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See Who Is Whitewashing Wikipedia

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the who-isn't-these-days dept.

The Internet 478

Decius6i5 writes "Caltech grad student Virgil Griffith has launched a search tool that uncovers whitewashing and other self-interested editing of Wikipedia. Users can generate lists of every edit to Wikipedia which has been made from a particular IP address range. The tool has already uncovered a number of interesting edits, such as one from the corporate offices of Diebold which removed large sections of content critical of their electronic voting machines. A Wired story provides more detail and Threat Level is running a contest to see who can come up with the most interesting Wikipedia spin job."

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TFA Interesting (5, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | about 7 years ago | (#20225641)

I was fascinated by the CIA's edits... mostly adding details... and this:

"One CIA entry deals with the details of lyrics sung in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode."

Nerds.

Re:TFA Interesting (5, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#20225751)

As much as it may astound us, even CIA agents are real people with real feelings and interests. (Well, to the extent that Buffy epsidoe music lyrics can count as a "real interest"...)

Re:TFA Interesting (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20226005)

Thank you Captain Obvious!

Re:TFA Interesting (-1, Troll)

spun (1352) | about 7 years ago | (#20226105)

As much as it may astound us, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Stalin were real people with real feelings and interests. To the extent that torturing people counts as a "real interest." Real people do really immoral things.

Your point is what, exactly?

Re:TFA Interesting (-1, Offtopic)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#20226145)

That's a strawman. And very insulting. I didn't say torturing people was justified. [/how you respond to my posts]

I'm just saying, don't be surprised if the same guy who tries to manipulate the public's understanding, also likes Buffy.

Re:TFA Interesting (-1, Redundant)

spun (1352) | about 7 years ago | (#20226297)

I didn't imply that you said torturing people was justified. That's a real strawman. I was using it as an example. I'm saying, why even mention that people in the CIA are real people? Do you really think we are all so childish as to completely demonize everyone we disagree with? Does the fact that they like Buffy excuse any immoral actions they take? I think you are being disingenuous and trying to do a little propagandizing yourself. It looks as though you are trying to build sympathy for Big Brother.

"I'm just saying, don't be surprised if the same guy who tries to manipulate the public's understanding, also likes Buffy."

Why even point out the blazingly obvious like that? What is your motivation?

Re:TFA Interesting (4, Insightful)

NickCatal (865805) | about 7 years ago | (#20225767)

Uhh, we should also remember that there are some people at these places that make legitimate edits to Wikipedia. Just because an IP changes one or two things controversial, doesn't mean that all of their edits are BS. Also it is reason for someone to watch that users edits in the future to check for NPOV

Re:TFA Interesting (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225891)

tinfoil hat on - Well of anyone doing self interested edits, you would imagine the CIA would be covering their ones with a lot of noise. That is what those innocent edits are.

Re:TFA Interesting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20226141)

Or they are really code for something. Perhaps its a kind of Kryptos for the new millennium. A code spread over the internet.

Re:TFA Interesting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20226003)

Almost as funny was someone at the NSA (the security organization) adding the "National Softball Association" to the disambiguation page for "NSA" :-)

Re:TFA Interesting (3, Funny)

SDF-7 (556604) | about 7 years ago | (#20226087)

But of course they did... the lyric "They got the Mustard out" is Joss Whedon's attempt to reveal that it was, in fact, the CIA that got Colonel Mustard out of this country to cover up their complicity in his war profiteering and the murder of witnesses to it.

Communism was just a red herring.

Re:TFA Interesting (1)

anagama (611277) | about 7 years ago | (#20226309)

I was fascinated by the CIA's edits... mostly adding details... and this:
"One CIA entry deals with the details of lyrics sung in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode."

It would have been awfully nice if the mentioned which song, episode, and the changes made.

Shame on them... (1)

FunkyRider (1128099) | about 7 years ago | (#20225649)

Those company stuff should be ashamed of removing wikipedia articles.
BTW. If I every encountered anyone publishing about him/herself on wikipedia, I will personally contact him and keep him/her busy.... :-P

Re:Shame on them... (1)

ChrisMounce (1096567) | about 7 years ago | (#20225769)

They aren't removing articles, they're just... rectifying them.

And shame is implied.

How are they different from groupthink? (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | about 7 years ago | (#20226059)

or the political bias at times that persists in Wikipedia?

