How Philip Roth Outfoxed Wikipedia's Idiotic Rules

Illustration for article titled How Philip Roth Outfoxed Wikipedias Idiotic Rules

Sure, maybe Philip Roth won about a hundred literary awards, and maybe he's one of the most accomplished living American authors, but thanks to Wikipedia's moronic rules about needing secondary sources, he wasn't allowed to correct factual errors about his own book. So he took up his mighty pen and did something about it—he created his own source.

Today, in fact, we're so very thankful for the idiocy of Wikipedia's guidelines and of for its power-drunk editors. Thanks to all that lunacy Philip Roth wrote this wonderful open letter to the collaborative encyclopedia asking its overlords to correct inaccurate information in the article about his novel The Human Stain. Roth was upset that the article misrepresented the inspiration for the 361-page depressathon of a novel, but when he initially wrote the site asking them to correct the error, he was told he didn't count as a credible source. As he writes in The New Yorker:

Yet when, through an official interlocutor, I recently petitioned Wikipedia to delete this misstatement, along with two others, my interlocutor was told by the "English Wikipedia Administrator"-in a letter dated August 25th and addressed to my interlocutor-that I, Roth, was not a credible source: "I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work," writes the Wikipedia Administrator-"but we require secondary sources."


What? Ugh no stupid horrible why.

Seeing no other option, Roth took to his computer or typewriter or whatever it is that the 79 year-old author uses and banged out 2635 words of gold, explaining that The Human Stain, contrary to the Wikipedia article's assertions, was inspired by the life of Princeton University sociology professor Melvin Tumin, and not by the life of Anatole Broyard. It's a lovely read.

But by writing the letter and publishing it, Roth actually outsmarted the imbeciles at Wikipedia by creating the secondary source necessary to update the article. It has since been revised with the correct information. Booya Wikipedia, booya. [Wikipedia and The New Yorker]

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I think you're misunderstanding the system that Wikipedia is based on. At no point did Wikipedia say that Roth was not credible (although Roth said that Wikipedia said this). Instead, Wikipedia just said that any content that appears in it's pages must have references elsewhere.

Let me put it this way: do you really want the author's original opinion to be written only in Wikipedia, where anybody can go and edit it? No. His opinion should be published properly elsewhere, then copied or summarized in Wikipedia.