Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons

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Deadnaming and previous names of trans persons[edit]

I would like to propose BLP make some more explicit guidance on mentioning the previous names of trans persons. Deadnaming is overwhelmingly a harmful practice to be avoided. I think the privacy expectations of BLP need to be balanced in a more explicit way with NPOV and the goal of exhaustively covering encyclopedic topics. My initial suggestion is as follows:

  • Previous names of living persons should generally not be included in the lede or in info boxes. Instead, previous names should be listed in the sections related to their notability. For instance, an author would have their previous name published on their previous works, and so their Works should include a written under the name XYZ or similar statement for clarity. A famous athlete who won medals or set records under a previous name should say as XYZ prefacing their list of achievements. Their previous name, if notable, should have a redirect to the article with their current, correct name.
  • In cases where it is not reasonable to avoid deadnaming the subject because of their great notability, properly sourced and respectful statements may be included in the introductory sentence of an article. An example would be someone whose notability includes widespread recognition by the general public and prominence before and after their transition. For instance, the article on Caitlyn Jenner must take into account that many readers are looking for information based on their familiarity with her previous name. By contrast, notable (but not publicly famous) authors will be easily identified by properly documenting their published works. It is not necessary to mention previous names for a less famous person, provided their achievements are properly documented. Their previous names may also be mentioned in relation to properly sourced material related to their personal lives, activism, etc. where it is relevant.

Pawsplay (talk) 03:44, 11 December 2017 (UTC)

Too confusing for a reader, and too prescriptive for editors. The MoS already gives general guidance on these matters. Stickee (talk) 06:23, 11 December 2017 (UTC)
If you want to call this guidance: The MoS does not specify when and how to present former names, or whether to use the former or present name first. Pawsplay (talk) 15:20, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
If someone was notable under a previous name, then that name should be included in the article. If a large part of what they were notable for was under that previous name, then it should be included as early in the article as possible. If author Jane Doe wrote a bunch of famous books, and later changed his name to John Doe, then readers who search for the author Jane Doe and get redirected to John Doe should be informed immediately that they are in the right place. The feelings of the subject are secondary to the goal of informing readers. Red Rock Canyon (talk) 06:59, 11 December 2017 (UTC)
They may be secondary but they aren't unimportant. BLP lists many criteria based on the feelings of the subject. Pawsplay (talk) 15:20, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
Please see WP:BIRTHNAME. After contentious debate at WP:VPP, this was the result. Basically, if the person was notable prior to publicly coming out, mentioning the person's birth name is appropriate in the lead. Otherwise, it's not. I'd personally like to see this generalize more, but in practice we generally don't mention deadnames unless the person was notable as that name and it's important for the reader's understanding. EvergreenFir (talk) 15:35, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
It may be that there's a local consensus "If a transgender person was not notable under a previous name, do not mention that name, in either the lead or body, even if it has been widely published by reliable sources." If this is the case, then it ought to be formally debated and adopted as policy. Personally, I would be against it, because it goes against the basic Wikipedia philosophy of "following the sources". RSs use transgender people's preferred pronouns, so Wikipedia does likewise. But RSs routinely report trans people's previous names (even when they were not well-known while using them), so Wikipedia should follow them as well. It may well be that in the future RSs will stop doing this, at which point Wikipedia should do likewise. But not until then. NPalgan2 (talk) 18:26, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
@NPalgan2: I suppose it would be case-by-case, but it seems most sources don't mention deadnames (in my experience at least). But even then, it would be an issue of DUE and BLPPRIVACY. EvergreenFir (talk) 22:06, 13 December 2017 (UTC)


