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Congress Made Wikipedia Changes

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the revisionist-history dept.

Politics 277

Dr Occult writes "BBC news is reporting misuse of Wikipedia by politicians for 'polishing' their images. The article on President Bush has been altered so many times - not just from within Congress - that Wikipedia's volunteer monitors have had to block further 'editing'." From the article: "Wikipedia says the controversy raises questions about whether it is ethical for those with a vested interest in the subject to edit entries about it. It said the Congressional computer network has been blocked from editing for brief periods on a number of occasions in the last six months due to the inappropriate contributions."

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GNAA (-1, Troll)

kaosjester (823409) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676365)

GNAA Announces Full Cybermilitary Support of the German Government GNAA Announces Full Cybermilitary Support of the German Government Mikhail Borovsky (GNAP) - Moscow, Russia - GNAA President timecop and Vice-President jesuitx held a press conference live via satellite from GNAA US HQ in Tarzana, CA where they announced full cybermilitary support of the German government following the German injunction against Wikipedia. From the German Wikipedia site at www.wikipedia.de, "Liebe Freunde Freien Wissens, durch eine vor dem Amtsgericht Berlin-Charlottenburg am 17. Januar 2006 erwirkte einstweilige Verfugung wurde dem Verein Wikimedia Deutschland - Gesellschaft zur Forderung Freien Wissens e.V. untersagt, von dieser Domain auf die deutschsprachige Ausgabe der freien Enzyklopadie Wikipedia (wikipedia.org) weiterzuleiten." This roughly translates as, "Dear friends and comrades, Wikipedia has been shut down as of January 17th, 2006 due to a court injunction by the government of Germany, due to extensive support by Wikipedia for the Jews and the state of Israel". This type of support was made illegal in Germany in 1939 by the Berlin Pact, signed by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany has announced that this injunction will not be lifted until Wikipedia stops supporting "Die Juden". "We also feel this injunction came in due time, as Wikipedia is being overrun by articles pertaining to non-notable blogs with completely useless information (or "blogs"), which are also illegal in the Great Republic of Germany. We are pleased to receive the support of the Gay Niggers, as they have already declared war on the blogs, and know how to defeat this communist ideal before it can become a threat to freedom," said Mrs. Merkel. About Germany "Bundesrepublik Deutschland" was founded before the middle ages by the Visigoths. The government was non-notable per above until the late 1930's, when Germany underwent an extremely positive and successful cultural revolution. Today, Germany is a beacon for free economy and a land without Jews. About GNAA: GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS. Are you GAY? Are you a NIGGER? Are you a GAY NIGGER? If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for! Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member. GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America and the World! You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

I had first post, but it was edited! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676367)

Damn politicians! I blame society!

Re:I had first post, but it was edited! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676429)

It's all that Seigenthaler's fault, if he hadn't assasinated Kennedy none of this would be happening.

The Venn Diagram of Statements (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676369)

Imagine a Venn Diagram with two overlapping circles. One circle is truth, the other is opinion and fiction. Now, any statement made by an individual fits in one of these two circles but is it in the overlapping area?

Wikipedia needs to decide whether it should accept those which fall in the middle overlapping area or reject them outright. It seems that for some issues Wikipedia allows the overlapping area (like String Theory [wikipedia.org] ) to remain as long as there is a footnote or notation that this is opinion, theoretical or possibly untrue. So perhaps they should make it clear that if a piece of information lies in the overlap, you need to state so or it will be deleted.

Many people put fogs over their past and history is hard to verify. For these people, their biographical entries in Wikipedia may need to be covered with disclaimers saying that very little is verifiable about their background because of the individual's actions and unclear testimonials from people surrounding them. It's a shame that the majority of these people are politicians ... but bad-mouthing politicians is all too easy so I'll leave that to someone else.

Since our political system is divided in a very childish way (two parties), I have always dreamed to see the day that the GPO releases two volumes one year after each president has left office. Each volume would be an account from either side of congress commenting on the actions of the president. The preface could be all public documents proving actions taken by the president while in his presidency. These two books could be made available very cheaply (as a type of public service) and the public could enjoy that for free ... say, why not do a webpage instead (even cheaper) and have Wikipedia send a liaison to Congress to record it?

Re:The Venn Diagram of Statements (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676423)

However, I'd say the proportion of truth represented by each cicle is often lopsided.

But you're right... having only two doesn't help us in the least.

