Brendan Burke | Deaths | Hockey | News | Sports

Brendan Burke's Life Marked for Deletion on Wikipedia


Do you think the late Brendan Burke's life story, which has helped break barriers of homophobia in professional hockey, should stay on Wikipedia?

Burke, who made international headlines with his professional hockey coach father Brian, after coming out publicly, died on Friday in a weather-related automobile accident in Indiana.

Some Wikipedian homophobes have marked his page for deletion as "Not Notable". Wikipedians, have at it.

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  1. no words can truly express my disgust.

    Posted by: pgm | Feb 8, 2010 8:29:42 AM

  2. I read the comments about why...that his life wasn't notable and that wikipedia isn't a newspaper, but an encyclopaedia... fair enough - however there is an article about Kevin Federline for petes sake! What exactly is the criteria for "notable". Seems pretty subjective to me. Looks like we're going to lose this one - who knew Wikipedia was homophobic?

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 8, 2010 9:00:15 AM

  3. Oh, and one more thing... obviously he was notable to get a page in the first place, but since his life was cut short by a tragic accident, he all of a sudden becomes "not-notable"??? That is just bullshit!

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 8, 2010 9:01:56 AM

  4. Ridiculous, there are articles on everyone from z-grade Royals like Lady Ogilvy to z-grade movie producers like George Weiss on Wikipedia. This is clearly a pro-active move by some homophobic Wikipedian or other.

    Posted by: Derek Pearce | Feb 8, 2010 9:12:12 AM

  5. "obviously he was notable to get a page in the first place." Well, no. Not that I think he is somehow less deserving than K-fed, but it's hard to argue that K-fed is a less known figure. Wikipedia is supposed to be an encyclopedia, and while I think he might deserve a mention on a page about homosexuality and sports, I'm not certain he merits a page unto himself. In the ways these things go, though, it will certainly figure itself out.

    Posted by: Chris | Feb 8, 2010 9:36:53 AM

  6. Wikipedia isn't so open that every single human being deserves a page. I'm sure Brendan was a great guy, but if you ask me, he merits a paragraph on his father's page, not a page devoted just to him. Wikipedia commonly does this. Sure, if the son had become a prominent campaigner for gay rights or whatever, that would be a different story.

    Posted by: Dan | Feb 8, 2010 9:36:56 AM

  7. WOW. "Chris" and "Dan", I really hope I never meet either of you.

    Posted by: Christopher | Feb 8, 2010 9:51:06 AM

  8. if you read the current discussion, it looks like they want to merge it with the article on Brendan's father, and redirect the page. That might be a good compromise

    Posted by: m | Feb 8, 2010 9:54:09 AM

  9. Well, it is a point of contention. This web site tracks issues about edits on Wikipedia.

    So people stick stuff in and then other people take it out.

    Posted by: PearlsBeforeSwine | Feb 8, 2010 9:59:14 AM

  10. @christopher -- I'm merely restating a common practice at Wikipedia. Quit being such a nelly.

    Posted by: Dan | Feb 8, 2010 10:30:23 AM

  11. The real tragedy of this is timing. I seriously doubt it has anything to do with homophobia. I agree he should be a paragraph on his father's page. I also believe Wikipedia should have use better judgment and waited at least 6 months before making this type of move. Obviously this horrific senseless death of such an admirable young man is too devastating to his family and friends to be so trivialized this soon.

    Posted by: Anthony | Feb 8, 2010 10:34:29 AM

  12. Guys guys, I'm no more a fan of Wikipedia's esoteric policies than you are but there seems to be a lack of understanding of how the process works.

    Several people noted the encyclopedia issue--that not everyone deserves an article. I agree with what someone said above that, technically, the information about Brendan should go on his father's page.

    But secondarily, *Wikipedia* as an organization is not deleting the page and similarly did not "grant" the page to begin with--it's all user-generated, and the mark for deletion would've been made by a volunteer editor (not a paid employee).

