User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 21

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  • This sounds like good idea to me as long as its not mandatory. By which I mean users aren't banned for claiming credentials and not verifying their name. It should be optional but encouraged. malatesta 04:08, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes. Perhaps it doesn't go far enough, and probably it has its own problems; but it certainly seems a move in the right direction. -- Hoary 09:21, 5 March 2007 (UTC) ... PS I dunno, some points made below are pretty good. I'll sleep on it. -- Hoary 11:39, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • This feels to me like a bit of a distraction, so I have a different proposal to make. Could you just not appoint people to the ArbCom anymore? If a vacancy appears, we can automatically fill it with the person who got the next highest number of votes in the last election. At the very least, could you not appoint people who didn't even run in the last election? Also, could you not appoint people with a history of massive lies if you're aware of those lies? Everyking 09:21, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, this is a helpful start. Gwen Gale 09:23, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • WP:V > Someone with a Ph.D claiming that their edits are more worthy than others; what other purpose will it serve? Credential verification is nothing more than a tool for people to claim that their edits are more worthy, regardless of NPOV/V/OR, than someone elses. Not a very Wiki thing, in my opinion. Daniel Bryant 09:26, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
He addresses those worries. Working out an implementation could take some thought and time though and I do agree editors should be under no pressure to disclose credentials or that they should have sway in edits, only that those who do assert credentials should somehow make them verifiable. Gwen Gale 09:28, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Consensus > (A General Editor = A General Editor with a Ph.D). But, paramount to everything, is WP:V. No matter who you are, what titles you hold, anything that is contested on Wikipedia requires a reliable, third party, independant source. Having a new status of editors would blur this requirement, which undercuts on of the key foundations upon which this encyclopaedia is built. Daniel Bryant 09:35, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, a "new status" of editors would be way unhelpful. A citation from a reliable secondary source trumps any academic qualification. So why not ban assertions of credentials altogether? I don't think it's needed but I'd support that too. Gwen Gale 09:40, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
In theory, using credentials in a content dispute to hang the applicability of your edits on is wrong. Practise may be different; I don't know. Regardless, I would/will frown upon anyone who does what I mentioned to aid themselves or their POV in a content dispute. I can't see any reason to banning their mention, only their use as before - we've always allowed userpages to "run free" like that. Daniel Bryant 09:42, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Maybe the assertion of credentials in an edit dispute could be made a blockable thing (like legal threats), but allow CVs on user pages if they've been verified somehow. Gwen Gale 09:46, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • This is a very good idea in princible, but I think you highlight some major concerns yourself, mainly, that it is very easy to simple fake a college certificate, especially with the ammount of knowledge users on this encyclopedia. I'm interested as to how this would work, would it be on wiki? with a new subgroup of people created - The verifiers! My concern with this would be privacy if the verifiers had to give out personal addresses to receive documents. Also, if documents were sent to wikia, surely that would be costly to implement, with a probable large number of documents to go through and verify? RyanPostlethwaiteSee the mess I've created or let's have banter 09:26, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

  • similar reservation to Daniel Bryant. My personal approach has been different- I've never claimed any credentials on wikipedia, because I think they should ideally be irrelevant. Your work should depend on its own quality and the quality of its sources, and your reputation should depend on your work. we've got everything from preteens to retirees, and I don't think a credential makes a bit of difference, it all comes down to what can be cited. Basically, verification of credentials is irrelevant if they're ignored as they should be. Essjay never should have been treated any different because of what he claimed. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 09:29, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Truth be told I'd also be happy with a total ban on credential citing here but if some folks want to put them on user pages, they should be verifiable. Gwen Gale 09:35, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Another idea similar to Jimbo's: I have an idea but I don't know whether it can be done or not. The idea is to give sensitive positions like check user and oversight etc only to people who are willing to reveal their real identity to the Wikimedia Foundation so that the Foundation is sure that these people are (in real life) as they say about themselves. --Meno25 09:36, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree fully to that - to ensure that no deceit is occuring on Wikipedia for users with these sensitive permissions. Hell, I'd email Jimbo with everything he wants to know about me if he wanted it; given someone already gave away basically all my personal information in #-en-admins a couple of months ago, it's not like I care. Daniel Bryant 09:39, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I would be reluctant to give any clue to my RL identity, for my own personal reasons. To be frank people don't need qualifications to regurgitate fact which is all we do here. Remember "own research" is not permitted. Even if it were announced at the top of the page that it had been written by the world's most eminent professor, there is nothing to stop another less exalted editor another paragraph - that is how wikipedia works. People using bogus credentials happens all the time in real life in hospitals, schools and multi-national companies. Sooner or later Citizendum and other similar projects will have their own identical scandals - the very nature of the internet and human behaviour creates them, and unless people are going to post their passports, identity papers and utility bills on their user pages (which will never happen) - these things will be repeated. So like it or lump it we have to get real and get over it. Posting or having qualifications in itself is a minefield? - which university granted the degree, which country was the university in? Can we rely on the student from The University of Ruritania? Whatever we decide, the dedicated imposter will always find a way in. We could demand however as Daniel Bryant suggests known true identity for checkusers and those who publicly represent and speak for wikipedia - sort of give certain editors an accredited press badge. Giano 09:48, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Which is why a total ban on credential waving would be ok by me. If an editor is asked to fill a position of trust, so long as Wales has a way of doing some due diligence on the person's RL background, there are few worries. Gwen Gale 09:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • It's the right sentiment, but I don't like the solution. Too much instruction creep, to much potential for badge wearing. It's also questionable if there's any value in revealing someone's degrees without knowing who they are in real life. It's not as if a degree by itself means anything.
What we could do as an alternative is to discourage people from claiming academic credentials, unless they're willing to provide a link to an outside website that reasonably proves that they're really who they claim to be. If somebody's a professor at some university and wishes it to be known on Wikipedia, they can simply interlink their university home page and their user page here. Zocky | picture popups 09:49, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
To clarify, per Giano, my suggestion is that anyone who acts in a role as an ArbCom member, B'crat, Checkuser, Oversight, Steward, Office (der), OTRS, and anything similar, should have to verify to WMF that what they claim is true. Daniel Bryant 09:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

What Daniel.Bryant said is what I meant exactly. --Meno25 10:00, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Privately with Wales or whomever, yes. Also make posting credentials on a user page so onerous or whatever in terms of verification, few want to do it. Gwen Gale 09:52, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm with Daniel Bryant and Giano on this one. If anyone is in a higher position above editor (admin and up), they should be expected to provide (privately) their credentials (if they choose to post them on their userpages) to Jimbo or the foundation. I believe it is important that editors do all they can to not post their personal information anywhere on the web. As Giano has stated, we simply use referenced work anyway, so our expertise is defined by our ability to research and cite our references.--MONGO 10:04, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Could I just clarify, I am only advocating true identity revelation for those in very high office, consequently with great trust placed upon them - such as checkuser. I'm not even sure the Arbcom have to be known - it is their judgement which is sought not their CV. It is those who could potentially do great harm to the project - revealing IPs ect, or being recomended by the organozation to speak to the press seemingly on behalf of Wikipedia who need to be acountable in real life. Giano 11:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

"...we simply use referenced work anyway, so our expertise is defined by our ability to research and cite our references"...and not our credentials. OR becomes blurred, V becomes blurred, and that comprimises our foundation principles. Anyone who holds any "positions of trust" on Wikipedia is seen by the press as representing it; whether this is desirable or not, is irrelevant - it is the current situation. Daniel Bryant 10:09, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

And what happens if they don't claim anything. People who respect their privacy and refused to reveal anything? Will they be able to have higher positions, Checkuser, Oversight, on Wiki? (Sorry if I sound harsh) --K.Z Talk Vandal Contrib 10:10, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

  • The fact is people claim credentials now anyway, as Essjay did. In less than 5 minutes effort, I found 50 Wikipedia Ph.D's today, and I can name another 15 off the top of my head. That was before I found Category:Wikipedians_by_degree. I once had a list of hundreds of Ph.D's here. The fact is also that people pay some attention to these, and it would be silly not too. That's not to say that any of the standard policies shouldn't apply, but every article here requires the application of judgement. Credentials are at least some indicator that judgement is well-informed, though not infallible. So, the right solution is to make credentials verifiable. In short, they're already here. They can serve a very valuable role here, just as in the real world, without changing policy at all. So, it's very sensible to provide a verification mechanism. Fear of a 'class' system are unfounded, since credentials are already out there and widely believed anyway. By the way, banning the mention of credentials is utterly unworkable, and frankly silly. Derex 10:12, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it would be silly, although I have no worries about CVs posted under a verification scheme, especially if asserting them in an edit dispute is deprecated: A strong citation has sway over any academic degree and people with academic degrees are trained in using them. Gwen Gale 10:16, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
What are you going to do, block a professor — who has spent his entire adult life studying an issue and is struggling for days with some noob hasn't the slightest clue what he's talking about — for mentioning he's a professor? I guarantee you won't see that professor back again if you do. On the very rare occasions I edit economics articles, I avoid mentioning it because it generally puts people off if you try to pull rank. But, sometimes, it just cuts through the bullshit, and I'm not going to accept being blocked for simply stating that I do know what the hell I'm talking about. Derex 10:35, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
An academically credentialled expert on a topic can make quick work of any crank by following WP's documented citation policies. Gwen Gale 11:41, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
That's not been my experience, and I assure you I have absolutely top-notch professional credentials. The problem is that it is very difficult to persuade a crank with a crankish reference to point at. However, the issue you raise is whether people should pay attention to credentials. It doesn't matter. The fact is that some people do. Derex 11:54, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
If you want some tips on how to handle cranks and fools then, let me know :) Gwen Gale 11:59, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • From the technical standpoint, there are significant hurdles to overcome here.
    • Essentially, you would be building a database with private, personal information - who would be able to access that information? Any user groups in particular? Anyone? No one? Would the Privacy policy be the only document governing the handling of that information?
    • Where would that information be stored? Which steps are going to be taken to protect that information from outside attacks? How would the end users know that a certain editor verified his credentials? Will real names be visible anywhere?
    • Who would process those credentials vouchers? Would someone be paid to do so? Would current staff do so? Would more staff at St. Petersburg be required to do so? Would that place a financial burden on the Foundation?
    • Most importantly, why should an editor want to go through that hassle? What benefits would the editor see? Would there be any reprisals for lack of revealing information?
  • The idea may have merit, but it is half-cooked as of now. But I guess since this is the drawing board, there's no need to go back to it. Any suggestions? Answers? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 10:17, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I would want to ensure that we find a balance between accountability and credentialsm. In my opinion, anything that increases accountability is good. Anything that increases credentialism is bad. I feel we are at the point where if you want to be an administrator, you need to submit the kind of information one would submit for any kind of sensitive volunteer work. I believe this should be retroactive for all admins, and the information should not be made public, though disclosure should be strongly encouraged. Anyone speaking to the media as a representative or having responsibilities above normal admin levels needs to have a background check and must use their real name. That may sound draconian, and we may lose some good admins, but this episode demonstrates that the project has reached a level where the more informal arrangements of the past are no longer acceptable. Now, as far as credentialism, I am very much opposed to anything that makes some rank-and-file editors "more equal than others." It's antithetical to core principles of the project. A good edit is a good edit, and I would hate to see anyone fail to question an edit or get backed down in a dispute just because it's made by some editor with letters after their name vs. some homeschooled kid or some day laborer. Edit counts and other forms of heirarchical ranking should never be invoked in content disputes. Fallacies like appeals to authority are moot if the edit is based on WP:ATT. Degrees and other personal information are interesting but irrelevant to edits. They are, however, entirely relevant to accountability. I would be very sad if this incident led to a move toward elitism, since the egalitarian ethos is part of what makes this such a grand human experiment. Jokestress 10:38, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Spot on, this is what I've been getting at (thanks for throwing in a reference to the abuse of edit counts too). Gwen Gale 10:41, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
"A good edit is a good edit." How do you know a good edit? It's certainly more than simply checking correct attribution, all manner of fringe theories can be attributed. You use your judgement and experience. Why do we use usernames here, instead of anonymous ip's? Because usernames allow a sort of reputation for judgement and experience to develop. Unfortunately, it doesn't scale particularly well to situations with thousands of editors. Why should the judgement and experience indicated by a Ph.D. be dismissed here at Wikipedia, when in the real world it is so highly valued that people spend many years acquiring one? To repeat my previous point, people already quite sensible refer to their credentials. If they bore no weight, Essjay would not have been a problem. They're here. They're used. They're widely believed. None of that is going to change. Verify. Derex 11:00, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I interpreted that to mean "an edit supported by strong citations from reliable secondary sources" holds sway over any assertion of academic credentials. I'll get to the pith of it though: Lots of the PhDs one sees listed on this wiki are verifiable but lots are horse pucky too (or from worthless schools) and there is wide abuse. Gwen Gale 11:07, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't suggest for a second that some professor's say-so should overrule any standard policies. Obviously any position in a dispute should be citeable. The problem is that disputes here reflect disputes in the real world, which are usually citeable. Each of us exercises judgement every time we edit a disputed article. NPOV policy goes an amazingly long way, but it does not eliminate the need for judgement. The bottom line is that if you think degrees are "horse pucky" then you don't pay any attention to them now, and you won't if they are verified either. But, some people do pay attention to them, and it would be best to ensure that they are at least genuine horse pucky. Derex 11:27, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
You might want to very carefully re-read my post since I never said degrees are horse pucky. I said that bogus assertions of hem are horse pucky. Gwen Gale 11:32, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I missed the "or" in your parentheses. The point stands though. At least we can weed out bogus claims. Verification doesn't mean credentials will necessarily get you any farther than they already do, which usually is very little. Derex 11:45, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Verification of credentials listed on a user page is more than ok with me. Citing credentials in an edit dispute is not. An academic editing here should have the enough knowledge and skill to support assertions with helpful and strong citations. Gwen Gale 11:49, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Derex, if something is a fringe theory, there will be an attributable source noting as much. Experts are welcome and are often good at framing a concept or article, but that does not make them infallible. A good expert can make quick work of a fringe theory through WP:ATT. Ultimately, the content and not the expert or non-expert writing should be the deciding factor in a good edit. That's what I mean. Just because I know a lot about certain topics should not make anyone defer to me. Ideally, my edits would be equally scrutinized and challenged whether I were an IP editor or a public figure. I guess I have a different outlook on the recent incident. If journalists weren't fixated on credentialism, Essjay's credentials woudn't have been in the article. I also have a suspicion that he moved up quickly in part because of said credentialsm (in addition to a great deal of unassailably excellent work). So my point is that people with credentials should not get a free pass, and those who think they matter should ask why they think they matter. Sincerely, Jokestress (M.A., English, University of Chicago, 1990) ;) Jokestress 11:37, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
The balance suggested by Jokestress seems good to me. People are going to refer to their life experience to support their position, and if academic credentials are important to them they're likely to call on them, but giving that a seal of approval by a wee star saying "trust this user, s/he's a doctor" is the wrong way to go. The better approach is to say that it would be much appreciated if they could draw on their credentials to set out a fully referenced case, being careful to meet WP:NOR. This open examination of arguments rather than trusting expert opinion is what makes Wikipedia so valuable: Britannica exemplifies the other approach which often works well, but it also has some howlers in it. We need to value, encourage and cherish experts here for what they can contribute, but not for their unimpeachable authority. ... dave souza, talk 11:21, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Jokestress has captured my sentiments quite well, but I would like to recapitulate my own take on this situation in my own words to make sure that we are in accord. To wit, I am against the policing of userpages and/or credentials for rank and file Wikipedia contributors, but anyone who seeks to move up through the ranks should be prepared to sacrifice more and privacy, particularly so when someone is going to be recommended by the powers that be at Wikipedia as a source to the press. Moreover, in light of the fact that so many of Wikipedia's current administrators remain loyal to Essjay and see his deception as "no big deal," I am in favor of making such a policy retroactive for anyone who wishes to retain his or her positions of trust at Wikipedia. // Internet Esquire 19:17, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I fully understand what you are saying, and to a certain extent agree with you, but there are many vluable wikipedia editors who for various reasons cannot divulge their true identities, many eminent accademics (neither adjective or noun aply to me - seriously) have legal contracts preventing them writing or publishing for others than their employers - and that is just the tip of the iceberg but are these people who give so much to wikipedia to be prevented from accepting the responsibility given freely to a precocious 14 year old merely because they cannot divilge identitiy. Giano 19:31, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
As someone who is unwilling to volunteer verification of any personal details about himself to anyone other than creditors and respected members of the press, and then only as deep background information with the latter, this has never affected my ability to contribute to Wikipedia, nor should it, as I have never felt the desire to seek administrator privileges. Administrators have largely janitorial duties, but are in a position of trust, having been given the virtual keys to the building. // Internet Esquire 19:54, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

What we shouldn't have is a replication of Citizendium, where everyone has to prove their expertise/training/credentials. I would probably leave Wikipedia if that were to happen. In reevaluation, might I suggest that checkuser/oversight/arbcom and "approved" spokespersons have their personal details filed in private with the Foundation. We can't stop editors from speaking to the press and we shouldn't, but we can definitely ensure that anyone acting in an official capacity has proof of their achievements on record.--MONGO 11:22, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Without expressing an opinion on your proposal Jimbo, I think MONGO's suggestion above represents a minimum requirement for handing out the postions with access to sensitive information and those whose actions reflect strongly on the project. —Doug Bell talk 11:34, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I have three points:
    • When Essjay was in full expert-mode he became more detailed about his academic career, even so far as explaining just how he arranges his degrees after his name [1] or giving the exact cost of his education.[2][3] The lesson The more an editor wants to use their personal expertise to settle an issue the more they have invested in that "truth". Therefore they'll go to lengths to establish their credentials, real or otherwise. I can easily imagine the Essjay of June 2005 faking websites or diplomas to send to the Foundation.
    • I've recently encountered two book editors who've both followed a similar arc: jumping into WP to write positive articles about themselves and their associates, and to write attack pieces on enemies. Both are known in their field. Both have claimed expertise and experience in editing. Both were POV pushing and engaging in OR. Both became angry when informed that Wikipedia policies require a neutral tone and verifiable material. Experts are not necessarily impartial and that they may not understand the norms of this project.
    • Despite the above observations I think this is a very good idea. It puts the world and the community on notice that if someone wants to claim personal expertise they'd better be able to verify it. As far as WP's culture goes, this proposal is the opposite of prohibiting anonymous editing. It creates another way of contributing, another level of familiarity, and may also help solve the issue of retaining legitimate experts. It is similar to Amazon's "real name" designation.-Will Beback · · 11:24, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
      • Damn, that deleted revision is incredibly revealing. It takes a different perspective when you know who those words are really coming from. The self-aggrandizing martyr complex that shows up in his apology was there a year and a half ago too. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 13:44, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
        • Actually, that wasn't the link I intended. I've added the link I'd meant to provide, this one. I think it provides insight into the mind of someone who engaged in this type of credential fraud.-Will Beback · · 22:46, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
In contrast, I'd dealings separately with two editors who let it be known that they were historians and authors: one was an invaluable contributor whose edits appeared fully reliable, but was upset by a silly argument with clowns adding unexplained "unencyclopedic tone" tags to his work, and left. The other was a bully whose spurious arguments made me wonder about academic standards where he came from. We need to encourage experts, but approving the validity of their claimed credentials introduces a new mechanism that can be gamed: as I recall, Ben Goldacre has a dead cat with a diploma in nutritional therapy. Do we have a grading system for how good the credentials are? ... dave souza, talk 11:56, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • This is also being discussed at Wikipedia talk:Administrators accountability, where I've put some thoughts in a fair bit of detail. Briefly, I don't think it was a huge problem, in itself - though it was certainly a problem - that someone was claiming non-existent credentials and trying to pull rank with them in content disputes, but it was a huge problem when someone who was doing that also gained positions of power and responsibility, and was held out by Wikipedia as a good person for the press to interview. I'd rather concentrate on how we keep such people out of positions of power, and out of acting as representatives of Wikipedia in the wider world. Once again, I think there is some point (perhaps above mere administrator) where it should be necessary to register personal details with Jimbo or, more realistically, with someone like the Foundation's legal officer. Details should include any secondary accounts used and why (there definitely can be legitimate reasons, but in Essjay's case concern is already being expressed about any possible sockpuppets). However, personal details should not be registered with some anonymous person. E.g. if I registered my details somewhere, I would want them held in a safe place by an accountable officer or employee of the Foundation. Metamagician3000 11:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If people choose to publish on their user pages their qualification, then a level of proof should also be provided but of course anything can be fabricated. We must, however, avoid creating a two tier level hierachy of editors - an educated elite v daft peasants. Which I think could arise if this is not handled very cleverly. Giano 11:54, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Ala Citizendium... But it any case, it must be the verifiable citation, not clever elocution on a Talk page which is the deciding factor. --Lmcelhiney 17:44, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes and banning any assertion of qualifications during an edit dispute could be clever enough. A skilled academic with knowledge of the topic should be able to use existing WP citation policies to handle cranks or whatever, who often don't heed CVs anyway. Gwen Gale 12:29, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm seeing a lot of merit in what is being said by Giano, Gwen Gale, MONGO, Daniel Bryant, and maybe some others - we all seem to see the problem in a similar way (and slightly differently from Jimbo, I think). Where we are disagreeing among ourselves is just in what circumstances people should have to register personal details somewhere safe. At one of the scale, it might be everyone with any authority at all, i.e. the 1000+ admins. At the other end of the scale it might be only a very few: maybe checkusers and spokespersons. I'd tend to go for something in between, but any proposal like this would have been a line of defence with the Essjay scandal if it had been operating fairly rigorously. Metamagician3000 12:14, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
That is a very good suming up - the debate should really concentrate on the level within Wikipedia at which identity disclosure becomes necessary - and perhaps more importantly where and to whom that information is disclosed and stored. Giano 12:28, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Gwen Gale's idea deals with the problem of claimed credentials without taking on the task of a credentials vetting agency, a register of personal details for those with significant authority would reduce and hopefully eliminate the possibility of unknown falsehoods becoming an embarrassment. .. dave souza, talk 14:02, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I think it would be a mistake to take from this that people claiming to have a PhD should set off red flags in WP. It is people who claim to have a high level of expertise and refuse to share basic personal information to "guard their privacy" that should set off red flags. Many people who share that they have a PhD on their user page, also share where they live and are currently employed as well as their real names. It would be a waste of time and effort to have such people register for special secret verification. Any editor who becomes suspicious could take verification measures in those cases. However I think that any claims of expertise which are coupled with anonymity should be politely be asked to verify their claims through a method like what Jimbo suggests or else be asked to refrain from making any such claims. The most important thing we must keep in mind in making use of this lesson is not to get stuck on PhD's. The next attempt along these lines (if there are not already existing cases) is just as likely to be a reasonably high ranking retired army officer or a minor member of royalty as an academic. The red flag to watch for here is impressive claims made by a strong advocate for personal anonymity. --BirgitteSB 22:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC) Let us approach this pivotal fact in a humble yet hopeful mood: We have had no end of a lesson, it will do us no end of good!
I don't see a problem with people claiming credentials on their userpages (other than the moral obligation not to lie). I claim (truthfully) to hold a B.A in History from U.Q. I do this as a matter of adding some details to my userpage (no one is asking for verification of my claim I live in Cleveland). I don't, however, use this in arguments, which is where my objection to Essjays actions come in. If I were, then I would understand the need to verify my degree (though the practicalities of this are problematic). However, I don't see many reasons for this verifaction. Whether or not you hold a degree in a subject is irrelivent - you should be able to prove what you are saying with verifable sources. If you have to resort to 'nah nah, I have a degree and you don't', then you are most probably wrong.
I do see one opportunity, where non expertised wikipedians can ask expertised wikipedians for help. That should require some confirmation of credentials. But generally, no. If you want to claim you hold a Phd in Awesomeness, go for it. Iorek85 23:24, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
No offense but I don't find a B.A in History from U.Q. all that impressive, so I don't think your situation should merit a red flag ;) Still I think it was clear that EssJay's claims were designed to impress. Anyone who portrays themselves in an impressive manner while they claiming they cannot share their identity with anyone really should raise a red flag after this. And I will point out that EssJay didn't simply not mention his identity; he advocated strongly that their was no need for anyone, regardless of the levels of trust they held, to share personal information. Not even with the board. If I saw someone advocating such a position tomorrow and I looked at their userpage and saw them sharing some non-identifiable but impressive details about themselves, that would raise a red flag for me and I think it should for you or anyone else who has paid attention to this incident.--BirgitteSB 23:44, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • If you want to verify degrees, you will need to require official transcripts in sealed and stamped envelopes. Everything else is too easy to fake, as Frank Abagnale pointed out to us multiple times. Jesse Viviano 23:55, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • It doesn't have to be anything near foolproof to be useful. I doubt that new user Essjay (for example) would have been willing to undertake elaborate steps to deceive the office. Is there even a policy that says, "don't claim fake credentials?" I don't see anything to this effect on WP:USER, for example. Likewise, is there any policy which states, "don't lie to the press or the public?" If there were, accompanied by a clear consequence (e.g. if you do this, you'll be banned by the office,) perhaps it would have been followed.Proabivouac 00:24, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Update: I just added this. However, as WP:USER is pathetically under-enforced, and anyhow is only a guideline, nothing stated therein can be considered sufficient.Proabivouac 00:29, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Strongly Oppose if any credentials claimed have any bearing in any way on the encyclopaedic content or content decision making. If that were the case then it reads like a disaster waiting to happen. We all know how some folks will go to extraordinary lengths to "win" POV wars - now all we have is someone getting some credential listing and they can weigh in and start throwing their weight about overruling others because "I know best" - all you then have is games of one-upmanship - and the person who has the highest qualification (bearing in mind qualifications need not have any correlation to competency, understanding or intelligence) can then "pull rank" and throw down the trump "I'm a professor this is what it will read as". I never had any interaction with, or connection with any of the essjay situations, but if he had posted some of his "I'm an expert dah dah, thus this should be deleted/kept", in Afd's I was involved in then my response (and this is genuinely the case, not just with the benefit of hindsight) would have been, "fair enough you can claim that, but you are just another editor". Jimmy is a little skirting with the verifiability of it all as well. People in the real world can get real world jobs and real world promotions based on forged credentials - that happens often enough - in the online world it is frankly laughably easy to add a couple of Degrees to your name. I think citizendium is a flawed concept, and I think these proposals are running down the same path and would lead to nothing but problems. SFC9394 00:29, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree with several above me that anyone in a position of special trust should identify themselves fully (and verifiably) to the Foundation. That would seem to be all access levels/rights above administrator, possibly with the exception of developers, plus ArbComm members. Similarly, anyone that is volunteering to be a press contact should be validated. All of these people are the public face of Wikipedia, and can cause far greater damage to the encyclopedia than an editor, or even than an administrator. As to administrators, I don't see the need right now, but don't strongly object either. GRBerry 04:27, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Jimbo, you say If you don't care to tell us that you are a PhD (or that you are not), then that's fine: your editing stands or falls on its own merit. But if you do care to represent yourself as something, you have to be able to prove it. If one's editing stands on its own merit, why should the resources be spent to prove credentials to others? Yes, the Foundation should know who its checkusers and oversighters (and possibly ArbCom) are (I assume that developers are employed my the Foundation). No, this information shouldn't be made public. I'm not sure that this information should even be kept. Perhaps have someone verify the information of these persons who hold these positions, check them off the list as verified, and destroy the personal information. Wodup 07:24, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose Jimbo, I believe you're overreacting due to the role you played in elevating EssJay so quickly. Does there really need to be a formal system for vetting credentials on wikipedia in general? I'd say no. Should you be more careful who you catapult through the ranks of the wikipedia hierarchy, yes.MikeURL 21:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Privacy policy

