A bit more Wiki fact checking

One of the angry claims swirling around Puppy-Facebook groups is that Wikipedia is targetting Baen authors in general. To add to that claim Sharon Lee did have a notability tag added to her page on July 22 2019 [https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sharon_Lee_(writer)&oldid=907340785 ] which has since been removed. I’ve since seen it claimed that over half or most of the authors listed on Baen’s Wikipedia page have various warnings added to them.

Is this true? As of about 10:30 am July 26 Sydney time when I visited each and every author’s page listed on the Baen page, no, it isn’t. There are 42 authors listed. 41 have Wikipedia pages (Andrew Dennis links to a page about a book series). Of those 15 have warning boxes of one kind or another at the start of their page — mainly “This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification.” Note that among the people listed are very notable authors who aren’t specifically associated with Baen more generally e.g. Andre Norton whose page warns us:

This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. The specific problem is: Remove unreferenced text, original research, etc. (November 2014) This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor’s personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. (March 2013)This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. The specific problem is: Remove unreferenced text, original research, etc. (November 2014)

That’s the thing about Wikipedia: you get the page that your fans write for you but with edits by passers by.

The mean year of a warning is 2015. Some pages have had unresolved issues since 2008. I don’t know the politics of every author listed on that page but I couldn’t see any particular political pattern.

Of course that doesn’t exclude there being some specific campaign going on right now but in general, warnings etc on books by Baen authors are just the usual stuff you’ll find on Wikipedia with no particular pattern

Full data after the fold.

Author Issue 2nd issue
Jody Lynn Nye This biography of a living person relies too much on references to primary sources. Please help by adding secondary or tertiary sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (January 2008)  This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience. Please help by spinning off or relocating any relevant information, and removing excessive detail that may be against Wikipedia’s inclusion policy. (September 2018) 
Robert Buettner This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (July 2008)
Poul Anderson This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011) This article possibly contains original research. (August 2017)
Timothy Zahn This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012)
Andre Norton This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. The specific problem is: Remove unreferenced text, original research, etc. (November 2014) This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor’s personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. (March 2013)
Virginia DeMarce This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)
Mercedes Lackey This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification.(September 2013)
Eric Flint This article’s lead section does not adequately summarize key points of its contents. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of all important aspects of the article. Please discuss this issue on the article’s talk page. (July 2015)
Ann Downer This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (July 2015)
Harry Turtledove This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (April 2017) 
David Drake This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (November 2017) This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (November 2017)
Michael Z. Williamson This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia’s deletion policy. (July 2019)
S. M. Stirling This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2019) 
Steve White This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. (May 2019)
Tom Kratman This biography of a living person relies too much on references to primary sources. Please help by adding secondary or tertiary sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (November 2017) This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia’s deletion policy. (July 2019)
Andrew Dennis No page redirects to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_of_Fire_(anthology)#%22Between_the_Armies%22
Catherine Asaro none
Robert Asprin none
Lois McMaster Bujold none
Paul Chafe none
C. J. Cherryh none
L. Sprague de Camp none
Larry Correia none
Esther Friesner none
Dave Freer none
Robert A. Heinlein none
P. C. Hodgell none
James P. Hogan none
Sarah A. Hoyt none
Sharon Lee none Notability tag July 2019 removed today
Steve Miller none
Holly Lisle none
Larry Niven none
Jerry Pournelle none
John Ringo none
Spider Robinson none
Joel Rosenberg none
Charles Sheffield none
Travis S. Taylor none
Mark L. Van Name none
David Weber none
K. D. Wentworth none

28 thoughts on “A bit more Wiki fact checking

  1. So at first Williamson’s claims of bias seemed off-base since Wikipedia consistently does this sort of thing to authors of all political views and has similar problems for biographical entries in other fields. And it was also unfair for Wiki folk to argue for Williamson’s page’s deletion, given that he is a well-known author with a Hugo nomination and some other plaudits, plus some media coverage.

    Then it started to look like someone had targeted either the group of conservative authors who all pal around together and/or Baen authors. But your data proves this isn’t the case and you’d probably find similar statistics for the other major houses.

    So back to it being simply that Wikipedia randomly changes what is considered a viable secondary source/verification. A nomination for an established award in the field should automatically be considered a viable, verifying secondary source for notability, especially as the websites for awards counts as a secondary source, plus media coverage of the awards also counts. And sometimes it is counted as a secondary source, but other times for Wikipedia it is not. A fiction author appearing in the top published 25-30 slots of an established bestseller list in a national publication is no different than an article in a national publication mentioning the author. It is verification of the author being notable and discussed, especially since the bestselling rank comes from bookselling data (the author notable and talked about by people in bookstores,) and is in turn used in bookstores for marketing (making the author notable and talked about by people in bookstores, etc.) And sometimes that counts for Wikipedia and sometimes it does not, and so forth.