Re:The Venn Diagram of Statements (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676475)

Wikipedia needs to decide whether it should accept those which fall in the middle overlapping area or reject them outright.
What's the value in passing the judgement?
I, for one, am interested in seeing the edit history of a political leader's entry. If it looks like the entry has had more plastic surgery than Liz Taylor, then that, itself, is an interesting data point.
Serve it up, and let the audience judge.
What about some kind of moderation, and a means of voluntarily selecting 'trusted' sources of moderation to apply? I might like a William F. Buckley, Jr. take on things one day, or CmdrTaco's take the next.
Half the time, 'who' is saying things is as important as 'what' was said.

Re:The Venn Diagram of Statements (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676489)

So, after all your long-winded pomposity -- your point is that it's hard to say what is objectively correct. Thanks for checking in!

Re:The Venn Diagram of Statements (1)

jdludlow (316515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676527)

Since our political system is divided in a very childish way (two parties)

The two parties may act like children, but that's not the same thing as the system being childish. There are plenty of parliamentary systems you could live under if you like a government where every crackpot has a voice. Personally, I like how the major parties filter out the lunatics.

Objective information? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676370)

Is there any genuinely objective information ANYWHERE in the world?

Re:Objective information? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676379)

Of course.
Slashdot.

Re:Objective information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676412)

Is there any genuinely objective information ANYWHERE in the world?

mu

Re:Objective information? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676435)

Anything that can be measured is objective. Basically, good science is objective. Of course, even in science, lots can be manipulated.

Come to think of it, math is likewise objective. Everything else has to be subjective since it is almost works by man.

Re:Objective information? (1)

tdvaughan (582870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676650)

But anything that is measured is measured by a person. And the measurement is subjective. What if you and I both measure the length of a table? We might both do the same measurement, but what if I have a defect in my brain that makes 9s look like 5s? So while there might be objective facts, they all get filtered through our subjective brains.

Re:Objective information? (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676462)

Is there any genuinely objective information ANYWHERE in the world?
There certainly is, it just doesn't make for an interesting read - eg, the telephone directory.

Re:Objective information? (1)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676473)

"In mathematics only shall you find truth."

Re:Objective information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676526)

This is irrelevant. This article is not about changes made to articles out of opinion, but changes to articles made for political purposes. Facts deleted and lies added in order to change public opinion for political purposes. This has absolutley nothing to do with authors trying simply to give their opinion or who have a different side. These are campaigns of intentional disinformation.

Re:Objective information? (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676577)

BINGO.

"Wikipedia says the controversy raises questions about whether it is ethical for those with a vested interest in the subject to edit entries about it. "

My problem is with the term vested interest. The classification itself is pretty damn subjective.

How do you define the term? Are you ready to categorically conclude that someone editing a Congressman's bio page (for example) MUST be biased and incapable of objectivity if they work in a congressional office for one party or the other? Or (more shaky, in my opinion) are you simultaneously going to conclude that people WITHOUT formal affiliations are therefore entirely objective and editing altruistically? What if they actually donated $50 million to moveon.org or financed the publication of the Swift Boat book during the last campaign? Are they presumed to be objective? Or is objectivity defined in practical terms inveresely to how candid they are about their background?

Really, it becomes a "who watches the watchers" question, with infinite iterations.

Re:Objective information? (2, Informative)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676620)

5 entries found for vested interest.
(n)
      1. Law. A right or title, as to present or future possession of an estate, that can be conveyed to another.
      2. A fixed right granted to an employee under a pension plan.
      3. A special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to one's own personal advantage.
      4. vested interests: Those groups that seek to maintain or control an existing system or activity from which they derive private benefit.


Anyways, regardless of whether or not information is as objective as humanly possible, we all have our own biases and prejudices that we will unconsciously apply to the message, thus subverting its objectivity. The best we can hope for is to maintain the illusion of objectivity.

Re:Objective information? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676613)

I think this question, while not precisely answerable, is worth a bit of thought.

The dictionary definition is somewhat less useful than what one might wish it to be. I believe what people are reaching for when they use "information" in this kind of context is this: that which makes us better informed. By informed I mean prepared to make decisions.

Armed with this, I'd say that "Is there any genuinely objective information?" is not the right question. The question should be, "Is there complete data needed to answer this particular question?" Leaving aside attempts to present data in a biased way, which is a form of hiding data, for practical purposes objective information is simply complete data. However in many complex questions, like "Should I vote for Marty Meehan?", it's not possible to have all the data. Perfect information is like absolute zero -- a benchmark you can approach asymptotically and for practical purposes reach, but never truly reach.

