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> Who is Essjay?, Probably he's Ryan Jordan
Daniel Brandt
post Thu 11th January 2007, 7:48pm
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This Essjay user page is worth quoting, before it gets modified. Please humor me and click and verify -- it could disappear faster than you can say "phantom administrator."
QUOTE
"Essjay" is the spelled-out form of my initials, S.J.; it is an old nickname I picked up. Others sometimes confuse me with Sj, but we are not the same person!
...
I get a lot of requests for personal information about me; however, in these days of internet stalking, anonymity has become more and more important. Here are some details I'm willing to share:

Alias: Justin Stewart

Me: I am male, past 30 but not yet 40, gay and in a long-term relationship with my partner, Robbie, an attorney. We live in the Northeastern United States.

Career: I teach theology at a university in the eastern United States. My area of expertise is Roman Catholicism, though I rarely contribute to theology articles anymore.

I am not Catholic, a priest, or a Jesuit; my interest in Catholicism is purely academic. I am a member of the Christian Church, and serve as an Elder.

This information used to be on his main Wikipedia user page. Now it's gone from there. The most recent trace is in this copy of his user page from November 23. Notice above the big box on the bottom, where it says "User:Essjay/Personal" in red. This means that he had already deleted the subdirectory, but forgot to fix the main page reference as of this date, which is red because it points to a nonexistent page. This page still exists at meta.wikimedia.org

I believe that Essjay was a fraud from the beginning. It's a bad sign that Wikia CEO Gil Penchina is allowing this sort of bullshit to get infiltrated into Wikia. Seems to me that when you're talking $14 million in venture funding ($4 million start-up and another $10 million from Amazon), that you should have real people who are really verifiable on your staff.
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nobs
post Thu 11th January 2007, 8:20pm
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What is the point of all this? Essjay could be a committe.
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Somey
post Thu 11th January 2007, 8:34pm
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True - he could be a whole religion, nationality, or even ethnicity unto himself. But as for whether or not Wikia should hire him, I've always assumed that web-based companies hire people under assumed names all the time. That would be especially true of Wikia - anonymity is so essential to their success, they probably encourage it!
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Daniel Brandt
post Thu 11th January 2007, 8:40pm
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QUOTE(nobs @ Thu 11th January 2007, 2:20pm) *

What is the point of all this? Essjay could be a committe.

All we know for sure is that Essjay is not Nobs. Essjay knows how to spell.
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nobs
post Fri 12th January 2007, 2:36am
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QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Thu 11th January 2007, 1:40pm) *
QUOTE(nobs @ Thu 11th January 2007, 2:20pm) *
What is the point of all this? Essjay could be a committe.
All we know for sure is that Essjay is not Nobs. Essjay knows how to spell.
Pardon my Franklish. Essjay could be a comité.
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Somey
post Fri 12th January 2007, 5:39am
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QUOTE(nobs @ Thu 11th January 2007, 8:36pm) *
Pardon my Franklish. Essjay could be a comité.

Or even a termite!

Or, perhaps he's concomitant with the commisariat of the complementary Communist commercial comb-over conspiracy...

Anyway, let's put this whole issue of how to spell the word "committee" aside for a moment. The question now is whether or not Essjay is, or was, or ever was, a Professor of Theology, or for that matter, even a teaching assistant in Theology or any other religious studies-like program. While this is of only marginal importance, and mostly of interest to people on WP who were led to believe that he was an authority on the subject, it would at least indicate that Essjay had been, at best, disingenuous in representing himself within the WP community. (Not that such things are unusual!)

He doesn't look older than 27 in the photo, maybe 30 tops, but it might be an old photo. And there's no reason not to believe that he really is/was a religion professor, except for the fact that nobody named "Ryan Jordan" can be found on sites like ratemyprofessors.com (which in itself is a subject I'd like to discuss one of these days), teaching in a religion department in an East Coast college or university. There's one who teaches History at UC San Diego, but I doubt that's him.

Still, by all accounts he's a reasonably decent sort, and there's probably no need to make a big deal out of it... It is rather curious, though!
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a view from the hive
post Fri 12th January 2007, 7:32am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Thu 11th January 2007, 9:39pm) *

QUOTE(nobs @ Thu 11th January 2007, 8:36pm) *
Pardon my Franklish. Essjay could be a comité.

Or even a termite!

Or, perhaps he's concomitant with the commisariat of the complementary Communist commercial comb-over conspiracy...

