Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shakespeare authorship question made "featured article" on Wikipedia

The Stratfordian editors of the Shakespeare Authorship Question (SAQ) page on Wikipedia have recently succeeded in placing the page in “featured article” status, effectively closing the page to any further edits for a year. After bullying and banning any anti-Stratfordian editors who attempted to work on the article, Stratfordian editors chose this method to assure that anyone searching for information on the authorship question would find a view skewed toward Stratford.

Rational thought had no position in the scrim before the whistle.

To cite an example of the kind of anti-academic stone-walling at this site, consider the fate of anti-Stratfordian editor Nina Green. Green suggested moving the placement of the authorship topic out of “fringe” status. She cited the publication of new books on the Shakepseare authorship question, major media coverage of the topic, support by important public figures, and a 2007 Education Life survey reported in the New York Times showing considerable support of the topic (17% saw either a good reason, or possibly good reason to doubt the Stratford attribution) among American professors.

Stratfordian Wikipedia administrator Tom Reedy responded, in part, by saying the Shakespeare Association of America bans the Shakespeare authorship question as a topic for papers at its conferences. In reply, Green did what any good researcher would do and sought a primary source on the subject. She produced a letter from Shakespeare Society of America president Russ McDonald, showing the Wikipedia editor to be mistaken. SSA President Russ McDonald wrote the following message to Green:
As President of the Shakespeare Association  of America it falls to me to respond to your query. Mr. Reedy is in error. The SAA does not have 'an opinion' on the authorship question. Moreover, there is no ban on speaking or writing about that topic at our annual conference. Several so-called Oxfordians are members of the organization and have presented papers at that meeting.
This information was disregarded by Reedy as a "moot point". Over a period of several months, Green was treated with disrespect, bludgeoned with various arcane Wikipedia rules, and was eventually banned from Wikipedia – the fate of most anti-Stratfordian researchers on the site.

A Stratfordian editor -- pseudonymously known as Nishidani -- defended placement of the Shakespeare authorship question article on Wikipedia's "featured article"/frozen status even though the contention over the article precludes any such placement by Wikipedia's own rules that call for "stability" in a "featured article". The following quotation by Nishidani is excerpted from a Wikipedia online discussion:
Wikipedia: Featured article candidates/Shakespeare authorship question/archive1 Again, the problem lies in the history of the argument. Of the several thousand books, pamphlet, articles and treatises that have poured from minor presses over 160 years, almost none appear to be written by anyone with an appropriate academic background in the specific field of Elizabethan studies, or even history. It is an uncontested fact, underlined by several extensive quotes once in the footnotes, that the academic Shakespearean community judges this phenomenon as a vein of extra-mural speculation by amateurs, lawyers, judges, journalists, etc., with no formal grasp of the basic rules of historical method and Elizabethan textual analysis. There are indeed a handful of scholars who subscribe to one of these theories, and one or two minor colleges that teach it, but it is a drop in the ocean. How one might tinker with the whole text to avoid even giving the true, but unfortunate impression, that scholars almost unanimously ignore or dismiss what passionate, but overwhelmingly amateur students of the subject persist in arguing, is something we've long mulled. There does not appear to be a solution. But of course if anyone out there can come up with suggestions we'd be more than delighted to look into them. (Nishidani) (talk)14:34, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
This inaccurate and unjustified bias against all discussion of the Shakepseare authorship question brings disrepute to Wikipedia. Brief Chronicles managing editor Gary Goldstein commented on this issue on Nina Green’s Phaeton email list March 2, 2011:
I think this is happening because Wikipedia is the ONLY place on the Internet where banning is allowed, anonymity is permitted, and where mob tactics are encouraged by the rules. It's why most universities don't permit Wikipedia to be used as either a source or a resource for student or professorial research. Not only are pirmary sources forbidden -- the very bedrock of scholarly research - but consensus is the goal, not critical thought. In its organizational structure, Wikipedia is actually hostile to scholarship and that has been recognized by a majority of universities in their own banning of Wikipedia as a legitimate source of knowledge. I'm not worried at what's happening on Wikipedia because it represents a very small channel of public information. Many other channels of information are available. What (Wikipedia editor Tom) Reedy and cronies are doing is poisoning the well for themselves -- their students will compare facts from other sources and realize their teachers have been lying to them. They've gained a tactical victory against us on Wikipedia, but have lost the war.