Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons

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Defining the term Contentious[edit]

There have been a number of disputes, including one recent one at WP:AN/I that have resulted from different interpretations of what Contentious means. This is particularly important as it applies to the WP:BLPREMOVE section, because that section authorizes edit warring and WP:INVOLVED admin actions where the material is contentious, when it would otherwise be prohibited. Because the definition is not clear, we end up with situations where some people believe an editor or admin has committed a serious policy violation, while others believe they followed policy. This RFC seeks to clarify the meaning going forward. While references to past conduct may be necessary for the discussion, the discussion is about how to resolve the issue moving forward, not the past conduct. Monty845 15:53, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Proposed definition from Monty845[edit]

A claim about a living person should be considered contentious in either of two cases. First, if the claim is negative, or could be interpreted as being negative by some, it is contentious. Second, if there is a good faith dispute about the factual accuracy of the claim, it is contentious.

  • Support as proposer. This would cover anything that is potentially libelous and that could possibly be an attack on a living person. It would also give extra teeth to WP:BURDEN as applied to BLPs. But, when it comes to authorized edit warring, and WP:INVOLVED admin actions, it would not apply to cases where someone is just demanding a source, but is not asserting that the claim in the article is factually inaccurate. WP:BURDEN would still permit the removal of unsourced material without a dispute over factual accuracy, but would not authorize the special enforcement mechanisms of WP:BLPREMOVE. Monty845 15:53, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support using this as the basic guideline (which I thought was already the guideline) and using WP:BRD for petty things that harm no one but just need sourcing for verification. Dennis Brown - 16:12, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. I'm not happy about "or could be interpreted as being negative by some", since as we well know, there are people who will push that envelope to include nearly everything, but agree with the thought behind it, and can't think of a better way to phrase it. So supporting lacking better alternative. --GRuban (talk) 16:23, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
    "or could be interpreted as being negative by some" to "or could be interpreted by a reasonable person". "Reasonable person" is a pretty standard measuring stick and doesn't require everyone agree, only that disagreeing could be seen as "reasonable". Dennis Brown - 16:30, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I considered phrasing it negative or inherently controversial, but you run into the same problem of creep as to what is inherently controversial. What I wanted to avoid was leaving room to argue that a term that was effectively an attack, was not negative. So for instance, as a community we would not consider homosexuality to be "negative", but if someone makes the claim that a living person is homosexual, it should be covered by BLPREMOVE, because such claims are often intended as an attack, and some people would consider it a negative trait, even if most of us wouldn't. Monty845 16:38, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm OK with this, but may propose something else. It isn't negative that someone has strong opinions on politics or religion, but in most circles those topics are controversial. ϢereSpielChequers
  • I also think this is ok if it is changed to "or could reasonably be interpreted as being negative by some" (addition bolded) Davewild (talk) 17:04, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support although I may suggest some tweaks to the wording later. DES (talk) 17:32, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment - this is reasonable, but ultimately, you can't legislate for cases where people are being unreasonable or acting in bad faith. Whatever gets written, the same problems with inevitably occur. WilyD 17:36, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Nice try but I think it's way off the mark. First, being negative does not equate to something being contentious. The negativity is a potential source of contention, but it is not the same thing. Danny DeVito is extremely short, and has a high body mass index. Such things are arguably negative, but not contentious. Someone might be described as gay, or straight, or Roman Catholic. Those things are not considered negative, but they may well be contentious. A good faith dispute over factual accuracy definitely does not make something contentious. It would have to be a fact that, if true, would cause harm to the person's public perception (or something like that). A dispute over a minor fact with neutral implications, or a dispute that though in good faith is not plausible and has no credence, does not make a fact contentious. - Wikidemon (talk) 01:43, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I think this is too sweeping. Undisputed, but negative, facts aren't contentious. For example, "Charles Manson is a convicted criminal" is definitely negative, but it's not contentious, because nobody who has ever heard his name would ever disagree with that statement. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:36, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
    • You're opposing something that goes halfway to where you want, because you want it to go further, and because of this will get nothing. --GRuban (talk) 13:30, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
      • No, I oppose it because it goes six times as far as I think it should. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:50, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose the first case "if the claim is negative, or could be interpreted as being negative ...". Contentious and negative have quite different meanings. (If you really want to keep it, the BLP section name should be "Remove negative material that is unsourced or poorly sourced".) Mitch Ames (talk) 12:30, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment. I've been reverted by people who had entirely unreasonable rationales. One person said, among other things, calling a notable Wikipedian an "active contributor" to the project was a BLP violation because "active" is impossible to quantify. I think we need some kind of protection against baseless claims of BLP violations, but I also think we need to set the bar a little lower for a contentious claim. There are contentious claims that are not negative. For example, unsourced personal details, such as birth dates, are regularly added to BLPs, and I have no clue whether the claim is true or not. I challenge more because it's unsourced than because I specifically think it's factually inaccurate. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 06:48, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
  • strong oppose policy is clear that "contentious" ALSO applies to "positive, neutral, or just questionable" - this would clearly gut policy. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:47, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose defining contentious, though I would like to remove "neutral." It sounds odd for something to be both contentious and neutral, and following it with "or just questionable" seems repetitive. I would prefer: "Contentious material about living persons (or, in some cases, recently deceased) that is unsourced or poorly sourced – whether the material is negative, positive or just questionable – should be removed immediately ..." Sarah (talk) 00:53, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose per TheRedPenOfDoom.Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:27, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - per SlimVirgin МандичкаYO 😜 01:58, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose ditto The Pastafarian Church (talk) 07:53, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Suppose. I understand why people are reluctant to define the term. However, I think that this is a pretty good, simple definition: negative or disputed. Coretheapple (talk) 16:43, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - per SlimVirgin and TheRedPenOfDoom - Cwobeel (talk) 00:04, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It's a highly subjective test. What's negative? Is having a drug habit 'negative' or just neutral? How about being gay or being married to a person of a different race? There are people who think both of those are terrible evil things. What is 'negative' is extremely context specific—both at a societal and a personal level. To say that someone drinks a lot of alcohol would be 'negative' if it were, say, an evangelical Christian preacher, but pretty much expected for a professional stand-up comedian. I'm tempted to say that trying to solve this problem is close to impossible. Wikipedians have this curious habit of thinking that if they just define the words right, that'll magically solve problems—but it just doesn't work like that. —Tom Morris (talk) 09:36, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposed definition from Alanscottwalker[edit]

