Philip Roth Writes Open Letter to Wikipedia

The site requested a secondary source before Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth could correct an entry about his own book

Last Updated: September 7, 2012 @ 5:46 PM

When Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth contacted Wikipedia to correct an entry about one of his novels, the online information vault requested a secondary source.


Now that’s Web security.

In response to the site’s dubious requirement — and with frustration over the reference site's lack of timely error removal — Roth wrote a 2,655-word open letter to Wikipedia through The New Yorker:

“I had reason recently to read for the first time the Wikipedia entry discussing my novel ‘The Human Stain.’ The entry contains a serious misstatement that I would like to ask to have removed," Roth recounted. "This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip—there is no truth in it at all.

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"Yet when, through an official interlocutor, I recently petitioned Wikipedia to delete this misstatement, along with two others," Roth continued, "my interlocutor was told by the ‘English Wikipedia Administrator’ — in a letter dated August 25th and addressed to my interlocutor — that I, Roth, was not a credible source."

Read his full letter here.

The Wikipedia entry has since been corrected (with Roth's own words).