This page is for discussing the contents of the Town Characters page.


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I should add that if any of these characters express that they don't want a page, they should be removed. —JoseBleckman

I would like to suggest the formation of a principle which provides the necessary and proper conditions for being a town character, I would like to suggest the traits of being a unique character that is identifiable, and that the person was in davis sufficiently to be remembered in the general memory, essentially that they can be named in a sense and people would have a vague idea of how one speaks. Alternatively we can go by the knowledge of William Lewis, who implicitly holds the determining factor of town character-ness by the fact of his knowledge of the individual or not. Amusing that some of these folk were unique, but now are not.. raises question to the meaning of former... anyway, enjoy. Oh and Will, get out more. ~D

  • Perhaps the category is too restricting. It seems like the result, currently, is either to show what an interesting and educated/intelligent individual (praise), or to show the oddities and sideshowesque nature of the category. I realize that it is a work in progress and the idea is to refine the information so that people will learn more about the "Characters" (which suggests a sideshow) Obviously respect and dignity should be the prime filter, and then possibly information and permission(no objection, no problem)
  • I'm just going to vote Keep all. We can deal with specific problems as they arise. —BrentLaabs

Jessica J. Jessica

While she probably wouldn't fit on this list, I humbly submit that Jessica J. Jessica (née Jessica L. Blickley, according to the observant Nick) should be noted somewhere on the wiki. She's a character (not a real person), but she did get written up in Egghead, and captures the lighter side of the research at the University. —JabberWokky

General discussion

Recently there has been some discussion in the Wiki Community about how pages for people listed on the Town Characters page should be handled. After some discussion a redirect to one person has been removed and all mention of that phrase has been erased. There is ongoing discussion about removing a page about another individual.

The Wiki Community needs to hash out this issue in a productive and respectful manner.

"Individuals who rise to collective awareness"

  • It doesn't seem that the discusion is here quite yet, but I'd like to hazard my opinion. I would feel rather uncumfortable being the subject of a Town Characters article, but at the same time, it is the right of the people as a whole to voice their own ideas. I would not be happy, however I would do as Joe Sherman has done and join in the discussion. I would not want it taken down. Now, maybe that's just me, I don't know, but it seems to me that it's the same thing as gossip. Should you tell stories about other people? Well, it may be rude, and you don't really want to do it to their face, but near everybody does. In short: Is it rude? Yeah, probably, and if someone demands their own page taken down it should be done. Should pages about people be created? Yes, and they should be kept mild and fair as they are now. -MasonMurray

2008-12-10 09:19:01   I can't imagine that the "smelliest man" is aware of his space on the town characters list, but I know that if I were this fellow, I wouldn't want my own page. I vote that we drop his listing for privacy reasons (: —Angel.York

  • To be fair, if even half the stories about him are true, then he probably doesn't care about, and may even revel in, his status here on the wiki and around town. —JoePomidor

2010-11-01 16:24:44   A couple of these descriptions specifically point out some mental and physical deficiency. The one that bothers me the most is Electric Trike Guy. This guy bothers noone-really is only on here because of his transportation. This could be very well be due to a physical disability that limits his walking. I think this is crude to spotlight someone because of this and request it be removed. —PeterBoulay

2010-11-01 17:34:26   Yeah, the Visor Lady page always bothered me like that and I think alot of it has to do with peoples specific experiences with those described in these pages. Most of the people who support the visor lady page seem to be ucd students of the typical age who feel entitled to some sort of explanation of why somebody unlike them is in "their" MU. —NickSchmalenberger

2011-05-15 09:31:48   Maybe we should delete all the "characters" who are not referred to by some form of their actual name. Theres a lot more to most people than their apparent attributes from a few encounters, and the name they call themself is a good place to start. If we don't even know somebody's name, maybe its not appropriate to talk about them like this here? —NickSchmalenberger Cowboy guy keeps to himself, and is clearly a town character... Just cause we don't know his name we should axe him from the list?