What tends to be most helpful is to have data which throws light on the question from different angles. For example, if you know that Alice is twenty years old, and Bob is fifty years old, you have sufficient data to know who will collect social security first. But you don't have sufficient to know who you'd rather have driving your children's bus; in absence of further data you might tend to choose Bob because older people are more responsible. However, if you found out that Bob was a drunk who never held a job for more than six months, and Alice was a Mormon teetotaller on the Olympic ski team, you might revise your decision.

Attempts to misinform people fall into two cateogries: asserting false data, and hiding true data. Everyone understands asserting false data is a lie. What is less well understood is that hiding relevant data is a lie, and hiding relevant metadata is a lie as well.

Understanding context is critical in being informed, and sophisticated liars manipulate your perception of context by hiding relevant facts, then they cover their tracks by hiding metadata. The reason that politicians mucking with Wikipedia is unethical is not that they are necessarily telling falsehoods; it's that they're sanitizing the data of anything which puts them in a bad light, and hiding the metadata that what you are looking at was prepared by the person being described.

I love the Wikipedia: it's far more useful than we have any right to expect. However, I've often felt what was missing is a kind of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval -- or rather, the ability for independent reviewers to create their own Seals of Approval. When you looked at an article, you'd see a list of review authorities who blessed this version, as well as a list of authorities that have blessed alternate versions. If this were available, there'd be no reason to stop the White House from editing the President Bush bio; however when looking at the edited version I could see that there alternative versions blessed by the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Party, and the Socialist Worker's Party. Or when looking at a different version, I could see the one blessed by the RNC.

This scheme would provide critical metadata when evaluating an article. Individual authorities could establish a brand based on the review process, whether it's a society of American Historical Seal of Approval on the Andrew Jackson article, or the Christian Coalition's Seal of Approval on an article about the Roman Catholic Church.

duh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676371)

There is no objective information.

Any liberal arts major can tell you that.

Leave it to some cubicle dwelling robots to think there is some "absolute truths" out there.

Re:duh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676381)

There is no objective information.

Any liberal arts major can tell you that.


And that's why they're not scientists.

Re:duh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676488)

Any liberal arts major can tell you that.
Yep...just ask them when they're handing you the fries...

Re:duh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676591)

Yep...just ask them when they're handing you the fries...

Or you could ask them in the court room when they are representing somebody sueing you.

Or you could ask when they tell you they've decided to lay you off and outsource your job.

It's funny but I tend to hear a lot more techies whining about unemployment and outsourcing than any well rounded people who know how to write and argue points (no, flaming someone about scripting languages on slashdot doesn't count) and actually have well developed social skills.

Seriously, it's more likely the fry guy has a Phd in CS but his job got outsourced to India than someone with an MA in philosophy.

Telling what is true and what's not (1)

jimsteri (888700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676373)

Using your common sence is a good bet, but because some information might sound real and be false. It is a good idea to check that information from secondary source too.

Re:Telling what is true and what's not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676486)

Using the dictionary is another good bet!

Re:Telling what is true and what's not (1)

thesaintar (865954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676561)

Your common sense is best used well written

How about... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676375)

Ask Slashdot?

True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676376)

I have myself made some small political motivated, but true and relevant, indications in the norwegian wikipedia.

all writing is... (2, Interesting)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676377)

politically motivated. History is written by the victors. Wikipedia just gets the scrutinization because it is in the spot light.

Re:all writing is... (3, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676425)

But in this case, history is being written by both victors and vanquished. As it turns out, both sides are just as likely to portray each other in a negative, less than truthful light.

Re:all writing is... (1)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676509)

to a certain extent I agree... but I also think that there is currently no victors and that what we are seeing is an attempt to become such. Information equals power today and a battle is looming on who controls it.

I knew it! (1)

RedSteve (690399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676520)

I knew those Harlequin Novels were a political statement!

Re:all writing is... (1)

hahiss (696716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676529)

So what's your political motivation for this post?

Too bad... (0, Redundant)

John Paul Jones (151355) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676383)

...our elected leaders insist on behaving like 10-year-olds, and shame on those that let them.

DUPE DUPE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676386)

Dupity dupe. A search for "Wikipedia" on Slashdot revealed it to be the first article after this one.

Wikipedia Entries 'Cleaned' By Political Staffers [slashdot.org]

Shouldn't that be (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676400)

Oompa-Loompa-Dupity-Dupe?

Re:DUPE DUPE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676546)

It's a good thing you took the time to do a search when that article was the 2nd link in the "Related Stories" section under the summary...

