Old Man Murray Deleted From Wikipedia

By John Walker on March 2nd, 2011 at 10:40 pm.

Or there will be trouble.

When Rock, Paper, Shotgun is asked to name its games writing influences, only a few names come up. They include Amiga Power, Your Sinclair, early Gamer, and perhaps most noticeably, Old Man Murray. The influence that site had on games writing has influenced just about everything else anyone’s enjoyed since. RPS writers lived and breathed OMM at the time. Every time I read the archives I’m reminded how poor a job I’m doing, and what it is I should be striving for. Not to mention that it was written by Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek, who now work at Valve, penning mighty words and ideas for the likes of Left 4 Dead and Portal. And today their entry has been deleted from Wikipedia, on the grounds that it’s “not notable”. We’d like to object.

And we’re not objecting on the grounds that our own site was described by Wikipedia editors as being, “generally trivial, tangential, or otherwise not substantial enough to grant notability.” We’re objecting because one of the finest sources of games writing of all time is being ignored for extremely spurious reasons.

The criteria for an article on a website on Wikipedia are detailed here. The crux is, it has to have been written about elsewhere in a “non-trivial” way. Which gives a lot of room for interpretation.

It demonstrates one of the key flaws in Wikipedia’s criteria for inclusion: the dependence upon secondary sources beyond an object itself. It’s obviously a system that often works – if something is notable, it’ll likely have been mentioned by other sources thought to be notable. The issue starts when something was notable in an online form, but in the past. There aren’t so many contemporary pieces being written about a website that ended in… oh, hang on, I can’t check Wikipedia. I’ll just email one of the site’s writers, the notable writer behind Portal and Portal 2, Erik Wolpaw.

“The last news post is dated 01-31-2002. That sounds about right. Though now that Serious Sam 3 just got announced, it might be time to update again.”

Thanks.

And it’s even harder when the primary purpose of a site is humour. Humour – an extremely serious business – is all too often not taken seriously.

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.

You can read the deleted Old Man Murray Wikipedia article thanks to the Wayback Machine. Amazingly, references to Old Man Murray, even without a link, have been removed from Erik Wolpaw’s own Wikipedia entry. (It has since been restored. And it seems someone also tried to do the same to Mark Laidlaw’s page.)

For a primer in why we care about OMM, here’s a guide the late Kieron Gillen has put together:

1: The Crate Review System

The shame of many developers,

2. Death Of Adventure Games

The first people to use that puzzle as an example of how the genre was fucking apeshit.

3. Serious Sam: The Interview

The popularisation of Serious Sam.

4. Drakan Week Official Response.

Basically, every internet kid who is snarky is pretending to be pretending to be pretending to be people who were OMM.

5. 5 would be this

Go find your own favourite. Along with AP2, it’s one of the most entertaining and inspiring sources of writing on the internet. Which seems pretty bloody notable to us.

If you’re a developer or games journalist who was inspired by Old Man Murray, or perhaps you threatened to sue them, we’d really love to hear from you. Please email me at john@rockpapershotgun.com with your stories.

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294 Comments »

  1. sexyresults says:

    It was nominated for deletion by the same guy who made this page

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

    Seriously, how is that more notable then OMM?

  2. Lobosolitario says:

    Just checked out our media archives, and Old Man Murray has been mentioned in the following publications:

    The Toronto Star – 4 January 2007
    Montreal Gazette – 8 April 2006
    The Edmonton Journal – 3 March 2006
    The Edmonton Journal – 24 February 2006
    Xbox Nation – 1 November 2004
    Sunday Herald Sun – 17 June 2001
    The Guardian – 18 January 2001
    Computer Gaming World (via ZDWire) – 1 July 2000

    I can’t provide full articles, as it’s all copyrighted material, but if anyone else would like to go hunt these down, they should all be valid sources.

    • Andy`` says:

      Out of boredom started looking through a few of these to see what was internet-facing (a couple of them are, though behind paywalls, which aren’t too expensive but might require alot of reading), didn’t get through the full list but while struggling to find anything to do with the Xbox Nation reference, I accidently stumbled upon this:
      http://somethingnicejim.nfshost.com/rapidfish/oldmanmurray/index.html

      It’s someone’s (personal) archive of a Gamers.com (Ziff Davies) interview in (probably) ~2002, and a GameSpot article Chet and Erik wrote in 1999, that have since disappeared off the internet (or at least I haven’t been able to locate them on archive.org or the original sites yet).