[BLP's are to be based on 'high quality sources']. A claim about a living person is usually considered contentious, where there is a good faith dispute that: the content is undue; the quality of the sourcing is sufficient/insufficient; or high quality sources are in disagreement concerning how to express the claim(s). (See also, WP:ONUS). In addition, remember to avoid puffery and unfair or unsupported critique, and that 'getting it right', includes exactly how content maybe expressed. Also, keep in mind that context matters. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:35, 25 June 2015 (UTC)[Bracket language due to discussion below Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:20, 25 June 2015 (UTC)]

  • It's difficult to say all the ways something maybe contentious (which is probably why it's not been done) but the above gets to them better, in a way better suited to multiple contingencies. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:42, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Support, as it comes closer to expressing the issue of poor sourcing.—Kww(talk) 16:56, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose Unless there is good-faith doubt as to accuracy, mere poor sourcing should not make a statement contentious. Remove "the quality of the sourcing is sufficient/insufficient" and this looks better. DES (talk) 17:30, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Mere poor sourcing should not make a statement contentious? Mere 'poor sourcing' already makes any BLP claim unsuitable, unverifiable, OR. There is little difference between, 'I know this is true' and 'this blog says, it's true'. But perhaps you read the proposal as 'only sources in the article' and not 'all high quality sources' but that seems either fixable, or that reading is not intended. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:48, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Poor sourcing is sufficient cause for removal using normal processes, but not using the tools authorized under WP:BLPADMINS or WP:BLPDS. Those tools are for specific problems that reasonably can be expected to cause harm to a subject. We had an editor who kept insisting that a particular actor was divorced from his real spouse and now married to what I presume to be the stalker. That's not "X molests puppies" level of allegation, but it's still both untrue, unsourced, and hurtful to boot. Jclemens (talk) 17:58, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
It's 'hurtful' to tell potential disinformation about living persons -- we guard against that by having 'high quality sources' - without a high quality source, it should never be there - so preventing it from being there, without a high quality source is just common sense. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:04, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Right, but the problem with this proposal is that you're defining known-accurate information as "contentious" with this statement. Under this proposal, if I write "Barack Obama is the current President of the United States", and I source it to some lousy blog, then you've defined the fact of Obama being the president as being "contentious". Using a lousy blog is a sourcing problem, but the claim that Obama is the current US president is not actually contentious, even when unsourced. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:46, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
No. It does not, define known accurate information as contentious See, "ususally" and "good faith dispute" Alanscottwalker (talk) 23:28, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
I believe that you don't intend for it to be interpreted that way, but in practice, "usually" on a definition gets ignored. Also, under your exact wording, the good-faith dispute needs to cover only whether that source is sufficient, not whether the facts are accurate. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:53, 29 June 2015 (UTC)
Added potential bracket info to address the issue. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:20, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Oppose - contentiousness is a property of the fact about the person that is proposed for inclusion, not a property of Wikipedia editors disagreeing on how to edit an article. Undue, and interpreting the sourcing, are their own content rules. This particular section of BLP is about demanding high quality sources for claims that might hurt a person. If you collapse that to a requirement of having high quality sources it repeats the first half of the condition again, and it collapses into a simple sourcing question. - Wikidemon (talk) 01:47, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
Oppose Largely as per DESiegal and Wikidemon. But also, if people want to replace controversial with unsourced then they should make a case to do that. Otherwise we would be left with a misleading BLP policy, and misleading policy leads to bitten newbies. ϢereSpielChequers 21:56, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
  • oppose more wordy, more contorted and not any less subjective. Does anyone have a "good faith" meter? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:51, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Unnecessarily wordy and convoluted. Regretfully, as this from an editor I hold in high esteem. Perhaps it can be simplified? Coretheapple (talk) 16:44, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This proposal obfuscates rather than clarifies. - Cwobeel (talk) 00:05, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Already existing essay that speaks to the matter from User:Jclemens[edit]

Mind you, that's five years old now, and I suspect, but don't have time to check, that the wording of WP:BLP has changed enough so that the underlying goal--avoidance of harm to real people--has been lost. Exactly how a possibly incorrect acting award could cause material enough harm to real people for an existing admin to justify edit warring in the name of BLP is a mystery to me... except that it's not, as we will always have rules lawyers here at Wikipedia, which is why I wrote the essay 5 years ago, before I was elected to Arbcom, and nothing that's happened in the intervening time, including serving on OTRS and handling dozens of BLP complaints from subjects, has changed my mind about the need to restrict BLP exemptions to edits that do actual or at least reasonably foreseeable harm. Jclemens (talk) 16:57, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