Statistics (1)

wongn (777209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676387)

They really need to update their information and sources; I realise that they're probably looking at stock information or old press releases, but it doesn't take much to take:
Wikipedia was founded in 2001 and has since grown to more than 1.8 million articles in 200 languages. Some 800,000 entries are in English.
And instead have:
Wikipedia was founded in 2001 and has since grown to more than 3 million articles in 200 languages. Some 950,000 entries are in English.
It may be a small difference, but you'd expect the BBC to be able to get that right :s

Re:Statistics (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676396)

maybe they did get it right but then it got "edited."

Politicians (4, Funny)

antic (29198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676388)

Ahhh, politicians. Can't live with them, can't legally hack them apart with a cleaver and create interesting patterns with segments of their intestines...

Re:Politicians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676503)

Actually, you can.

Just not the politicians you are currently living under. Just recently, it would have been quite legal for an American to have blown Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq, into lots of interesting shapes. In fact they did that to his sons.

And I'm sure that if you were Iranian, the Iranians would not prosecute you for blowing Bush up.

Re:Politicians (2, Insightful)

mmichaels (950922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676584)

Everyone complains about how the internet should be a place of freedom with little or no regulation. Everyone wants government to stay out of it and let people be free to publish and write what they want. Unless, I guess, the free person happens to be a member of the government you might despise. From what I can tell, the govt officials made no attempt to hide or mask their point of origin. Wiki puts out information about people's bios, and invites any old regular Joe to make changes to it. But we are outraged when the person himself or people who actually know the person are the ones making the changes. Their format also leaves them open for posters with limited knowledge or malicious intent. So should we have congress pass a law regulating who can go to sites like this and make changes? Is that what we want? I just went to Wikipedia. I brought up Apollo 13. I could have added myself to the backup crew for the mission. We are so quick to condemn government as the source of all that is wrong with everything. Wiki has chosen a format that allows information to be read and updated by just about anyone who visits. Maybe THEY should be blamed for the way they gather and publish research?

Block 'em all. (4, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676390)

"It said the Congressional computer network has been blocked from editing for brief periods on a number of occasions in the last six months due to the inappropriate contributions."

Why not block ALL of *.gov, permanently? Perhaps with exceptions for certain scientific sites (e.g. nasa.gov, any "national laboratories", etc.)

Re:Block 'em all. (2, Informative)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676612)

Perhaps with exceptions for certain scientific sites (e.g. nasa.gov, any "national laboratories", etc.)

Keep in mind that Wiki has a policy against original research [wikipedia.org] that hasn't been published elsewhere. Which is not to say that they couldn't contribute, but just that it would have to be done carefully:

The role of expert editors

"No original research" does not mean that experts on a specific topic cannot contribute to Wikipedia. On the contrary, Wikipedia welcomes experts. We assume, however, that someone is an expert not only because of their personal and direct knowledge of a topic, but because of their knowledge of published sources on a topic. This policy prohibits expert editors from drawing on their personal and direct knowledge if such knowledge is unverifiable. If an expert editor has published the results of his or her research elsewhere, in a reputable publication, the editor can cite that source while writing in the third person and complying with our NPOV policy. They must cite publications, and may not use their unpublished knowledge as a source of information (which would be impossible to verify).

Otherwise, we hope expert editors will draw on their knowledge of other published sources to enrich our articles. However, such experts do not occupy a privileged position within Wikipedia.

Re:Block 'em all. (2, Interesting)

BeardsmoreA (951706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676647)

Because in the real world they could just go home and do it from there, or use their smartphone to make the edits, or... etc. Slashdotters are always flaming government for trying to apply legal band aids to technical problems (e.g. your quaint yankee DMCA), but sometimes you have to accept that there aren't technical solutions to social problems.

I personally think Wikipedia does accept that, and that's why it (more or less, with obvious noisily reported exceptions) works. Most people, most of the time, act pretty sensibly, and now and then when someone doesn't, you just have to hope that the rest of the population can outweigh them.

implement a mod system (3, Interesting)

brenddie (897982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676401)

Maybe some kind of /. mod system can be used to aprove edits.
The edit wont be added until some score is reached. If the edit is declined then you can extract keywords from that edit and use them to lower the score for future similar edits automaticly ala lame filter.

Re:implement a mod system (0, Offtopic)

didit (820432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676563)

I can't wait for wikipedia to reach the quality of /. I'm sure wikipedia would no longer list "Slashdot dupe" as "Slashdot subculture" but rather as "Slashdot features".

Re:implement a mod system (1)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676680)

Score: -1, Congress

Not just wikipedia (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676403)

The war in Iraq is about WMD.
The war in Iraq is a part of the global war against terror, it was never about WMD.
The war in Iraq is about liberating its people, it is about democracy and nothing to do with terrorism.


We salute revisionist government and it's retro-active position on history.