    I have been really touched by the tragedy of what happened with Brendan--I specifically remember the stories about his coming out and couldn't believe when I read yesterday that he had passed. But I think it's flying off the handle to consider this as an act of homophobia, or (at the most) as anything more than an isolated incidence of homophobia on the part of one editor. Given Wikipedia's rules, sadly, Brendan probably ISN'T notable enough for a page of his own. Believe me, that makes me just as sad as the rest of you.

    Posted by: Jason | Feb 8, 2010 10:56:08 AM

  13. "he should be a paragraph on his father's page"?????

    AS IF what he accomplished in his short life wasn't SOLELY his own doing, initiated solely by him, albeit supported by his sports-famous father, and touched millions. Have any of the "deletionists" been featured on ESPN?

    And despite the fact that there are multiple LGBT articles on the site, there's a history of such things at Wikipedia, of homophobes using "the rules" as an excuse to snip out whatever they can.

    There was a huge fight over whether the subject of the fight over gays in the Boy Scouts should be mentioned in an article about the Scouting movement with the excuse that "it was started in Great Britain" and the fight is "just an American thing."

    A smaller one over whether the fact that there are persistent rumors that Anderson Cooper is gay should be allowed to be mentioned in his page.

    "Notable" is obviously relative, but the claim that Burke isn't "enough to enough people" is horseshit. It's a lie and it's reasonable to question the motivation behind it.

    All the more so when their alleged excuse is based upon wanting to protect the "integrity" of Wikipedia as an "encylopedia"...a premise still ludicrous on its face.

    No matter how large, no matter how popular it has become it is nothing but a "pretend" "encyclopedia" so any "rules" created about it are based on pretension.

    They would have something to hang logic on if it was an actual, hard print compilation by hundreds of thousands of nonexperts and they said, "We don't have room for everything."

    But it's a cyber construct with "room" limited only by the storage capacity of its servers.

    So, again, when some of their piss ants rise up and say, "Brendan Burke wasn't notable to with his head!" ya have to wonder why.

    Posted by: Tony | Feb 8, 2010 12:03:56 PM

  14. I think the issue is that there are many, many articles on barely notable people in Wikipedia. Their pages happily sit there with no one questioning their notability.

    Is Brendan Burke less notable than Hilly Flitcraft or Zoogz Rift or Louis Huntoon?

    Brendan's coming out story received coverage through Canada and the US. It is my understanding that newspapers in Europe even picked it up.

    Some of the commenter's posts even belie their bias. The one commenter in claiming he couldn't locate the ESPN article about Burke? My suggestion: try google. It is the first result if you type in ESPN and Burke.

    Posted by: Ed | Feb 8, 2010 12:13:12 PM

  15. Or try looking at articles on historic figures known to have been homosexual, such as Frederick II of Prussia, and see how things have been tidied up to either remove the fact that they were homosexual or to offer opposing viewpoints, no matter is they are false.

    Posted by: homer | Feb 8, 2010 12:18:07 PM

  16. Too much of Wiki is taken up by out gay men in their sports - baseball, football, tennis, soccer, cricket, etc. - speaking openly about the homophobia that they have encountered. Oops, there are almost none! His advocacy on TSN and ESPN was a rare example in a sport that is better known for coaches going to prison for sexually assaulting their junior players.

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Feb 8, 2010 12:50:34 PM

  17. Generally, the more citations, the more notable the person. SI articles would count for a lot, particularly if they did a bio on the athlete. There are also list pages, where they list out gay athletes and such. Always add citations to articles to make them stick there.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 8, 2010 12:59:21 PM

  18. I would say that he WAS a notable figure, in that his coming out had a major impact on a number of people and made international news.

    As mentioned above, Wikipedia is notorious for the homophobic volunteer editors. Beyond that, 99.9% of my teachers over the years have forbidden students from using Wikipedia due to this and other discrepancy issues.

    Posted by: Joseph | Feb 8, 2010 1:17:06 PM

  19. It's this kind of random deletion of so-called "non-notable" content that spurred my to abandon my Wikipedia account several months ago.

