Orange Mike Makes Headlines in Britain

When Rachel Johnson, a British editor and journalist who contributes to the Daily Mail, discovered her Wikipedia bio had been edited to take out a reference to her degree, she assumed the simplest way to fix an error in the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit was to do it herself. She didn’t realize that ran afoul of a Wikipedia canon against editing material about yourself.

Johnson told the anecdote in her May 11 column with the headline ”Shown the red card… by Wikipedia’s ‘Orange Mike’”. Readers of File 770 will immediately recognize that nickname belongs to “Orange Mike” Lowrey, well-known fan and one of the Wikipedia’s most active editors.

Johnson wrote:

So, NEEKS who get Firsts are virtually unemployable, which is good news for all of us beta-brains.

I was feeling quite smug about my 2:1 till I was told that, according to Wikipedia, I don’t have a degree at all.

As I still have regular finals nightmares, not to mention a BA, I felt this was a bit rich. So I went on Wiki and deleted this outrageous slur from my biog (someone has written that I ‘failed to complete my course’).

The next day I was emailed a sharp rebuke by a moderator called ‘Orange Mike’ for editing my own page. So I stand corrected – but so far, my entry doesn’t.

Remarkably her complaint appeared as a London Evening Standard news story two days later, given the headline “Rachel Johnson in the grip of Wikipedia’s ‘Orange Mike’” – with the added interesting detail that Johnson’s brother is the Mayor of London.

Rachel had, in fact completed her Greats degree, the same course that brother Boris took, and emerged with a 2:1, the same result as him.

Her Wikipedia entry now stands corrected, with a link to the article as proof. But how will others, without a national newspaper column, correct theirs?

I suppose that’s a rhetorical question, however, on the occasions I’ve found myself crosswise of a Wikipedia editor “Orange Mike” mediated the solution. Obviously he’s willing to help those without national newspaper columns, too.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

One thought on “Orange Mike Makes Headlines in Britain

  1. My understanding is that not writing about yourself is a strong recommendation, not an absolute rule. After all, if you have a secondary sourcing, that makes it legit anyway.

    No doubt someone will write in to correct me, whether I’m right or not.

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