If you don’t recognize the name Belle Knox, you’ve still probably heard of her: “the Duke porn star,” a girl who was outed at her college as a porn star and who responded with an aggressive media blitz and a firm refusal to drop out, shut up, or in general be the tiniest bit apologetic about her work.
That being the sort of thing that upsets people, she was in the news for a while, and continues to be a presence on various TV and radio shows. She talks about sex worker rights and feminism, for obvious reasons, but also speaks on college affordability (pointing out that her porn career started as a way to pay for college).
Knox is outspoken, opinionated, and willing to trade on her celebrity to get her message out in a lot of places. She’s been in Rolling Stone, she’s been in Time, she’s been in Salon; she’s done dozens of interviews on TV and radio — and that’s all on top of a continuing porn career, which, unsurprisingly, seems to be doing pretty well.
You can find all that out (and trace the sources for it) in about five minutes with Google. Knox’s presence is real, sustained, and documented.
So why isn’t it on Wikipedia?
If you do that Googling, you will notice something missing: the inevitable Wikipedia page that always pops up in the first three or four results when you Google someone of even the most passing media presence. And that’s not because no one created one, back when Knox first hit the mainstream media; a “Belle Knox” Wikipedia entry existed as early as March 5, 2014. It was deleted later that month, and remains absent as of today (despite roughly 11,000 views of the dead link in the last 90 days, according to Wikipedia’s own tracking).
In a textbook illustration of Wikipedia’s flaws, a site admin approved deletion over a majority consensus that favored keeping the “Belle Knox” entry. The admin (male, with contributions primarily focused on military history and obscure 20th century warship trivia) based his decision on the, in his opinion, “stronger policy-grounded” arguments of the pro-deletion minority, citing by name another Wikipedia user (also male, with contributions primarily focused on the TV show Battlestar Galactica).
The two apparently agreed that Knox did not meet Wikipedia’s “one event” rule, which states that a person does not qualify for a Wikipedia page:
- If reliable sources cover the person only in the context of a single event.
- If that person otherwise remains, and is likely to remain, a low-profile individual. Biographies in these cases can give undue weight to the event and conflict with neutral point of view. In such cases, it is usually better to merge the information and redirect the person’s name to the event article.
- If the event is not significant or the individual’s role was either not substantial or not well documented.
(Note that Wikipedia recommends deletion only when each of those three conditions are met.)
It’s a fairly silly test in the first place, given that a lot of famous people (particularly the victims and/or perpetrators of single, famous crimes) fail. But Knox transparently passes the first bar, since reliable sources have covered multiple appearances of hers, ranging from strip club performances to interviews on CNN to adult video award ceremonies and conventions. She certainly shows no sign of remaining a low-profile individual, passing the second bar as well, and the ample documentation of the initial “outing” and response that sparked her fame passes the third.
And yet, because a couple of guys who like writing about battleships both real and fictional decided she wasn’t important, there’s still no Wikipedia page, even as Konx’s appearances and popularity continue.
There’s a feminist critique of history pointing out that “historical sources” aren’t perfect snapshot pictures of the time when they were written — and, in most cases, they were written by men with a vested interest in erasing women from any position of prominence, making them particularly unreliable where the achievements of women are concerned. Knox’s treatment on Wikipedia is good evidence that the problem is not purely a historical one.