Sunday, December 11, 2005

Gig's up for Wikipedia vandal

Who wrote those Wikipedia lies about John Seigenthaler? An operations manager at a Nashville delivery company named Brian Chase. (Thanks, Leebert)

He came forward only when a Wikipedia critic came dangerously close to unmasking him on his own. Daniel Brandt, who runs Wikipedia Watch, had tracked the guilty IP address down to the delivery company. And then the New York Times called. Chase got nervous and 'fessed up to Seigenthaler (that's E-I, by the way, not I-E); then he resigned from his job.

But why'd he do it? In his letter to Seigenthaler, he said he wrote it to shock a co-worker.

On a related note, I edited the 1A obit on Richard Pryor yesterday and was doing a little background reading on his Wikipedia entry. Every time I hit reload, a word would change here or there; I could tell by the layout differences. But one time I hit reload, and Pryor's medium-sized picture was replaced with a huge one of Che Guevara.

I knew it'd disappear instantly, so I printed the page (for posterity? I don't know why, really). Sure enough, as soon as I hit reload, it was back to normal. Must have taken seconds.

I do think the big errors on Wikipedia are caught almost instantly. It's the stuff that's not big in the news that flies under the radar. And that's dangerous.


At 10:03 PM, June 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, people who edit wikipedia don't just look at stuff that's "big in the news". There's a list of recently edited things which bots (and lots of people) go through to check for anything suspicious. Little things are caught almost just as often as big,


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