Did an old grudge get Old Man Murray deleted from Wikipedia?

Old Man Murray, a legendary PC humor site which inspired a generation of gaming journalists—and whose alumni just scripted Portal 2, one of this year's most hotly-anticipated games—was deleted from Wikipedia last week.
Despite references in countless publications, including Wired and Edge magazine, none were deemed substantial enough to rescue OMM from non-notability. Moreover, the nomination for deletion came from an editor accused of having a grudge against the site's creators—a fact not disclosed in the nomination. Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker writes:

But like so many of the disputes that rear up on the encyclopaedia, this could be a personal matter. The initiative to have the entry deleted was started by user “SchuminWeb“, one Ben Schumin. He’s a fan of the defunct comedy cartoon website, Homestar Runner, which has an entry on Wikipedia that he links to. It is claimed in the discussion page on Wikipedia that Schumin has a long-running dispute with OMM. Chet Faliszek expresses his confusion about the matter here, saying he remembers helping Schumin set up his site back in the day. So what does Schumin have specifically against Old Man Murray? We’ve contacted him to find out. (Edit: Oh, he seems to have deleted my question, which seems a bit rude.)

Edit: While Schumin is declining to give a reason behind his choosing Old Man Murray (and only a week before, Portal Of Evil) for deletion, it’s hard to understand how this didn’t mean the Conflict Of Interest rule didn’t prevent his nominating.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of anger about the decision – a lot of it unsavoury – all over the place.

It's a good example of how a determined Wikipedian can quietly orchestrate the removal of articles that hold little appeal to the online encyclopedia's own editorial community. By the time anyone beyond it notices, a useful resource is history. Old Man Murray Deleted From Wikipedia [Rock Paper Shotgun] UPDATE 1: The article's been reinstated. Jolly good. UPDATE 2: RPS pubished a follow-up article quoting more than a dozen industry luminaries on OMM's influence.


  1. Wikipedia is ran by bully pedants and pseudo-intellectuals. They say that it’s not bias, but it clearly is.

    1. Yeah, yer soooo smaaaaaaaaaart.

      Step 1: Proclaim something. The more outrageous the better.

      Step 2: Hold fast in your conviction

      Step 3: Forget what you said and contradict yourself a week later.

  2. The problem with being The Free Encyclopedia Anyone Can Edit is that you’re also The Free Encyclopedia Anyone Can Corrupt.

    I use Wikipedia in what I call a ‘responsible’ way. I’ll browse it for general information, but anytime I commit to something that matters, I do what I can to find reliable primary sources that Not Everyone Can Edit.

  3. Sometimes I wish I could get back money I donated to them. I doubt I’ll ever donate to wiki again.

  4. This is standard Wikipedia. It’s such a corrupt incestuous sausagefest. ‘Free Encyclopedia’ my ass.

    I’ve given up even trying to bother getting useful info past the neckbeards who run the place – there are just too many hidden toes that are easily trod upon.

    And yeah, I’m being a total opinionated dillhole in this comment, but I swear to Woz I did my very damned best to be purely clinical, objective, and informational when adding information on purely technical entries (which are all I’m interested in).

    1. I think they mean free as in beer, not free as in speech. Although their PR would have you believe both.

      1. Wikipedia in under the CC-BY-SA and GFDL licences so it is free as in free speech. The fact that they refuse some content does not contradict the fact that it’s free, it just means it’s not a general purpose hosting project.

        Of course, some decisions of the Wikipedia editors are suboptimal, but can run your own mirror if you really don’t like how the project is managed (because it’s free as in free speech).

        1. What I mean is, given the reputation for Wikipedia of having “cliques” of editors with power forcing their own opinions and throwing their weight around…such as this alleged personal grudge behind an attempt to delete a page against plenty of evidence…is less a ‘free’ document and more the same old power structure you find elsewhere. If you wished to be a cynic, of course.

  5. Ben Schumin! He’s a guy so weird I remember that Seanbaby/Portal of Evil made copious amounts of fun of him back in the 90s. Hence his grudge – his lame website has been mercilessly mocked. He is the opposite of funny. He is a lame weirdo.

  6. There is always pain if you edit wikipedia due to the other OCD geeks having their own view of the world and agenda. We write about that which interests us.
    I personally love the free as beer/speech aspect which makes things like free offline dump readers possible. We spent a month in a place without power and Internet a few years ago and with a 25w solar panel and a netbook I had a very handy resource without having to use expensive commercial wireless Internet. Especially if operating offline keeping the discussion pages gives a clue about bias in the articles when you cant search elsewhere.

