Respected Wikipedian Lies to the Press
" . . . [Essjay] was described in the piece as 'a tenured professor of religion at a private university' with 'a Ph.D. in theology and a degree in canon law.'While Daniel Brandt first broke this story quite some time ago, it's just now starting to get some traction in the blogosphere, and it took me quite a while to uncover the details. A good place to bring yourself up to speed is on Jimbo Wales Wikipedia User Page. However, the bottom line is that Essjay acknowledges no wrongdoing, claiming to be justified in perpetrating this fraud as a way of protecting himself from online stalkers.
"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. . . ."
While it's not a crime of moral turpitude, lying to a member of the press when the truth will do just as well is evidence of moral turpitude, not to mention just plain stupid when you lie about falsifiable facts, and Essjay's excuse of necessity just doesn't wash. To wit, in addition to lying to the press, Essjay used his counterfeit credentials to bolster his and Wikipedia's credibility in a letter that he gave to students who wanted to cite Wikipedia as a reference work. He didn't have to give the interview, he didn't need to write the letter, and he didn't need to lie to the press to protect himself from online stalkers.
I am no stranger to online stalkers. Shortly after I founded the XODP Yahoo! eGroup, a (now former) ODP meta editor set up Netesqsucks.com, a hate site dedicated to persecuting me. And while said meta editor set up said hate site under an assumed name and a fake address, an investigative reporter uncovered his true identity by tracking down the credit card that said stalker used to pay for the site's domain registration. Eventually, this meta editor (a private investigator) was terminated for using sock puppets to promote his own websites on ODP and exclude his competitors.
I didn't need to talk to the investigative reporter who uncovered the truth about the person behind the Netesqsucks.com website, but I did, and I took a huge risk in revealing to her in confidence all sorts of personal information about myself on deep background. Because Essjay was referred to The New Yorker by Wikipedia management, he was assumed to be trustworthy without providing that background information. Simply put, Essjay violated that trust.