I certainly strongly agree with the notion of avoiding non-notable details about a person (about any topic really) in the lead. This is especially true of details that could be hurtful or offensive in some way.
I am troubled, though, by the suggestion that non-notable details should be excluded from articles altogether. Certainly this has never been Wikipedia policy. Notability largely applies as a consideration regarding whether an article should exist, not what should be in the article. The article contents should be reasonably complete coverage of the topic, including details that are pertinent though not notable in and of themselves. Granted, there are and should be exceptions made for details that could be especially dangerous to be listed for the subject or are considered too wildly sensitive for the subject to be included. I certainly agree with the notion of some limited censoring for these cases but it is a very slippery slope.
If we say that we are going to censor anything that a subject might not like written about them then we are essentially saying that all BLPs are necessarily puff pieces that can only promote the subject. One could argue, for example, that Mark Wahlberg's arrests could be omitted since he was an unknown at the time they happened, and certainly they are a source of serious embarrassment for him, but we do not censor these and we do not debate the notability of those arrests. I do think the issue of deadnaming for the trans community needs to be treated with care, and while I would say avoiding deadnaming for minors is a reasonable guideline, in the case of adults there are many equally or more sensitive details about other people that are normally included as well (e.g. criminal convictions, accusations of impropriety, accusations of extramarital affairs, accusations of homosexuality for individuals who may be closeted, etc.). Again, it is certainly appropriate to say care should be taken regarding sensitive details, but saying simply that outright censorship is the right solution for anything that may be upsetting (even very upsetting) seems a very troubling way to go.
I have suggested before that we take a cue from what mainstream media does. If mainstream media seems to be intentionally avoiding discussing a sensitive detail and the only reliable sources for the detail are tabloids or other sources that, while credible, may be deemed to have low ethical standards, then it is perhaps appropriate to say the mainstream journalists know something we do not and it is best to just follow their lead to err on the side of caution. But if our only reason for censoring is that some WP editors are bothered by certain things, that is a problematic justification.
-- MC (talk) 21:26, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
I have suggested neither censorship nor removing other uses of the name altogether. My suggestion mainly relates to the lead paragraph, infoboxes, and superfluous mentions. Thus, for instance, Jennell Jaquays would have her previous name mentioned under works. But I don't think that information belongs in the intro. It's disrespectful, hurtful, and unnecessary. Reuters suggests news articles should always use someone's chosen name. Here is a link for some reading:
Pawsplay (talk) 07:41, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
Well, you are suggesting censorship, which is not necessarily always a bad thing, but I did not say that you had suggested removing all uses of the deadname. However others have.
Please do not lecture me as though I have said something I did not say.
-- MC 2605:6000:EC16:C000:90D9:9D6:6A14:20FC (talk) 16:33, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
  • The lead and infobox should obviously include the former names if they were notable under them. This is relevant biographical information that would be on the first page of any paper biography published about the subject. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:11, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Agree with Tony. --GRuban (talk) 22:47, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Description is not prescription. There are lots of things that are commonly done that are thoughtless and wrong. Pawsplay (talk) 07:41, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
BLP aims to protect individuals from the spread of unverified claims about them, and to protect Wikipedia from defamation lawsuits. It is not there to protect subjects' feelings by hiding factual relevant information about them. Your proposal aims to do just that, shifting the goal and undermining Wikipedia's ability to achieve its primary goal of informing readers. You are essentially arguing that Wikipedia's mission is wrong and should be changed, that the power of words to harm others is so important that we should be hiding even relevant, verifiable information about public figures - nothing in BLP currently supports that position. Red Rock Canyon (talk) 08:21, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
This is not merely about hurting someone's feelings; this is about the possibility of doing harm to actual human beings, which is a key component of BLP, as Sangdeboeuf pointed out below. The goal of "informing readers" is not the be-all end-all of what we do here, as the Wikimedia resolution on biographies of living people makes clear. That resolution explicitly states that we are to "tak[e] human dignity and respect for personal privacy into account when adding or removing information". -- irn (talk) 00:46, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment: the "presumption in favor of privacy" is an essential part of WP:BLP, and is designed to avoid "the possibility of harm to living subjects". This is also reflected in ArbCom's decision on BLPs: "Wikipedia editors [...] have a responsibility to consider the legal and ethical implications of their actions [...] the rule of thumb should be 'do no harm'". If there is a widespread opinion that "deadnaming" is indeed harmful, then it should certainly not be done gratuitously; it should be discouraged unless the person was especially notable under their previous name. For instance, the sociologist Raewyn Connell published some early works under the name Robert Connell; it should be valid to include a brief mention of this previous name in the lead section to avoid confusion. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 16:03, 23 December 2017 (UTC)