  • Support - er? I agree with the essay. I'm not quite sure what you're actually proposing though. Boil it down to a specific text change to WP:BLP, please. --GRuban (talk) 17:56, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
    I'm too retired to have a strong opinion on how it should be actually worded, but "reasonably foreseen as possibly causing harm to a living person" seems like a good starter phrase, better than 'contentious', when talking about material that falls under WP:BLPDS and WP:BLPADMINS. Jclemens (talk) 18:00, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Good essay - which suggests that we don't need to edit the policy page, just make sure that more people read the essay. Whether the wording is just right or not in the essay or not, it identifies the issue correctly. - Wikidemon (talk) 01:49, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
  • I think it has value, but I think it misses the fundamental issue of getting it right. Does it do someone harm to claim he was born on a different day than he actually was, or is vegan when he prefers steak, or likes to play pinochle on Saturday afternoons? Probably not, but it certainly irritates our subjects when we get things like that wrong. As for the harm in claiming that person A won an award and depriving the actual winner of the credit he is due? I'll grant that getting false credit for something you haven't earned isn't generally all that harmful, but the actual winner might want to have a chat with you about it. The core issue is that we are very liberal with our use of unsourced and incorrect material and very tolerant of editors that include it. There's an allowance for newbies, and there's an allowance for grandfathered material, but there shouldn't be an allowance for an experienced editor edit-warring to force unsourced material into a BLP. That's why WP:BURDEN and WP:V insist that the sources be supplied prior to restoration of challenged material. In a very real sense, we shouldn't be here arguing about special exemptions for BLPs, we should be questioning why we tolerate the restoration of unsourced material. Why are we worried about 3RR violations when such restorations so clearly violate our other policies?—Kww(talk) 02:35, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Proposed definition from WhatamIdoing[edit]

Material about an identifiable living person is contentious if:

  • the material is considered controversial in the real world, including when reputable sources disagree with each other about the material, or
  • editors are likely to dispute the veracity of the material.


A few comments:

  • I'd rather see this as a footnote.
  • A quiet link to wikt:contentious might be an adequate replacement.
  • This supports the "get it right" position: if editors sincerely doubt that the material is right, then the material is contentious under this definition. In fact, if you think it's WP:LIKELY (i.e., >50% chance) that some other editor will doubt the veracity of the material, then it's contentious under this definition.
  • The point of this is to emphasize the distinction between "an edit so obviously dispute-inducing that I can't believe anyone would add it without a good source" and "really, it's best if everything about a living person has an inline citation, but whether that happens today or next week isn't a big deal in this instance".
  • This definition excludes questions of due weight, style, etc., that involve only uncontroversial material. A detailed explication of what color tie the US president wears is pure WP:UNDUE WP:TRIVIA that does WP:NOT belong in an encyclopedia, no matter how many sources I provide for it (and there are a lot of them), but it's still not "contentious" material. You can remove that through normal dispute resolution processes, without invoking BLP.
  • "Being contentious" is not the only quality that requires removal. Defining contentious in a sensible way does not revoke or weaken the other rules about stuff requiring removal: "...that is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see No original research); that relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP (see below); or that relies on sources that fail in some other way to meet Verifiability standards." I'm not trying to include all the other stuff that requires removal as being "contentious" in addition to requiring removal for the other, unrelated reasons; stuff that should be removed because of NOR or SPS or whatever should be removed because of NOR or SPS or whatever. Editors should not first (and pointlessly) re-categorize NOR and WP:V violations as "contentious" before fixing them.
  • Examples (real) to show what I see this as covering:
    • Professor J. Michael Bailey wrote a book called The Man Who Would Be Queen. N – Normal WP:V rules apply, because this fact is uncontroversial in the real world, and no editors in their right minds (and who spend ten seconds talking to their favorite web search engine) would disagree with this. Someday, somebody ought to add an inline citation, but there's no possibility of anyone being harmed if this sits around uncited.
    • The pop-science book described different psychological aspects of femininity in men, including an approach that divides male-to-female transsexuals into two groups, based on their sexual orientations. N – Not about any particular living person, so normal WP:V rules apply.
    • Some transsexual activists, who disagreed with his portrayal of transwomen as being "really men" or as transitioning to fulfill sexual urges in that book, filed formal complaints that he abused his position as a researcher. YesY – You bet this allegation would need sources (here's one by the way: [1]).
    • He was cleared of all charges. YesY – Ditto.
    • Bailey supports LGBT rights and legalized prostitution. YesY – Some editors (depending on their POV) might sincerely dispute whether any person who holds a POV so odious to transwomen could accurately be described as "supportive" of trans rights; others would label this as contentious matter because a political position in favor of the rights of sexual minorities and sex workers is controversial in the real world. No editors are likely to consider this a statement about an uncontroversial subject.
  • I think this covers all of the basics. It could always be adjusted later, as we get more experience with it, but I think it would be a sufficient starting point. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:19, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
  • oppose "is considered controversial in the real world," is no clearer or less subjective than the current wording. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:50, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
    • If something's controversial in the real world, then you'll be able to find sources that use words like "controversial" to describe the subject. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:20, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
    • The current wording is unclear in that different people are reading it in different ways, our differences are as as broad as "everything about a BLP is controversial so controversial means unsourced" to Controversial means negative, so the policy is a long way to say that negative BLP material needs to be sourced. Considered controversial in the real world is still subjective, but much less so than the current situation. ϢereSpielChequers 13:57, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose This is close, but not in my view a sufficient improvement on the current situation. "the material is considered controversial in the real world, including when reputable sources disagree with each other about the material, or editors are likely to dispute the veracity of the material." In my view puts too much emphasis on the scenario where editors or sources disagree about something. In reality the most common scenario is that we are making judgment calls about unsourced information that new editors are writing. "Sometimes works shifts in the brothels of Nevada" is something we would hopefully all treat as requiring a reliable source and unlikely to belong in any BLP other than that of a pornographic actor. "unusual amongst ISIS commanders for being gay and also for not taking sexual advantage of female captives" would be positive, but it really needs a reliable source. ϢereSpielChequers 07:51, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose Sorry, but what the heck does 'in the real world' mean? As opposed to what? I think people may be losing sight of the need for clearly-worded policy here. AndyTheGrump (talk) 08:40, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose per AndyTheGrump - Cwobeel (talk) 00:06, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposed definition from Anythingyouwant[edit]

"Footnote: In the context of this BLP Policy, 'contentious' stuff is stuff that is actually causing or apt to cause disagreement from reliable sources and/or objections from at least one Wikipedia editor who is relying in good faith upon Wikipedia rules, and/or arguments from reasonable Wikipedia readers, and/or some combination of the three."