    One of the big issues seems to be that Wiki’s “editors” go around flagging things without bothering to fix them. Which is not editing — it’s asking a question for other people to edit. It’s whining. Wikipedia is trying to have the biggest encyclopedia on the planet without bothering to ever use a search engine to doublecheck an issue. It’s a demand that passersby “prove” to self-appointed monitors that well-known people are well-known, like a Twitter trolling sea lion.

    Look at Cam’s data. Andre Norton is one of the biggest names in SFF history, highly awarded, deeply influential in children’s literature, incredibly prolific and ground-breaking as a woman in her time period for the field. Her work has been written about and studied, including in academia, her influence of other authors has been discussed, etc. The “flag” is that her entry is too chatty, not academic sounding enough. You know who thinks something isn’t academic sounding enough? Someone who has no clue about academia and its procedures. These “editors” are not professors. But say you think the entry is too chatty. So look Norton up. You can have 100 secondary sources of her record in 2 seconds and stick them in the entry yourself. They don’t bother to do that. So there are ridiculous flags on a legend of SFF.

    Poul Anderson, Timothy Zahn and Mercedes Lackey, of all people, need additional citations for verification? Mercedes Lackey is one of the biggest selling SFF authors out there. Anderson is a legend in SFF and not only for fiction writing. So say the editors who flag them aren’t SFF fans and don’t know or just think their entries need to look more “academic.” So fix it then, look them up. But they don’t. And even when entries have secondary source citations, editors will come along and complain that those aren’t sufficient or aren’t proper sources. It’s basically just a critique about entry writing. And the bit in the guidelines about how popularity — notability — is not enough to be notable? It makes no sense, plus is not something they consistently flag as a problem. There are plenty of written sources for these authors.

    Insisting that authors and their friends produce these secondary sources for inclusion instead of the Wiki folk looking them up themselves to keep and adjust the author pages — that’s a weird sort of court trial, given that their main complaint is that they don’t want the biographical figures themselves to be providing material about themselves. If you don’t want the authors being profiled involved, then why insist that they provide confirmation sources themselves, which involves them? Written encyclopedias of old had writers who researched and editors who edited and researched. They didn’t go around asking the subjects of entries to prove they should be included in the encyclopedia. And again, the idea that if an author is profiled in a media article, that’s a viable secondary source verifying notability but somehow at the same time not promotional — it’s just double-speak.

    If you as an “editor” start to really become a problem about it in your flagging, Wikipedia will eventually kick you out and erase your edits, which doesn’t really leave a lot of room for conspiracies to gain hold. But in the meantime, these guys are just enjoying their fiefdom and it’s capricious. If they had more specific and consistent standards that editors had to follow, you’d maybe have fewer of these conflicts.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, one last thing. Some of these comments keep referring to “Wiki’s editors” as if that’s an administrative group that just does stuff like putting flags on articles, or arguing about deletions. That’s misleading. While some people do move away from writing copy and spend more time on admin stuff, it’s not like in publishing where you have “writers” who just write and “editors” who just edit. It’s extremely common for the people who are putting Post-Its on articles in one area to also be heavily involved in generating content in another area, or in the same area.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t want to come off as overly defensive of Wikipedia and I haven’t been active there for years, but… I really think some of this is off base.

      “Wiki’s “editors” go around flagging things without bothering to fix them. Which is not editing — it’s asking a question for other people to edit. It’s whining.”

      No – it’s a necessary part of operating a very large project where most people have very loosely defined roles. Some people are good at copyediting. Some people are good at reorganizing. Some people are good at digging up better sources. Very rarely are those all the same person, and even more rarely are those the same as the person who just happens to notice some issues while following a link from a link from a link from the thing that they’re currently working on.

      It’s simply not possible to get anything done if, every time you see something that may need some work, you drop everything and fix it until it’s all better. Very often you, the person who sees the thing, are not actually the right person to fix it. But given the very large number of editors and readers, the right person is likely to be out there and maybe could use a little nudge.

