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Mar
18

The scientist who did not want to be in Wikipedia or on scientistsdb: the Wikipedia notability paradox

Last week, out of the blue an email came to me from a scientist asking the following (names removed) :

I trust this email finds you well. I could only find an email address for Sean Ekins, but this message is addressed to both of you.

I am writing to inform you that it is important that you delete the biography you have on me on ScientistsDB – (then listed link to scientistdb) 

All of the information contained is from a Wikipedia BLP that was created some time ago. After I took out legal action in relation to content on that page, which also contained information determined from a newspaper article that was retracted after I took legal action against it, the Wikipedia BLP was deleted. 

It appears that the entry you have for me still contains this information. 

I therefore ask you to permanently delete your biography of me with immediate effect.

I thank you in advance for your assistance.

I look forward to hearing from you 

Yours sincerely

xx

Sure enough this scientist’s record was deleted from Wikipedia. After suggesting to the scientist that they were free to alter their own page on scientistsDB (unlike on Wikipedia), they declined.

So I deleted their record.. I found their own web page and this did not seem too different to the content in Wikipedia. There was certainly a reference to a controversial incident and some reporting ( which i guess is what was retracted by a newspaper). It made me wonder how many other examples might be out there on the web in which things were stated about scientists which had been retracted from the original source but still lingered due to the nature of the web itself. We had obviously downloaded this scientist’s bio from Wikipedia prior to deletion in November 2011.

Oh the irony of this..the scientist is notable because they may or may not have said some controversial things and probably that is what landed them in Wikipedia in the first place. Assuming of course they did not put themselves in there first which of course should not happen. So if the thing that makes them notable is retracted they are therefore perhaps no longer notable and so they can be deleted anyway..oh this is doing my head in..kind of like meeting yourself when travelling backwards in time. Oh the paradox lets call this a “wikipedia notability  paradox” or WNP.

There are nearly 50,000 scientists in www.scientistsdb.com and this is one I had never come across..(totally different field). Whats the probability of  another WNP? Why would any scientist not want to be found in Wikipedia or scientistsDB for that matter?

If there are other scientists who want their bio deleting please let us know. Of course we would prefer it if you just edit it yourself. In fact say whatever you want about yourself!!

Next blog will tell you about something new for scientistsDB…ooh cliffhanger ending.

1 comment

No ping yet

  1. Egon Willighagen says:

    Dear Sean,

    I think you will have to look for a more *permanent* way to delete the entry, as it is still very obvious who this UK scientist was, and what the full description was before you deleted it.

    Grtz,

    Egon

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