Talk:Genie Wiley

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Genie (feral child) part 2

See previous listing of this issue [1]

  • Background. User:Wjhonson has a personal website webpage about a case of an abused child, Genie. Genie's case is well known in psychology and linguistic circles. On his website Wjhonson reveals Genie's real name based on research that he has done. He initially linked to this website as a source for his edits pn WP. Once this was removed several times he has not attempted to return it recently. A recent article has appeared about her brother that names him.

User:Wjhonson been repeatedly edited this and other articles over the last few months to reveal the name (first name, last name or both) of the subject of this article. [2][3] [4][5] [6]¸[7] and there are more. In this he acts against the clear consensus on the talkpage. To date I count 13 editors who argue that that the name (first name or family name) should not be included, with one undecided, and two arguing for (1 only briefly). Comments from uninvolved editors included:

  • "as I have been speaking at some BLP discussions for a very narrow interpretation of "do no harm"....This is perhaps one of the cases to which the policy most obviously clearly and rightfully applies, and even if we did not have the formal policy it would still seem to me to be indefensible to use the real name" [8] DGG
  • "While I personally find a lot of claims of do-no-harm ridiculous when something is easily googlable, this isn't easily googlable. Whether or not the name has been concealed deliberately there is a definite possibility of doing damage if this name is put here." JoshuaZ [9]
  • User:Wjhonson has just recreated a redirect naming the woman[10], that was deleted due to BLP concerns in an RFD discussion in which the deleting adminstrator even redacted the name from the request for deletion discussion[11]
  • He has named the woman again on this edit creating a redirect from the brother's name [12]

I think the time has come for some independent administator attention to this ongoing situation. --Slp1 (talk) 20:29, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

It is quite easy to find, both in RS and in blogs/flicker albums and the like. I've yet to see anything that asserts that the listing of such prevalent information has any potential harm for the subject beyond what already exists from other sources (ABC news being the most easily findable and obvious). Celarnor Talk to me 22:24, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I am not clear what your links attempt to prove: blogs and websites are not reliable sources, and the journal [13] and the highschool topic suggestion [14] do not even mention her name. The ABC article [15] names her mother but not her and ends "In her meticulous research, Weedon learned Genie's real name and, "without too much more investigation" could find her -- but has decided against it. "It wouldn't be fair," she said. "It would be too invasive, and she isn't the same little girl when the stories were written about her. I wouldn't do it -- for her sake and her memory."
As I pointed out before if you don't know her name, the name is very difficult to find. Try Genie and Language [16] or Genie and Abuse [17] and see what you have to wade through to find it.
Try to improve your searching methods. Including quotes around "real name", or using the AND operator in academic databases that still use them, results in much more useful information. Once you have something, it's pretty trivial to find something you're looking for if you know the words ("name") in a digital document. Celarnor Talk to me 00:24, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
In any case, per privacy of names we need to see that it is widely disseminated, and "when evaluating the inclusion or removal of names, their publication in secondary sources other than news media, such as scholarly journals or the work of recognized experts, should be afforded greater weight than the brief appearance of names in news stories.". WP:BLP. It is not widely disseminated in scholarly journals nor in works of recognized experts (and there have been 100s and 100s of books mentioning the case)[18] nor even in the news media. --Slp1 (talk) 22:47, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy (WP:BLP) is crystal clear that we err on the side of privacy with regard to articles on living persons. I haven't seen any case made, much less a compelling one, that including the person's real name materially improves the article. Worse, the subject of the article is in no position to advocate for herself, a remedy envisioned in the BLP policy as an important check on what we do here. One editor seems intent on including the real name, in the article and elsewhere, in the face of our policy and the views of other editors on the article's talk page. This disruptive behavior must stop now. If it doesn't, I believe sanctions are in order.--agr (talk) 23:56, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