  • Support as proposer. We should keep the context in mind, so here it is:

[C]ontentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately and without discussion….Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced; that is a conjectural interpretation of a source (see No original research); that relies on self-published sources, unless written by the subject of the BLP (see below); or that relies on sources that fail in some other way to meet Verifiability standards….Similarly, "See also" links should not be used to imply any contentious categorization or claim about a living person…. Disruptive and offensive usernames (for example, names containing contentious material about living persons, or that are clearly abusive towards any race, religion or social group) should be immediately blocked….[E]xtensions would apply particularly to contentious or questionable material about the dead that has implications for their living relatives and friends, such as in the case of a possible suicide or a particularly gruesome crime…. If the entire page is substantially of poor quality, primarily containing contentious material that is unsourced or poorly sourced, then it may be necessary to delete the entire page....

Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:53, 5 July 2015 (UTC)

Proposed definition from Username[edit]


General Discussion: Contentious[edit]

I'm a bit at a loss, as I think the issue that spawned this RFC isn't so much about what is and isn't contentious, it is more about what is an appropriate reaction by the admin making the determination; Their judgement in handling the contentious edit. Dennis Brown - 16:11, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

While I agree the issue could be resolved through editorial/admin discretion, this isn't the first time someone has argued that contentious means pretty much what ever they want to dispute. I'm not sure if its been an admin before, but others have certainly claimed edit warring exemptions on similar grounds. I think a clearer definition would provide needed direction to that discretion. Monty845 16:16, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I tend to agree. Lots of people throw the word "contentious" around when they really mean "you disagree with me", instead of "arguably false or impossible to substantiate", which is a better definition. This does dilute the word to being almost meaningless. Dennis Brown - 16:20, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Particularly in Wikipedia parlance since anything unsourced is open to challenge, and therefore, by definition, contentious. Resolute 16:24, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Definition: Contentious – "causing or likely to cause an argument." Thus, anything that leads to an argument is literally "contentious". Perhaps we need a different work here... --IJBall (contribstalk) 18:37, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
If the edit in question had been "Movie star in question rapes puppies" or something akin to that, no one would have questioned my actions, and my BLP defense would have been applauded by most. If the statement had been "Movie star in question has appeared in movies", no one at all would have listened to my defense, and I would still be blocked as being obviously disruptive. This question really is key: I saw the edits as being BLP violations, and the editor making them as intentionally violating both BURDEN and BLP with no intention of stopping, and that reverting those BLP violations did not make me involved. Others say that they were not contentious at all and did not constitute a violation, making me a rogue admin in violation of WP:INVOLVED. Whatever my fate, getting a more precise definition of when BLP kicks in for a removal will help future admins and editors.
My personal take is that "contentious" is pretty much the opposite of "common knowledge". Does anyone need to source that a famous movie star appears in movies? Certainly not. That they starred in a particular movie or won a particular award? Those get much closer to "contentious", but may not cross the line. Won an obscure award that few have heard of? Got his start in underwear commercials? Did something 20 years ago that doesn't correspond to the things he is known for? None of those is negative, but they are not things that anyone should be expected to take on faith.—Kww(talk) 16:29, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
The trite answer is that the opposite of contentious is uncontentious and the opposite of common knowledge is arcane knowledge. Wiktionary has "Marked by heated arguments or controversy" and that broadly has been how I understood the policy. ϢereSpielChequers 16:58, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
So, a hypothetical, WSQ: someone adds (sans sourcing) that someone won some particular award. A search online finds no trace of the awarding organisation, and another editor removes it on that basis. That certainly gets into WP:BURDEN territory, but is the material now "contentious"? Or is there some particular level/kind/intensity of discussion that is required before we can say the issue is "marked by heated arguments or controversy"?—Kww(talk) 17:16, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
"Contentious", if you'll review the evolution of the phrasing, was never about Wikipedia editors like or dislike of the edit in question, but about real world impact to the person. Any contentious (disagreed upon by editors) material anywhere in article space has always needed a good source, per V, and you rightly cite BURDEN. However, something that's disputed by wikipedia editors is not the same as something that might arguably cause harm to a living subject by its presence in our article. THAT is the sort of 'contentiousness' that triggers out of process reverts, blocks, revdel's, and the like. Failure to understand the difference is unfortunate, although looking at the mess of the wording now, I can see where people get screwed up about it. But back to you: what do you think is special about BLP enforcement that allows admins essentially unlimited discretion to do whatever it takes to keep contentious material out of a BLP? Jclemens (talk) 17:49, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Hi KWW, it depends a little on the award, and the awardee. It would be controversial for a Saudi architect to win an Israeli award, or for anyone to win an award as an adult performer if we didn't already have them reliably sourced as being an adult performer. But assuming that the award is uncontroversial then yes Burden kicks in on this one rather than controversial content it is content that others have not been able to verify. Not necessarily hoax material but one where it would be reasonable to require the challenged editor to only restore if they can find a source. ϢereSpielChequers 13:46, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
"Contentious material about living persons (or, in some cases, recently deceased) that is unsourced or poorly sourced – whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable – should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion." The issue is not and should never be is negative. Claiming any type of "award" would fall under "negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable" -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:44, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Well that's certainly how some people are reading it, but if that was the correct reading then the word contentious would be redundant. I would say that claims about people's political or religious views, sexual orientation or sexual activity would be contentious whether " positive, neutral, or just questionable". But I accept that the phrase is misleading, different people are interpreting it in very different ways and it needs to be clarified - hence this discussion. However I would agree that we should not replace it with the word "negative" as many contentious things are positive to some and negative to others. ϢereSpielChequers 08:24, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
Here's a fact: The former US President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize.
TRPoD, do you think that specific statement is "contentious"? What might cause people to "contend" (aka "dispute", "struggle", "fight", "debate") with each other about that sentence? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:24, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
If anyone is interested in reading previous discussions had at this talk page about defining "contentious," click on this link. The most recent previous discussion we had on this issue is the 2014 one: Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons/Archive 36#Rephrase "Remove unsourced or poorly sourced contentious material" subheading. And not all of the interpretations of "contentious" made sense to me. Some of the "remove that unsourced text" attitudes left a bad taste in my mouth. That discussion also shows how "contentious" came to be added to the WP:BLP policy. Flyer22 (talk) 16:35, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
  • Sorry if I'm raising a point others may have raised, but do we really need a definition? There is one in the dictionary. "Controversial." Good enough? Coretheapple (talk) 18:29, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  • All this discussion seems to be slightly pointless. Seeking to formally define words used in policy doesn't really help solve the problem, as I've written elsewhere. BLP will always be rather subjective and rely on hunches, judgement calls and a fair amount of gut instict. Trying to rules-lawyer a rather arbitrary definition of 'contentious' into of a policy whose intention is to reduce harm may end up doing exactly what we shouldn't be doing: turning BLP compliance into a narrow, legalistic checklist rather than attempting to gut check whether we are being cruel or unfair towards article subjects. —Tom Morris (talk) 09:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Dates of birth and info boxes[edit]

