Station Eleven author does an interview just to fix her marital status on Wikipedia

Originally published at: Station Eleven author does an interview just to fix her marital status on Wikipedia | Boing Boing


Shades of this Roth v. Wiki controversy:

And of course there’s a relevant XKCD:


Ugh, fights over bad or stale references, that have become embedded in an article, are the worst. Some of the time, you’re stuck proving a negative, because no source is going to directly contradict a nonsense claim from a cherished junk source.

Without a clever work-around like this, hammering with WP:BLP (bio of living persons) would probably be the best route. “Marital status is a personal detail, and those change all the time. Under BLP, we are required to have solid up-to-date references, and the ref in this case is several years ago. Until there’s a more recent ref confirming it, this must be removed.”

A tedious bun fight, which is why I don’t do that.


I wonder if posting, like, a Dropbox link to relevant key pages of her final divorce decree paperwork (redacting any extraneous personal details) and then citing that would have been a sufficient alternative.

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No, those would be primary sources. :fire:


Heck, there was at least one person declared dead on Wikipedia who couldn’t get them to change that just by being factually alive.


I do not know the etiquette (boy that is hard to spell) of ring wearing, but unless it is an old photograph, she is wearing a ring where I would expect a wedding band.

Otherwise, good luck to her.

Now, for that case, take a selfie and submit it to Wikimedia Commons (with proper licensing). Then have someone update the article picture and caption with date. Make the contradiction someone else’s problem. :smiley:


I had a similar battle with MobyGames. I had a 30 year career in AAA development, but almost every detail on my MobyGames page is wrong. One day I decided to try and correct it, so I wrote to the email address provided on the site for the purpose, explaining who I was and listing the errors. It’s a huge database, so there are bound to be errors. I figured this would be a formality.


The site is run by essentially one guy, and he’s a dick who has decided he’s king of video game data. He demanded written documentation for everything I was saying, which sounds noble in principle, except that every single detail of my career is under NDA and thus nothing is ever documented. We weren’t allowed to take documents out of the office or do any kind of interviews or press that would create documentation for the things we worked on. I was happy to verify my identity for him any way he wanted, but first hand reporting of a person’s own lived experience was unacceptable to him. He demanded documents that don’t exist.

It’s another example of how amateurs who are well-intentioned about accuracy end up shooting their own data in the foot. Because the existing data is wrong yet somehow got past his screening, no new corrections can ever fix it. The data is doomed to be wrong forever. It didn’t help that the guy was a huge dick. I gave up and stopped trusting anything I read on that site because if my data is that wrong, who knows what else is.


From the Slate interview, I also learned that the Station Eleven author’s family is all in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. Which I can relate to on a close, albeit not personal, geographic level.


Wikipedia also has major problems with any online history that isn’t part of the ARPANET => Internet mainline narrative.

The article on a friend’s 80s BBS project is pretty awful, and likely will be deleted in the end. (I see that someone already deleted the article on BBS: The Documentary, a well-done set of interviews on otherwise lost BBS history. It’s an important reference work, but “Not notable”. Oh, okay.)


Oh, i c. That’s kinda nuts then.

Yah, that’s a tragedy. I’m friends with Jason Scott, who made that film. It’s an incredible piece of work and arguably the only really thorough set of first hand accounts of BBS culture that have survived. Calling that “not notable” is insane.


It didn’t return many Google hits, so QED. /s

Removing non-Usenet/ARPANET articles because no one documented it, and removing the documentation because it’s not notable is a vicious cycle, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. No future info-archeologist will dig up pot shards of forgotten online cultures.


Considering that was probably chosen because it’s CC licensed and the photo that appears in the linked interview is a completely different photo, odds are yes it is an old photo.


I mean, a huge part of the book is about Vancouver Island, so that’s not really a surprise to me


Couldn’t she just cite the actual court case? Aren’t those public records?


Yeah their ideas of what constitutes notable is ambiguous at best and petty at worst.


Someone will claim that those are primary sources, and also aren’t verifiable. (Even though WP:Verifiable does not mean “easily found online”.)

“If the divorce was notable, someone would have made a citable secondary source.”
“Okay. If the divorce isn’t notable, then why is the marriage?”


Using public records is frowned upon with living persons and the reasoning isn’t all that bad. Public records contain things like dates of birth, potential home addresses, vehicle registrations ownership, etc. Wikipedia doesn’t want to be in the position of doxxing people.

There is also another level, in that a lot of public records are done at very regional levels. So how do you know this is actually the John Smith in the article and not another person named John Smith? Until you can cite something that shows otherwise it is original research which is not allowed on the site.