  • I'm not arguing any of that, nor am I arguing Wikipedia's mission is wrong. I'm just questioning how often it is relevant to deadname a person in the lede, especially when their notability is fairly narrow in scope. Pawsplay (talk) 21:42, 23 December 2017 (UTC)
    • Yes, that was my point. Apologies if it didn't come across clearly. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 01:13, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
I think we sort of agree. If it's not relevant, the previous name shouldn't be used. But if someone was notable under a previous name, that name should be in the lead. The guide should be notability. If there's no reason to bring up the previous name, then we shouldn't bring it up. But if someone has a reason to search for a previous name, then we need to have it early in the article to show readers that they're in the right place. If you have a book with author written as Jane Doe, and you search Jane Doe and get redirected to John Doe, it could be very confusing unless the first couple sentences say "John Doe, previously Jane Doe". But if someone changed their name, and then later became famous or well-known, then the first name isn't important, and it's not an issue. Red Rock Canyon (talk) 04:10, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Any information that would be in a biography published by a reputable publishing house is fair game in my mind, of course using common sense. For some people a discussion of their childhood would never take place in a biography because it might focus solely on their professional career, etc. At the same time, it honestly would make us look like we were engaging in censorship if in the lead of Caitlyn Jenner's article we did not mention that her previous name was Bruce Jenner very quickly. The purpose of the BLP policy is to protect people from having their lives ruined by placing contentious material in Wikipedia's voice, which is a very powerful one given that we are always going to be the first Google result. The BLP policy does not exist to hide legitimate biographical information, and birth name is certainly that. TonyBallioni (talk) 04:19, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
I think if a public figure's transition is part of their story, then it makes sense to include the name, just as it would be included in a biography. But if they didn't do anything notable under their previous name, then it doesn't need to be in the lead - it could just be part of their biography section. Red Rock Canyon (talk) 04:34, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
Agreed. TonyBallioni (talk) 04:38, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
Agreed on the lead. But though the original question did not ask it, others have mentioned the question of whether a non-notable deadname should be included in the body at all. That is a separate question and needs to be answered as well. There was a large discussion on Talk:Danica Roem and no consensus was reached. -- MC 2605:6000:EC16:C000:90D9:9D6:6A14:20FC (talk) 16:41, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia's purpose is to collect information for the public. If the "deadname" is out there in reliable sources, we should have it. We don't have to wave it around in the lede if it seems pointlessly offensive to do so, especially when the other name is not commonly used now. After all, the first set of bolded lede terms are supposed to be synonyms and if a deadname is taken to be offensive then it is not really a synonym for the other name. (e.g. we do not have a bolded "nigger" in the lede of African American -- but we do mention it halfway down the page!) But we should certainly be ready to say when, where, and what someone was named at birth as part of a decent Early Life section. Maybe there are people who find that offensive ... there are people who find the name of Norovirus offensive because they're named Noro. But we're here to write history, not rewrite history. A lot of people want a brand new life with a brand new history ... we don't have that on tap. Being trans shouldn't give a special exception to that. Wnt (talk) 01:37, 7 January 2018 (UTC)
The BLP policy does not exist to hide legitimate biographical information, and birth name is certainly that. You say certainly with a lot more zest than I am comfortable with. It's potentially biographical information. If it's not readily available public information, it is certainly not appropriate to include that information in a biography of a living person. Anyway, I think "would this be in a paper biography?" is not a good criterion. Plenty of published biographies are not themselves reliable sources, many are libelous, they are often nosy. Whole biographies are rarely published about people whose notoriety is narrow in scope. If, for instance, you find a biography of a notable physicist, it is likely to be in an anthology of such biographies, not a book devoted to them. Exhaustive information about someone's early life is often written for people like Bill Clinton or Oprah Winfrey, but that's because their lives are a topic of public consumption. Writing the same level of detail about, say, your next door neighbor would not be appropriate. So, I conclude, BLP does, certainly, yes, exists to hide legitimate biographical information, if that information would be considered invasive of the privacy of someone who is not a famous celebrity to the public. BLP does