    Once you graduate from editing to also contributing articles, you discover that Wikipedia is controlled by hundreds or thousands of little basement Napoleons, who like nothing better than deleting content they don't like.

    If they are slow about it, your deleted article may end up on Deletopedia, but if they delete it quickly, your hard work simply disappears, gone forever.

    Until the leadership changes to allow the citing of original work, and to defer to the users to determine worthiness, Wikipedia will always be hamstrung. It's an Internet product being run like a 1950s book-style reference.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 8, 2010 2:59:21 PM

  20. Oh stop with all this "Wikipedia is homophobic" crap. Every time something gay is questioned for notability or verifiability, I get a "homophobe" label thrown up somewhere. Few people actually understand how Wikipedia works. It's not a majority consensus, which is what Towleroad has led its readers to try to push for on the page, it's a question of whether or not the page itself is notable. A pencil sitting on my desk is real, but that doesn't make it notable. Kevin Federline is a putz, but he's a media icon, which is why he fulfills notability. When notability is questioned, it's not individuals debating about whether or not that subject is "notable" as a human being, it's whether or not they're notable as the subject of an encyclopedic entry. A random thirteen year old girl making a page about herself and her life would be non-notable, and that's why the notability tag exists--so these pages can be found, discussed, and ultimately determined to fulfill those requirements or not.

    It's right for someone to ask if the page is notable or not, because it leads to the discussion, which, as it turns out, looks like it's going to establish the Burke article as notable. As an editor there, I've voted to keep it because there is substantial press about Burke out there, which obviously reaches the requirements. Don't fly off the handle because someone has questioned it--it only gives the opportunity to settle it once and for all.

    Additionally, with the exception of vandals, most content that is clearly homophobic gets removed immediately if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn't belong on a neutral space like Wikipedia. If it persists, then it gets challenged, whereupon it generally gets voted out, and if the user persists in being destructive, then they get blocked per consensus.

    I've even been called a "homophobe" because I removed unsubstantiated gay rumors and fan-speculation from a fictional character's page, despite the fact that I belong to the LGBT Project on Wikipedia. Inexperienced or non-users typically don't understand that the goal is to add content that demonstrates an impact in the world at-large and can be substantiated by third-party reliable sources. Because Burke's article is currently hot-topic, it makes sense that it would be properly scrutinized compared to an article on some skank on "Flavor of Love" who got a page, but whom few people even think to check for on Wikipedia.

    Are some editors further motivated by homophobia? Perhaps, but they are just as bound by Wikipedia's policies that they demonstrate adequate reasoning to remove the page and with consensus from other editors. Clearly the Burke article has demonstrated its notability, and I would have expected no less of a result from a consensus of editors even if an actual homophobe tried to have the article deleted solely on the basis of its meaningful content to the LGBT community. But seriously, throwing these powerful labels around when it isn't warranted only does an injustice to our community when it actually happens.

    Posted by: luminum | Feb 8, 2010 3:06:02 PM

  21. @ LUMINUM: Just because YOU'RE gay and a part of the WP "LGBT Project" doesn't mean you are any more "objective" about the systems's flaws nor any better at reading the actual motivations behind one of these "basement Napoleons" [PERFECT description, Randy. Thank you!].

    "if an actual homophobe tried"????

    Please, Mary! Ya think all "actual homophobes" ....even those among the gigantic circle jerk that Wikipedia is is going to flag something for deletion and, say, "I want this gone because I hate fags and anything or anyone that might benefit them it is my mission to destroy?"

    Kinda like Sam Nunn, Charles Moskos, Colin Powell, Marine Commandant Mundy admitted in 1993 when they were birthing DADT out of their chests? Or Oliver North last week when he said he feared repealing DADT would boost NAMBLA? Ad nauseum. Or the people behind Prop 8? They repeatedly DENY that they're bigots.