    1. “There is always pain if you edit wikipedia due to the other OCD geeks having their own view of the world and agenda.”

      Groupthink. The word is groupthink.

  7. The article has been reinstated,
    which means this is yet another example of wikipedia working.
    The process can be messy, and it may involve people behaving corruptly, but it this case is seem the process was able to handle that.

    1. That’s actually more an example of boing boing working. Having to be shamed into proper behavior is “politics,” not “working.”

    2. “but it this case is seem the process was able to handle that

      Hardly, unless you are seriously suggesting that massive outside chritisism is an integral part of the Wikipedia system.

      This was not “buisness as usual”, this was an exception since it spurred debate and drew attention outside of the regular, moderated Wikipedia forums.

      For every incident like this, there is lots of biased editing and deleting that goes by completly unnoticed. Because it´s only called “vandalism” if people outside of the cabal does it.

  8. “The article has been reinstated,
    which means this is yet another example of wikipedia working.”

    I do dislike it when a community reaction fixes something that otherwise would have remained broken, and yet credit for this is given to some grand god-like omniscience on the part of the offending site.

    The page got deleted because of a grudge, was pushed through by an overzealous admin, and a community reaction saved it.

    1. “The page got deleted because of a grudge, was pushed through by an overzealous admin, and a community reaction saved it.”

      Re Anon 14 – do you propose that the community is somehow NOT part of Wikipedia? On Wikipedia, the community IS the website, much more so than on 99% of the rest of the internet, so when someone argues that the community saved / repaired this problem, then yes, that very much IS Wikipedia working.

  9. Good for this piece of web history to be relisted on Wikipedia. But, ‘legendary’? That term seems a bit much for a site with 36 features from 1999-2002 and 11 reviews from 1998-2000? I am familiar with Something Awful, Boing Boing, Penny Arcade, 4chan, Maddox, and many other things, but I have never heard of this short-lived presence. I haven’t heard the legends either.

  10. Well, watcha gonna do? If you don’t delete anything you have a dump. If you delete something you have bias. There are no other options.

  11. For every report of some Wikipedia article deletion or misuse of editor power there seems to be a dozen that fall below the radar. I used to contribute daily with full sections and multiple sources, but nowadays I only do three things change odd punctuation, correct obvious spelling mistakes, revert obvious vandalism. I do nothing else because it is more likely to be deleted by some editor who claims the article under his/her “domain” and might therefore take issue with someone else adding to his/her article, or god forbid, adding something that contradicts the political view of the editor claiming domain over the article.

  12. Just recently there was an editor that deleted a ton of pages on obscure programming languages (including some that weren’t all that obscure), and it raised a huge stink.

    His rationale was that he uses Wikipedia to find new languages, and all the ones he deleted were getting in the way.


    He was a Computer Science PhD student, and was genuinely amazed that people were upset with what he was doing.

  13. As much as I scoff at Deletionists, I also scoff at contributing to the Wikipedia Moral Panic. “By the time anyone beyond it notices, a useful resource is history.” Oh no! Thank goodness that…Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia where in actuality, but the time someone notices they can get it re-instated. I’m not saying this shouldn’t have been a Boing Boing article– bringing much needed journalism to the Wikipedia Project is a very noble goal– but the tone is a little too close to the mainstream media’s inability to grasp the idea (& ideals) behind Wikipedia.

  14. That sort of bias could *never* happen in any sort of other encyclopedia…
    Yeah, right.

    1. The core of Wikipedia is a loose group of editors protected by anonymity and lack of accountability mixed with a high degree of power of influence. As anyone who has ever touched upon the subject of social sciences knows, anonymity+power+little accountability is a recipe ripe for misuse. Which is why everyone here at Boing Boing is riled up over how governments keep stuff and the people doing that secret from the eyes of the public.

      Any other encyclopedia like Wikipedia will likely tend to end up like Wikipedia. Any other encyclopedia unlike Wikipedia will likely not tend to end up like Wikipedia.

      Add accountability and remove anonymity and much (probably not all, but likely most) of the problems will fade away.

      1. There is a huge difference between what Wikipedia is for and what the government is for.

        Government secrecy is upsetting because there is a right to due process, etc…. AND the government can jail you.