not only cover what is encyclopedic, although it touches on that. The reason BLP exists, the reason it is distinct from the biographies of dead famous persons, is the potential for actual harm to a living person. Wikipedia aims to be complete and encyclopedic, but these policies are designed also with the consideration of not doing evil. Pawsplay (talk) 07:50, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Data about your next door neighbor would usually be ruled out because of a lack of notability, which is to say, our inability to cite multiple RSes for a fair and accurate portrayal. That is in accordance with our core mission. Deciding what is "harmful" is not in our core mission, because we're not here to make stuff up or propagate dubious data. If you're saying it is harmful to give a transsexual's former name, does this imply that it is harmful even to tell readers someone is transsexual at all? Would that really be less harmful than, say, telling readers that some announcer was fired from a TV network for making anti-transsexual tweets? Isn't that a part of his life he'd like to put behind him and have forgotten? Where do you draw the line about how much touch-up we're supposed to be doing here?
I say what is harmful is to degrade Wikipedia's aspiration to put the sum of all human knowledge into the hands of everyone on the planet, to make value judgments about what facts we should tell and what we should hold back, to impose our opinions of who is worth protecting and who isn't. Wikipedia is a resource the world is starting to rely on, and it should be a resource by the people, for the people, of the people, for the general good that comes from having a basic indexed view of all the published data available about every topic. Wnt (talk) 22:07, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not censored, and someone's birth name is legitimate biographical information, especially if it has been published in reliable sources. The BLP policy does not exist to hide legitimate biographical information from public consumption. There is a significant difference between saying Politician X is a closeted homosexual and Roberta Smith (born Bob Smith) is a Canadian nobel prize winning Foobar-player. or the like. The BLP policy specifically would prevent us mentioning the first, as gossip that could have a serious impact on someone's life should not be reported on Wikipedia, but it should not prevent us from saying the second if reliable sources report on Ms. Smith's birth name. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:16, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
That style is useful when the names are approximately synonymous -- i.e. everyone knows (or will rapidly find out in reading RSes) that Caitlyn Jenner and Bruce Jenner are the same person. However, when the birth name is relatively obscure and the person is known primarily by their trans name, then it seems reasonable to leave it non-bolded and push it down to an "early life" section. I will not go further than that because if we have a biography it ought to be capable of having an "early life" section, and if we have such a section it is impossible to fill it out without reference to the original name, since such conversions are not generally done for some time. But there is no need to dangle a birth name as a true synonym in the lede when it is not used that way. To reiterate the example I gave above, we most certainly do not have an article that says African Americans, also known as niggers... Yet we definitely do have at least the second term further down in the article. Thinking about it, I think there may be/should be a general rule about non-synonymous redirects -- we shouldn't bold and lead off with redirects that are not true synonyms in any case. For example, I actually don't agree with the current text (oil of wintergreen) where it says Methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen or wintergreen oil) is an organic ester naturally produced by many species of plants, particularly wintergreens. I mean, can you really get oil of wintergreen out of a plant that isn't a wintergreen? It is a related topic but not genuinely a synonym, and I would treat that with the same halfway approach. Wnt (talk) 21:56, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
Sure, I think that can be a valid concern, and an editor might decided to follow that style for any number of reasons. I don't think having a birth name in the lead is a BLP vio, however, nor do I think it should be. To use an example from history: Leon Trotsky has his birth name in bold in the lead. It has been used against him for anti-semetic reasons. It's still there, because it is important identifying information, even if he is much more widely known by Trotsky, the name he chose himself. No one knows who Lev Davidovich Bronstein, but we include it anyway. This is not saying that we must include it in the lead, simply that at editorial discretion and through consensus, we can decide where to place it in the article. At the very least it should go in the early life section. Deciding to place it more prominent, however, is not a BLP vio. TonyBallioni (talk) 22:06, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
@TonyBallioni: Leon Trotsky is a poor example, since he is far from being the subject of a BLP (L for living). —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 01:53, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
The point stands: it's valid biographical information. He's not living, but basic examples of how a biography is written don't change between the living and the dead. I'm sure I could find any number of other living examples, but that was the first that came to me since I'd been reading his article the other day. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:04, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