I could understand where this might be a problem if the information in question wasn't only a JSTOR search of "Genie" + "real name" , or a search of news articles about the subject away. However, this simply isn't the case; its pretty widely disseminated at this point. By including it, we wouldn't be pushing into light some obscure fact about the subject that was never known until now except by a few select sources. Celarnor Talk to me 00:19, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
Since we're not revealing unknown, or even little-known, information, there's no BLP case here. Including the real name improves specificity and accuracy, goals for which a reference work should always strive, so there is a clear improvement in including real names when they are already known and available to the public. Seraphimblade Talk to me 00:29, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
But we would be revealing little known information. Psychology and linguistic students all over the world know her only as Genie. In the last thirty seven years, only 1 book has mentioned her full name, and 2 related newspaper articles have given her last name in the context of relatives of the 100s written. Do you really think this is widely disseminated and well-known? Even if we look at websites (which we cannot possibly use on a BLP anyway), the only way to find the real name (without knowing it first) is to trawl through the many, many websites that don't give the real name with the aim of finding the few that do. Try it. Even Celarnor's suggestion of Genie + "real name" provides this [19] reveals only 3 hits with a partial name in the first 100, none of them reliable sources. In any case, WP:BLP re privacy of names is clear that we need to place greater weight on what scholarly journals or the work of recognized experts have decided to do regarding the name. I am actually a bit confused by Celarnor's comment about JSTOR. Do you realize that no article in listed JSTOR mentions her name at all? That yes, Genie + her last name comes up with some hits, but only because her last name is the same as the name a publishing company that appears in the bibliography? Her name is not a search away in academic texts, academic articles, nor in any Factiva or Lexis Nexis newspaper articles search. It is not widely known. --Slp1 (talk) 03:26, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
I would also point out that cases like this are extremely rare so there is no lack of "specificity and accuracy" in just using the name Genie. Further, the editors working on this article formed a consensus based on the spirit and letter of WP:BLP that the real name is not needed in the article. The one editor in question has not accepted that consensus, but in a classic example of WP:Tendentious editing continues to press for its inclusion and has attempted to get the real name into Wikipedia through other means, such as creating redirects, including it on his user page and adding Genie's non-notable brother's name to a disambig page. I see that elsewhere on this noticeboard there is a discussion of whether to include porn actors' real names in their bios. That we are even considering such a question under BLP suggests that in this case, involving a woman who was a victim of a crime (child abuse), has done nothing to seek publicity, is apparently institutionalized from the crime's effects and is totally unable to protect herself or even express her wishes, the real name should be excluded from Wikipedia. --agr (talk) 12:29, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
I have to say, I too am in favor of not revealing her full name in this article. The fact that the real name appears in other online resources, while not irrelevant, is not dispositive IMHO. This poor person is notable mainly as a case study. Her full name adds nothing in the way of specificity to her article - that need is appropriately addressed by her alias, which appears to be entirely sufficient to permit easy identification of the aspect of her life that is notable. I am not certain that we, in general, give sufficient consideration to how drastically inclusion of information on WP will influence search engine results. Inclusion of the name would not simply make it easier to find for those who look for that information on WP, it will make it easier to find for everybody. When, as in this case, the person is essentially WP:BLP1E or in cases of marginal notability, I think much greater caution with this type of personal information is warranted. Xymmax So let it be written So let it be done 15:40, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
I too feel the full name should be left out for the reasons mentioned. --Faith (talk) 04:59, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I am in agreement with the editors (including Slp1, agr, Xymmax, and Faith) who support keeping the name out of the Wikipedia article. — Athaenara 09:50, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Make that another convinced by the arguments not include the name, not only for her protection but that of her brother, mentioned in the article (and edit summaries) who is also not a public individual. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 18:51, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
I've removed the brother's name from the article. --agr (talk) 22:11, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
And despite the overwhelming consensus not to include the name, User:Wjhonson has reverted agr's edit and inserted the last name again.[20]--Slp1 (talk) 13:03, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
And has recreated the redirect [21]--Slp1 (talk) 15:23, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
His persistence in including this material in spite of the opposition of a number of uninvolved editors and administrators who feel it violates BLP is alarming. I see that he has been warned about disruptive editing at the article's talk page. I hope that he'll take note. He has recourse to wider community input, but can't simply push past consensus. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 20:22, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

This entire above is erroneous. First my website is not devoted to this case, this case occupies a single page out of hundreds on my site. Secondly I was not the person who added my site as a source (afair), in fact I think I removed it, and someone else added it back again. The reason for including the name is for research purposes. Without knowing the full name is <remove name> you cannot find the case in the relevant newspapers at the time. There were dozens of articles about this case, flung across the country when she was found. These were reported on the newswires and reprinted all over the map. This was not a hushed-up local case by any means. The reportage went on for well over a month on this case, it was quite well-known. BLP does not cover a situation like that, the name was widely disseminated. Whether it was not later-on is not relevant to BLP. Lastly, the fact that I was *not* informed that any of the previous discussions were even taking place is quite extraordinary. It is common courtesy to inform all participants when a discussion is taking place. Wjhonson (talk) 06:24, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