  • My main concern at this point are people entrusted with information covered by the privacy policy are known to the foundation (their real identity). Misuse or posting of people's checkuser information could reveal their place of employment and other personal details and have major consequences for the person concerned. On the privacy policy where it says "The Wikimedia Foundation makes no guarantee against unauthorized access to any information you provide.", does this include my checkuser information? This makes it sound like it's okay for a checkuser to misuse my information and there is nothing I could do about it. I think that needs to be clarified. Any steps to increase "Security of information" (as described in the policy) would be most welcome. I might even recommend running a background check or something on those people entrusted with checkuser information, to give some comfort that these people are trustworthy. A background check need not be complex, but just a simple check like done if you want to work or even volunteer in a daycare center, with children. I think that would go a long way in assuring people who edit and use Wikipedia. --Aude (talk) 14:08, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I think that within your comment is contained what will prove to be a fatal flaw with the whole scheme. Many wikipedia editors edit from their work place, i.e. on someone elese's computer and in someone else's time. I will certainly admit to being guilty of that on occasions. Consequently, I think few will be prepared to take the risk of leaving themselves open to such risks or exposure in the workplace however remote they may be. In the few years I've been here, I have heard occasional accusations of chekuser abuse - maybe they are true, maybe they are false - I don't know. What I do know is wherever there are a few hundred human beings gathered together there will always be rumour - and this will deter people from revealing too much about themselves. People's privacy is their own business. Giano 14:41, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Hence, allow CVs on user pages only if they've been verified through the "vetted light" way proposed by Wales and ban any assertion of them in editing disputes. As for positions of high trust, let WMF and Wales work out a more formal background check like any responsible org. Gwen Gale 14:46, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Is the idea to require any claims of credentials to be verified? Or is it simply to allow credentials to be verified, if an editor wishes? The latter seems more workable, and more in line with privacy concerns. Right now, people have the easy privacy cop-out that Essjay took, if their credential claims are questioned. A voluntary system removes that as a reasonable evasion. You can prove to the Foundation that you are legit, without revealing your real identity to Wikipedia as a whole. I don't really see a downside, as all it does is remove camoflouge for fraud. I suppose however that one might prefer to allow generic suspicions of fraud, if one is opposed to credentials being used at all. I think the singular focus on admins and such is misplaced, most of the world isn't going to particularly care about that distinction because admins don't do most of the editing. Derex 23:39, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I do think that the important thing is that people who are held out as having authority be - well, not saints who are beyond all possible reproach (none of us are that) but certainly people who are at least bona fide. Hence my support for the proposals that I have made, or supported, here about some kind of confidentially-maintained register of personal details for people beyond a certain level of Wiki-authority. I tend to think, at the moment, that the way to go with the credentials thing is to insist that credentials don't count and to deprecate their use. Accordingly, I have just removed references to real-world credentials/experience from my userpage - not because they were inaccurate but because I now think that having them there is a bad idea, and trying to pull rank based on expertise or real-world experience is likewise a bad idea. I'm not even saying I've never yielded to the temptation to do that in the past - the record would show me up if I said that - but I'll make efforts to resist the temptation in the future. Sometimes real-life things about oneself have to be mentioned or hinted at (e.g. for disclaimers), but I think that a credential-vetting system is probably not the way to go, and anyway until such a time as we do go down that path we should all be reluctant to say much at all about any special expertise we might have. Metamagician3000 01:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Removing personal information has the downside of impairing people's ability to know where you're coming from. My user page discloses that I'm a lawyer -- that's a credential that I suppose might lead someone to defer to me in an edit dispute (not that it ever has, AFAIK), but it's also an indication of my bias, of what aspects of an issue I might overemphasize, etc.
I like Jimbo's idea if it's completely voluntary. I could continue to disclose my profession, for the benefit of anyone who wants to be put off by that, but people can decide not to give it any positive weight unless I have the little "Verified" sticker. Gwen Gale and others have suggested that users be prohibited from stating credentials on a user page if not verified. That would be an enforcement nightmare. What wouuld be included in the "CV" that must be verified? Would my claim to be a New Yorker count? For some purposes, that is a credential.
Compulsory verification (to the Foundation) is appropriate for anyone designated as a spokesperson, etc., but not for the average user or even the average admin. JamesMLane t c 02:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Um, maybe you should just check out the creds of the folks who are getting paid... Keep the rest of us free!

Essjay scandal

I think it's a positive step to have you acknowledged in direct terms that this was a scandal. Thank you. —Doug Bell talk 09:24, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Doug, no offence, but this isn't helpful at this moment. If Jimbo didn't think it was a scandal, my guess is that he wouldn't have acted as he did in the end. If what you really want is a sort of apology for Jimbo's initial reaction, then please consider that apologies can only be given freely, and demanding them doesn't do anybody any good. Zocky | picture popups 10:22, 5 March 2007 (UTC) I did, in fact, misunderstand Doug's comment and I gladly take mine back :) Zocky | picture popups 11:24, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
You're misinterpretting my comment. I not asking for an apology, I simply view his direct acknowledgement of what seems to be the community consensus as a positive step in moving forward on this issue. This comment here is complimentary, and not intended to be sarcastic, inflamatory, insulting or any other negative interpretation. —Doug Bell talk 10:35, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

It was a scandal. And I have apologized for my role in it. I made several mistakes of judgment at various points along the way, and I am very much in favor of reforming our processes so that we are not so vulnerable. I am spending a lot of time reflecting carefully on my role here. The primary mistake that I made is one that I have trouble condemning myself for, because I think that one of my personality flaws is actually a strength for Wikipedia: a willingness to trust people and assume good faith even in difficult times. That caused me to wrongly minimize the importance of this, and to make bad decisions for a time. I am very sorry for that, and the only solution I know of is to work for positive change.--Jimbo Wales 11:09, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Thus the reason behind my "Thank you". I appreciate this immensely as the initial reaction from both you and Essjay was disturbing to the point that if that was the final outcome I would have to leave the project. I am very grateful that it wasn't and that I don't. —Doug Bell talk 11:16, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I echo Doug Bell. Thanks for this message. Tintin 11:19, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

As I see it Essjay has gone off into the wilderness with a lot of well deserved condemnation ringing in his ears, inspired by copious amonts of righteous anger and not a small amount of schadenfreude. Essjay regrets it, we regret it. It happened, it is over. It is time to stop the autopsy and the "mea culpas" - hindsight is a wonderous thing, and none of us have it. It is going to happen here and to all similar projects again at some time in the future - that is unavoidable by the laws of human nature. If that Citizendum man does not realise that then he is bigger fool, than some of us probably feel right now. Time now to move on and endevour to prevent it happening so easily again, and join the conversation instigated by Jimbo above. Giano 12:40, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Other views

We have to keep in mind that nobody is really interested in the dirt here. What really draws their interest is the grandness of this NPOV vision of describing accurately the paths of civilization in attempting to bring men to be human. Now there is a lot of conflict in exactly what human civilization is, and that conflict is what brings them all here. Nobody is really interested in whatever small deception there is in Essjay playing out that nice role he wrote for himself in his life. It would make a delightful short movie--not much of a deception at all. However, when that small deception appears against the background of this huge NPOV project and mission of capturing in print the truth of all of man's striving since the beginning of time--that deception, though small, will drive men mad. So we have to keep all of this in perspective. While it may good for us all to ask forgivenesses for our "small deceptions" and oversights, let us not forget that the only reason that our detractors' animal passions blow this series of events completely out-of-proportion is because of the grandness of this NPOV mission and dream of making all that is known available in one accurate Wikipedia available free-to-all. That is huge, and it is that hugeness of enterprise and possibility that brings even the detractors to these pages. So we have to kind of calm everybody down and keep our sense of proportion. This mission is huge, let us admit. --Rednblu 12:47, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Splendid, grandiose, and a worthy summary of this huge mission – but what about women's striving? ;) A significant point is "the truth" – something that often emerges in discussions is that there are multiple truths depending on viewpoint, which is why NPOV sets out to reflect all those viewpoints in proportion. ... dave souza, talk 13:48, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Whoops, I think this is a meed thing to talk about and everything but it strays far from the administrative worry of basic accountability for CVs posted on WP. Gwen Gale 13:54, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course, I have found my questions from ten hours ago--not personal attacks, not trolling, but perfectly honest questions--buried in the archive. We'll all draw our own conclusions and as I said, I'm done. --Larry Sanger 14:39, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, buried along with everyone else's comments and understandably, so he could clear his talk page and say what he had to say. Wales has said he made mistakes and has even apologized. Meanwhile why don't you offer a helpful word or two based on your experience with credentials over at Citizendium instead of implying your comments have been singled out and brushed aside? Gwen Gale 14:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't think Jimbo deserves sole responsibility here: if some of the issues that emerged in the last week had been known earlier on then the community would have dealt with the issue without such fuss. It had been my belief that serious misrepresentations usually get weeded out at the RFA level. Once I saw the relevant diffs, Essjay's fiction was apparent: he demonstrated the spelling and punctuation mistakes of an undergraduate rather than the prose of a professor and Catholicism for Dummies isn't the type of source a Ph.D. normally cites. Someone who knew his contribution history could have made a strong circumstantial case to challenge his CV, either during a formal nomination or at RFC. A few step forward now to say it was obvious...well, what seemed obvious to me (and I suppose to many others) is that an administrator, bureaucrat, etc. probably had told the truth all along or he wouldn't have attained those positions of trust. As I stated in my first comment on this scandal, if any other administrators have padded their credentials I hope they come clean now. DurovaCharge! 15:27, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I disagree: Jimbo appointed Essjay - the buck stops with him. Exclusively. The point is this: Godkingship is a very poor idea in a wiki and Jimbo should step down from that post. .... contributed at on 5 March 2007 by
  • Is this getting us anywhere? This is an opportunity to make some improvements for the better, can we not see it as such and grasp it. Anyone who imagines Jimbo is going to resign is wasting their life in cloud cuckoo land. It is his project, his encyclopedia - in short his show - so he is not going to leave it. Maybe he has been a little gullible on this occasion, I don't really see anything beyond that - and I'm pretty good at spotting faults. Anyway this is all hypothetical because he's not stepping down, so get used to the idea and lets improve the place. Giano 15:47, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for being unclear. What I meant to say is that in a wiki decisions are made by extensive discussion, not by fiat, and that decisions are never permanent and wiki-internal appointments never permanent. The idea of Wiki-chief is incompatible with that. The system runs on trust and respect. You can't demand respect, you can only earn it.
Never mind respect, trust is everything. Gwen Gale 16:25, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Mr/MS IP, I hadn't realized that it was J Wales who appointed Essjay administrator or bureaucrat. (Actually I'd have voted for him as bureaucrat myself, but didn't merely because of what you might call a technicality. So a cent of the buck stops with me. Should I step down? If I do, must I step into a cowpat?) -- Hoary 15:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Since you two have spoken up I'll say this, Wales botched and he says so. Meanwhile if by some docking fluke he left this wiki it would grind down into throes of gridlock and a messy end within months. Talent and leadership ability are behind what has enabled the social engineering marvel of this wiki. Flaws and all, it's his talent, his wiki. Gwen Gale 15:58, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Other wikipedias manage rather well without a chief.
Look Jimbo will be going nowhere. Maybe other Wikipedias do maybe they don't - but I don;t see the ppoint if having further hypothetical discussions on the subject. Incidentally your points may carry more weight if you logged in. Giano 16:05, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not the OP, but speaking as an observer it seems to me that Jimbo's accorded "status," if you will, on this site seems a direct contradiction of both the spirit and the letter of WP:OWN. It seems to me that WP has long since reached a point where the policies have to apply to everyone, even and especially Jimbo, if the site is to counter ongoing criticism that "the rules don't apply" to Jimbo's active friends on the site. I'm not saying "get rid of Jimbo," but that that no editor or admin should be accorded status above the spirit and letter of policy. Academy Leader 19:57, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
This wiki's the knack so far 'n I don't think he wants to blow it :) Gwen Gale 16:18, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo's decisions by fiat are very bad, practically a scourge. Essjay's appointment is just the latest example. I can't imagine how someone could think it's good to have a self-appointed guy at the top issuing decrees in place of community decision-making. He should become just a PR man for the project or something like that. More time in remote villages, less time meddling in what should be community matters on the encyclopedia. I refuse to accept the fatalistic "he's not going anywhere" attitude. Everyking 05:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Can we get back to constructive discussion of how/whether to vet credentials (if we are going to do that, which doesn't seem like a priority to me ... but that's just me) and/or how/whether to vet the bona fides of people in (or seeking) positions of trust? Endless slagging off at Jimbo gets us nowhere, and he's not only apologised for making misjudgments but also made an attempt to consult with us constructively. For God's sake let's concentrate on taking him up on that. Metamagician3000 22:36, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't believe an earnest and forthright discussion re: Jimbo's "accorded status on WP" is at all out of line or inappropriate in this context. I am not saying this to offend anyone, but the way I see it, public work for the foundation should be an entirely separate sphere from online work on the encyclopedia. The site itself as a whole seems mature enough to live or die by the observance of its consensus-based policies and not by any one individual's decree or deed. To me, it seems Jimbo has far too many yes-men on this site who won't act to prevent him from making mistakes. I don't know to what extent this may also be true in the real world, but it seems to me this drama on-site is at best a distraction from the real world work promoting the foundation. If some sort of on-site executive is needed (perhaps as a liaison with the foundation?) that office should be occupied by an editor elected by the membership to a limited term, but no one individual should ever be in a position to make a binding decision or decree on something here outside of an open, accessible and consensus-driven process. Best regards to all, Academy Leader 09:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Given the fact that Essjay's apologists are still playing interference for him and dismissing his deception as "not that big of a deal," I for one appreciate Jimbo acting as a God-king. To wit, had Jimbo not asked for Essjay's resignation, Essjay would still be an admin, bureaucrat, stewards, checkuser, oversitght, etc., etc., etc. // Internet Esquire 18:17, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Under rug, swept?

Just as the New York Times is rather complimentary about our "transparency" and efforts to resolve this issue through discussion, all evidence of this incident is being deleted. If anyone were to look today, there would be no RFC about Essjay, no letter from Essjay to "other" professors, no talk archives about other users trying to talk to him about the situation, and no article about "Essjay". If this continues, the next article in the Times is going to be titled "Wikipedia attempts to cover up scandal", and as we have all just learned, sometimes the cover up is worse than the crime.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Jimbo, take a look at this deletion reveiw:[4] The evidence that the community disapproves of this fraud is now gone; so far as anyone can discern, we are collectively mostly interested in covering it up. That's not true at all, but thanks to this deletion, that's the appearance.Proabivouac 17:04, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • This is not good. David Gerard's actions could further damaging the reputation of Wikipedia in the press - this is going to appear like a mamoth attempt at a cover up, if we don't have a very strong message from you, Jimbo - that we are facing up to the problem and confronting it. Giano 17:23, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
If Phil Sandifer is acting here in some official capacity, please let us know about it.Proabivouac 17:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Please do let us know if some sort of authorization to erase these histories has gone over the backchannels. Gwen Gale 17:56, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Some of us expected this and archived some things with 19:53, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

This has been pretty much brushed off for weeks since it first turned up and Daniel Brandt kept pestering Essjay about it on his talk page, only to have his comments deleted. Brandt's got his issues, but this probably could have been preempted if people weren't so quick to dismiss all outside criticism as illegitimate and the work of trolls and vandals. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 14:27, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


First let me make crystal clear: I have no axe to grind against Essjay. I knew and admired him mostly through his reputation and had only very limited direct interaction with him. Until a few days ago, that's all there was.

I was deeply disturbed by his long-term deception, the black eye he gave the project via the New Yorker article, and the seemingly cavalier attitude regarding all this from you. Because of my strong feelings that without accountability on this issue that I could not continue at the project, I have spent a great deal of effort over the last several days trying to focus discussion on what I believe are the core issues at stake. I have done this knowing that such heavy involvement might earn me the wrath of many of the long-time and key contributors here who counted Essjay among their friends. I've done this despite many direct and indirect accusations of being part of "a mob", "a lynching", or simply someone motivated to "kick someone while they were down". Nothing could be further from the truth. My motivation was to help rescue the project from a wound inflicted by one of our best contributors.

It has been a difficult and unpleasant process, and one likely to have cost me much goodwill from many of the others here that hold similar positions of high trust as Essjay did. I accept that cost if it helps the project because really for me the only alternative was to leave.

Now it seems that this process of community discussion and evaluation is being replaced by out-of-process attempts to, as put above, sweep much of this under the rug. I can think of nothing at this point that will harm the project more than that. David Gerard's deletion of the most orderly and constructive discussion on this is perhaps the last straw for me. I am reluctant to give up the fight for the project, as I have seen that most people here understand the absolute need for accountability despite the personal pain involved. However, I am becoming exhausted with the effort required to continue against the emotionally-driven efforts of many people here—and many from the innermost circles of the project hierarchy—to undo the painfully achieved progress on vetting and moving forward. It makes me sad, and it has exhausted my energy for the moment to continue to fight for the dignity of the project.

For now, I'm stepping back and hoping that others will save the project from itself. I hope to return soon, but it depends on whether the project has the strength to complete the process recently praised in the New York Times article. Sorry if this all sounds melodramatic, but I believe this to be a defining point for the project. You have stepped forward and that gives me great hope in the leadership, but for now I wait to see how this plays out. Your skills at moving the community forward constructively are needed now as much as ever before.

Doug Bell talk 17:44, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for all your work on this. As you say, it's essential for the record to be as open as possible: the praise of open process praised in the NYT article is marred by the opening sentence "In a blink, the wisdom of the crowd became the fury of the crowd." which sorely mischaracterises the sympathy of many, probably most, of those trying to resolve this difficult human situation. The community seems to me to be doing pretty well with the assistance of Jimbo's helpful words, and the record should be there to make this clear. .. dave souza, talk 18:16, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Having watched the Essjay drama unfold over the last week, I found Doug Bell's contributions to be the most helpful in putting things into perspective. Take a break, Doug. You've earned it. // Internet Esquire 19:25, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Please don't stay away long Doug. Paul August 23:46, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Honesty, lucidity and/or transparency are essential elements of any reputable journal, paper, or encyclopedia:

As a new editor, using my real name from the beginning; albeit an accused "sock puppeteer," I have seen first hand what can come from a misguided "checkuser" system and I have also been disappointed, having seen thousands of meaningful items of knowledge deleted by individuals seeking to create their own encyclopedia, not an encyclopedia for "the people."

I have said this beautiful creation called Wikipedia, should be "the source," of all information...for us, and our children. "THE SOURCE," that does more additions than subtractions; a source with verified proof of facts and the integrity to show it.

By using our real names, ages, and our verifiable credentials, we truly share our experience, strengths, and hope...for our future here.

I suspect without the above, we have many/all of the elements that make "MySpace" a giant machine, however, we are all left without any form of verifiable truth to help substantiate any valid concept or theory ...that we are truly adding value and/or knowledge to our world.

Finally, as a dad, I want my children to use this miracle, with confidence, that someone with verifiable credentials is responsible for reviewing and correcting any lack of verifiable truth, herein.

Thank you for your time, Lee Nysted 18:37, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem with real names, at least in my situation, is with editing controversial topics. People obsessed with these topics, pseudoscience, and conspiracy theories can sometimes engage in trolling and harassment of others.[5] [6] Now, I have met some conspiracy theorists in real life and most do not engage in such behavior. Nonetheless, harassment is a real concern, thus I don't use my real name. But, I also have said pretty much zero about my educational and professional credentials and not making up stuff. Now, if I wanted checkuser or other positions of trust, I find it reasonable that I would have to provide my information to the foundation and let them verify it. --Aude (talk) 19:03, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I think it is essential that check users are known to all, and I hesitate to say this, be legally accountable for damage caused by any breaches of confidence they should make, in that way perhaps slowly editors may feel encouraged to give identifiable information to the foundation. Giano 19:16, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
For values of "misguided" that may include finding several users editing the same articles from the same IP address, all of which articles were egregious vanity and self-promotion. Or are you now claiming that Lee Nysted (talk · contribs), Nyslee (talk · contribs), Somelight (talk · contribs) and Symphonic Flight (talk · contribs) are different, despite the deleted history of Lee Nysted (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views), The Lee Nysted Experience (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) and Nysted Music (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) and others. Guy (Help!) 22:29, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Comment by Nysted:

All people of authority and especially "police" type authority figures like administrators, must be required to provide full disclosure of name, age, credentials, life experience, etc. It is unconscionable, what some of the administrators are getting away with, here. Gangs? Yes. MySpace gangs? Yes. Full disclosure of who is capable of taking my rights away, or taking away the rights of my family members should be known to all. Without a trusted governing body, there will be a system-wide failure. It could cost us the entire enterprise. This is the most serious breach of confidence this place has seen, but it will get far worse, if not checked, here and now. Lee Nysted 03:19, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Please Clarify, Jimbo

I think it might help if you could please advise why you apparently allowed Essjay to keep false information on his Wikipedia page after he advised you it was false. Why would you not have instructed him to immediately correct or remove it?

I am relying on Essjay's talk page description of the events(as linked to by Wikinews) so if that is not accurate,please let us know.To just let that information sit as it is gives rise to assumptions of cavalierness about the matter which are likely wrongful assumptions, so please help clear that up if you don't mind. 20:10, 5 March 2007 (UTC)


< I think it might help if you could please advise why you apparently allowed . . . . >

Good question! But apparently there is no way to answer that question--because the questioner cannot be interested in the question as asked. The questioner is interested in that question only against the backdrop of the huge task of building an accurate NPOV encyclopedia. And no doubt the questioner asks that question in good faith; I must admit that I ask that same question in good faith. But realistically, the questioner, even I, would never go around asking that kind of question--unless of someone involved in some huge monumental historic task like building an accurate NPOV encyclopedia. So no answer to that question or its variants would ever satisfy. --Rednblu 21:20, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that asking for the rationale behind a decision to let someone present false credentials on Wikipedia *is* related to the task of building an accurate NPOV encyclopedia, since the credentials were being used in content disputes.
I also think that whether an answer would satisfy depends more on the nature of the situation than on the questioner. If all the possible answers to the question are bad, that doesn't mean the question should be asked, that means that something bad is going on. Answering the question just brings it out into the open, that's all. Ken Arromdee 05:39, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

On a similar note

While Jimbo's current idea is designed to increase Wikipedia's credibility by focusing on editors, he had another idea a while back to help credibility by focusing on articles. He outlined it in an interview in this article. Basically, it would create 2 versions of pages that reach a threshold of stability, a stable and a live version. The stable version would be shown and the live version would be available to edit. Edits to the live version would have to be approved in some way before they are added to the stable version. My question is: Is this still in the works or has this been pushed to the wayside by other ideas? Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 22:13, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

The suggestion in the article (from late 2005) is

Wales also plans to introduce a 'stable' version of each entry. Once an article reaches a specific quality threshold it will be tagged as stable. Further edits will be made to a separate 'live' version that would replace the stable version when deemed to be a significant improvement. One method for determining that threshold, where users rate article quality, will be trialled early next year.

