, without recourse. Fabrication is not tolerated in the real world, and if Wikipedia is ever to hope of having real-world credibility, we must not tolerate fraud either. That's what it is, quite bluntly. Essjay is a fraudster. FCYTravis 17:20, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
I believe this controversy exists to the extent it does because the general public (those unfamiliar with WP culture and process) judges an encyclopedia first and foremost on its' accuracy. Misrepresentations by an editor vis-a-vis their expertise are serious, indeed - but when made by a 'spokesman' in a forum like The New Yorker, they are devastating to public credibility. Effective public and media relations requires that a message (and, as I said, an appropriate response) be crafted, delivered and fulfilled in order to work to present the project in a more favorable public light. -- User:RyanFreisling @ 17:30, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, and part of that is to "fire" the person who knowingly and maliciously committed the error - just like any reputable newspaper or other publication would do if presented with fabrications and lies by employees. FCYTravis 17:51, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
We disagree as to the effectiveness of 'taking a scalp'. I incline towards forgiveness and increased visibility. -- User:RyanFreisling @ 17:58, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
You may be interested in reading my reply to Larry above. We can punish Essjay but it would only be an admission that Essjay's fraud actually does undermine our credibility. It would be more effective to point out that we didn't hire him because of his academic qualifications. The community selected him out of an enormous group of editors because of the quality of his contributions. If an editor at Britannica lied about his academic background it would be a blow to the credibility of Britannica because their credibility is based on theyir being "experts". We're all assumed to be unemployed degreeless 20 year-olds anyway. We just have to say that he was able to get as far as he did because his work was good and, while lying about his background may call the accuracy of his contribution's into question, wikipedia is designed so that many, many people will now review his contributions, and fix any errors they find. GabrielF 18:09, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
I think our credibility is at least based on our being earnest unemployed degreeless 20-year-olds who at least aspire to some sort of intellectual integrity. This incident damages that image by conveying the message that Wikipedia editors consider lying to the public not to be a problem. For the public image of an intellectual enterprise, being perceived to disvalue honesty is a serious blow. Jimbo's reaction in this sense was worse than the incident itself. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:46, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
"we didn't hire him ....", "The community selected him out...." - We? - The Community? Sorry, have I missed something here? - If we are not thought to be experts, or know what we are talking about why do you think so many refer to us? People may indeed "assume" about us, which is why we have to be beyond reproach when being quoted in public. Giano 18:27, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
My point is that people refer to us because our content is useful, not because they think the editors are PhDs. I agree that we must be beyond reproach when being quoted in public. However, I think if we respond to this the way another publication would (by firing him) people will assume that we work like any other publication. We don't. Presumably Essjay is an admin. That means people had to vote on whether he was trustworthy enough to promote. Publicize that discussion. Show them that we don't make people admins without rigorously screening the actual work they do, even if we don't look at their background. He was appointed to ArbCom, so I think that means a very high % of people voted for him. Publicize the argumentation that went along with that vote. Then hold another discussion/vote about whether he should be recalled. GabrielF 18:46, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
People refer to wikipedia, people use wikipedia, they also have to trust wikipedia. If they don't trust us, we may as well all pack up right now. He is a disgrace. He has to go. Giano 19:11, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

The whole Essjay affair is obviously a great way for Sanger to make points as it provides anecdotal evidence of the supposed superiority (perhaps he's right, perhaps he isn't) of certain aspects of Citizendium (no anonymous editing, verification of credentials). There's going to be a tremendous urge to simply kick Essjay to the curb over this for the sake of damage control or from simple outrage. There seem to be those on the other side who simply want to ignore this because of the good Essjay's done for WP. The best solution is obviously somewhere in the middle. It is disappointing that the reams of electrons being spilled over this have simply generated more heat and very little light. ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 18:42, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

To quote a guy I read somewhere on the internet, "...I advise the world to relax a notch or two."  :-) So what, the guy lied on his resume. He who hasn't fudged on a resume/job interview throw the first cookie! Cut him some slack please and just rely on his job performance. Have a great day!!! 18:55, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