Their top level admins are no where near as impartial as they claim to be. Obvious subjects to avoid on Wikipedia are those which are based on religious, political, or environmental, concerns. People have taken "maintaining" those types of entries to ridiculous levels that whole pages of discussion exist behind the page where the various factions bitch at each other. The best way to see the bias is to watch what they require to have accredited links and what they do not, let alone what sites they consider credible sources for disputed information.

While it has much useful information there are just certain subjects to avoid

Wikipedia can already do this (3, Informative)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 7 years ago | (#20225651)

Mediawiki has already added the capability to look at the Special:Contributions for an IP range. I'm not sure if it's been enabled yet on EN.

The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (3, Insightful)

MoneyT (548795) | about 7 years ago | (#20225657)

What did you expect? Everyone has different truths.

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225705)

There is one truth, many perceptions to a truth, but only one truth. Some perceptions are closer to the truth than others, but they are still perceptions.

--Naz

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225785)

Its quote your favourite sci-fi author day I guess.

You should at least give credit when you quote people.

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 7 years ago | (#20225873)

No. Quote, or quote not. There is no credit.

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (-1, Offtopic)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 7 years ago | (#20226133)

Dude, spellcheck your sig.

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#20226111)

How can we perceive that there is one truth?

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (0)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20226359)

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
-- Pablo Picasso
That quote always pissed the snot out of me. Yes, a computer will not ask the question, human intelligence is required for that. But of what use is a question if no answer is to be found? Ok, so maybe some philosophers will find a use for unanswerable questions, possibly as intellectual fodder when smoking a bowl. But back in the working world, practical answers to real questions are quite valuable. That quote just strikes me as one of those pseudo-intellectual sayings that seems brilliant until subjected to a moment of rational thought.

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (2, Interesting)

TheWoozle (984500) | about 7 years ago | (#20225795)

But as this guy's project goes to show, in an open, transparent environment it doesn't matter... as a bonus it also serves to show who you can and can't trust.

That's ridiculous (3, Interesting)

blueZ3 (744446) | about 7 years ago | (#20226049)

Or, more politely, I think you're mistaken.

There's no magical incantation that makes an "open, transparent" information editing environment inheirently better. You just get a different bias, and it's more difficult to figure out where that bias is coming into play.

With Brittanica, you have a (known) establishment bias. With a Boeing sales brochure, you have a (known) "areospace is the ultimate industry" bias. What you generally see on Wikipedia are astounding examples of groupthink. Wikipedia's NPOV is a bias, make no mistake. And just because you can "see" the bias of article editors, that doesn't mean that the bias of the "Wikipedians" is easier to find, define, or overcome. All this does is make one type of bias more obvious. That doesn't solve the problem.

All content contains a bias. Knowing that is a good starting point for interpreting the content. This project is fine, as far as it goes. But implying (as you seem to) that somehow Wikipedia wonks are more trustworthy and less biased than other editors is, well, silly.

There's no "bonus" here

Re:That's ridiculous (2, Informative)

plague3106 (71849) | about 7 years ago | (#20226181)

All content contains a bias. Knowing that is a good starting point for interpreting the content. This project is fine, as far as it goes. But implying (as you seem to) that somehow Wikipedia wonks are more trustworthy and less biased than other editors is, well, silly.

I don't buy that. I can say "the Chinese government killed student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989." There is no bias in that statement, its just a fact. Much of Wikipedia conforms to listing of dry facts, and areas that are speculating typically say its speculation, or section or entire articles are marked as "neutrality disputed" or unverified, etc.

The only reason we can see spin being added or taken away is exactly because the whole editing process is open, and we can all see how minor (or major) tweaks change the tone of an article from dry fact to spin.

Re:That's ridiculous (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 7 years ago | (#20226201)

You just get a different bias, and it's more difficult to figure out where that bias is coming into play.

Do you understand what TFA is about?

The whole point of a community resource like Wikipedia is to allow for multiple points of view, and by implication, multiple biases. As long as that's transparent and understood, it IS a bonus.

Don't you mean . . . (3, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | about 7 years ago | (#20225989)

. . . their own truthiness?

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (2, Funny)

seyyah (986027) | about 7 years ago | (#20226157)

What did you expect? Everyone has different truths.

Fuck me. Someone please go and wipe the postmodernism wiki now!

