The hot new site of the week is this Wikipedia edit scanner, invented by Caltech graduate student Virgil Griffith, which searches the list of edits at Wikipedia and ties them to known IP addresses of groups and organizations.
No one can claim innocence on either side of the political spectrum when it comes to playing with Wikipedia entries. The online encyclopedia that anyone can edit sometimes suffers from that openness.
The debut of an automated Wikipedia edit tracker – Wikipedia Scanner – from CalTech grad student Virgil Griffith made it easier for people to see the connections between anonymous edits and the netblocks of IP addresses from which they originate.
Big organizations tend to own blocks of IP addresses to suit their Internet communication needs. It’s unlikely a random person would be using an address that is part of a netblock. That makes it easier to find out who has been playing fast and loose with Wikipedia entries.
Both Fox News and the New York Times have been caught being naughty with certain entries.
Reader W.R. writes:
I saw the story on LGF about the new app/database that allows the public to track back anonymous users of Wikipedia to their originating IP Address and then pair those to companies. I was curious if any ACLU employees were editing Wikipedia and found this little tid-bit:
ACLU Wikipedia Edits
Originating IP: 184.108.40.206
Date: 19 APR 2005 (19:29)
Article: Pope Benedict XVI
Added the words, “…such as molesting young boys and degrading women.”
Total Sentence: “Benedict was considered to be Pope John Paul II’s “right hand man” and also one of his closest friends, and during the Pope’s final illness, he carried out many of the Pope’s functions as leader of the Catholic Church, such as molesting young boys and degrading women.”
Thanks ACLU for this!
As for the NYTimes’ employees vandalizing the Wiki pages of George Bush and Tom DeLay, perhaps the Old Gray Lady’s staffers should spend less time slumming around Wikipedia and more time spell-checking their own paper.
More from the Guardian:
Workers operating on CIA computers have been spotted editing entries including the biography of former presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, while unnamed individuals inside the Vatican have worked on entries about Catholic saints – and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
Meanwhile, an anonymous surfer from Labour’s Millbank headquarters excised a section about Labour Students which referred to “careerist MPs” and criticisms that the party’s student movement was no longer seen as radical.
And somebody from a computer traced to Democrat HQ edited a page on conservative American radio host Rush Limbaugh, calling him “idiotic”, “ridiculous” and labelling his 20 million listeners as “legally retarded”.
But the biggest culprit that the Scanner claims to have discovered is Diebold, a supplier of voting machines, which it says has made huge alterations to entries about its involvement in the controversial “hanging chad” election in the US in 2000. The company was criticised in the wake of the disputed results, but edits made by its employees on Wikipedia have included the removal of 15 paragraphs detailing the allegations.