March 15, 2007

"Essjay" Scandal New Yorker Wikipedia Apology Letter

[Echoed from a mailing list, a letter following-up on the Essjay deception scandal ]

"Making Amends"

I am writing to apologize to "The New Yorker" and Stacy Schiff, and to give some follow-up concerning Ryan Jordan (Editors' Note, March 5). When I last spoke to "The New Yorker" about the fact that a prominent Wikipedia community member had lied about his credentials, I misjudged the issue. It was not O.K. for Mr. Jordan, or Essjay, to lie to a reporter, even to protect his identity. I later learned more about the deceptions involved and asked Mr. Jordan to resign from his positions of responsibility at Wikipedia. He has since resigned from his position at Wikia as well. Mr. Jordan is a wonderful and thoughtful young man who made a series of very bad judgments. I consider him a friend, and I hope that the world will allow to move forward in peace and dignity to regain his honor through a life well lived. Wikipedia is built on trust and love. Our trust has been broken, and only love can rebuild it. The community has begun discussing a proposal of mine that we adopt some verification measures for claimed credentials, so that Wikipedia may further improve from this painful experience.

Jimmy Wales
President of Wikia, Inc.; board member and chairman emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation, St. Petersburg, Fla.

[reportedly "published on p. 24 of the March 19, 2007 issue of the New Yorker"]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on March 15, 2007 12:39 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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I guess only Wales and the person who called him for comment know for sure, but I'd bet a fairly large amount that the question put to Wales included the fact that Essjay lied to Schiff. In fact, why else would The New Yorker even bother Wales with a question? And if this is true, how is it possible anyone could "misjudge the issue" to the extent that Wales claims? The remainder of his letter is essentially a love-bomb for Essjay. Creepy, spooky, and fully in line with "cult".

Posted by: taiwopanfob at March 15, 2007 08:00 AM


Dear New Yorker Editors and readers -

It has been brought to my attention that a fine young man, and personal friend of mine, has been caught lying many times.

While I knew about his deceptions for months, and thought it was pretty damn cool, actually - it is a bad error of judgement to get caught.

I now accept that he didn't intend to get caught, and I'm happy to accept his non-apology.

Can we all please move along in a spirit of love and harmony so that critics can stop questioning my lack of ethics and my lousy judgement.

Jimmy Wales
President, Founder and Maximum Overlord, The Honorary Cult of Wikipedians

Posted by: pb at March 15, 2007 08:31 AM

...I'd bet a fairly large amount that the question put to Wales included the fact that Essjay lied to Schiff.

...why else would The New Yorker even bother Wales with a question?

Er, sorry to be thick, but what "question" are you talking about here? Particularly puzzling is that you call it "the question," as if referencing something that's just been mentioned, yet nothing in the original post here, or in Wales' letter, refers to anything of the sort.

Posted by: Tired Of Obtuse Blog Comments at March 17, 2007 05:26 PM

TOOBC: pb means the question the New Yorker asked Wales, where his reply to that question was printed in the correction to the article (we actually don't know the question's exact wording).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 18, 2007 11:47 AM

Ahh, so in other words, the commenter taiwopanfob was referring to this line in Wales' letter:

"When I last spoke to 'The New Yorker'..."

Describing that conversation as "the question put to Wales" is indeed obtuse, and confusing.

That's too bad, because I think I agree with taiwopanfob's subsequent point.

Posted by: Tired Of Obtuse, etc. at March 18, 2007 12:27 PM