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Congress Made Wikipedia Changes 277

Posted by samzenpus
from the revisionist-history dept.
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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Congress Made Wikipedia Changes

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:10AM (#14676369) Journal
    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?
    • 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.
    • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:36AM (#14676475) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • 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.

    • Aren't {Truth} and {Opinio/Fiction} mutually exclusive?
    • We have a guideline [wikipedia.org] on living people's articles. Basically, (1) every statement has to be utterly verifiable (2) every statement has to be relevant to why they have an article. This is followed very imperfectly, but when followed it saves greatly on crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:10AM (#14676370)
    Is there any genuinely objective information ANYWHERE in the world?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:12AM (#14676379)
      Of course.
      Slashdot.
    • 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.
      • 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.
    • 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.
    • "In mathematics only shall you find truth."
    • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:55AM (#14676577) Journal
      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.
      • 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 p
    • by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @10:03AM (#14676613) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • Actually, most mis-information I've seen has been the mis-presentation of true data.
        • by hey! (33014)
          Actually, most mis-information I've seen has been the mis-presentation of true data.

          Exactly my point. You can give some true data but hide other true data which changes its meaning. You can also hide data "in plain sight" by arranging it so it's hard to perceive (e.g. non-zero based bar graphs to show a "trend").
  • all writing is... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pvt_medic (715692) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:12AM (#14676377)
    politically motivated. History is written by the victors. Wikipedia just gets the scrutinization because it is in the spot light.
  • Politicians (Score:5, Funny)

    by antic (29198) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:15AM (#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 (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mmichaels (950922)
      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
  • Block 'em all. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caspian (99221) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:15AM (#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. (Score:2, Informative)

      by AndroidCat (229562)
      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 som

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

      by BeardsmoreA (951706)
      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,

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

      You strip the Wikipedia of authority excluding contributions from sources in the federal government. This is, after all, an arena in which decisions are made which affect the entire country.

  • by brenddie (897982) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:18AM (#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.

    • Score: -1, Congress
    • A reader mod system will not prevent bias in the original article or its edits. Hasn't slashdot proven this already? You really need an expert peer review system to improve accuracy and that seems contrary to Wiki's role.
    • by Britz (170620)
      Bush was elected in a popular vote. Meanwhile many people more "informed" in politics would have voted for the alternative. Moderation only makes sense if it is done by the "right" people. But who are better "informed"? What is "right"? Is the majority always "right"? Or "left"?

      I am from Germany. I don't want to compare Bush to Hitler. They are both completely different and have nothing in common. Except that they were both elected in a popular vote.
    • Moderation works OK here, but I don't think it would work well for wikipedia.

      I suggested here once before to make time the element of data integrity.

      If a particular article is "hot", slow down the number of edits per day, week, month or whatever. Especially edits from the same person and/or IP address or subnet.

      Slashdot has implemented things similar to this like taking 60 seconds between posts (Slow down cowboy!), and by punishing logged in users that have submitted posts anonymously. Its been a while si
  • Not just wikipedia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:18AM (#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.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:27AM (#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.

      • Funny? Some moderator thought I was joking?

        It seems that we have here people employed by the Party to edit articles about their masters. They are actually throwing inconvenient facts down the memory hole. It's pure 1984.

        And somebody thinks it's funny. Christ. Perhaps Ingsoc could add a fourth slogan...

        IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
        FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
        WAR IS PEACE
        TOTALITARIANISM IS FUNNY

    • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @10:42AM (#14676925) Homepage
      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.


      Actually that's a good example of a shallow understanding of a historical event, a politically biased statement. In other words something that would be worthy of an edit on the Wiki, and invariably such edits would be labeled as politically biased by those of the opposite political bias who preferred the original politically biased text. In reality the War in Iraq was about all of the above and more. The "WMD" angle was merely what was used to sell the war to the UN. That was an intense high profile effort and it's natural for people to focus on this one motivation even when they have no political bias. However when honest unbiased historian sit down some day to write the history of war the motivations will be far more complex.
  • Common Sense, please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dlc3007 (570880) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:18AM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

      by dlc3007 (570880)

      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

    • There is a constant factor in both these stories though.
    • by kaleco (801384)
      The problem is that while most people double-check WP articles before using information for a certain purpose, the vast majority don't double check the info when just using it to casually check up on something. This can propagate misconceptions in some obscure areas.

      WP is an overwhelmingly positive development on the internet, but it has many problems which must be addressed. Even though it seems to be getting an unfair amount of criticism at the moment, in the long term it will benefit from this scrutiny.

    • "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."

