An Open Letter To Wikipedia from Author Philip Roth

NEW YORK — Philip Roth vs. Wikipedia? No contest.

The prize-winning author says he’s furious with the online encyclopedia over its entry about his novel “The Human Stain.”

In a letter posted Friday by The New Yorker, Roth says Wikipedia editors had said the book was inspired by the life of author Anatole Broyard.

Not true, Roth responded. The character was based on the late Melvin Turin, of Princeton University.

Roth says he privately reported the error to Wikipedia and was told, to his amazement, that he needed a secondary source. So Roth made his case to the public.

His agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed the letter was written by Roth.

By Friday afternoon, the Wikipedia entry had been updated to include Roth’s comments and to note that some had “incorrectly speculated” about the novel’s origins.


Couldn't Roth have revised the entry himself?

According to Ars Technica, he was deemed to not be a credible source. See:

Roth claims the administrators said he wasn't a credible source. They never actually said that.

...and sometimes I think the people at Wikipedia are dopes.

Creating an article about yourself: Creating an article about yourself is strongly discouraged. We have biographies here, not autobiographies. Also: Problems in an article about you. There's policies on this kind of situation.

Don't you know that Wikipedia knows more about Philip Roth than Roth knows about himself?

Mr. Roth is currently confused about who inspired him, but Wikipedia is not.

Wikipedia knows more about everyone on earth than they know about themselves -- both collectively and individually. Everyone knows that.

And Wikipedia is always right, no matter what facts you think you have to disprove that fact. It's in the Wikipedia policy somewhere -- which makes it infallible.

You need a published source to 'prove' anything. That's the way Wikipedia works, put it on a website and content is 'proved' and so it's published, which is why Roth's was changed (or rather changed and left alone, he could have edited it hismelf but someone would have just changed it back).

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