Currently, the subsection of this policy know as WP:DOB says, in part: "Wikipedia includes full names and dates of birth that have been widely published by reliable sources, or by sources linked to the subject such that it may reasonably be inferred that the subject does not object. If the subject complains about the inclusion of the date of birth, or the person is borderline notable, err on the side of caution and simply list the year." However, many infobox prototypes in documentation pages indicate that date of birth should be entered using {{birth date and age}}, which requires a full date. It appears that many editors follow this guidence pretty much automatically. I have recntly changed the doc pages of {{infobox person}} and about a dozen specialized infoboxes that call it to mention WP:DOB and advise using {{birth year and age}} unless the exact date is widely published. It seems to me that in almost all cases our encyclopedic purposes are fully served by specifing just the year for living people.

What would people think of my firing up AWB (which i haven't used in quite a while) and replacing {{birth date and age|YYYY|MM|DD}} with {{birth year and age|YYYY}} on a number of BLPs? DES (talk) 18:07, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

We went through an exercise fairly recently to make sure that all the {{birth date and age}} uses have the proper date in them or they were changed to {{birth year and age}} so I dont see why {{birth date and age}} should be changed to remove the dates without a valid reason. MilborneOne (talk) 18:16, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
That is good, MilborneOne. I have seen quite a few articles recently that used the full date with no sourcing to indicate that it was appropriate. Most of them, perhaps all, were in fairly recent articles which probably hadn't been created at the time of the exercise. How recent was it, may I ask? and what standards ae we using to determine what is a "proper date"? Were any lists of pages checked maintained?
Also, any opnions on the changes to the template documentation, and whether it would help reduce the issue going forward? DES (talk) 20:55, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
For 99% of our BLPs, I have trouble imagining what value we provide with exact birth dates, once you've excluded the tiny subsets of readers who ought to send a birthday present (and who therefore should already know the date) and astrologers. I think this would be fine. However, if it weren't too complicated, then tagging them all with {{fact}} for a month first might be appropriate. A unique string in the |reason= would make it ery easy to find uncorrected/unreverted DOBs. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:01, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
A few random checks of articles transcluding {{birth date and age}} indicates that 3 out of 4 had no citation for the birth date at all, nor any mention of it on the talk page. This isn't big enough to be a representative sample, but I have to wonder if "make sure that all the {{birth date and age}} uses have the proper date in them meant merely making sure that their parameters were valid, not that their content was cited. MilborneOne, could you provide a bit more detail on what was done when this was reviewed previously? DES (talk) 02:30, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Sorry should have been clearer the task was done in March and April 2015 to make sure that the correct template was used, mainly missing or corrupt dates per using Category:Pages using age template with invalid date. If the full date was available or corrupt then it was replaced by a less demanding template. No check was done on the quality of the data. I dont have a problem with fact tagging "birth date and age" or even "birth year and age" as these should only appear on living person anyhow but it may be an issue when it is referenced in the article but not the infobox, I dont think it is a requirement to cite infobox stuff when it is a repeat or summary of stuff in the article. As a fairly fundemental fact in any biography then I have a problem with removing them from the article if they are properly cited except as has been said for living person where it may be a privacy issue, so I cant see why it should be shortened in the infoboxes. MilborneOne (talk) 12:59, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
MilborneOne, I quite agree that a citation of the info anywhere in the article is fine, it need not be immediately adjacent to the template. Furthermore I am talking only about use on articles about currently living people. The doc for {{birth date and age}} says that it should only be used for living people, but I wouldn't make the assumption that all uses are in fact on BLPs. I am mtalking mostly about cases where the date is compeltely uncited, although cases whre it is cited only to a fairly obsucre source also implicate the privacy aspects of WP:DOB. Note also that I am not talking about total removal even in those cases, but mearly trimming to the year. Under thjose limitations, would you ahve a problem with trimming of month and day info? do you think it needs to be tagged for a period before trimming? Does anyone else? DES (talk) 13:17, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
DESiegel thanks for explaining that I dont have a problem with year-only under those circumstances. MilborneOne (talk) 13:42, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
"The doc for {{birth date and age}} says that it should only be used for living people": well that's because for a dead person the calculated age would be incorrect. Eg someone who lived 1950-2010 would display as 65 years old. Stickee (talk) 22:14, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
I did understand that, Stickee. I also understand that it will sometimes be used incorectly. For example it may be added to a BLP and not changed when the subject dies. I just wanted to indicate I wasn't going to assume that an article whjich transcludes {{birth date and age}} must be a BLP, rather I would double check. DES (talk) 02:42, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
The criterion introduced here, for example, that birth dates must be "cited to a source which makes it clear that the date has been widely published, or else published with the subject's approval" seems to me to be wildly unrealistic - most of the secondary sources from which we get our information do not specify where their information comes from, or explain how widely the information has been publicised (nor would anyone expect them to). I understand the general point over privacy and the need for birth dates to be sourced from reliable sources, but to set out new criteria to exclude widely published information, if that is what is intended, seems to me to be an extreme position. Ghmyrtle (talk) 07:49, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
The position is taken directly from the existing policy page, which says: "Wikipedia includes full names and dates of birth that have been widely published by reliable sources, or by sources linked to the subject such that it may reasonably be inferred that the subject does not object." A source may demonstrate wide publication without saying where it got its info from. If a source is itself a major news venue, or is otherwise widely published, that pretty well indicates wide publication. If there are multiple separate sources, that indicates the same. The nature of the discussion of the fact in the source might also indicate the same. If the source was self-published by the subject, or was an interview, that would indicate that the subject approves. I am not trying to exclude widely published information, but to exclude non-widely published information, and to say that if it is widely published, the source(s) must indicate that. How would you word this policy-based requirement? DES (talk) 12:08, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
OK - I think the problem is in your wording, which I interpreted to mean that our source needed to indicate that a date had been widely published, elsewhere. But that doesn't seem to be quite what you mean - you are saying that if the source itself is demonstrably reliable and widely published, that suffices. So, I suggest that instead of saying "cited to a source which makes it clear that the date has been widely published, or else published with the subject's approval", you should be saying "cited to a source which is demonstrably reliable and widely published, or else published with the subject's approval". Is that right? If that is your view, I'll reinstate the birth date back at Cat Power, with one or two of the sources I listed on the talk page there. Ghmyrtle (talk) 12:39, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
I meant to say that i the source is itself widely publishde, or if the source or sources allow us to relaibly determine that the information is widely published, or that the subject has consented to its publication, then the info may be included, but not otherwise. How would you sugest that I word a notice to indicate that? Should I include a link to this thread? DES (talk) 12:45, 1 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, the wording you've just written above makes sense to me! Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:12, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thanks. You can see the record of my checks on this at User:DESiegel/Birth Date Check List, by the way. I have just reworded my prototype notice in acocrd with this discussion. Does anyone else have a comment? DES (talk) 13:20, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