      Notes like that are not addressed to the person who’s the subject of the article, nor to their fans, nor necessarily to the people who wrote the current text. They are just like sticking a little Post-It on there for literally anyone who may be up for it. Maybe the author or the fans happen to be the only people who are interested, but usually not. If I’m browsing around and I’m in an editing mood and I see a note like that, I’m grateful, because it suggests that if I put in some work there it will be appreciated. I would never think “Why is that person so whiny, why don’t they fix it themselves.” They just did a unit of work, by making that observation. I may choose to do a different unit of work.

      Wikipedia has many problems but it really bothers me when the complaints focus on stuff that is IMO completely unfeasible to do in any other way, short of drastically reducing the scope of the project or putting a few billion dollars into it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m one of the people who mostly does bits of copyediting, semi-randomly: if I look something up there, or follow a link, and see something that needs fixing, I may take a little while and do so. That’s grammar, spelling, and occasionally smoothing out sentences: I’m almost never going looking for sources for verification.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, the flag for Andre Norton really surprised me, because there are loads of sources about her. Judith Tarr has been reviewing Andre Norton books at Tor.com for years. Some time ago, James Davis Nicoll reviewed 50 Andre Norton books. We have also been reviewing several Andre Norton books at Galactic Journey, I did one of them in December. And even if James David Nicoll and Galactic Journey aren’t reliable sources, Tor.com surely is. And that’s just what I could think of of the top of my head without googling.

      Ditto for Kevin J. Anderson, Poul Anderson, Mercedes Lackey, Sharon Lee, Timothy Zahn, Eric Flint etc… Those are all popular authors who should have lots of citations.

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  2. I took a look at the Poul Anderson article, since I was a huge fan of his and read virtually everything he ever wrote (even the non-fiction works).

    In terms of secondary sources, the article on him is pretty bad. The bulk of it consists of one person offering his/her interpretation of Anderson’s work with almost no references to any external scholarship. For example:

    In many stories, Anderson commented on society and politics. Whatever other vicissitudes his views went through, he firmly retained his belief in the direct and inextricable connection between human liberty and expansion into space, for which reason he strongly cried out against any idea of space exploration being “a waste of money” or “unnecessary luxury”.

    They’re not complaining that the author isn’t notable. They’re complaining that the article isn’t well-written.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. “Poul Anderson, Timothy Zahn and Mercedes Lackey, of all people, need additional citations for verification?”

        As I recall, there are significant figures of history whose entries are not as closely verified as my entry, thanks in particular to the second afd…

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Also, in case this isn’t self-evident: There is a major difference between articles being flagged as not having a notable subject, or marked for deletion, and articles being flagged with stuff like “this needs more sources” or “this isn’t in an encyclopedic style.” The latter are not at all a slam on the subject matter, they are just saying “We’d like for someone to improve this article.” Articles do not get deleted simply for having warnings like that on them (I mean, anyone can delete an article at any time, but if there’s a dispute the arbitrators will very likely side against the deletor); they can sit around in that state for years.

    So when any group of contributors complain that their articles have too many flags, that should not be seem as the equivalent of “We’re being given more traffic tickets than other people.” It’s equivalent to “Someone publicly said my driving could be better.”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Eli Bishop:

    “Some of these comments keep referring to “Wiki’s editors” as if that’s an administrative group that just does stuff like putting flags on articles, or arguing about deletions.”

    I’m aware that the editors are volunteers, not administrators employed by Wikipedia. Anyone can sign up to do the work, write entries, copyedit, flag, etc. That is both an asset and a problem. But this particular problem — volunteer editors who flag a lot of stuff and demand deletions of pages on people as not notable enough — has been going on for a long time and the people who do work for Wikipedia administratively (but again non-profit,) do not seem to have done much in setting up standards that volunteers are supposed to follow consistently. (This is also an issue on smaller, largely volunteer projects like conventions.) In particular, the editing on Wikipedia has been frequently discriminatory against women and also people of color in general, both accidentally and sometimes deliberately by editors. Wikipedia does correct some of it but their record is abysmal.

    Ultimately, it may not be a fully solvable problem, given the nature of the project. And it’s definitely not a sign of targeted conspiracies, like the Puppies love to imagine to galvanize their crews. But it would be nice to see some improvement and an end to authors and other living biographical figures having to go on trial for how famous they are and gathering up sources of it for Wikipedia instead of someone at Wikipedia, volunteer or no, doing it for their own encyclopedia. The notability issue is inconsistent and frequently abused. It’s a collective action problem.

    “No – it’s a necessary part of operating a very large project where most people have very loosely defined roles. Some people are good at copyediting. Some people are good at reorganizing. Some people are good at digging up better sources. Very rarely are those all the same person, and even more rarely are those the same as the person who just happens to notice some issues while following a link from a link from a link from the thing that they’re currently working on.”

