School of The Rock


And Now for Something Completely Different: Wikipedia’s Response to our article:“A Brief History of Contemporary Christian Music

Written by Paul D. Race for School Of The Rock

As mentioned at the bottom of the article cited above, the fellow who maintains the Wikipedia article  on a subject related to this article refused to allow a link to our article from his. I didn’t want to clutter up the main article with the details of the exchange, but I saved them here because they are almost too good to be true. 

When I went to the article in the first place, he had only four “external links”:

  • A link to a slick commercial magazine’s web page.
  • A link to a list of Christian songs on a page that supports itself by advertising.
  • A link to a site that no longer exists, and
  • A link to a newspaper clipping about a band, posted on that band’s web page.

I point this out, because later on the editor told me that he could ONLY post links to articles that were non-commercial, and which were written by people who meet Wikipedia’s “notability criteria” as documented experts in their fields.

When  I requested an explanation for the article links being removed, he sent me a very vague response that was mostly cut-and-paste “boilerplate” from Wikipedia’s policy statements.  If the quotes he was sending me had anything to do with why he took down the link, he seemed to be implying that:

  • The article is a commercial advertisement - which you can tell it isn’t (unlike the link to a shiny magazine that is at the top of his list of links)
  • The article is just a blog - which you can tell it isn’t .

I’m now adding the complete text of the editor’s first and second comment, which I got at the same time and had deleted, in which he accused my link of being “advertising or promotional purposes, AND a “blog.” I didn’t save it originally, because I thought it was a misunderstanding on the “editor’s” part, but after his arguments got more and more strident, I went back to save it in the archive.


    Hello and welcome to Wikipedia. We appreciate encyclopedic contributions, but some of your recent contributions, such as your edit to the page Contemporary Christian music, seem to be advertising or for promotional purposes. Wikipedia does not allow advertising. For more information on this, see:

    • Policy on neutral point of view
    • Guideline on spam
    • Guideline on external links
    • Guideline on conflict of interest

    If you still have questions, there is a new contributor's help page, or you can write {{helpme}} below this message along with a question and someone will be along to answer it shortly. You may also find the following pages useful for a general introduction to Wikipedia:

    • The five pillars of Wikipedia
    • How to edit a page and how to develop articles
    • Help pages
    • Tutorial
    • Article wizard for creating new articles
    • Manual of Style

    I hope you enjoy editing Wikipedia! Please sign your name on talk pages using four tildes (~~~~); this will automatically produce your name and the date. Feel free to write a note on the bottom of my talk page if you want to get in touch with me. Again, welcome! Walter Görlitz (talk) 19:17, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

      You may also want to read the external links guidelines. In the Links normally to be avoided section it clearly lists "Links to blogs, personal web pages and most fansites, except those written by a recognized authority. (This exception for blogs, etc., controlled by recognized authorities is meant to be very limited; as a minimum standard, recognized authorities always meet Wikipedia's notability criteria for people.)". The blog is not from a recognized authority on Christian music. --öWalter Grlitz (talk) 19:19, 8 February 2012 (UTC)



So I replied with the following text, which he immediately moved off of the page where I posted it.

    Fred [not his real name],

    I see that you are a fellow Christian and a fellow Christian musician, although being 12 years younger than I, it's n
    ot likely that you lived through the early days of the "Jesus Movement" as I did. 

    As a longtime Web Site content developer, K-12 Textbook editor, English Professor, Bible teacher, Music teacher, professional writer, and a one-time "Jesus Musician," I've recently started a project ( to help disciple the 18-15-year olds I minister to regularly on issues of contemporary Christian living, especially in areas related to worship and Bible teaching.  Despite an ad here or there on the site to help pay a fraction of the site's expenses, you'd be hard-pressed to call it a commercial endeavor. (I pay the site's manifold expenses as a "write-off" from my professional consulting business.) 

    Because I grew up with people who hate Contemporary Christian music (and still run into them from time to time), I thought it would be nice to include articles that show some of the ways in which Biblical living, and Biblical worship through contemporary musical forms tie together. 

    To find links I could include from my pages, I went looking for any internet articles that provided insightful, balanced, detailed, and fact-based accounts of the history of Contemporary Christian music.  I didn't find any that fulfilled all of those qualifications.  Your Wikipedia summary IS useful, and is a good introduction, VERY appropriate for Wikipedia, but I wanted something that presented more details and presented them in a stronger narrative that showed the history of Christian music from the musician's perspective. 

    So I wrote a fact-based, detailed, well-organized article that included, not only the history of the industry, but also personal experiences as well as the experiences of friends who were either touring artists or industry professionals.

    You might be put off by a couple of paragraphs in first person, but if you've ever read Paul Baker's books, you'll find all the proof you need that it's an accurate history, even to the minor details.

    Or maybe you're put off by some of the "negative" statements about dark times in the history of Christian music.  But the sources you cite and books you recommend have sections that are FAR more negative.  Also, I carefully chose details that would get the point across without inspiring the reader to outrage on certain topics, as a fully-detailed account would have done.

    I've also "vetted" the article for content, balance, and tone by running it past former touring artists and Christian broadcasting professionals who lived through the same era. I have gotten nothing but enthusiastic response. 

    If you can find another Internet-published article (or ten) on the same subject that is as well written, organized, balanced, and fact-based as my article, please let me know.  I'd be VERY glad to link to them from my web site.  I'd also like to know why you don't link to those articles from the Wiki article?  If they exist, that is.

