Major Companies, The Vatican And Governments Busted By Wikipedia Scanner

As some of you might know I’m running two other sites, www.fifa2008news.com and fm2008news.com. Both of these siteswiki-scanner.jpg feature latest news about two football or soccer video games. They even have news that can’t be found anywhere else on the internet, since both games have their roots in Europe, I get the information before the American sites. I like to share that information, so I regularly update the topics related to these video games on Wikipedia.

Now here’s the problem – According to Wikipedia’s rules links to blogs and other personal sites should be avoided, so the information I posted on both of these sites was removed. It was the editors of the articles that removed the information. Of course I don’t post unconfirmed information or rumours, so I contacted the editors and they told me that you can’t link to a blog. I talked a bit back and forth with the editors and ultimately I stopped editing the articles. The Wikipedia article about FIFA 08 and Football Manager 2008 still lacks a lot of information, but apparently thats the way it should be. When is a blog a blog? When is it a personal site?

Companies Update Their Own Wiki Articles

Now here is the funny thing, I’m not the only one that updates articles to get some free PR. No apparently others do that too…(big surprise!) Apple edits Microsoft’s article and vice versa, The Vatican edits Irish Catholic politician Gerry Adam’s page and Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects. The list goes on and I’ve found one for you.

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. So why shouldn’t companies, The Vatican and various governments not make their pages look good? They certainly do that, but anonymously or hidden behind strange usernames, so noone can see who removed that last paragraph stating something negative about a certain product or company.

Wikipedia Scanner Reveals The Sinners

A student at Cal Tech, Virgil Griffith, has created a Wikipedia Scanner. It is really simple. Everytime you edit an article on Wikipedia you leave an IP-fingerprint behind. For those non-techies put there, it means that your computer’s “address” on the network ( a number like 84.129.43.192) is attached to the edited Wikipedia article. Every company, government, person and computer has it’s own unique IP-address or fingerprint. With that IP-address you simply search one of the public net-address lookup services and voila, you know which company edited that Wikipedia article.

If you want to take a look at Virgil Griffith’s Wikipedia Scanner you can try it out for free here.

I found this very interesting list on Maltastar.com.

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 9/11”

- 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 murderer”

- 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 manufacturer”

- MSN Search is “a major competitor to Google”. 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 ”George Walker Bush” to “George Wan*** Bush”

- 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.

Interesting reading indeed.

Easy Way To Avoid Being Detected

Of course the scanner has it’s limitations. If you really want to edit an article on Wikipedia without revaling your IP-address publically, it can easily be done by registering on Wikipedia or editing the article from home or using a proxy server. However Wikipedia still has your IP-address, it’s just stored in their database.

If you found any companies with their fingers in the cookie jar, then drop a comment and share it with us.

And when is a blog a blog? What defines a blog? Is relaying information a blog? Or is it determined by the software like WordPress?

Source: Maltastar.com

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5 Responses to Major Companies, The Vatican And Governments Busted By Wikipedia Scanner

  1. Michael Repplinger August 22, 2007 at 9:10 am #

    Problem is, the moment this Wikipedia Scanner became known and useful, every company with a half-decent technical understanding will probably make those edits with the help of an anonymous proxy from now on.

  2. Dave Starr August 27, 2007 at 1:48 am #

    Good rundown. I’m always amazed at the popuarity of Wijipedia … and Google’s slavish acceptance of everything in Wikipedia at face value. Guess it all just speaks to the current “instant gratification” desire … people want somehting now, even if it’s wrong. A major failing in Googles policy/algorithm, in my view. As far as the integrity of thos ebehind Wikipedia? less said the better. Rank at all cost.

    The definition of a bog deserves its own separate subject. It certainly does not depend upon the software used … many of the original blogs … published for years before the term “blog” was coined, don’t use “blogging software”. That certainly doesn’t make them “not blogs”.

    See http://www.jerrypournelle.com/ for just one cogent example.

  3. Mosey August 31, 2007 at 3:15 pm #

    Considering alot of sites are starting to use ‘blog’ software as CMSs… how will or are Wikipedia going to draw the line?

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