Are Tom Emmer’s DWI Convictions Appropriate Wikipedia Content?

Tom Emmer’s Wikipedia page has been more volatile than usual over the past day, as a new user publishing under the pseudonym, Sassidolfin, has been scrubbing Emmer’s DWI history from his bio.

Scrubbing of Tom Emmer's DWI Convictions by Sassidolfin

The only edits Sassidolfin has ever made have been changes to Emmer’s page. Most involving scrubbing of Emmer’s DWI history.

The start of a discussion regarding this issue can be found on Emmer’s page’s talk page.

Here is the information Sassidolfin has repeatedly scrubbed from Tom Emmer’s Wikipedia page:

Emmer was charged with intoxicated driving on two separate occasions. In 1981, he pled guilty to DWI. In 1991, he pled guilty to careless driving after DWI and license plate violation charges were dropped.[15]

I’m curious. What do you think? Is this relevant information for the Wikipedia page of an elected official and gubernatorial candidate? Based on Sassidolfin’s actions, I think we have one “no” vote although that editor has not explained why they’ve repeatedly scrubbed the information.

UPDATE: It looks like Sassidolfin is now taking a different approach to editing Tom Emmer’s Wikipedia page. Rather than scrub the DWI information yet again, Sassidolfin has added information about DWI legislation Emmer proposed in 2009:

Additions to Tom Emmer's DWI Info on Wikipedia

However, Sassidolfin failed to mention that Emmer’s proposal was opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the state’s head of the DWI Task Force. That information was included in the same article Sassidolfin cited.

Note: I just realized that the title of this post may make it sound like Emmer was convicted of two DWI charges. As I read it, he was charged twice, but pled to a lesser charge on one of the cases.

Another Update: Sassidolfin continues to attempt to rewrite history by editing out Emmer’s history again:

Tom Emmer's Deleted DWI History on Wikipedia

This user has also pasted directly from Tom Emmer’s campaign site’s bio at least twice today. The user refused to engage on the discussion page of Tom Emmer’s Wikipedia page as requested but instead is attempting to bully their way into a revised history of Emmer’s life.

Update: Sassidolfin has now been attempting to rewrite Tom Emmer’s history on Wikipedai for 24 hours:

24 Hours of Tom Emmer's Wikipedia Page History

2 points for tenacity. But a 10 point deduction for failing to post with a neutral point of view. Another -5 for failing to explain scrubbing history.

One more update:

What got this started? I subscribe to the revision history of Emmer’s Wikipedia page, so I received an alert to the changes being made by Sassidolfin as they occurred. The very first edit Sassidolfin made on Wikipedia was this rewriting of Tom Emmer’s stance on the restaurant server tax credit debacle. Sassidolfin deleted the Wikipedia content that relied on a MinnPost piece by Doug Grow for citation.

Rewriting of Emmer's Position on Waiter Pay Cuts

Sassidolfin scrubbed the Minnpost cited perspective and replaced it with a version that relied on Emmer’s campaign website instead.

That piqued my interest, which led to this post where I dropped the names of all recent editors of Emmer’s Wikipedia page onto to see whether others were also trying to figure out who pseudonymous editors like Sassidolfin are. It turns out that this does appear to be happening based on the search traffic I’ve received from Google for related search terms since that post went live.

12 thoughts on “Are Tom Emmer’s DWI Convictions Appropriate Wikipedia Content?”

  1. The second approach is more appropriate. I fear that Wikipedia vandals will, however, just force Wikipedia to freeze politicians’ pages again this fall as they did in some cases in ’08. That’s a lose-lose situation.

    I’d like to see Wikipedia require registration and full names from people editing the site. This honor system is just an invitation to all the Goebbels Jr.s out there looking to rewrite history.

  2. I disagree with full names for registration. It’s like driving in a nail with a bazooka. Anonymous posts serve a purpose online, both good and bad.

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  4. Anonymous posts yes, but Wikipedia is a reference resource, not a blog! If you had a Wikipedia page, would you like anonymous editors messing with it?

  5. Ahh Wik-my-pedia…I vote to kick all politicians out and give em their own playground.

    I agree with Taulpaul take away anon and wikipedia relevancy comes into question in my opinion.

  6. “but Wikipedia is a reference resource, not a blog” is a reference resource for me, and it’s a blog. Urban dictionary is a resource. I see where you’re going with this, but where do you draw the line? Traffic numbers? If Wikipedia made it this far with their system, anonymous editors have been helpful to some degree, no?

  7. I guess I’m missing some major point here. Why would anyone care who knew they were contributing to Wikipedia. Maybe some contributors do need to be anonymous, but only to readers, not Wikipedia staff.

    Fwiw, if I die with any money, I’d like to leave some to Wikipedia. It’s an irreplaceable resource and I couldn’t get by without it.

  8. Why all of the fuss…it’s not like wiki is a considered a gold standard in accurate info. Just because lazy media types use it for their “research” doesn’t make more valid. This story is case in point. With “editors” adding/subtracting content daily, who can trust anything on wiki. Go do your own research, and make up your own mind.

  9. @Turk E, if “lazy media types” use Wikipedia for their research (hopefully as a starting point, rather than end point), I think you’d agree that the site has value. Pages within the site also tend to rank very high with Google, which makes it an often referenced source (and, the pages rank high due to the site’s high online authority).

    No, it’s not perfect. However, one thing that does make it meaner like a Roomba toward the truth is the policing of edits by people who care more about the truth than, say, one politician’s preference for how they’d like their personal history told. The beauty of the system is that it’s much easier to revert vandalism than to create it, which eventually wears out vandals. That includes the editor mentioned in this post, Sassidolfin, who lasted just over 24 hours before disappearing.

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