Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Paid Editing as a Hobby: the Beyond My Ken story

Last month I brought up (waay at the bottom) that Beyond My Ken was actually a stage manager named Ed Fitzgerald and instead of letting that hang, I've decided to prove my simple, one-line assertion.

Before we get into the heart of the matter, this is what Edward R. Fitzgerald looks like:

 This is a slightly-cropped screenshot from a video tour of the archives of David Gordon's Pick-Up Performance Company, where Fitzgerald has been working for slightly over twenty years; he claims that he has been working in theater since the age of 17 and he's 60 now. On the fateful day of  March 31, 2007, at 11:50PM he created his the first stub of the David Gordon article that he has "gnomed" up until January 24th of this year. But more on that later.

2007 was not the beginning of Ed Fitzgerald's career on Wikipedia, nor was Beyond My Ken his first handle. My sources say that he had his edit histories deleted prior to 2009, because he is buddy-buddy with Wikipedia insiders. According to this, one of his first edits was in 2005 to the Philip K. Dick article as Before My Ken. Other accounts include Ed Fitz, Ed Fitzgerald, Behind My Ken, Between My Ken and quite possibly Pickupcos, the account used to write the Valda Setterfield Wikipedia article. Valda Setterfield is David Gordon's wife.

Beyond writing articles about science-fiction authors and old films he likes, he also writes about his history as stage manager; he did a lot of work on the Da (play) article in 2008. The production he was a part of ran from May 1, 1978 to January 1, 1980 and it was his first as a production stage manager. Ed Fitzgerald also did work on The Tap Dance Kid (assistant stage manager, 1983-1985) and The Violet Hour (production stage manager, 2003) articles, which is fine because he was there and some of these plays are obscure. It's what he does for David Gordon's production company on Wikipedia that crosses over into pure conflict of interest.

So beyond writing an article on David Gordon that is actually longer than the one for George Balanchine (!), and one for his wife, and heavy lifting for the BLP of Ain Gordon (their son) in 2012, Fitzgerald wrote the large stub article for PUPCo itself in 2007. He also inserted references to Pick-Up Performance's 2004 production of Eugène Ionesco's The Chairs into the existing Wikipedia article, and created the article for Shlemiel the First, a 1994 musical which combined Issac Bashevis Singer's "Chelm" stories with klezmer music. He also modified references to David Gordon in the article on  Douglas Dunn so he is listed as "choreographer" alongside Dunn. He also did this to the New York School article, and he tacked on a list of winners (including David Gordon) to the Bessie Awards stub.

Let us be reminded what all this work is being done for; Pick-Up Performance Company is off Broadway, doing postmodern dance and music pieces. This is not the Bolshoi or Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet companies, where this sort of promotion (mostly in the press, we would hope) is part of the game. And I was being serious about the Balachine article, as this list will show:

David Gordon (choreographer), 49k bytes long (as of September 2014)
George Balachine, 35k bytes long
Martha Graham, 32k bytes long
Merce Cunningham, 29k bytes long
Isadora Duncan, 29k bytes long
Alvin Ailey, 23k bytes long

The numbers have shifted since then (the Alvin Ailey article is now up to 24k), but this warpage of reality will drift out into the rest of the Internet thanks to the article scrapers.

As with Wifione, I didn't do the legwork; this material was originally going to appear in a Wikipediocracy blog post, but it was pulled by William Burns at the last minute for a number of mealymouthed "reasons." **UPDATE** I can now reveal that the people who tracked Ed Fitzgerald down were Tarantino and Greg Kohs of the Wikipediocracy messageboard, though I did not get their work directly from them. All that you see here is not even a third of the material I have been shown about Beyond My Ken.

Above is a link to the video where we got the screenshot. I have also downloaded it into my computer. If the video vanishes, it will be uploaded to YouTube, RuTube, Dailymotion, and made into a fumetti comic in the shape of a Jack Chick tract.

We didn't get into it, but the man above (Dr. Edward Fitzgerald) is the British Wikipedian Beyond My Ken was hiding behind from 2008 onwards because they had accounts with similar names.

Comments from a New York Post article from 2013 ("Don't Trust Anything On Wikipedia" by Steve Cuozzo);  the responder "enwikibadscience" is/was a Wikipediocracy poster.


  1. You say... "it was pulled by William Burns at the last minute for a number of mealymouthed 'reasons.'" I don't remember it that way at all. Are you just making things up, or were you deliberately misinformed by your mole at Wikipediocracy?

    1. That's what they said, that "Monty" Burns ganked it at the last moment.

  2. Note: I wouldn't pull a blog post unless someone higher up than me explicitly told me to. I don't believe this article ever made it to press.

  3. I'm starting to think he's also a sock puppet of Ponyo as well!