Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-09-03/WikiScanner

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The Wikipedia Signpost

WikiScanner tool expands, poses public relations problems for Dutch royal family

By Neranei, 3 September, 2007

In the weeks since the WikiScanner tool was first used, several “minor public relations disasters” have been created by its use. One of the most recent ones involved the Dutch prince and princess, Prince Friso and Princess Mabel. This information first came to light on the Administrator’s Noticeboard for Incidents (AN/I), in this discussion. The Prince and Princess removed a key part of a quote from the Dutch Prime Minister about the scandal surrounding their wedding. The word “false” was cut from a quote saying “…incomplete and false information”. The edit in question was made from Queen Beatrix’s royal palace.

Other salacious edits

An editor using a computer at the CIA was found to have edited the articles about Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Porter Goss (the head of the CIA), among others. The CIA did not admit to editing the articles in question. Also, a computer at the Vatican was used to remove a mention of Gerry Adams’s alleged involvement in a double murder, and an anonymous editor from the BBC changed George Walker Bush’s middle name to “wanker”. Some of these disruptive edits have resulted in blocks; the IP addresses of Netherlands Public Radio and Radio Netherlands Worldwide have been blocked for more than 70 unconstructive edits over a period of more than 2 years. Also, a computer at major U.S. military contractor SAIC was the source of changes to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) article, adding such things as “The ACLU's real mission is to create a Eugenicist Communist society based on principles of Anarchy against the will of the American people.” and “The ACLU is trying to destroy America.”

WikiScanner’s expansion into other languages

WikiScanner is continuing to expand; it has now been translated into three languages besides English: German, Japanese, and French. There are Wikipedia articles for WikiScanner on several Wikipedias, including Spanish, French, Italian, and Polish. The English article has continued to evolve. It has been edited about 11 times a day. Some major contributors to the article are Casey Abell and Hypnosadist.


The general reaction to WikiScanner has remained largely positive. The Wikimedia Foundation’s reaction to its invention has been favorable with Jimmy Wales stating in a article, "It's awesome—I love it … It brings an additional level of transparency to what's going on at Wikipedia … [WikiScanner] uses information we've been making publicly available forever, hoping someone would do something like this." A spokesperson for the Foundation said in a Scotland Sunday Herald article that "We really value transparency and the scanner may prevent an organisation or individuals from editing articles that they're really not supposed to."

Also this week: From the editor

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