      Probably not viable source data for whatever reason, but fun to read having never seen them before :)

  3. theblazeuk says:

    Anyone else notice that neither Gamespy or IGN have what these idiots would refer to as ‘notable’ references?

    Lets take this the other way – I vote we begin a purge of all pages with uncitable references on wiki. Anything that doesn’t have a link to an active online page, let’s BURN IT. Doesn’t matter if there’s a physical reference – if you can’t prove it with a link then IT MUST GO.

  4. JFS says:

    Let’s find out where Schumin and this HalfShadow guy live and bombard their houses/rooms/dens with poo! It’s the only reasonable thing to do know. Or maybe post them down on /b/ (I know you go straight to hell for suggesting that) and see what happens.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Let’s be honest, /b/ probably already know about it. I’d check, but I don’t want to be exposed to pictures of the result of a shotgun blast to the head. Again.

    • shoptroll says:

      ED already had an article on Schumin long before this incident. Probably stemming from the earlier PoE incidents. So if ED knows, then /b/ probably already knows as well.

      EDIT: Also, harassing the admin who noted this for deletion isn’t the right move. Let the Wikipedians fight this out on the review page, but we should try and spread word to try and find sources linking back to OMM so that someone can solidify that article to the point where this won’t happen again.

    • JFS says:

      Yeah, you’re both right, I suppose. Shoptroll, I didn’t mean to do this for real, I know that flaming single persons for this is bad (and useless) behaviour. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear :)

    • Teddy Leach says:

      We know we’d never go to those lengths, even against idiots like Schumin. However, it seems pretty inevitable that /b/ will get their hands on it sooner or later. It’s already out of our hands. Looking at the deletion discussion though, it seems that the vast majority are in favour of overturning the deletion decision.

  5. haircute says:

    RPS! Thank you for this. I wish I would have saw this story much sooner. OMM has been a constant in my life for over a decade now. When ever I’m feeling blue I load up OMM. Nothing cheers me up faster than reading a Marvin post for the 1000th time. ERIK AND CHET IF YOU SEE THIS PLEASE GO BACK TO THAT SITE AND WORK ON IT LEAVE VALVE PLEASE WE NEED YOU SO BAD RIGHT NOW

  6. Torgen says:

    I’ll be writing the Wikipedia founder, noting that for thousands of people now, any appeal he makes for donations will immediately bring this charade to mind. I don’t know of anyone who will be willing to fund the activities of such broken people as these.

  7. Consumatopia says:

    I guess the real lesson is that gaming journalists should start writing incestuous articles about other gaming journalism/humour web sites. Seriously–you guys are collectively making future gaming history.

  8. oceanclub says:

    I quite enjoyed this Slashdot comment on the entire saga (snippet follows, go to the link for the whole thing:

    http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2021158&op=Reply&threshold=0&commentsort=0&mode=thread&pid=35371390

    “Secondly, it’s actually quite an interesting read because the Schumin guy who nominated for deletion, is evidently really, really, pathetic. And not in a kind of sad and disappointing, move along cowboy way, but actually to a degree that’s almost gripping. This article highlights an almost iconic exemplar of the form of pathetic, to the degree that it’s actually compelling.

    To whit, and as best as I can tell from summaries, a man who is mocked – for being pathetic no less – by a popular gaming culture website waits a DECADE for revenge, whilst the world moves on around him, and the revengee behind the site goes on to pen dialogue for a video game that many people rightly consider one of the genuinely enduring classics of the new age.

    This ‘revenge’, and I use the term loosely, is a heartfelt, but misguided attempt to remove all evidence of revengee’s classic projects from Wikipedia, which is petty to an alarming degree, but also absorbingly impotent. Seriously, I would be amazed if anyone involved in the original site gave one flying fuck, because they’re probably too busy banging hookers on their jetskies right now. On a lake of money.

