Wikipedia talk:BLP examples for discussion

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Example 1: Allegations Against an Entertainer discussion[edit]

The information should be included in the article[edit]

Assuming that reliable sources have reported on the issue, the information should be included in the article, because it is important that readers who might have heard a wrong version of the events are informed about what actually happened. Whether the accuser's name should be in the article would probably depend on the coverage in the sources.  Cs32en Talk to me  21:45, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Example 2: The Pop Group, the Manager, and the Hate Song discussion[edit]

What, if anything, should Wikipedia report about this matter? - If there are numerous RS regarding the song and the following litigation, this should be reported on WP in detail, full stop. Care should be taken for the NPOV sensitivity, but it is obvious that the litigation is notable with regard to the song. --Cyclopiatalk 14:57, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Example 3: The Target Becomes the Plaintiff discussion[edit]

Follow the example of serious sources that have reported on the event.
Even if some sources that would be regarded as reliable have reported about the details of the allegations, Wikipedia should follow those sources that are known for handling privacy-related issues in a responsible manner.  Cs32en Talk to me  21:51, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

"What, if any, steps should Wikipedia take to avoid giving undue publicity to the defamatory and non-notable allegations in the original blog post, in the course of discussing the court case?" It's not necessary in this case (in my opinion) to be overly solicitous of the plaintiff. It's an open society. She was put in a difficult position with only bad choices available to her, but she did take the choice that led to increased publicity. It is not necessary to outright censor references to the original allegations. However, we should still handle the situation like gentlemen. There's no need for egregious effrontery. Herostratus (talk) 15:18, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Example 4: The Young Crime Victim discussion[edit]

"What, if any, steps should Wikipedia take to avoid further injury to this youthful victim of a horrible crime?" Basically, any steps possible. He has "expressed the wish that he be left alone to resume living a normal life once again"? Then in no way, shape, or form should this person's name be mentioned in any article, and any information about the person tending to identify him should be scrubbed too. So he's been all over the papers, so what? It's a rotten world. That doesn't mean we have play into that ethos. Herostratus (talk) 14:25, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

The function of an encyclopedia, by its very definition, is to be a compendium of knowledge. If the victim's name was all over the place in reliable sources, there is no good reason for us not to mention it. This doesn't make more difficult for the victim resuming a normal life -if someone wants to research about the crime, he/she will find his name anyway. Closing the barn door after the horse makes no sense. --Cyclopiatalk 14:51, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Just because you're working on an encyclopedia doesn't mean you abrogate your moral responsibility to, you know, not fuck up other people's lives. If you worked at the CIA, would you be all "Well, we're here to get information -- bring out the thumbscrews"? Horse out of the door? "Well, hell, everyone else has tortured the guy, no point in me being all high-and-mighty about it, bring him in". I'm really starting to get the impression that a good percentage of Wikipedia editors were raised by wolves or something. I though everyone's Mom was supposed to ask them at some point "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?" Is this a generational thing or something? You sit down at a computer, and all of a sudden you're no longer a moral player on the Earth? God help us. Herostratus (talk) 15:38, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Would you like to redact your personal attacks? That said: It's not like we torture the guy more by bringing his name. In the example, the name is already everywhere. So the damage is already done, we're not adding another one. Therefore I understand you instinctively see as a somewhat noble act to remove that name, but, like many acts stemming from mere instincts, it is as cute as it is senseless. Think clearly. Do we add anymore damage by keeping the name? No. Do we therefore abdicate to our mission as an encyclopedia, without any other good reason to do so, by removing the name? Yes. Therefore the name should stay. --Cyclopiatalk 16:43, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, I don't have time to debate this further, as I'm late for a stoning -- some girl who committed adultery or something. I'll be bringing some rocks, because, after all, she's going to die anyway, so I might as well join in. It's not like my holding back is going to make any material difference and, after all, there is nothing beyond the material -- no mercy, no shame, and no human empathy. Herostratus (talk) 15:33, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Your example would make some vague sense if the girl was already dead and we were considering a useful application of her remains. (Apart from that, you pose a very interesting ethical question). Anyway it is funny that these radical defenders of mercy and empathy regularly start a barricade of personal attacks and straw man arguments against their fellow editors (who are, you know, human beings as well) if someone dares to disagree with them, immediately accusing them of lacking empathy, mercy or shame, without even investigating reasons. Nice exercise of tolerance. --Cyclopiatalk 16:18, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Example 5: The Silly Video and the Internet Meme discussion[edit]