I expect that people will talk about this (0, Troll)

spun (1352) | about 7 years ago | (#20226205)

It's important to get the word out about this kind of thing, and it seems you are trying to downplay the importance of it. Maybe we aren't surprised it is happening, but we still want to know the specifics. Your cynicism and moral relativity do nothing but attempt to excuse those who disseminate propaganda. You lump them in with people trying to make honest contributions. You use the word truth as if it were not related to objective, external reality. I don't find that insightful at all.

Re:The encyclopedia ANYONE can edit. (1)

6-tew (1037428) | about 7 years ago | (#20226211)

Truths? I just check Wiktionary and it was pretty clear that there is true and false. Of course you could get all Kenobi about "certain point of view." but that's bullshit, it's a fact. Unless someone edited Wiktionary's entry for truth... shit, this conspiracy is deep, by which I mean it goes right to the top.

Also my Mom, Dad, Aunts and Uncles and even my lovely girlfriend can't edit Wikipedia, I know this is true because I do family tech-support.

TOR (2, Interesting)

ArcadeX (866171) | about 7 years ago | (#20225683)

How long before the savy ones start hiding? On another note I could also see this as a tool companies use to find wiki whistleblowers.

Re:TOR (1)

WwWonka (545303) | about 7 years ago | (#20225773)

"wiki whistleblowers"

...man if I was Hasbro or some other large mass producing toy company I would jump on that name, copyright it, invent it, mass produce it, sell millions, have it recalled due to some unforeseen problem, make news,have a nasty wiki entry made about it, then delete/rewrite the entry to make the wiki whistleblower seem good and new again!

Re:TOR (1, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#20225787)

They don't need Tor, they could just create sockpuppet accounts like everyone else who trolls Wikipedia, and hide their IP that way.

Also, most of the Tor endpoints are banned from editing Wikipedia (anonymously) due to abuse anyway.

Re:TOR (5, Interesting)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 7 years ago | (#20225889)

They don't need Tor, they could just create sockpuppet accounts like everyone else who trolls Wikipedia, and hide their IP that way.

Checkuser [wikipedia.org] anyone?

CheckUser (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#20226055)

Interesting. I assumed administrators at Wikipedia had that ability, but always assumed they did it via regular logs.

The Help:CheckUser [wikipedia.org] page is a lot more informative, if you're not a WP admin (in which case you'll be denied entry to the parent's link).

Re:TOR (1)

Raul654 (453029) | about 7 years ago | (#20226119)

(Speaking as one of about 10 people who have checkuser on the English Wikipedia) Running checkuser on a shared IP like a TOR exit node usually results in a tsunami of results. It becomes difficult to tell sockpuppets from other users who happen to be sharing that IP.

Revealed next week... (1)

khasim (1285) | about 7 years ago | (#20225801)

A tool that allows you to edit from work ... but uses your home (probably dynamic) IP address.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it's easy. :)

And that's the point. The smarter groups have probably already taken steps to hide their edits.

Re:TOR (1)

Raul654 (453029) | about 7 years ago | (#20226027)

It's basically impossible to use TOR to edit Wikipedia. Almost every exit node is blocked. I blocked most of them myself.

What's so hard... (2)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#20226123)

about dropping down to the local cafe and doing it on their wireless?

Re:What's so hard... (1)

Raul654 (453029) | about 7 years ago | (#20226217)

How percentage of people are so motivated to vandalize/whitewash Wikipedia that they'll actually go out of their way to go down to the local cafe to do it?

Re:What's so hard... (1)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#20226311)

People who have an agenda....politicians and companies typically.

The point is, every time someone is busted and embarrassed doing something like this, people figure it out....cover your tracks.

Re:TOR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20226283)

You must feel real proud of yourself.

Re:TOR (5, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | about 7 years ago | (#20226363)

The above comment is a troll, but I'll bite anyway. TOR is a huge time waster for Wikipedians. It basically gives vandals an unlimited stock of IP addresses from which to vandalize. The proximate reason that caused me to block TOR was that one particularly tenacious vandal (Enviroknot) was cycling through ranges of TOR IPs, vandalizing the Arbitration Committee page.

Roger Dingledine (the guy who invented TOR) came to Wikimania '06 and I was luckly enough to have dinner with him. We had a long talk about TOR - he explained the technical underpinnings of TOR to me and what he's doing next (to get around the Chinese firewall). His position was that he's not happy that TOR is blocked, but he understands why we do it, and he thinks we're going in the right direction. He also thinks that we need a trust metric - at which point, editing Wikipedia through TOR will become possible.

