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Marty Meehan - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Censoring information online has been a touchy subject and now the US government is banned from Wikipedia for altering facts

Recently, the Wikipedia community has been shaken up. Because of its nature, anyone can contribute to its content or edit existing material. The Goal of Wikipedia has been to provide free flowing information on just about everything in the world. In fact, one can look up information ranging from different US Presidents down to individual Congressmen that have run in and are running still, in office.

Over the past several weeks however, Wikipedia administrators began noticing changes been made on one Congressman's biography page in similar fashion to suspicious activities on other Wikipedia pages. Congressman Marty Meehan, currently running in the US government as a Democratic member since the early 90's has had his staff alter certain text to boost his support and public image. Certain factual truths about Mr. Meehan and his party members that were deemed "negative" and told "too much", were thoroughly edited to remove certain parts of history, events, and things said.

The biographical article for Mr. Meehan was carefully edited, removing negative comments while expanding with content from the congressman's political flyer. The IP address which made these edits has an extensive editing history on Wikipedia, and has been repeatedly blocked in past months for article vandalism and violation of Wikipedia policies.

Wikipedia administrators have now said that they will permanently block IP addresses that are associated with the US House and US Senate. Both of these entities actually have entire IP blocks reserved for them. The 156.33.xxx.xxx range belongs solely to the US government and is no stranger to Wikipedia.

With Wikipedia's self audit, the US government has now been called out on something which many feel is just as bad. Censoring information has been a hot topic recently, and many have voiced that information must remain freely available. However, what Marty Meehan and company have been doing recently directly affects the web community's efforts into creating a source of reliable and abundant information for the masses.


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What's the big news?
By maxusa on 1/30/2006 7:32:15 PM , Rating: 3
Big deal, someone edited something on the web. Publicly available editing is succeptible to all kinds of intent including malicious. We live in a dog-eats-dog world. What's the big news?

On the other hand, it's good to know that someone at Wiki is trying to moderate things. For Wiki this may be newsworthy, but most anyone with Internet experience knows to veify information from several sources. Relying on Wiki exclusively is like reading a single newspaper all the time. Hardly a way to acquire comprehensive information. Although Wiki might be better than average in this.




RE: What's the big news?
By feraltoad on 1/30/2006 9:25:39 PM , Rating: 3
Big deal? Does news have to be volcanic-eruption-big to be news? Look at a local paper; admittedly mostly crap. Maybe you can create a news blog that only runs stuff that would be considered peculiar in a dog-eat-dog world. Of course that site would have eto xclude things like WW2 and whenever China absorbs Hong Kong cuz you can just assume those things are gonna happen.

Politicians suck! The only way you get to be a politician is to be dirty in the first place. I don't wuts gonna happen the way they keep selling the average joe down the river. Altering things in an encyclopedia is on the level stealing from a collection pail for the poor. Just when you think they can't get any slimier. I expect Neonazis and other History Revisionist, or people who put in articles about how they have the worlds biggest... But, Congress man? Moreover that is another misuse of tax payers money.


RE: What's the big news?
By maxusa on 1/30/2006 11:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
Just read the newsbit again. Alerting news, community shaken up, the U.S. Congress is altering facts... as if they aren't/weren't doing this always. As if the author was born yesterday and just discovered the principles of democracy and its alma mater, U.S. Congress. Where was the author when U.S. Congress with the White House altered facts and then sponsored the destruction of the country and murder of its civilians while robbing their own electorat of tax-derived fund that could have been directed at improving the quality of life, medical, scientific research, and other truly necessary projects? As much as I dislike politicians in general, journalism is becoming another stinking profession.


RE: What's the big news?
By Tuan Nguyen on 1/31/2006 2:49:45 AM , Rating: 1
We report industry news as it happens. That's our job. We're not here to filter out news that we personally believe should or shouldn't be published. That's not DailyTech's role. Our role is to provide as much information on what's going on in the industry as possible.

Tuan


RE: What's the big news?
By Alexvrb on 1/31/2006 9:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
The big deal is that a lot of people trust Wikipedia pages automatically, until proven otherwise. Even supposedly professional journalists trust it as a reliable source. What's so wrong about that? Wikipedia is an excellent source of information! Except when it isn't. The problem is that by its very nature, Wikipedia is extremely open to abuse, and always will be, unless it drastically changes. Banning IPs doesn't change the design, so it won't do any good.

Wikipedia is a great system in theory, and there's a lot of good content. But there's also many incidents like this, alterations made to wiki pages adding in additional bias. Who knows how many pages were maliciously altered by the staff of this one congressman, let alone any other human being with an agenda? It's not just every once in a while, it's constantly a problem, just not usually so blatant - so most minor changes wouldn't even be noticed. People love Wikipedia. The system itself IS good, but flawed, because everyone can get involved, no matter the agenda.

