Author Philip Roth was unable to correct an error on the Wikipedia page for his novel The Human Stain because, while Wikipedia agrees “the author is the greatest authority on their own work,” they “require secondary sources.” To create this secondary source, Roth wrote an open letter explaining the error, and posted it on The New Yorker’s site.
A few hours later, the Wikipedia page for The Human Stain was updated to reflect Roth’s letter.
Roth was motivated in 2012 to explain the inspiration for the book after he noticed an error in the Wikipedia entry on The Human Stain. His efforts to correct the entry were thwarted by Wikipedia editors because he was told he did not have a secondary source for his inspiration. He was responding to claims, given prominence in this entry, by Michiko Kakutani and other critics that the book was inspired by the life of Anatole Broyard, a writer and New York Times literary critic. Roth has repeatedly said these opinions are false. In 2008 Roth explained that he had not learned about Broyard’s ancestry until “months and months after” starting to write the novel.