Re:Not just wikipedia (5, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676432)

We salute revisionist government and it's retro-active position on history.

What is the past? It does not exist, in any physical sense. It is only what people remember, and what the records show. But memories are pliable, people are prone to forgetfulness and false recollection, and of course the records show what we want them to show.

Really, it's quite a simple system. You don't seem to understand. History is never rewritten, because once rewritten it always was that way - unless you believe, rather unscientifically, in a past world that somehow exists in 'reality', independent of the evidence in the present.

Perhaps you could use a little time in the Ministry of Love? They're very good at educating people to understand this kind of thing.

Re:Not just wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676594)

Perhaps you could use a little time in the Ministry of Love? They're very good at educating people to understand this kind of thing.
Please allow me to recommend a book. [amazon.com]

Common Sense, please (5, Interesting)

dlc3007 (570880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676404)

1) always double-check everything. I know that this has been stated before in every discussion concerning Wikipedia, but it is worth repeating. 2) The formula for accuracy that has always existed for Wikipedia still applies. The more people looking at an entry, the better the chance for false statements to be identified as such and corrected. 3) Vandals will always exist -- whether they are 12 year-olds getting giggles or Congressional staffers applying spin. The difference is that they will get bored and leave while people who care about Wikipedia will stay. If anyone thinks that this is a Wikipedia issue, you should go back and read yesterday's story about censorship on NASA's website.

Additional resource (3, Informative)

dlc3007 (570880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676426)

The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] also has an article on this

Some day, I'll remember to put the break tags in my first posting of the day. /yawn

Re:Common Sense, please (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676495)

There is a constant factor in both these stories though.

Penny-Arcade (1)

Hieremias (718708) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676405)

Interestingly, Penny-Arcade is now slashdotted. Just wait for the flood of posts linking to the cartoon they did on Wikipedia (Skeletor editing He-Man's article).

Re:Penny-Arcade (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676521)

Stop trolling and get a life man!

In Related News (2, Funny)

Artie_Effim (700781) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676407)

The popular Internert site slashdot.org has entered a time slipstream which deters the site from posting news less than 7 days old. CmdrTaco is quoted as saying "haha, that is the best depection of the Prophet that I've ever seen. Let's hope it doesn't cause a row !"

Not just Congress (2, Funny)

cj7wilson (940286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676433)

Read on Wikipedia: CowboyNeal is the online nickname ("handle") on Slashdot [slashdot.org] and other websites [slashdot.org] of Slashdot editor Jon Pater. His handle was inspired by a Grateful Dead [slashdot.org] tribute to Neal Cassady [slashdot.org] in their song, That's It for The Other One, the lyrics of which run:
Skippin' through the lily fields I came across an empty space,
It trembled and exploded, left a bus stop in its place.
The bus came by and I got on, that's when it all began,
There was Cowboy Neal behind the wheel of a bus to never never land.

He is best known as the target of the usual comic option on Slashdot's poll.^H^H^H^H^H^H for his promise to serve only two terms as a Slashdot Editor ^H^H^H^H^H^H for his boyish good looks and many acts of selfless kindness to hungry children throughout the world.

Effective Blocks and Countermeasures (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676434)

Well we all know that congress critters only use the internet at the office right? I mean none of them use their inflated salaries to have internet access at home, or any number of wireless internet doodads. I think blocking government networks will be incredibly effective.

The only thing this will change is whether or not they can do it from work. Why not just slap big warnings on the wiki pages that seem to be having this problem? So everyone surfing to that page to get info about their favorite congress critter will have a bright red warning slapped on there showing them what has been going on.

You can't really fix the problem effectively, but you can sure make it known to everyone visiting that they are viewing a problem page.

Re:Effective Blocks and Countermeasures (1)

LordBodak (561365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676532)

Well, outside the discussion about whether or not they should be doing the edits, there is the fact that we are paying their salaries for them to go to Washington and do a job for us (which they rarely do anyhow), not to sit in their offices and edit Wikipedia articles.

It's not misuse. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676436)

It's par for the course in any controversial article. It's standard operating procedure. People on both sides try to apply "spin."

For any particular article, one hopes that there are a reasonable number of members of the Wikipedian community that have the article on their watchlist, and that genuinely agree with WIkipedia's policies on verifiability, source citation, and neutrality to keep things under control. One also hopes that the spinners have enough respect for Wikipedia's policy to understand that they need to cite sources instead of edit warring. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and for any controversial article there's a significantly nonzero probability that at the moment you look at it, it has something in it that was inserted by a "point-of-view pusher."

