So I chose a person I admire for this Wikiscanner report. Susan Rice, PhD, foreign policy expert.
Some of you are thinking “what’s wikiscanner?” Well here’s a description from the Wikipedia entry on Wikiscanner
WikiScanner (also known as Wikipedia Scanner) is a tool created by Virgil Griffith and released on August 14, 2007, which consists of a publicly searchable database that links millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to the organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on the owners of the associated block of IP addresses. WikiScanner does not work on edits made under a username. The Associated Press reported that Griffith wanted “to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations [he] dislike[s].”
After randomly going through a list a people I admire (General Odierno, Gov. Sebelius, General Vince Brooks, General Petreaus, Pacman Jones, Papa Smurf), I settled on Susan Rice who I met in person in November 2007. I was curious to know what those who created her biography page on Wikipedia.
HERE ARE SOME FACTS/STATS ON SUSAN RICE’S WIKI PAGE:
Creation Date: 4 August 2005
Last Modification: 22 June 2008
# of Modifications: 80 Total
# of Modifications tracked by wikiscanner: 25 (thru 2 February 2007)
WHO IS EDITING? Perhaps as a testament to her foreign policy prowess, Susan Rice’s page has been edited by IP addresses throughout the world. Wikipedians from New York, Washington DC, Washington state, South Africa, Austria, Thailand, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, and New Mexico have made revisions to the page.
OKAY, SO WHAT WAS INTERESTING?
- Well, it seems Dr. Rice began her career by working at McKinsey & Company–prior to the invention of the internet (I wonder if Chelsea Clinton has returned to her job there?). The good people at McKinsey wanted to make sure everyone knows that by adding:
“She subsequently worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm.”
- October 25, 2006: They also took efforts to remove controversial information about Dr. Rice’s positions and accomplishments at the State Department. Click here for controversy.
- April 26, 2007: The editor from Vienna, Austria vandalized Susan Rice’s page and this was visible for over 30-days!!!
- May 29, 2007: The anonymous person from Georgia deleted the salacious accusation that Susan Rice:
“Served the Fatal cup of Tea that killed the acclaimed winner of of the June 12 Nigerian Presidential election Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola .”
CONCLUSION: Using the wikiscanner on Susan Rice’s page I was able to determine that there is good & bad with an encyclopedia “anyone can edit.”
- New information beyond standard press releases and corporate bios (Over time the name of Dr. Rice’s secondary school and employment history has been expanded. Those are linked internally to other wikipedia pages)
- Real-time changes are made to entries (Dr. Rice’s page includes information that she is currently an adviser to Barack Obama’s campaign)
- Unscrupulous wikipedians can vandalize pages with the absolute worst of accusations that are totally baseless
- Unsuspecting researchers (commonly students) can encounter vandalized entries and use them in subsequent publications. This is even more hazardous in the age of citizen journalist
READERS: If you’re interested in learning more about how wikiscanner works feel free to leave a comment. Be advised new scans are being conducted this summer. Read the Wikiscanner FAQ.