Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An open letter to Mathieu O'Neil


This is an odd situation. I have just discovered in a book review that I have been a case study in your recent book. It would have been nice if, at some point, you had made an attempt to contact me. I'm not hard to find.

Yours truly,
Lise Broer

As an aside, Ragesoss, the editor of the Wikipedia Signpost, went to print without contacting me either. A casual Signpost reader informed me about fifteen minutes ago.


Sage said...

I apologize for not giving you a heads-up.

O'Neil and I have been discussing the review on the talk page, so if you haven't sent your letter directly to him, you can probably get his attention there:

Lise Broer said...

It's been sent. But under the circumstances, it's best to be just as open about this as both of you have been. At least I've notified both of you promptly.

Joshua said...

Interesting. I had read the review and had just assumed that O'Neil had talked to you. Very sloppy scholarship.

Antaeus Feldspar said...

Yup, it sucks when that happens. I had some fecal-matter for brains lift a comment of mine out of context from a Wikipedia talk page, and apparently feeling that he needed to drive home to his audience that it was a bad, bad person making such a comment, informed people that I was "particularly proud of [my] use of the dictionary to promote pornography," -- based on the section of my user page where I listed a number of articles where I was particularly proud of my contributions, and two of those articles happened to be for Candida Royalle and her Femme Films production company.

Needless to say, this individual was too craven to let me know either before or after that he had attributed these sentiments to me. He was also, obviously, a pathetically sloppy researcher who doesn't know the difference between an encyclopedia and "the dictionary". And he was so dishonest that when I wrote to him and pointed out that a) Wikipedia articles are not for promoting their subjects, and b) I said I was particularly proud of my work on the articles, something which doesn't even necessitate a like for the article subject, let alone an intent to "promote" them, he never replied; the only change he made to his slander was to change "Wikipedia editor" to "former Wikipedia editor".

Ironically, the editor of this tabloid claims elsewhere on his site that "What I can promise readers is hard work, high standards, and personal responsibility." He may be able to promise those things but obviously he has no capacity or will to deliver.

Piotr Konieczny said...

In academia, there is such a thing as a code of ethics. Was Durova mentioned in a critical fashion? If so, one should consider not doing so, and instead using a more anonymous version. Nicknames not only don't offer full anonymity protection, but some treat them as emotionally as their real names, so any slander/libel associated with them is problematic.

Whether the researcher should inform others that he is discussing them in a neutral/positive fashion is a different issue; as far as I know there is no such requirement (although it is, certainly, a "nice" thing to do).

And than, finally, there is a question of how public one is. Consider this: I have published academic articles mentioning and quoting Jimbo (in a neutral fashion), and never informed him of that. He is too public to care (imagine if Obama was informed about every publication that mentions him...). So, one also should ask: Durova, how public of a person are you, in Wikipedia context?

Lise Broer said...

A basic tenet of scientific research ethics is to avoid doing harm. This man specifically studied me in the context of harassment. With that as the subject matter, common sense ought to apply.

Via subsequent correspondence I have learned that this individual acted upon the presumption that my real identity would not be knowable. Apparently he failed to run the one minute Google check that would have told him a two minute email was advisable.

Rather disturbing that a man who holds a doctoral degree would overlook such basic research.

Piotr Konieczny said...

Well, if the researcher is old, he may simply not understand how online world works.

Somebody once wrote that people are divided into those that thought of googling themselves and those who didn't. As far as such generalizations go, I do like this one a lot :)

Lise Broer said...

One wonders why a Ph.D. who attempts to publish as an authority on the Internet belongs to the latter group.

And on this side of the looking glass, friends Google my name and give a heads up when something startling happens. Am lucky to be blessed with diligent friends.