Jimmy Wales asks Wikipedian to resign "his positions of trust" over nonexistent degrees
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Saturday, March 3, 2007: with update as of March 4, 2007.
Controversy and discussion erupted on internet forums on 28 February 2007, when publicity was given to Essjay, a prominent Wikipedia administrator and editor, having claimed false credentials which were published in a magazine. Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia co-founder Jimbo Wales was travelling in India, and at 06:42 on March 3 he issued a statement that further information had come to his attention and he had asked the editor to resign his positions of trust within the community. At 03:17 on March 4 Essjay announced on his user talk page that he had retired and was no longer active on Wikipedia.
The affair became public when the The New Yorker issued a retraction to their article about Wikipedia which they had published at the end of July 2006, stating that biographical details they had printed about an administrator and contributor they had interviewed had been found to be false, even though he had confirmed the accuracy of these details as shown on his user page while remaining anonymous.
The Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Stacy Schiff was referred by the Wikimedia Foundation for an interview for the article to Wikipedia administrator Essjay, a member of Wikipedia's arbitration committee and generally trusted member of the community.
|One regular on the site is a user known as Essjay, who holds a Ph.D. in theology and a degree in canon law and has written or contributed to sixteen thousand entries. A tenured professor of religion at a private university...|
EssJay had fabricated a persona which he described on his user page on Wikipedia, presenting himself as a tenured professor at a private US university. After the news broke, EssJay claimed that the false details were intended to avoid cyberstalking.
The following is an excerpt of a statement Wales issued on his talk page:
Essjay revealed his identity as Ryan Jordan, a 24-year-old with no advanced degrees, who has never taught, when he was hired by Wikia, a company that runs community-based wikis.
Jordan has since posted that he was shocked Schiff would publish such information; "It was, quite honestly, my impression that it was well known that I was not who I claimed to be, and that in the absence of any confirmation, no respectible publication would print it."
Five-hundred edits were made to his talk page between 09:45, March 1, 2007 and 17:04, March 3, 2007, and the barrage of comments was expected to continue for an extended period. EssJay subsequently retired from the English Wikipedia, and requested that his bureaucrat, checkuser, oversight, and sysop privileges be revoked.
Wikipedia allows its users to be anonymous, by creating usernames as pseudonyms. However, it is considered unethical to purposely misrepresent oneself to the media, or to use unjustified claims to qualifications to support arguments with other contributors.
- AP. "Wikipedia to writers: Prove your expertise" — , March 8, 2007
- Wikipedia: User talk:Essjay: Retired 03:17, 4 March 2007 (UTC)
- Jimbo Wales. "User talk:Jimbo Wales" — , March 3, 2007
- "Essjay, the Ersatz Academic" — , March 2, 2007
- Jeff Bercovici. "Ode to Wikipedia Riddled with Errors" — , February 28, 2007
- Wikipedia: User talk:Essjay: My response at 16:06, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
- Jimmy Wales. "Arbcom appointments" — , February 23, 2007
- Ryan Jordan. "User:Essjay" — , January 15, 2007
- Stacy Schiff. "KNOW IT ALL" — , July 31, 2006
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