    And after literally waiting until he thought this site had decayed into irrelevancy and finallly making his move, he discovers that half the internet still cares, the whole thing goes Barbara Streisand, and we just get to see what a massive, unerring loser at the peak of his skills really looks like. ”

    P.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Oh my days….that is quite brilliant. I think I may have to copy that for future reference.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Indeed quite a writer.

      [Edit] And wow. Now had time to click the writer of that little piece. He does not speak much but when he does he seems a sensible fellow. Even comments on release day DLC only this would be FOR THE LAST FUCKING DRAGON AGE.

    • Kadayi says:

      Sublime

    • Buckermann says:

      “Seriously, I would be amazed if anyone involved in the original site gave one flying fuck, because they’re probably too busy banging hookers on their jetskies right now. On a lake of money”

      I… I want to become a game writer mommy!

    • boldoran says:

      I haven’t laughed that hard for a week. Thanks

  9. RiptoR says:

    Seems like someone already moved the old page to his personal (work-in-progress) pages on wiki and updated it extensively with the links provided in the deletion discussions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:OverlordQ/Old_Man_Murray

  10. haircute says:

    So, after reading the comments and following links it appears that this little admin fellow was kicked around by the grumps over at poe-news for years before he gained some power and then struck back at Chet in the lamest way possible. I love this. I absolutely love this.

  11. Teddy Leach says:

    The sheer amount of hideously, hilariously, broken bureaucracy on display over here is staggering: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review/Log/2011_March_3#Old_Man_Murray

  12. Reapy says:

    This whole undeletion process seems sort of like the idea of having been unlawfully fired from an employer, then sueing for your job back… at the end of the day, do you really want to be around all those asswads.

    Any sane individual would take note of the easily found references to OMM (which btw if you google it’s like the 6th entry, and having that high a page rank on google is almost proof of notability due to the nature of google’s algorithms) on major game sites, in addition to generating many front page stories by it being deleted on major gaming sites. This sane individual would then only have to take a moment to understand that the small block of text about OMM is quite notable to a large amount of individuals and just simply undo the delete and move on in the world.

    But no, instead this carries on and they site half made up policies like they are some overly complex wow guild, attempting to make clear arguments by citing inane WP jargon while themselves committing a large amount of logical fallacies in their own arguments.

    I saw people up above in this thread talking about how ‘meatpuppets’ somehow sound like untrained lawyers to the ‘judge’ that are the admins, but honestly the way you guys have represented yourselves, it more looks like to me the judge got his law degree by paying a guy 50 dollars in a back alley to print off his graduation certificate.

    There are certain communities that house, ahh, how do I call them, i don’t even know. Sort of these insane individuals almost. They usually have a lot to say about things, and most of the time their insane writings are almost always negative and critical. Their writing style often seems somewhat academic, and a lot of times the first 4 paragraphs of their point make a lot of sense. Then always, but always their logic takes some sort of hard turn off a cliff of insanity. In my head I quote the office space guy “It’s a JUMP, to CONCLUSIONS mat…. GET IT? Cause you JUMP, to Conclusions!”, like the author just takes all this information and makes some huge logical leap in the middle of some sane points and expects you to be on board with them. Nuts.

    Anyway those types of people worm their way into communities, and I know most anywhere you go you can find one or two of them, often very vocal, but ultimately crazy, and many times people just don’t shut them up and attempt to address their insanity each and every time it is brought up.

    Glancing around through this whole issue here, I can obviously see that the original admin driving this is one of those types of people, and the more I look around wikipedia, I see that somehow it is like they have created a hot bed of these types of people and given them admin power. I honestly haven’t seen such a large gathering of these personalities ever, its like turning a corner and finding 50 giant squid having a tea party.

    At the end of the day, I really wonder if it is worth all the time to continual validate all these insane individuals by playing by their insane rules, to spend your time and effort to enhance their insane site?

    I really don’t think it is worth it. Old man murry’s influence is known among lots of people as proven by the response to the deletion, and their influence in games journalism touches on, and will continue to inspire current and future game journalists no matter what wikipedia chooses include or exclude on their site. Maybe if they are lucky, when wikipedia inevitably implodes, on the next site we can maybe see if we can delete the wikipedia entry for being non notable.

    • Sassenach says:

      This episode has put me off of Wikipedia far more effectively then years of university professors telling me that it was the devil did. Which implies a disturbing lack of judgement.