    Valid points, but it would be nice if Wikipedia had a better system for coordinating those different volunteers with their different skills and having them work with a systematic framework that is less vague, rather than letting them all roam about and hoping they do things. The reality is that a lot of the volunteer editors who are flagging stuff are essentially complaining about the writing of the entries and setting up problems without any interest in resolution and often with a lot of personal bias. And when it involves the process of deleting pages, it becomes a more serious problem. It’s always been a very ambitious enterprise and it has been wildly successful beyond anyone’s expectations, but with great power comes great responsibility. 🙂

    Cora Buhl: “Ditto for Kevin J. Anderson, Poul Anderson, Mercedes Lackey, Sharon Lee, Timothy Zahn, Eric Flint etc… Those are all popular authors who should have lots of citations.”

    But there does not seem to be a reliable mechanism for Wikipedia to actually then get those citations, which means that legends in a particular field have flag warnings on them that they aren’t certified enough as legends for years. And then we have the situation where the authors themselves or friends of the authors if they are dead, have to essentially gather up a resume and present it to Wikipedia in a forum trial to prove they are who everyone already knows they are so as not to have their page deleted. And this is why notable women are barely present in the whole encyclopedia.

    Anyway, I do think their guidelines for notability in fiction authors could use an overhaul, as the guidelines seem focused on scientific non-fiction issues, not fiction notability, which is perhaps not surprising in an enterprise mainly volunteer staffed by techie white straight guys.

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    1. @Kat —

      “But this particular problem — volunteer editors who flag a lot of stuff and demand deletions of pages on people as not notable enough”s

      Nobody is “demanding” anything. The AfD (“article for deletion”) notice means that there’s a week of DISCUSSION about the article, amongst any editors who choose to chime in.

      “the people who do work for Wikipedia administratively (but again non-profit,) do not seem to have done much in setting up standards that volunteers are supposed to follow consistently.”

      Your comments sound very much like you don’t understand the process at Wikipedia. You say there’s no standards? Seriously?? Just go take a good look at the Williamson AfD discussion — you’ll see references to whole pages and pages of standards that they’re trying to follow.

      Will application of those standards always be consistent? No, of course not — nothing in human endeavors is. But standards? They’ve got reams of them.

      “But it would be nice to see some improvement and an end to authors and other living biographical figures having to go on trial for how famous they are and gathering up sources of it for Wikipedia instead of someone at Wikipedia, volunteer or no, doing it for their own encyclopedia. ”

      Again — it’s pretty obvious that you don’t actually understand the Wikipedia process. Again, go take a gander at the Williamson discussion. The people who are improving the article ARE THE EDITORS, and some of them are going to relatively great lengths (ordering back-issues of magazines for documentation at their own expense and so on) in order to do so.

      “But there does not seem to be a reliable mechanism for Wikipedia to actually then get those citations, which means that legends in a particular field have flag warnings on them that they aren’t certified enough as legends for years.”

      If such problems bother you, then step up and fix them yourself. That’s one of the beauties of Wikipedia — literally ANYONE can work on it.

      If you don’t do the work yourself, you don’t have much right to complain about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are standards but the very nature of Wikipedia mean they are arbitrarily applied – and a standard applied to some but not others is not a standard. I’m not suggesting malice or a lack of dedication, just that the circumstances are a way that creates bias.

        Like

      2. Contrarius:

        “Nobody is “demanding” anything. The AfD (“article for deletion”) notice means that there’s a week of DISCUSSION about the article, amongst any editors who choose to chime in.”

        Yes, they are demanding. They’re demanding it be proven that the person is notable enough (as an author) to not have their page deleted and if it isn’t proven, the page is deleted. That’s a demand and Wiki requires a hearing, not a discussion, in which any who want to save the page have to come up with evidence that will satisfy others through the process Wikipedia uses on the decision. Any editor can flag an article for deletion, a demand that has to be considered.

        And it puts living authors in a very weird position. Wikipedia doesn’t want the authors or their PR folk coming in and doing a promotional entry on an author or a celebrity. But a flag for deletion with a demand for secondary sources forces authors and their pals to essentially gather PR to prove their notability — to do what Wikipedia doesn’t want them to do but then also requires them to do. So essentially the authors find themselves in an Albert Brooks’ movie, Defending Your Life. With luck, various volunteer editors at Wikipedia will gather and implement secondary sources they provide links to — which could be potentially coordinated better without having a hearing, but authors can’t really count on that happening.