Anyway, let's put this whole issue of how to spell the word "committee" aside for a moment. The question now is whether or not Essjay is, or was, or ever was, a Professor of Theology, or for that matter, even a teaching assistant in Theology or any other religious studies-like program. While this is of only marginal importance, and mostly of interest to people on WP who were led to believe that he was an authority on the subject, it would at least indicate that Essjay had been, at best, disingenuous in representing himself within the WP community. (Not that such things are unusual!)

He doesn't look older than 27 in the photo, maybe 30 tops, but it might be an old photo. And there's no reason not to believe that he really is/was a religion professor, except for the fact that nobody named "Ryan Jordan" can be found on sites like ratemyprofessors.com (which in itself is a subject I'd like to discuss one of these days), teaching in a religion department in an East Coast college or university. There's one who teaches History at UC San Diego, but I doubt that's him.

Still, by all accounts he's a reasonably decent sort, and there's probably no need to make a big deal out of it... It is rather curious, though!


Ok, ok, why wants to start RateMyProfessors-Watch. Lots and lots of anon people there and there is a LOT more false information. Wikipedia pales in comparsion to the false information posted on that site.
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everyking
post Fri 12th January 2007, 8:57am
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QUOTE(Somey @ Fri 12th January 2007, 6:39am) *

QUOTE(nobs @ Thu 11th January 2007, 8:36pm) *
Pardon my Franklish. Essjay could be a comité.

Or even a termite!

Or, perhaps he's concomitant with the commisariat of the complementary Communist commercial comb-over conspiracy...

Anyway, let's put this whole issue of how to spell the word "committee" aside for a moment. The question now is whether or not Essjay is, or was, or ever was, a Professor of Theology, or for that matter, even a teaching assistant in Theology or any other religious studies-like program. While this is of only marginal importance, and mostly of interest to people on WP who were led to believe that he was an authority on the subject, it would at least indicate that Essjay had been, at best, disingenuous in representing himself within the WP community. (Not that such things are unusual!)

He doesn't look older than 27 in the photo, maybe 30 tops, but it might be an old photo. And there's no reason not to believe that he really is/was a religion professor, except for the fact that nobody named "Ryan Jordan" can be found on sites like ratemyprofessors.com (which in itself is a subject I'd like to discuss one of these days), teaching in a religion department in an East Coast college or university. There's one who teaches History at UC San Diego, but I doubt that's him.

Still, by all accounts he's a reasonably decent sort, and there's probably no need to make a big deal out of it... It is rather curious, though!


My very brief account is that he isn't a reasonably decent sort at all.
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Jonny Cache
post Fri 12th January 2007, 12:47pm
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I still think that the Limonata and the Ordure are behind all this.

Jonny cool.gif

PS. Yes, I know how to spell their real names. I just don't want them tracking me down with their dark satanic search engines.
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Poetlister
post Fri 12th January 2007, 12:50pm
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QUOTE(everyking @ Fri 12th January 2007, 8:57am) *

My very brief account is that he isn't a reasonably decent sort at all.

He welcomed me when I first started on WP and was most helpful when I first had a real problem. I still wonder what would have happened had I gone to him rather than Jayjg over a subsequent problem.
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gomi
post Fri 12th January 2007, 6:14pm
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QUOTE(Jonny Cache @ Fri 12th January 2007, 4:47am) *

I still think that the Limonata and the Ordure are behind all this.

Ach, yuv got too much Orangina in yer Iron Bru.
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everyking
post Sat 13th January 2007, 9:07am
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QUOTE(Poetlister @ Fri 12th January 2007, 1:50pm) *

QUOTE(everyking @ Fri 12th January 2007, 8:57am) *

My very brief account is that he isn't a reasonably decent sort at all.

He welcomed me when I first started on WP and was most helpful when I first had a real problem. I still wonder what would have happened had I gone to him rather than Jayjg over a subsequent problem.


Maybe my impression of him isn't a fair one--my experience with him is limited to one unfortunate instance when he quite abusively blocked me.
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Nathan
post Mon 15th January 2007, 2:21am
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I always thought I was a bit pale, myself.

Since Essjay outed himself as Ryan Jordan, we can guess that's either:
a) an assumed name
b) or he lied about Essjay meaning the initials S.J. (unless his name is really S. Ryan Jordan or Ryan S. Jordan, the S has to be there somewhere)

Anyway...

I'm wondering how one can be both gay and a Catholic (when the Catholic Church has such a negative stance on gays). Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Anyway, this isn't the place for such lines of discussion.

I have nothing but praise for Essjay (and I rarely say that about anyone on Wikipedia) because any interactions I've had with him have been either positive or neutral.