  • support efforts to transition from the highly problematic, BLP laden, birth date to birth year. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 05:45, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment before any birth date is trimmed to its year there should be good faith efforts to establish a suitable source. Simply bludgeoning articles to conform to policy is unconstructive. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 16:13, 12 July 2015 (UTC).

  • Comment if you ask Google "When was Motomu Kiyokawa born" (just the usual web search not "OK Google") you will get the expected answer. So the date is widely known (and there are many search results that show that it is widely published). We still should have a reliable source. The Japanese Wiki suggests 和書? (1999). 声優名鑑. 成美堂出版 (Voice Actors and Actresses). p. 430. ISBN 978-4415008783. . Personally I am inclined to trust that my Japanese colleague has checked the date, rather than spend £18.96 buying a tankoban I will probably never refer to again. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 18:48, 12 July 2015 (UTC).
  • Suggestion


With identity theft a serious ongoing concern, people increasingly regard their full names and dates of birth as private. Wikipedia includes full names and dates of birth that have been widely published by reliable sources, or by sources linked to the subject such that it may reasonably be inferred that the subject does not object.


Wikipedia includes full names and dates of birth that can be verified by a reliable source, and have either been widely published or have been published by a source linked to the subject.

  1. Lets not confuse the issue with identity theft and privacy.
  2. The Daily Mail constitutes "widely published" but is not terribly reliable. We do not serve any purpose by trying to suppress this date. However for encyclopaedic reasons we need a reliable source.
  3. The sources linked to the subject may not be reliable, but they imply consent.

I'm still not happy with the blanket permission/instruction to remove on subject request, we should not remove the birth date of Barack Obama, even if he does object, for instance.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:13, 13 July 2015 (UTC).

Andy Goodenough[edit]

Hello, can I have your opinion on Andy Goodenough, do you think it passes WP:BIO. Should this article be PROD'ed? Thanks, JMHamo (talk) 22:09, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Needs more sources. There are two on his resignation, and one that covers a later appointment. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:39, 13 July 2015 (UTC).


Recently I worked on a couple BLP pages, where BLP-compliant sources demonstrated that the article-subject seemed to have a propensity for lying; in one case the news stories were specifically about how they fabricated much of their life story. This seemed like a scenario where common sense would dictate that we be less trusting of self-published sources, but where the current BLPSELFPUB does not address.