The problem would be that deeming a new version to replace the stable version would be something like the FA/GA process now. There aren't enough editors involved in that process compared with the large number of fairly mature articles. I'd like to see some kind of stable/approved rating for good articles, but I haven't seen a proposed mechanism for making it work on a wiki of this size. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 23:35, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
We could just modify FA; make Featured articles, once they are promoted that is, into stable versions. The only problem would be maintenance, deciding which edits go into the stable versions. Having a discussion for it would take way too long, but letting one person (even an admin) decide would seem too autocratic. This may work well on FA's that are overseen by a Wikiproject though. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 00:13, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm, in many ways, a newbie unqualified for discussion with some of you editing heavyweights. But I don't like the trend I'm seeing in the "stable article" mode of thinking, and I don't care who the idea originally came from. The greatest joy of Wikipedia for many people, and I think what draws many, many new users in, is that this is a dynamic, collaborative body of work in which your contributions are instantly visible. It gives somebody like me a chance to be a published author, in a very real way (since this is such a high traffic website and most people with computers use it as a reference at some time or another). To relegate anyone's contributions to the realm of "something that may be added to the article at some point, if your edits combined with everybody else's since the article attained 'stability' are deemed by who the hell knows who to be a 'significant improvement'" seems almost humorously counterproductive. I only have 600 or so edits, but I think the place works damn fine. Most of the articles that this would effect already have people watching over them to make sure that all new information is a.) not vandalism and b.) attributable and constructive. I'm proud of all the editors who make this place run, and I think we're forgetting how far it has come under the present system. If you can't see how needlessly complicated this would be, you haven't thought about it. And it sends a horrible message, that we're so scared of criticisms of credibility that we're willing to sacrifice the basic principle that brings in so many new users. This is not intended as trolling, at all, I'm serious, and I hope I'm not misunderstanding the issue at hand. Sincerely, --Tractorkingsfan 05:11, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Now that is what we need to be doing. I don't understand why there has been no movement on it when the idea has been around for so long. Everyking 06:49, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Checking Essjay's edits

Hi Jimbo,

Because of concerns that user:Essjay used false credentials while editing (or influence the editing) of many articles, I have used Interiot's edit counter to see which articles Essjay edited the most. It is a monumental task to attempt to check all of Essjay's 16,000 edits, but there are only three articles which he edited more than 10 times. I am attempting clean-up, de-POV, and fact-checking of these articles, but am experiencing some resistance from users who feel that "any clearly erroneous edits from two years ago would have long since been found and corrected" and "what exactly is the problem?" However, research indicates these edits are still in the article, and that Essjay or his supporters did use his false credentials to stave off edit disputes. The three articles in question are Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville‎ and Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville. All other articles were edited less than 10 times by Essjay.

Wikipedia requires vigorous fact-checking to maintain its credibility; however, I feel like I'm coming up against a stone wall. I've had to explain my reasons for fact checking (which seems ironic), and have been characterized as "vindictive" and pursuing "ad hominem assaults". Thse comments sadden me, as Essjay was the 'crat who promoted me to Admin. I know that you want what's best for the encyclopedia, which to me means double-checking the facts submitted by an editor (any editor, but certainly one who now has credibility issues).

Please support me in reviewing this material. Firsfron of Ronchester 00:17, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

While it may prove unnecessary, I can't fault the effort. If nothing else, the articles may get some useful fine-tuning out of it. Hopefully Essjay was not as dishonest about his actual article edits as he was in other respects, but at this point we can hardly take that on faith alone. Everyking 06:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes. Well stated, Everyking. I am hoping the review will prove unnecessary, but I feel it cannot hurt to check rigorously any edits which were made by Essjay under false pretenses. These articles are the only ones he appears to have edited "extensively", and they are also the religious ones, a topic he claimed to be an expert on. Despite the amount of resistance I'm getting (not sure if it's because of the status quo or "because it's Essjay"), I'm hoping to finish the reviews in the next couple of days. Firsfron of Ronchester 09:05, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Call For New Administrator Standards for Hiring

With respect, in light of the Essjay fiasco I would like to suggest new standards for Administrators, both for the Admin's now working and future Admin's.

What we need at Wikipedia are REAL standards for Administrators, such as resumes, real names and reference checks...who knows who these people REALLY are ? upstanding citizens? criminals? unemployed druggies? liars like Essjay? there obviously needs to be a NEW set of standards...

Lest Wikipedia end up on the Citizendium blog again:

Yours very truly,

Headphonos 00:22, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Janitors? ... dave souza, talk 00:34, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
But should we require some kind of certification in facility management or can we accept practical experience—say, not less than three years—and the reference of the last employer? —xyzzyn 00:40, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I disagree with this for admins. This seems like far too much work to justify it (background checks for every RfA?). However, for higher authorities: ArbCom, Oversight, and especially CheckUser (access to personal info) I think this could be a good idea. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 00:58, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

As if ending up on the Citizendium Blog matters. As I stated previously, admins have largely janitorial duties, but they are entrusted with the virtual keys to the building, so they should expect to surrender a certain amount of privacy to the powers that be at Wikipedia, which is exactly what Essjay did when he accepted his position at Wikia. I'm not saying that admins shouldn't be allowed to use pseudonyms, but at the very least admins should be required to provide their real name and mailing address to one of Wikipedia's bureaucrats and a record of same should be kept on file with Wikipedia's lawyers. // Internet Esquire 01:08, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Except that a) that would be a violation of the Privacy policy, in its current incarnation, and b) bureaucrats are not required to give their real name to Wikimedia; why should admins give their personal info to bureaucrats? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 01:38, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Please don't take this as a legal opinion or as legal advice, but Wikimedia's privacy policy appears to be silent on this issue. As for your point "b," I'm pretty sure that all current bureaucrats are also admins; ditto for stewards, ArbCom members, and those with checkuser and oversight privileges. The only people in a position of trust at Wikipedia who are not also admins are some of the developers. In any event, all of these people should be held to the minimum standards that apply to admins. // Internet Esquire 02:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The Privacy policy does not indicate anywhere that I need to give my mailing address to the Wikimedia Foundation. I will not do so, unless an employee of the Foundation requests it, and I know exactly what is going to be done to that information, where it is going to be stored, and how it is going to be protected. I will not provide it to OTRS volunteers, or any other on-wiki functionaries, and I'm sure others will refuse to do so as well, as you're talking about information that is considered sacrosanct by many users here. In fact, the whole desire to have a shroud of privacy is the whole reason this incident occurred. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 02:34, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Not a problem, you can simply resign as an administrator and become a humble anonymous editor like the rest us nobodies :) Headphonos 02:39, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Very funny. Now, how about something that actually solves the issue? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 02:41, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Sorrry, Tito, but that's precisely the solution that I was looking for -- i.e., encouraging administrators who want to maintain their anonymous status to step down and become just another registered user. // Internet Esquire 02:47, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Bingo. You should be able to have anonymity, or have power, on Wikipedia, but not BOTH. They should be conjugate variables: the more of one you want, the more of the other you will need to give up. Such is life. It's like position and momentum, or truth and clarity. SBHarris 03:38, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, that is an unacceptable solution, as it sends an extremely discouraging message. This is the encyclopedia that everyone can edit, and if your edits can stand public scrutiny, have been regarded as constructive, and have earned you a position of trust, saying, "Oh, but we don't know your name" is demoralizing to the general editor corps. Besides, it is a horrible idea, because you would be losing half of the workforce of a top-20 website. It is also extremely discouraging to learn that because someone thinks that they deserve the right to know who I am, and where I live, all the countless hours of effort I and others have placed here are inferior to those that can spare the ability to share their name. Not everybody can say who they are in the open; some of us have contractual obligations or personal reasons behind our anonymity. Does that make our knowledge less valid, our abilities less desirable, or our contributions less reliable? Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 02:58, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
It certainly does make the encyclopedia less reliable. Would you reference a book on nuclear fission if it were written by Johnny Carson? Ultimately, authorship matters. To me, wikipedia is fun and interesting, but not very accurate. It may be a top-20 website, but popularity does not equate to quality, and the encyclopedia will always have a credibility ceiling, so to speak, as long as it's free for anyone, with absolutely no check of credentials, to edit. But isn't that OK? If you need to know the facts, don't come here. The guidelines for using wikipedia state that it shouldn't be used as a primary source for information. We admit our own unreliability! 22:04, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Ooops! Forgot to sign in Thedukeofno 22:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Agreed, there has to be a new standard at time it might not be just a liar...but worse...such as a child molestor who hurts a young editor or ??? Headphonos 03:00, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

As I keep saying, I'd be prepared to give my details to Jimbo, or to a named, accountable officer or employee of the Foundation nominated by Jimbo, on the basis that they are held securely. I think that a lot of us would be willing to do that, but not to give details to another Wiki-functionary. Metamagician3000 03:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Which is my position, exactly. Why should I share my details with heaven knows who? Perhaps it is because I live in a state with a horribly-high rate of identity theft, but unless someone at the Foundation office requests the names, I don't see why I should give them. If the Foundation official requests it, I'm ok with that. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 03:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

And asking minors - who make up a number of our administrators - to reveal personally identifying information would help protect them from child molestors how? You know, I doubt even half of this stuff is really about making the encyclopaedia better. I hear axes grinding. --Sam Blanning(talk) 03:57, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

No, every volunteer has the right to be anonymous here. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 04:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Suggesting that administrators submit to credential checks is quite honestly one of the most awful ideas I have ever heard. It's a knee-jerk reaction to the Essjay thing that does not address the real problem behind that situation in any way. The problem became real when Essjay used false credentials in a content dispute. Jimbo's idea about optional credential-checking and discouraging credential-boasting in content disputes addresses that perfectly, and nothing else need be done (and I'm not just saying "listen to Jimbo," see my feelings about one of his other ideas above). And even this idea isn't that necessary, because all that matters is that the information is attributable, not that who put it there's background is. To say that credentials are even important in content disputes is like trying to figure out who is most qualified to bring in original research. The only time I'd ever support some kind of 'honesty check' or whatever is maybe in the check user situation, but I don't know much about that anyway so I'll shut up about it. But to say that we should prevent personal information getting into the wrong hands by putting more personal information in more hands is just absurd. --Tractorkingsfan 05:26, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

People are suggesting that admins and others in "trusted positions" should give up their anononimity, but no one has really said what that would entail. I've seen everything from the modest (giving a name to the foundation) to the extreme (Background checking). What would the personal info be? Name? Credentials? Address? Phone number? And also, where would it go? A special page for admins? A userpage? The Foundation? As many others have said, anything besides the more modest proposals is an awful idea. I'm not an admin and I would like to be one eventually. However, if I had to post personal information about myself online first or give it to a possibly anonymous volunteer, I'd say you're crazy. In this age, we have to be careful not only of liars, but people who take advantage of honest folks. While I would give my name to a Foundation employee, I don't really see how that would help with the exception of a case like Essjay's where he was referred by the Foundation. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 23:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Pseudonyms are OK ? The rest of the world doesn't seem to think so.

It's ok at MySpace, but not here.

Here is what Citizendium said about Wikipedia; this will only get worse.

"Of course, the moniker “Essjay” is obviously a pseudonym. But Essjay’s invented persona, as the New Yorker described it, or in other words his lies about being a different person, cannot be regarded as a pseudonym by anyone who knows what “pseudonym” means. A pseudonym, or pen name, is just a name, not an identity. Responsible publications that permit pseudonyms don’t permit misrepresentation of the actual qualifications of the person with the pseudonym. That would be a breach of the readers’ trust. That of course is why The New Yorker felt it had to apologize."

From: Citizendium Blog March 1, 2007

It is up to us, but the world will watch and vote while using articles about credibility issues here, and real live journalists will "unite." Lee Nysted 14:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Essjay Goon Squad and Sockpuppet Evidence

Admins such as Essjay ran goon squads targeting, blocking, harassing, editors who knew too much. The checkuser system was handled by this fraud. Has anyone looked into whether this guy had any knowledge nor skill to verify sockpuppets. This proven fraudster was trusted with handling private info. When he lost some argument and risk being exposed, he would claim the opponent was trolling and get his goon squad to block/ban him. Essjay used irc (primarily) to communicate and scheme to bump off his opponents. In order to avoid radar and any potentially bad publicity, he got his loyal crew (which he presumably) had a hand in promoting to admins to do the 'dirty work.' One such member of his enforcement crew/goon squad is Steel359 (I am not sure if he/it is a sockpuppet Essjay). Efforts to delete his history is part and parcel of this group to hide their connection to this exposed fraudster. 02:22, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

This sort of thing is rampant among admins. It is one of the reasons I largely left Wikipedia some time ago. 02:33, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
If either of you have specific evidence to demonstrate these allegations then contact me and provide diffs and other relevant evidence to connect all the dots. I perform complex investigations and I've been bold enough to issue a block warning to a fellow sysop when I thought it was called for. I'd go farther than that if you build a genuine case - but the burden of proof is squarely on your shoulders. Use my e-mail if you prefer to discuss this confidentially. DurovaCharge! 05:49, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Why don't you provide diffs of evidence of what you have just said right here in public (ie past evidence of performing 'complex' investigations (whatever that means) and having given a block warning to a fellow sysop). Btw, what are your credentials and can you prove it ? Issuing a block warning has even been done by fellow non admin members here. Why don't we start off by undeleting Essjay activity history... I know some one is going to cite some archaic rule from the community rule books, that admins break by their own whim and fancies anyway. 'Burden of proof' is asked for when the Essjay evidence has been shredded, is there some misstep in logic somewhere or is that the point ? 07:03, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I can personally testify to some of this, because I was once blocked by Essjay while I was in IRC and it was clear to me from the discussion that the official reason given for the block was a pretext. I would be in favor of unblocking anyone still under an Essjay-imposed block, as I have no faith whatsoever that his decisions as an administrator were fair or even honest. I also think we should run a sockcheck soon to establish whether he has any sockpuppets active (or did have some active recently); if we wait too long it will be impossible to know. Everyking 07:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

That's the buddy system, working "as designed" from Wikipedia's dark MUD side. Gwen Gale 09:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

  • This is another of Wikipedia's problems about which the highest echelons are in denial. My views are well known but this is not the time or place for this subject, as it is digressing from the matter on which we are focusing - Let's try and stay on credentials. Giano 10:02, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok but you have to admit it's kinda related. Gwen Gale 10:04, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Of course it's related - Someone with no credentials (e.g. because he is sixteen) can be expected to tell us these mean nothing, it is all just native intelligence...pretty much what I thought when I was sixteen...Proabivouac 12:10, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, let's stay on track - otherwise, this could all become (more) chaotic. Metamagician3000 10:13, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

As someone who has credentials, I can honestly say that I am seldom impressed by them, although I used to be impressed with them when I was sixteen. This is why people with expertise pursue credentials in the first place. However, the credentialing process is an end in itself where expertise is completely irrelevant. // Internet Esquire 18:37, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) To respond to the IP, a couple of samples of my investigations are available at User:Durova/Complex vandalism at Joan of Arc and Wikipedia:Community_noticeboard/Archive3#Unblock_of_Thekohser.3F. Here's the diff of my block warning to a fellow admin.[7] I took quite a bit of heat for that post. I also founded Category:Eguor admins, which pledges to give an impartial hearing to editors who can prove they've been treated unfairly. See User talk:Cwiki for an example of an indef blocked account whose editing privileges I restored after the user's unblock request had been rejected. I've given evidence at a number of arbitration cases. Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Midnight Syndicate is a representative example. Investigations at Wikipedia aren't a credentialed undertaking so I'll let my editing record speak for itself. I offered e-mail as an option in case you've been sitebanned or have worries about onsite retribution. If you choose to take up my offer of investigation onsite it would be a good idea to move this thread to my own user talk page. I'll extend this to Everyking and anyone else who wants this investigated. Now you've made some very serious allegations. WP:AGF constrains me to assume people have acted properly unless you demonstrate otherwise with good evidence. Are you going to back up your claims? DurovaCharge! 16:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I can give Diffs, once I get access to Essjay's activity history. 16:34, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Easily done. Now let's take this over to my user space for the time being. You can cite anything that happens there to Jimbo if the need arises. DurovaCharge! 16:46, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
While I am gathering the evidence. Durova, are you saying you have to WP:AGF of this fraudster, who has been showed to have lied even after he declared his true Identity to Jimbo and everybody else. Today's Louisville Courier Journal (Tuesday's March 6th) [8] did some investigating reporting and it appears little of Essjay's supposed true identity holds up. 19:01, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm saying AGF requires me to seek compelling evidence for each specific allegation. During his RFC a possibility arose that he may have used a sockpuppet account to influence his candidacy for bureaucrat. I read every edit in the disputed account's history and did not conclude that it was a sockpuppet. Obviously this type of charge deserves a serious look in light of the recent revelations. I'm willing to volunteer that effort, yet I want substantiation for each particular assertion you make. If something is beyond your reach because it's been deleted I can view the history as a sysop, yet I expect you to provide specific information to the best of your ability. So if something occurred in his deleted user space do your best to recall the month and year - time prevents me from reviewing every edit of a 20,000+ edit account. Also, something I should state in advance is that I may not be forthcoming in disclosing information from deleted edits. If that becomes a substantial concern I'd contact the appropriate people, possibly at the Foundation. The quality of your evidence and reasoning would count for a lot in how I handle this. Take your time and do your best, and I pledge to do the same. BTW I'll be offline for several hours following this post. Regards, DurovaCharge! 19:44, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
You know...for all this talk of "cabals" and "dissenters will be silenced" and all of that garbage, I was involved pretty recently in a dispute with one person who was an admin, and another who at that time sat on the ArbCom. At no point was any attempt by any of them made to "pull rank", at no time was anything improper done, and at no time was it any different then being in any content dispute with any other editor. I just don't see it. Seraphimblade Talk to me Please review me! 19:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Its interesting Durova, that Robie31's contribution history (supposed partner of Essjay): Made 7 entries/edit activity. Of which one is voting Essjay in for bureaucratship [9], a classic example of voting only/sock puppet account (ie less than 100 edits, but partakes in voting and other key activities) and this guy Essjay was given responsibility to run checkuser? In light of all of Essjay's revelations, I urge someone to investigate into this. 21:24, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that is interesting. That's why I investigated it days ago. If you want to know why I didn't conclude that the account was a sockpuppet, post your question to my user space. If you have something new to bring to my attention, please do so. You opened this thread with several very serious allegations and I am waiting for you to substantiate them. DurovaCharge! 02:32, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I have as promised , posted the evidence I have gathered upto now on Durova's talk page. [10]. There is more to come in the next few days... 03:56, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Durova, Isn't it possible to do checkuser from archived results from 2006 to pin down if Robbie31 and Essjay had same IP address. Chances the IP address will be the same and this is covered up by the fact that Essjay and Robbie31 are partner and live in the same home presumably. But then this has been referred to as the roomate excuse in sock puppet cases and carries little weight. So I can't see how you can conclude definitively that Robbie31 is not a sockpuppet of Essjay. But considering Essjay has lied on everything he has said and this proven beyond reasonable doubt now... that is the only predictable trend (plausible/simplest explanation) that he has lied regarding this matter as well. 04:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

This evidence here indicates Robie31 is 31 years old [11]. When Essjay first declared he was between 30 and 40 years old this was quite plausible. Two 30 something partners (with Essjay being the dominant one), but now that it has beeen acknowledged he is 24, it is little suspicious Robbie is 31 and Essjay is the dominant partner 04:21, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Keep in mind as a tidbit that Essjay's immediate username before becoming "Essjay" was Redwolf24, which one supposes refers to his age. So it's inductively likely that a Robbie31 refers so some Robbie who is 31. Essjay also said he was "gayer than Christmas" and "in a relationship." So it's not difficult to imagine with who.

You know, after I myself, as a new editor here, was first blocked for a bad reason by Essjay (who was not always, contrary to memoryhole-supported opinion here, a nice guy), I tracked him for some time, to see what kind of an odd duck he was. I watched him, among other things, casually threaten to de-sysop an admin for removing the "nominations open" tag from their userpage, because that would hurt Wikipedia's advertising space for that. I said to myself: "De-sysop somebody for THAT?? This dude has way too much power, and uses it too easily and childishly." But somehow, "learning" that Essjay was a professor of Canon Law at a major university calmed me down a little. If figured he must have some wisdom to attain such a position, and maybe was having a couple of bad days. So yes, his claimed credentials did work to protect him. But not in a way that has been mentioned here, up to now. SBHarris 20:00, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Was his early username redwolf24 (like 2 years ago) ? This is news to me. Because the press has found evidence that he is 24 now. What he claims about himself has to be taken with a grain of salt though (particularly credentials) since he was found to have lied even after he supposedly came out in the open after starting to work for Wikia. 03:30, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Even if you wanted to, IP data for CheckUser is kept for about a week only, for technical reasons. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 05:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

It also appear to be a deliberate means to confuse any reader, where Essjay writes this comment on Robbie31's talk page "Oh, and I'll go edit your CSS & JS pages so the display looks like the one on my comp, don't want you getting confused. ;-) -- Essjay · Talk 05:41, 11 January 2006 (UTC) " This implies Robbie31 appears to be using Essjay's computer or something but he claims to have done anonymous edits earlier. Robbie31 has only made 7 entries that can be accounte for. So why do this, because I think this comment is to cover for a potential slip up he (Essay) made somewhere. This conversation just doesn't make logical sense. Robbie31 supposedly knew how to make anonymous edits before, so why have to make the display same as Essjays's, in order to avoid being confused [12] ? Confused of what ? He was doing just fine doing anonymous edits before. Hence there is clearly a big hole in the Robie31 persona. 04:32, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

In case people want to reference this discussion later than a few days from now it would really be a good idea to shift it on one page and keep it there rather than bounce back and forth between two places. I archive manually so conversations in my talk space are kept in the same order they orignially appear and unsigned comments don't get lost in the shuffle. Jimbo's page archives by bot. The details of my potential sockpuppet investigation are at User_talk:Durova#Potential_Essjay_Sock_.3F. I'll follow up on the objection that was posted to that page back in my user space. Please repost any other questions there that need answering (this is an open offer to anyone who's curious). Jimbo's got enough comments here already - critiques of my sockpuppet investigation really don't need to get posted to his user space. DurovaCharge! 05:02, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
In response to Durova's question, I have posted evidence of Essjay saying "very, very" atleast once (Robbie31 [13]) and here from Essjay (answer to question 9) [14]). This I agree with Durova, appears to be something unique/in common between Robie31 and Essjay's comments. 05:50, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm more than a little disappointed that you're persistently summarizing a small and one sided portion of that discussion at Jimbo's talk page. The impression it gives me is that you're eager to construe things in Essjay's disfavor. You'd be better off augmenting your own claims with the best evidence you can find. Although I haven't looked at that evidence in depth yet, our meta-discussions on the sockpuppet investigation haven't been encouraging. To express my reservations in terms of the WP:DUCK metaphor, I might be able to say It has feathers and wings and it flies. That doesn't necessarily make something a duck. I may conclude "This could be an eagle or a hummingbird or an archaeopteryx" and ask you for better evidence. From the pattern I've observed so far, I'm worried that you'd spend less time finding webbed footprints than contending that the existing evidence is also consistent with duck. DurovaCharge! 15:55, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I have summarized what I have come up with. I don't think its appropriate of me to summarize/represent what you came up with here. That upto to you to do, if you are so inclined. What I have merely said is that your evidence to conclude that Essjay doesn't have a sockpuppet is not quantitative and reliable for the reasons I have outlined. Namely there is little use of rigorous nor theoretical methodology behind it. That is very troubling for me to grasp of this process. This is what troubles me about the wikipedia investigative process. Its run by whim and fancies of admins and adhoc interpretations of what the outside world would consider bizarre rules. Essjay was exposed as fraudster not by any Wikipedia investigative process, but rather by people outside the wikipedia system. This is very significant. I am willing go one step further and theorize that the wikipedia investigative process is incapable of bringing someone like Essjay to book, even now! It is too insular and incapable of handling external peer review and criticism. It was merely outside forces that had made his downfall possible. Here you statement is indicative of a prejudgement "Although I haven't looked at that evidence in depth yet, our meta-discussions on the sockpuppet investigation haven't been encouraging. " You have merely focused on sentence construction error with wide and glaring extrapolations. But as I have repeatedly mentioned and as you have agreed is that Robbie31 dataset is limited and is prone to noise. Not only that, the limited entries of Robbie31 is indeed quite suspicious. I have not concluded anything, but have merely stated that the individual (Essjay) has been proven to have lied repeatedly. Based on this my view is that since its proven he has chronically lied and made a fake persona, it is not a leap of faith to say he has made up another fictional persona such as his partner Robbie31. I have pointed to evidence in that direction and yes you are right that evidence doesn't show Essjay favorably. 02:45, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Er, SBHarris, Redwolf24 is not Essjay, and is a completely different administrator. Would you care to offer proof of your allegation that he is? pschemp | talk 03:54, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

We are now having a witch hunt? That's nice. Grace Note 04:36, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Something is wrong here

I am a relatively new person who has experienced many attacks and accusations from Admins/Bureaucrats without explanation. Things go on behind the scenes and a person like me has to accept what they do on their say so - like being accused of Sockpuppet with no evidence or rationale offered. There are roving gangs. Something needs to change. I feel very bad today. I have a Ph.D. but don't edit articles having to do with my field. I don't think the credentialing idea is a good one. I know nothing about the individual involved except that his archiving bot is gone -- I was using it and it was wonderful. Sincerely, --Mattisse 02:55, 6 March 2007 (UTC)


