Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anatomy of a BLP

The Michigan state seal.Seal of Michigan,
NOT a seal of approval!
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Two days ago, I wrote about the recent Supreme Court case involving the "Defense of Marriage" amendment. I mentioned our Attorney General, Mike Cox. On a whim, I decided to go actually look at the Wikipedia article that my post linked.

What a mess I found!

This article is a textbook definition of an unacceptable Biography of a Living Person (BLP) article. Take a look at this revision. It contains word for word text taken from his biography on the State of Michigan Attorney General site, text which is quite flatteringly written (no doubt lifted from his campaign 2006 site, which although now a bad link, is still linked from the article), and which is copyrighted by the State of Michigan.

To "balance" this it also contains text from an attack site, again lifted in large part without change.

No inline citations, just a lot of text. And the article has a long history of (mostly IP user) edits warring over various aspects of the content. You may want to look at the Wikiscanner results too, they are interesting.

Sorry, you don't write a neutral balanced well sourced article by lifting text from puff and attack sites in about equal measure. That gives undue weight to the wrong things. Two coatracks don't make a good article.

So I stubbed it out. This revision shows what it looks like now. Mike Cox deserves a better article than that, but at least it wasn't the mess it was before.

How many other articles like this one on second rank politicians, midsized company CEOs, B list movie stars and the like are there? Those that say there is no BLP problem miss the point.

What do you think? Any horrors you've seen that really need stubbing?


Steve said...

A couple of weeks ago, an employee of the political caucus in which Mel Knight sits raised some concerns with me about his article, which looked like this:

Not totally egregious, but definitely lacking context and suffering from undue weight in one area. I've since reworked it to what I think is a satisfactory, if not great, condition.

That's the closest I've got to a horror story recently, but I also haven't checking BLPN in a while.


MessedRocker said...

Why are people such pubes when it comes to writing articles? I do pray it's because they know no better.

Lar said...

SI: there's lots of bad stuff out there.

MR: I hope so too but I fear there are malicious forces out there in some cases... I've seen it especially with campaign season changes to politicians. Mr. Cox is one such.