"[T]he absurd publicity... is damaging his life"? Then delete the article on him (per WP:IAR if necessary) and remove any references to him from any article. This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Wikipedia policies; this is basic humanity. One doesn't go about the world damaging people's lives without very good cause, nor does one associate with organizations that do so. We all should have learned this by fourth form. If necessary, refer to WP:NOT EVIL. Again, so what if everyone else is shouting his name? If they're vile, does that mean we have to be vile also? Herostratus (talk) 14:32, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

If the person is known only for the meme, the bio falls under WP:BLP1E and is deleted. The meme however, if truly notable, should have its own article. If the name of the person is widely known, again, it is useless to close the barn door after the horse, and so it should be reported. If it is not widely known, then it can be perhaps left away, depending on the obscurity/reliability of the sources reporting it. Our job is reporting information: if "everyone else is shouting his name" on RS, we report what RS document, we don't judge their morality. --Cyclopiatalk 14:54, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

General principle: What do RS say?[edit]

The answer to each of these, in my mind, depends on the extent to which reliable sources cover the name in question. Rather than being a philosophical statement, this is a pragmatic consideration on my part:

  • If the names or allegations are already covered in Reliable Sources, (with special emphasis on avoiding tabloids, fansites, and other non-RS) then Wikipedia should include those items. Principled refusal to do so does not help the victim: while Wikipedia may be a huge draw and often the #1 Google hit, there are plenty of other sites which might cover the same information.
  • If they're not, then we should NEVER be in the leading edge of publishing BLP material like included in these examples.

Thus, Wikipedia should take an intentionally conservative, but not fanatical, stance. Inclusion of a name, meme, allegation, and the like should be a trailing indicator of notability. Jclemens (talk) 17:49, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Well covered by existing policy[edit]

These examples are well covered by existing policy. We handle more difficult questions all the time. The first two are easily dismissed because there are no reliable sources. Tabloids and web sites almost never RS. Example 3 would be covered at all only if the legal case was notable, for example, if it set an important precedent. Even then there is no need to mention the details of the allegations as they were not reported as facts by reliable sources. Example 4 and 5 would come under WP:BLP1E and WP:NAMES. The fact that a person's name was widely reported in connection with a single event, especially where they were not seeking publicity, e.g. a crime victim, is not enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. --agr (talk) 18:45, 18 January 2010 (UTC)


If it was up to me, I would divide biographies into three categories:
Category A:

  • People who are truly notable. People who, if their biography was AfD'd, the AfD would be immediately deleted as obvious trollery, or at least closed as an immediate snowball keep.
  • People who have chosen to seek or hold an important position of public trust, that is, to run for political office, at or above a certain level (USA state rep or equivalent, say).
  • I would also add, although I know this would never fly: People who have chosen to use the Wikipedia for self-promotion. That is, people who have chosen to pollute and degrade our encyclopedia with puff pieces about their unworthy selves.

Category B:

  • Everyone else, except category C.

Category C:

  • Hapless mooks caught under the wheels of the Great Information Juggernaut.

People in Category A are more or less fair game. People in category B should be treated with great care, and a request by them for deletion of their article should be considered with favor. People in Category C should be left alone and should not have articles no matter how many newspaper stories there are about them, period.

Obviously the criteria for the categories stateg here are subjective, but so what? Figuring out hard cases using shifty criteria is what we were put on this Earth for. Of course you'll never get most Wikipedians to agree with that. Herostratus (talk) 14:59, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Great essay[edit]

Nice work. --John (talk) 22:20, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Thanks very much. I read through it again just now (it's been three-plus years) and was able to simplify some of the "Bradspeak" in the introduction. Newyorkbrad (talk) 16:58, 6 September 2013 (UTC)