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Student Makes Program to Track Wikipedia Editors


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[big]Student's program sends PR chaos in Wiki-scandal[/big]

[smaller]Thu, 16 August 2007

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One American student sent major corporations, governments and even the Vatican on the defensive after coming up with Wikipedia Scanner, a software program that reveals who changed Wikipedia entries.

Wikipedia.com is an online encyclopedia edited by general users, who write articles on every imaginable subject. Since it is written by users, anyone can edit, delete and arrange the articles on Wikipedia.

What Virgil Griffith did was come up with a program that reveals who edits these articles, via a system where it scans the I.P address and cross-references it with the I.P. directory.

As soon as the software was launched on the internet, chaos erupted.

Among many revelations, Wikipedia Scanner reported that:

- Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate

- Apple edit Microsoft entries, adding more negative comments about its rival

- Bill Gates revenge? Microsoft edits Apple entries, adding more negative comments about its rival

- The Vatican edits Irish Catholic politician Gerry Adams page

- In the 9/11 Wikipedia article, the NRA added that “Iraq was involved in 9/11â€

- Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article

- FBI edits Guantanamo Bay, removing numerous pictures

- Oil company ChevronTexaco removes informative biodiesel article and deletes a paragraph regarding fines against the company

- Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page

- Al Jazeera TV station adds that the foundation of Iraq was just as bad as the Holocaust

- Amnesty International removes negative comments

- Dell Computers deletes negative comments on customer services and removes a passage how the company outsources work to third world countries

- MySpace removes paragraph when their website was hacked

- EA Games deletes whole paragraphs of criticism about employment practices and business methods

- Dog breeding association deletes whole paragraphs about fatal attacks by dogs on humans

- US Republican Party changes the "Post-Saddam" section of the Baath Party article to a different account of the war, changing the language from "US-led occupation" to "US-led liberation"

- Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page

- News of the World deletes a number of criticism against the paper

- Nestle removes negative comments on its business practices from its page

- UN address calls journalist Oriana Fallaci a racist ‘prostitute’

- Portuguese government removes entries about Prime Minister’s scandals

- DieBold, the company that controversially supplied computerised polling stations in the US elections, removes numerous paragraphs with negative comments

- Walmart removes criticism of outsourcing work. The retailer also changes negative paragraphs of underpaid workforce

- Sony removes harmful paragraphs against blu-ray systems

- Someone at Reuters calls Bush “a mass murdererâ€

- Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects

- British Conservative Party removes negative references of its MPs and deletes paragraph of the party’s old policies

- US University adds the “prestigious†adjective to its page

- Boeing edits from “Boeing is a leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer†to “Boeing is the leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturerâ€

- MSN Search is “a major competitor to Googleâ€. That’s what MSN added to their page

- BBC changes Blair's drink from coffee to vodka and his workout from the gym to the bedroom. Someone from the BBC also changes Bush’s page, changing the name from â€George Walker Bush†to “George Wan*** Bushâ€

- Someone from The Guardian edits the Wikipedia page of rival newspaper The Times. Originally in the article it is said that The Times sells more than The Guardian. After the edit, The Guardian sells more.

Griffith created the tool to "create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike," he said on his web site. He admitted that it's impossible to be sure if the edits were made by someone working at one of the organizations, although the I.P. address reveals that they were made by someone with access to their network, he says.

Griffith came up with the idea when he "heard about Congressmen being caught for white-washing their Wikipedia pages," he said.

"If the edit occurred during working hours, then we can reasonably assume that the person is either an agent of that company or a guest that was allowed access to their network," he wrote.He said he believes that anonymous speech is important for open projects like Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia works fine today for "noncontroversial topics," he said, but tools like Wikipedia Scanner can help make the site more reliable for controversial topics, he said.

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