This is me throwing the first cookie. NeoFreak 20:11, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, this comment makes me toss my cookies too. ;-) I have never lied on my resume, and I don't personally know anyone who has ever admitted to doing so. And I have extreme contempt for anyone who has done so. But what's worse than lying on your resume? Being the (still de facto) head of possibly the most influential information resource in the world, and saying that it doesn't matter if you have lied about your resume for several years to a whole community of people; acting like it doesn't matter if someone has gotten ahead in your organization as a result of having lied about his resume; acting like it doesn't matter if the person told the same lie to The New Yorker when speaking on behalf of your organization; and proceeding to hire the person, and reward him publicly by making him a member of the group that stands in judgment over other people, and doing so after learning The New Yorker was going to make its correction. Yes, that's worse than lying on your resume, and by golly more people ought to be tossing their cookies over that. --Larry Sanger 20:36, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Fudged? You can have my cookie too. —Doug Bell talk 20:53, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Larry Sanger, your various attempts to create an alternative to Wikipedia have been useful in demonstating the difficulties of succeeding at that task. This current issue of credibility and accountability at wikipedia illustates the need for Wikipedia to evolve from what it is, just as it has continuously evolved so far in its short life. Please talk to Jimbo and the rest of the Wikimedia board and see if we can work together on helping wikipedia evolve forward. RE-Join us. Please. WAS 4.250 21:27, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
The fact that this lie, and willful misrepresentation of a set of credentials by an employee of Jimbo Wales was used to justify content in an educational resource was bad enough. The fact that his employer, and head of said educational resource, then ignored (not forgave, but just ignored) this egregious breach of trust and preceeded to promote the liar and wilful vandal is beyond my understanding. I only hope that these two persons can provide an explanation that will put everything back into place. Too bad that probably won't happen. This might very well be that proverbial straw. NeoFreak 21:20, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
This isn't calling oneself an "executive assistant" rather than a "secretary". The man invented 4 post graduate degrees, when in fact he had no post graduate degrees. There is a huge bloody difference. Natalie 00:15, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
Spot on. Gwen Gale 00:17, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Why Essjay's thing isn't that bad

My opinions are

  1. There used to be at least two ArbCom members (no longer on ArbCom, although one retains CheckUser) who served on there while lying about their gender--pretending to be women. I think that is a bigger issue than any Essjay stuff.
  2. I saw Essjay's response he gave on Wikipedia quoted on Wikitruth (I think it's now hidden on Wikipedia) and in my opinion the reasoning was good. There's a lot of stalkers out there and he has a right to protect himself from them. There's a Wikipedia Review thread dedicated purely to stalking him and I think that is what got him exposed. What's wrong with trying to avoid stalkers?

SakotGrimshine 21:57, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

I have a lot of trouble seeing how lying about one's gender is "bigger" than lying about credentials and using those credentials. JoshuaZ 21:59, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
One can get mail order degrees. I've even considered it. SakotGrimshine 22:00, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Did either of these users pretend to be female in order to project a image of expertise in a subject or influence the content of artilce? NeoFreak 22:02, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Correction, that was Daniel Brandt's site that had the quote, not wikitruth. And it's still on Wikipedia at --SakotGrimshine 22:21, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't get the part about pretending to be female, as I changed my user name in order not to be identified as female and the lessened credibility and easy dismissal thereby accorded but was "outed" anyway. --Mattisse 22:28, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Okay, everyone here needs a huge clue dose about transgender issues. It would've been more of a lie for those two to call themselves men when in their minds they are clearly women. And this has no parallel whatsoever with lying about academic issues. --Cyde Weys 03:19, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Reply to SakotGrimshine:
  1. Gender is a very complex thing, and doesn't always correspond to apparent sex. If ArbCom members who are biologically male (in sex) chose to present themselves as female (in gender), that's not something that has any effect on the public perception of Wikipedia, or on their judgment (unless they allowed their status to influence judgments on any ArbCom cases dealing with gender issues, which doesn't seem to be what you're saying). Aside from retrograde sexists, nobody thinks that whether you're male, female or other has any effect on your trustworthiness, honesty or reliability.
  2. There are some problems with Essjay's "I did it to protect myself from stalkers" story. First of all, the "stalkers" most people have been talking about in this affair (Daniel Brandt et al.) didn't become involved in Wikipedia until months after Essjay began claiming he was a professor. Second, it's possible to create a false persona without inflating your academic credentials. If Essjay had said that he was a UPS delivery guy in Florida, that would have "protected him from stalkers" just as well. Third, the letter to the professor cannot be explained away as "protecting myself from stalkers". And finally, in the interview with the New Yorker, Essjay either wilfully misrepresented himself (as his first account would seem to indicate) or allowed the reporter to continue in a false understanding (as his later version would have it), and the result is an injury to Wikipedia's already bruised reputation for trustworthiness.

Sorry, SakotGrimshine, this is a big deal, and if Jimbo doesn't see that then the entire moral foundation of this project is suspect. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 03:22, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Debate on WT:USER

I've started a thread on WT:USER concerning what whoppers may be told on user pages. Rather than taking it out on User:Essjay ex post facto (I've seldom interacted with Essjay and thus don't have any strong opinions about this incident either way), perhaps the community can engage in productive debate about what is appropriate in the future. --EngineerScotty 22:08, 2 March 2007 (UTC)


Please don't shoot the messenger, but an RFC has been opened on your conduct (not by me). You can view it Here, and respond if you so choose. Hipocrite - «Talk» 22:10, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

*Munches popcorn*

I cannot be the only person that finds this Essjay fight higly amusing. Indiawilliams 06:40, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Or you could be. It's a really serious issue, affecting Wikipedia's standing in the eyes of those outside of the project. --Hojimachongtalk 06:42, 3 March 2007 (UTC)