One of my photos

Vanity publishing?

November 11th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 2 Comments · Politics

I am extraordinarily grateful to a local Labour colleague for tipping me off about this entry in Wikipedia for one of our local Tories.

It is amusing and fascinating – both for its content and for the fact that it exists at all.

It is an entry for one of our local borough councillors, Adam don’t-forget-the-G Brown. I hesitate to criticise Adam because he has always come across as a decent sort and one of the two or three local Tories who I reckon I could get on OK with if they weren’t Tories, but I really can’t get over this Wikipedia entry.

A bit of background for anyone outside Broadfield, or indeed outside Crawley: Adam was elected in May this year- seven months ago – so he is still finding his feet a little bit, and this is the first political office he has held. As one of the newest councillors he is therefore one of the least significant, in purely objective terms.

Given that, the fact that there is a Wikipedia entry for him seems strange. There is no entry for any other Crawley councillor a far as I can see, and I imagine there are very few entries for specific councillors anywhere. I can’t quite see why he has an entry there but not any of those others who hold executive positions, have been parliamentary candidates, have served for decades or have other notable achievements.

The entry itself is not in the correct format and is littered with spelling and grammatical errors, and has no citations for any of the information – supposedly a requirement for all Wikipedia articles. It also falls short of the neutral POV which is the most important aspect of any Wikipedia entry.

Here is my favourite part of the article:

Adam has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to stand for a parliamentary seat but that he considers the next general election as too soon and would not compromise the commitment he has made to the people of Broadfield North.

I couldn’t quite decide whether he has written the entry himself and is therefore a bit ridiculous, or whether someone else has written it to make it look like he is ridiculous enough to have written it himself, but I can’t see why anyone would bother going to that much trouble for someone who is a newcomer and a nice bloke when there are far juicier targets on the council.

Adam has his own website and, I only discovered today, his own blog. Looking at the blog and the history of the Wikipedia page there is an intriguing coincidence:

On October 26th there is a blog entry which is all about how Adam did a Google search on his name to find out his rankings. The entry ends with this remark:

Oh well, looks like my next mission will be to try and increase my web raiting, so if a resident is trying to find me they can.

That entry was timed at 12:27pm. 40 minutes later the Wikipedia article is created. (Cue the Twilight Zone theme tune) Over the next 20 minutes the article is revised four times and then there are a few changes by the Wikipedia police pointing out that it is in the wrong format and altering the categories.

This is where it moves from the amusing to the realms of the hilarious. The person who created the page had not created any other pages in Wikipedia before this one, and has not created any pages since, but they did make some alterations to other Wikipedia pages later on the same day. The changes were:

  • Adding a link to the Adam G Brown entry on the Adam Brown disambiguation page
  • Adding a reference to Adam Brown’s election in the Notable Battles section of the United Kingdom Local Elections 2006 entry
  • Adding “Adam G Brown, English politician” to the section for Births on the July 31 entry
  • Adding “Adam G Brown, English politician” to the section for June-August Births on the entry for 1979

There are guidelines about what constitutes notability, and I don’t think that Adam meets the criteria.

What is either the last piece of the puzzle, or the last red herring, is that the username is one which has cropped up as a commenter on this blog a few times – a commenter who alerted me to the existence of Adam’s website earlier this year, and whose IP address I obviously know from the logs.

Occam’s Razor suggests that Adam is my pseudonymous commenter, and has written his own Wikipedia entry to boost his web presence, although there is a lesser possibility that he has a stalker/fan who read his blog entry on Oct 26th and then immediately set to work. Either way, it falls short of the Wikipedian ideals of neutrality.

For further illumination, I can recommend the Wikipedia policy pages on Biographies of living persons (especially the bit on privacy of birthdays), Notability, Autobiography, and Vanity guidelines.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Richard

    A legend in his own imagination who loves himself rather too much ?

    Or someone else does – his mother perhaps ?

    Well, we all like to see our names in print, don’t we ?!

  • Skuds

    Looks like a prank gone wrong – the real mystery is how my informant happened to find it. But don’t start giving people ideas… my mother reads this!

    However I think I am safe. If I don’t know how to create a Wikipedia article I think its pretty safe to assume that she doesn’t. (Sorry Mum)