I agree that credentials will be hard to verify. I also agree that WP:V and WP:RS sources must out-weigh any claims to special knowledge. Wikipedia has taken a black eye in the media because the media didn't verify credentials as well they should have. We don't need to add a layer of complexity to our user page policy and administrative processes. We need only a disclaimer that appears automatically at the bottom of each user page stating that this is a user's page and that no claims made on this page have been verified by anyone for any purpose. Rklawton 04:51, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

What's so horrible about telling users not to make things up? That doesn't mean we have to verify every claim of every user, only those who are entrusted with special responsibilities. Further, of course we cannot prevent fabrications from occuring, any more than we can prevent abusive sockpuppetry, but we can make examples of those who are caught. A simple code of no-brainer ethics with intermittent enforcement would make it pretty much like any of our other policies. Perhaps that's not enough, but it would seem a good start.Proabivouac 05:22, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
That sounds like a lot of extra work for no material gain. Rklawton 05:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
No, it will save us work by heading off problems before they happen.
An example of some simple ethical rules which all editors should follow, and should recommit themselves to at every point of promotion:
  • Don't claim academic or professional credentials you don't really have.
  • Don't impersonate anyone else.
  • Don't lie to the press or to the public.
  • Don't pretend to represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia foundation.
  • Don't threaten anyone off-wiki. In situations where this seems necessary, contact the office.
  • If you do any of these things, you will face the loss of administrative responsibilities and/or be banned. So, don't do them.
The "disclaimer" idea will take us in precisely the wrong direction. We should be trying to be credible and respectable, not blameless in some technical (caveat emptor!) sense.
See User:Proabivouac/Ethics for dummies.Proabivouac 08:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

In my humble opinion this is best approached overall by a deprecation of any claim to authority or academic credentials. If such a claim is made on a user page, I think it should be lightly verified but even so, claims to academic authority in edit disputes should be banned outright. For those in positions of trust (arbcomm and CU, spokesperson speaking for WP and so on) there should be a more rigorous, internal and confidential background check, as with any responsible org. Gwen Gale 08:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

So we drive away the editors who are most likely to make such claims - actual authorities? The point should be, don't make stuff up, in mainspace, in talk space or in user space. The opposite approach, "assume everything you see here is made up," is exactly the wrong direction.Proabivouac 09:01, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
If they're true experts they won't mind :) What I'm saying is, ban CVs on user pages unless they've been lightly verified. Ban the assertion of a CV in any editing dispute. Anyone who knows their field (or an educated editor who knows how to source) can run circles around a crank using existing WP citation policies. Oh and change the admin selection process. As it is now, this is a buddy system which encourages wheel wars and edit disputes and sends experts screaming to the log out link. Who wants to get a "warning" from a socially frustrated 14 year old middle school boy whose clueless admin buddy has asked him on IRC to come over and find something trivial to nettle you with? Gwen Gale 09:07, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Another point: admins shouldn't be minors, while Bureaucrats and ArbCom members should be well over (for example) 24. Age is the great unspoken factor uniting many of Wikipedia's biggest problems. It's stupid to pretend it doesn't matter.Proabivouac 09:19, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
A responsible, motivated adolescent can do wonders in repetitive, process based tasks, never mind some can make wonderful edits. For that matter I've been harassed and wikistalked by middle aged psycho admins (scary stuff, mind). So yeah, superficially the notion of putting an age limit on admins sounds ok but when I think about it, I don't care how old an admin is, I care about the admin's behaviour. Gwen Gale 09:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
That's like saying, I don't care about the driver's age, but their driving ability, before handing the keys to a thirteen-year old. Well, sure, but. Young people are known for their energy, creativity, intelligence, enthusiasm...and poor judgement. Doesn't that sum up Essjay, really?Proabivouac 09:35, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
A car can easily kill someone. It's not the same thing. So far as Essjay goes, that's all Jimbo's fault. Essjay got sucked into Wikipedia's seductive MUDdy side and Wikipedia referred him to Schiff and actually sent him skipping and traipsing off to the New Yorker with his MUD CV, clueless. Essjay was responsible for losing touch with reality or whatever but Wales and the WMF are wholly responsible for the meta consequences beyond the damage to Essjay's personal life. Again, there are lots of middle aged wankers around here who lie all the time. It's not an age thing at all. Erm, besides, they say Essjay's 24, that's no teen. Gwen Gale 09:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
No, it's not all Jimbo's fault. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the community (?) made Essjay administrator and then bureaucrat. Jimbo erred in trusting the community to vet its own (and this problem is hardly confined to Essjay).
Jimbo is responsible both for the systemic design flaws (and marvels), along with the management decisions, which led to a representative of Wikipedia asserting a MUD CV to a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. Gwen Gale 10:02, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
24 is old enough to be a good mop-wielder, but too young for project-level responsibilities.Proabivouac 09:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Very respectfully, strongly disagree there. Gwen Gale 10:02, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
(Dropping in for a quick comment-and-run...)
The thing that does bother me sometimes is the kids closing XfD discussions. They typically just count !votes and close as far as I can tell...not a lot of judgement being applied by certain admins that I'm fairly sure are minors. —Doug Bell talk 09:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yep. That poor judgement (or worse) is wontedly an artifact of the buddy system. Admins are not selected for their judgement, they're mostly selected for having supported past RfAs. Everybody knows about this. Why isn't it changed? Gwen Gale 09:52, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Why would it change? You know what they say about insanity being doing the same thing while expecting a different result. The community has failed, and I am telling you the reason: it's a bunch of kids. Not totally, but mostly. It's totally naïve to think a democracy of teenagers and young adults will yield a good result. What is needed is adult supervision. The problem being, of course, that this is not free.Proabivouac 11:46, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh I do agree with you there. Gwen Gale 11:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) I think these guidelines are a great idea, but I would take it one step further: Don't post credentials at all. What's the point of having your credentials on your userpage? Having them posted serves no purpose other than as status. People just use credentials here to push their ideas on other editors: (example statement) "I've got a Master's in Biology. I'm right, you're wrong." Or, they use them to make themselves sound more reliable. Who's to say someone with only a high school diploma is less trustworthy/reliable/better than someone with a Ph.D. That's the allure that draws in new editors: Anyone can contribute, no matter their situation. People using credentials as status is why people leave. If we don't allow credentials, we wouldn't have to enforce the rule by checking them, we would enforce it by just removing it. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 23:44, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

All this talk about banning the posting or mention of credentials is myopic and reactionary, and will probably seem like a much worse idea in a month than it does now. It's a microcosm of the same 'there oughta be a law' sentiment that gives us warning labels on blow-dryers and coffee cups. Realistically, who's most likely to post a claim that they have a PhD? A guy with a PhD. Second most likely is a blatant liar, and only a vanishing small percentage of such claims will be Essjay-style plausible deceptions. Who's more likely to be right in a run-of-the-mill content discussion: the guy saying he has a PhD in the subject, or the one running off to an admin to have his opponent warned or blocked for violating this hypothetical WP:NOCRED? If you want to start driving off curious newbies who arrive to edit in their area of expertise, this sounds like a good way to do it.
We have this convenient social fiction that personal knowledge and expertise are trumped by content policies that somehow create a level playing field between the real experts and the instant google experts. It's been mentioned elsewhere on this page, but it bears repeating: sound editorial judgment in traditionally encyclopedic articles requires someone conversant with the relevant body of literature. Of course, that doesn't have to be someone who claims any particular credential, but the two are correlated enough that this 'prohibit discussing your personal background' idea ought to be a non-starter. Opabinia regalis 03:17, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
We're not saying we don't want people with great credentials, we just don't need people waving them around. If you have a PhD in Chemistry and you want to help fix up chemistry articles, thats great, we'll be happy to have your input. But why do you need to tell everyone your credentials? If you took chemistry in high school and notice an error that you can fix, go ahead and do it. Yes, the guy with the PhD is more likely to be right in an argument, but someone using their credentials to win arguments is also a great way to drive out editors who don't have a PhD and just want to help. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 20:20, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Why Credentials?

Allow me to preface my comments to this briefly: Although I've been a member of the English Wikipedia for some time now, I am by no means an expert in all things Wiki, nor do I claim to be. Secondly, the whole User:Essjay fiasco is rather new to me. Although I have been slightly following the issue (who hasn't?) I am again, by no means an expert. Feel free to poke holes in, puncture, ventilate, and/or mutilate my arguement as you see fit.

Now, I think that at the heart of this debate is the idea of credentials having weight on Wikipedia. And although I think Jimbo's plan to check credentials is a good one, I'm still confused as to why credentials have to carry weight. After all, if everyone can edit, it's to be assumed that some will be better editors than others, and likewise, some will be more knowledgable in a certain sector than another. So why do people have to whip out their credentials? Wikipedia is supposed to be peer edited, and in my opinion, it seems that by essentially "pulling rank" on another editor by using external credentials (degrees, carreers, etc.) said "more educated/better" editor is immediately setting themselves above their peers. And granted, I'm just a beginner, but it seems like that sort of pseudo-caste system is an anathema to what Wikipedia desires to be. Why not have a "No exterior credentials" policy?

Thanks for your input! Belril 05:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Indeed, why not do the same at any teaching institution? Why pay attention to any particular person, in a classroom? Why is one guy teaching and the others listening? Why is one guy giving grades and the others getting the grades? Why are some people paying for an "education", and other people getting the money they pay? When you have the answers to these difficult questions, you may see that they also apply here, too. You know, the world has worked on these questions before. Any time now, Jimbo's actually going to start to re-invent the idea of a university. Wow, like inventing fire! The wheel! SBHarris 06:05, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
At a university, and unlike Wikipedia, OR and POV are permitted, so credentials make a great deal of difference. Rklawton 06:09, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid you'll have to expand that argument, since it's not so obvious. Higher education would also function disconnected from OR, and in fact many tech schools and Normal Schools do so. As for POV, it's a myth that Wikipedia functions without it. The other word for it is called "thinking." Or, if you prefer, "the human reasoning process." But denial is a wonderful thing, and you're welcome to your own POV that there's no POV here. Let's hear it for faith. SBHarris 09:37, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Sbharris - your attempt at reductio ad absurdum fails to impress me precisely because educational institutions are often criticized for the very reasons that you present as being absurd. While it's not one of my favorite books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance does provide a very effective indictment of educational institutions and the culture of credentialism. // Internet Esquire 16:19, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Not from my viewpoint, it doesn't. Though I read that book decades ago, when I myself was still too naive even to ask the basic question of "What's this Pirsig guy ever done??" Which is relevant. Basically, he's dropped out of a science program at a college and written a couple of books, one of which says we scientists all have a poor philosophy of reality. Yeah, well, what makes him think he's anywhere near qualified to comment on the issue AT ALL? Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, write books and live on government grants. I would take such critisisms of science from a Watson or a Crick or a Pauling--- but a Pirsig? Feh. And you too, sitting in front of your complex computer/internet, are enmeshed and embedded in a culture which was given to you (handed to you) by a bunch of people operating under these supposedly poor Western subject-object values. And for that matter, they did your motorcycle, too, if you have one. And Pirsig's. What did Pirsig give you except the idea of disrespecting the people who made possible the world you live in, and communicate from? Eh? For shame. SBHarris 23:05, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Since I make a point of not misbehaving here on Wikipedia, it is very difficult for me to reply to [what can only be characterized as] your rant above the way that I would like to. Referencing Robert Pirsig's seminal work (which I noted was not one of my favorite books) was an attempt to point out a book that provides an effective indictment of credentialism. Pirsig's book focuses on the ephemeral issue of what constitutes quality in writing and whether an emphasis on grades and credentials were an effective way to cultivate knowledge under the auspices of higher education. I guess you got something completely different from it. // Internet Esquire 23:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I just went and looked at Economics for less than 20 seconds. Under Areas of economics there are two specialties with subsections. Both are cited. The first is "Mesoconomics", I've never heard of at all (am a research professor). A search on Econlit, which indexes the abstracts of all scholarly journals related to economics and covers tens of thousands of articles, shows 3 uses of this term in refereed journals. The second is "Picoeconomics". Again, I've never heard of it. Econlit shows 0 hits in refereed journals.

Do you understand what this means? The Wikipedia article on economics highlights exactly two topics in the section "Areas of economics". They are cited. Between them, these two areas have 3 mentions in the journal abstracts. Now, I don't know how they got there, because I long ago lost patience editing in my field. But, it's an effing joke. No, pay no heed at all to people who might know what the hell they're talking about. And this is what you get. Pathetic. Derex 06:31, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Sofixit! ... ;) ... dave souza, talk 09:15, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Indeed! If you add information that appears in 100s of journals and you are reverted then follow WP:DR. If, in the end, you lose despite having 100s of journal references that back you up then I'll quit wikipedia with you in protest!MikeURL 18:50, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Come on. You're misrepresenting what that article says. It mentions the two major areas of study, micro and macro, and mentions the other two as only areas that a few researchers have suggested. It's useful information and by no means some kind of indication of the failure of Wikipedia. You seem to be pissed about something, but that's weak evidence. --Tractorkingsfan 06:39, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, these other areas seem to be getting massive undue weight per WP:NPOV, and should probably be removed altogether, but this can be discussed on the article talk page rather than here. JoshuaZ 06:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I hear you, though "massive" is a bit much. I was just replying to the above user's overall tone, which I found disturbing considering a selective application of what the article says: "exactly two" when there are four areas mentioned, etc. It just doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, and by no means an "effing joke." --Tractorkingsfan 06:49, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Which two had their own headings? That you think it's not that big a deal illustrates that you simply know nothing about the field. There are dozens of major fields in economics. It's a ludicrous embarassment. It's an instant signal to anyone who knows anything about economics that the article is a joke. I don't know whether the rest of it is, because I didn't even bother after seeing that in the TOC. Derex 07:04, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Okay. You're right, I do know nothing about it. Please see what I have to say on your talk page. --Tractorkingsfan 07:10, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

"I do know nothing about it." WAS 4.250 07:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Why would you be like that? All I'm saying is he/she, who is such a goddamn expert, has the power to change the article but would rather bitch about it. Man, I was trying to be nice. Hope it feels good to make me feel stupid. --Tractorkingsfan 07:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Derex has just described what, for me, is the big motor for improvement in Wikipedia – someone noticing something wrong, which impels them to research it and make a well substantiated change. An impediment to that process is pov pushers who feel they know better or are trying to use the page to put over their position, and who would be the first to claim priority because of their credentials. It can be a struggle and undoubtedly off-putting to academics used to their authority carrying weight, but here authority must be based on verifiable sources clearly and fairly presented. The success of this project comes, in my opinion, from it being a forum open to all and not a hierarchy of academic rankings. Derex prefers to edit in other areas – should these edits then be discounted because of lack of qualifications? Many pages have problems, and we should be open about that – and fix problems we find. .. dave souza, talk 09:15, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

It was Derex who made me come to the stunning conclusion that I've never edited here in my fields of expertise. Argh! I thought it was laziness but now I'm not so sure (I think it was self-inflicted avoidance of emotional trauma or whatever :). Anyway as I say, the fix is to ban the assertion of credentials in edits, which should be supported by strong citations anyway and which an expert easily knows how to find and apply. Gwen Gale 09:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Derex makes a very good point, and the underlying issue is Wikipedia's unfair bias against experts, which is embodied in Wikipedia's so-called conflict of interest policy. See Geoffrey Burling's post on the topic. // Internet Esquire 16:31, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

So what is the status of the "conflict of interest" policy? Where is it? Any definition of "interest" and when the interests might be in conflict, say between Wikipedia's (or Wikia's or Jimbo's) or your own?

I previously tried to demonstrate some contradictory examples of COI on this page, to ask the question. I was ignored by Mr. Wales, and the few comments made just added more COI questions and contradiction examples.

I think, though, that my questions may have been answered indirectly, not on this page. I think my comments were incorrectly attributed to another editor: Gregory Kohs, if memory serves without trying to look up the formal name of "MyWikiBiz". Later, in watching some of the discussions he was involved in, I noticed that we both happen to use the same method of addressing Mr. Wales. Guess we both grew up to use the polite and formal moniker, until invited to do so otherwise. And he ended up banned, and posters on this Talk page continue to get accused of being him trolling. There was another instance this from Friday or Saturday, somewhere in the Essjay discussion.

Since a person's credentials, by college degree or by experience, has a high probility of relating to what work they do and/or for whom they work (by industry, by employer, etc). IMHO, the issue of verifying credentials will inevitably interlace with the COI policy. So can only non-employees of USAA edit its articles? Good luck untwisting the COI policy with the "Anyone can edit" philosophy with some new credentials policy.

ood luck untwisting these policies.

Credentials do matter (sometimes)

It's too simplistic to assume that every editing dispute can be resolved through the application of WP:NPOV and WP:ATT. Derex has given an example, where the issue is the best way to organize an article. Is he supposed to be required to go out and find a reliable source for the proposition that an encyclopedia article on "Economics" should have the following subheadings? That just won't happen. Sources should be required for factual assertions, but editors have to use their judgment on how best to organize the article. If the editors discussing that question are all proceeding in good faith, some might well choose to defer to Derex's view based on his overall knowledge of the field. Jimbo's proposal doesn't require that they defer. It means only that, if they're willing to, and if Derex has chosen to go through the verification process, they could have confidence in his credentials.

I had a similar experience. A U.S. Supreme Court decision addressed one issue at length but rejected another argument in a single sentence. On that basis, a non-lawyer Wikipedian kept inserting in the article the statement that the ruling on the second point was made "without consideration of the legal merits". His stated rationale was that the Court had a duty to explain any decision it made. I said, based on my years of practicing law and on my having read hundreds of judicial decisions, that that's not the way it's done.

This was a tangential point (like the organization of the Economics article). The other editor wasn't urging that the article say something like, "It is a point of pride among U.S. judges to give a full analysis of every issue presented to them, and they generally do so." I wasn't trying to insert something like, "Because many lawyers toss in every argument they can think of, no matter how weak, courts frequently give little or no explanation for why they're rejecting a particular argument." Either of those statements, in an article about the U.S. judicial system, would have to be supported by a reliable source. I wasn't saying that Wikipedia should assert the second statement just on my say-so (even though it happens to be true). Instead, I was saying that, because the second statement is true, the other editor's presentation of this particular holding was misleading. Some Wikipedians might choose to give my argument more weight based on my professional credentials. That's a long way from making me a Citizendium-style Designated Expert who can overrule everyone else simply by waving around my degree. JamesMLane t c 10:26, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Your expertise is highly valued by many here and gives you the knowledge whereby you can easily find a raft of verfiable secondary sources to support an assertion you know from long experience to be true. There is no need to assert your authority when you assert flawless citations which can't be deleted from the article. Gwen Gale 10:31, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your kind words, but you're addressing a somewhat different situation. I'm talking about cases where (1) there are no sources, because experts don't address the issue, or (2) even if there are sources, they won't (and shouldn't) be included in the article. I'm not inclined to do research on a point like that. In the same amount of time, I could do other things that would improve Wikipedia much more. Therefore, on the rare occasions when I assert my expertise, I simply state my opinion -- on the talk page, of course, not in the article. Nonlawyers are free to disagree with me, just as noneconomists can disagree with Derex. In fact, the best argument against Jimbo's suggestion is that it wouldn't accomplish much. The biggest problems arise from pigheaded editors and POV pushers. They've been ignoring other editors' unverified credentials; they would switch over to ignoring other editors' verified credentials. JamesMLane t c 10:45, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Sadly, if there are no sources your input would be original research and thus not encyclopedic. I know it sucks but there are tonnes of academic reasons for it. Meanwhile the only way to handle a pighead or a PoV warrior is a) ask for verifiable citations from reliable secondary sources, b) delete original research and c) use what citations you can find to thwart undue weight and PoV. Sometimes, skiving the article down to basics is the only way and remember, pigheads and PoV warriors don't give a toss about your CV anyway. Gwen Gale 10:51, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
No, THEY don't. But the wikipolice would and should. And you're wrong that there are no academic reasons for the ultimate use of force in support of the properly credentialed. Not only are there academic reasons for it, but academia regularly uses them. If a student rises in a class and calls the professor out, and says they are wrong, says they have just as much knowledge about the subject or more on the point, and can cite referenences till the cows come home, it still doesn't matter. When Campus Security arrives, they will still haul the disruptive student out, not the prof. Even though it's (barely) possible that the student is correct and the prof wrong. We do this because we don't have time or resources to make every single classroom point into a completely democratic, completely populist exercise, supported completely a-repulationally by law-review style citation-wars and (if necessary) academic ArbCom-like proceedings addressing the facts. We deal with cranks in academia, by force. And (to tell the truth) mostly in law, also. Sorry, there is no other way. It is precisely because they do not respond to reason and the rest of us do not have time to evaluate every single crank claim every single time, that this happens. In court, the baliff responds to the (uncited and unreferenced) orders of the judge, not the citable legal merit of the objection of the attorney or court attendee behind the bar. There's a REASON for that. That same reason applies here, on wikipedia, because do NOT have infinite time or resources for law-review style evaluation of every point of contention. We're mortal, and we don't have TIME to do it any other way. The reason we got away with it this far, is because usually we have few cranks to deal with, and vandals are stupid. And we actually often rely on credentials and expertise (which we perceive sometimes subconsciously through secondary routes like use of language and knowledge), even though we pretend not to. But as for the rest, Sanger is right and Jimbo is wrong. Jimbo will eventually figure this out, and adopt a Sanger-like system. He's not going to re-invent the wheel, or the academic or judiciary system. And he hasn't. Which is one reason he's in trouble. SBHarris 19:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
No, no, no and no. The whole point of having 1000s or even millions of editors is exactly so that you CAN have a "law-review style evaluation of every point of contention". Bear in mind that wikipedia is intended to outlive all of us.MikeURL 18:59, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
LOL. And as you've noticed, the world changes faster than you can describe it, so you're bound to fall behind if law-review quality comment on everything is your goal. Most cases in law don't get apealed, must less reviewed or law-reviewed or whatever, up to the high levels. They don't even go to trial. There's no time. Have you ever tried to keep a really good diary just of your own life, even for a month? Then you know the problem. There's been one book pubished on the American Civil War for every day SINCE the Civil War. You don't even have time to keep up on the ACADEMIC publishing on THAT narrow topic, let alone the slice of Wikipedia which should be "yours" in stewardship in a perfect world.