        Wikipedia secrecy is upsetting because there is a right to stick your own nose in your own navel, as seen in the Discussion Page of that article, but there’s nothing saying you or I have to pay attention to it.

        That is a difference with a major distinction. I don’t have a better one to offer, I think I just disagree with your point about why people care about Wikipedia.

        1. That is exactly what I mean, due process and accountability. It is the same, I might just not have phrased it as good in my earlier post.

          1. Sure, they rhyme, but that is a distinction with a key difference. To equate the two is to say that the ironic hypocrisy at wikipedia is as important as the ironic hypocrisy of government. It isn’t, we don’t need to fix wikipedia, it’s a couple years old and may be as irrelevant as the site this post was about in as many more years. Whereas the government actually affects real people. I do see the rhyme, but I can’t say I feel even vaguely the same about the two ironies. One seems real serious, the other, piffling.

      2. That’s just it—Any time you have an editor, you get an editor’s biases, opinions and faults. What I was saying is that it is not unique to Wikipedia. Wikipedia, by its changeable nature, is no doubt a better resource overall than *any* other reference work so far imagined or written.
        If you don’t believe me, let’s sit down and start comparing entries between it and any other “comprehensive” reference work.

  15. I would rather wikipedia be an information dump rather than an information desert. I never use it as a primary source, but the articles will steer me towards further information on a topic.

  16. Nothing ever truly dies on Wikipedia. Deleted articles live on in the Elysian Fields of Deletionpedia. My fictional “American Monarchist Party” article has been restored and deleted three times by various Wikipedia members (by mischievous or misguided do-gooders, who knows?) over the years:


    Deletionpedia actually shows the article as currently active:


    Sadly they don’t show the expanded version, where several other polisci students decided to let themselves in on the joke and expanded the article to be several paragraphs long, citing multiple references around the internet. It looks like content farms picked up on the article and there are several references to the fictional American Monarchist Party on the internet now:


  17. Deletion is only one aspect of the problem. Bias is a much bigger problem.

    Take a look at the article on the Spanish Inquisition and you will find an article that takes great pains to explain how the Catholic church had absolutely no role in the torture or executions. It was the civil authorities and anyone who thinks otherwise is ignorant and stupid.

    Total nonsense of course. The Spanish Inquisition was performed under papal authority and the church had full knowledge of the torture and the judicial murders being carried out to enforce its doctrine. But there are always going to be more contributors determined to whitewash the involvement of the church than people willing to correct a rather silly article that peddles an obvious point of view.

    Of course use of torture was routine at the time. Of course the Protestant critics were initially being hypocritical. But the Protestants had a point: A church that dictates its doctrine with the thumbscrews the rack and burning at the stake is corrupt, an abomination.

    Its pretty effective propaganda too. Use of torture pretty much disappears from Protestant Europe round about that time along with routine use of the more grotesque forms of execution. The Bloody Assises following the 1685 Monmouth rebellion pretty much finished off James II rather than keeping him in power.

    1. Deletion is only one aspect of the problem. Bias is a much bigger problem.

      Take a look at the article on the Spanish Inquisition and you will find an article that takes great pains to explain how the Catholic church had absolutely no role in the torture or executions. It was the civil authorities and anyone who thinks otherwise is ignorant and stupid.

      Yes, I have noticed that many articles, including those to do with the Catholic Church, are being systematically edited to conform to what the Catholic Church wants others to believe is true. Even the article on Jesus completely leaves out most of his teachings, especially the social justice part.

      When you can hire people to revert an article every day to what you want it to say, eventually the non-paid people give up.

      And editors are now being hired by outside sources to create or alter content on the site.

      And more than one place offers to do so. http://www.knowmesome.com/featured/wikipedia-for-your-company/

      I trust the people, in general, but once people are being hired to insert bias, wikipedia becomes no more useful than my old Encyclopedia Britannica, which has a very “rich, white, capitalist” bias.

      I don’t know what the solution to this is. Even an occasional vendetta is nothing compared to paid bias.

  18. Years ago I wrote dozens of pages, mostly about obscure-yet-important electronic music artists of the 80’s, and battled for months WITH ONE EDITOR to keep them from being deleted for not being relevant (according to the editor) — despite having references and all the other good stuff that Wikipedia articles have.

    One day I found all the pages deleted along with my account.