QUOTE(Poetlister @ Thu 11th January 2007, 11:43am) *

I think that we should always ignore skin colour, or lack of it; it's what's inside that matters. I have often been described as white when in fact I'm pink.
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everyking
post Tue 16th January 2007, 8:02am
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QUOTE(Nathan @ Mon 15th January 2007, 3:21am) *

I always thought I was a bit pale, myself.

Since Essjay outed himself as Ryan Jordan, we can guess that's either:
a) an assumed name
cool.gif or he lied about Essjay meaning the initials S.J. (unless his name is really S. Ryan Jordan or Ryan S. Jordan, the S has to be there somewhere)

Anyway...

I'm wondering how one can be both gay and a Catholic (when the Catholic Church has such a negative stance on gays). Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Anyway, this isn't the place for such lines of discussion.

I have nothing but praise for Essjay (and I rarely say that about anyone on Wikipedia) because any interactions I've had with him have been either positive or neutral.

QUOTE(Poetlister @ Thu 11th January 2007, 11:43am) *

I think that we should always ignore skin colour, or lack of it; it's what's inside that matters. I have often been described as white when in fact I'm pink.



No, read what Daniel quotes from him above: "I am not Catholic, a priest, or a Jesuit; my interest in Catholicism is purely academic."
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Nathan
post Tue 16th January 2007, 6:22pm
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Ah, missed that, sorry. It happens.

I suppose I can agree with it myself; I have a passing interest in religion but I'm completely non-religious.
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Somey
post Fri 19th January 2007, 7:52pm
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There have been some additions to Essjay's Wikia Centra user page recently. Here's the stuff about Essjay himself:

QUOTE
For those who may be interested, I'm a 24 year old guy from Kentucky; I grew up in Kentucky, and studied philosophy and religion at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky as well as the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. I currently live outside Louisville with my cat Mia.

Before coming to Wikia, I was an account manager with a Fortune 20 company, where I worked on a ten person team that managed roughly $500,000,000 in annual sales. Prior to that, I was a paralegal for five years: I spent two years working for a local firm, nearly a year with a firm in Louisville that represented doctors in medical licensure matters, and a three month special position with a United States Bankruptcy Trustee. From there, I went freelance, and spent nearly two years handling special projects for several firms.

Is he just laughing at us all at this point?

So we're supposed to believe that a 24-year-old studied philosophy and religion at three separate institutions, and then worked for five years as a paralegal - which in itself requires at least a year of specialized training - and then got a sales job with a Fortune "20" company? Even if the sales job lasted only a few weeks, c'mon - when did he graduate from High School, at age 13?

Not much question now - this is completely bogus. Daniel Brandt is right - this whole Essjay thing is a huge lie, and they may even be doing it to amuse themselves at Brandt's expense, or ours. Admittedly I do feel a bit foolish for believing it at first - hey, maybe "AGF" should only apply to honest people? - but anyone who buys this crap at this point is basically wacked.
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Daniel Brandt
post Sat 20th January 2007, 5:40pm
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You're forgetting that he once claimed on his user page that he held the following degrees:

* Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (B.A.)
* Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.)
* Doctorate of Philosophy in Theology (Ph.D.)
* Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD)

The New Yorker, famous for its fact-checking, was completely snookered:

QUOTE
KNOW IT ALL: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?

by Stacy Schiff

The New Yorker, Issue of 2006-07-31, Posted 2006-07-24

...

One regular on the site is a user known as Essjay, who holds a Ph.D. in theology and a degree in canon law and has written or contributed to sixteen thousand entries. A tenured professor of religion at a private university, Essjay made his first edit in February, 2005. Initially, he contributed to articles in his field -- on the penitential rite, transubstantiation, the papal tiara. Soon he was spending fourteen hours a day on the site, though he was careful to keep his online life a secret from his colleagues and friends. (To his knowledge, he has never met another Wikipedian, and he will not be attending Wikimania, the second international gathering of the encyclopedia's contributors, which will take place in early August in Boston.)

...

Essjay is serving a second term as chair of the mediation committee. He is also an admin, a bureaucrat, and a checkuser, which means that he is one of fourteen Wikipedians authorized to trace I.P. addresses in cases of suspected abuse. He often takes his laptop to class, so that he can be available to Wikipedians while giving a quiz, and he keeps an eye on twenty I.R.C. chat channels, where users often trade gossip about abuses they have witnessed.

...