Yes, we should. Knowing what somebody calls themself should be the first thing to know about them. Isn't that why people wear name tags at conferences? Isn't that why people introduce themselves to each other by name? Its just polite, and the wiki is rude to not follow that. If the person has some sort of public status like a business or public office, and acts remarkably in that context, then it makes sense to describe that in context (like Joe Sherman's business and other dealings with the city and county). Just passing somebody on the street isn't such a context, because there is no means of introduction or relationship to the person for others to follow. —NickSchmalenberger

This issue has come up repeatedly, both in the general Town Characters context and for a variety of individuals. There's never been anything close to the sort of consensus needed to make a systematic change. Unless anyone wants to take the issue up again, deleting the talk page June 1. —TomGarberson

2011-08-11 03:40:37   Davis is not a cartoon show, and people shouldn't be portrayed on the wiki as caricatures with us being the cartoonists. Thats how it is when we make a page about somebody without at least having the name that they call themself first. —NickSchmalenberger

  • I agree. I find the whole page rather distasteful at the moment. It looks like the criteria for inclusion up until this point has been whether the community would take one look at the person and say "oh, what a weirdo." There also seems to be a heavy slant for including people who act or are homeless, while ignoring some of the more materially successful (but equally eccentric residents), which increases the stigma of being listed on the page. Furthermore, let's face it, the term "character" is inherently problematic. It's not usually very nice to go up to a stranger's face and say "you're quite the character", so why is it acceptable on the wiki —ScottMeehleib
  • I'm also not a fan of it. I guess I haven't really chimed in on this page, but I have on some of the individual people's pages. I suspect it's well enough established, though, that it's not really going anywhere. —TomGarberson
  • I have mixed feelings. I admit that I thought that Compassion Guy was homeless and a little loopy. Then it turned out he was a Stanford grad writing a book. I think it's cool that the Wiki highlights someone like him. Davis isn't a cartoon show, I agree. But it does have some quirky people in it. Some of those people value and embrace their quirkiness. Others are homeless with mental challenges. Thus, my mixed feelings about the page. —CovertProfessor
    • The only ones that bother me are the derogatory ones, e.g. smelliest man in the world. I agree that if people want to be a part of this or at least aren't bothered by it, there's no harm whatsoever. —tg
    • I don't know if it helps or hurts David's cause more to be highlighted on that page. Seems controversial to me. Anyway, since the criteria for being listed is so loose, I'll probably start adding local politicians. They're all pretty eccentric, but since they aren't as widely looked down upon, it should help provide much-needed balance. -SM

2011-08-11 11:27:47   As per a suggestion just phoned into me by another editor, I think the page should be renamed to People Commonly Noticed Around Town or Locally Recognizable People. Steve Davison has previously suggested "Local Personalities", which I'm leaning to now simply since it's less wordy. Something along those lines anyway. If nobody has strong opinions on what it should be, I'll probably just go ahead and make the change later today. —ScottMeehleib

I like this. I still think we should do away with the nicknames though, and give much more importance to putting the name that the person calls themself. -NickSchmalenberger

  • I agree. I would delete them myself, but I'm pretty sure my edit would be instantly reverted. Anyway, if put to a vote I'd support you in this. -SM

Maybe it's a bad reason, but you're proposing renaming one of the first 50 or so pages that was created on the wiki. Maybe Rob Roy made a mistake in creating this page with this name. However, the current name works and has worked. You have a huge standard to meet to change something that has remained the same for so long. —WilliamLewis

  • I can't really prove why it should be renamed other than it doesn't sit well with my conscience to leave it as it is. I find it fundamentally saddening that it was a page mainly about people, several disabled, called Town Characters. And a lot of people come to the page through Bizarro Davis. It just doesn't sit right... -SM

2011-08-11 17:49:13   I like keeping it as a page that is "who the heck is that person?" as opposed to prominent people. I say drop the city council members... —ScottLay

