A Guest Blog for the Leiter Report

This morning I found, to my surprise, that Brian Leiter had invited me to write a guest blog for him on “Tips for Writing Your own Wikipedia Entry.” I love a good joke, even an  April Fool’s one like this.  But now the joke is on him — because if anyone has expertise on writing one’s entry, it’s him.

I’ll get to that; but first, let me address the nasty insinuation that I wrote the Wikipedia entry on Noëlle McAfee. Now all one needs to do to see if this is so is to go to the history tab of the entry and see who created it.  If you do so, you’ll find that someone named Kevin Gorman wrote the entry:

This and the following eight entries are by Kevin Gorman, who I’ve since discovered is a high-level Wikipedia editor in California. The day after the entry was created, there were several minor edits by a chrisclaire88, a pseudonym for an editor who has started pages on other women philosophers.  For the sake of argument, what if I am chrisclaire88?  If that is the case, then that would have been in bad form and readers might wonder if the entry is biased. To check, readers could go through the boring changes that chrisclaire88 made and decide for themselves. If chrisclaire88 were indeed my pseudonym and I had used it to guard the entry, reversed things that made me look bad, and been an all around nasty and vile person, there would be cause for concern.  But chrisclaire88 was instead a tedious editor making trivial changes. And she seems to have moved on to other ventures.

Before turning to the edits that Brian Leiter made to the Wikipedia entry on him — and there are many! — let me offer my tips.

Tip number 1: Don’t write an entry on yourself.

Tip number 2: Don’t edit an entry on yourself.

Tip number 3: If you want to edit an entry anywhere on Wikipedia, start an account so you are accountable, otherwise you’ll be identified by your IP address.

Tip number 4: Don’t guard the entry on yourself and remove things that make you look bad.

Tip number 5: Be aware that an entry on you is not your entry. It belongs to the wikiuniverse. There are guidelines on entries on living persons. Follow those. If you think someone else has violated them, report the matter to wikipedia.

Tip number 6: Don’t accuse anyone who has edited the entry on you in a way you don’t like as “vandalizing” the entry. That just makes you look like an idiot for (1) thinking the entry is “your” entry and (2) being so clueless about how wikis work.

In keeping with those tips as well as the guidelines on entries on living persons, the most egregious thing to do is guard your own entry and remove things that make you look bad. Let’s say someone else finds that a reference in the entry has been removed, say to an old Boston Globe article that said, basically, you’re a schmuck, and then this person puts it back in the entry. Don’t remove it. Again, this is not your promo piece; the entry should be well-sourced and balanced. And, yes, the Boston Globe counts as a good source.

For example, from IP addresses that Brian Leiter has used (click on the “diff” button to see a comparison of the previous entry and the subsequent edit made by this IP address):

50.158.111.229:

128.135.240.117:

Here are other changes that were made to the entry on Brian Leiter from IP addresses that Brian Leiter has used to comment on my blog,

70.112.29.7:

128.83.152.213:

I also believe that Brian Leiter has used IP address 70.112.222.175 while he was still in Texas. Here are the results I get for this one:

70.112.222.175 on Brian Leiter (4.71% of the total edits made to the page)

Next 500 results →

PGR participation…

For the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet Report ranking of US doctoral programs, Brian Leiter circulated a list of the faculty at 99 US programs. But for the 2011-12 rankings, the list was of only 60 programs.  That’s a 39% drop, in the space of just two years, of departments willing to participate. No wonder Leiter has not published the list in the usual spot under methodology.  But it can be retrieved as an rtf document from this page.  [Edit: see correction below in my comment replying to Leiter.]

[Nonetheless] I compared the list of 60 faculties [used for the Philosophical Gourmet Report’s 2011 rankings] to Julie Van Camp’s ranking of departments by their percentage of tenure-stream women faculty. From top to bottom of these women-friendly departments (in terms of having above average percentage of women faculty), here is a list of those that do not participate in the PGR rankings:

  • University of Georgia
  • University of Oregon
  • Emory University
  • Villanova University
  • SUNY-Albany
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of South Carolina
  • Arizona State
  • SUNY Binghamton
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Loyola University – Chicago
  • SUNY Stony Brook
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Kansas
  • DePaul University
  • Fordham University
  • Marquette University
  • Temple University
  • University of Memphis
  • Duquesne University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Michigan State University

Bravo to all these programs — both for hiring women to the tenure stream and for saying no to the PGR.

[Edit: For background see yesterday’s post on the PGR’s un-women-friendly epistemology.]