Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Revisiting the Wikipedia "notability" issue


I’ve recently reread the “notability” guidelines on Wikipedia (I see that I had discussed this at length on June 27, 2007 here with respect to getting Wikipedia to cover the Paul Rosenfels Community).  In practice, to a writer on the Internet, notability is important because it means that Wikipedia can justify a separate article on the writer (beyond just a stub). 
  
And, yes, with three (self-published) books in my "Do Ask, Do Tell" series, I feel that I "deserve" a Wikipedia page.  If someone wants to write one, have at it.  I guess I need to pimp myself out to get one. 


I do have a very large number of search engine matches, and fair volume of hits on most of the blogs (the best seems to be with movie reviews, and with coverage of television crime stories).  And I get a lot of email, some of it spam of course, but some of it requests to review books (often self-published) and some new films.  I do get regular samples (mostly private Vimeo links) to review new films from Strand Releasing and some other indie distributors (like Breaking Glass).  I actually do most of the films.  Many of the books are too “specialized” or too “partisan” (toward one group’s special needs) for me to have time to do, and I normally don’t review children’s books except when some unusual point is to be made.  (A lot of the books seem to be sci-fi fantasies based on bizarre premises that offer the authors opportunities for plot manipulation.)

Getting others to make hits on your sites and contact you with review offers (which is a sign that “you” have some backbone “political” influence on issues over time) is a long way from what Wikipedia needs for notability. It says it needs to find commentary on your work in general media without attempts by “you” to encourage it – that is, independent news coverage.  (I wonder if the analytics (from Urchin or similar packages as with Google Abalytics) in terms of bounce rates matters to notability.) 

Self-publishing companies sometimes try to sell “review” services or sell big public relations services (sometimes costing about $20000) to increase exposure for “new” authors.  But this would seem not to “count” either.
  
What do you know, I found a story about me at Broadway Books, here.  And the Paul Rosenfels Community, here (an excerpt from my first book, describing my experience at the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s).  
  
Notability does not imply moral virtue.  People who do very bad things (criminals) have Wikipedia pages just for them.  We don’t want that.  Furthermore, given the recent abuse by “ISIS”, the way social media can be abused to recruit disturbed and impressionable young men who want “glory” raises more moral questions. 

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