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John Dehlin recently posted a curious appeal on reddit, specifically the ex-Mormon subreddit, often the site of curious interactions and discourse [1]. Here is the text of what he wrote, as well as a link to the original:

Reddit Exmos – Please save my wikipedia page from LDS/apologist propaganda (self.exmormon)

submitted 13 hours ago * by johndehlin

Apologists have hijacked the first part of my Wikipedia page. It seriously reads like a propaganda memo from FAIR — quoting Church PR and Scott Gordon in the opening section? Seriously? So frustrating. My understanding is that it’s against Wikipedia rules to edit one’s own Wikipedia page. Consequently, I would love some Reddit Exmo support if anyone is willing/able to help out. I guarantee the person making those edits works either for FAIR or for the LDS Church in some capacity. Ugh.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dehlin

Here are some good places to reference for starters:

My own side of the story:

http://mormonstories.org/my-excommunication/

http://mormonstories.org/disciplinary-council/

http://mormonstories.org/reasons-for-the-disciplinary-council/

The transcript from my interview w/ Bryan King:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/11/us/11mormons-docs.html?_r=0

NY Times Articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/us/mormon-church-expels-critic-for-apostasy.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/us/john-dehlin-mormon-critic-facing-excommunication.html

RadioWest and SLTrib Content:

http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/john-dehlin-and-lds-church

http://www.sltrib.com/home/2085731-155/trib-talk-john-dehlin-on-mormon

John notes that editing one’s own Wikipedia page is against Wikipedia’s policy, and he is right as you can see by reading the page on conflicts of interest. However, this same policy bars Wikipedians from contributing to articles about their friends, which makes the request sketchy based on the expected social associations of the individuals being solicited to help, if they are indeed his friends. If they are not, in fact, his friends, but are only being recruited by Dehlin to make his Wikipedia entry better reflect what John wishes it to say about him (see the link for more on John’s tendency toward censorship) then what is occurring is in fact referred to as “meat-puppetry,” which is also against Wikipedia’s policy. Concerning meat-puppetry, the relevant Wikipedia article states: “Meatpuppetry is soliciting other people to come to Wikipedia in order to influence the editorial process in a topic or discussion.” It goes on to say:

The following behaviors are examples of what constitutes meat puppetry:

Asking another editor to support your position in a dispute. For example:

  • In a content dispute in an article Talk page
  • In a deletion dispute related to an WP:Articles for deletion
  • In an issue under discussion at a noticeboard such as WP:ANI

Asking another person to create a Wikipedia account for the purpose of supporting your own position in a dispute
Assembling a group of editors with the purpose of resolving an on-going dispute in a certain way

What John is doing may also overlap with Canvassing, as described in a related article. However, the point at which this whole situation gets (in my opinion) really interesting isn’t so much in John’s request as when the various ex-Mormon redditors investigate his claims and find that they are factually incorrect. You will please note John’s comment that

“Apologists have hijacked the first part of my Wikipedia page. It seriously reads like a propaganda memo from FAIR — quoting Church PR and Scott Gordon in the opening section? Seriously? So frustrating.”

and

“I guarantee the person making those edits works either for FAIR or for the LDS Church in some capacity.” In response one experienced editor writes:

John, I took a very close look at the page history going back to September 2013 and I’m going to be honest with you: you have some experienced exmormon Wikipedians who have been babysitting the page that whole time, making sure that inexperienced and overly-apologetics-focused editors have their edits reverted quickly and with clear explanations. There’s one experienced editor who has added two problematic things (the Gordon quote and the line about your sexual orientation), but he’s also adding a lot of helpful stuff. He’s an experienced user who is trusted (and even asked for help) by the exmormon editors watching your page, and he’s definitely not working for FAIR or for the church. I think he was probably not paying attention to how those two edits read when he added them. They definitely read poorly and they’ve been removed now.

As far as including in the lead section the reasons the church gave for your excommunication, that was added by a different wikipedian, one who self-identifies as LDS but who (from his post history) definitely doesn’t seem to be working for FAIR or for the church. Having that info in the lead actually seems appropriate to me, since the lead is supposed to be a quick summary of the article and that is fairly important information in the article. That part of the lead has now been balanced out with what you said about the church’s real reasons for the excommunication, and I’m hoping you’re ok with how it reads now. If you aren’t, please alert me or one of the experienced wikipedians who have been been watching your page, and we can get a group of experienced users together to address any remaining problems.

TL;DR: Stay calm, your page is NOT being hijacked by apologists. There were definitely some problems though. They’ve been addressed now, and any further input you have is welcomed.

John Dehlin can now rest with a little bit more security knowing that the article he thought was written by his ideological opponents (FAIR or unnamed Church employees) was in fact written by ex-Mormons, and was in fact being babysat by them the whole time, and still appalled him. This should probably be a cautionary tale about his use of overly confident language for subjects where he has no real information. This should probably also serve as a cautionary tale to those who rely on the internet for neutral point of view information about John Dehlin that his efforts to censor viewpoints about himself that do not conform to his particular desired image often involve the efforts of a significant number of individuals helping to do the scrubbing.

 

[1] Not unlike Mos Eisley spaceport, this particular internet domain is well-known as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

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