Scanner Tracks Who’s Changing What on Wikipedia, from NPR
See Who’s Editing Wikipedia – Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign, from Wired
Wikipedia Scanner — the brainchild of Cal Tech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith — offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses.
Alarmingly, but I suppose not surprisingly, he’s found clearly politically- and marketing-motivated edits, and big ones. The interesting questions come at the end of the NPR piece: Will this scare institutions off from making these self-serving edits? Or simply force them to do it more covertly? Will this improve or devalue Wikipedia over time?
One interesting underlying assumption that underlies all of these revelatory actions and articles surrounding who adds information to Wikipedia is the assumption that if someone clearly has a connection that could create a slanted viewpoint they will undoubtedly be engaging in some kind of “dirty marketeering.” It is quite possible for someone with a bias (we all have one) to state the facts. Venues like Wikipedia are, in fact, geered toward insuring that *everyone* has the ability to set the record straight if the facts are incorrect. Frankly, the CIA has a better set of resources for providing a straightforward article about the CIA than do most other people. Why assume the article *must* be biased because the information came from someone that works there?
Although it is undoubtedly very useful to know where information originated, articles like this tend to inflame people’s “There, Wikipedia *must* be full of garbage!” tendencies.
Anyway, some of my best friends work for the CIA, lol.