Actually, I've contacted public relations offices of corporations, etc. with questions for articles I'm working on. As a matter of courtesy I always give the URL of the article I'm working on, and I always mention that they can edit the article themselves. I've always been a little surprised that they haven't attempted to take advantage of that, whether fairly or unfairly.

I don't really know whether WIkipedia "works." I do know if it can't tolerate (and neutralize) a little "spin" by congressional staffers, it can't work at all.

As Wikipedia becomes more and more useful to the public, I do worry about what I see as a discrepancy between what Wikipedia is and what the public thinks it is.

Entry on Bush (1, Interesting)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676438)

The article on President Bush has been altered so many times - not just from within Congress - that Wikipedia's volunteer monitors have had to block further 'editing'.

But this is the guy who alters and retroactively 'edits' his statements and claims every other day(Osama was responsible for 911 => Saddam was responsible for 911 => Saddam has WMD => Ok, he didn't have WMD, but he was a dangerous guy => Ok Saddam is gone but oh, this country needs our presence )!!! *Ofcourse* his entry had to be altered all the time to take this into accomodation. :)

I think Wikipedia monitors should reconsider this one!

Else how will we keep track after another 10 years of, what US is doing trying to wipe out the Kangaroos and how exactly they were directly responsible for 911 ? :p

kangeroo conspiracy (1)

bxbaser (252102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676536)

Little known fact.
Kangeroo skin preparing in a bath of trioxygenated liquid polymer and preparing in a argon,nitrogen vacuum chamber will block 99.999 percent of mind reading,altering radio waves.
The goverment doesnt want you to know this information.

only the misinformed use aluminium foil hats.

Kangaroo danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676571)

Kangaroos [funnymail.com] are a threat.

Re:Entry on Bush (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676605)

In fact Bush never said anything about Sadam being connected to 9/11, and has many times said it was not the case.
What is really interesting is the various survys where they asked the US population about it, the majority of people who do believe this do not classify themselves as Republicans. Also the surveys number of people that believed this increase as 'fahrenheit 911' gained in popularity, and it was not into Feb/Mar of 2005 when it decreased back to previous numbers.

Re:Entry on Bush (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676627)

Well, keep in mind that Wikipedia does keep the history of articles. You can even see the changes from one revision to the next and who (screenname or IP) made those changes. Sure, you can't always stop the trolls, but you can see what they're doing and revert their changes at least.

I would say a very critical need for Wikipedia is the need for all the important subjects to be "watched" (ie subscribed) by a few good NPOV [wikipedia.org] Wikipedians.

Don't act suprised. (0, Troll)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676442)

Don't act suprised. This is the same government that thinks that Video News Releases and staged "town hall meetings" which are actually just long Republican infomercians are a part of a healthy democracy.

Frankly, the more the world watches, the more the US resembles some third world soviet banana republic.

Block their IPs won't stop them. (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676444)

It was the US Navy that came up with an anonymizing-proxy system so they (and presumably their best patrons) could frequent any website without detection.

(BTW that proxy system is now open-sourced as the 'tor' project.)

Wikifidlers (2, Interesting)

JamieKitson (757690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676450)

Do you think "fidler" is becoming the defacto term for describing people who edit wikis? And is this all the fault of the register?

Warning signs: (5, Funny)

jettoki (894493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676453)

How do you tell the propaganda from the objective information?

Simple! Just use this handy checklist!

1.) Adjectives such as 'moderate', 'vocal', and 'punctual' are generally safe and objective. Adjectives such as 'mind-blowing', 'god-like', or 'sexilicious' probably deserve further research.
2.) Allegations of embezzlement or abuse of public trust are typically more credible than allegations of bestiality or autoerotic asphyxiation.
3.) You may safely ignore photographs which seem to depict interaction between the politician in question and any the following historical personas: Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, or Charles Manson.
4.) Treat any debate over penis size with a healthy amount of skepticism.

How come no one has noticed... (0, Offtopic)

g051051 (71145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676458)

That this is a dupe [slashdot.org] ?

Re:How come no one has noticed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676534)

Because that comment was on politicians in general. This one allows another attack on President Bush.

Re:How come no one has noticed... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676625)

That this is a dupe?

Last time around, it was a bit of a geek niche thing. Now it's being reported on by the mainstream. Surely that's worthy of note?

Re:How come no one has noticed... (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676654)

You must be new here!

Really. whats the big deal ??? (3, Insightful)

gorim (700913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676468)

I thought Wikipedia was designed to handle this sort of thing ?

Doesn't everyone who creates and edits articles have a vested interest ? Else why would they be spending time to do it ?

Lots of articles get "spinned" by non-politicians too, whether it is about politics or something else.