Look, we invented credentials for a reason, as a completely needed timesaver. You don't (and can't) demand legal citations of the cop who gives you an order to get out of the car, because there isn't TIME. But what you don't undrstand is that there is NEVER time for that to work, in all cases. In ANY system. No matter HOW long you run it, so long as it remains connected to continually evolving real world. There's never time enough for thorough review of all but a tiny fraction of experience. Until we find some way of all of us getting a whole hell of a lot smarter. SBHarris 19:43, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I think I can safely guess JW won't Sangerize Wikipedia cuz he knows it would kill the MUD, which is what attracts all the free labour and builds the content, which both get the eyeballs. This is a helpful thing. It would be even more helpful if any assertions of credentials in edits were banned. Moreover, fully qualified, scholastic level citations should be required for all encyclopedia space content. WP could transform its reputation within a couple of years. Gwen Gale 19:11, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Although I don't think the issue of credentials is central to what we should be discussing I do sympathise with what James is saying here. Any profession or academic discipline teaches you how to "think like a lawyer" (or whatever it is), and you end up knowing many things the provenance of which is impossible to trace (as someone once put it in an arb case) and perhaps impossible to document even if you could trace it. It's really not as simple as you're suggesting in some of your comments, Gwen, and I've seen a lot of disputes here where this problem has been in the background. I very much doubt that we can find a simple way to solve it and I'm not at all sure it is the main problem we should be trying to solve arising from the Essjay thing. Metamagician3000 10:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

And here is where we are disadvantaged vis a vis an academic journal - if he were writing for a law review, all this would be tacitly understood. Metamagician3000 10:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I didn't say it was simple (but I understand what you mean). I said if it's not supported by a qualified citation it's original research. For example, if James is truly an expert (I believe him), he could write an article for a law journal in which he makes his point, then any editor (including him, truth be told) could cite that as a secondary source for the Wikipedia article. Gwen Gale 10:59, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
That time-consuming alternative isn't always feasible. In this instance, no reputable law review would publish an article stating that the Supreme Court doesn't always analyze every argument presented to it. Why would they publish something that all their readers already know? As for your statement that my "input would be original research and thus not encyclopedic", you're right -- but that standard is applicable only to assertions made in the article. In the example I cited, my input wasn't proposed for inclusion in the article, but was addressed to our collective editorial judgment. We have to make such judgment decisions all the time. Should the article be organized chronologically or in some other way? Which points are important enough to include in the introductory section? And on and on. Most of the disputes presented on WP:RfC don't lend themselves to resolution by simply finding and citing a valid source. JamesMLane t c 11:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
James, original research is not allowed in Wikipedia. Moreover, if articles were assigned to vetted experts, we'd soon have heated edit disputes between experts, never mind credentials can be gamed and experts (me included) can bring their own personal kettles of PoV and undue weight. Judgements as to article structure wontedly calm themselves when content has been more or less agreed upon and the only way to do that is through citations of secondary sources (even conflicting ones). Meanwhile WP's wild inefficiencies are widely documented. It only stumbles along because the editing labour is free (other than the bandwidth costs). However, it does throw off thousands of more or less helpful articles, especially in quantifiable topics like math, the sciences, IT and so on. Welcome to Wikipedia :) Gwen Gale 11:40, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
WP:NOR does not back up what Gwen is saying in regards to editorial judgement. The policy is clearly limited to assertions within an article and does not includes issues of editorial judgement like if a list is better organized chronologically or alphabetically.--BirgitteSB 12:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Birgitte. To say "original research is not allowed in Wikipedia" is too sweeping. To give another example, participants in WP:AfD frequently (and properly) engage in original research to try to determine whether an article subject is notable. I agree with Gwen that assigning articles to vetted experts would be a mistake. Why should we try to compete with Citizendium at what they do best?  :) I was addressing only Jimbo's much more limited proposal at the top of this page (verifying credentials). JamesMLane t c 12:34, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
You've both misinterpreted what I said about original research. Gwen Gale 12:36, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
As a former member of law review at UC Davis Law School, I can assure you that Metamagician's assertions regarding law review journals are not true. Law review journals rely very heavily upon multiple citations for even the most basic of assertions, and in most instances, the writers of law review articles are writing about a topic that the editors (who are usually third year law students) know little or nothing about. And just when a particular editor is finally brought up to speed on the subject of a particular article, a new editor is brought in to give the article a fresh look with a new set of eyes. Consequently, publishing even one law review article is an agonizing process that takes months or years to complete and makes Wikipedia's publishing process look like a cake walk. // Internet Esquire 18:29, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
LOl, already back into the rank pulling. This kind of post shows the problem. It is very tempting for me to drag out my own credentials here, including the fact that I have a whacking great article of 18,000-odd words in an important law journal to my name, plus a lot of experience on a prestigious law review and as a referee for academic journals, plus many other academic publications, not to mention a first class honours degree in law from a university ranked among the top 20 in the world (hmmm need to check its most recent THES ranking - checked and found correct), blah, blah. See? Once one person does it, it becomes very hard for others to resist. Of course, I could be making up what I just said. I'm not, as it happens, but you don't know that, and I'm not interested in proving it right now unless Jimbo specifically calls me on it and asks me to send him proof on a confidential basis. I think we should abandon the rank pulling, my-credentials-are-bigger-than-yours-and-you-are-thereby-discredited thing. Metamagician3000 22:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Hardly rank-pulling on my part. Simply a relevant reference to my experience on law review. In striking contrast, you were asserting unsubstantiated and easily disproved claims about law review, and are now referring to your credentials in much the same way that Essjay did when he tried to shut down debate. My original assertion stands firm -- i.e., law review journals rely very heavily upon multiple citations for even the most basic of assertions. If you'd like an example, take a look at any of the student written "Comments" or "Notes" in the 40 volumes of the UC Davis Law Review, all of which can be found online in their entirety at - -. The most recent issue contains a Comment entitled "Cocaine Base," and it has the typical ratio of three lines of citations for every single line of copy text. // Internet Esquire 23:33, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
In all fairness, I should also respond to JamesMLane's assertion regarding what a reputable law review would and would not cover. Law review articles often tend to cover issues in great detail that some lawyers might consider quite obvious, and a frequent element of law review articles is why courts ignore what most legal scholars consider relevant issues and chose to rule on what most legal scholars consider totally inapposite grounds. Moreover, many rulings of the supreme court are 5-4 decisions with dissenting opinions that rail against the majority for failing to address a legitimate issue. // Internet Esquire 21:41, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
In the particular instance that prompted my comment, I told the other editor that I'd have no objection if he inserted his opinion about the way the Court addressed the issue, provided that the opinion could be attributed to a prominent spokesperson. Hence, I agree with you that it would be proper to say something like, "Professor Jarndice charged that the Court's one-sentence dismissal of the argument was reflective of the majority's inability to refute it on its merits. [citation]" In this instance, however, the other editor had no such citation to offer. He simply wanted to play up the terse treatment of the issue, because that terse treatment struck him as unusual and therefore important.
An encyclopedia article isn't a book, which can cover a subject in detail. It also isn't a scholarly paper, which will often cover one small aspect in great detail. We have to make judgments about what's important enough to include. Importance is probably the biggest category of cases where WP:NPOV and WP:ATT aren't enough. Derex's comment above about picoeconomics is another example of that. One value of Jimbo's proposal is that, in judging the importance of a topic, some editors might choose to give more credence to an expert's opinion. JamesMLane t c 01:33, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
My experience has been quite different. To wit, I've encountered many laypersons who have an amazingly clear understanding of particular legal issues, but will quickly defer to the uninformed legal opinion of a lawyer. As for Jimbo's proposal, it's a Pandora's Box of credentialism, and I want no part of it. // Internet Esquire 04:14, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Legal credentials

<-- meta-discussion --> The above discsusion of legal issues is an example of the role of credentials and experts. the law is one area where credentials matter, and are respected. We may give more attention to what JamesMLane says because he's known (or claims) to be an attorney, but even more because he brings decades of training, legal reasoning, and knowledge to the discussion. His statements have a value based on a combination of claimed credential and evident insight. Even if we were ignorant of the credential we'd still perceive the expertise. The importance of true credentials when discussing legal matters is so common that we have an acronymed disclaimer for it, "IANAL". Ironically, when lawyers do engage in specific legal discussions they'll often make it clear the topic is outside their specialty and so refuse to give an opinion ("I am a lawyer but that's not my field" - "IAALBTNMYF"). And if they do ever make an assertion about the law they'll most often give their reasoning, rather than simply claiming personal authority. That's one reason why good free legal advice is rare. One law expert did become famous for giving free advice on the Internet, only he turned out to be a 15-year old kid who'd never read a single law book. (Marcus Allen [15][16]) Not that that has anything to do with this matter at all. Under no circumstances are the situations at all similar. - Will Beback · · 08:45, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

This is the heart of the matter regarding credentials: the law is one area where credentials matter, quite rightly, but such credentials are insufficient to justify any edit to Wikipedia. I'm in favour of people saying what they do for a living and enjoy anecdotes related to their work experience, but as Gwen Gale has eloquently suggested, claims to credentials have no place in disputes. The idea presented (at #Not Fixing What Isn't Broken) by Sbharris that editors with credentials to expertise be "given some intermediate "say" before a full ArbCom process" has merit, but it should be up to the arbiter to assess the credentials and not a standard procedure for all who mention their profession on their user page. Disclaimer: though retired, I have professional credentials, including a degree acquired unintentionally, and make no claims to be an expert as in my profession such claims can mean taking on unnecessary liability. This is my real name, and you can check the ARB register if you want to. ... dave souza, talk 09:20, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Because of the diversity and dynamic nature of legal knowledge, even the most prestigious legal credentials are highly overrated, and no one should accept the legal opinion of any attorney without citations to binding authorities that have been recently Shephardized. At best, one might be able to say, "This opinion was probably valid when so-and-so last researched the issue on such-and-such date." On this note, the legal experts that I know will almost always point me to a particular legal authority rather than telling me to simply trust their expertise, the exceptions being practical matters that defy citation to authority, such as the idiosyncrasies of particular courts and judges -- i.e., the local, local, local rules. // Internet Esquire 21:32, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Everybody keeps talking about the necessity of a citation to support a specific assertion in an article, and about how credentials can't compensate for the absence of a source that meets Wikipedia's standards. I agree completely. I didn't read Jimbo's proposal as meaning that people with official Verified Credentials could override WP:ATT within their areas of expertise. What he's outlined is much more limited. My reaction is that there are editorial discussions that can't be resolved by application of WP:ATT and WP:NPOV, and that the verification might have some value in those instances. It would be up to each editor whether to seek verification and whether to give any weight to another's verified credentials. JamesMLane t c 01:21, 8 March 2007 (UTC)


One useful thing that verifying credentials would do, is to address the concern that comes up frequently on WP:RS and WP:ATT (formerly WP:V) about the use of primary sources. There is language there, to the effect that it's sometimes difficult to interpret primary sources and you need to be an expert in that field, etc etc. If we can see that user X is a Ph.D. in Particle Physics then when they describe the spin of the tau neutrino, we'd have a bit of faith that they know what they are talking about. Personally I would have no problem being verified myself in my fields of expertise. Wjhonson 07:15, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

One must ever be wary of straying into original research. I have no worries about an expert with lightly verified credentials posted on a user page editing an article in their field so long as a) they don't ever assert those credentials (but instead assert citations on the topic at hand) and b) research which has not been peer-reviewed through verifiable secondary sources doesn't creep in. As I've said before, most academics are thoroughly trained in how to support their assertions with published citations and moreover, with a bit of patience and heed it's not so hard to do away with cranks by following WP's existing citation policies. Gwen Gale 08:41, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I wish cranks let themselves be convinced by evidence or obvious subject experience. Fact is, they won't back off. Ever. They know better. Please read what User:Mel Etitis has to say about Philosophy.
There will always be cranks hovering about an open wiki. My thoughts have to do with how to thwart them whilst writing helpful articles and keeping things open. Gwen Gale 17:23, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure about this crank business - and how much of a problem it is. I have been here since 2004, I have never been bothered once by cranks or even surprisingly (touching wood fast) had my page vandalised. Perhaps I'm just lucky or very frightening. The simple answer is, just the same common sense that one should employ all over the internet, don't give out too much personal informatiom - and without wishing to be politically incorrect especially if you are a single woman. That is not to say that those who have been bothered in this way are to blame themselves, but ar a rule of thumb just keep quiet about yourself and if possible don't edit from a traceable IP (although that should not be problem for the logged in editor) I had a couple of strange emails from odd editors during the "Giano case" but I just deleted them, and kept my email address to myself. Giano 17:30, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
You might want to have a shufti at what the word Crank (person) means. Gwen Gale 17:59, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
  • .......and? Giano 18:35, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
See your talk page :) Gwen Gale 19:00, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Gwen your implication that we only allow "research which has been peer-reviewed through verifiable secondary sources" is not actually what is policy. You might want to review current WP:ATT policy to assure yourself that we do and have for some time, allow primary sources to be quoted. And we have not for a long long time, required "peer-review" in the sense you are using it here. Wjhonson 23:20, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Pls re-read my post, that's not what I said, I was giving an example of how to utterly overwhelm a crank. Gwen Gale 23:37, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I re-read it a few times. I quoted you in fact, just leaving out the "not". Not sure what I read wrong. Can you correct me? Thanks. Wjhonson 05:28, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I was referring to a specific tactic for dealing with a specific problem related to editing articles on legal topics is all. You took what I said out of context, which is no big deal. Gwen Gale 09:30, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

What about Jimbo's initial acceptance of EssJay's deception?(yesterday's NewYorkTimes article)

I just noticed that Jimbo's statement above, which was an instruction as to where commenters here should focus their comments, reminds me somewhat of a common politician's ploy of deflecting attention away from one's own involvement in a bad situation.

While it might be useful at some point to soak up lots of attention and energy with discussions about the issue of credentialism (which has been an issue that for eternity has defied consensus..even back to the days Jesus,as a child, is reported to have "taught" in the synagogues), isn't now the time,and this talk page the place,(whether it's comfortable or not) to ask Jimbo about his involvement in the EssJay debacle? Has the community already decided that whatever Jimbo's involvement was is better left in the closet? If EssJay is to be believed, "Before I accepted the position, I provided all my real details to Angela and Jimbo, and immediately provided the same information to Brad Patrick;"

then isn't there a much bigger issue before this community? i.e. the level of honesty and integrity in play at the highest levels of authority on Wikipedia? Trustees,after all, are in a position of trust and that does not seem to me to fit well with EssJay's report that none of the 3 people he admitted his deceptions too advised him to immediately correct or delete those deceptions on his Wikipedia pages and,to the contrary, they went ahead and brought him into Wikia. I have concluded that Jimbo himself considered the deception not to be a big deal and yesterday's NYTimes report; "The New Yorker editors’ note ended with a defiant comment from Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia and the dominant force behind the site’s growth. 'I regard it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it,' he said of Mr. Jordan’s alter ego." supports that conclusion.

Notwithstanding Jimbo's statement of instruction above, I think this is the more important issue to be discussed right here and right now. 13:57, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Since you're obviously failing to back up your thought with credentials or reputation, should we take you seriously? For what it's worth, my opinion is that Jimbo has apologised for what he considers, in the light of the evidence now to hand, to be past errors. We're now in the process of reviewing policies to make errors less likely and less damaging – though while we're hugely focussed on this, it's questionable just how widespread or damaging the news has been. Anyway, the imprtant issue is policies and not recriminations. ... dave souza, talk 14:42, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
"Since you're obviously failing to back up your thought with credentials or reputation, should we take you seriously?" Crap, the irony is killing me. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 14:47, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

What about Jimbo's initial failure to act? It was a bad mistake, an error of judgment, I was wrong, and I have apologized for it and I apologize again here and now. I am not sure what else I can say about it. In my partial defense I can explain that I did not really understand the full scope of the deception, but even given that, I should have reacted sooner. In terms of what character flaw this might reveal about me, surely it is one which is already well known: I am a very trusting person who is very loyal to people who have done good things, even when this goes too far. I am on record many times stating that I am a "pathological optimist" and this is precisely the sort of thing I am talking about. I need other people in the community of a more skeptical and cautious bent, for sure. I try to listen, I try to learn, and in this case I made a mistake and I am sorry.

As to the blatant trolling of our anonymous friend, I really fail to see what he is talking about regarding some attempt to cover up or not examine my role in this. I think my role has been pretty clear and that I have been completely open about trying to apologize for my mistake here in not reacting sooner. The real answer is not to beat me up, although of course people can do that if they like (though likely, not more than I am beating myself up), but to think about how we can, as a community and in a scalable way that respects our openness and community values, find a way forward to help prevent this kind of thing in the future.--Jimbo Wales 00:58, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Isn't it obvious? The correct course of action for you in this situation is to resign all positions in Wikipedia, hand control of the project to a triumvirate of Sanger, Brandt, and Orlowski, and become a yakherder in Tibet.  :)
On a serious note, you might consider the words of Warren G. Harding: "I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!". Trust and WP:AGF are all good things. But persons in positions of power frequently attract deceivers and flatterers and others offering "friendship". It's a fortunate thing that Essjay FTMP didn't abuse the power he had acquired--other than using his embellished resume to pull rank in content disputes.
Fortunately, I think Wikipedia will emerge better from this.
--EngineerScotty 01:18, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I have been reading alot about this incredible incidence, and I've seen and learned a lot about how divided Wikipedia is. I think the above is a real apology, and I certainly accept it. When somebody says they are "beating themselves up" over a clear mistake of judgment, it is time to back off. I hope that Jimmy and the community can find new ways to be more open to alternative ideas, in such a way that the many, many enemies of Wikipedia could actually be appeased by trying to include them in solutions, rather than be constantly citing rules and making accusations of trolling. Spammers? Point them to helpful sites off of Wikipedia that encourage cross-linking. POV-pushers? Suggest other wikis and blogs that cater to their point of view. Outright vandals? Have them try for a while. That will keep them amused for hours. Anyway, I'm just trying to say that everybody deserves a welcoming home, even the people we're calling trolls. A little less, "Go away you insufferable troll, we're building an encyclopedia here"; and a little more, "I see what you're trying to accomplish, but most Wikipedians have decided that what you're doing ultimately isn't successful in this project. But here's a great site that permits and welcomes what you're trying to accomplish", would go a long way. --WikiGnosis 03:17, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia's creator,Larry Sanger, requested an explanation from Jimmy about EssJay's post-confession ArbCom appointment. Sanger's request was archived without a response from Jimmy(perhaps an oversight). I,like Sanger,will be saying no more about this.

"....That will require an explanation of why you hired him and why you put him on ArbCom when you had to know he was a fraud.... --Larry Sanger 05:31, 5 March 2007 (UTC)" [17] 04:27, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Arbitration case appeal and irregularities

I wish to appeal an Arbitration case. The sub-page "Arbitration case appeal and irregularities" provides details --Iantresman 14:54, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Good luck. He promised to hear my appeal over a year ago and I'm still waiting. Everyking 23:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Not Fixing What Isn't Broken

A long time ago, Apple Computer came out with one of the first commercial hypertext products, named HyperCard. While the product was moderately successful, we didn't get massively scalable hypertext until the advent of the World Wide Web.

How is the Web different from earlier attempts at hypertext? There were basically two insights here, which would have been anathema to earlier proponents of hypertext systems. The first of these was to allow broken links. The second was to allow links to other machines, controlled by people you didn't even know, which might bring up almost anything when you followed them, even total crap.

Once you allow these two things, un-neat as they are, you have an extremely useful system which can scale to cover the entire planet.

Now, people unfamilar with the Web might choose to judge it with a yardstick which disparaged it based on how many Web pages contained inaccurate information, or how many links were broken, and suggest the way to "fix" the Web would be to enforce standards on it which only allowed verifiably accurate information, and required all links to point to information which actually existed and could be retrieved. Of course, if you did this, you'd be back to HyperCard, and have something much less useful.

A long time ago, someone invented a commercial encyclopedia product, named Britannica. While the product was moderately successful (not to mention overpriced), we didn't get a massive scalable encyclopedia which updated itself in real time and adapted almost instantly when new discoveries or breaking news occurred, until the advent of Wikipedia.

How is Wikipedia different from earlier attempts at encyclopedias? There are basically two insights here, which would have been anathema to earlier proponents of encyclopedia systems. First, rather than having all articles written by the greatest experts on the particular subjects, and taking years for any changes to propagate, you allow anyone to edit the encyclopedia, regardless of their qualifications. Second, you make the changes instantly visible, even if the articles are total crap.

Once you allow these two things, un-neat as they are, you have an extremely useful system which can scale to cover the entire planet, and serve as a repository of all the world's knowlege.

Now, people unfamiliar with Wikipedia might choose to judge it with a yardstick which disparaged it based on whether the people who wrote it had misrepresented their credentials, or how much of the information in it contained errors, and suggest that the way to "fix" Wikipedia would be to enforce standards which only permitted credentialed experts to have the last say in articles, and required all articles to be factually accurate. Of course, if you did this, you'd be back to Britannica.

I wonder if we're not making a big mistake by responding to the way the popular press is criticizing Wikipedia by proposing fundamental un-Wiki-like changes in the way contributors are vetted, and Wikipedia is run. I wonder if we aren't risking getting rid of those very things which make Wikipedia unique and special, and above all, useful and massively scalable. Hermitian 21:48, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

You set up an a straw man and artificial dichotomous choice, when you suggest that the only two alternatives are 1) complete anarchy of credentials with no attention to authority except by secondary appeal (i.e., reference the standard publishing process and hope that is trustable), and 2) total authoritarian vetting by everything so that "the last say" is only granted to a few people, picked out by Wikipedia. There are many intermediate solutions between these two extremes, in which properly credentialed people are given some extra weight and latitude in writing, but only some. I think identifying them by little tags (in appropriate subjects) and giving them some limited freedom from the 3RR rule (in those subjects), might be enough. And that's not much. Am I scared that some mathematician with a Ph.D. might thereby by given so much extra power as to run amok in the math articles, and do terrible damage? Not really. But such an editor given some intermediate "say" before a full ArbCom process in some editorial dispute in math articles, could be really helpful to how efficiently articles are constructed. SBHarris 23:38, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Clay Shirky has some interesting comments in this (almost a year-old) column on Citizendium: [18]. Shirky's take (emphasis added by me):

Sanger is an incrementalist, and assumes that the current institutional framework for credentialling experts and giving them authority can largely be preserved in a process that is open and communally supported. The problem with incrementalism is that the very costs of being an institution, with the significant overhead of process, creates a U curve — it’s good to be a functioning hierarchy, and its good to be a functioning community with a core group, but most of the hybrids are less fit than either of the end points.

In other words, he claims that hybrid models are likely to work less well than either a highly open, egalitarian model (like Wikipedia) or an authoritative one (like traditional academia). Now, whether or not Shirky is correct is another matter--he write a well-read (by those who care about this stuff) blog and says lots of interesting things; and he's a researcher in the field; however his blog may or may not be a reliable source (it ain't peer reviewed, and it seldom references peer-reviewed literature). His bona fides can be found here [19]. --EngineerScotty 00:48, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I take it that Shirky's a "communism or nothing" idealist <grin>. Given that most real-world models of functioning cybernetic systems in biology and economics, which have been selected as being most "fit" by evolution, are hybrids of "central control" (top-down command) and "distributed control" (forward-command), I'm skeptical of claims that somehow these are associated with some extra, or hidden, penalty which is outweighed by the (admittedly hard) problem of deciding at what level(s) the command-structure(s) should reside at. I take it for granted, rather, that the extremes are the ONLY things that are "out" due to reasons of inefficiency (just the opposite of Shirky's take). Ah, well. We do live in a mixed economy, and in bodies where the command systems are distributed at all level of complexity. I guess we're all headed for the dust-heap of history? SBHarris 01:21, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Turn on ABC News NOW

It is being covered in just minutes. C.m.jones 23:45, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

On Witness News? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 23:51, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
ABC has the story online here. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 23:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I have to give them [ABC] credit. That was probably the most balanced piece of Wikipedia criticism I have ever seen. They didn't just get a bunch of academics to bash us like others. They presented the facts. I applaud them. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 00:01, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

They just did a piece on television - on ABC Nightly News. C.m.jones 00:02, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm sure somebody knows, but who is Charles Matthews? From what's in that article, he didn't do a particularly good job of representing the reaction here to the whole event. He comes off as an apologist. —Doug Bell talk 00:02, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
According to a search of userspace, he is most likely User:Charles Matthews. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 00:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I didn't see the piece, but perhaps Charles Matthews is User:Charles Matthews, who is a longtime Wikipedian and an arbitrator. Newyorkbrad 00:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

You gotta feel bad for Essjay in all of this. I expect that even he didn't think he'd turn up on ABC, BBC, Daily Telegraph etc. Ekantik talk 02:27, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Eventually he will get invited to appear on Oprah. Then how will you feel ;) Wjhonson 02:40, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Where he will most likely be charming, eloquent, and awesome, like he was here. That would be amazing for Wikipedia. --Hojimachongtalk 02:42, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, we all know how much Oprah loves people pretending to be something they're not . . . · j e r s y k o talk · 03:59, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Frey wasn't exactly the definition of tactful... Essjay would do a much better job. She was out with a vengeance for Frey, because he conned her personally (Book Club, anyone?) --Hojimachongtalk 04:01, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

A mathematician's perspective

Although different than the perspective of a legal scholar, we also may find it difficult to find a WP:RS that some esoteric concept is crapWP:BOLLOCKS. See the battles on 0.999...=1, James Anderson, Jonathan Bowers (now deleted), etc. It seems to me that an expert's opinion as to whether something is conventional mathematics/science/law may be almost impossible to WP:Verify if the subject is only marginally WP:Notable. We may need expert advice as to whether to remove something which is cited in fringe publications, and not discussed in mainstream publications. The basic concept of Wikipedia means that we cannot "publish" something which is not from reliable sources, but we may refuse to publish something from marginally reliable sources if an expert reports it is "not even wrong".

As an aside, in most sciences, we may need to make non-substantial changes in formulas from our references, as it's often the case that the references use more obscure notation than necessary. It takes an expert to verify that the changes aren't substantial.

As a further aside, my credentials including answering crank letters to the mathematics department at CalTech for one summer. (I don't think I can find a WP:RS for that, as there's little record kept of that sort of thing, especially since I usually signed replies "for the department", to avoid personal danger.)