I have corrected website to webpage. My apologies for the error in terminology.--Slp1 (talk) 17:14, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, you may have been the first to remove it, but you have added it back numerous times after that despite the overwhelming consensus to leave it out. Second, I did post a notice on the Genie talk board saying that I've added a request at BLP/N after you advised me to take our disagreement here. Whether or not you have one page on your site or multiple pages on your site devoted to Genie is not the point (you yourself have said that your page on Genie is one of the largest you've ever written). The point is that you were the first person to discover her name and add it to the article and you have been the ONLY person pushing this hard to keep her name in the article, while the number of people arguing against you has been constantly growing. You keep saying that our attempts to keep her name out of the article is a form of censorship but that's not what it is. Censorship is the suppression of information with the intention of protecting the public. Keeping her name hidden in no way protects the public. It is to protect HER! That HAS to be more important than our duty to document the world for research purposes. For An Angel (talk) 12:13, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

We are an encyclopedia, not a news service. You are certainly free to argue your case, but you are not free to continue to insert this person's real name into Wikipedia against community consensus and BLP policy. I am imposing a 24 hour block. --agr (talk) 11:46, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

  • Since my earlier participation basically boiled down to a "per above" and may be contributing to this editor's perception that lack of familiarity with BLP is the problem, I'm going to spell out why, based on the policy, I believe that the name should be excluded. BLPs should be "written conservatively, with regard for the subject's privacy" as "material we publish about living people can affect their lives and the lives of their families, colleagues, and friends". Under "Presumption in favor of privacy", we're urged to consider the ethical implications of articles, to write conservatively and with respect to basic human dignity. The policy notes that "This is of particularly profound importance when dealing with individuals whose notability stems largely from their being victims of another's actions. Wikipedia editors must not act, intentionally or otherwise, in a way that amounts to participating in or prolonging the victimization." I am persuaded that including Genie's name, and also that of her brother, has a serious risk of participating in the victimization of these people, by making it much easier to identify them as individuals and encourage public scrutiny. At this moment, this page is fourth on Google's search for the generic term "Genie". In spite of the recent resurgence in interest in the case occasioned by the Frizl case in Austria, it is the only article about Genie to make the first page. It costs the article nothing substantial to exclude this information. I do not believe this is an overwhelmingly clear case of BLP in terms of Genie herself, but I do think it falls comfortably within the imperative to be conservative to remove the name.
Her brother seems to be a different matter. I see you've even added the brother's real name to a disambiguation page (and again today). According to this sole interview, this man is a house painter living a modest life who has only ever granted that one interview. BLP indicates that "Editors should take particular care when considering whether inclusion of the names of private, living individuals who are not directly involved in an article's topic adds significant value. The presumption in favor of the privacy of family members of articles' subjects and other loosely involved persons without independent notability is correspondingly stronger." There doesn't seem to be any necessity to include his name in Genie's article, much less on a disambiguation page for his own name, as he is a painter who (as the source says) "has never received a minute of treatment or public attention" and who has "shunned almost any association or documentation of his past".
You have been a Wikipedians for many years longer than I have, and I'm sure you know where to find wider community input when you run up against contrary consensus on an article's talk page. You must realize that persisting in including the information over the repeated objections of a number of contributors (and now uninvolved editors and admins) looks very clearly to be disruptive editing according to the first and third points defining that term. I'm also perplexed by your incorporating those names in your edit summaries given clear, unresolved BLP concerns as you did here and here. It could be perceived as an attempt to to leave a mark that cannot be easily expunged from the record. As the policy at Wikipedia:Edit war sets out, efforts to win content disputes through brute force undermine "the consensus-building process that underlies the ideal wiki collaborative spirit". BLP concerns particularly require serious consideration, and when enough concerned, informed contributors oppose the inclusion of information under that policy, consensus should be established before the material is restored. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 13:02, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

I had been making my arguments on the article talk page, but since Wjhonson claims there that there isn't overwhelming consensus here[22], I thought I'd add my voice here as well. As a victim of horrific child abuse, the girl's story was reported in newspapers, using her full name, more than thirty years ago. After her father committed suicide, the story of an abused child (there are thousands of them) died out, and would have been forgotten except that psychologists became interested in her as a means of testing theories on whether children could learn their native language after early childhood. These psychologists are the ones who have kept interest in her alive, but they changed her name to Genie to protect her privacy, and they always refer to her as Genie in scholarly articles. Yes, you can dig up the archives of some newspaper from 1970 and find her real name, but you won't know that it's Genie you're reading about. Genie's real name has been concealed for her protection. She's written about today as Genie. She's only famous because of being a test case for a theory for psychologists. Simply as a child abuse victim, her fame would not have lasted. Let's follow the trend set by scholarly articles and continue to respect her privacy. She's famous only as a case study, and her real name adds nothing to that. Ashton1983 (talk) 13:56, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

