WikiScanner – the Wikipedia Whodunnit

It had to happen eventually. Virgil Griffith, a computer science student in the US, has created a scanner that allows you to check for wikipedia edits by public institution or IP range. I think there’s a reason Jimmy Wales loves the idea (“It is fabulous and I strongly support it”) – there is now a very easy, very public, very free way to track who’s been snipping out unflattering criticism, editing rival entries and generally spitting in the face of the wikipedia ethos. This is probably the best weapon ever developed in the arsenal against POV edits – public shame.

The scanner is already being used to compile lists of suspicious, embarrassing and silly edits. Microsoft have been caught editing failure rates from the Xbox 360, their PR firm have edited their MSN Search article to refer to it as a major competitor to Google, someone from MySpace censored the entry on censorship, Discovery Communications deleted the reference to their reputation for guerrilla marketing, FOX News are caught spinning so much they have to be dizzy by now, and Scientology spreads enough whitewash to paint a small town. And much, much more.

You can submit your finds to Wired here. Happy hunting!

9 Responses to “WikiScanner – the Wikipedia Whodunnit”

  1. Darth_Morbius Says:

    Hmmm…am I the only one whio is slightly disturbed by this lack of confidentiality?

    Whilst I can see the practical applications for a site such as Wikipedia, I cannot help but think of the nefarious efficiency this tool can provide to track ANY posts on any websites – isn’s anonymity part of the allure when posting comments on the web?

    What comes to mind immediately is the application of this technology in totalitarian states (such as China) where dissident voices against the politiacl regime may be tracked down and silenced far easier…

  2. But wait! Moonflake could work out who we are! And then call us names! The horrors!

    On a more serious note, I like the fact that this can be done to call out (particularly) corporates – but I wonder how many of the “CIA do weird edits”, and “Apple call X a ho” is just bored employees following their own interests.

  3. Somehow I am posting before Moonflake. She must have discovered TIME TRAVEL. Either that or the LIZARD PEOPLE supplied to her so spell the DOWNFALL* of religion!

    *Okay, I spelled downfall, so sue me.

  4. the only reason this works is because when you post on wikipedia, and you post as anonymous, you are informed that your posts will be tagged with your IP address, clearly and plainly, in lieu of a nom de web. Go to any Talk page and you can clearly see the IP addresses of people who’ve posted. The rest is just connecting the dots with other publicly accessible information. This tool does not provide any new information, it just makes it easier to collate it.

    It won’t work on ANY posts on ANY website because the vast majority of sites do not publicly display the IPs of the posters. For example, wordpress tells me the IP of every person who posts here, but it’s not displayed on the page, which means it’s not public knowledge, which means the tool would not be able to do jack on this site.

  5. andy: moonflake has always been able to time travel. i have often seen her travel into the future. that doesn’t mean that the lizard people aren’t involved

  6. Moonflake I trust you won’t track me down and kill me at child birth if i disagree with you on anything? I have found your critics are slowly disappearing *gulp*

  7. http://discovermagazine.com/2007/sep/jarons-world-peace-through-god

    Thought you might like this opinion piece.

    WordPress just did something bizarre – It automatically filled in the name and mail address of someone else styling himself as The Erickle, and potentially related to Archangel judging by his last name.

  8. yeah it does that some times, I think it’s an IP range caching thing, because when ppl at work comment i often get their details when I comment next. I used to get dystopia’s all the time.

  9. It’s getting a lot of coverage in Australia, talking about which politician’s office edited what entry.

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