So: I see a point for lightly verified credentials in some circumstances. — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 00:50, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

This is an excellent point, and generalizes beyond math to at least the hard/non-social sciences. We should listen to verified experts in a relevant discipline when evaluating whether something is total junk (out), notable pseudo-science (in but clearly described as pseudo-science), non-notable pseudo-science (out), a discredited former theory (we ought to cover these), legitimate but not of great interest (fine, so long as attributed), or too new to have been evaluated yet (out, still in the original research zone). I've previously thought (User:GRBerry#Experts) that so long as the experts could make arguments from the secondary source literature in their subject, there wouldn't be any need to verify. But proving the non-existence of sources is harder than proving the existence of sources, and for that verified expertise is of value.
In these fields, there is a point to verifying expertise. A B.S. (like I have), isn't worth the effort of verifying. A M.S. probably isn't, but could be in some fields. A Ph.D. might not enough in and of itself; it would depend on whether they are still in touch with the field. A Ph.D plus continued activity in the field (or staying in it through retirement) would be worth the effort to verify. "Publish or perish" applies through tenure, so continued activity ought to be shown via either 1) publication, 2) having tenure, or 3) retirement after having tenure. Do industry scientists stay active enough in their field to know which things are so far out as to be "not even wrong"? I don't know. We should probably certify more than just the broad field, but I think it would take working groups of experts to identify the relevant sub-fields.
I limited to the hard sciences, because for some of the soft sciences by belief is that there isn't enough empiricism for it to be worth our while to verify experts. If I gave specific examples, I'd probably offend, so I'll refrain. GRBerry 02:36, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I feel for you because that is a long rambling article (.0999...=1) with a lot of notes/references that can't be clicked. Are you sure you can't find any reliable sources that make your case? Could you write your case and have it published? Could you take each and every point in the article and make sure it is backed up by a reliable source? Do you have the time? The inclination? Maybe not but I'd refer back to a comment I made before--wikipedia is designed to outlive us all and the guiding principle that everything come form an RS is a good one. WP:ATT and WP:NPOV form a press that squeezes out cruft in the fullness of time. We might become inpatient impatient at times but I, for one, happen to believe that this encyclopedia will be better in 100 years and not worse. I DON'T think that sliding down the credentials slope is the way to go. Credentials should continue to be irrelevant in whether an edit is a good one or not.MikeURL 19:24, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Especially in the humanities expertise is needed to give an informed, balanced opinion (or in Wikipedia parlance an "NPOV" article). In the physical sciences you have people publish boring, non-relevant experiments to no end, all to win tenure in the spirit of "publish or perish". In the humanities you have people come up with all sorts of silly theses. For any given opinion on a subject you will find someone to entertain it. And, since it was published by an academic, someone will insist that it is a "reliable source". And sometimes people will cherry-pick quotes with the best or intentions to see their own opinion published on Wikipedia. 19:15, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I would respectfully disagree with that. Because the humanities are less quantifiable than the hard maths and sciences they do tend to lend themselves to more controversy and dispute but this is more an artifact of citation skills lacking in editors. Humanities topics often have widely documented and differing PoVs (or takes, if you will). It's not so hard to document those which appear in the literature in a balanced way, giving due weight as needed according to provenance and quantifiable stuff such as the quantity of agreeing, qualified sources available. Anyway this has to do with practical editing and citation skills, not arbitrary authority and as I've said before, a trained academic will tend to be the first to grok this and take to it like a trout to water. Gwen Gale 19:25, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
You know, it takes an awful lot of time just to know what a balanced view actually is and conversely what viewpoints can be discounted as fads or tiny minority opinions. Any fool can hit the library and write an abstract (and if he has writing skills it will pass as a Wikipedia article), but an encyclopedia article that presents all relevant theses in a comprehensive way it isn't. 20:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I think many people are seduced by the "here and now" nature of life. I think it is valuable to step back and imagine wikipedia as a project that will span generations. I think even Jimbo has lost his perspective on this due to the EssJay scandal. As it turns out we are all human and have to consistently remind ourselves that this project is intended to outlive us, our kids and their grandkids etc. I firmly believe that appeals to authority in edit decisions are destructive to the project. I think that having WP authenticate credentials is worse than destructive--it is corrupting. I agree with Gwen that not only should we not authenticate credentials (generally) but we should strongly discourage their use in edit debates (I would not go so far as a ban).MikeURL 21:05, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Thank you.

I appreciate your comments, and I apologize if my lack of userpage has caused offense. --Jeffrey O. Gustafson - Shazaam! - <*> 06:15, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I support administrators having user pages

But I think it's really obnoxious and unbecoming of important people such as yourself to use language like "obnoxious" and "unbecoming" on fellow administrators, especially those that choose to be different! Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 06:51, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Dear God, with all the Essjay stuff and Jimbo is remarking about he thinks it is unbecoming for an admin not to have a user page? The priorities are a bit misplaced. I wonder, would my user page be too sparse for Jimbo? I'm almost tempted to delete mine in protest. Really, right now of all the things to worry about, this should be very far down on the list. JoshuaZ 06:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Guys, chill out. It is inappropriate to complain about "misplaced priorities;" this wasn't a fiat or a mass policy change in reaction to my user page - he expressed an opinion. That is all. --Jeffrey O. Gustafson - Shazaam! - <*> 07:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the perspectie Jeff. JoshuaZ 14:35, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Jeffrey wins. Thanks for the dignified response. And just curious, why do you NOT have a user page? It just seems obnoxious to me, but perhaps you have a good reason.--Jimbo Wales 14:55, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
While I've never explained the full reasoning, I have admitted that it's a mixture of a few things, part personal aesthetic, part desire to reject vanity, and maybe to be different, I guess.... Ultimately, though, Jpgordon described the bulk of my feelings on the matter far better than I ever could with this post to AN/I during a discussion about my red link from a couple of weeks ago. Like I said at the time, I have no desire to be obnoxious or annoying, and I apologize if it is interpreted that way. --Jeffrey O. Gustafson - Shazaam! - <*> 15:43, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Don't fret it Jeffrey. What seems obnoxious to me is spouting "love" and intimidation simultaneously; and I don't think you are doing that. 22:53, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

So why not make the homepage a redirect to your User talk:? It would serve the same purposes stated, it saves readers an extra click when heading to your User talk: page, and it avoids the double-take when they see the "This page has been deleted and protected to prevent re-creation" message. (on the more general point, I agree that User: pages are often just an interstitial when most visitors are probably wanting to head to your User talk: page instead) --Interiot 23:46, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Or maybe make your sig point to your talk page. Or don't. It's a good filter for people who'd rather be fussing than improving the encyclopedia. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 05:34, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Edits of DoDoBirds

Dear Mr. Jimbo Wales,

I am the original user of Rajsingam & DoDoBirds and shared the passwords with three of my friends as I am busy with my book "German Memories in Asia". As I have some problems over a few edits on Sri Lanka Conflict with them, I think one of them is posting various people which might damage my reputation.

I am not responsible these acts.

I apologize for my carelessness, which caused you, inconvenience.

My personal e-mail for more confirmation: <email removed to prevent spam>

Yours truly,

Rajkumar Kanagasingam 07:57, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

If you can access the account, I suggest changing the password, so your friends can't conflict with you. As a safety precaution, amongst other things, you are generally not allowed to share accounts, with the exception of User:Schwartz PR. If you don't have access of the account, I don't see anything that can be done, unless they get blocked. Post it on WP:RFC if it troubles you that much. --KZ Talk Vandal Contrib 08:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry about this. It turned out that the users were blocked. If you get impersonated again, go to WP:SSP or WP:RFCU--KZ Talk Vandal Contrib 08:17, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your advice. Hopefully, now I am free of troubles.Rajkumar Kanagasingam 02:43, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Free Press suggests credential checks needed

Arcticdawg 10:10, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Not the way I read it: it reports Jimbo's suggestion and the debate, but makes no suggestion itself. It ooes report "According to The Times, 24-year-old Ryan Jordan was able to make more than 20,000 alterations on controversial topics by declaring himself as a professor of religious studies." Really now? .. dave souza, talk 10:21, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Like most news articles about unfolding events, this article contains technical errors. It's so normal as to be unremarkable. Gwen Gale 10:25, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, though still worth remarking on. :) It's good for us all to see a case study of how the press struggles with this sort of thing, as journalists form slightly skewed impressions and draw inferences that go beyond the facts actually available to them. Metamagician3000 10:30, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
They also report that "Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, has for the first time joined the top five of the world's biggest brands." Does this report in Freelance UK – Media, Creative, Marketing & PR (not the Free Press) mean we could lose that place? Sob.. dave souza, talk 10:32, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Only if WP elects a priesthood, padré :) Gwen Gale 10:34, 7 March 2007 (UTC) (her tongue firmly in cheek)
Compadré, please :) ... dave souza, talk 10:37, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Comment on the "top of the charts" thing, by Nysted: Unremarkable it is, from my vantage point, the concept of having notable size on the internet, while lacking reliable sources of information about people in charge here; lacking proven credentials that are seen by consensus in the free world as essential elements for any reliable source of knowledge; somewhat lacking integrity (a kids on MySpace thing) and most surely lacking the respect of many truly notable academics, scholars, and members of the real press. Many things can be on "top of the charts" for a while. That does not make for "good" or "right." It just might be part of a lemmings race to the cliff. IMHO, The Wikipedia community reaction to this episode in history will help set the "benchmark" standard and tone by which this encyclopedia is judged, for many years to come. Lee Nysted 15:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Was just kidding about being worried about losing our "place". So far the Grauniad seems to be showing a more sensible attitude: the only coverage of the story I've found is Students marked on writing in Wikipedia – "She is undeterred by the revelation this week... The ethos of Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute, regardless of status, argues Dr Platt. What's relevant is their knowledge as judged by other readers, not whether they are professors or not - and the fact the student was exposed shows it works." Well, she nearly got it right. ... dave souza, talk 17:26, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Please sign my autograph page

Um, well, please sign my autograph page. :-D A•N•N•Afoxlover PLEASE SIGN, ANYONE!!! 14:31, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Didn't you already ask Mr. Jimbo Wales that here and here? Acalamari 19:59, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Kris Weston

[20].----Doktor Who 16:04, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Criticizing bad behavior is not a personal attack

If someone does something wrong, and someone points out that this is wrong, it isn't a personal attack. I am alarmed at the frequent attacks on those who are right to point out faults. It's bad for Wikipedia if we all we produce for fallen editors is effusive comments about missing them and how great they were, it does nothing to remedy the credibility of our encyclopedia, in fact it makes it worse: we don't acknowledge the problem. (Bjorn Tipling 18:16, 7 March 2007 (UTC))

Credentials? Why Not!

As for myself, my own credentials are 20 years United States Navy (retired), and working on my bachelors degree in history from Middle Tennessee State University, which I will finish by late 2008. I plan on going further than that. Carajou 18:24, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

What did you actually do.

There is a minor dispute on Essjay controversy over by what process Essjay actually ended his association with us. Several news sources have quoted you as asking him "to resign", this blog has an email from you stating that you "fired" Essjay. A lawyer editor says that fired is too strong and legally impossible because you knew essjay had lied before you hired him. Can I ask you for a definitive judgement? Was Essjay asked to resign (which presumably leaves open the option to refuse), or was he fired? Dev920 (Have a nice day!) 19:38, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia needs to rely on published reliable sources and not original research. The person who played Essjay here and at Wikia has a right not to be stalked by us. Jimbo should not discuss personal details concerning employees or ex-employees. No one can stop individuals from editing anonomously on Wikipedia or Wikia so he may still be editing both. The important thing right now is dealing with the policy proposals on the table designed to address the Wikipedia shortcomings made evident in this scandal. WAS 4.250 20:10, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Please note that there were separate matters involved in (1) Essjay's resigning from his positions, (2) Essjay deciding to stop editing altogether and "retiring" from the site, and (3) the individual no longer being an employee of Wikia. I don't believe that there is profit to be had in further micro-disection of any of these matters, but the answer to the question may not be the same for each. Newyorkbrad 20:13, 7 March 2007 (UTC)


Ultimately, this problem still falls on us, the average editor. As editors we got to do our best at making Wikipedia better. But there are still problems related to credibility that have to be resolved, and that has to be taken care of at an administrative level or higher. To that end, I would like to suggest the following:

  • Crack down on vandals by using a "three strikes" policy, with permanent removal at the third strike.
  • Divide Wikipedia into departments similar to colleges and universities, i.e. a "department of history"; a "department of medicine" and so forth, and have these departments staffed by senior editors who have a minimum of a masters degree in a particular field, with the department head holding a doctorate.
  • Each department would be structured thus from top to bottom:
Department head (doctorate degree)
Senior editor (masters)
Peer reviewer (bachelors or masters)
Junior adminstrator (bachelors minimum)

The editors and junior adminstrators would ensure that each article is up to standards (standards include the quality of writing, grammar, and factual accuracy, among others) prior to being submitted to peer review, which is chaired by the senior editor. The department head has the authority to decide if the article has featured status. When the page is of the highest quality, it should be locked from further editing; the exeption being new information that has been submitted up the chain for review first. Carajou 20:00, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I hate the idea of locking anything, but there should always be an easily accessable "best previous stable vetted version" for comparison. With somebody's stamp or imprimitur on it. You know, this is very close to what's done NOW. You look at an article's history after some vandalism, and you decide how far back to go to get a good and stable version back. That usually goes back to editors you've gotten to know and trust, and some version they put up, after a vandal attack. It's pretty rare that IP-added grammar and spelling and "cite add" stuff gets into that process after a username stable version is put up, but it can happen. Still, we can make this process a bit better by putting in some more credential info on the background of various citing editors for various candidate stable article versions. These are like labels on cans of peaches. Look for Del Monte, but be aware that generic is sometimes just as good. SBHarris 20:22, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I did the vandal suggestion after pages I was involved in were vandalized, and when I looked at the user pages for these people I saw last warning tag after last warning tag after last warning tag...just lots of warning tags in all. It's like a game to these people when they vandalize. Every day I look at the new featured article's history; as soon as it's up, it's vandalized. But remember...what I said above are suggestions.
The point I did make was that the credibility of Wikipedia as a whole is at stake due to the recent issue in the news right now, and past news stories involving bad, unreliable editing and vandals. From my level as an editor, I know I have to do my utmost to make any article the best it can be, as are many others. But we do need to step back and look at, and possibly take, some very hard steps to restore credibility here.
Just food for thought: two weeks ago my university (Middle Tennessee State University) banned use of Wikipedia by the students. Carajou 21:09, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
People whose contribution histories contain only vandalism are frequently given indefinite blocks. An iron-clad rule for permanent bans is contrary to the spirit of wikipedia (WP:AGF) and begging to be abused. As far as the departments, we've already got wikiprojects, but locking things into a hierarchy with section chiefs and authorities is contrary to the spirit of open editing. Citizendium is all about degrees and authority, you can go there if that's what you really want. I personally don't think a degree is necessary to write a good article. Locking down featured articles is a perennial proposal. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 21:46, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The idea of giving credentialed experts any sort of oversight role on Wikipedia is a recipe for bias and infighting based on the inevitable biases of said experts. Such experts would be better served by taking a fork, and I'm pretty sure Larry Sanger already did that. // Internet Esquire 21:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I wholly agree with this. The assertion of credentials in an edit should be blockable, like a legal threat. As I've said above, a trained academic knows how to rely only on qualified citations from reliable sources and knows how and where to find them. Moreover, I have found in my own editing experiences here that a thoroughly cited and referenced article is the bane of any crank. Gwen Gale 22:01, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) While I like the vandal idea, I think the whole hierarchy thing is horrible. It would be a complete or partial reversal/abolishment of many policies/guidelines/accepted ideas including (in no particular order) WP:TINC, WP:CONSENSUS, WP:ABOUT, WP:PPOL, WP:OWN, WP:BOLD, and WP:EP. While this would be a huge step forward in making Wikipedia more reliable and encyclopedic, it would also be a monumental step backwards to the entire "wiki process". See m:Foundation issues. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 22:06, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Moreover, I think a hard ban on editing from authority along with a requirement to edit from qualified, verifiable sources alone would only encourage knowledgeable academics and other professionals to contribute much meaningful content to Wikipedia. Many would choose to edit responsibly and quietly under pseudonyms for any number of legitimate reasons, others would do the "drive-by-helpful" variety from anon IPs. As I've also mentioned above, I think these two simple steps could transform Wikipedia's reliability and reputation within a year or two. Gwen Gale 22:10, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Gwen, despite Essjay, it would seem to me that those most likely to assert credentials are those that actually have them. For example, User:ScienceApologist, a genuine expert who is defending Wikipedia from physics cranks, would be blocked under your proposal. Instead, we should 1) encourage genuine experts to vet their credentials either on-wiki (e.g. a link) or with the office, especially if they're challenged by other editors 2) flatly prohibit the assertion of false credentials, with no particular enforcement mechanism other then you'll face serious sanctions if you happen to be caught.Proabivouac 22:14, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
That's what Jimbo suggests and I agree. Moreover I think the assertion of those credentials in an edit should be banned. A qualified academic or professional is already trained in the use of references to verifiable citations. Cranks are infamously inept at this. The outcome would be rather stark. Gwen Gale 22:18, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
You may not agree with what I proposed, but look at what's happening now: the ways and means of making Wikipedia better than before being discussed right now. Carajou 22:26, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
If Wikipedia elects a priesthood it will perish by it. Editing by authority should be blockable. Verifiably cited content is the only path to a reliable Wikipedia. Gwen Gale 23:37, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
And your reasoning for this, is? It looks to me like all you're doing when you cite "content" is you've slapped another name on the process of finding some OTHER authority (not yourself) and using your own POV to slap HIM/HER with the responsibility for the factual content of the statement, when they aren't even there to defend themselves if somebody has a problem with it. How does that help? You can't escape the basic problems of induction, epistemology, methodology, expert community opinion and expert authority, by simply backing it all up a step and interposing some anonymous editor's POV cutout between all that, and your encyclopedia content. If anything, you've just made it all that much worse. How self-refererentially ironic it is to have all these people who don't and won't trust the direct authority of Wikipedia editors, when they are are all too-willing to trust implicitly in the process of having them pick out and cite the authority of some OTHER group of people, whose sole virtue is that they made it into print, and (usually) have a name. But that could be fixed for Wikipedia editors, also, if they liked. The same people who don't want anybody to be obliged to do it at Wikipedia, are the ones who don't trust them, because they haven't done it! Say what? SBHarris 00:22, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

It seems to be that these suggestions are pretty much describing Citizendium. And Wikipedia will face all the problems that Citizendium will face, most especially lack of interest by people who don't want to act as someone else's butt monkey because they happen to have a degree - certainly I would leave if my edits could be reverted solely because some guy had faxed his off wiki credentials to the office. Wikipedia works because it harnesses the sheer workhours and goodwill of hundreds of thousands of people, with no sense of authority. If you start thinking you can organise these people into a disciplined series of departments, you will lose them, simple as and end of. End of Wikipedia. Dev920 (Have a nice day!) 23:28, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Like it or not, there's that credibility problem with Wikipedia that's all over the news, and something is going to be done to solve it. Whatever it takes to solve it will be done amicably, or it will be done with a lot of hate and discontent, but it will happen. What I have suggested is certainly not set in stone, and it should be discussed along with other ideas; if any of it is no good, then we toss it aside and do something else. Carajou 02:45, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Any perceived problem that Wikipedia has with credibility is completely illusory. Take a look at - -. // Internet Esquire 04:19, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Then we fix the illusion. Carajou 04:25, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

New article

Here. RadioKirk (u|t|c) 22:24, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Glad to see the AP people did their research: "Arbitrators can overrule an edit made by another volunteer or block people who abuse the site." Anyone can technically do the first and any admin can do the second. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 22:31, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I got the feeling the author tried too hard to simplify the job for the uninitiated... ;) RadioKirk (u|t|c) 23:25, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Ban User

Hello, very famous Jimbo Wales! I was wondering if you would ban that bum user Tregoweth, indefinite? Cause he's horrid, he constantly yells & swears at me when I try to tell him the actual facts gets rid of everything I say & blocks me for the wrong reason. If you can get rid of him, my blocks & his protections to articles will expire & me, along with everyone else, can get be free to edit any article, do anything we want & his protections page will be free to edit for anyone. Skymac207 20:34, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Signature book

Someone really wants you to sign her signature book. :-) --Deskana (talk) (review me please) 01:49, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Initial proposal

Here is an initial proposal for credential verification.--Jimbo Wales 03:20, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

  • I have some questions though, assuming this policy is put into action, who is going to go through all these users claiming to have credentials? How would they do it? My apologies if this sounds improper, sir, but these seemed like decent questions. Acalamari 03:47, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
It's probably best if we centralize discussion to the proposal's talk page. Thanks. —bbatsell ¿? 03:49, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I should have realized; what a stupid mistake to make. Sorry Mr. Jimbo Wales. Acalamari 03:51, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
It's no big deal, no need to apologize :lol: —bbatsell ¿? 03:54, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, questions to talk page. :)--Jimbo Wales 04:07, 8 March 2007 (UTC)


Isn't it premature to formulate credential verification procedures when it has yet to be determined whether credentials should be presented or valued on Wikipedia? 14:26, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Rajkumar Kanagasingam

Dear Mr. Jimbo Wales,

An editor is continuously vandalising my Bio over dispute related to Talk:Anton Balasingham. The editor tried hard to delete my Bio from wikipedia. You can see the evidence here(1) and here(2)' The editor is taking an undue interest over my Bio and deleted over Citation. I have restored the information. I requested an Administrator to check my Bio whether Citations are enough. Though I have off-line media archives(which are attached on Talk:Rajkumar Kanagasingam, I couldn't bring it to the articles. Now I am very much frustrated. Please help me on this matter.Rajkumar Kanagasingam 04:35, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Word of caution

Strictly from a feasibility perspective, without getting into desirability, I would urge great caution about any proposal for Wikipedia to certify certain contributers as experts. It's not a simple problem, and contrary to Jimbo's comments, I believe it is important to prepare for worst case situations. Indeed, the EssJay scandal is precisely that. The more reliance the outside world puts on our certification, the greater the temptation for someone to game our system and the more embarrassing a fraudulent certification becomes. I would suggest for now a simple variation of Jimbo's proposal. Those who wish to add outside credentials to their Wikipedia reputation should include a link on their user page to whatever site or sites they feel verifies their bona-fides (e.g. their home page at their place of employment), and add a link from that site back to their Wikipedia user page, or include a statement such as I sometimes edit Wikipedia under the user name "so and so". Other editors could then consider their claim of expertise and add what ever weight they deem appropriate. Most of us will do the right thing -- WP:AGF. My modification to Jimbo's proposal does not require any action on Wikipedia's part, beyond perhaps mentioning the dual link suggestion in some guideline. No new bureaucracy is required. At the very least, before we venture to create an expert certification mechanism, let's vet a few experts on the issues involved with building such a system,--agr 02:39, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm for that all I have to do is create a home page, and hope it doesn't break anyone's computer screen when they look at it! Carajou 02:49, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I would support this. It scales well, it does not require any effort from the community, and it is voluntary. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 03:57, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
This seems sensible in that it's not against WikiEthos.--luke 17:36, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Autograph Books

Dear Jimbo: A debated MfD has been going on about autograph books in userspace. Many of the keep arguements refer to a quote you made about them. Could you please make a comment on the MfD regarding whether autograph books should be deleted? Thank you! Reywas92Talk 15:53, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo, are you removable?

I have been told you are not removable from the Wikipedia community. Please advise the process if you are. Your stonewalling of legitimate questions [21] asked by Larry Sanger, the creator of Wikipedia, is just one of several reasons I am asking you this question here on your talk page. It appears that the process for your removal is not known by anyone if such a process exists so I am hoping you are able and willing to share that information. 23:02, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

According to the Wikimedia Foundation Bylaws, he can be removed from the board of trustees by a majority vote of the full membership of the board (right now, that would mean at least four of the following people: Florence Nibart-Devouard, Jimmy Wales, Michael Davis, Erik Möller, Kat Walsh, Oscar van Dillen, Jan-Bart de Vreede). Once he is no longer a member of the board, removing him from any project would be a matter of following that project's internal procedures. Since the ArbCom on the English Wikipedia is a delegation of Jimbo's authority, it's doubtful if they have jurisdiction over him. Instead, you would probably need to go through the community banning procedure. --Carnildo 03:04, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Comment by a speck beneath the dreams:

IMHO, the simple answer is NO. Mistakes have been made here, and he is the right man for the job of guiding this ship through some rough waters. Just as Steve Jobs is the right man for Apple, Jimbo is the right guy at the tiller, here today.Lee Nysted 23:22, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Yep, Jimbo has his flaws (like Jobs, or whomever, whatever, we all have our flaws) but he's the knack, the one who built this wiki and makes it zoom. Gwen Gale 23:28, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't accept the conflation. He may have helped build it but he certainly no longer makes it zoom. Just check out his most recent edit[22]. His entire focus is off and hanging EssJay out to dry (after appointing him to ArbCom,even after knowing about the deception) is not the sign of a leader for the future. 23:43, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia belongs to him. How would you intend to remove him? Other than by offering him a lot of money to buy wikipedia (and we are talking a lot of money) and assuming he wanted to sell. Otherwise nobody has the right to remove him from what he has created and what belongs to him. We are just unpaid volunteers, it doesnt give us the right that shareholders have in a public company like Apple, SqueakBox 00:50, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
The Wikipedia hardware and trademarks belong to the Wikimedia Foundation, of which Jimbo is a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman Emeritus. The Wikipedia content belongs to the community (specifically, I believe that direct ownership of a page belongs to the person who edited it most recently, with copyright interests also from every user whose edits have contributed to the current version of the page). --Carnildo 03:08, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Let's not conflate the questions on whether Jimmy Wales can be removed, and whether he should be removed. My guesstimate for the former is that perhaps he can be removed from his position at Wikimedia Foundation (and consequently Wikipedia) by the organization's board of governors or their equivalent. But I don't pretend to be an expert on the topic (no allusion intended!) and you'll have to read up the Florida state laws governing non-profit charitable organisations. As to the question of whether he should be removed, in my humble evaluation the answer of most wikipedians is obvious, but since that is not what you asked and I cannot back my opinion with reliable sources, I'll withhold further speculation. I would also request other editors to resist the temptation to address the unasked "should question. Regards. Abecedare 01:38, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Ahh well looks like I was wrong. Lets hope nobody does try to remove Jombo, nothing could be more divisive right now than said proposal taken seriously, SqueakBox 19:28, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Outside GFDL

I'd like to share a couple of brief paragraphs minus prying eyes.

  • Other revenue streams in order to sustain the effort. Heck, even make the advertising and pay-per-click revenue models obsolete.
  • Business Strategy Dealing with the Goliaths, today is probably the best day ever to enter this business.
  • IP: Copyrights & Patents
  • Google's algorithm is different than stated in the TimesOnline article.
  • User interface: Intuitive, Effortless to Use, and Desired Results vs. Anything Else
    • Keyword search:
      • Patent "neural network" OR "artificial intelligence" Assignee Microsoft OR Yahoo OR Google
    • Retrieval:
      • The System
        • Hardware
        • Software
        • Locating All Possible Records
        • Searching All Records Effectively and Efficiently
        • Returning Results to User
    • Presentation:
      • Did you mean how many patents referencing neural networks and artificial intelligence Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google own?
      • United States Patent 7,188,342
      • United States Patent 7,188,340
    • Relevance:
      • No, patent agents bill at $150/hour and patent attorneys bill at $350/hour. Rank order results in a list of all patents concerning processes or methods of conducting keyword searches across a single computer or a network.
      • Highest ranking results will have Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google as assignee, and do not want to be distracted with other assignees at the time being. Group similar patents based on some unknown criteria that will be useful.
    • Access desired information with ONE CLICK - Search Compete.