I wonder how many spins comes from .edu addresses ? Probably way more than from .gov addresses.

Re:Really. whats the big deal ??? (1)

endrue (927487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676599)

I think "spun" is the word you are searching for...

Re:Really. whats the big deal ??? (2, Insightful)

apt142 (574425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676663)

The difference between spinning a non-political article and a political one is very significant.

Our political process relies on the percieved integrity of the individual in whom we place our confidence. There is a lot more at stake than a bad review or a misinterpretation of facts as these people are involved in the process of making and passing laws in the US.

And as for the big deal, well wikipedia is designed to handle these cases where differences of opinion on the facts show up. But with a political issue its much more likely that the differences will be exaggerated and fought over much like any other political issue out there. Wikipedia will be caught in the middle. How they react to it and handle it will be of strong interest to anyone who places any faith in their site.

Re:Really. whats the big deal ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676712)

The biggest problem Wikipedia has is topic bias. For some reason, it's database is full of every Trekkie / LoR / Anime fanboi dump that ever appeared on the Internet. When your encylopedia's entry for the Battle of Mordoor has more information than the entry for the Battle of the Bulge, it's time to start chopping topics.

The bottom line is that most congressmen are unimportant and don't deserve any sort of substantial entry in an encylopedia

Well damn (1)

post.scriptum (953120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676469)

I mean, that's the point of Wikipedia "anybody" can modify an article. But if people are too immature to modify something, I mean they're just taking everybody using Wikipedia as morons.

Bush article isn't completely blocked (2, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676470)

The Bush article isn't blocked from all editing, just that by anonymous and new users, due to the rampant anonymous vandalism and people with too much time on their hands who create dozens of accounts just to vandalize that article. For anonymous newbies, the Bush article is equivalent to Wikipedia's "Sandbox" for test editing.

Re:Bush article isn't completely blocked (2, Informative)

wongn (777209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676554)

Yes, I thought that the article took the Bush article's Protection out of context here. It was protected because it gets vandalised lots, not necessarily because of POV attacks by congressional staffers.

Multiple versions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676505)

Why not just keep multiple copies of the entries, allow users to rate them and comment on them, and let users get all the information rather whoevers last edit.

Re:Multiple versions? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676601)

That's what the "History" tab is for. No information is ever discarded (unless exlpicitly deleted by staff). You can even select any two versions and it will compare them side-by-side, highlighting what is different.

It's actually pretty interesting to see the kinds of changes some people make, and how small changes really effect the meaning of the article.
=Smidge=

Why on Earth would they want to change it? (1, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676516)

It's not like the Politicians have anything to hide?

Opposing viewpoint (1)

tweek (18111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676519)

I know that Wikipedia tags contested entries and that anyone can track edits but maybe there needs to be an additional level or subentry for two view points.

Take G.W. for instance:

Main entry
Name
Title
Education
Previous Political positions

Now the above are things that are simply fact. For a detailed bio section, link to two sub entries that considered "opinionated".

I just don't understand why people find it SO fucking hard to state things with an unbiased view. I understand the little word play that people try and spin. I don't like this President but is it so hard to say:

"Signed ${BILL} into law on ${DATE}"

instead of

"Gave ${FOOBAR} by signing ${BILL}"
or
"Took away ${FOOBAR} by signing ${BILL}"

It's really not that hard.

Re:Opposing viewpoint (1)

Itanshi (861931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676576)

i like having a second section as it would spread the battle out a bit and make it easier to manage, but all opinion is bias. When the opinion is held by a fewer number of people the bias is stronger. Its hard because its terribly hard to please everyone especially with such 'vested interests'. Its also hard getting and dealing with the facts. the discussions help, but not everyone can be so mangageable as i have witnessed them to be there. so many variables and influences; we hope it fixes itself as anything more threatens how wikipedia functions as per its tradition.

Those with a vested interest (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676550)

Wikipedia says the controversy raises questions about whether it is ethical for those with a vested interest in the subject to edit entries about it.

Some WikiPedia proponents say that the strength of WikiPedia comes from those who are knowledgeable about a subject, editing and contributing to articles on that subject.

Where does "knowledgeable about" end, and "vested interest" begin?

An interesting experiement... (4, Insightful)

ursabear (818651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676573)

I believe that the Wikipedia is many things (most of them wonderful) - but is not a tome of absolute fact.

Wikipedia is a fabulous experiment in humanity and social interaction. It is without a doubt one of the most interesting things I've come across since I began using the Internet. I like looking things up in Wikipedia for two distinct reasons: 1) There is a huge body of knowledge out there in the minds of the world; 2) I enjoy reading the history of the given bits of information I read. It is particularly telling when one reads topics that are controversial or contemporarily historic. Many people, many opinions, many slants/spins on what is real and what is not.