Essjay says that he routinely receives death threats. "There are people who take Wikipedia way too seriously," he told me. (Wikipedians have acknowledged Essjay's labors by awarding him numerous barnstars -- five-pointed stars, which the community has adopted as a symbol of praise -- including several Random Acts of Kindness Barnstars and the Tireless Contributor Barnstar.)

...

Wales recently established an "oversight" function, by which some admins (Essjay among them) can purge text from the system, so that even the history page bears no record of its ever having been there. Wales says that this measure is rarely used, and only in order to remove slanderous or private information, such as a telephone number.


Ryan Jordan's "friends" on Facebook include Angela Beesley, James Forrester, Shanel Kalicharan, Gil Penchina, Jimmy Wales, and Kat Walsh. I cannot tell how long each has been on his friends list. Those are just the names I recognize. There are some names from this list of friends who live near him in Kentucky, which might be useful for anyone investigating if he really exists.

I might write to The New Yorker and complain about their fact-checking, and ask for a retraction and investigation. Stacy Schiff, the author of the piece in The New Yorker, is a "Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who lives in New York City. She is a graduate of Phillips Academy and Williams College. She was a Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster until 1990 whose essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review and The Times Literary Supplement. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities."

Maybe some enterprising admin on this board can contact Ms. Schiff, and ask how she got snookered by Wikipedia. Then he could post her reply on this board.

If we can put some meat on this story, it might make an interesting page on wikipedia-watch.org. The significance here is that it not only serves as a critique of Wikipedia (which Jimmy and Angela wouldn't mind throwing to the dogs at this point), but also of Wikia (which they love dearly because there's big bucks involved).
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Daniel Brandt
post Sat 20th January 2007, 11:54pm
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Dear Ms. Stacy Schiff:

The purpose of this email is to inquire about a serious error of fact in your article about Wikipedia in The New Yorker that ran in the July 31, 2006 issue.

In this article, you identify Essjay as someone "who holds a Ph.D. in theology and a degree in canon law," and who is "a tenured professor of religion at a private university."

I have spent about ten hours in recent months trying to determine Essjay's real name, and have been unable to find any information that correlates with the clues he has offered about himself at various times and in various places on Wikipedia. It is true that he once claimed a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (B.A.), a Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.), a Doctorate of Philosophy in Theology (Ph.D.), and a Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD) on his Wikipedia user page.

Recently, however, he has been named as a community manager for Wikia, Inc., and has offered personal information that is entirely at odds with the information he once offered on Wikipedia. He now says he is 24 years old, and while he says he took philosophy and religion courses at three places in Kentucky, he may not have a degree. His professional experience has nothing to do with this interest, and in itself is suspicious for a person of only 24 years.

He is a fraud. It's possible that he doesn't exist as a single person, but is a collection of top administrators. Your statements about him in your article should be corrected for the record, because they imply that Wikipedia is administered by responsible and authoritative people. This is simply not true.

I would like to know who recommended you to Essjay, how was he represented to you, who made these representations, and what steps you and The New Yorker took to verify his statements and his identity.

Since Essjay has recently deleted some personal information from his Wikipedia user page, I fear the same thing could happen with the new information provided by him. Therefore, I have made a screen shot of his user page on wikia.com, which I placed on my site at http://www.wikipedia-watch.org/gifs/wmessjay.png (see "About Me" towards the bottom of that screen shot).

A portion of his previous Wikipedia personal information is still available on his user page at wikimedia.org, a screen shot of which is at http://www.wikipedia-watch.org/gifs/mtessjay.png

You probably know that Jimmy Wales has a picture of you on his photo site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimbo_wales/109885558/ You also know by now that your article in The New Yorker resulted in your own flattering biography in Wikipedia, which was started on July 24, the same day your article was posted online. It has to be asked: Was there any quid pro quo involved between certain top Wikipedians and your article in The New Yorker?

Thank you,
Daniel Brandt
www.wikipedia-watch.org
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anon1234
post Sun 21st January 2007, 12:14am
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QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Sat 20th January 2007, 11:54pm) *

Dear Ms. Stacy Schiff:

The purpose of this email is to inquire about a serious error of fact in your article about Wikipedia in The New Yorker that ran in the July 31, 2006 issue.


Awesome! Burn! I would have held back on the personal insults because it might preclude a response. I would write another if I were you to their general letters section, tone it down a bit and it might end up in an issue of the New Yorker, which would be great to see.
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Nathan
post Sun 21st January 2007, 12:37am
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I could'n't have done better myself, and Wikitruth says I'm a "clever wordsmith"..hah!
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