BS (5, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 7 years ago | (#20225707)

Yet another case of anti-Wikipedia prejudice. Diebold has been editing the content of Encyclopedia Britannica since at least the 7th edition, but the mainstream press never even bothers to report on *that* kind of thing!

Re:BS (0)

kevin_conaway (585204) | about 7 years ago | (#20225883)

Yet another case of anti-Wikipedia prejudice. Diebold has been editing the content of Encyclopedia Britannica since at least the 7th edition, but the mainstream press never even bothers to report on *that* kind of thing!

Did you read the article? Its not slanted one way or the other at all. It merely points out that people sometimes edit entries that are relevant to them. Sometimes in ways that are beneficial to them.

Regarding Britannica, I'd like to see a source for your claims. Whenever a person spouts off a conspiracy theory like that without a source to back it up, it remains just that, a conspiracy theory.

Re:BS (5, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | about 7 years ago | (#20226015)

Regarding Britannica, I'd like to see a source for your claims. Whenever a person spouts off a conspiracy theory like that without a source to back it up, it remains just that, a conspiracy theory.

You do realize that the 7th Edition came out in 1827 [wikipedia.org] , right? Its funny. Laugh.

Re:BS (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20225977)

Diebold has been editing the content of Encyclopedia Britannica since at least the 7th edition, but the mainstream press never even bothers to report on *that* kind of thing!
The seventh edition of EB is now in the public domain, so you can make any edits to it you want, unlike Wikipedia, where the content is under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The Free Encyc. Any Schmo Can Edit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225709)

Hmm...an online reference source that any dope with an internet connection can change as they see fit. I can't imagine how any problems could arise.

Re:The Free Encyc. Any Schmo Can Edit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225827)

I can't imagine how any problems could arise.
Problems? Tools like this provided much-needed transparency to the process. For instance, just how much did George Washington pay Britannica to leave out that LSD-fueled alien barhopping incident from the record. As the first president of the United States, don't you think the public deserves to know what he was really up to on Betelgeuse Three? At least with wikipedia we can use this to find out who They are when They try to hide these inconvenient truths!

I battle this from time to time (4, Interesting)

swid27 (869237) | about 7 years ago | (#20225753)

One of the pages on my watchlist is Adrian Smith [wikipedia.org] (R - Nebraska, third district). About once a month, an anon IP or recently-created user account tries to whitewash his WP article by removing unflattering sourced details about his campaign contributors.

If you want to follow along in the fun, view the article history [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I battle this from time to time (5, Insightful)

oni (41625) | about 7 years ago | (#20225895)

Why is there nothing on the discussion page? If you're fighting someone on the main page, you need to document it on the discussion page.

/.'ed (1)

HitekHobo (1132869) | about 7 years ago | (#20225761)

Well that didn't take long... and I was just starting to enjoy myself.

Not /.'ed (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#20225915)

Huh? TFA still works for me. Both the regular and the 'Print View' link, in fact.

I'm sure somebody will post the article text if it starts to go under, though.

Re:Not /.'ed (1)

HitekHobo (1132869) | about 7 years ago | (#20226021)

The actual tool is hosed. sql connection limit is being hit constantly.

Re:/.'ed (1)

RancidMilk (872628) | about 7 years ago | (#20226271)

It got hit by impartial Slashdot and the leftist Digg.

Victim of their own success (2, Interesting)

pzs (857406) | about 7 years ago | (#20225789)

It's a bit of a pity that the more successful a source of information like Wikipedia becomes, the more likely it is that some twat is going to try and adopt it for their own ends.

Peter

Re:Victim of their own success (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#20225993)

s/of a pity/forseeable

(or do the spaces screw with regex?)

OT sed (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#20226343)

(or do the spaces screw with regex?)

Yes, you need to escape the spaces when using sed; not sure about other regex implementations, although I expect them to be similar.

E.g., sed 's/of\ a\ pity/foreseeable/g' would work, as would sed 's/"of a pity"/foreseeable/g'.

Pathetic .. (1)

Udderdude (257795) | about 7 years ago | (#20225803)

That they thought they could get away with it. What's next, Whitewashing using proxies so they can't be traced? Ugh.

Reminder to self: whitewash from home (1)

athloi (1075845) | about 7 years ago | (#20225841)

Corporate IPs are too distinctive, so I must use the home IP, proxies or Tor. Oh wait, I'm not important enough to have anything to whitewash.

