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Hunting Scammers on Wikipedia



August 21, 2007 – Comments (0)

Using the wikipedia scanner to see who may have edited what, from where, can be interesting. There's a great list of salacious edits from wired, and among the most evil to be found is this one reportedly made from a Republican Party IP address. Vandalizing the Harry Potter page by deleting everything and giving away the ending to one of the books? Yeah, someone's a complete jackass. I'd use a stronger word, but I don't think even that one will remain. (I'll get a talking to, I suppose, but so be it.)


Here are some great, right-wing attempts from a DOD address. Oh, and someone at an Exxon IP address figured that whole Valdez thing wasn't so bad for critters. Finally, you've got Okie Bible Thumpers claiming the Origin of Species to be a work of fiction that supports racism.


My interest in the Wikipedia anonymous edits scanner was more than simple voyeurism, although there is, of course, plenty of that. It was to see just how many of the firms I cover may be trying to game business intelligence -- on themselves or others -- anonymously.


Consider, for example, edits said to be made from IP addresses.


As Gary Weiss has already reported, some of these modifications made from Overstock IP addresses brought down the Wikihammer, and this may be the reason that Byrne and his paid cyber-stalker, Director of Communications, Judd Bagley, smear Wikipedia and began a pathetic me-too with "Omuse."

 Looking in the mirror. 

Let it not be said that I haven't removed the logs from my own peepers. I have.


There are plenty (even more) reportedly made from the Fool, and several of these were edits on the Fool's wikipedia entry.


So, is editing your own wiki page automatically bad? Does it make you a derelict spinmeister?


Hmmm, let's take a look at some of the edits.


In this one, for example, a Fool computer user appears to have removed a baseless and libelous accusation about the Fool's rigging "ratings" for companies that advertise with the Fool.


Looks like simple homework to me. Personally, I'd make it known, if at all possible, that the user making the edits is a Fool employee.


This one, looks like spin, although it's fair to say that the edited text was completely unsupported by any facts, and, indeed, could not be, as those facts would be internal.


This one, spinnish, but humankind will probably thank the Fool editor for removing that muddle-headed, off-topic rant.


I will also note that Fools seem to want to keep the grammar, if not the record, straight on other important topics, such as My Humps, Dr. Evil, and Frank Burns.


Warning, do not try using this tool if you don't like a time sink. And there's some R-Rated material, too. This, [do NOT click here if you aren't ready for some frank intercourse talk] for instance, is from a Novastar Financial IP address.


Here are some places for you to start: Ford Motor Company, Home Depot (where they do a lot less wiki editing), GE, Boeing (one edit on airbus!), Airbus, Coca-Cola (with edits on the urinary tract and this single bit of minor vandalism, and this childish edit on Evian).


In general, I found far fewer smoking guns than I would have expected. Zero, so far, in fact. Is this a good thing? Or are the markets purveyors of dirty tricks simply too smart to try and bother a limited-audience website from easily-traced IP addresses?


One thing seems sure to me: at some companies, people need more to do. They seem to spend an awful lot of time editing wikipedia when they could be, I dunno, working for the owners of the firm?


--Sj, who is just lucky his job description includes trolling stuff like wikipedia for leads...

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