    • JFS says:

      “I honestly haven’t seen such a large gathering of these personalities ever, its like turning a corner and finding 50 giant squid having a tea party.”

      I love you, man.

  13. Wyatt says:

    Yeah, this is about what you should expect from Wikipedia. Hosoe Shinji’s article was deleted too and he’s got more composition credits than Shimomura Yoko and Mitsuda Yasunori. People need to face the fact that Wikipedia is actively hostile to anything that the “not a cabal” of admins doesn’t like.

  14. Vandell says:

    I just don’t see the ‘harm’ in keeping it up. Don’t know why they would WANT to remove information from the ‘net.

  15. oceanclub says:

    There’s at least two examples of Wikpedians (gmaxwell and reyk) on that page openly admitting that, hey, it doesn’t matter whether or not the article actually merits deletion. Rather, we Wikipedians should hold together and endorse the deletion, merited or not, or otherwise we will have to suffer the ignominy of having non-Wikipedians – people who, you know, might actually have a clue what they’re talking about – coming here and interrupting our cosy consensus with crazy stuff like “facts” and “sources”. Quelle horreur (waves scented hankie).

    P.

    • shoptroll says:

      From what I can tell, you’re pretty much damned if you do or damned if you don’t. The reason I don’t like things like AFD on Wikipedia or other wikis is that you run into the Arthur Dent problem: “The paper work was filed in a cabinet of the sub-sub-basement of City Hall a month ago” (paraphrase of course, don’t revoke my towel). It’s not clear at all on the wikipedia front page where you’re supposed to go to see if anything you think is worthwhile is going to be deleted. This in turn, means a number of people don’t know about any discussion over the articles until it’s posted on external sites as happened in this case.

      At which point you get a flock of people heading over to chime in which apparently certain demographics of the Wikipedia community don’t take kindly to for some reason. Sudden outbreaks of common sense I guess are hard to swallow?

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Mmm, I noticed that.

  16. Tagert says:

    Looks like the decision to delete it has been overturned!

    See the last comment.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review/Log/2011_March_3#Old_Man_Murray

    • Teddy Leach says:

      The page is back. Victory!

    • Hybrid says:

      The page is back! Spread the news!

      But it looks like someone is still a bit unhappy… “Oh goody. I can’t wait to see what happens next when the drooling masses on the internet note one of their “pet” articles is getting deleted. HalfShadow 22:41, 3 March 2011 (UTC)”

    • shoptroll says:

      Hooray for cooler heads prevailing.

      Good work Masem for getting the ball rolling on correcting this within the system!

    • scwilko says:

      Before the victory gloating begins, it should be noted that the two editors most responsible for the article’s recreation, OverlordQ, who rewrote the article to properly assert notability, and Masem, who drove the deletion review discussion per Wikipedia’s guidelines and policies, are both Wikipedia admins, as were many of those involved in the behind-the-scenes discussion endorsing the same. In general, the system works, despite the occasional lapses and unrepresentative personal horror stories I’ve seen posted here the last couple of days.

      You may now gloat at will.

    • Kadayi says:

      Of course this invariable means the dude will be out to delete everything related to this in 10 years time…

  17. Temple to Tei says:

    To be fair to the wiki dweeb this thing he started is producing a lot of good writing.
    At his expense sure, but still good.
    It is almost like Old Man Murray inspired people or something.
    “..finding 50 giant squid having a tea party.” Indeed.

  18. rocketman71 says:

    Justice at last!!!
    But yeah, I now view Wikipedia in quite a different light after poking the innards. I certainly hope there’s not many SchuminWebs and HalfShadows as editors out there.

    Now, about that RPS wikipedia entry.. And where the hell is Blue’s News?.

    • shoptroll says:

      Blue’s entry was wiped a couple years ago following a second attempt to get it deleted.

      It really ought to be on there as it’s probably one of the oldest continually running gaming blogs/news sites.

  19. mrjackspade says:

    Halfshadow is a disgusting person. Been reading up about his posts on the old Portal of Evil. Let’s just say that perverted rape fetishist is being nice.

  20. sendmark says:

    yeah this whole thing has really turned me off wikipedia. Nerds and their feeble powertrips.

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