Re:Reminder to self: whitewash from home (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#20225913)

Oh wait, I'm not important enough to have anything to whitewash.

Yeah, only the really important people are allowed to have picket fences...

Let's see Britannica beat *this* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225853)

Just another example of how the despised "folk media" can do things the traditional media can't, and probably wouldn't even if they could.

Article Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225859)

http://www.wired.com/print/politics/onlinerights/n ews/2007/08/wiki_tracker [wired.com]

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 CalTech 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.

Share Your Sleuthing!

Cornered any companies polishing up their Wikipedia entries? Spotted any government spooks rewriting history? Try Virgil Griffith's Wikipedia Scanner yourself, then submit your finds and vote on other readers' discoveries here.

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 5.3 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 George 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 Senator 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.

Why open source works (0)

Kingrames (858416) | about 7 years ago | (#20225877)

When you have the ability to add to Wikipedia like this, it's clearly eventually going to become the most reliable source of information in a few decades.

Naturally this is going to require other similar discoveries and additions, but those are a given, since it's so popular.

Not necessarily true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225941)

For example, when that whole "worlds largest hog" hoax happened and it was revealed that the hog in question was actually a domesticated hog named "Fred" who was someone's pet sold off to a game farm, the guy who watches over the "largest wild pigs ever caught" refused to allow updates to reflect this fact. I tried quite a few times to get the FACTS added to the wikipedia entry and he overrode them every time. Unfortunately very few people pay attention to entries like that so people who have a lot of time and are very committed to presenting the world a certain way will almost certainly win out in the end on Wikipedia. It works well for popular articles, but very poorly for marginal ones.

Re:Why open source works (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | about 7 years ago | (#20225943)

"When you have the ability to add to Wikipedia like this, it's clearly eventually going to become the most reliable source of information in a few decades."

Aside from the point it is highly speculative that Wikipedia will be around "in a few decades," how and why do you believe it can or will eventually "become the most reliable source of information?"

Re:Why open source works (1)

Kingrames (858416) | about 7 years ago | (#20226173)

Why are public libraries considered an excellent source of information?

support.

Show me a library that beats Wikipedia and I'll show you someone too old to recognize something brilliant.

Not support (1)

everphilski (877346) | about 7 years ago | (#20226281)

Libraries are great because recognized experts in their respective fields write books in their respective fields and get published by book companies because - guess what - since they are recognized experts in their respective fields, their results can be, for the most part, trusted to be accurate and worthy of study.

Kinda sounds a bit more like Citizendium than Wikipedia to me ...

Re:Why open source works (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | about 7 years ago | (#20226295)

You've assumed a premise and set up a syllogism. I do not find your argument to be a rational one. You are overly enthusiastic, without giving any supportive evidence, which will not convince anyone to take Wikipedia seriously beyond the dwindling fan base.

Re:Why open source works (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 7 years ago | (#20225991)

I don't see that quite as clearly as you do, I guess.

Maybe it is because I recall the last **AA lawsuit article in which Slashdotters asserted that an IP address is an entirely meaningless number as it relates to proving anything about anyone.

Re:Why open source works (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 years ago | (#20226079)

big diff between a single USER on a roving netblock (dhcp, etc) and a whole company that owns that exclusive netblock range.

you can't weasel out of this by saying you don't know who the individual is (and you can't). but you CAN clearly see the ip netblock. and it points to only 1 company, clear as day, with no wiggle room to escape from.

Re:Why open source works (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 years ago | (#20226147)

We are not trying to confuse "someone at Diebold" with "particular person X at Diebold".

We are also not trying to accuse anyone of a felony or sue them for a sum sufficient enough to permanently ruin them.

So the obvious question is: Do you think that our actions are far more nefarious than they really are or that the actions of the RIAA are far more harmless then everyone believes. You are obviously trying to conflate the two.

open (3, Insightful)

SolusSD (680489) | about 7 years ago | (#20225879)

in many ways the wikipedia vs britannica debate is a lot like open vs closed source. One you know what changes are being made and can decipher intent, the other is anyone's guess. Wikipedia may have its shortcomings-- but at least we can see them.

