John Scalzi is wading into the Wiki-fuss

John Scalzi has added his two-cents to the on-going Articles for Deletion discussion at Wikipedia:

Strong keep – Folks, Mr. Williamson has been regularly publishing commercial science fiction with a major publishing house for over a decade and a half, has been nominated for major awards (not without controversy BUT also not in violation of the rules that existed at the time, for better or worse) and has been an active member of science fiction’s fandom for at least as long as he’s been a published author. If he doesn’t qualify as notable enough for a Wikipedia article, then you’re going to have be deleting the articles of dozens of other science fiction authors of similar notability. Don’t delete them, and don’t delete Mr. Williamson’s entry, either. On the basis of his work, he very well deserves inclusion on Wikipedia. Edit the article so it maintains Wikipedia standards, obviously. But let it stand. —Scalzi (talk) 01:05, 24 July 2019 (UTC)”

Wait, how can I be sure that’s actually John Scalzi? Well, the sentiment is repeated at his blog (and he confirms it in a comment):

“Looking at the disposition of this particular set of nonsense, it does seem like Williamson and Hoyt were targeted for deletion on the basis of their politics and/or association with the Puppy bullshit, and this is, well, silly. Wikipedia isn’t the place to settle this particular set of scores, and honestly, at this point there shouldn’t be any further scores to settle on that incident.”

I’m not sure he is correct about the motives and to some extent motive is secondary as to whether the articles are on notable subjects or not. He’s right though, that across the spectrum there are a lot of author profiles of authors on Wikipedia that are equally weak on establishing notability.

Back on Wikipedia, John S has another comment:

“To be clear, there’s nothing charitable about my assessment of Mr. Williamson’s notability. It’s doubtful he’d want my assessment because as far as I know, he kind of hates my guts at the moment. Nevertheless, there’s textual support for his notability as a writer, starting with his entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which in its print and online versions is a highly reputable source. His actual and substantial bibliography is not in dispute, nor is his Hugo nomination, in a category that has been deemed acceptable for Wikipedia’s purposes in the articles of other science fiction authors (ask me how I know). Now, I do understand that as the former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a New York Times bestseller and a three-time Hugo Award winner, including Best Novel, I may not be considered a good assessor of who is notable in the field that I’ve been working in actively for fifteen years. But to the extent that this track record is acceptable to you as sufficient perspective, I would say there’s enough to Mr. Williamson’s career to keep him in Wikipedia. —Scalzi (talk) 15:52, 24 July 2019 (UTC)”

Essentially John S is arguing for a different standard of notability. As I sad yesterday, I’m sympathetic to that and ‘published a lot of books by a trad publisher strikes me as a reasonable criteria for inclusion [that’s not a dig at Indie published authors — it’s just that they need different ways of establishing notability].

19 responses to “John Scalzi is wading into the Wiki-fuss”

  1. I did take a look at some of the SF authors that had been deleted the last two years and they were all self published author, most without any reviews at all. They were a totally different level of unknowns.

    So I agree that these seen to have been singled out. Also, at least one other Promotheus winner had gone through the process before.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Possibly but I can think of examples who haven’t been hit who would be easier targets and fit a similar profile (won’t name them because I suspect they’ll take that as me encouraging WP to delete them)

      Liked by 1 person

    • People seem to find this conclusion attractive. Notably I haven’t seen anyone consider whether it might have been done for the stated reason, which was that the article as it stood didn’t have enough relevant material in it to justify keeping. As an essay on Wikipedia puts it, “We don’t need to keep an article with no merit in itself just because it might, theoretically, be possible to make a good article on the subject.”


      • Graham Clark: People seem to find this conclusion attractive. Notably I haven’t seen anyone consider whether it might have been done for the stated reason

        You’re not reading very closely, especially on this blog’s previous post on this subject. People have agreed that these articles are weak on notability citations, but have noted that this applies to many SFF authors’ Wikipedia pages, and yet these are the ones being marked AfD.

        Cherry-picking author articles for scrutiny based on their politics. and marking articles AfD for valid reasons, are not mutually-exclusive activities.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t looked at the case in detail so this is *not* a statement of what I think happened, but just a fact of possible interest from my past WP editing experience:

      When there’s a problem with a page, and then a rancorous debate during which the page’s defenders behave very badly, and some of them may have been suspected of sockpuppetry or other policy breaches… editors will often decide to take a look at what other pages some of those people have been active on, since quite possibly those will turn out to have similar problems if those people were major contributors. So if I am a bad actor on Wikipedia and I like to do my thing on favorite subjects X/Y/Z, the result may be that editors who notice X go on to scrutinize Y and Z, but that doesn’t mean they’re biased against those subjects.

      Liked by 1 person

    • One hypothesis that has been put forth is that someone noticed one of the pages, saw that it did not meet hte WP:NOTABILITY standards, and also was full of self-promotion, thus being ripe for deletion.