I am concerned that you continue to participate in this discussion despite the completely mistaken statement you have just made about BLP. Pawsplay (talk) 03:09, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Except that some basic principles do change. The "presumption in favor of privacy" and ArbCom's "do no harm" rule apply to living subjects, not long-deceased ones. That could imply the omission of certain details of a subject's life. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 02:23, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
There is no presumption in favour of privacy when something is not private information and has been published as fact in high-quality reliable sources. It ceases to be private information. Information about someone's upbringing and early life is critical to their biography, and removing it would be a form of censorship, which is not what the BLP policy is about. The presumption in favour of privacy is very strong, but it is not absolute. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:32, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
In the case of Jennell_Jaquays the information was mined from primary sources. I find it highly inappropriate to prominently feature sensitive information which has been obtained without referring to reliable, verifiable, independent sources. Simply put, while this information can be quickly researched it isn't the same as information which has been published about a famous person. Being notable is not the same as being famous. Arguing for respect for persons is just as much a part of Wikipedia policy as arguing for completeness; they are different, sometimes competing concerns. I am suggesting the balance should be tipping at this point. Non-famous people should be able to change their names and not have them appear in the lede. This is not censorship, but emphasis. Undue weight is a cornerstone Wikipedia policy as well. What exactly is someone hoping to accomplish by deadnaming an author in the lede, rather than listing in their works previous names? Trotsky's Jewish origins, I note, do not appear in his lede. I really get the sense, perhaps mistaken, that some people feel it is somehow better and more encyclopedic to "out" someone in the lede, even if the article of the subject is known professionally and not primarily as a trans activist. Pawsplay (talk) 03:09, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Given that her own personal website specifically identifies her original name [1] it is moot if the information was from primary sources or not. If one had to dig into things like public records or the like, absolutely, but there is zero question that Jaquays had an original name before transitioning, and it is completely appropriate for us to include it. --Masem (t) 03:39, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
No, and I haven't stated otherwise. In any event, this is all very abstract until someone provides actual examples where birth names are a relevant concern. But Information about someone's upbringing and early life is critical to their biography is not always true. See WP:NOTPUBLICFIGURE and WP:BLPNAMES: "In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to the person's notability"; "When the name of a private individual has not been widely disseminated or has been intentionally concealed, such as in certain court cases or occupations, it is often preferable to omit it, especially when doing so does not result in a significant loss of context. When deciding whether to include a name, its publication in secondary sources other than news media, such as scholarly journals or the work of recognized experts, should be afforded greater weight than the brief appearance of names in news stories". —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 03:00, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
Sure, but in most cases those would apply here. If there is publication in high-quality reliable sources, we publish it. BLPNAME is also specifically dealing with BLP1E circumstances, not circumstances where someone has changed their birth name. TonyBallioni (talk) 03:06, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
Maybe and maybe not. There will be borderline cases with every rule (see also WP:AVOIDVICTIM). The point is the spirit of the policy outlined under WP:BLP, WP:ARBBLP, and wmf:Resolution:Biographies_of_living_people. All state in some form that completeness of information must be balanced against "human dignity and respect for personal privacy". None state that these concerns are trumped in any meaningful way by sourcing. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 04:59, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
I don't see the desire for a notable individual not to have their birth name known to be a human rights issue or privacy issue. We give a lot of latitude when removing content on BLP grounds, and I am typically very supportive of it, but BLP is not supposed to be used to hide legitimate biographical information from the public. While this might make the individuals unhappy, there are many things in BLPs that the subjects aren't happy about that shouldn't be removed. I don't really consider this an edge case at all. The spirit of the policy would not have us exclude this information. TonyBallioni (talk) 15:31, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well, many transgender people seem to think otherwise, according to The Guardian. But if we're just going by high-quality reliable sources, it's worth noting that according to GLAAD, the NYT instructs its writers: "Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person". Once again, this is all very abstract, but as a hypothetical example, if a transgender person were subject to a harassment campaign that insisted on using their "deadname", should we also continue to publish that name? —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 22:40, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

