BLP

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BLP is a rule used by Wikipedia and subsequently by other projects that discusses rules about Biographies of Living Persons. Fundamentally, the aim of BLP is to make sure that no article on Wikipedia could be considered to be libel or otherwise result in people having their reputation damaged.

History of BLP on Wikipedia[edit]

Daniel Brandt's own article[edit]

Founder of anti-Google site Google Watch (which claims that Google invades privacy by using cookies, and other claims of Google wrongdoing) Daniel Brandt discovered that an article had been written about him on Wikipedia, which, after originally being a stub that was due to be deleted, was written into a full-length article by controversial Wikipedia administrator Slim Virgin.

Daniel Brandt tried to have his article deleted, and did not care about Wikipedia's rules about how he would go about it. While all on Wikipedia were focussed on the method that Daniel Brandt was going about it, claiming that he had no right to have his article deleted or edited, Daniel Brandt was claiming that, firstly, the article unfairly put him in a bad light, focussing on untrue and unresearched claims about him, and secondly that he was not a famous person and did not warrant an article of any kind.

Daniel Brandt was quickly banned, as were his many sock puppets, friends who tried to help him and anyone who in any way acted to support him. In partial reference to this, Daniel Brandt began the site Wikipedia Watch, which in part offered to expose the real-life identities of Wikipedia administrators, to see how they felt about having their real life details spread all over the world - something which Daniel Brandt did not like.

While initially Wikipedia administrators regarded Daniel Brandt as a wiki terrorist and hence did not listen to him, through Wikipedia Review, Daniel Brandt's criticism gained much more support and eventually his article was made to be more accurate and neutral.

Eventually, after several years, Daniel Brandt had his article completely deleted, and all references to it. He was never unbanned and no apologies were made for him to have gone through all of this, but nonetheless he at least was personally happy with the result.

Seigenthaler[edit]

Sometime after Daniel Brandt's complaints, someone had made what they claimed to be a joke edit in an article about John_Seigenthaler_Sr., which Daniel Brandt discovered, leading to Seigenthaler appearing on TV to discuss, and was a great embarrassment to Wikipedia. It, along with the Essjay scandal, was one of the major scandals exposed by Daniel Brandt against Wikipedia in relation to the BLP issues.

In the case of Seigenthaler, he didn't mind that he had an article, as he considered himself to be suitably famous, but he was concerned that he could be in any way linked to an assassination and the libel about him he simply found appalling.

As a result of this scandal, the Seigenthaler article became one of the largest, most detailed, most accurate, and thoroughly positive articles about any person in the whole of Wikipedia, and acted to advertise and support Seigenthaler in all things.

Other libel claims[edit]

A wide variety of other claims of libel came from Wikipedia in the months and years following the Seigenthaler scandal. A former male adult porn star who had acted in several homosexual films claimed that he did not want that to be in his biography because, whilst true, he did not feel that it accurately represented him as a person, as it implied that he was homosexual while he was not because he simply did it for money and to act. This and many other claims led to an increasingly nervous policy surrounding BLP and, with an increasingly large number of libel claims, Wikipedia introduced not only a BLP policy but also the oversight ability, hired a full-time lawyer and generally made absolutely sure that nothing remotely libellous was ever introduced in Wikipedia.

The BLP policy on Wikipedia, as it exists today[edit]

The BLP policy, as it exists on Wikipedia today, currently states that for any person who is currently living, any articles must be generally balanced, and all attempts must be made to verify every even remotely controversial or negative statement. Generally speaking, negative or controversial statements are simply not said about people who are currently living. The only exception are highly publicised controversies, such as Michael Jackson being accused of child molestation or OJ Simpson being accused of murdering his wife. In these cases, the controversies are listed, but only the absolutely proven elements of the controversies and even then all attempts are made to present them in a positive light towards the subject of the controversy.

BLP, essentially, ignores Wikipedia's pretence of a Neutral Point of View, or NPOV, and instead presents a generally positive article. It is also implied that if a person with a biography asks for an article about them to be removed, it will be.

In spite of this, BLP is still often used to present false and misleading information about subjects, for example stating that Jason Akermanis had been proven wrong about his accusing another AFL player of taking drugs, something that is not true since firstly he didn't directly accuse that player and secondly because circumstantial evidence including 15 witness testimonies said that that AFL player did in fact take drugs.

Similarly, through BLP's idea at an overly positive biography, many false statements are made on one biography to present a falsely positive viewpoint, which in turn secretly presents a falsely negative viewpoint on another subject. One example of this is the false statement about former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, stating that he came to power because of his introduction of a GST tax, when in actual fact the truth is that he promised, when first elected, that he would never introduce GST, and then did a backflip to introduce it anyway, much to the anger of the Australian public. This kind of outright lie has been presented in many articles in the name of BLP, by Wikipedians manipulating the rules to their advantage to introduce truth changing at its worst, and BLP, like all of Wikipedia's other rules, is just used to pretend that they are doing the right thing while secretly doing something that is very, very wrong on a worldwide scale.

BLP manipulation on Wikipedia[edit]

Prior to the introduction of the BLP policy on Wikipedia, people could write articles on pretty much anyone for pretty much any reason. Nobody really took the articles overly seriously since, fundamentally, Wikipedia's current issue articles are appallingly bad, and always have been. The only exceptions were their articles about movie stars, TV shows and musicians, and even then on any controversial or otherwise important issues they were appallingly terrible. Articles on politicians and important people have always been appalling.

Without BLP, nobody thought to treat Wikipedia's articles about living people seriously. Sure, so the Wikipedia faithful would insist that they were good, but anyone with any intelligence would know that they were pretty woeful. People took these articles with a grain of salt, as it were. They weren't taken very seriously. Inaccuracies about living people were Wikipedia's laughing stock and there was talk of removing them entirely.