        Nick Mamatas documented the whole process he was going through when they tried to delete his page (and I believe they tried more than once.) He thought a lot of it was funny. But it was not a friendly process of discussion, and there are real world effects from it that people are going to discuss and criticize, given Wikipedia’s presence and influence.

        “You say there’s no standards? Seriously?? Just go take a good look at the Williamson AfD discussion — you’ll see references to whole pages and pages of standards that they’re trying to follow.”

        As Camestros and others pointed out and as documented in the links I provided in another thread, the standards are vague, inconsistently applied, frequently something editors seem not aware of or unclear about, and sometimes inappropriate, as in applying guidelines of notability better suited to scientific and academic non-fiction to fiction literature. The standards aren’t static, but adjusted over time and there’s no reason not to discuss problems with both the current standards and how they aren’t efficiently and consistently applied. Issues of bias, mostly accidental, have been a long time problem of Wikipedia that many people have written about, and that discussion will continue, especially if they are deleting people’s pages.

        “The people who are improving the article ARE THE EDITORS, and some of them are going to relatively great lengths (ordering back-issues of magazines for documentation at their own expense and so on) in order to do so.”

        Williamson and others are having to come up with a list of sources at the demands of some editors who didn’t find what was there sufficient, which again has often been haphazardly applied in Wikipedia. That is Williamson having to prove his notability, which then editors have to confirm because another editor challenged Williamson’s record. Williamson has a Hugo nomination and is not an obscure figure — they shouldn’t have to be going to great lengths to deal with the demand for deletion; that’s part of the problem. And that editors have to get back issues of magazines at their own expense isn’t a good thing any more than making teachers buy class supplies with their own money is a good thing. It’s a sign of a problem in how the process works and is run by the administrators and in particular that the notability and secondary sources issues may be taken overboard by various editors.

        “If such problems bother you, then step up and fix them yourself. That’s one of the beauties of Wikipedia — literally ANYONE can work on it. If you don’t do the work yourself, you don’t have much right to complain about it.”

        That’s not a reasonable demand either, nor does it deal with the issue of over zealous editors applying their own definitions of notability and then authors having to have factions of Wiki editors duke it out in a hearing for which they have to provide links about their own lives. Any one person going in and doing Wiki entries or finding sources doesn’t mean that one person is going to change how Wiki administrators run the place and “fix it.” Wikipedia entries are not a club; they have wider, real life effects beyond the encyclopedia itself. It affects how information is curated and distributed online and in the public, and for authors, whether they have a Wikipedia page or not has an impact on their careers and name awareness.

        The fact that only 18% of notable bio entries are of women is an issue. That women who have worked on adding and expanding Wiki entries about women have run into problems with those being disputed and deleted is an issue (again see the earlier links.) People have been and will continue to criticize Wikipedia about stuff like that, especially page deletion. People will continue to be critical of what Wikipedia considers a proper secondary source. And all of that criticism can actually help Wikipedia improve procedures, coordination, guidelines, etc., whether critics work on the encyclopedia or not.

        I may not agree with Williamson’s conspiracy theory, nor do I like the man. And I don’t think him yelling at Wikipedia does much good. But he does have a right to criticize an encyclopedia that has decided he now has to prove he can keep his entry, that a Hugo nomination and other easily sourced milestones aren’t sufficient.

        And aside from the page deletion and what is a sufficient verifying secondary source issues, I don’t think my saying that Wikipedia could really use some better coordination procedures between editors who randomly flag entries for not being better written and/or sourced and other editors just going and fixing those flagged issues is a radical and mean idea. That is again not something a lone editor can fix; it requires a procedural overhaul. I am hardly the first person to bring it up. Ultimately, Wikipedia is so big and relies on an ever changing sea of volunteers with little oversight that better coordination may not be possible, but people are still going to talk about it.

        Like

        1. @Kat —

          Contrarius:

          “Yes, they are demanding.”

          Only in some Orwellian newspeak world. You are attempting to stretch the definition of “demand” beyond all recognition.

          “They’re demanding it be proven that the person is notable enough (as an author) to not have their page deleted and if it isn’t proven, the page is deleted.”

          Wrong — as has just now been proven by the Williamson AfD discussion.

          In reality, the “proof” required is proof that the person in question is NOT notable. In the Williamson case, there was no consensus either way — so his article stayed up. HE got the benefit of the doubt.

          I’m not even going to try to address all the excess verbiage in your post. Simple response: the conclusion of the Williamson case proves that you’re wrong.

