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Sunday, November 6, 2005

Daniel Brandt Wikipedia Article Discussion Continues

Wikipedia’s revision history display bug

There have been a lot of revisions, discussions and misunderstandings since I created a new article on Daniel Brandt at Wikipedia (which got deleted shortly thereafter, and was then reverted). One specific Wikipedia bug now shows my article, which was created from scratch because nothing was there, as if I would have made a major revision to an existing reasonable article – as if I would have been cutting it down and replacing it with my view. Of course, that’s not what happened, as I couldn’t even see the original article prior to its deletion, because when I stumbled on it it already was deleted.

So now a user by the name of Rd232 (who has subsequently “lost enthusiasm for Wikipedia” and is “taking a wikibreak of indefinite duration”, as he says on his talk page) on the Wikipedia discussion page multiple times accuses me of having made a change from “what looks like a reasonable draft to something quite different,” asking the page be reverted to its original version, and asking me “not to make similarly large edits to this and related articles again without prior discussion.” Other Wikipedia users endorsed Rd232’s approach, so the article was reverted. In the meantime, I filed this revision history display bug on the Wikipedia bug report page.

Is Brandt a public person?

In another discussion, on November 4 user Rd232 answers the question “is Brandt notable enough to have an article?”, saying: “Brandt’s reaction may have been disproportionate in any number of ways, but he clearly has grounds for concern. His over-reaction may have obscured those grounds, but they should not be ignored.” I find this to be a point well put by Rd232 and worth discussing; no matter how much you dislike how someone expresses his own rights, he still doesn’t lose those rights. So the question is valid – is Daniel Brandt a “public person” in the sense Wikipedia asks for him to be to be worthy of his own entry?

A user gets threatened

In another related case, a Wikipedia user by the name of Juicifer – who was also participating in shaping the Daniel Brandt article – found the following on his user discussion page:

“Brandt files a “John Doe” lawsuit against Juicifer for defamation of character, and stipulates that by information and belief, Wikimedia Foundation has access to John Doe’s IP address. The court orders Wikimedia Foundation to provide said IP address.

Brandt gets another court order requiring Juicifer’s Internet Service Provider to provide Juicifer’s name and address.

Brandt sues Juicifer and collects damages, because in the two years since the lawsuit was filed, the Wikipedia entry has been number one on the search engines. Juicifer portrays Brandt as a common felon for “refusing to appear for a physical” and “delinquency,” when in fact the information that he was a draft resister who publicly opposed the draft, and refused a student deferment, and refused induction, is clear in the Ninth Circuit decision that Juicifer either hasn’t bothered to read, or deliberately spins to defame Brandt.

Felony convictions are not taken lightly by employers, and in those two years Brandt has not been able to get a job because all the applications ask about felony convictions, and he is no longer able to deny this on applications.

Juicifer showed incompetence and/or malice by emphasizing the conviction in a manner that suggested criminality, rather than emphasizing the reversal by a higher court, and properly treating the whole situation as public, nonviolent, civil disobedience against U.S. policy in Vietnam. Juicifer claimed at the time that she did this that “Brandt has no say in the matter whatsoever” with respect to how his history is described by Juicifer.

Brandt then sues Wikimedia Foundation for allowing Juicifer’s incompetence and/or malice to remain uncorrected on Wikipedia, after Brandt took all reasonable steps to try to get the article on him deleted, and despite being aware that Wikipedia articles are ranked very highly on all major search engines. Brandt collects more damages, this time from Wikimedia Foundation.

Does this sound like fun to you, Juicifer? 01:03, 3 November 2005 (UTC)”

Current article status

With all the confusion going on, the article still offers in-depth information. (It’s impossible for me to tell if the statements made are all true, of course.) Here are parts of the article in its current incarnation, links and footnotes removed (see copyright license):

“Daniel Leslie Brandt (born 1947) is a US left-wing political activist and writer with an interest in privacy issues. He was the co-founder in 1989, with Steve Badrich, of Public Information Research Incorporated, a non-profit corporation, which maintains Namebase, an online database of citations to influential people, and Google Watch, one of the leading websites critiquing Google amongst other sites. (...)

[Edit: Daniel Brandt asked me to remove this quote, which went on for several more paragraphs, so I did.]

At the moment, the article is again being considered for deletion.


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