See Who's Editing Wikipedia


hermanntrude
#1
On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company's machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.


In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.

Wikipedia Scanner-- the brainchild of Cal Tech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith -- offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses.

Inspired by news last year that Congress members' offices had been editing their own entries, Griffith says he got curious, and wanted to know whether big companies and other organizations were doing things in a similarly self-interested vein.

"Everything's better if you do it on a huge scale, and automate it," he says with a grin.

This database is possible thanks to a combination of Wikipedia policies and (mostly) publicly available information.

The online encyclopedia allows anyone to make edits, but keeps detailed logs of all these changes. Users who are logged in are tracked only by their user name, but anonymous changes leave a public record of their IP address.

The organization also allows downloads of the complete Wikipedia, including records of all these changes.

Griffith thus downloaded the entire encyclopedia, isolating the XML-based records of anonymous changes and IP addresses. He then correlated those IP addresses with public net-address lookup services such as ARIN, as well as private domain-name data provided by IP2Location.com.

The result: A database of 34.4 million edits, performed by 2.6 million organizations or individuals ranging from the CIA to Microsoft to Congressional offices, now linked to the edits they or someone at their organization's net address has made.

Some of this appears to be transparently self-interested, either adding positive, press release-like material to entries, or deleting whole swaths of critical material.

Voting-machine company Diebold provides a good example of the latter, with someone at the company's IP address apparently deleting long paragraphs detailing the security industry's concerns over the integrity of their voting machines, and information about the company's CEO's fund-raising for President Bush.

The text, deleted in November 2005, was quickly restored by another Wikipedia contributor, who advised the anonymous editor, "Please stop removing content from Wikipedia. It is considered vandalism."

A Diebold Election Systems spokesman said he'd look into the matter but could not comment by press time.

Wal-Mart has a series of relatively small changes in 2005 that that burnish the company's image on its own entry while often leaving criticism in, changing a line that its wages are less than other retail stores to a note that it pays nearly double the minimum wage, for example. Another leaves activist criticism on community impact intact, while citing a "definitive" study showing Wal-Mart raised the total number of jobs in a community.

As has been previously reported, politician's offices are heavy users of the system. Former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns' office, for example, apparently changed one critical paragraph headed "A controversial voice" to "A voice for farmers," with predictably image-friendly content following it.

Perhaps interestingly, many of the most apparently self-interested changes come from before 2006, when news of the Congressional offices' edits reached the headlines. This may indicate a growing sophistication with the workings of Wikipedia over time, or even the rise of corporate Wikipedia policies.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told Wired News he was aware of the new service, but needed time to experiment with it before commenting.

The vast majority of changes are fairly innocuous, however. Employees at the CIA's net address, for example, have been busy -- but with little that would indicate their place of apparent employment, or a particular bias.

One entry on "Black September in Jordan" contains wholesale additions, with specific details that read like a popular history book or an eyewitness' memoir.

Many more are simple copy edits, or additions to local town entries or school histories. One CIA entry deals with the details of lyrics sung in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode.

Griffith says he launched the project hoping to find scandals, particularly at obvious targets such as companies like Halliburton. But there's a more practical goal, too: By exposing the anonymous edits that companies such as drugs and big pharmaceutical companies make in entries that affect their businesses, it could help experts check up on the changes and make sure they're accurate, he says.

For now, he has just scratched the surface of the database of millions of entries. But he's putting it online so others can look too.

The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, did not respond to e-mail and telephone inquiries Monday.
 
lone wolf
#2
Anyone can make changes to entries in Wikipedia. I've corrected the spelling of a town close to here.

Wolf
 
hermanntrude
#3
yes, it's true that anyone can make changes. The interesting thing is WHO made WHAT changes and WHEN. The article suggests that a lot of the changes are a little on the suspicious side.
 
hermanntrude
#4
CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits



By Randall Mikkelsen Thu Aug 16, 6:43 PM ET


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People using CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.

The changes may violate Wikipedia's conflict-of-interest guidelines, a spokeswoman for the site said on Thursday.


The program, WikiScanner, was developed by Virgil Griffith of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and posted this month on a Web site that was quickly overwhelmed with searches.


The program allows users to track the source of computers used to make changes to the popular Internet encyclopedia where anyone can submit and edit entries.


WikiScanner revealed that CIA computers were used to edit an entry on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A graphic on casualties was edited to add that many figures were estimated and were not broken down by class.


Another entry on former CIA chief William Colby was edited by CIA computers to expand his career history and discuss the merits of a Vietnam War rural pacification program that he headed.
Aerial and satellite images of the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were removed using a computer traced to the FBI, WikiScanner showed.


CIA spokesman George Little said he could not confirm whether CIA computers were used in the changes, adding that "the agency always expects its computer systems to be used responsibly."
The FBI did not have an immediate response.


Computers at numerous other organizations and companies were found to have been involved in editing articles related to them.


Griffith said he developed WikiScanner "to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike (and) to see what 'interesting organizations' (which I am neutral towards) are up to."


It was not known whether changes were made by an official representative of an agency or company, Griffith said, but it was certain the change was made by someone with access to the organization's network.
It violates Wikipedia's neutrality guidelines for a person with close ties to an issue to contribute to an entry about it, said spokeswoman Sandy Ordonez of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia's parent organization.


However, she said, "Wikipedia is self-correcting," meaning misleading entries can be quickly revised by another editor. She said Wikimedia welcomed the WikiScanner.
 
s243a
#5
All, I can say as I hope the people from the CIA editing the wikia are doing it with the same objectivity as anyone else and not as some kind of government misinformation initiative.
 
gopher
#6
It's 1984 in reality.
 
s243a
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by gopher View Post

It's 1984 in reality.

So then you think the CIA has a department with the code names, "The minastry of information" and "The ministry of Truth".?
 
Dreadful Nonsense
#8
I've been editing wikipedia for years, now...there's all sorts of docness in there...i love playing with ideas....hell i got bumhair in severl recipes as a key ingriedient....
It's fun...i thought it was a site for trolls to play in
 
s243a
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by DocDred View Post

I've been editing wikipedia for years, now...there's all sorts of docness in there...i love playing with ideas....hell i got bumhair in severl recipes as a key ingriedient....
It's fun...i thought it was a site for trolls to play in

I'm scared now....What mischief have you been up to?
 
Tonington
#10
It's not really surprising, there's corporate deviance to be found in every facet of society. The use of democratic online encyclopedias to steer our current democracy....

It might even spur some interesting campaign promises by the politicos.
 
eh1eh
#11
This should certainly come as no surprise to anyone, even those cheery upbeat people who are always happy. The world is an evil place. Nice to see someone is adding some transparancy to the frauds being commited though.
 
Dreadful Nonsense
#12
soooooo all joking aside i really can edit stuff in wikipedia?
how so...??
god first Twila gives me you tube...now this.
CC is a gold mine....
do you have any idea what i could do in there...i could do stuff and posts links here...hell i'll turn ya'll into trolls..it's really quite fun ya know
 
Tonington
#13
Here you go Doc, this page kinda lays it out for you. You can make changes, but I wouldn't expect them to last long. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki
 
razorgrade
#14
I am not suprised.
 

Similar Threads

8
CAMERA and Wikipedia
by CDNBear | Mar 7th, 2010
5
Free video editing software??
by mabudon | May 21st, 2008
3
Video Editing
by GreenGreta | Oct 30th, 2006
11
War on Terror: Wikipedia Definition
by Jersay | Mar 20th, 2006