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Wikipedia Blocking Congress From Editing Wikipedia

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Wikipedia is blocking Congressional IP Addresses from editing Wikipedia articles:

Wikipedia administrators have imposed a ban on page edits from computers at the US House of Representatives, following “persistent disruptive editing”.

The 10-day block comes after anonymous changes were made to entries on politicians and businesses, as well as events like the Kennedy assassination.

The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an “alien lizard”.

One staffer said they were being banned for the “actions of two or three”.

Edits from computers using the IP address belonging to the House of Representatives have been banned before, following similar acts of vandalism.

The latest block comes after rogue edits were brought to light by a Twitter feed, @congressedits, which posts every change made from the government-owned address

One of the acts highlighted was an alteration to the page on the assassination of John F Kennedy, which was changed to say that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting “on behalf of the regime of Fidel Castro”.

An entry on the moon landing conspiracy theories was changed to say they were “promoted by the Cuban government”.

Another entry, on the Ukrainian politician Nataliya Vitrenko, was edited to claim that she was a “Russian puppet”.

The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was revised, describing him as an “alien lizard who eats Mexican babies”.

However the edit that finally brought administrators to ban anonymous edits from the House IP address was made on the entry for media news site Mediaite, describing the blog as “sexist transphobic” and saying that it “automatically assumes that someone is male without any evidence”.

Mediaite had previously run a story on the rogue edits from congressional computers.

According to the Congress Edits Twitter feed it seems as though there are still edits to Wikipedia articles being made from Congressional computers — the most recent update to the feed was two hours ago as I type this — so it’s unclear if the ban has gone into effect yet. Additionally, there’s nothing that would prevent someone affiliated with a Member of Congress from editing Wikipedia using a non-Congressional Internet connection. I suppose the more important question, though, is if the people who work for Congress have enough time on their hands to edit Wikipedia articles about Phish, then why are we paying them to work in the first place?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Moosebreath says:

    “The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was revised, describing him as an “alien lizard who eats Mexican babies”.”

    And we know he isn’t because…?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  2. CSK says:

    There are probably many reliable entries in Wikipedia, but the fact that anyone–as far as I’m aware–can go in there and rewrite anything doesn’t encourage me to use it. It’s off-putting to find two different places of birth given for the same person in a single article, as I did once.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. DrDaveT says:

    One staffer said they were being banned for the “actions of two or three”.

    Congressional staffers getting upset at being treated as members of a class, rather than as individuals? The irony is palpable.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  4. John Peabody says:

    It was also embarrasing when the White House wrote an introductory speech for Billie Jean King that was apparently lifited from her Wikipedia entry– some parts word-for-word, including some factual errors that the good Ms. King tactfully corrected once she was at the microphone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. gVOR08 says:

    I recall seeing a story years ago about Congressional IP addresses being barred from editing Wiki, but because staffers had been fluffing the articles on their principals and vandalizing their opponents pages. .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. PJ says:

    The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an “alien lizard”.

    Thank the FSM for Louis C.K, who asked Rumsfeld directly. And Rumseld refused to answer yes or no, because Reptilians can either deny or say yes, they can’t lie and say no.

    ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. PJ says:

    @PJ:

    because Reptilians can either deny refuse to answer or say yes, they can’t lie and say no.

    Fixed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Moosebreath: You’re just asking questions, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Tillman says:

    I can’t believe they let any IP in Washington, D.C. edit Wikipedia at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. dazedandconfused says:

    While I don’t believe Donald Rumsfeld is “alien lizard who eats Mexican babies”, I think it’s a fair question. His birth certificate should settle the matter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0