Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Essjay has retired from Wikipedia. The most striking aspect of that page is the outpouring of sympathy, people begging him not to leave, etc. -- sharp contrast between the reactions inside Wikipedia (at least of the people who worked with him) and outside (even in the Wikipedia blogosphere). This has been a fairly depressing chapter that I can't really sum up with anything pithy, so I'll leave it at that.

Update: Original Research's Geoffrey Burling attempts a pithy summary in the comments.

1 comment:

llywrch said...

If you don't mind, I'll take a stab at a pithy summary of this entire event: this was another example of failing to think something through before the "Save" button is clicked.

People on one side of the debate will claim that Essjay's resignation is another example of a valuable contributor being driven away from Wikipedia for "some minor transgressions". People on the other side will claim that what he did is another example of "corruption amongst the Admins". Both are tedentious oversimplifications.

As you have pointed out, Andrew Lih gets to the bottom of the matter very quickly in his post on the matter. Essjay wrote on his user page that he was a tenured professor of theology -- which is not an issue in itself. however, he exploited this fictional persona to the hilt, including invoking this title (& its implicit authority) during discussions over article content, and lying to a reporter about it. If he had just left it as a silly claim on his user page, it would have been at most a tempest in a tea cup.

I'm sorry to see that Essjay left, but he made such a mess of thing that this was the only way he thought that he could have solved all of his problems. Which leads back to my statement above: "this was another example of failing to think something through before the 'Save' button is clicked."

Geoff