          First: there was no “demand” — there was a week-long discussion with many participants.

          Second: the result was a conclusion of “no consensus” — meaning the AUTHOR, not the supposed “demand”, got the benefit of the doubt — and the article stayed up.

          Third: again, it was the EDITORS THEMSELVES — not the author or his cronies — who improved the article and added additional references.

          Fourth: if you object to anything that Wikipedia is doing, or if you think they are failing to do something that you think needs to be done, or if you think they are biased in what they do, it is fully within your power to stand up and do something about it yourself instead of contenting yourself with comfy armchair quarterbacking.

          “That’s not a reasonable demand either”

          LOL!

          You can’t have it both ways, Kat. Either it’s going to be a volunteer effort, in which case YOU should be willing to step up and fix things that you believe to be wrong with it — or it’s going to be a paid effort, in which case SOMEBODY is going to have to pony up the money to get it done.

          To steal a phrase from Gaiman, Wikipedia is not your bitch.

          “The fact that only 18% of notable bio entries are of women is an issue.”

          So fix it. Get in their and add more notable women YOURSELF. Nobody is stopping you.

          Oh, right, that would require actual work. Sitting back and criticizing from your comfy armchair is much more fun, isn’t it?

          Like

      3. Contrarius:

        Again, the week long “discussion” is a hearing, not a friendly chat. Because an editor flags the post to be considered for DELETION, a hearing of the editors has to occur (a demand.)

        “In the Williamson case, there was no consensus either way — so his article stayed up. HE got the benefit of the doubt.”

        And in Mamatas’ and the other cases, they also ended up having their pages stay up after their hearings. But in other cases, the consensus was that the authors were not sufficiently notable and their pages were DELETED. If the consensus had been that Williamson wasn’t sufficiently notable, his page would have been DELETED. A decision is being made by the editors of Wikipedia whether the page stays or goes:

        https://undark.org/2019/04/25/wikipedia-diversity-problem/

        This has been a regular dilemma for many authors in regards to Wikipedia. And while it is only Wiki editors who present the sources to avoid deletion, authors have had to gather their friends and find links for those editors to help those editors show the sources to keep the authors’ pages from being deleted. People here on Camestros’ blog in fact offered links to Williamson that he could use to show Wiki editors in the spirit of good will. So pretending living authors (or the families of dead ones,) are not involved at all in the issue of whether their page is deleted by Wikipedia or not is inaccurate. You may not have any particular sympathy for the authors who go through having their Wiki pages debated for deletion, but Cam’s posts were about whether this was fair to do to Williamson or not, (no consensus,) and about the Puppies’ conspiracy theories about being targeted (which we all have agreed are fantasies.)

        “if you object to anything that Wikipedia is doing, or if you think they are failing to do something that you think needs to be done, or if you think they are biased in what they do, it is fully within your power to stand up and do something about it yourself instead of contenting yourself with comfy armchair quarterbacking.”

        Well no, again, as I pointed out, it is NOT within one person’s ability to “do something about it” in Wikipedia. Which is not a bad thing, as concentrated power has never really been the goal of the project, but still can create obstacles. People can work on the encyclopedia — if they have time, skills, and are allowed to work on it (you actually can’t just do whatever you want on Wikipedia,) etc. — but as the article link above shows:

        https://undark.org/2019/04/25/wikipedia-diversity-problem/

        that work may be removed by other Wikipedia editors. Which is something that has discouraged many women from working on the encyclopedia. That there are concerns about biases at Wikipedia has been going on during its whole existence. And that’s a good thing that they are raised, as it allows the people who are working on the encyclopedia to check their biases and improve things.There are many groups and people attempting to do just that and there are even Wikipedia entries on biases on Wikipedia about the problems and process. But it does require administrative will regarding procedures and clear and consistent standards by which all the volunteers operate.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/10/how-wikipedia-is-hostile-to-women/411619/

        https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/06-10-2018/why-is-wikipedia-biased-against-women-and-can-it-be-changed/

        “So fix it. Get in their and add more notable women YOURSELF. Nobody is stopping you.”

        Again, re these links, it has actually been a problem that some women editors on Wikipedia have been stopped from doing just that. And that has been a reason that many women and POC don’t work on or use Wikipedia. (Another reason is simply not having the time to do it.) That doesn’t mean that Wikipedia is horrible, versus anything else. It does mean that it has issues and that people are going to talk about it, given Wikipedia’s place and influence on the Web. To snarl that only editors can criticize Wikipedia’s practices or issues is not a reasonable demand you’re making. Authors who are facing having their pages deleted by Wiki editors have a right to complain about it, even if we find some of those complaints off-base. So do people who use the encyclopedia.