      Then, once that had been proposed, started going through linked pages, and doing the same for each one accounted within a small-ish click-radious of hte original page. On (presumably) the hteory htat if there’s one deletable page, it’s probably surrounded by deletable pages.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Williamson and Kratman may have been proposed for deletion by the same person (different IP address accounts but I think by a person who then made a named account).

        Hoyt and Torgersen I think are different


  2. So reading the comments, half the support for MZW is rather angry MZW fans and/or MZW sockpuppets saying it’s all a SJW plot… and the other half is us SJWs supporting him out of a sense of fair play. Bizarre.

    Anyway, I do also think that someone of MZWs general calibre (a bunch of traditionally published books indicating a commercial editor thinks he sells enough, various award nominations) should have a Wikipedia page, albeit I’m not too bothered about MZW specifically. Clearly the longstanding wiki editors commenting have issues with the lack of sources on the article, which is fair enough, and also the bad behaviour MZW stirred up (apparently MZW descended to homophobic slurs pretty quickly).

    Anyway, my favourite comment was on the fact that MZW barely even featured in puppydom:

    “Even when he’s involved in a notable controversy he’s not notable enough to be mentioned in the Reliable Sources on that controversy”

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This has quite the whif of “people need a hobby” about it. There are better ways to spend one’s time than campaigning for published authors to have their wiki page taken down.

    Imagine a life trying to delete the page of anyone who’s political views you disagree with as soon as they get any publicity. It’d be the world’s hardest game of whack-a-mole. I hear learning guitar and hiking are more fun.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The photos on MZW’s wikipedia page are laughable and embarrassing … a Seinfeld puffy shirt and the caressing of guns. So Author. Much Notable.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Again, given the majority make-up of Wiki editors, which leans towards libertarian white man, I doubt Williamson was targeted for his politics, though they and his behavior trying to defend his page may have played a role in the later debates. It seems more an issue of inconsistently applied pedantry and poor policy.

    It is very similar to the uproar over the attempted deletion of the entry for editor, critic and author Nick Mamatas, who is far left, back in 2011 on similar grounds and seems to be something they regularly and inconsistently do to fiction authors, largely because many Wiki editors are clueless about various areas of fiction but obsessive about what they considered “independent” and acceptable sources of notability:

    (Both authors still have their Wiki entries after the furor.)

    And of course, there are numerous problems with Wikipedia editors ignoring, flagging and deleting bio entries on women and those in marginalized groups (rather than SJW’s running the place,) as insufficiently “notable.” Only 18% of Wiki’s bio entries are about women, they’re short and they frequently delete them:

    “The site’s own statistics suggest that women make up fewer than 15 percent of active contributors. The “average Wikipedian” is a technically inclined, English-speaking male from a majority-Christian developed nation.”

    So no, Williamson was likely not threatened with deletion of his page because he’s a conservative, bigoted frother who was part of the gaming of the Hugo Awards or because he’s a white straight guy. He’s mainly targeted because there are a lot of Wiki editors who don’t know what Hugo Awards are, even though there are entries to them in Wikipedia. And because those editors apparently don’t understand that any established fiction author is in fact talked about widely in media because they have book reviews, and even more if they got award nominations.

    Wikipedia needs to overhaul its criteria policy on fiction authors and stop trying to crib then poorly applied non-fiction academic touchstones from universities, and probably needs to do the same with the criteria on numerous other bio categories as well. But that would require them to edit themselves, which has been an inconsistent process over the years again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Although I’ll amend this post to say that it does seem like there was some specific targeting going on of authors on the basis of political beliefs, Puppy association or being Baen authors, since the deletion flags were more extensive than it originally sounded. Of course, you have the speculation, that Cam mentioned in a later post, as to whether some of those flags might have been actually supporters of Williamson and Hoyt trying to build a conspiracy persecution illusion to help Williamson.

      Either way, the situation and the links I supplied above does show that the Wikipedia policies for fiction authors are not well thought out, inconsistently applied and ripe for manipulated abuse. And mostly just silly. Mike’s mention that File 770 was used as a main source for notability and then discarded in favor of only Locus — haphazard, etc.

      Also, I’ve looked up quite a few singers and bands on Wikipedia for basic information, and almost always their entries are highly promotional, providing countless details of performances that are neither particularly notable or needed for their entry and material that looks like it comes from press releases. So again, it’s very inconsistent.


  6. It’s rather remarkable how much Scalzi has done for individual (early stage) Pups. He’s hosted advertisements for individual books by Vox and Wright (, MZW and Brad were regular posters at Whatever (and MZW used to join in in mocking the libertarians), and Scalzi regularly promotes books from Baen including ones by Larry (here, just a few months ago The second-wavers don’t seem to have as much of a presence but “Big Ideas” (the blog series that Wright appeared is for books that are not self-published) as are the ARC piles. That may have something to do with it.

    P.S. I was rereading a book by an SJW author a little while back – a conservative no-hoper tries to rape the female lead character, who handily defeats him. I’m on to your tricks Mr. Weber.


    • Mary Robinette Kowal even gave Jon Del Arroz a boost. The thing is, any such favours are regarded as entitlements rather than counter-examples to the conspiracy theory.


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