@Wnt: Wikipedia is not censored, but neither does gratuitously invoking racial epithets to prove a point (twice in one discussion) help in the creation of a collegial editing environment. Unlike birth names, such terms epithets exist solely to intimidate and convey hostility. I would expect that anyone hoping to influence policy relating to living people would be sensitive to that. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 02:18, 10 January 2018 (UTC) (edited 03:10, 10 January 2018 (UTC)) ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Agree with TonyBallioni, Wnt, and Pawsplay that a birth name — and there's no such thing as "deadname", not even to the government when you legally change your name — is important, relevant biographical information. This is particularly so when given in, for example, a major newspaper in a standard biographical article, as is the case with Peppermint (drag queen) and one of the two Pittsburgh newspapers. (I'd note that while the neologism "deadnaming" links to transphobia, that term does not appear in that article.)--Tenebrae (talk) 02:20, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

  • Unlike birth names, such terms exist solely to intimidate and convey hostility. No. They exist to tell us the name a person was born under. William J. Blythe III was never notable under this name, and he chose to live life as Bill Clinton, but we keep it as a part of his biography because it helps us understand who the person is. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:30, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
I think you're misunderstanding. Sangdeboeuf was talking about Wnt's use of racial slurs as an example, and was not referring to the use of birth names in articles. In fact, in the line you quoted, they were deliberately contrasting the use of birth names to racial slurs, saying that the latter exist solely to intimidate, unlike the former. Red Rock Canyon (talk) 02:36, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
Ah, I thought he was referring to deadnames as being distinct from birth names. My mistake. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:39, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
Fixed it. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 03:10, 10 January 2018 (UTC)
@Sangdeboeuf: This is not gratuitous. There are a lot of words that people feel strongly about. I'm sure trans people feel strongly about this issue. There may be some who find it uncomfortable that the African American article actually does contain the word I used. Nonetheless, we are right to do so, and I find it important to call attention to that. If you like, I should be clear that I wish no disrespect to African Americans -- just as I wish no disrespect to the trans people we identify by birth name. But I would hoard the factual content of our articles like a dragon is said to hang onto gold. Still, not every piece need be at our lair's entrance. Wnt (talk) 15:26, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