Covering this scenario specifically would be instruction creep and a slippery slope, but I was surprised it didn't at least have a sixth exception for where independent, secondary sources conflict with the article-subject's narrative, which would cover cases like this in-spirit, as well as many others where we should show preference to independent sources. CorporateM (Talk) 06:44, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

"Independent, secondary sources conflict with the article-subject's narrative" would necessarily mean that "4. there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity", so the former would be redundant. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:49, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I take it that you mean in such a case there would be reasonable doubt about the authenticity of the self-published account, and so WP:BLPSELFPUB would say not to use it. Have I understood you corectly, Mitch Ames? DES (talk) 13:03, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Oops. What I meant was "independent, secondary sources conflict with the article-subject's narrative" would necessarily mean that "4. there is no reasonable doubt as to its authenticity" is not satisfied (because there is doubt as to its authenticity if other reliable sources conflict with it) so BLPSELFPUB would say not to use it. Mitch Ames (talk) 13:11, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Mitch Ames Maybe I'm confused. I thought the reference to "authenticity" was regarding whether there was doubt that the site was actually published by the article-subject, as oppose to doubts over whether the article-subject's statements are accurate. For example, say claims to be written by John Smith, but isn't actually. That would not be an authentic self-published website. CorporateM (Talk) 04:56, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
WP:BLPSELFPUB says that such material 'may' be used - we aren't under any obligation to use it, and if we have serious doubts regarding its veracity, we shouldn't. This isn't really any different from the normal situation where an otherwise-reliable source has clearly got something wrong - we always have editorial discretion to reject such sources (and can, within reason engage in 'original research' to determine that it is wrong - WP:OR is expressly limited to article content). What we can't do is include our own opinion that it is wrong in the article. The editorial process consists of more than a blind accumulation and regurgitation of 'reliable sources' - or at least, it should, if we are to avoid becoming the 'transcription monkeys' that Jimbo once warned about. There is more on the subject of rejecting sources because they are 'wrong' at Wikipedia:Verifiability/First sentence. AndyTheGrump (talk) 05:39, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
Indeed it should be obvious in some cases that the subject has a history of fraud and/or lying. I sympathise with User:CorporateM, we do get editors who support the subject's interpretation out of an excess of Good Faith, over what the RS (including newspapers, professional bodies and court records) say. We then have to dance around BLP in order to convince these editors not to rely on what are clearly unreliable sources. But having said that it's pretty rare, and does not need a special exception, per Andy. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 16:22, 12 July 2015 (UTC).

Restoring contentious content to a BLP[edit]

Maybe I'm missing something, but is there anything in the policy that explicitly states that contentious material should not be restored to an article without first getting consensus if it has been removed on BLP grounds even if it is well sourced. The policy is clear that the content shouldn't be restored in situations where it is "unsourced or poorly sourced", but what about if there are concerns other than sourcing (such as WP:NPOV, WP:UNDUE, etc)? In the section about deleted articles, the policy says, "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..." which would be broad enough to cover the situation I'm describing but this doesn't appear to apply articles that haven't been deleted through a Wikipedia:Deletion process. Gnome de plume (talk) 12:08, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

Deleted articles have reached a consensus that the content should be removed, but deleted sentences do not. Per WP:BURDEN, it's enough that the editor restoring the content believes in good faith that the references are valid to support the contentious material, though other editors may then disagree and remove it again on BLP grounds. In that situation, it would take a rough consensus (though not unanimity) of editors agreeing that the content is well referenced, neutral and due weight before it can be restored. Diego (talk) 12:24, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick response. Regarding "In that situation, it would take a rough consensus (though not unanimity) of editors agreeing that the content is well referenced, neutral and due weight before it can be restored", is this something that is written in policy or is it just common practice? Gnome de plume (talk) 12:49, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
I was referring to WP:ROUGHCONSENSUS as the criterion used by administrators in formal discussions when there's a need to tell if a discussion has reached consensus. Adding a reference when there was none may count as a significant change that allows the content to be restored (since the WP:BURDEN would be met), but if that addition is challenged again, the next step would require consensus. Diego (talk) 14:14, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
WP:BLPREQUESTRESTORE says (with my emphasis added):

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, ...

Mitch Ames (talk) 12:56, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

That quote is in a section specific to articles that have been deleted entirely. Does it also cover partial text of an article that hasn't been through an article deletion process? That's the core of my confusion. Gnome de plume (talk) 13:58, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't think it's specifically refers to deleted articles otherwise retain, restore, or undelete would have been replaced with simply undelete.-- (talk) 13:50, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
While it's true that BLPREQUESTRESTORE is a subsection of "Deletion of BLPs", the paragraph I quoted says "material" rather than "article", so I read it as applying to material deleted from an article, not just whole deleted articles. In the absence of anything explicitly to the contrary I would suggest that it would apply to material that had been removed from an article, even if the article itself was not deleted. Such an application would be consistent with both the letter and the spirit of the rest of BLP. Mitch Ames (talk) 09:56, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Fellow editors, I concur with Mitch Ames & "67". While this section explicitly & specifically discusses page deletion, I do not believe that it is specifically limited to page deletion; it covers restoration of any material removed under WP:BLP. The lede sentence of the section is clear here: Biographical material about a living individual that is not compliant with this policy should be improved and rectified; if this is not possible, then it should be removed is not limited.
Consequently, I respectfully disagree with Diego Moya on the question of restoration. If material is to be restored without significant change, consensus must be obtained first. I do agree that additional sourcing is a significant change as is meant in this section.
Finally, I think a restructure/rewrite of this section of the policy to improve clarity would be advisable; and will look to provide a draft in the next week or so. Hope this helps. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 23:40, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, all, for the clarifications. I agree with Ryk72 that a restructuring of the policy as related to this discussion would be helpful. Gnome de plume (talk) 12:12, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

Question on compliance with US laws[edit]

A question was raised on the WP:BLP main page by Fighting Poverty regarding the requirement to comply with US laws only.

What about laws in the UK and other English speaking nations?