Often, users do not know the approximate keywords let alone the specific search criteria in order to provide the results they need.

Failed at commercializing such a thing in 2000 because it was not about the money, it was about providing the best product possible and not being compromised by profit. Inadequate keyword search results as well as inappropriate content provided by WebCrawler, Ask Jeeves, AOL, and Lycos infuriated me.

Can we communicate by email?

Paradoxos 20:07, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Contrary to the philosophy of Wikipedia

I think any new policy that enforces any kind of credential checking is completely contrary to the fundamental “edit this page” philosophy of Wikipedia. Efforts should be made to verify the information added to Wikipedia rather than the credentials of the individuals who are adding the information. Perhaps, there should be an official policy of anonymity and not allowing any users to state any educational background…? If Wikipedia is all about accurate information and comprehensive reference citing, why should we even be discussing what degrees people have? KatalavenoTC 03:33, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

There are two separate issues here, and in neither of them has anybody suggested complete closure of Wikipedia (the nearest we come to THAT now is already when we find it necessary to semi-protect some vandal-magnet articles to editing by new-users, so if you have a problem with this whole meritocracy and reputation thingie, start with that). Nobody is suggesting that anybody have to give up anonymity to edit, only that they may have to give up larger and larger amounts of it to rise in the ranks of bureaucratic power. As for academic credentials, they also have never been suggested as a NECESSARY thing, but it has been suggested that they might serve as one useful ingredient in judging quality and merit of edits between two people in editorial disputes in technical subjects. SBHarris 04:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
That is a terrible way to settle an editorial dispute, the correct way is through attribution to a reliable source. HighInBC (Need help? Ask me) 04:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. It is like saying, in an editorial dispute, my PhD trumps your MPhil so my edit stands. Information submitted in articles should be well referenced with multiple sources. If there is an editorial dispute, these editors should be digging through even more resources to verify and/or clarify the information in question, not saying my degree beats your degree. KatalavenoTC 19:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what it's like. And that's what life is like. And for a very good reason. There's not time or processing power enough to do it any other way, right now.SBHarris 19:45, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Are saying that a PhD's edits in a Wikipedia article should trump an MPhil's edits simply because of a lack of time and processing power (i.e., laziness???)? If so, then that is very dangerous... If not, what do you mean? KatalavenoTC 13:32, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes. Lack of time and processing power is why credentials exist in most places already. In theory, you should be able to make up your own mind on, say, the issue of global warming. Just go get the data, look at it, and come to your own conclusions. Say, what, you say. What DATA? You know, THE data. Gee, you're already in trouble, aren't you?

The dishonesty and self-deception involved in thinking you're not relying on credentials when you cite some "outside" source, is breathtaking. Wake up. What this really means is that you won't believe some fact I as an editor give you about (say) anesthetic action in horses, but you would believe it if backed by a cite I gave you to a paper published J. Vet. Anesthesiology. Even if I wrote the paper I'm citing. But that only means I got THEM to believe me (partly based on my credentials) whereas I couldn't get YOU to believe me directly. To the extent that you've relied on the journal's fact-checking, you're relied on THEIR credibility. You see the problem? You claim credibility's worth nothing in factual debates, but you really use it all the time, in wikipedia's present policy. You're willing to trade and trust on the credibility of EVERY institution and person BUT the primary one in front of you, which is the wikipedia editor who asserts a fact. That's a big problem. There's nothing magic about the fact that a fact is published someplace out in the real world in some "reliable source," except that somebody's credentials out there are backing it. It's not the ink you're putting your trust in, it's somebody's CREDENTIALS. Don't you see? Wikipedia's already based on a tower of credentialism and credentialist thinking, then a layer of shifting sand. And you complain of elitism when I suggest taking away some of the sand. LOL. SBHarris 21:09, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Yep. Wontedly it's a lack of editing skill, which is to say knowledge of WP citation and NPoV policy, that thwarts a good faith expert in trying to set an article straight. Gwen Gale 13:40, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
However, if we were to start relying on experts rather than sources, we certainly would need a vetting process, to make sure that: a) The person claiming to be the expert in question really is, and is not an impersonator. b) The expert's credentials are real ones, from an accredited university. Even then, though, I fail to see the problem with requiring citation. An expert can cite his or her own work, so long as it's been peer-reviewed or fact-checked. If you wrote a brilliant paper that got published in Science, just cite that, and not a person in the world will dispute you-whether or not they know who you are. On the other hand, not even experts know everything. With a peer-review or fact-checking process, we don't have a "Trust me, I'm a doctor" situation-we've got a panel of people, all experts, who have really put the work through the wringer, looked at it with a microscope for questionable or potentially incorrect information and gotten it clarified, confirmed, or corrected, and have endorsed the source as reliable. Yes, it's still a form of reliance on expertise, but it's far better than reliance on a single expert. Besides, one would imagine the first thing most experts would do upon performing some brilliant new research is put it in for peer-review and publication. We can wait until that process is complete, it'll still be done by the deadline. On the other hand, we probably should focus on treating experts a bit better as a whole-I've worked with a few on some different articles, and the articles inevitably came out far better for the expert's input. However, those experts were still willing to cite sources as a matter of course. One would imagine any academic cites as second nature. Seraphimblade Talk to me Please review me! 21:21, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
What this really means is that you won't believe some fact I as an editor give you about (say) anesthetic action in horses, but you would believe it if backed by a cite I gave you to a paper published J. Vet. Anesthesiology. That's exactly what I am saying, SBHarris. And I am saying it because, too often, in disputes or discussions, each party becomes preoccupied with winning the argument rather than taking pains to support their point properly. (Of course, I would expect far more from you than "a cite"--any scholarly discussion could not be based on merely one citation of a primary source!). Anyway, here is my point... again: If an argument develops between an MPhil and a PhD discussing some technical point (in an area that, obviously, they both know a lot about), then the PhD should not win, or have an advantage, solely because his/her degree is "higher." That should not be part of the discussion. KatalavenoTC 00:51, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Just a matter of "degrees"?

Essjay claimed to have a doctorate but didn't, yet he traded on that claim in content disputes.

And that's why people are mad. right?

User:Mantanmoreland claims to be a 20-something Irish Catholic MBA candidate, and frequently trades on those bona fides when involved in content disputes relating to controversial busiess topics and anti-Semitism.

In reality, User:Mantanmoreland is a Jewish 50-something with a 30-year-old journalism degree. Is this situation worth getting upset about? --Two Toed Sloth 07:24, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

In reality, Two Toed Sloth has made three edits to date, the first being on 30 January 2007 as a checkuser request which seems to have nothing to do with User:Mantanmoreland, the second following that up and the third being this posting. The earlier suggestion that trading on credentials in a dispute should be blockable would help with this presumably hypothetical case. .. dave souza, talk 08:53, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The above post by User:WordBomb a/k/a Two Toed Sloth is a lie. I have never cited "bona fides" in any content dispute. This is just another tired effort by the same troll to abuse and attack.--Mantanmoreland 15:10, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Hold on, now. Looks like this comment might be an example of trading on your supposed religion. The next day you made it official by adding it to your user page. I'll look for some others to see if they jog your memory. --Paso Cebra 02:42, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Give it up, WordBomb.--Mantanmoreland 22:02, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
IMHO trading on credentials should be blockable. Posting them on a userpage should be subject to "vetting lite" as proposed by JW. Editors put in positions of trust should be vetted through some formal, internal and confidential process implemented by WMF and Wales.
Articles must be supported (or in the interim be supportable on request) by academically acceptable citations. This will take time but the policy should be clear.
Lastly, I think the admin selection process has played a part in this. The procedure is mostly a MUDbuddy system based on circles of nominations, votes and subsequent faction building, never mind with little apparent interest in encyclopedia building. I humbly suggest an overhaul. I also humbly suggest a review of all current admin accounts. These are replete with sockpuppets, PoV warriors and bored teens. My comments have aught to do with the dozens of helpful admins who donate their time here. Gwen Gale 09:01, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
It is definitely time for a review of all admin accounts. // Internet Esquire 21:44, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The idea of official "light vetting" seems to me to be problematic and generally unnecessary, possibly leading to arguments about which credential trumps another. Perhaps a guideline should give explicit sanction to other editors questioning the validity of credentials, but then this doesn't really work with anonymity. However an official approach means running checkuser and trying to validate the claims, not always easy. As I've commented at #Legal credentials above, in my opinion the idea presented (at #Not Fixing What Isn't Broken) by Sbharris that editors with credentials to expertise be "given some intermediate "say" before a full ArbCom process" has merit, but it should be up to the arbiter to assess the credentials and not a standard procedure for all who mention their profession on their user page. (aside: for those who don't speak Scots, the English word is arbitrator.)
Since people are put up for RfA on the basis of their edits, buddyism of a sort isn't altogether bad. However, admins should be accountable and not feel any sort of immunity from criticism: perhaps the complaints procedure needs review together with a serious effort to de-sysop such offenders as you describe. .. dave souza, talk 09:54, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
One must consider the social networking aspects of this wiki. Create a class of priests here and WP will grind to a halt (while the priests argue among themselves, I might add). Any assertion of credentials in an edit should be blockable. Indeed, I know academics who edit here who would never dream of attaching their names to their edits, for sundry reasons. A strong citation trumps a credential anyway. Gwen Gale 10:00, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
You mean we're not a class of priests? :( Goes off to put on janny's uniform. ... dave souza, talk 10:09, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Hocus pocus, father :) Gwen Gale 10:11, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Erm, as for buddy systems, an academic network of "old boys and girls" is one thing for a circle of scholarly journals, whilst a cluster f* of wankering teens warding the middle management of nominally encyclopedic content is another tale altogether. Gwen Gale 10:10, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
And obviously, a stickier one! ==: ) SBHarris 18:19, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Adelaide Meetup (and possibly other Australian Meetups)

Hi, are you able to attend a meetup in Adelaide when you are here in April? We thought we should try and have one then if you can make it. Other Australian Wikipedian's are also wondering about Meetups in their cities. Alex Sims 11:37, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

I'll link back to the Perth request since its been archived User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_19#Perth_April_24 Gnangarra 11:57, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I'll second the Perth request, as I will be there on the 24th as well. (I am from the US, so it would be a pretty cool coincidence!). -- Renesis (talk) 00:29, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Let's refer to all these proposed meetups in one place and hope that Jimbo doesn't find the prospect overwhelming (as I think I would). I'm definitely up for a beer on the evening of 27 April in Melbourne. Metamagician3000 01:47, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

TfD nomination of Template:Linkimage

Template:Linkimage has been nominated for deletion. You are invited to comment on the discussion at the template's entry on the Templates for Deletion page. Thank you.   — Jeff G. (talk|contribs) 23:41, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Hi Mr. Wales - a WikiNews issue

I have a complaint about the un-Wiki attitude I found on Wikinews. I contribute a lot the Commons, and the English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, French and Portugese Wikipedias. I take high-quality images of people, places and things wherever I go, but I mostly concentrate on those in New York City. Recently, when I photographed Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance I stood with the press, even though I didn't possess press credentials. The only project that offers such credentials is Wikinews. So I asked here if they'd issue credentials, offered to get photographs for news stories they are working on, and was met either with commendations but a "prove yourself" attitude, or in the case of one user, a flippant, "I cast you aside with the rest of the hordes" response. This mentality seems to be completely against what the Wikimedia Foundation stands for. It confounds me my extensive contributions on all these projects means so little because I had yet to involve myself with one more. I'm not saying they don't have a point behind their reasoning, but I gave them more than enough evidence of what I could contribute. Any way, I am only writing to alert you to what I see is a problem on one of the projects. Also, it would be helpful to the projects as a whole if we could get some kind of "press corps" accreditation the whole of the community could use. And thank you for everything you've done - you certainly have added a lot of satisfaction to my life. --DavidShankBone 02:11, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Meetup with Melburnians?

According to The Age newapaper [23] you are about to visit Melbourne. Do you want to meet with Melbourne wikipedians? Maybe you can provide an input on Wikipedia:Meetup/Melbourne#Jimbo? Alex Bakharev 01:11, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I saw that Jimbo is scheduled to be in Australia in late April. If that includes a trip to Melbourne, I would like a chance to be involved in any meetup, not least in the hope that there could be a discussion of the issues on this page, post-Essjay. Metamagician3000 02:18, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Looks like it would have to be the night of 27 April, if Jimbo is available and not exhausted. Metamagician3000 07:39, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Comment from German Wikipedian on my TALK page, regarding issue of credentialist control

Here's a comment left on my TALK page from a person who says he's a German Wikipedian, and that the German version already is somewhat authoritarian when it comes to credentials (maybe they're working on a harmonized EU version even now, hah). Anyway, I thought the comment deserved more exposure and I'm reposting it here. If it turns out to be a hoax, anybody who knows more about this is free to delete with prejudice. If not, it represents another interesting viewpoint. SBHarris 04:03, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Differences in the Wikipedias

Hi am from Germany and after the Essjay skandal i had a closer look on the english wikipedia and read your postings. The differnces are quite fascinating. The german wikipeda, the second bigest wikipedia in size, is ruled by experts. To proof my point have a look on homeopathy in the german wikipedia chapter 5 is named Criticism 5.1 no proof of efficacy 5.2 no plausible mechanism 5.3 internal contradictions 5.4 dangers 5.5 miscellaneous criticism. This chapter has a very strong scientific POV and there is just one lousy weblink is in it as reference. If someone comes around in the discussion page and says: "hey this is POV!" the physicans will say: "So what?" and if he writes "There are no refernces in the critism chapter so i doubt it is correct." The physicans will say: "Well i am Physican i know that this is right, so you have to prove ME that it is not correct.". Also there is no need for consenses, the german wikipedia doesn't have that rule and in the AfD it is not a vote but an exchange of arguments and even if a majority like 70% says keep, the admin will delete the article if he is the arguments for deletion are stronger in his opinion. I wonder if germans tend to authoric systems more so that there wiki is authoric too. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 01:39, 7 March 2007 (UTC).

This isn't a complete hoax, other wikis are run differently, though I don't think this is a bad thing. I can't speak to the AFD and POV accusations here, but only to general editing. The German Wikipedia trusts its editors a lot more than we do. However, there are some issues with this system. First, they trust people who claim credentials, there is no actual verification of identities, leaving them open to the same kind of thing that happened here. Second, they don't require as many citations as we do, leaving fewer chances to actually check facts stated by editors. All in all, I prefer our citation requirements, that way, if worse comes to worse, people can hunt down the references and verify that those facts are there. pschemp | talk 05:31, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
That sounds like an absolutely horrible system. It's not even compatible with the basic ideas of Wikipedia. If what you say is true, strong measures need to be taken to break up that nonsense. Everyking 07:34, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I have to say, I've always found it quite strange that no-one else requires citations. They are surely just as prone to fighting over content as much as us, it can only be aggravated by lack of evidence. Citation should be our number one rule on every Wikipedia. Can we not draft a binding policy on Meta? Dev920 (Have a nice day!) 07:42, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree. If the second largest Wikipedia is blatantly ignoring or rejecting basic, necessary principles, I think that's a big sign that we need to have binding policies on these issues across all Wikipedias. Everyking 07:48, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Please be careful here. Other wikis may not be very open to that and may see it as the English Wikipedia trying to dictate their policies. I mean, they cite, but not as often, and it isn't the requirement like it is here. However, they aren't as prone to fighting over content as we are. Different languages come with different cultures. Some accept experts or claims of knowledge more easily. Few other wikis are as contentious as the English one. Anyway, be careful what you propose, cultures on other wikis are different. I oppose any kind of attempt to force other wikis to comply with our polices. pschemp | talk 07:52, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I thought meta was multi-lingual? Anyway, new function gets brought in with every crisis that breaks here (semi-protection, Arbcom, oversight), and the Foundation has binding principles, so I don't why asking the foreign branches of our reference encyclopedia to produce reliable sources is a problem. Dev920 (Have a nice day!) 07:56, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
My feeling is that there are basics and there are details. The latter are best left for individual Wikipedias to decide, but if they can't accept the basics, then they should fork. Besides, we can't assume that the people who are running the wikis represent what the general communities there want. It doesn't sound like the German Wikipedia is very strong on reflecting community wishes, considering the alleged "expert" domination and the claim that admins are given total authority over the outcome of AfDs. Everyking 08:13, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't know about your citation rules, but I know the German WP, since I'm sysop there and wrote a lot of articles there. And I can only say that the point made by the IP user above is completely exaggerated. Maybe s/he is upset about something there and now tries to push through his/her point via Meta or via Jimbo Wales' talk page. Anyway, we also have a strong need to have citations or at least sources given for POV or critical statements. I think that this should be clear anyway. Nevertheless, it is true that we trust users with scientific background more than it might be done in en.wp. (And in most cases the identity IS proven, because most scientific users work under their real name or at least write their name on their user pages or visit regular WP meetings or have a confirmed mail address where you can easily ask for the identity.) It is true that sysops on de.wp are given the authority to decide AFDs. If I work through AFDs I look for discussion contribs of specialist users who are experienced in the respective topic and whose opinion I can trust, if I don't have an idea of the topic myself. It is true that articles are sometimes deleted (or kept) also if much more than 50% are against this decision, but you also have to see that sockpuppetry and vote promotion on talk pages is very common on de.wp and thus often groups of people who share an opinion are discussing on the AFD page where the more neutral and outside people just ignore AFDs of topics where they don't have an idea of. So often you have four or five {keep} votes of people who know each other and who probably informed each other to vote there and no other opinions. What shall we do? Shall we keep the article if it is in a very bad quality and doesn't contain relevant information, just because a small group of people want that? Or shall we rather delete it to improve the quality of the wiki? I would strongly sign for the latter one. So I don't see us breaking rules and I think you should not form a view about it until you went to, worked there or looked at all the discussions. The next point is that we try to have as little rules as possible to ease things. That should not mean that we don't have rule fetishists there, too... Probably the will to have rules for every single piece of doing is the worst German quality and belongs to our mentality and we are now trying to avoid that a little bit. ;o) That's just my opinion. Sorry, Jimbo, for inundating your talk page. Greetings, --Thogo (Talk) 11:41, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I want to add that many editors from other wikis think that various systems at en.WP are "absolutely horrible." As someone who actually spent a great deal of time working to change one of these systems, I would suggest you read the archives for Wikipedia talk:Username since about Oct of 2006 and look at my edit history from Dec 20 and the folowing weeks. This is what you can expect going into another wiki to change their "absolutely horrible system". I think the reactions from various en.WP editors in that situation were natural. So I imagine other editors on other wikis will act in similar way. If you really feel it is worth dedicating your time and effort to the task, I can not really discourage you after my own example. However, please realize all wikis are governed by consensus and you must truly change the consensus of established editors on that wiki to change a policy. Binding policies across all Wikipedias is not going to be practical until it is possible to build consensus amoung all Wikipedias. With the language barrier that exists I do not imagine this will ever happen for 99% of the policies.--BirgitteSB 13:57, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to point out that the german system for AfD's doesn't sound any different than ours. AfD's here are not simple votes, they are debates, and Admins can and do delete an article even if everyone "votes" keep, if the article clearly violates policy. --Xyzzyplugh 22:24, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
They are supposed to be determined by consensus, although admittedly some admins feel free to close contrary to consensus, which is an embarrassment. However, we at least have the principle in place, and it is normally followed. Just because we are unfortunate enough to have admins imposing their will by fiat on occasion doesn't mean it's OK for them to have admins doing the same thing all the time. Everyking 07:45, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
This is not true, at least based on Wikipedia:Deletion_guidelines_for_administrators#Rough_consensus. "Note also that the three key policies, which warrant that articles and information be verifiable, avoid being original research, and be written from a neutral point of view are held to be non-negotiable and cannot be superseded by any other guidelines or by editors' consensus. A closing admin must determine whether any article violates such policies, and where it is impossible that an article on any topic can exist without breaching these three policies, such policies must again be respected above other opinions". --Xyzzyplugh 14:53, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
@Everyking: It is a little bit perky of you that you mean to judge over without any knowledge of what is going on there and without ever having contributed there. You just can't assess the way we decide RFDs and all the other things, so please stop trying it. Come over there and contribute and than try to find out whether or not these things that you suppose here are true. --Thogo (Talk) 19:25, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately I can't read German, so I'd probably have a hard time with it. But all a person's judgments can't be based on personal experience, anyway; we all rely to a very great extent on what we learn from others. Would you like to deny or confirm (or explain further) the above account about how things are done there? That'd be much simpler than me learning a new language. Everyking 10:55, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I disagree with that, and have argued long and hard against admins who make closings on those grounds; however, even if one accepts the validity of such closings, there is still the principle of consensus in place. All you are arguing is that there are valid exceptions, which doesn't change the basic principle. Everyking 10:55, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Conservapedia and the GFDL

Hi Jimbo. I took a look at the Conservapedia article today and noticed a quote from you regarding Conservapedia which, upon first reading it, I agreed with in principle (while also personally considering Conservapedia's policy to be misguided). It reads "Free culture knows no bounds . . . We welcome the reuse of our work to build variants."[24] I took a look at the talk page thereafter and noticed a subsection that I believe might be of interest to you. A Wikipedia editor noted that s/he thought that Conservapedia was copying a Wikipedia article and that s/he did not believe that Conservapedia uses the GFDL for its content. After a bit of looking, I reached the same conclusion; I see no evidence that Conservapedia releases its content under the GFDL, nor does the website appear to have any copyright policy at all right now. Thus, it seems that they perhaps default to the statutory copyright regime, at least for now, which is certainly incompatible with "free culture" and informational sharing.

