[Foundation-l] Request for your input: biographies of living people

Jimmy Wales jwales at wikia-inc.com
Mon Mar 2 17:35:38 UTC 2009

Anthony wrote:
> Sounds good, but how good is OTRS at handling these issues?  Are there any
> statistics available as to what percentage of OTRS complainers are satisfied
> with the resolution?  Does OTRS provide any escalation for people who aren't
> satisfied with their initial results?

In general, I think that OTRS does an excellent job, and they do provide 
escalation (to me sometimes, or to Mike Godwin).  I'm unaware of anyone 
making it through the OTRS process and not being (more or less) 
satisfied, with only one exception - a biography that I learned of 
recently (prefer not to say which one out of risk of accidentally 
causing a news headline) where OTRS had appropriately fixed the article 
but over time (2, maybe 3 years) the "errors" had crept back in.

(I put "errors" in scare quotes not to suggest that they were not 
falsehoods, but rather to emphasize that what was going on, in my 
opinion, was not innocent error, but maliciousness.)

> Another good idea, but how would an article be accepted as "well balanced"?
> You just can't write about a topic which has any level of controversy and
> come up with an article which everyone will agree is "well balanced".  No
> matter what you write, someone is going to have a problem with it, so
> marking an article as "well balanced" is more likely to increase the
> complaints rather than reduce them. 

This is contrary to all my experience.  Even controversial topics can be 
well balanced.

Just as a side note - in my experience, virtually no BLP complaints that 
I have heard in person were invalid.  Even highly controversial people 
(or perhaps, *especially* highly controversial people) aren't worried 
about the controversies being accurately reported.  They are concerned 
that they be reported fairly and in reasonable proportion to their 
overall history.  In my opinion, we fail miserably at that in far too 
many cases, and just because no one has complained yet, this does not 
mean that we are doing a good job.

Let me repeat that in a different way, for emphasis: I think that a 
great number of our biographies, and bad in a particular way.  Minor 
controversies are exploded into central stories of people's lives in a 
way that is abusive and unfair, and games players have learned how to 
properly cite things and good people have a hard time battling against 
violations of WP:UNDUE.

This is true even in cases where the subjects haven't complained, and it 
is a problem not just in terms of our ethical responsibilities to 
subjects of biographies, but also in terms of our ethical 
responsibilities to our readers, who depend on us for neutrality.

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