  • As it stands, a lot of these people are being singled out for what may be mental or physical disabilities. I want to turn it into a page of people who are recognized to reduce the stigma of what looks like a cyber-bullying page now. —ScottMeehleib
    • It looks like people are doing that right now: removing stigma. Asking questions about people who they are afraid to approach and learning about them from people who have talked to them or know them. Turning fear and ignorance into understanding. Taking nameless people who are avoided and sharing their names and what you know about them. The nicknames based on blatant characteristics seem to be naturally dropped when the person's real name is known, as they — with a couple exceptions that were compassionately changed — seem to be used for lack of anything else to refer to somebody as. Which is common when you don't know their name. Go and read back through the recent additions and watch for expanding compassion as people learn about the individuals they had been shunning out of fear because they were different. Stories of people trying to find care for strangers they are concerned about. What you see as cyber-bullying looks like healthy communication about neighbors to me. Now, it is quite similar to gossip, and I'll completely agree that it's uncomfortable on that front, talking about people who aren't present. But as the people are identified and more information is given, it is generally staying respectful and honest. -jw
      • Totally disagree. There are a few pages that show sensitivity, such as Hugging Guy. But a lot of is entertainment at other people's expense. -SM
  • Agreed. The original purpose of the page, and according to Paul Ivanov, one of the motivations for starting the daviswiki in the first place re: "Visor Lady," was to provide a space for answering the question "who is that person?" Also, nicknames such as "Visor Lady" or "Samurai Jogger Lady" are descriptive, and guide the reader to what they might be searching for. Aside from their general offensiveness, nicknames like "Crazy Joe" are useless to people who don't already know the person, and don't really belong. —cb
    • Where do you draw the line as far as identifying people primarily through appearance or accessory? Can we have a Big Nose Guy page? How about Wheelchair Guy? The original idea allows for a lot of insensitivity. Is that what we really want Davis to be known for? -SM
      • The Town Characters seem to consist of (a) Davisites who actively choose to dress, act, or sport items that are typically considered unusual, and and are no doubt aware of the attention they draw (e.g., Barnabus Truman or Brian Campbell), (b) people who attract attention because they appear to suffer from mental or physical abnormalities, (c) people with unique and noticeable jobs, and (d) people who choose to hang out at a specific location enough that they inspire curiosity. We agree that (b) is inappropriate, but I don't see a problem with the others. —cb
        • I think Joe Sherman falls under category b, yet I think it's still important to keep him on here. Would you agree? —wl
  • I agree with keeping it as "who the heck is that person?" City Council members don't really fit because you wouldn't recognize them unless you already knew who they were (and you'd go to the City Council page to find out more about them). "Town Characters" is more in line with that purpose than "Local Personalities," but I won't block consenus around renaming the page (though it seems like only Scott wants to?). —PhilipNeustrom

2011-08-11 18:02:50   I wish I was a Town Character. In a good way. —jsbmeb

2011-08-11 21:54:04   A lot of people are having a hard time understanding where I'm coming from... so I'll make it really simple. People have a right to privacy unless they are public figures or have given permission to be written about. Just hanging out a lot in public, as most of these people do, does not allow a person to be considered a public figure. For example, the guy who some of you refer as "Harmonica Guy" has a right to get up in the morning without having to deal with having pictures of him on the Internet along with a description that states that he looks similar to a hobo who has had a hard life. Maybe he cares... maybe he doesn't, but the point is, unless he has given explicit permission to be described in that way, he shouldn't have to deal with that intrusive BS. —ScottMeehleib

  • I see your point about privacy, and you're right, simply being in public does not make someone a public figure. There are (too) many people these days who think that it does, however. —cp
  • Yep. That's my "it's gossip" point. Which I think is valid — but is very different than your assertion that people are bullying or singling people out for any negative reason. I will ask again that you read the last few threads (from April of this year on) and see people asking about people, and sharing names, information, dispelling fears and otherwise talking with respect about individuals that some people found too intimidating to approach. Did you actually read through them before you said "totally disagree"? All I ask is that you examine what is, not what you fear it to be (or what it could become). -jw
    • I was probably too extreme when I said "totally disagree." When I'm upset I sometimes see people's intents mistakenly. Only the Smelliest Man and, in a way, Electric Trike Guy seem like true bullying after re-reading them now that I am more calm. But I still feel like other parts are inappropriate for the reasons I've mentioned in other parts of this talk page, for example respect of privacy, which I guess is what you mean by gossip. I do still believe that the list is also such that it still feels like "Town Weirdos" until you actually read each entry, which again, makes me feel like it's a bad name even if the entries themselves aren't all terrible. I don't like that categorization and I also don't like the way it falls under Bizarro Davis. I suppose you could look at in a positive mindset, that somehow the articles will awaken people to expanded empathy, but I guess I'm just not confident of that. I also agree with all of Nick's points. -SM

2011-08-11 21:59:48   And, you know what, ultimately, I'm not even going to take those entries down. I think they should be taken down, but I don't want to get involved in that battle. All I'm asking is for a name change and slight widening of the scope of the page to include all recognizable figures. And as I said, I would support Nick's idea if it came to a vote. That's all. I wasn't going to remove anything, and I have yet to hear a good reason why I shouldn't be able to incorporate my minor proposed changes. —ScottMeehleib

  • I'd be for including some, but not all, of present/past council members. That is, I think that some of them are more "town characters" than others, which is not to say that they were any less effective as councilmembers. But some past and present councilmembers are more colorful than others. A few people who ran unsuccessfully for CC also come to mind as town characters. —cp

If Stephen Souza and Bob Dunning don't merit inclusion here, I don't know who does. —wl

Yep. Sue Greenwald, Jon Li, and Rob Roy also come to mind. —cp

2011-08-12 03:15:44   When I lived on Haussler Drive, I would see Electric Trike Guy or his trike and I sometimes thought to myself, whats with that guy? I thought his cart was kind of silly looking. Eventually I realized these were mean thoughts and I'm just lucky to be able bodied. If being able bodied is just a matter of luck, then theres really nothing to say about people who aren't. Its self explanatory. Lots of people in town use electric wheel chairs too, and his looks a little different, but again so what? Maybe we should link the page from Unique Vehicles instead of this page, because thats really whats striking about it as the title somewhat indicates. The vehicle doesn't define him!

