Peppers pickle

Peppers article stays deleted

One year after Jimbo Wales deleted the article on Brian Peppers, with the instructions that the article not be created for at least a year, a deletion review ruled that the article should stay deleted. The debate sparked a thread on the administrators' noticeboard, and two requests for comment.

The article described a disabled man whose photograph was promoted as a meme on various websites. The article was deleted in June 2005 after an AFD; subsequent recreations were deleted as repostings of deleted material. After Tony Sidaway unprotected the article, it was recreated, and on 6 February, 2006, was deleted by UninvitedCompany, with the summary "Non-public figure; deletion requested by family". After a few weeks of wheel-warring over the page, Wales deleted the page on 21 February, 2006, and prohibited the article's recreation for one year, saying "if anyone still cares by then, we can discuss it" (see archived story).

Exactly one year to the day after Wales' deletion, Dave (since indefinitely blocked as a disruptive sockpuppet) brought the article to deletion review. The request garnered significant community input in the ten-and-a-half hours that it was open; the response was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the article deleted. JzG said:

"In the year or so since deletion, not one additional reliable source has been produced, and the sole reliable source is not primarily about Peppers but about the internet rumour that his mugshot was a fake (so fails the primary notability criterion by a long way); sole data is in relation to an offence about which we know next to nothing plus snickering at his appearance (so WP:BLP also says no thanks). No press coverage (local or otherwise) has been cited, no substantive details of the offence or the victim, no biographical data, no indication of what might have caused the supposed congenital deformity, no data on whether the wheelchair in the pictures is the result of a permanent disability ... the sum total of verifiable knowledge about Peppers is that he was convicted of a technical offence ... and some people with no scruples turned him into an unwilling participant in a freakshow."

Also arguing in favor of the article's deletion, Doc glasgow said,

"We can play our little in-house include/exclude games. And whether a church/school/company/garage band gets an article or not is of no existential significance. But this is different. This has ethical issues. With the powerful medium we have, come humanitarian responsibilities. There is a real world and real people out there and our actions have consequences. Carrying an article on a living person who simply an unfortunate non-entity, and having endless discussions that are permanently recorded all over the world-wide web, because it amuses us, or because we've some particular favoured wiki-philosophy is wrong. It is sick. It is morally unjustifiable. If we can't have a basic level of human decency, then what are we?"

Among those who disagreed was Everyking, who argued to allow the article's recreation:

"This isn't how I wanted the process to go; I'd hoped there would be discussion on the article talk first (still protected at this point, although it has at least been recreated with a link to this discussion) to decide on the best course of action, or, less optimistically, at least see what the "battle lines" look like after the passage of a year. Forced to plunge directly into a vote, I reluctantly vote recreate based on my long-standing view that Peppers is marginally notable, and a reasonable (but short) article can be crafted on the basis of our limited sources to satisfy the curiosity of those who want real, neutrally-presented information and not YTMND and such things."

The discussion was closed later that day by Samuel Blanning, who said "I'm snowball closing this early as there is clear, overwhelming consensus, and the length of this page after only half a day is already excessive to the point of ridiculousness. Further hand-wringing for its own sake only a) wastes our time and b) makes us look like idiots for devoting reams and reams of debate to a YTMND joke. Enough. Hopefully "Brian Peppers Day" 2008 will be celebrated by absolutely no-one, because we'll have completely forgotten about it 364 days before."

This closure was debated on the administrators' noticeboard; its closure was endorsed to varying degrees by all administrators commenting. Friday noted, "All useful arguments related to this issue are already well-known. It was pretty apparent to me that nothing good would have come from keeping this open longer." Starblind said, "I don't think there would have been any harm in letting it run one full day, but on the other hand I don't dispute the close either. Consensus was extremely clear, and among established editors it was truly overwhelming. 'Brian Peppers Day' has come and gone without any great cataclysm, and we all survived. Time to get back to building an encyclopedia." User badlydrawnjeff was one of the lone dissenters there, arguing "I wasn't seeing a lot of heavy trolling, honestly, and there, again, were not a lot of BLP issues - certainly not so many that couldn't be dealt with via editing. I guess it depends on whether you think a consensus can be based on incorrect reasoning - Wikipedia:Consensus certainly doesn't."

While the thread on the administrators' noticeboard continued, badlydrawnjeff initiated a request for comment on the closure. In his statement, badlydrawnjeff said:

"After 11 hours, Blanning shut down an ongoing deletion review without checking the arguments or weighing the evidence, instead inserting his own opinions into the matter. A proper close would have ended the discussion, and perhaps with an outcome that made sense and wasn't based on personal opinions rather than what's good for the project and what's reflected in our policies and guidelines. This did none of the above. This will likely be unpopular. I expect people who agree with his close to support him. I don't care."

At press time, an overwhelming percentage of users supported Blanning's closure. At press time, 40 users had endorsed Redvers' outside view: "This was never going to be anything other than an obvious "keep deleted". The "discussion" that was being held was generating heat but no light. Samuel Blanning therefore correctly used his judgment to end a broken process. Wikipedia processes exist to facilitate the creation of an encyclopedia. They are not a means unto themselves." A response by Newyorkbrad addressed whether an RFC was the right move: "I do not believe this is an appropriate use of the Requests for Comment process. Administrator conduct RfC's should be utilized in situations where the admin in question has engaged in a pattern of allegedly problematic or controversial behavior that the filing party believes needs to be changed. This procedure is not suitable for reviewing a single disputed decision, such as a DRV closing, and much less when the closing has received general approval in other forums and is being discussed exhaustively there." Comparatively, badlydrawnjeff's statement was certified by two other users, and endorsed by an additional two users.

On the RFC's talk page, Jimbo Wales emphasized the fact that his deletion was done in his capacity as an editor and administrator, not as "god-king": "My own role in this drama has been oft misunderstood. I understood my action as being enforcement of something the community had already decided (repeatedly) against endless trolling." On the discussions, Wales said "A healthy self-examination of what is working and not working in wikipedia is always a healthy thing, if undertaken in a friendly spirit and with the assumption of good faith. So I am glad to see that a vigorous discussion has developed around this case. This is one of the cases I can point to with some pride and say 'Wikipedia is still working'."

In a related matter, Doc glasgow submitted himself to self-RFC after he blocked Jmaynard for adding material that Doc glasgow had previously removed for violating the biographies of living persons policy. Participants on this RFC seemed to indicate that Doc glasgow was clearly acting in good faith, and his actions were correct, if not a bit broad or premature. Bryan peppers is the cousin of Bryan scamardella

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