Moving that question here for discussion. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 08:03, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Use of English Wikipedia is governed by the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use. I presume the reference in this policy to "all applicable laws in the United States" is a simplified reflection of the wording in Terms of Use Section 13 regarding jurisdiction: "If you seek to file a legal claim against us, you agree to file and resolve it exclusively in a state or federal court located in San Francisco County, California. You also agree that the laws of the State of California and, to the extent applicable, the laws of the United States of America will govern these Terms of Use ...". In other words, requiring content to adhere to "all applicable laws in the United States" is an attempt to prevent successful legal action against WMF in a state or federal court. However, there is another point raised in Section 1: "... we warn editors and contributors that authorities may seek to apply other country laws to you, including local laws where you live or where you view or edit content."
A case could be made for the BLP policy to alert people to the full complexity regarding jurisdiction. If so, rather than complicate the main flow of the policy, perhaps we could expand upon "all applicable laws" in a footnote, with a link to the Terms of Use? (My opinion only, not professional advice. I do not represent WMF.) Wdchk (talk) 17:02, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

If you live in an area governed by laws which may apply to you, you should make yourself quite aware of them. Generally such laws would apply to all edits made by you (and not specifically by other editors) and generally only with regard to topics reasonably under the coverage of such laws (in the case at hand, generally this means "if the living person is covered by specific laws which also apply to you, follow them.") Thus if you live in Thailand (one example) and write about the King of Thailand, it is likely that Thai law regarding such material applies to you.

It is, moreover, clear that EU laws and decisions apply to anyone living in, or with a nexus to, their jurisdiction. There is no reason to assert that EU laws and decisions apply to people not under their jurisdiction and with no nexus to that jurisdiction (in the Google case, the EU found such a nexus). IANAL, but this has been the case now for many years, and has been discussed by Jonathan Zittrain among others. Cheers. Collect (talk) 09:40, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

  • As an entity based in the United States, Wikipedia must obey US laws. Failure to do so would expose Wikipedia to lawsuits in the US (And in other cases may even create criminal liability). While US courts will generally honor judgements obtained in the courts of other countries, US courts will not honor a judgement if the first amendment would have protected the defendant if the case had been brought in the US. So when it comes to BLP Policy, if Wikipedia complies with US laws on the relevant issues, it will be protected from the enforcement of any judgements resulting form lawsuits brought in other countries. Which is why there is no requirement to comply with the laws of other countries when it comes to BLP issues, like there is for US laws. As mentioned, hypothetically an editor located outside the US, could be subject to a lawsuit under the more restrictive laws of some other country, while I'm not familiar with any instances, editors would be wise to learn about, and not violate any local laws. Monty845 04:47, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

Author template[edit]

Hello all- Does anyone know if we have a standard template for an article about a living author? Motivated principally by laziness, I'd like to find a framework with sections set up that I can populate easily, e.g. bio, works, film adaptations, etc. I've scoured WP and can find only the guideline WikiProject_Biography#Structure. I realize that I can simply pick an author bio and mimic it, but I thought there might be a canonical guide hidden somewhere. Thanks in advance for any pointers. Eric talk 16:49, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Does "archiving" an alleged BLP violation make it moot?[edit]

I have recently seen the use of "restore claimed violation to talk page and instantly archive it" as a proposed solution to what may, or may not be, specific violations of WP:BLP. I fear I regard "archive pages" as currently falling under the policy, but suggest this is a new method of dealing with violations - is it proper to do so? I am making no assertions as to any specific BLP violations here, but only discussing this novel approach. Cheers. Collect (talk) 09:31, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Functionally there is no difference between 'archiving' and deleting the BLP violation in question, the primary concern is removing any BLP violations from public/easily accessible/search engine crawlable view. Archiving performs that function as well as deleting/removing the info in question. To completely nuke something either rev-del or oversight is required, and the standards are higher to invoke those than merely consensus that something is a BLP violation. Which may explain why people do not try very hard to completely remove all record of a BLP violation. Too much effort. One approach could be to try and change policy so that anything that after consensus discussion is found to be a BLP violation, automatically qualifies for revdel/oversight? Only in death does duty end (talk) 09:44, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Doxxing clarification proposal[edit]

With regard to doxxing and identity theft, we presently only seem to be covering contact information and date of birth, and doing so with advice spread over four sections (WP:BLP#Avoid misuse of primary sources, WP:BLP#Privacy of personal information and using primary sources, WP:BLP#Privacy of names, and WP:BLP#People who are relatively unknown), which taken together are subject to more interpretation than they should be. Following on a discussion, not very practically located at Template talk:Infobox person#Date of birth, about inclusion of date-of-birth, middle name, and possibly certain other details about living persons, especially those this policy terms "borderline notable", I suggest the following clarification:

We should specify at WP:BLP#Privacy of personal information and using primary sources a list of particular details [including DoB, contact info, and middle name(s), probably some others] that may be included in BLPs only if found in reliable secondary sources, or the subject's own primary material, even if another section in this policy might seem to permit it. If it requires primary source research to obtain this information, then digging up such details smacks of WP:OR and WP:DOXXING, and transgresses WP:NOT#JOURNALISM, and so should be omitted. I would suggest also specifically including in the list both the names of relatives and acquaintances if they are not notable or directly relevant, and names of schools attended (below the collegiate/university level) if not directly relevant, and probably a few others, since details like mother's maiden name, best friend's name, high school mascot, etc., are frequently used in identity theft and other Bad Things. (Meanwhile genuine celebrities already understand this, and do not actually use their real mothers' maiden names in banking security questions, etc.)

This would be separate from the "use extreme caution" list at WP:BLP#Avoid misuse of primary sources, which has a more WP:COMMONSENSE character, and includes things like vehicle registration details, etc., that most editors understand is not encyclopedic to begin with. That section also includes abuse of court documents to support claims, and other matters that aren't germane to this clarification proposal, which is only about personally identifiable information that can be used for identity theft and similar doxxing problems.

It would probably also help if "borderline notable" were actually defined in some way, if this were to be limited strictly to borderline-notable BLPs. But that seems to me to be unnecessary; non-borderline, unquestionably notable subjects will almost certainly already have any such potentially encyclopedic information published about them in secondary sources, pretty much by definition, so I think it would be WP:CREEP to make "borderline notable" an explicit rule for this.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:35, 30 July 2015 (UTC)