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Press Releases

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Qworty: The Fallout

by Dan Murphy

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Who is Qworty? Qworty is Robert Clark Young. And who is Robert Clark Young? Another bitter never-was jawing about how it’s not fair, how others got better than they deserved, and how he’ll show them some day. You’ve probably sat next to a gin-soaked Young at an airport bar as his self-loathing and anger rolled off him – before politely disengaging by claiming your plane was leaving a half-hour earlier than it actually was. And then you didn’t give him much more thought. Sad, really, and while the jealousy and bitterness are unattractive, they do no harm. Maybe they even help carry him through his difficult life. And then you put him out of your mind. But Qworty became a far more powerful figure than you would have ever guessed, as Andrew Leonard at Salon writes in an exploration of Qworty’s career as a Wikipedia editor. This website conducted its own extensive investigation and review of his activities on the popular crowd-sourced encyclopedia after Young, as Qworty, engaged in a bout of revenge editing against author Amanda Filipacchi. Her crime? She’d dared to complain about sexism in the popular and powerful website’s approach to female authors.

In turn, Qworty targeted Wikipedia’s article about Filipacchi, her mother, and her father, Daniel Filipacchi, the retired chairman of Hachette Filipacchi Medias, one of the two or three largest magazine publishers in the world. For good measure, Qworty went after the tiny Wikipedia article on that company as well. The attacks on the text of all these articles (which are the first hit on Google for all three individuals and for the company) created enough controversy both inside and outside Wikipedia that folks began digging into Qworty’s identity, and led to his “outing”

…continue reading Qworty: The Fallout

Wikipedia’s culture of sexism – it’s not just for novelists.

by Nathalie Collida and Andreas Kolbe With research contributions from Delicious carbuncle and Eric Barbour

Amanda Filipacchi’s New York Times article about Wikipedia’s ghettoization of female novelists finally shone the spotlight on some of the rampant sexism that pervades almost every corner of the online “encyclopaedia”. Filipacchi said she had “noticed something strange on Wikipedia”:

It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too. The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men.

So in Wikipedia, US-born female writers were no longer listed in the “American novelists” category, but instead confined to a pigeonhole labelled “American women novelists”. Until Filipacchi’s article appeared, there was no corresponding category for “American men novelists” – although one was then hastily created. At the time of writing, it contained links to a proud 104 biographies of male writers, but was also nominated for deletion.

The controversy received a new impetus a few days later, when Filipacchi published a follow-up in the New York Times, noting that her Wikipedia biography had suddenly come in for “special attention”:

As soon as the Op-Ed article appeared, unhappy Wikipedia editors pounced on my Wikipedia page and started making alterations to it, erasing as much as they possibly could without (I assume) technically breaking the rules. They removed the links to outside sources, like interviews of me and reviews of my novels. Not surprisingly, they also removed the link to the Op-Ed article. At the same time, they put up a banner at the

…continue reading Wikipedia’s culture of sexism – it’s not just for novelists.