As Rough Type reports, a New Yorker article last year that profiled Wikipedia doted on a particular Wikipedian who supposedly had a PhD in theology and taught classes, bringing a laptop to his classroom to check Wikipedia in his spare time. This Wikipedian, known as Essjay, was high up in the Wikipedia hierarchy, “one of fourteen Wikipedians authorized to trace I.P. addresses in cases of suspected abuse.”
According to a recent correction issued in the New Yorker, all this information was fake:
Essjay was recommended to Ms. Schiff as a source by a member of Wikipedia’s management team because of his respected position within the Wikipedia community. He was willing to describe his work as a Wikipedia administrator but would not identify himself other than by confirming the biographical details that appeared on his user page … Essjay now says that his real name is Ryan Jordan, that he is twenty-four and holds no advanced degrees, and that he has never taught. He was recently hired by Wikia – a for-profit company affiliated with Wikipedia – as a “community manager”; he continues to hold his Wikipedia positions. He did not answer a message we sent to him; Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikia and of Wikipedia, said of Essjay’s invented persona, “I regard it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it.”
Before, the main debate over Wikipedia’s credibility was centered around the question; “What is authority?” Now, it seems we can’t even get a handle on a person’s credentials enough to even move on to that question.