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Wikipedia hijinx

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday August 16, 2007 )

I love Wikipedia and made my first contribution to the online encyclopaedia yesterday. Lots of people and organizations add and edit Wikipedia entries – even folks at the CIA and Vatican it seems.

My edit isn’t about to set the Wikipedia community on fire or create any controversy. I was surprised to find while reading an article that some scamp had inserted a line of obscenities into the content that had nothing to do with the topic… it was rather explicit stuff and whomever they were referring to really needs to get to a doctor quickly :).

I’ve read hundreds of articles on Wikipedia and it was the first time I’d struck that sort of thing; so it was quite a shock. Editing an entry is incredibly quick and easy, so if you see someone has taken the liberty of exercising their vocabulary of four letter words out there, take a minute to make it family friendly again by clicking on the “edit this page” tab that accompanies each entry.

As mentioned, it appears that even people at the Central Intelligence Agency are Wikipedia editors according to WikiScanner.

Virgil Griffith, the person behind the application, grabbed Wikipedia’s IP records of people editing entries and matched them to various companies and organisations. WikiScanner is a searchable database of the results.

One of Virgil’s motivations for creating such an application was “To create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike”. He’s somewhat succeeded in his efforts and has stirred up quite a lot of buzz regarding what some of his targets have been up to.

For example, the people editing Wikipedia from the CIA have a wide range of interests – there’s everything from setting the record straight on Ontology, Potassium Chloride through to .. ahem.. the invasion of Iraq.

Just goes to show – anonymity on the Internet is somewhat of a myth. I can imagine the content of the memos flying around the CIA now :)


3 comments for Wikipedia hijinx
  1. Thank you so much for this informative.

    I believe that informing is still the great strenghth of the beast. Having someone of your ability filtering and informing is great stuff! I have found only a few sites and blogs online that inform well. Yours is an excellent source for me. a real home run business is my goal in the long run, but experience has already tought me that it requires a lot of research to establish any business.

    Getting reliable data from the net while trying to walk around all the, crooks/wide-boys who have found very sly and slimey ways to steal from Internet beginners. So thank you for the thoroughly good links, the sound and sensible information and especially thank you for the lack of hype. You do great work, and I appreciate it very much. Ern. Langmaid. Melbourne.Australia

    Comment by Ern — August 16, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

  2. Thanks for the very kind feedback Ern!

    Comment by Michael Bloch — August 17, 2007 @ 7:07 am

  3. looks like WikiScanner has also stirred the pot in the Australian government.

    Comment by Michael Bloch — August 23, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

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