That said, I wonder if you would consider retracting or amending your statment on Conservapedia, or at least consider their approach to copyright if asked to comment about Conservapedia in the future? Thanks. · j e r s y k o talk · 14:32, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

If you give examples of copying we can look into it (see WP:MF), but one article is all that bad. If they were copying outright this would be an immediate problem, but it is probably an unwitting copyvio by someone who didn't understand Wikipedia's license, just as we have so many copyvios left here. Prodego talk 22:21, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
What article? C.m.jones 01:18, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
More important, I think, than the alleged copying, which I believe was already corrected per a comment at Talk:Conservapedia, is the impression left for readers of Jimbo's comment describing Conservapedia as part of the "free culture" movement, when its copyright policy (or lack thereof, defaulting to statutory copyright law) clearly indicates that it is not part of this movement. Obviously, they can't use Wikipedia content unless they license it under the GFDL; that's pretty clear cut and can be handled on a case by case basis when copying occurs. I'm merely concerned that most who see Jimbo's comment will be left with an incorrect impression . . . unless Jimbo amends his comment or comments differently if asked about Conservapedia again in the future. I apologize if my point wasn't as clear as it should have been in my above comment. · j e r s y k o talk · 01:43, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I have criticized Conservapedia in multiple interviews for not using a free license.--Jimbo Wales 09:53, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Ahh. Thanks for the reply. After searching, however, I wasn't able to find a reported instance of that criticism. Obviously, you cannot control what is and is not reported when you give interviews, and reports seem to have focused almost exclusively on the "free culture" quote thus far. If you have one readily available, a link would be helpful, otherwise I'll continue to search and hope something pops up. Thanks again. · j e r s y k o talk · 14:45, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Editors with checkuser

I was always under the impression that users who had been granted the "checkuser" bit were not anonymous to the foundation as this information is so sensitive and could put people in real danger if misused (ie Chinese editors). After the Essjay incident it is obvious that I was mistaken in that impression. Can you confirm that the identity of all those who have this access is known and verified by the foundation? I apologise if I am repeating a question that has been already answered but trawling the archives of this page and others I have not been able to find a definitive statement on this point. Sophia 07:19, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Sophia's is a practical point we can and should act upon toute suite.Proabivouac 07:27, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
The Wikimedia Foundation wishes to maintain the fiction that while it owns the servers, it does not control content on those servers. For legal reasons. For lawsuit reasons. For lack of money to deal with lawsuits reasons. This is not a morality or community issue; it is a legal issue for the foundation to find a solution to. Checkuser ability seems to me to be not something a court would equate to text contributed to a forum but more like a power available to a few insiders working on behalf of the owners of the servers. But I'm not a lawyer so what do I know? WAS 4.250 08:01, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Checkuser is not a power but simply access to information not in the public domain for logged in users. I'm concerned that in all the recriminations the important points wil be lost. Whether to verify editor credentials is something that can be hashed out in the community over time but editor privacy and security need to be assured by a definitive statement about whether the real identities of those with access are known and checked by the foundation. Sophia 17:55, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

We have a serious problem

Jimbo, we have a problem. Hundreds of users' autograph pages are being deleted. Those users have worked hard on their autograph pages. Please contact me on my user talk page here. Also see Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard#Autograph_pages. This is serious. Please help us. Signed, A•N•N•Afoxlover 20:24, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Portuguese Wikipedia

Jimbo, I don't know if you have a policy on this and I know Portuguese isn't one of your skills. Even so, there has been a perennial discussion on the portuguese wikipedia whether or not to "keep alowing edits from IPs" (unregistered users). I believe this is contrary to the spirit of wikipedia, and in the maybe-not-so-long run hurtful to the project. There are already heavy restrictions on voting rights (45 days from registration and 100 "good" edits) that were approved in 2005. Anyway, if you feel that you should say something there, the village pump equivalent is [here]. One sad Portuguese, Galf 09:39, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Have you brought up m:Foundation issues? Number two is the most applicable to your debate. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 21:02, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

International Symbol of Access and licensing

I apologize for asking this here, but I believe that this is the only place that it can be brought up, since it was you that made the decision to not allow "with permission" licenses. Here's the issue: the International Symbol of Access (that wheelchair logo you see everywhere) is copyrighted. Its conditions of use essentially make it a "with-permission" image; the only place where fair use applies is on the International Symbol of Access article itself. At Wikipedia talk:Fair use#The wheelchair logo is copyrighted; what should we use instead? I discussed this with other users, and made a free replacement - Image:Wheelchair.svg - that the uses of the copyrighted symbol have been replaced with. I do agree, however, with many of the people that commented that this seems pretty silly: the symbol is an international standard that people recognize. Can you please offer your view either here or at Wikipedia talk:Fair use#The wheelchair logo is copyrighted; what should we use instead? Thank you. --NE2 21:47, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Something for the Foundation

It occurs to me that many publicists of notable persons would be willing to give out high-quality CC-BY-SA portraits if they were contacted directly by the Foundation, and informed of how this would improve their client's Wikipedia articles. Perhaps a form letter could be prepared, and Wikipedians could suggest different persons to be contacted about. Thanks for your consideration of this.--Pharos 07:30, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia:Example requests for permission#Formal request for high-quality publicity image. Sending one of these as a volunteer editor is about as effective, and much easier on the foundation staff. --AnonEMouse (squeak) 20:30, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I was under the impression that such requests by ordinary editors were typically not met well. If we could compile a list on Wikipedia, and some bot could just send these form requests out from the official e-mail address, I think we might meet with better results without significantly impinging the foundation staff.--Pharos 04:44, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Portuguese Wikipedia

Jimbo, I don't know if you have a policy on this and I know Portuguese isn't one of your skills. Even so, there has been a perennial discussion on the portuguese wikipedia whether or not to "keep alowing edits from IPs" (unregistered users). I believe this is contrary to the spirit of wikipedia, and in the maybe-not-so-long run hurtful to the project. There are already heavy restrictions on voting rights (45 days from registration and 100 "good" edits) that were approved in 2005. Anyway, if you feel that you should say something there, the village pump equivalent is [here]. One sad Portuguese, Galf 09:39, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Have you brought up m:Foundation issues? Number two is the most applicable to your debate. Mr.Z-mantalk¢Review! 21:02, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

International Symbol of Access and licensing

I apologize for asking this here, but I believe that this is the only place that it can be brought up, since it was you that made the decision to not allow "with permission" licenses. Here's the issue: the International Symbol of Access (that wheelchair logo you see everywhere) is copyrighted. Its conditions of use essentially make it a "with-permission" image; the only place where fair use applies is on the International Symbol of Access article itself. At Wikipedia talk:Fair use#The wheelchair logo is copyrighted; what should we use instead? I discussed this with other users, and made a free replacement - Image:Wheelchair.svg - that the uses of the copyrighted symbol have been replaced with. I do agree, however, with many of the people that commented that this seems pretty silly: the symbol is an international standard that people recognize. Can you please offer your view either here or at Wikipedia talk:Fair use#The wheelchair logo is copyrighted; what should we use instead? Thank you. --NE2 21:47, 9 March 2007 (UTC)


Please archive this page. Its size is 289 KB! Thank you. --Meno25 01:20, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Be patient, the bot which usually archives this page (Werdnabot) is currently not working. When it comes back, the page size will get down quickly. --cesarb 01:23, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps Jimbo would like to consider MiszaBot III as an alternative? It is presently functioning and has the added feature that it starts a new archive once the present one reaches a certain size... WjBscribe 14:17, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes check.svg ;-) Heh, since Werdna is nowhere to be found, I went bold and have set it up. Миша13 14:35, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Carla Martin and User:Schmetterling

Just letting you know that I sent you and Brad Patrick an email on this situation. It needs attention ASAP as this user is threatening legal action. And since she is a lawyer, I'm pretty certain it's legitimate. --WoohookittyWoohoo! 06:16, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Just a question, but is there actually any evidence inferring that she is Carla Martin? if there is evidence, it seems to be like a Daniel Brandt situation to me. --KZ Talk Vandal Contrib 11:42, 10 March 2007 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Donwarnersaklad (talkcontribs) 15:17, 10 March 2007 (UTC).

  • I was working on an article and it completely disappeared, would you be able to help me find it into Wikipedia so I can save the work I did online, as I didn't save it before its deletion? It was under Karina Leal "DivegirlUSA". Thank you! Divegirlusa 17:02, 10 March 2007 (UTC)


I have never understood why a contributor of information, someone, who wanted to share his knowledge with this community, would keep his identity anonymous. How credible can information be, where the author is not willing to stay by his point? Britta Scholz, Student at SDU Odense, Denmark —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

You might feel differently after having been a contributor for a variety of articles you get death threats or other forms of harrassement in real life. Furthermore, some users must contribute anonymously because they will run into problems with their home governments if they do not. For example, an editor in Thailand could be prosecuted for adding information critical of the king. JoshuaZ 08:30, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Many qualified academics and professionals edit here under pseudonyms. The reasons are endless: Liability, concern about stalking and harrassment, threats and so on, professional restrictions, basic privacy concerns. Ban pseuodonyms and WP will lose many of its most helpful editors. The only worry is the abuse of pseudonyms with the posting of dodgy CVs. Gwen Gale 10:57, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Many peope are tied by employment contracts preventing them writing openly other for those to whom they are under contract. Other (perhaps in the judiciary) should not openly express their views and opinions. Some editors may be politicians who do not neccessarily want to toe the party line in their private life - there are numerous reasons why highly reputable people need to keep low profiles, but they have an enormous amount to contribute to a project such as this Giano 11:07, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
All of the above. Thus the option of anonymity has been absolutely central to this project. In the end, it may be less critical for me than for some others (long story), but these points that Joshua, Gwen and Giano are making have to be emphasised. Anonymity should be seen as non-negotiable, and if there is going to be some kind of credentials scheme for users it must operate in a way that doesn't compromise anonymity, either by putting personal details into unsafe hands or by giving some kind of elite position to those well-credentialed editors who don't feel the need to preserve anonymity. Anything that threatens this seems to me like the wrong reaction to the Essjay debacle. Sorry to sound negative about change (though I have put my own positive suggestions elsewhere on the page). Metamagician3000 11:18, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
This line of reasoning is particularly troubling. For instance, the first example cited by Giano openly states that anonymity is a way of hiding while breaking a contractual obligation. No amount of pseudonyms changes who the legal entity writing for the encyclopedia is. In the second example Giano openly states that anonymity is a way for people in prominent positions to circumvent social structural constraints unofficially placed upon them due to their status. While this isn't breaking the law (or maybe at times it is) it certainly is socially irresponsible. Who asked members of the judiciary, for instance, to become members of the judiciary? Why would they not be able to disclose their real identities? Who are we here to shun the official and unofficial constraints associated with a particular social role? Most certainly we should consider the consequences of doing so. The last example is just simply deplorable. When one becomes a politician one officially and unofficially enters into a specific kind of relationship with ones constituents, with public institutions, etc. etc. Certainly some matters can remain private but others simply should not. Transparency is essential if some form of trust is to be engendered in a civil democracy. Providing avenues for such figures to avoid their public roles, again is simply unethical and I for one don't want my experience of democracy to have anything to do with it. I feel, reading a lot of these arguments, that too many people here are lost in the culture of the project to such an extent that they begin to see taken for granted aspects of this community as essential rights, without understanding that they may have dire implications in the world out there. Just my two cents. Cheers.PelleSmith 14:40, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
  • "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". Act II, Scene V Twelth Night. Are you seriously sugesting that those who in real life are very high profile, should be banned from editing Wikipedia, merely because they wish to do so quietly, without drawing attention to themselves? A Supreme Court Judge or the President of Human Rights Comission editing Wikipedia could add a lot, but immagine what targets they woudl be. Democracy and basic rights work two ways for all people. Giano 17:25, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
These are helpful thoughts but the "bigger picture," as you put it in your edit summary, is that Wikipedia would grind to a halt if pseudonyms were banned. Moreover, pseudonym use has aught to do with CV misrepresentation. Individual editors should decide for themselves (and take the personal responsibility) about whether there are professional or other reasons as to if it's fitting or seemly to edit under a pseudonym, since IMHO WP as an org cannot reasonably make this decision for each editor. Gwen Gale 14:45, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I fully understand what you are saying, however, you have exemplified exactly what I find troubling when you cage the "bigger picture" in the world of Wikipedia (which I want to strongly dissociate from my sense of a "bigger picture" outside of Wikipedia). In the end it is not to ourselves that we have to adjudicate the knowledge we produce, but to our readers, to those "out there" who consume it (or conversely shun it). I'm not going to harp on the issues I raised above, but I will add that by supporting the "need" for anonymity in those types of circumstances we bring down the level of trust that anyone can reasonably have in what we produce. I would also like to respectfully disagree that pseudonym use has nothing to do with CV misrepresentation (however keep in mind that this thread was about pseudonyms and not CV misrepresentation). It is the fictional identity, built upon the pseudonym, that enables misrepresentation of the kind made by Essjay. It doesn't guarantee it of course, but it enables. There is also a fuzzy line between a member of the judiciary, for instance, editing entries about justice issues as if he/she were a layman and a layman editing as if he/she were a member of the judiciary. The second case is simply more clearcut, but without transparency we tend to assume a great deal and lets not forget as much. I should be clear that in the end I'm not sure what is preferable (perhaps anonymity for instance), and I am not making a case for changing the policy in this regard. What I am making a case for is looking outside of the immediate needs or concerns of editors here who want to protect their identities in order to engage a dialog about what this implies outside of Wikipedia amongst our consumers, amongst our critics, amongst those for whom we really work unless we are simply narcissistically developing an encyclopedia for ourselves, and I sure as heck hope we're not. In the end, unless we're willing to engage this dialog how will we look to this outside audience?PelleSmith 15:22, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok but if Wikipedia is chaveled by a lack of users what's the pith? Meanwhile block anyone who tries to assert their verified CV in an edit, which should be supported only by citations, not authority. Gwen Gale 15:37, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't particularly want to contribute to an encyclopedia unless I think people can trust its contents, because I see no practical purpose to it. There is too much potential here, currently, for me not to stay, but if no one uses the encyclopedia because they don't trust it? Come on I think for most editors the answer to that is simple. I think I've said everything I want or need to on this page. Thanks and cheers.PelleSmith 15:48, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I think your thoughts are worth pondering. I also think folks will trust Wikipedia more when/if word gets out that MUD CVs are banned and article content is supported only by references to verifiable sources and weighted according to WP's already helpful NPoV standards (lots of editors still don't follow or even know about these yet). With all due respect, I don't think this has anything to do with disclosing true identity, especially if these policies are warded by a leadership whose identities have been vetted and who have acknowledged accountability for their decisions. Gwen Gale 15:57, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
What is MUD, and why are you talking about banning CVs? If mentioning credentials on one's own user page is banned then I'll be forced to leave; I don't use my credentials in debates, but I have them, and don't care to hide who I am for those who take the effort to look. —David Eppstein 16:26, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you, David. That really puts things in perspective for me. To wit, I am not willing to have my credentials vetted just so I can display them on my Wikipedia userpage, but neither do I see the need to use them to win debates; if people are intimidated by my credentials, that's their problem. // Internet Esquire 17:21, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Read about MUDs here. I am not talking about banning CVs. As I've said earlier, I agree with Jimbo's suggestion about verfying CVs posted to user pages. It's true I think WP could do without CVs altogether but whilst my thoughts on that are hard core, my tolerance for seeing vetted CVs on userpages is rather high. Truth be told, I've seen so many dodgy CVs here I stopped looking at them long ago. My take on this would likely change if I thought they were mostly vetted and ok. I do think the assertion of a CV in an edit dispute should be blockable. Most academics are trained to support their assertions (and even much of their original research) with citations and in my experience when this is done skillfully, cranks flee. Gwen Gale 16:59, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
My experience with cranks is that they're harder to discourage than that. But if citation based arguments don't discourage them, argument from authority won't either. —David Eppstein 17:48, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I'd say that fully supporting an article with citations to verifiable sources can be hard. Doing so wontedly chases off cranks in my experience. We do so agree that cranks could give a toss about anyone's CV, unless someone with a CV agrees with them, or some unlucky academic has by accident written something that could be taken that way, then see how the cranks cite that CV! Gwen Gale 18:01, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
If cranks hang around despite citations to verifiable sources, and contradict these with uncited material or citations to rubbish--there's WP:DE for that. --EngineerScotty 00:02, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

My curriculum vitae at Wikipedia is the sum total of my edits, and Wikipedia is highly transparent. "Wetman" may not be my real name, but I am scarcely anonymous here. Like everyone else, I put my reputation on the line with every edit. --Wetman 05:12, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Never heard of you. Yes, I could go review your edit history, if I had no better use for a few hours. But, I do. Hell of an inefficient reputation system we've got here. But, it doesn't matter anyway. We should ban usernames and edit only with ip's, because citation is all that matters. As many have said, "a good edit is a good edit", and I can't imagine how seeing a username might help me judge that. Derex 01:41, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
This would be a grotesque violation of privacy; no chance whatsoever of being adopted. Newyorkbrad 01:45, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok. Replace "ip" with randomly assigned & difficult to remember number. It wasn't a serious proposal though. My point is that Wikipedia is already constructed around reputations — that's why we have usernames. It's just not a very efficient reputation mechanism. However, many of the same arguments that people use against credentials apply to username reputations. Derex 01:53, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

apology is enough?

Mr. Jimbo Wales, you still think that an apology is enough? You still say that you "request his resignation". You should have the moral courage to say that he has been banned for his glaring deception. Don't you think that it is now required that all the articles written/reviewed/edited by him should be re-examined now or removed from wikipedia.

You say that wikipedia is build on trust but you don't seem to really care about building and maintaining it.

I don't see any reason for a review of Essjay's edits, besides his religious edits. He was a superb editor, despite his identity deception. If you don't think Jimbo's apology is enough, then what do you want from him? --KZ Talk Vandal Contrib 04:53, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I do see a reason to review Essjay's edits, and (in doing so) I intend to use that seminal work "Catholicism for Dummies," as it has been recommended to me by Wikipedia's foremost scholar on Catholicism.
In other words, Essjay's deception brings all of his contributions to Wikipedia in doubt, and all of those contributions should be reviewed post haste. // Internet Esquire 05:04, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Fortunately, most of his contribs have been community service (i.e. improving the Wikipedia community), so I doubt there will be too many issues. — Deckiller 05:09, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

I haven't read his edits, but I read he used false credentials to impress upon others. Have you read all? Are you willing to take responsibility to answer those who might be misguided by Ryan Jordan's misinformed words. I want Mr. Wales to state that next time this sort of thing happens he wouldn't jump to defend some liar just because he has been a long time contributor to Wikipedia. I want him to make a plan that it doesn't happen again. I want him to make a plan to find out who else is doing the same thing Ryan Jordan was doing. I want Wikipedia community to show their contempt for lying and liars. I want them to stop praising impostors and show their allegiance to truth and accuracy of information. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

When did Jimbo actually praise Essjay's behavior as an imposter? Also please sign your post. --KZ Talk Vandal Contrib 07:09, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Jimbo didn't praise him KZ did by saying " he was a superb editor" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
And in my point of view he was. Although I disapproved of his deceit towards fellow Wikipedians, I still think his good edits vastly overruled his bad, and that most of his contributions to Wikipedia deserves some recognition. --KZ Talk Vandal Contrib 07:51, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
And in my point of view the disgrace and bad publicity he brought with his behavior to Wikipedia far outweigh any of his "good edits". Don't you think so?
Not really. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a publicity exercise. --Carnildo 09:07, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
  • The simple truth of the matter is that any organization the size of Wikipedia, with the attendant fame needs a good publicity/public relations department to handle this type of story as it occurs, not days later when the damage is done. And make no mistake about this - damage to the project has been done - what needs to be assessed here is if the damage is reversible. That is what we should be discussing - not the degree of atonement necessary by Essjay - he is gone, he is history - Wikipedia goes on. I'm sure there are editors with the necessary skills in public relations and human resources to be co-opted into the various recesses of wikipedia to advise Jimbo on these matters - and the most advantageous way to the project of handling them. Rather than appeal for people advertising the necessary "qualifications" I suggest those in authority look at the various articles on these subjects, who has edited them, what is their history on wikipedia, and assess these things before approaching any suitable candidate. Giano 09:27, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Forget Essjay. There are two (so to speak) sides to cover. One is a tactical reaction, the other a systemic thing. Wales has the tactical publicity side in hand, I'd say (and he has the talent for it). He said he was wrong, he apologized to everyone, he publicly proposed a vetting scheme, he has re-affirmed the importance of anonymity whilst acknowledging that accountability matters, that's all helpful. Now comes the implementation without botching either the cure or what makes Wikipedia tick in the meantime. Comparisons with Sanger (only as an example) are meaningless, the latter's notions, while so very worthy in themselves (and we do wish him all the best) have little to do with what has made Wikipedia so successful. Gwen Gale 10:54, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I had a fight recently with an editor whom I caught in the act of "revisionist history", and that being he was deliberately distoring the history of a subject because he started out by not liking a certain title; he insisted that everyone who used this title was wrong by about 150 years, and tried to "prove" it by altering the article in question. The unfortunate part is that he is a sitting member of the Wikipedia history board.
We all have to look at each and every article in Wikipedia through a student's eyes. Students are going into Wikipedia on a daily basis, and are using articles for research, for homework. Can the article be trusted to give the student a passing grade on a term paper? With that in mind, can Wikipedia afford to have liars in the midst? I don't think so. Carajou 16:33, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you we don't want liars in our midst - but a student who depends solely and exclusively on Wikipedia for a "passing grade" - or indeed any other singular text book is a very silly student. I seriously believe 99.99% of Wikipedia editors are sincere in their edits, but students should always remember theories and accepted views change over time - what a student/editor was taught 20 years ago, or even two years ago, maybe not the facts an examiner is looking for today. Wikipedia is not intended to be, nor professes to be, written solely by university lecturers in current employment. Giano 19:46, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
As an aside this statement of 99.8% of editors being well intentioned is sadly not true. No idea how much editing traffic is vandalism but it is considerably higher than 0.2%, SqueakBox 22:51, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Apologies. 99.9% was meant as an idiom for an overwhelming percentage not as a definitive statistic. Giano 23:04, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
In light of students being silly for just using Wikipedia, I think we as editors should act as if Wikipedia is the only source they're using, therefore we should do our utmost to make each article the best it can be. And I believe most of us are doing just that! Regards, Carajou 22:48, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
  • I believe that too, and I think the overwhelming majority of editors believe that also and attempt to "make each article the best it can be" - but in a project the size of this there is always going to be a rotten egg, and while every effort must be made to limit the chance of this hapening again - it is highly probable that it will - so a procedure must be in place to deal with it when it happens. Giano 23:04, 10 March 2007 (UTC)


There is a problem when I upload something. When I upload material, it stay the same. I even upload it again it, it there. P.S. Please talk to me on my user page. Jet123 11:28, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Due diligence

I have doubts my contribution will be valued in light of the code-worded suggestion at the top of this page encouraging deletion of comments that make "the community" uncomfortable by letting it see itself through the eyes of others. Nonetheless, I submit that due diligence on the part of Wikimedia Foundation leadership could easily have averted this scandal. That Essjay lied about his credentials on Wikipedia might not be something anyone could have prevented under current policy. What shed light on the dishonesty was when Essjay showed up as an employee of the closely related for-profit Wikia, Inc.

The scandal was not that Essjay cooked his credentials, but that the co-founder and a former board member of Wikimedia hired him and kept company with him but either did not know or did not care about his dishonesty. If Essjay was a tenured professor, how could someone with a masters degree believe he had time to take an entry level job at a dot-com start-up? According to the New York Times, Wales thought it was okay for Essjay to operate an online identity that includes false claims of professional credentials. (What an odd morality Wikipedia breeds -- one false identity is okay, but two is evil "sockpuppetry") Then Wales accepted Essjay's apology for the harm that resulted from something Wales thought was okay to do. That might settle it for Wales, but he needs to consider that it might not settle it for other reasonable adults. The irresponsibility those involved ask us to ignore -- in the interest of avoiding personal attacks or for whatever reason --- approaches absurd.

Wales knew or should have known that he hired someone who publicly lied about his credentials. Instead, we the public are asked to believe that it simply doesn't matter, and that our offense at being lied to is somehow an offense against Wikipedia, rather than a reaction to an offense against our integrity as readers by key Wikipedia personnel. Telling us at the outset not to be offended by wrong information does not resolve the offensiveness of wrong information. We are told time and again that Wikipedia is a community that knows each other through their project activities, but we discovered that a co-founder of the project did not even know his own employees and was mislead or participated with the employee in misleading others about the identity and credentials of the employee.

As par usual, if we don't have some standing in the so-called community, our reaction as public readers to this scandal is as likely to be met with claims that we are at fault for calling offensive dishonesty offensive dishonesty as we are to be offered an apology and a detailed forthright disclosure of what he knew and when he knew it from the former chairman of the board who hired this person in a closely related for-profit venture without challenging the false credentials the employee used to boost his reputation. Once again, the public is blamed for caring about integrity, while those who exposed lack of integrity are treated with derision by those who participated in compromising integrity of the project. Of course I'm offended. There are times when this project needs to stop trying to blame a fictional abusive other, and to admit the black eye is a result of it tripping over its own feet because it's not watching where it is going. MetaNoble 00:14, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Um, Jimbo has already acknowledged much of this and apologised for his errors of judgment. Isn't it time to move on? No offence intended - you make some good points, but you're a little behind the curve here. Metamagician3000 01:35, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
What he knew and when he knew it? Please provide a link to such a disclosure. If the discussion has moved to consideration of ways to prevent such problems in the future, that's fine, but that does not foreclose concern about what he knew and when he knew it. Such questions are often best answered in retrospect when the dust is settling and collected information is available.
Fixing the flaw, such as is proposed in the voluntary identity verification suggestion at the top of this page, fixes part of the problem. Fixing the greater part of the problem requires identifying and resolving causes of such flaws. If acknowledgements are tendered as part of a sincere apology, they are not abrupt allocutions but become ongoing efforts to assist in developing an understanding of how such errors in judgement emerge. MetaNoble 02:09, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
You know, this kind of trolling is when editors get blocked for being a single-purpose account. — Moe 02:59, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
Doesn't look like trolling to me. They seem to be making some excellent points. I particularly agree that the flaw was not that we believed Essjay, but the response once certain people became aware of his real identity. Mak (talk) 03:32, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
It is when Jimbo has long realized this problem, it's been a week already and this account's first edits are to this talk page. — Moe 04:48, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
And that kind of abusive blocking is what leads to everyone wasting their time on arbcom cases. [25]. Derex 07:27, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Indians abroad want to hear from you

Hi Jimmy, We, Wikipedians from Indian diaspora wants to hear about your Indian experience. We expect to hear your tale as soon as the Essjay problem subsided. Cheers. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 11:47, 11 March 2007 (UTC).

In Spanish

Hi Jimbo, please create a User Page in Wikipedia en Español. URUTORAMAN MEBIUSU You need aid? 17:38, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

If you want to go for it and need help with the translation of your page here just leave a mesaage here, SqueakBox 23:25, 11 March 2007 (UTC)


Should we make Wikipedia harder from people who are vandalists or etc., like a special test?Trampton 12:06, 12 March 2007 (UTC).

Wikipedia's creator is still waiting for an explanation, Mr. Wales

Larry Sanger; "I'm going to ask just one more time, and then I am going to leave it alone, because I have far better things to do, with the launch of the Citizendium approaching. Jimmy, if I may--what mistake, precisely, do you admit to making? Before you answer, let me clarify the question. I know you say, "It was a mistake for me not to check the facts," and "Making up a set of impressive credentials is of course a violation of people's trust." This seems to imply that you did not know that Essjay had made up his impressive credentials, and the mistake you admit to making is this: you didn't bother to check out Essjay's impressive credentials. If that's your answer, I want to point out some facts. Essjay started as an employee in your company in early January, so his Wikia page history says. Surely you found out about his fraud then. Didn't you? Or did you actually hire him still thinking that he was a tenured professor of theology? (Why on Earth would a tenured professor want to come to work for Wikia?) Look, either you hired him thinking he was a tenured professor, or you hired him knowing he was a fraud. There wasn't a third option. I think, Jimmy, that people are desperately hoping for honesty and a meaningful apology from you. That will require an explanation of why you hired him and why you put him on ArbCom when you had to know he was a fraud--when you had to know that he wasn't the tenured professor he claimed to be. Otherwise just come out and say this: I really believed that Essjay was a tenured professor of theology when I hired him, and when I promoted him to ArbCom, and when I told The New Yorker that he was just using a pseudonym and I didn't care about that. This is, I promise, the last you'll hear from me about this. If anyone is going to hold your feet to the flames on this, it won't be me. I have to admit I'm just too disgusted to care anymore. --Larry Sanger 05:31, 5 March 2007 (UTC)