Disputed content[edit]

Guidance about achieving consensus for disputed content is currently stuck way down under "Role of administrators". I believe this should be mentioned more prominently, since some editors don't seem to follow WP:BRD in this area. See for example Linda Sarsour (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs).

The view of the Arbitration Committee is that "In cases where the appropriateness of material regarding a living person is questioned, the rule of thumb should be 'do no harm.' This means, among other things, that such material should be removed until a decision to include it is reached". This is also reflected under WP:ONUS: "The onus to achieve consensus for inclusion is on those seeking to include disputed content".

Therefore I suggest the following text be moved from § Role of administrators to § Writing style (leaving a short summary at the current location):

Disputed content
When material about living persons has been deleted* on good-faith BLP objections, any editor wishing to add, restore, or undelete it must ensure it complies with Wikipedia's content policies. If it is to be restored without significant change, consensus must be obtained first. Material that has been repaired to address concerns should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

* Deleted world be replaced with removed. Any other suggestions are welcome. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 13:19, 25 December 2017 (UTC)

I would also suggest that the sentence in the introduction:

The burden of evidence rests with the editor who adds or restores material

...should instead say:

The burden to achieve consensus rests with the editor who adds or restores material

...since there is a lot of verified material out there that may be unsuitable for a given encyclopedic biography, such as celebrity gossip and the like. —Sangdeboeuf (talk) 18:55, 2 January 2018 (UTC)

  • This move makes sense to me. However, I wouldn't replace citation responsibility with guaranteed inclusion - they're both important. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 19:02, 2 January 2018 (UTC)
  • No, no, no, no. The bit about changing "deleted" to "removed" is a hint how drastic this change would be. Undeleting or recreating whole articles without significant revisions is one thing -- adding back a sentence that you think is well supported by sources is something altogether different. The proposed change would create a Superconsensus of One where any editor determined to keep an inconvenient fact from being mentioned (and there are many, of both) would merely need to filibuster the talk page until everyone else gave up on having open and honest Wikipedia coverage. I should also add that "do no harm" is open to interpretation -- if a politician is in a big company's pocket and we don't print that and they get elected, did we really do no harm??? Wnt (talk) 20:37, 2 January 2018 (UTC)
  • This seems like a sensible proposal. I don't agree with Wnt above that this would create filibusters. It's just a common-sense tweak. Coretheapple (talk) 01:28, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose removing it from the admin section. The word "delete" is used, not removed, because it's about admins deleting BLP violations. I have no objection to a similar section being developed elsewhere, but we do already have the section "Remove contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced". I oppose adding: "The burden to achieve consensus rests with the editor who adds or restores material." It isn't clear what it means. SarahSV (talk) 01:55, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
  • I agree with SarahSV, this is unclear. It also, I think, provides too much opportunity for gaming, if for example something has already recently been consensus supported, but one or a small group of disruptive editors keep removing it and insisting on new discussions. In that case, the burden would be on the remover to establish that the previous consensus has changed. So I would oppose this as worded. Seraphimblade Talk to me 04:50, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Support the first proposal (moving text from Role of administrators to Writing style), and oppose the second ("burden of evidence" revision). I think the first proposal would add clarity, but there's enough confusion already (above) about what the edits in the second part mean. I also don't think changing "deleted" to "removed" changes much, since the section as currently written already refers to deletion of "material", not "articles" (and thus already means removal of content within a page). Shelbystripes (talk) 19:32, 3 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We don't need to give more power to public relations personnel trying to whitewash their bosses' biographies. James (talk/contribs) 09:48, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose. There is a specific reason why its 'deleted' and under admin section. Its to make sure admins before undeleting material are aware they are responsible for any BLP violation that makes it back in, rather than in many other cases, merely exercising their tools on behalf of another. Only in death does duty end (talk) 09:19, 8 January 2018 (UTC)

No fair use images in BLP infoboxes?[edit]

I have an editor who is reverting an image (albeit accidentally uploaded as a non-free image) in the 6ix9ine article, saying that WMF policy forbids the use of fair use images in BLP articles, but they have not provided any specific links to the policy. Are they correct? I am somewhat new to editing and am still figuring out the intricacies of fair use. Etzedek24 (talk) 02:10, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

Hi Etzedek24 They're correct as per WP:NFCCP #1. We assume a free-equivalent photo could be taken of a living person. --NeilN talk to me 02:14, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

Cassie Sainsbury[edit]