It's the iron law of bureaucracy, not outside IPs (4, Interesting)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | about 7 years ago | (#20225901)

How about instead of going after corporate IP addresses, a study of the corrupted power structure, administrator abuses, and Linda Mack/Jayjg? The problems are not from IP address on the outside. The problem is that there are not and have never been any objective criteria for delegating power to accounts, and while I don't know if it's a majority or not, a very good plurality of administrators believe their purpose is to use their power to ensure articles reflect only their point of view, and anyone that tries to change that, even with multiple citations and sources, find themselves personally attacked wikilawyered, and often blocked. There is no system separate from the administrators to handle this kind of abuse, so it almost never is addressed. Sure, edits from organizational IP addresses can be annoying, but they wield no power in the system, and cannot hurt anyone. Administrators and bureaucrats, they have a bad habit of supporting vandals and trolls that are later banned by Wikipedia, and harassing users that have not been able to protect themselves by becoming administrators, as being elevated to administrator largely depends on the desires of the current administrators, who are very adept at gaming the system. It is almost impossible to become an administrator unless you have the same character flaws as those in power. It's the iron law of bureaucracy; those that seek power and only power, to the detriment of the organization, seize and hold power. Wikipedia is a failed experiment, it failed a long time ago due to structural deficiencies, and the attention it continues to receive is like a bad addiction on the part of internet users.

Re:It's the iron law of bureaucracy, not outside I (1)

athloi (1075845) | about 7 years ago | (#20226235)

Good reply. I think every point within it is worth analyzing.

What did you expect? Everyone has different truths.

The above, written by another poster, summarizes the difficulty with any democratic information system like WikiPedia. How do you objectively define truth, and assign power to people who won't abuse it, in a volunteer system?

My favorite example of a good resource is the Oxford English Dictionary. Yes, it costs money, and a fair amount of it, but it is also the singularly best resource on the English language. It succeeds because its editors got together, agreed on what truth is, and then agreed to work toward that and so skipped all of the infighting and power struggles of a WikiPedia.

It's something Wiki might keep in mind.

RfA? (1)

benhocking (724439) | about 7 years ago | (#20226365)

The problem is that there are not and have never been any objective criteria for delegating power to accounts
It's not exactly "objective", but there are Requests for adminship [wikipedia.org] that allow people to discuss why someone is or is not a good candidate for such power. Admins that repeatedly abuse their power tend to have that power stripped from them.

Jews (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225905)

The Jews are all over Wikipedia, like flies on a turd, revising history to further their agenda.

Edits by my university's staff (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20225951)

Someone at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio apparently considers the place "prestigious [wikipedia.org] ". I'd go more with "overpriced".

Re:Edits by my university's staff (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 years ago | (#20226197)

You're being far too kind.

Case West is both overpriced and LESS-prestigious.

Not necessarily the company (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | about 7 years ago | (#20225969)

I suspect many of these edits are made by employees not acting on official instructions. Many of these people like where they work, or otherwise feel the need to defend their employer when the opportunity arises. These could just be well-intentioned but short-sighted employees acting unilaterally. If your company is large enough, you're bound to have at least one person able and willing to do something like this. You can't entirely fault the company for it.

Though I imagine there will be some Wikipedia guidelines appearing at some companies in the near future.

Re:Not necessarily the company (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 years ago | (#20226045)

if it came from their business IP block, then yes, they are 100.0% responsible.

if an employee acts incorrectly, the company itself can be sued. that's how it works in the real world.

Whitewash? Been saying this for several years... (1)

Chas (5144) | about 7 years ago | (#20225983)

Having suffered through edit wars on Wikipedia with the hordes of partisans chopping out anything that could be remotely considered "uncomplimentary" (even when 100% true and backed up by references), I can attest to this wholeheartedly.

What REALLY disheartened me though, was the fact that the PTBs watching these actions regarded the whitewashing as "NPOV"

Wikipedia's okay until it comes to real, living people.

Then everything goes completely out the window with regards to factuality and referential reliability.

New poll topic! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20226039)

Who has whitewashed their wikipedia entry the most:

Diebold
Rumsfeld
Any article dealing with "Islam in country x"
Cowboy Neal

Re:New poll topic! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20226229)

THE JEWS

What's with the path?!?! (4, Funny)

Skadet (528657) | about 7 years ago | (#20226065)

Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Too many connections in /jizz4/web/wikipedia/docs/name2ip.php on line 154

?!?!?!

Re:What's with the path?!?! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 7 years ago | (#20226285)

Doesn't php have connection pooling? Jeez.

Not a whitewash but... (1)

east coast (590680) | about 7 years ago | (#20226077)

I was fairly amused by the Tom Green Show and associated co-star articles this weekend. It just goes to show that things do slip through the cracks.

