It seems a little online tool called Wikiscanner is generating a lot of media attention. It searches through anonymous edits by IP or IP range, a simple enough concept that in itself would not be worthy of attention (in fact, Wikipedia already allows you to list the edits made by a particular IP address anonymously). What has gotten the media all riled up is the application of this: tying those IP ranges to recognized organizations like the New York Times or the White House.
It’s even got some local attention after a computer from City Hall was fingered as being behind a defacing of executive committee president Frank Zampino — though it turns out that apparently wasn’t the case.
One thing that isn’t really made clear in these reports is that the edits are being made by people who work within the organization, but not necessarily management. In fact, it’s more likely to be some schmuck working a boring office job than a high-level executive wanting to control public opinion.
And like most edits in general on Wikipedia, most of these edits are pretty benign. Fixing spelling mistakes and correcting minor facts on articles about sports teams and musicians.
But some are embarrassing, or just plain silly.
So I’ve applied the Wikiscanner to some Canadian media IPs I know. (Know any not listed here? Let me know.) Here’s some edits I found that were made from within these organizations:
- Removing some unflattering accusations about sportscaster Scott Oake (and later replacing them).
- Imposing a name-change on musician Bruce Cockburn.
- Referring to the Mother Corp as “Fort Dork”.
- Blanking a page on the numerology of 11:11.
- Opining that Kimveer Gill is a “loser”
Toronto Star (and related organizations like the Kitchener-Waterloo Record):
- Removing a statement that says the Star’s circulation was increasing compared to the Globe and Mail.
- Four words: “Pants are for chumps.”
- Making fun of TV personality (and former Pulse News reporter) Leslie Roberts dyeing his hair.
- Suggesting the International Olympic Committee is corrupt.
- Removing mention of CanWest’s national editorial policy and unsubstantiated claims that the paper’s quality has gone down recently.
- Adding some marketing-ese about how The Gazette outsells all other papers (including French ones) on the island of Montreal.
- Adding links to CanWest portal Canada.com everywhere they can think of.