Throw into the mix a sprinkling of morons, vandals, gleeful miscreants, politicians, PR people, and the ignorant, and you get a fabulous view of the brilliantly bizarre view of the public itself.

Don't take Wikipedia (and its contents) as fact. Take it as a social experiment. The views on the Bush administration in the public forums is extremely similar to the view of the Bush administration in Wikipedia.

No. (1, Insightful)

millennial (830897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676579)

... The controversy raises questions about whether it is ethical for those with a vested interest in the subject to edit entries about it.

Let me tell you: No, it is not. It is not ethical for people to censor and edit their lives. It is ethical for them to try to live a life that doesn't need censoring. It does nothing but further prove the serious ethical problems that permeate the Congress.

Those who make history should not be the ones who write it, or they'll put themselves in a favorable light.

Re:No. (1)

ndogg (158021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676717)

It is ethical for them to try to live a life that doesn't need censoring.
You must lead quite the boring life.

Wikipedia at SCALE 4x (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676589)

Wikipedia will have a booth at SCALE 4x this weekend
http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/ [socallinuxexpo.org]

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson (2, Insightful)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676590)

"All history becomes subjective; in other words there is properly no history, only biography."

Sounds like a normal turn of events to me.

Everyone has vested interest. (1)

AllergicToMilk (653529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676595)

Given the nature of the subjects, it seems to me that everyone has a vested interest. Civil and Geopolitical politics is that way. Who, exactly, would you trust to write the wiki for G.W.? Given partisan politics, for every person you name, there is a bunch of people who distrusts that person. Now extend that question to any politician.

Wiki-Washing by the White House! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14676651)

It had to happen, sooner or later. But I'm real glad to see that somebody's watching for this, and that the folks at wiki take steps to block the activity. It's very sad that you can't have a communal resource that others don't mark up for their own self-indulgent purposes. I was going to compare it to gang taggers, but then realized that it might merely be another manifestation of the Tragedy of the Commons.

Freedom? (1)

jpsowin (325530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676659)

So you want everyday people to be able to freely edit it, but not politicians?

Read WikiNews for the rest of the story (3, Informative)

TimTheFoolMan (656432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676660)

It amazes me that the Islamic extremists aren't the only ones who don't bother to check the rest of the story before they start inflaming the masses. From WikiNews:
The investigation showed the vast majority of edits from Senate IPs were beneficial and helpful to Wikipedia. Examples include the creation of the articles on Click Back America, which organizes students to promote microfinance in the developing world, and Washington's Tomb, which was designed to hold the body of first U.S. President George Washington within the White House Capitol building; and significantly expanding the article on closed sessions of the United States Senate in November. Dozens of small corrections have been made to grammar, spelling, or small facts -- many of them related to the Senate.

Senators' staff members have sometimes had to fight to correct inaccuracies. An edit to Jay Rockefeller's article by his staff removed information which may have been biased or untrue. The staff member who edited said, "Apologies, I was new to using Wikipedia, and I didn't fully realize the workings of the website," after other users continuously reinserted the information. The staffer removed the suspect paragraphs 12 times until another Wikipedia user finally removed the information. Four days later, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales got involved.

In other words, the edits were SOMETIMES bad, but were generally helpful. The entire tone of this story suggests that they were all trying to line the pockets of their senators (no doubt a popular sentiment), but WikiNews itself suggests that this is true only in a small number of cases.

Tim

Jimmy Wales (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676669)

Is it just me, or did the floodgates open when Jimmy Wales edited his own entry?

Wide open content can never work (1)

shatfield (199969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676705)

There is no way that "wide open" content will ever work... there are too many people out there with bad intentions. This is why you see so many sites with wikis closing them down these days - due to spam bots, due to malicious posters, etc.

The only thing that will ever work is to have an "owner" of a wiki who gives access on a trust basis. The owner will decide who s/he trusts, and to what level.

I'm afraid that this is the only system that will ever work for collaborative content.

OT: great change, and a suggestion or two. (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14676706)

This is the first time I noticed a "related stories" bar under the article.
Tell me that the editors now have a system whereby that comes pre-filled with some results from rudimentary searching on key words, and I'll be amazed. If not, this should be considered.

In fact, to expand upon the suggestion, while at the same time making it easier to implement: add a tag field to story submissions. It would be awesome to have a userbox on the side doing the equivalent of smart folders, even better if it fed a custom RSS feed.
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