      Unfortunately, I think the opposite is more likely to be true. "12 year-olds getting giggles" ? Yes, you may have a point. But I think the opposite is true when comparing people who "care about Wikipedia" putting more effort into correcting what may be relatively obscure political subjects
  • 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
  • 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 cong
    • 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 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 th
  • 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.)
  • by jettoki (894493) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:30AM (#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.
  • by gorim (700913) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:35AM (#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.
    • 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 p
  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:35AM (#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.
  • It's not like the Politicians have anything to hide?
  • 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
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:51AM (#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?

    • There's nothing wrong with having a vested interest in the subject of an article. There *is* something wrong with letting that interest influence you - you are expected to abide by the NPOV principle etc., but as long as you do that, things are fine. Granted, you might sometimes accidentally write things in a way that's not entirely NPOV (and I really do mean accidentally, not "accidentally"), but that's something that will just be corrected later on by someone else (or even by yourself, if you notice it).

      T
  • by ursabear (818651) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:55AM (#14676573) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • "All history becomes subjective; in other words there is properly no history, only biography."

    Sounds like a normal turn of events to me.
  • So you want everyday people to be able to freely edit it, but not politicians?
  • by TimTheFoolMan (656432) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @10:09AM (#14676660) Homepage Journal
    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

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

    At a guess that's the 5th time this appears on /.
  • For Sale (Score:5, Funny)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @10:18AM (#14676731) Homepage
    For Sale: One Wikipedia account with excellent karma. This account is useful for editing articles on politicians, controversial "scientific" theories, or adding goatse entries. As a bonus I will throw in an anonymizer account to hide your IP address as well.

    $1000 OBO.
  • Let us not get carried away here. As much as I become furious with politicians, most of them still have best intentions. Pat Robertson actually thinks that homosexuals will be the undoing of the country. The 700 Club is filmed less than an hour away from me. Trust me, he may be loony, but a phony he is not. That said, I don't think its right to simply crucify them for wanting to edit their own bios. I would certainly want a say in what is the new ultimate source of information (think, in the stone age, we u
  • I do not mind if they edit obvious mistakes (i.e. Wiki says the person voted Yay on a topic when he actually voted Nay, or the persons college GPA is incorrect, etc.) Facts are fine, anything else should not be touched by people with vested interests - in this case the person the article is referring to, their employees, or family.
  • "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 needs to go both ways. Blocking the Presidential staff or Congress from editing the bios and removing inflammatory content is only fair if they also block members of political groups such as MoveOn.org or New Republicans. Of course, it's near impossible to do so. But if they're not careful they may open themselves up for a libel lawsuit.
  • How about blocking any government block out for all time, this would include local and state, why should our tax dollars pay for some interns to "polish" or smear another candidate via a wiki. If Congress is in session I think they need to be doing what they do, not altering wiki's in a pointless display of high school behaviour. These poeple are paid to represent us and to make serve as our voices, not to frivolously squander money and time, yeah like they would never do that anyway.
  • Imagine.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t'mbert (301531)
    Imagine an article about your life appears on Wikipedia for millions to read, an article that will last forever and may very well shape opinions about you as a person. The author of this article in Wikipedia has never met you, and doesn't necessarily like you or what you've done with yourself. They author the article, you see errors or omissions, but aren't allowed to edit them. Worse, people who definitely don't like you try to chime in, those who definitely do like you fight back...but they're all wrong.

    O
  • It would be a nice feature, to be able to see all previous versions of a post/article (ala waybavk machine). Ohh well that would bloat the database to multiple of its size.

    So not necessarily possible, but would be a cool feature anyway ...
  • As someone who was following the "action" so to speak on that article I can tell you that it wasn't locked because of gov't employees editing the data to make bush look good which is what the summary implies. The Bush43 article was locked because of all the loony lefties that kept vandalizing it and putting incredibly ridiculous statements in it.
  • Big deal? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Anyone can log into Wikipedia and change anything. You cannot put restrictions on any specific group if it's supposed to be truly open. This is what wikipedia is designed for. By them locking an entry, they have defouled their mission statement.
  • the Congressional computer network has been blocked from editing for brief periods on a number of occasions
    Wikipedia is intended for mature internet users. Not politicians and lobbyists.
  • by BAM0027 (82813) <blo@27.org> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @12:14PM (#14677989) Homepage
    Because Wiki is becoming more of an objective source of information, we need to hold those accountable who would distort or add subjectivity to it. That can't happen in an anonymous venue.

    This is the great challenge for Wiki now, as I see it, how to meld the internet's spirit of anonymity with the _direct_ responsibility to others.

    p.s. Once again, we see the corruption of politics...

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