Jacy Reese (born Jacy Anthis)?

post by jkaufman · 2019-10-26T21:00:01.838Z · score: 16 (15 votes) · LW · GW · 8 comments

Yesterday I noticed that Wikipedia:Jacy Reese doesn't mention anywhere that until recently he went by Jacy Anthis. Thinking this was an oversight, I looked up the relevant section in the Manual of Style and saw:

In some cases, subjects have had their full names changed at some point after birth. In these cases the birth name should be given in the lead as well.

So I edited the page to add it, changing it from:


Then I thought to look at the talk page, to see whether maybe there was a reason it didn't already give a birth name. It turns out there's been extensive discussion on this, as people keep noticing that his birth name is missing, adding it, and then others removing it for not being verifiable. Looking back I see:

The people adding his birth name are doing it because it's "obvious", sometimes giving citations of his earlier use of "Jacy Anthis", and the people reverting it are pointing out that Wikipedia's rules for Biographies of living persons are really very strict. These rules began after the Seigenthaler biography incident where someone put false information in Seigenthaler's wikipedia article, and are a sensible response to how false information about someone on Wikipedia can be very damaging.

After my edit was reverted I looked around to see if I could find better sources for this, and found:

Reading Wikipedia's policies, however, none of these meet their definition of a "reliable source" for this information. Taken together you could argue that they're sufficient evidence, but that would be original research and Wikipedia (reasonably!) does not allow that. A post like this one also wouldn't be considered reliable, since it's self-published. It sounds to me like the various editors who have reverted this change have been correct to do so.

It's interesting this minor fact that, to several people including me, has seemed like an obvious omission, doesn't meet Wikipedia's standards for inclusion. But if Wikipedia had less strict standards it would be very hard to keep out false information.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Laramor · 2019-12-03T01:17:59.820Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upon reading on a Wikipedia 'talk' page that the user who reverted your edit has been editing pages related to Jacy Reese almost exclusively, I noticed a curious pattern. This user, Bodole, made their first edit in early April this year. Just a week or so before, another user, Utsill, made their last edit on that encyclopedia. This edit was made... on Jacy Reese's article, and a significant fraction of Utsill's most recent edits before they decided to stop editing altogether concern Jacy (even when the edits appear to be superficially unrelated to Jacy, they often involve him on closer inspection; e.g. an edit to the 'effective altruism' article added a line about Jacy's book, while an edit to the 'Huntsville, Texas' article added the words 'Jacy Reese, writer'). In addition, Utsill is also the user who reverted a previous attempt to mention Jacy's birth name, as one can see in your timeline above.

This could all be a coincidence, of course, but it seems relatively unlikely on priors. A plausible alternative explanation is that Bodole and Utsill are one and the same user.

comment by jkaufman · 2019-12-02T19:32:26.473Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If others are looking at this: Contributions/Utsil, Contributions/Bodole

comment by Hamiltonian · 2019-10-27T23:32:35.278Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interestingly, the archived version of the Medium article says that

During his sophomore year at Brown, Reese, who then went by Jacy Reese Anthis, was expelled from the university after being accused of sexual misconduct.

Whereas the non-archived version replaces 'Jacy Reese Anthis' by 'his full name'.

comment by riceissa · 2019-10-26T22:29:56.058Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It’s interesting this minor fact that, to several people including me, has seemed like an obvious omission, doesn’t meet Wikipedia’s standards for inclusion. But if Wikipedia had less strict standards it would be very hard to keep out false information.

Eliezer Yudkowsky has made similar distinctions when talking about scientific vs legal vs rational evidence (see this wiki page) and science vs probability theory [LW · GW].

I think there is an interesting question of "what ought to count as evidence, if we want to produce the best online encyclopedia we can, given the flawed humans we have to write it?" My own view is that Wikipedia's standards for evidence have become too strict in cases like this.

comment by romeostevensit · 2019-10-27T01:26:31.421Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Probably, but OTOH scale somewhat determines complexity of policy.

comment by Pattern · 2019-10-27T23:54:25.172Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder how much information Wikipedia contains which doesn't meet their standards.

comment by MakoYass · 2019-10-26T23:22:46.433Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If this post gains enough upvotes, or gets curated to the front page, is it still self-published?

comment by jimrandomh · 2019-10-27T03:56:23.153Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Under Wikipedia's rules, yes.