    Finally, I confess that I am at a loss as to why you consider my article either to be a "commercial advertisement" or a "personal blog" (both accusations came through the message to me, though it was largely "boilerplate," so I'm not sure which part was really yours).  I recognize that is is NOT a Wikipedia article, but it is a fact-based, detailed, and hopefully balanced article nonetheless, far more so than quite a few other article links I see on similar Wikipedia pages. It is not advertising any specific product, or even any commercial web site.  BTW, CCM magazine is commercial - they cost money to subscribe to and have LOADS of advertising.  Why do you have THEIR link, if you are seeking to avoid even the appearance of supportiing a commercial enterprise.

    Also, the article dos NOT contain unverifiable personal ramblings or rants, as a blog would.  (I publish blogs in other web sites so I know the difference.)

    Perhaps you object to the fact that I posted the link myself.  Would it be a better article if I asked an industry contact to post the link?  Or maybe you should read the article yourself and let me know specifically what you feel is unsuitable about it?

    If you've lost the link, it's at:

    Frankly, I'm hoping that as a fellow musician you find the article edifying, exhorting, and comforting.  And if you ARE aware of anything "wrong" with it on any level, please let me know, because I strive for professionalism.

    Sorry for the VERY long comment, and God bless,
    Paul Race

After a couple more exchanges, in which “Fred” kept sending me the same cut-and-paste boilerplate, I replied:

    Fred, I don't want to have an argument. Certainly not in public. Could you please just navigate to my article and use my Contact page to send me an e-mail? Thanks, Paul

So “Fred” replied, AGAIN on a public forum in Wikipedia:

    I don't usually communicate with editors outside of Wikipedia. The issue is simple though. You're not a recognized expert and so adding your page violates WP:ELNO.[my italics.]

So I replied to “Fred” in the same forum:

    You said: "The issue is simple though. You're not a recognized expert and so adding your page violates WP:ELNO. "

    So you're saying that you don't know any more about me than I do about you, so a balanced, fact-based, well-organized, professionally-written article that has been vetted by industry experts does not deserve a link from a page you edit.  You must have some supernatural way of divining that your qualifications to report on this topic tower over mine, or you would never have the nerve to make such an assumption. So I will let it go for now, as long as you don't mind me adding this exchange as a humorous footnote to the article. 

    Did I mention that my blog subscribers number in the thousands?  I'm sure they'll enjoy this story.  If you ever decide to write me back, please go to ANY of my web pages and use the contact page, as I have no stomach for arguments in a public forum. 

    God bless and help you both with your music and with your ongoing efforts to make the contents of YOUR page appropriate, balanced, and accurate - those are areas in which you have my complete support.



Of course, I knew all along that including or not including my link was entirely “Fred’s” decision.  How did I know that?  Because a number of OTHER Wikipedia articles already link to some of my other pages.  I made a point of not telling “Fred” that, for fear he’d go on a witch hunt and remove all of those links just to prove some sort of point.  “Fred” replied again, this time taking my attempt at humor completely out of context (somewhere he got the idea that I was making people read my blogs).

    The notability guidelines indicate who is and isn't notable. For WP:EL, (which is the same page as WP:ELNO) the guideline is that recognized authorities always meet Wikipedia's notability criteria for people. If you did, there would be a Paul Race article. There isn't, so you don't meet the notability criteria for people. If you were to create an article for yourself, it would be reviewed and rejected if you don't signify how you meet the notability guidelines. With that said, even if you were to somehow meet the guidelines and have an article created, you wouldn't be a recognized authority on this subject.
    Your blog may have thousands of followers, but that doesn't make you a recognized authority, particularly when there are potentially billions of readers. Also, particularly not when you have indicated that you have students who are required to follow your blog. It would be a better case if you were paid by [a reputable magazine] for your opinions and knowledge. Do you have a book on the subject published by a recognized publishing house (as opposed to self-published)?
    Again, while the content may be wonderful and informative, if it breaks Wikipedia's guidelines, it will be removed. If not by me, by another editor who won't even discuss it.

Considering that Fred is not exactly a world-renowned expert either, I couldn’t help looking him up in the “list of notables” before I responded.


    Please help me. I'm having trouble finding the  article that proves you are notable.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  This gets funnier and funnier, especially as you misread my notes and make up stuff I haven't said.  I DID mean what I said when I said have a great spring, and good luck with your own ministries.  God bless - Paul

Assuming I was too stupid to understand "Fred's" explanations, he sent me another one explaining all over again why he's an expert and I'm not, despite our relative qualifications or lack thereof.  Most of the content would make it too easy to identify “Fred,” so I’ve removed it, but he closed with:

    I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just applying the guidelines used on Wikipedia on the articles that I watch.

I didn't bother responding except to say “God bless, and keep up the good work.”

What else can I do?  After all, “Fred” has told me that he is not allowed to add an external link to an article unless it is A: non-commercial and B: written by a person who meet Wikipedia’s “notability criteria” as documented experts in their fields. The fact that none of his current links meet that criteria notwithstanding . . .

I DID consider publishing this exchange in one of my blogs and suggesting that anyone who thinks the article has merit “Edit” the external link section of the Wikipedia article and add the line:

*[ A Brief History of Contemporary Christian Music] Chronology, details, from the musicians’ point of view. 

If a different person did that every day, do you think “Fred” would get the point?   But that would probably make his head explode.  So I’ll let “Fred” stew in his own juices for the time being.

If you see this, “Fred,” I love ya, buddy - keep up the good work!  :-)

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