        Like

        1. @Kat —

          “Again, the week long “discussion” is a hearing, not a friendly chat. Because an editor flags the post to be considered for DELETION, a hearing of the editors has to occur (a demand.)”

          You’re both moving the goalposts and positing a straw man.

          1. Nobody ever called this process a “friendly chat”.
          2. Your original claim was that the original editor was demanding DELETION. Now you have changed your claim to saying it’s only a demand for a HEARING. Different claims. I’ll even more-or-less agree with your second claim, in essence if not in exact detail. Glad to see you back away from your original claim.

          “But in other cases, the consensus was that the authors were not sufficiently notable and their pages were DELETED.”

          So what? Wikipedia has zero — repeat, zero — obligation to host articles that don’t meet its standards for any reason.

          “And while it is only Wiki editors who present the sources to avoid deletion, authors have had to gather their friends and find links for those editors to help those editors show the sources to keep the authors’ pages from being deleted.”

          Again — so what?

          “So pretending living authors (or the families of dead ones,) are not involved at all in the issue of whether their page is deleted by Wikipedia or not is inaccurate.”

          Straw man. Nobody here has said any such thing.

          “Well no, again, as I pointed out, it is NOT within one person’s ability to “do something about it” in Wikipedia.”

          Well yes, again, as I pointed out, it absolutely IS within one person’s ability to “do something about it” in Wikipedia. Witness the case Rick Moen presented just the other day.

          Again — Wikipedia is not your bitch. They have no obligation to post anything just because you think they ought to be doing so. If you perceive failings in the Wikipedia website, it is absolutely within your power to make a difference. All it takes is time and effort — not armchair quarterbacking.

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      4. Contrarius: “Straw man. Nobody here has said any such thing.”

        Yes, you did and then you did it again in this very same post. I’m not going to keep getting into the thing where you claim you didn’t say things earlier and make me quote you and then denounce me for “long posts” because I’m having to quote you and go over the same ground again and again. (Plus, I was away travelling and neither of us probably wants to continue this conversation.)

        And no, I didn’t back away from my claim. A Wiki editor flagged an entry for deletion, which then requires a hearing to determine whether or not to go along with the deletion the editor marked. That flag of the editor and the hearing do constitute a demand on authors who want to save their Wiki entry because it is a major source in people finding them and finding out info about them.

        We agree that Wikipedia has no obligation to keep entries and that Wikipedia is not my bitch. But that doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s actions have no effects in the wider world and that there are no prejudicial bias issues with Wikipedia’s procedures that affects the wider world. Wikipedia itself acknowledges this problem and has worked to correct it, while also encouraging people to talk about it, not silencing them.

        And I am not Wikipedia’s bitch. I am not required to work for them for free in order to be able to criticize aspects of their operation or point out the factual situation that authors are put in a weird position of having their bio entries put on trial and having to come up with material and links for Wikipedia. Links that its editors could easily come up with on their own without a deletion hearing. People can talk about Wikipedia without being editors and you may not find what they say of any worth, but then I don’t find your insistence that I shut up to be of particular worth either. Ever the impasse. 🙂

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        1. @Kat —

          Heavens, are you really STILL beating on this poor mummified equine?

          Contrarius: “Straw man. Nobody here has said any such thing.”

          You: “Yes, you did”

          If you believe so, please quote the exact statement you have in mind.

          “and then you did it again in this very same post”

          Nope, sorry. I’m afraid you must have misread something. If you believe otherwise, please quote the statement you have in mind.

          “And no, I didn’t back away from my claim.”

          Yup, actually, you did.

          First claim, and I quote: “volunteer editors who flag a lot of stuff and demand deletions of pages”

          Second claim, and I quote: “a demand for secondary sources”

          Those two claims are quite different.

          “And I am not Wikipedia’s bitch.”

          Of course not. But since Wikipedia is not demanding anything of you or castigating you for failing to act as it thinks you should, that’s hardly relevant.

          “I am not required to work for them for free”

          There’s a wise old saying — if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

          Again — if you see something you don’t like, don’t just sit back and criticize from your comfy armchair. Get in there and do something about it.

          “Links that its editors could easily come up with on their own without a deletion hearing.”

          No. Because, as has already been pointed out to you multiple times, this is part of the procedure by which editors are made aware that such improvements need to be made. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

          “I don’t find your insistence that I shut up to be of particular worth either.”