Now that BLP has been introduced, most articles about living people have the look and feel of Wikipedia's more accurate articles - about TV shows, movies, music, games and celebrities. And yet they are still just as bad as they have ever been.

Because of the supposed faith in BLP, which, thanks largely to Daniel Brandt, is also shared by and large on critic sites such as Wikipedia Review, Wikipedia's appallingly bad articles about living people that matter are now given far more credibility than they deserve. People take them seriously, since, per BLP, hey they can't be wrong. And yet a lot of people don't realise that BLP was never the main problem. BLP only addresses whether or not something is libellous - it in no way addresses the much more important issue of truth changing. BLP actually makes Wikipedia's ability to change truth a lot worse.

Thanks to BLP, efforts to stop truth changing on Wikipedia, to expose Wikipedia lies or in any way to stop the horrendous cabal-like infrastructure is more difficult than it has ever been. Jimbo Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has even gone on record to say that there is a cabal and he likes it that way, and, in light of BLP, he thinks that it is a good thing.

Is BLP good or not?[edit]

Clearly, the idea of BLP is a good concept. People who are ordinary everyday people absolutely should have the right to not have articles written about them. Indeed, any responsible encyclopaedia would invite them to help to write their own article about themselves, if not write the whole thing themselves. While an article about a subject that is written about the subject itself may be biased and may even be inaccurate in some ways, it is always going to be more useful and more insightful than an article written by someone else.

The problem is that BLP can't work properly because of Wikipedia's rules prohibiting both experts on a topic and the ability to write an article about yourself. This, along with their unenforceable and generally bad concept of NPOV means that they are now trying to have an overly positive article and, fundamentally, it just exposes how bad the other rules are and cannot work.

The big problem with BLP is that the truthiness of articles about living people any different to the truthiness of anything else. The fact of the matter is that Wikipedia should be aiming for truth no matter what, and should be focussing on the truth of something ahead of worrying about the bias of it. Truth is more important than bias! Truth with bias is fine - even if some say that it isn't really true! Outright lies, no matter how neutral they are, are very bad!

There is really no need for Wikipedia or any other encyclopaedia to even have a policy on BLP. The only reason that they need one is because their other policies are so bad. In effect, it is used to cover up the flaws in other policies.

What would a good BLP policy entail?[edit]

A good BLP policy would have rules along these lines:

  1. All articles, whether about people or not, whether living or not, should aim to be true at all costs, recognising that, whether they are about an individual person or not, in some ways they can be used to defame and lie about someone in a hurtful way.
  2. Any people who have an article written about them should have the right to ask to have that article deleted.
  3. Any people who have an article written about them who do not like something that is written about them should have the right to have aspects about them written in a more positive way.
  4. Any people who are the subject of an article should have the right to either write the article about themselves or at least to contribute and correct ideas.
  5. If at all possible, all articles should be written by experts on the subject.
  6. If there is anything in an article that is proven to be false, it should be removed.
  7. If any person is the fundamental subject of an article, either as founder and sole owner of a company, or else in unison with the founder and all previous owners of a company, then they shall have the same rights to have the article deleted and changed as if the article was written about themselves as individuals.

There is no need to specify living people, as that shouldn't even be relevant in deciding the truth of things. So long as people are telling the truth, there shouldn't be any worries about what they say. It isn't libel if it is true.

What is a bad BLP policy?[edit]

Examples of bad BLP rules include:

  1. Any rules that apply just to living persons that do not apply to dead people or to articles about other subjects.
  2. Any rules that allow statements that are proven to be true to be deleted.
  3. Any rules that suggest that pseudonyms not attached to real names are the same as living people identified by their real names.
  4. Any rules that suggest that truth only matters with living people and doesn't matter for dead people or articles about other subjects.
  5. Any rules that allow lies to be inserted to promote one subject that in turn are negative about someone else in a libellous way.
  6. Any rules that allow lies to be inserted to promote one subject that encourage truth changing in any form.
  7. Any rules that allow "neutral" articles that present a fundamentally false view of events by overly summarising and not putting things into context.

Why Encyc and others should not follow Wikipedia's BLP rules[edit]

Encyc has existed for a long time as an alternative to Wikipedia. After all, if you wanted to be the same as Wikipedia, then you may as well just edit Wikipedia. One of Encyc's main selling points has been its uncovering of Wikipedia errors. Encyc has made improvements to articles, uncovered Wikipedia lies, and generally offered superior articles.

Since the June 2010 introduction of an Encyc BLP policy, a number of quality articles, such as the article exposing the truth of the history of Wikipedia Review, which doesn't exist anywhere else, have been deleted, while many others, such as the exposure of the Poetlister scandal, a scandal involving a high profile Wikipedia and Wikipedia Review administrator who had used several accounts to influence results, has similarly been deleted, in the name of BLP, while in both cases BLP is irrelevant as these are wholly true articles that are talking about pseudonyms, not actual people.

As a result of this, the quality of Encyc as a whole has dramatically decreased and it is threatening to become no better than Wikipedia. In the name of "removing controversy" it has got rid of all of the quality that Encyc had to offer.

Encyc should not have a BLP rule. There is no need for one. The current BLP policies are poor and ambiguous and are being used to encourage truth changing on Encyc itself, the very place where truth changing being exposed was one of its major drawcards!

Hopefully in reading this, Encyc's BLP policies can be removed, or, if they must remain, put into a more realistic and usable format that does not encourage truth changing. Certainly, the mass destruction of important and quality articles needs to be undone and the people responsible should not remain as administrators.