    1. It is a fact that Brendan Burke was notable to many gays and their allies [e.g., see stories about PFLAG members writing to thank him for coming out].

    2. It is a fact that Wikiette X wants to delete Burke Wiki page because Burke is not notable to him.

    3. It is a fact that Wikiette X is straight.

    4. It is reasonable to assume a correlation between his ojection to Burke and his being straight, and, therefore, a form of homophobia just like the veto of a bill in CA by Arnold that would have required discussion in public school lessons of appropriate LGBT figures just as state law mandates the inclusion of other minorities.

    Or, to use an expression, "Where your treasure is their will your heart be also."

    What do you treasure more? Wikilandia or your own people?

    Posted by: Tony | Feb 8, 2010 3:58:00 PM

  22. @Luminum

    I still go back to my original question about the notability and the seemingly random way it is applied in Wikipedia. In my earlier post, I cited three examples of people in Wikipedia that have very questionable notability but their pages have been untouched.

    Brendan Burke hasn't been dead for 72 hours and suddenly there is this rush to clean up Wikipedia and remove his record? That is where the homophobia lies here. What is the hurry to erase this documentation of his contributions?

    Again as I posted earlier, editors in their posts wrote that they couldn't find records of the ESPN story or news accounts of him. Really? When someone deliberately misrepresents the facts, there is something they are hiding and I think in this case, it is homophobia.

    Posted by: Ed | Feb 8, 2010 4:41:19 PM

  23. Wiki does have a heterosexual bias when it comes towards homosexual historical figures, but that's really where the prejudice ends. There are a lot of misguided editors on Wiki, but there is no huge homophobic gang of editors who go from page to page deleting anything gay they see. And if there was there are a group of editors who find fiercely protect those articles that are challenged, but in the end the argument is not based on what's "right," but on Wikipedia standards and rules.

    Re: Brendan Burke, "Wikipedia" doesn't exist as a single entity. There was no rush to delete his page following his death. Someone (homophobic or not) found his page, possible because of the media coverage surrounding his death, and decided that the page was non-notable. That single person's act sparked a lengthy discussion on the notability of the page. That's it.

    Some editors might be homophobic, but I don't think most are. Conservapedia is another beast, altogether. Though their discussion pages provide tons of entertainment.

    Posted by: Leonard | Feb 8, 2010 6:09:15 PM

  24. @ luminum - You wrote it out so nicely that I don't really need to say anything other than I agree with you completely.

    The pettiness of the comments on the AfD page make the gay community look like bigots for not understanding or agreeing with the rules of wikipedia that have made it what it is today. (A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. From wikipedia)

    The comments even go so far as to attack the person who put the AfD tag on the page. The first person to agree with the AfD tag identifies as lesbian on wikipedia.

    As for the "why didn't they wait for 6 months?!?"
    Because the page was created on Feb 6th and it was promptly tagged AfD because Brendan Burke does not meet the pre-established requirements for articles based on the notability requirements.

    If you don't think that Zoogz Rift meets the requirements for a wikipedia entry then by all means place a AfD tag on the page and come up with a valid reason using the wiki guidelines as to why the article should be deleted. Arguing "but article x exists" has no merit.

    Not everyone is out to get gay people. Lots of people are, as daily reading of towleroad will show; but not everyone wants to keep gay people hidden; sometimes it really isn't about the fact that Brendan was gay, it is about the fact that people just want to keep a community driven project aligned with the rules and guidelines the community has established.

    Posted by: Justin | Feb 8, 2010 6:16:36 PM

  25. Luminum writes that notability derives from being a MEDIA ICON.....and this thing pretends to be an encyclopedia???
    I noticed that some wrote on Wiki that Brendan Burke accomplishment was only related to ''the way he dealt with his sexuality'' (meaning : something private and unimportant) while in fact what he did was very POLITICAL and public. Coming out in pro hockey is akin to some civil rights movement acts of the 60s.

    Posted by: Catalystic | Feb 8, 2010 7:25:17 PM

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