If there is anybody who is an undeniable expert in the novels of Phillip Roth, it would be this guy named Phillip Roth. According to Wikipedia, he’s a two-time National Book Award winner, he’s won a Pulitzer, he’s won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, and a whole bunch of other awards.
Also according to Wikipedia, he does not know enough about his own book to be able to edit the page to clear up a misconception. But this event is only funny on the surface. In reality it shows how bureaucratic and near-sighted Wikipedia has actually become.
The incident is pretty simple: Roth wanted to edit Wikipedia’s page about The Human Stain, his award-winning book. Wikipedia told him that they needed secondary sources and that his word wasn’t good enough. Chuckle-worthy, right? Not really.
Stop and consider for a minute that what Wikipedia is essentially saying, to the guy who wrote the book, is “You didn’t tell enough people about this, so we can’t take you at your word.” Kafka couldn’t write something that was more of a bureaucratic nightmare.
First of all, this shouldn’t have happened. Sources don’t get more primary than the guy who wrote the freaking book. Secondly, it shows just how self-involved Wikipedia has become that some guy who spends his time editing the site, for free, came back and told one of the most respected writers of fiction living to f*** off. Roth had to shame the site, in public, for them to fix it.
It’s pretty troubling, especially since Wikipedia is into its next round of begging. It’s had editor trouble for a while, but that is apparently starting to turn into something less funny and a lot more nasty. Imagine you are not one of the most award-winning authors on the planet, and Wikipedia gets something wrong about you. You tell them they’re wrong, and they come back and say the wisdom of crowds knows better than you.
You’re going to fight back… how, exactly?