    Fuck Wikipedia.

  19. I don’t really understand why, as long as an article is true, why it shouldn’t remain, no matter how un-important. It’s not as if the internets will run out. Further, it would be easy to sort searches into notable and non, for easy finding.

  20. The real story here is that Homestar Runner is “defunct”.

    The menu page is broken and it hasn’t been updated since october!

    2006 me is very sad.

    1. I agree–I haven’t read Homestarrunner in a long time, but it was always great. Strong Bad emails? Classic. The website appears to be there, though. Oh the games are hysterical.

      On the other hand, a dispute in Wikipedia that’s a flame war, and that causes flame wars about the dispute? Nothing new to see here.

    2. I don’t think it’s defunct! The menus seem to work fine for me. It was actually updated in December (the ‘ween refers to “decemberween” and not Halloween.) I hope it chugs along for a long time to come.. it’s not a frequent stop for me, but every few months it’s fun to catch up on a few toons.

  21. In the case of Fandom, “RadioFan” is a deletion troll. It seems all that he does is look for things that don’t meet his personal criteria of “Notable” and deletes them. Several pages I’ve slaved over have been nuked by this guy.

    He’s a prime example of everything that is wrong with Wikipedia.

  22. Wahhhh! Wikipedia is corrupt, just like the gubmint!


    There’s nothing to see here people, move along. Wikipedia is working as intended. Yes, someone with a grudge managed to get an article temporarily deleted. But you know what, the process worked. Other contributors pointed out that conflict of interest and wow, now the article is back!

    I should also point out that, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, there is no such thing as permanently deleting the content of the article. The page was temporarily removed and inaccessible, but the content was still stored in Wikipedia’s database and in countless others, including the Google cache.

    Having said that, you know, I just looked at the OMM article. It is rather lacking in content. Game criticism is a rather niche interest, but if it’s so notable perhaps someone might consider improving the article.

    Anyone interested in seeing exactly what happened, rather than listening to a flock of dumbasses whine here, you might want to actually read the Nomination for Deletion on Wikipedia. See, that’s called transparency.

    1. A rather niche interest? See, this kind of thing confuses me. Wikipedia is rife…RIFE…with niche interests. I mean, consider the following:

      Kite Man

      V & Legacy

      Cisia Wola

      How wikipedia can host long, detailed entries on Dr. Who and Lost episodes and at the same time claim that an entry about Old Man Murray is unneeded confuses me.

    2. This only ‘worked’ because it was about someone who was able to get a whole range of video game luminaries testifying about how notable he was – and I agree, he is! Time to Crate was brilliant.

      And even that almost wasn’t enough. jmzero up at #34 said everything else I was going to say about how pathetic the discussion was.

      So you beat up a thousand people and one guy ended up having enough powerful friends. Wee haw, the system ‘works!’

  23. Anyone interested in seeing exactly what happened, rather than listening to a flock of dumbasses whine here, you might want to actually read the Nomination for Deletion on Wikipedia. See, that’s called transparency.

    When you say “dumbass” I think you mean “meatpuppet”.

    And that discussion, and the fact that it resulted in a deletion, should be deeply embarrassing for Wikipedia’s editors. The fact that it isn’t, the fact that most people I’ve heard from associated with editing at Wikipedia think the process worked out good here, is really sad.

    There’s a few bits of hope in the review discussion later – a few editors who seem to realize how crazy the situation is – but not many. The rest seem to only be able to see things through the lens of process and rules, and “why does it matter who nominated?”, and “what does thousands of people expressing dismay possibly have to do with notability?” and “if we let ‘them’ get this one back, they’re going to think that ‘they’ are in control of the site”.

    Wikipedia is a great resource, but I think it has become a great resource in spite of many of these people. If it was a business, there’d be a lot of those people removed from doing any administration on Wikipedia – and a discussion reminding the remainder of why the site exists. As it stands, it looks like this will end in a lot of “glad that’s over – back to regularly scheduled infighting and harassing new users” and self congratulation.

    If you read this discussion elsewhere, you’ll find hundreds of people who have a history of good contributions to Wikipedia who will never go back – people who got tired of fighting through a web of crazy to make the site better.

  24. While we’re all Wiki-kvetching, Ralph Bakshi has “fixed” every entry that mentions him, so that now the story is he was victimized by bitter artists who just didn’t appreciate how much he was helping their careers.

