More fallout over the Essjay scandal

The on-wiki fallout over the Essjay scandal is just beginning. It’s only about a day old, but already it is rapidly turning into a forest fire. It first started on Essjay’s talk page, with a large number of people expressing disappointment (and some expressing support). Then it spread over onto the Community Noticeboard, with a lot of arguing there.

Simultaneously, someone created an article on Ryan Jordan, what we think is Essjay’s real name. Which of course ended up being sent to Articles for Deletion almost immediately, which is already at over three sections of arguing over whether Essjay himself is notable, or if there should just be an article on the “2007 Wikipedia fraud incident”, or neither. Meanwhile, at the noticeboard, someone branched off a separate subpage to hold a straw poll on Essjay’s privileges. The majority of people thought that he should be removed from the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom), oversight/Checkuser access, and bureaucrat status, while most people did not favor removing his administrator status. Well, some people didn’t like the straw poll, so they filed a Miscellany for deletion trying to delete the straw poll. Speedy closing of that one was edit-warred over repeatedly, with one of the most ironic comments being made by one of the people trying to delete the straw poll discussion, saying of the MFD, “Don’t try to close discussion early!”

The Community noticeboard subpage was moved to a proper Request for Comment, where the straw poll was archived and the discussions were begun anew. That’s where we stand now, just one day later. See how quickly the forest fire spreads? Oh, and for every page I mentioned here, there was an active talk page full of people arguing that I didn’t link. So double the number of pages devoted to this one incident.

Wikipedians aren’t taking this one lying down. They’ve already written over a megabyte of text on the incident. Wikipedians are, if nothing else, creators of voluminous amounts of text. They also realize the importance of what Essjay did and how bad it makes Wikipedia look, and most of them want some action taken to rectify the situation. I don’t want to predict another’s downfall, but Essjay’s removal from ArbCom seems inevitable. The ArbCom won’t be trusted so long as he is still on it, and in their own best interests, they may want to oust Essjay. Essjay has also already been removed from OTRS, which is the system used by over a dozen volunteers to respond to the huge volume of email and inquiries Wikipedia receives.

Update: And how could I forget the huge discussion on Jimbo’s talk page. The forest fire grows ever larger.

See here for a follow-up post.

7 Responses to “More fallout over the Essjay scandal”

  1. bernie724 Says:

    I have read wikipedians argue that user pages can be what every disinformation is warrented what about this page?

    http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikimedians_by_college_major_or_degree

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    I don’t know, at this point, I wouldn’t trust that too much. Most people probably aren’t lying, but there’s not really any way to be sure for any individual case without some real detective work.

  3. bernie724 Says:

    If you search essjay’s talk-archive, he pulls the ph.d card on another wikimedian. Archive 37 I think.

    ”Article request

    Mister Essjay – I’d like to request an article on Advocatus dei (God’s advocate) Raul654 06:09, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

    Article writing? Is that for the encyclopedia thing I keep hearing we have on here? Oh, and it’s Doctor Essjay, you lowly Ph.D. candidate! ;) Essjay (Talk • Connect) 07:45, 6 July 2006 (UTC)’

    abusing his power here:
    [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration&diff=prev&oldid=20615346]

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    Well yes, all of this and more is being discussed at his Request for Comment. It’ll probably be days before the community fully assimilates all of this. Also, Kelly’s blog post that I linked to in the previous blog entry contains a few more incriminating diff links.

  5. Graham Elliot Says:

    As an outsider, it’s difficult for me to fathom why Jimmy Wales doesn’t himself resign. From what I can gather about the situation, Jimmy knew full well about the lies of Ryan jora a long time ago. Yet Jimmy responded by not only giving a high level position within Wikipedia (usually a position which the wikipedia votes on?), but also hiring him for his private company Wikia. My feeling is that these sort of situations will continue as long as Jimmy Wales is at the helm. So the question is, how does one remove Jimmy Wales?

  6. Graham Elliot Says:

    jora = Jordan

  7. Cyde Weys Says:

    What? No, this isn’t nearly the level of scandal that would take out Jimbo. He didn’t even know the extent of Essjay’s lies. This does look very bad for Essjay, but not particularly so bad for Jimbo. It seems to have been more of an issue of miscommunication than anything else. I just wish Jimbo’s recent statement had been a bit more stern about faking identities.