This subject may have been discussed earlier - if so please excuse this posting here....
An anon editor changed data (birth date and place), claiming to be the mother of the article's subject. I first removed the disputed data altogether (as it was unsourced either way). Searching around the internet there a numerous depictions of the person's passport, almost all of them with the DOB/POB/Passport number blanked. I have been able to find one image (here), which - if it is genuine as it appears to be - lists the date and place of birth in line with the claims of the anon editor.
So there question is: can/should we use very likely illegitimately obtained pictures of the internet to source BLP data on Wikipedia?? Travelbird (talk) 14:23, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

You should ask this on WP:BLPN - this talk page is for proposing changes to the policy.
Presently, I think it is very likely that the article would be deleted in its entirety under WP:BLP1E, as the current text gives the impression she seems to be known for one event, not even a particularly notable event as they go. It might be mergable, in reduced form, into some general article on cocaine prohibition in Australia.
The mother's IP address maps to South Australia. I see no particular reason to disbelieve her; nonetheless, since anonymous trolls can and do try to insert random errors into Wikipedia just in order to make their competing commercial sites more desirable by comparison, we can't just take the IP account's word that it is really her. Does the subject have an official web page? If so the mother could arrange to get the data published there, and then we could cite it per WP:SPS as a subject talking about herself. Wnt (talk) 15:21, 7 January 2018 (UTC)


The section on this page about primary sources seems to make them essentially forbidden, yet WP:PRIMARY says, "Unless restricted by another policy, primary sources that have been reputably published may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them." Is there any reason why this verbatim quote from that policy page should not go here? I believe it would end the contradiction and make the policy clearer. --Tenebrae (talk) 01:15, 9 January 2018 (UTC)

Primary sources are indeed allowed. The point of this section is to stop people from, say, digging up someone's divorce details from a court and publishing them here. We currently urge caution and say "Where primary-source material has been discussed by a reliable secondary source, it may be acceptable to rely on it to augment the secondary source ..." SarahSV (talk) 01:28, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
Nothing here contradicts primary. We use things such as academic CVs and university websites all the time in BLPs, and that is not contradicted by this policy. We can't use an online court docket as a reference for saying that a celebrity has a drunk driving charge, however. For that we'd need a news report. TonyBallioni (talk) 01:32, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
You might be right. It was mostly the date-of-birth prohibition that's throwing me, since that's non-contentious. Whether for current celebrities or historical figures, birth certificates / census records cited in sources such as FamilySearch are often the only reliable way of confirming that important biographical fact. But I guess those would be secondary sources citing primary, then, come to think.--Tenebrae (talk) 01:54, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
That's a privacy thing. DOBs are often used like ID numbers. We'll oversight them for minors under a certain age. I've asked Risker what our policy is in this regards in terms of hiding it for adults on her talk page. TonyBallioni (talk) 02:01, 9 January 2018 (UTC)
We don't really use secondary-cite birth records except for adults, so, fortunately, in my experience, it hasn't been an issue with minors. (There was a RfC about kids in 2015, I think, and after at least a month of discussion there was a consensus that if the parents or their representatives publicly release children's birth, name and gender, we can include it. I know in cases like Ginnifer Goodwin where the parents do not release that information, we don't. And heaven knows when Kim Kardashian releases that information in magazine stories, we do!)--Tenebrae (talk) 23:07, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

Is buzzfeed a reliable source for biographies of living persons?[edit]

Please give your opinion. I am hoping our answers can give specific and general guidance. Thank you. Talk:Nouman_Ali_Khan#Request_for_comment_on_buzzfeed_reference. Waters.Justin (talk) 06:07, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Is a reliable source for biographies of living persons?[edit]

A discussion is taking place at Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#It's time to talk about generally. --Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 17:27, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Christopher Cantwell[edit]

Resolved: I took care of it. See Christopher Cantwell now. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 02:55, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

Can someone please create a Wikipedia article for writer and producer Christopher Cantwell, who is different from the figure Christopher Cantwell? This is an important BLP concern. I don't have time now, but I've added a hatnote there to distinguish both persons. This came to my attention with this edit, and I think this needs to be addressed promptly to avoid any problematic confusion. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 23:30, 17 January 2018 (UTC)