  25. Every time I read a semi-scholarly article on, say, three-toed sloths or Dante Gabriel Rossetti and find a ‘References in Popular Culture’ section that tells me that a three-toed sloth features in the 43rd episode of the anime series “Squeaky-Voiced Girls in Miniskirts with Superpowers and Eyes like Soup Plates”, or that “Drinking Blood from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Skull” is the title of a song by Swedish black metal band Deathlüstpöyson, I feel that the Notability Criterion isn’t being applied often or hard enough.

    Yes, this is all part of the common knowledge of humanity and probably deserves to be recorded somewhere. Still, I wish you could tag individual factoids on Wikipedia with a “Stupid shit that no one but ten fanboys in Gothenburg gives a crap about” marker, and provide tools to let the user filter them out.

  26. re: “He’s a fan of the defunct comedy cartoon website, Homestar Runner,”

    Wait – HSR is no more?


    1. Not sure why he says it’s defunct? The last full content update was in late December, but that’s hardly the same thing as ‘defunct’. Homestar Runner has always had a slow content cycle.

      Hell, they just had Strong Bad in Poker Night at the Inventory.

  27. Web Censorship at work. It would be unwise to dismiss this as something unique to Wikipedia. We are lucky we even get to hear about this since wikipedia has a “community.”

    How exactly do you define “community” in an online context? I think the reality is a lot less rosy then we are led to believe.

  28. Oh god, I would have made fun of that loser too.

    His site is so incredibly goddamned boring, what makes him the arbiter of what’s notable about ANYTHING?

    Also, yeah, he should have whatever limited powers he has over wikipedia stripped over this COI.

    I really don’t have any respect for someone who does 75 crafted articles about dullness but gets MAD WITH POWER. Better to not have those 75 articles to begin with.

  29. Wikipedia is a good idea, but it’s not Seldon’s Encyclopedia Galactica, and never will be.

  30. Encyclopedia Dramatica sums it up best:

    “The People’s Communist Republic of Wikipediaâ“€, commonly shortened to simply Wikipedia, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game in which participants play editors of a hypothetical online encyclopedia. The site is mainly used by fatties who sit on their asses all day in their mother’s basement which has been their home since their early twenties. The goal is to try to insert misinformation as well as pushing a point of view that is randomly assigned, while preventing any contrary information from being entered by others. Players with similar misinformation will generally form guilds in order to aid one another. You can find most ED trolls there, too.

    Wikipedia players gain more authority as they progress, with “Administrator” and “Double-O Licensed” rankings granting them access to GOD MODE.”

    [NSFW link]


  31. I prevented myself from adding information on Wikipedia by reading the submission guidelines. I realized the information would be ephemeral due to the fact that I didn’t feel like spending time dealing with editors that had territory issues regarding the subject matter. However, it appears to be a good general resource for finding lists of things to actually research. But research tool it mos def ain’t.

  32. I’d argue that Old Man Murray was deleted due to a lack of secondary and tertiary sources. Which was the case. Only now does anyone care to produce a secondary source (like Rock Paper Shotgun’s work where they produce arguably a reliable secondary source of notability). A brief mention in a trade magazine is not enough, if that was the case then every academic paper that was cited 3 times would be included.

    So while the beef probably existed, people need to understand that you need to meet WP:NOTE to stay onboard.

  33. The so-called “moderators” on Wikipedia are a joke. They all have an axe to grind, are always butt-hurt about something. Wikipedia itself is a joke. Kids who turn in half-assed school reports copy-pasted from Wikipedia and Teachers who don’t care and still give them passing grades are jokes.

    Encylopedia Dramatica says it best:
    “Wikipedia is full of people with no desire to improve what it is intended for, information. Instead, they want to grow their e-penis and one day become a mod.”

    I once edited the Wikipedia page talking about George Washington and the Continental Army’s stay at Valley Forge by adding in the part about how they had to fend off attacks from vicious T-Rexes. It stayed up for more than three days. Read a book kids.

  34. Deletionists are vandals. At best this guy might have made his point that OMM isn’t noteworthy, but that maybe warrants a “The person you’re reading about is a niche figure about whom little is written” note in the article – not deletion.

    Shooting a puppy never house-breaks it and deleting an article *never* produces a better one than simply marking the problems for fixing.

    But they know this. Talking to them like they’re rational people, instead of trolls, misses the point.

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