          You are fond of straw men, aren’t you? 😉

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  5. The Wikipedia review process is predictably a little bit ramshackle but it works — and everything so far about the Baen-adjacent kerpupple, there, shows it working.

    I got to see an unrelated example, myself, a couple of months ago. Long ago, my father Arthur Moen was a captain for Pan American World Airways, but was killed at Christmas 1968 with the loss of his Clipper Cargo B-707 and crew because of a combination of factors including a flight-systems defect Pan Am Maintenance Operations knew about but had declined to fix and a catastrophically incomplete preflight checklist, according to the 1969 NTSB report. But there’s a syndrome all of us airline family members know: There’s always a rush to blame the pilots, even in defiance of the facts, because they’re conveniently dead — and I always dreaded the emergence of a Wikipedia article about the loss of Pan Am Flight 799: Wikipedia has a strong Biography of Living Persons policy to protect the site against libel claims, but it’s literally not even libel to defame a dead person (lack of standing, you see). So, I sighed heavily when someone translated most of a ru.wikipedia.org article to make an en.wikipedia.org one, because sure enough it blamed the pilots. The piece was also tagged, with reason, for insufficient inline citations and questionable notability.

    Editing articles about family members is strongly discouraged (conflict of interest, WP:COI) and can create huge backlash. So, I didn’t do that, nope. In this case, I got lucky and Some Other Persons (‘Sop’) iteratively worked with the Wikipedia notable (‘Rosguill’) who’d reviewed the article. Sop fixed a bunch of small and medium factual errors and added quite a bit of material fleshing out the narrative and the long-term consequences of / lessons from this then-famous crash, and then Sop wrote on Rosguill’s talk page politely requesting re-review. Rosguill replied: ‘I looked at it again and adjusted the tags. I think the current revision is a significant improvement, and notability concerns have largely been addressed, but the article still relies too heavily on primary sources.’ On the article’s changelog, he/she opined ‘replacing {{notability}} and {{more citations needed}} with {{primary sources}}, additional sources (particularly source #2) have established notability, but most of the content is still cited to primary sources and in some cases borders on WP:SYNTH.’

    I assume the person or persons I’m calling Sop considered the matter. (I’m of course not Sop, as that would be bad and wrong to subvert Wikipedia COI policy. The IP address used suggests it was someone at a Best Western Hotel in Layton, Utah on July 7th: Obviously not me, then, seeing I’m in California.) Rosguill’s point & choice of jargon may merit some unpacking: It’s considered essential to cite (accurately) to some secondary and tertiary sources, in part to avoid the article author introducing interpretive bias — a point underlined by Rosguill’s ‘bordering on WP:SYNTH’ suspicion: This means ‘original research by synthesis, where an editor combines reliably sourced statements in a way that makes or suggests a new statement not supported by any one of the sources’. Adding in coverage from respectable secondary and tertiary sources helps avoid this pitfall.

    Sop seems to have been a patient contributor playing the long game, becaus, rather than get his/her back up about the implication of bias, he/she politely called Rosguill’s attention to the recent edits direct reliance on (and paraphrasing of for the lion’s share of recent additions) two highly respected secondary sources, a 1971 book, Safety Last, about recurring airline safety problems written by a retired airline pilot and an academic study of checklist problems, both of which discussed the crash extensively.

    Rosguill apparently hadn’t noticed this aspect of Sop’s additions (hey, nobody’s perfect), and just assumed Sop was someone hiding COI conflict behind anonymous IP-address editing and had tried to twist the narrative for personal reasons. Having been pointed to the book’s online Google Books excerpt and the checklist article and being able to see that Sop’s editing had been of decent quality, Rosguill removed the maintenance tags, everyone walked away happy, and a reasonable article resulted.

    This system works, on the whole, even if you suspect the Wikipedians have an axe to grind, and even if that suspicion is well-founded. You just have to be patient, be polite, and work through the system to address objections.

    — Rick (who the heck goes to Layton, anyhow?) M.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. …except for three pilots and a USD 5M airframe. ;->

        Boeing got severely singed over the next six years in District Court by one Faye W. Moen, whose son was highly impressed by a single very irate widow’s ability to beat up an entire Fortune 50 corporation, motivated in part by a pair of private detectives who had visited her house two days after her husband’s death, to try to intimidate her into eschewing litigation. Suffice to say, an unsound tactic.

        On the day they capitulated (1974), said now-teenaged son buttonholed Boeing’s chief litigator, and said ‘A word to the wise, sir: Never threaten a Viking widow. It just makes her want to hurt you.’

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