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Friday, March 09, 2012

Looking for moles

For some reason the media have a bit of an obsession with Wikipedia, to which they return from time to time. This could be because journalists rely on it so much and have a vague romantic notioin that it should be accurate and reliable.

This morning's Independent is no exception. They appear outraged that an anaylsis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that MPs and staff working in the House of Commons have been responsible for making nearly 10,000 changes to the website's pages.

This is a story that has run before. But what do they expect? Public figures like to control their own image and politicians are no exception. This is especially so when others are seeking to use the site to paint them in a negative light.

A few years ago I was involved in a battle to assert control over my own Wikipedia page due to constant edits from an IP address based in London, not too far from Labour HQ. Sometimes politicians carry out these changes to correct inaccuracies that have been put on there by their opponents.

Still, the article did provide some entertainment with a list of some of the more bizarre edits:

*One user reduced the minimum number of women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II from 60,000 to 10,000.

*Seven changes to the ‘Laws about Incest’ page, listing the jurisdictions where it’s legal.

*Two edits to the article about Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series, and three on her husband Arthur.

*Spelling errors were corrected in a passage discussing whether Pringles were legally recognised as crisps or cakes.

*One eagle-eyed lobby-goer correctly observed that Red Ken’s last name is indeed ‘Livingstone’ and not ‘Twatface’.

*One individual edited the entry on the Lord of the Rings to describe it as ‘12 hours of utter tripe about some little bender running around trying to find a ring with his equally benderish mates’.

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