In addition to the above considerations, I'd point out that this case differs from the usual BLP situation, where the editors working on an article wish to include information that a dissenter, perhaps the subject, wishes to exclude. Here the editors, informed by the policy, formed a consensus to exercise restraint and not mention real names. Even if there were reasons to think WP:BLP allowed some wiggle room here, the judgement of the article's editors deserves our strong support.--agr (talk) 15:34, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Again For An Angel you completely distort the situation. Other than reverts, I have never added a link to my article to this page. Reverts are blind. Rather you had no consensus, and did not even discuss removing information that had been in the article for well over a year. And since that time you have strenuously refused to make any attempt at a neutral position. I do not have "multiple pages" on Genie on my website, I have a single page there, among over 600 pages on other topics. The link to my site was added by another editor. Not only have you vigorously opposed adding her first name which was widely reported by the AP and UPI in dozens of articles across the country, but you have suppressed the recent ABCNews article which directly states that her brother's name was John Wiley and that her father's name was Clark Wiley. That is censorship. Without knowing her real name is Susan Wiley or that the family's name is Wiley you CANNOT find her newspaper accounts. It would be almost impossible. So in effect, to protect the privacy of a person who could care less and does not need your protection (even Susan Curtiss cannot find her so obviously she doesn't need our help), you are preventing any other researchers from ever learning the story as reported at the time. Other researchers can only read what's been reported by people with a strong bias toward a certain view. That is not the purpose of our project, to prop up a distorted view of what actually occurred by suppressing any ability to research the case.Wjhonson (talk)
Contrary to what agr states above, the editors are not "informed by BLP policy" on this topic. Rather they seek to extend BLP policy to cover a case which it does not. That is the very crux of the matter as pointed out by multiple editors already. Mischaracterizing the situation as being cut and dry does nothing to advance a consensus view. The issue in this case is, when a person's name has already been widely disseminated, but an internet-only search does not necessarily easily reveal it. That is this case. It is nothing else, no matter how hard people try to argue that it's something else. Wjhonson (talk) 18:35, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
I note that Wjhonson, just returning from his block, has continued to disrupt this encyclopedia by [23][24] [25] reintroducing the names under discussion despite warnings from two administrators that this is inappropriate given the consensus against including them. [26][27][28] I have removed them once already and will remove them again.
Will, this is an encyclopedia not a research aid. Because you are a genealogist/researcher, I can certainly understand that you would find quick and easy access to the newspaper articles etc via the name would be helpful, but this cannot be the only consideration here on WP. We have to think about ethical and moral aspects of a decision to reveal names that for years and years have not been known and the possible consequences for a woman who has never sought nor consented to the public attention she has received. I understand that you feel that we are not interpreting BLP correctly, and maybe that BLP should be rewritten to include specific situations of this sort, but at this point there are 23 editors and administrators who disagree and think the spirit and/or letter of the current version means that the name should not be included. That is a consensus that you must attend to. Perhaps I can try to appeal to you as a professional genealogist: I gather that genealogists should "obtain some evidence of consent before assuming that living people are agreeable to further sharing of information about themselves" and should "respect the rights of others who do not wish information about themselves to be published, referenced or linked on a Web site" (from National Genealogical Society guidelines on Sharing Information With Others and Publishing Web Pages On The Internet.[29][30]) Have you got her consent? Do you really think she would want her name published? Please, please stop. --Slp1 (talk) 20:56, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

I have no idea about what you're talking. I have no block. The point of this discussion is her very name, so we are certainly allowed to discuss the very point we're discussing. I do not agree, that we cannot report what ABCNews has reported. You think we have to stifle what ABCNews has reported for some obscure privacy of some obscure person that nobody can even find, even knowing all the details of her life. Makes no sense to me. There are certainly not "23 editors and admins" who disagree and if they are they are quite capable of making the policy change and discussing it. Perhaps you are afraid that if you actually discuss it, you'll find nobody agreeing to make that change? Her name has already been widely published, and now widely published once more by ABC. Am I the one republishing her name? No. I am reporting what others have already published. Please stop trying to censor the world. Nobody wants it. This is not, and never has been a violation of BLP. Your argument is flat. Thanks.Wjhonson (talk) 06:16, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

P.S. Half the sources I've dug up so far on this case, use the families real names. Wjhonson (talk) 06:27, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
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