Also all of the controversy over names on google has made me think alot about the names here, and if somebody prefers some name even if its not their legal name, we should respect that. Descriptive nicknames make sense though for the preachers because there isn't one individual. —NickSchmalenberger

2011-08-12 10:39:04   I guess I can't get worked up over "Town Characters" vs "Local Personalities." It doesn't matter much to me either way. —CovertProfessor

I'm with CP on this one. "Town Characters" doesn't particularly bother me. Both it and Local Personalities could be given pejorative connotations if you choose to read them in, but neither is inherently derogatory. For me, it's the naming and content of some of the pages for the Characters or Personalities on the list that's troubling. —TomGarberson

  • Look at it this way: The name Local Personalities actually changes the way some of the entries come across. For example, if you look at the first couple edits of Tom Waltz, it started as a "midget cop" page. As time went by, as JW has highlighted, people started to add more details to the point that his stature was just one fact of several. But, IMO, it's still highly obvious under the heading of "town characters" that he was put in there because of his height. By widening the scope of the page to include public officials, people will see him more in his role as cop. Just like CP said, he wouldn't agree with every council member being considered a "character" because they aren't all colorful. By renaming and widening to Local Personalities, I'm trying to get away from people judging each other based on perceived differences but rather the impact they make on the town. - SM
    • Scott, I think you're arguing with the wrong people. One way of looking at what I'm saying is that if it gets changed to Local Personalities, I'm not going to care or revert or anything like that. But, as TG said, it's just not clear to me that there really is a different connotation to the two terms. Either can be looked at positively or negatively, depending on what you read in. As for widening the scope of the page, that is a different issue, and can be done regardless. Is Rochelle Swanson a "local personality" anymore than she is a "town character"? It's not clear to me that she is — not yet, anyway. She just hasn't been in the public eye long enough, or done anything notable enough, for that. But Sue Greenwald? Yes, definitely. Again, change or don't change the name of the page — I'm fine either way. —cp
      • Either way. I don't think either term is loaded in any way. -jw
      • Ok, thanks. :) It's fair to say that not everybody thinks that character has a negative connotation. I respect your opinion. -sm

2011-08-12 11:38:29   Ultimately, if I'm literally the only person who thinks that town characters has a negative connotation whereas local personalities does not, then I guess I don't really care what the page is called. —ScottMeehleib

2011-08-12 13:11:01   I see both the samurai jogger lady and the electric trike guy are gone. Both are my contributions. Victims of political correctness without an overriding consensus. Fine. Keep your white-bread page. —JimStewart

2011-08-12 19:04:51   Why was electric trike guy removed from the town characters page? —StevenDaubert

  • Makes me fucking sick to my stomach how that shit was deleted. People on electric trikes should be fucking documented. Common FUCKING SENSE people. Also, I got Tourette Syndrome and I spend plenty of time in Central Park making crazy-ass noises. Where's my fucking page? When do I get the credit I deserve?? -SM

2011-08-13 09:58:35   Character aka notable person. Too much PCness for "local personalities" and that will just end up offending someone else down the road.

Also when we meet someone who seems "extreme" or very "intense" for any reason, we refer to them as "quite the character" and that's what these people are; notable individuals for a specific aspect of their personality, not their entire personality. Notable because they almost seem like a fictional character. When the english language changes and we refer to them as "quite the personality" I'd say the change makes sense. Until then please stop finding offense at any term that's been in use for more than five years. —OliviaY

2011-08-13 10:03:55   Unless we want to call them "Townie NPCs" ala The Sims. I'd totally be down for that mwahahahaha. —OliviaY

2011-08-16 20:13:43   Is "For the past few years USA Network has held nationwide searches for local characters, from Iowa cheerleaders who can say anything backwards to the Naked Cowboy in New York. Similarly inspired, here's our own list of folks who add spice to Davis life." a good comparison? Wouldn't these people agree to be on TV? I don't think we can say that about some of the people on this page. —NickSchmalenberger