Please add an extra Checking... (1)

12357bd (686909) | about 7 years ago | (#20226081)

It would be desirable to have a process/system that could verify that between two a,b consecutive versions of wikipedia (the whole GB files) 'b' (the later) is really 'a' (the previous) plus the editions after the 'a' snapshot creation.

That way it would not be possible to edit the whole file 'inside'wikipedia, (let's go paranoic, i know..)

Meta-encyclopedia (5, Interesting)

bziman (223162) | about 7 years ago | (#20226117)

When I was in college, I took a history course in which we read three different books on slavery in the United States — one from the 1860s, one from the 1950s, and another from the 1990s. Obviously, they all had completely different spins on the reality of slavery. The goal of the assignment wasn't so much to learn about slavery as it was to learn about the three different time periods perception of slavery.

I think that these "edits" can provide us an interesting insight into the real issues, and how the public perceives them, and how various invested parties would like the public to perceive them. As long as there is transparency to the edits (and clearly, there is), I think a lot can be learned from the edits themselves.

—brian

slashdotliberalwhining (5, Funny)

Peter Trepan (572016) | about 7 years ago | (#20226171)

I'm glad someone added the slashdotliberalwhining tag.

I can't tell you how much it bothers me when some whiny liberal drags out another tinfoil-hat theory about how "Big Business" is trying to manipulate public opinion by obfuscating facts, or how some (ooh!) big, scary police state is abusing its powers.

We're an established first-world country with a tradition of freedom, and it's not as if we're ever going to slip into fascism like the Germany or Italy of last century, or into a police state like modern China or Russia, or into a gilded age aristocracy like every country in the Americas except the United States and Canada.

So relax, whiny liberals. Such dangers are unheard of. If we seem to be slipping in any of those directions, just shut up and take it like a conservative - silently and complacently, without a doubt in your mind that no matter how badly things seem to be going, our superiors have things well in hand. Only losers whine about truth and decency. If you're a winner, you'll cheer for the winning side, no matter how repugnant its aims.

Re:slashdotliberalwhining (3, Insightful)

Sunrise2600 (1142529) | about 7 years ago | (#20226307)

Reality has a liberal bias. -Steven Colbert

I caught SCO whitewashing their article (4, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | about 7 years ago | (#20226187)

I submitted it to the Wired blog, but it's worth sharing here: in March, I caught two SCO editors whitewashing Wikipedia. One did a massive chop-and-run [wikipedia.org] on the SCO article. The other was complaining [wikipedia.org] about the article on SCO's CEO, Darl McBride. I have checkuser - the ability to find the IP addressed used by logged in users. I found out that both of those users originated from SCO corporate IP addresses.

Wikipedia whitewashing won't matter... (5, Funny)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | about 7 years ago | (#20226189)

...and for the record, everyone in Germany from 1939-1945 was out on holiday.

Nothing To See Here (1)

sjaguar (763407) | about 7 years ago | (#20226245)

Move along. These aren't the web pages you are looking for.

Clarifying the NSA (4, Funny)

The Angry Mick (632931) | about 7 years ago | (#20226253)

Now this was just silly . . .

Someone deep inside the National Security Agency helpfully adds a line to the disambiguation page for "NSA." The addition: "National Softball Association".

Zug-zug (2, Insightful)

Negafox (1142617) | about 7 years ago | (#20226327)

Let's look at a few facts about Wikipedia: 1. Virtually anybody can edit most articles in their encyclopedia. 2. Wikipedia is widely known, popular, and many Internet users regularly visit the website for information. Rather than a conspiracy to manipulate information, likely many of these edits were done by employees without official authorization. It is likely that somebody connected to a company, organization, or political compaign casually ran into the Wikipedia entries and decide to make "corrections" based upon their own point-of-view. Even the Slashdot article in Wikipedia has had quite a bit of so-called whitewashing to remove criticism, which I presume to be by slashdotters. Personallly, edits become of concern when they are attempts to manipulate, mislead, or contain false information. Or, if the edits were done to harm or deface a rival Wikipedia entry (i.e. a Repubilican candidate editing a Democratic candidate's entry).

Whitewashing/Fakes (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 years ago | (#20226331)

This is why i dont even bother with it at all?

Unless you know the answer, you cant trust what you read. And if you already know, why are you reading it?
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