So you take the good with the bad, right? No big deal? Problem is, most people don't seem to acknowledge or understand the bad.


RE: What's the big news?
By maxusa on 1/31/2006 11:33:01 PM , Rating: 2
I am truly sorry for people who automatically trust Wiki or, for this matter, anything posted on the Net. It may be a great comprehensive research database, but with its forum-like design it can not be trusted automatically.

Also, I would question the statement that this congressman staff modified the content. As we all know too well, IP stamps can be manipulated with proxies, etc. For 4 years I worked in a major U.S. government agency in Washington D.C. and know how easy it is to get/give network access from the outside. Where is the proof? Sorry, but this newsbit, the U.S. Congress IP ban, the entire Wikipedia theme is blown out of proportions.


RE: What's the big news?
By Alexvrb on 2/1/2006 6:46:52 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, this PARTICULAR incident has been blown out of proportion. But two things come to mind which you may want to ponder:

1) For every time someone is "caught" and slapped on the wrist, how many other times does this occur without notice or a peep of protest?
2) To many people, it IS big news, and that is a problem. I alluded to this before... people don't really know about this sort of thing, and so this is somewhat shocking to the sheep.

In other words, articles about this sort of thing tend to focus in on the particular incident, when really they should use them as minor examples to educate people on why Wikipedia is as imperfect and sometimes petty or even malicious as those who change content on it

Once again, Wikipedia is great. But you can't trust it, and you've got to accept the bad with the good.


hate to be political here...
By Saist on 1/30/2006 5:36:39 PM , Rating: 1
is it just me, or is anyone else noticing that liberal democrats are the ones who are earning a reputation for changing information on the yet?

A liberal democrat is editing wikipedia...

liberal democrats conspired to form a google bomb on failure...

I don't see this kind of behavior from the conservative republican side, so I issue this challenge. If you have to actively go out of your way to change information and facts in the interests of your own beliefs... why exactly do you hold onto those beliefs? Would they not then be logically wrong?

alright, enough politics from me :) I give the topic over to anyone else who has something humerous to say.




RE: hate to be political here...
By HARM on 1/30/2006 5:57:59 PM , Rating: 2
If you said yourself that you "hate to be political here," then DON'T.

Besides, I'm sure there's plenty of Republicans who modified their own wiki content, too. This article just happened to be about a Democrat.

Enough said about that.

ANYWAY, do these measures taken by wiki really make it more resistant to abuse? I would think that most government employees have their own personal internet accounts at home from which they could attempt to modify their wiki content with. It seems like all this does is prevent politicians from modifying their wiki pages from work.

Considering how much time the average senator probably spends *IN* his office, this doesn't seem like much of an effective measure to me.


RE: hate to be political here...
By smitty3268 on 1/30/2006 6:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
You honestly think that ANY politicians aren't editing information to make them look better? The only ones that aren't are the ones who haven't heard of Wikipedia and who have lazy aids who don't tell them about it.


How is this going to stop them?
By Jackyl on 1/30/2006 7:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
All they have to do is log in at home, or through Anonymous IP changer. There, they have access again. What Wikipedia needs to do, is go to a secure system. Require everyone to register a credit card AND driver's license number, if they want to make changes. Then give them a secure login/password. This would track people and stop the illegitimate people from f-ing up everything.


By matthewfoley on 1/31/2006 9:48:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I'm going to give Wikipedia my driver's license number and credit card number just to post on random meaningless drivel, and I'm sure that they'll be glad to keep up with all of that.


By PrinceGaz on 1/31/2006 8:51:11 PM , Rating: 2
Whilst most of us may have credit-cards that are recognised around the world, I doubt the same can be said of driver's licenses. Indeed many people outside of the US have no need of a car or driver's license as we have very good public-transportation systems.

In any case, I would only entrust any perosnal info such as credit-card details to a reputable online-store I trust and am purchasing from, not a voluntary wiki.


RE: hate to be political here...
By Decaydence on 1/30/06, Rating: -1
RE: hate to be political here...
By Sunbird on 1/31/2006 7:55:11 AM , Rating: 2
Saist you liberal scumbag, are you implying that Republicans don't know how to use the internet/edit wikipedia?! >:(


:P


Go home and edit?
By Ackbar on 2/1/2006 11:11:48 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe Wikipedia already considered this and realized there was no feasible solution, but...

obviously these people can just go home and edit these articles. Since its IP based, all they'd have to do is log in from home or a new cafe or a friend's computer. Come on, is anyone that stupid to let something like this actually stop them?




RE: Go home and edit?
By T1 on 2/1/2006 2:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
You won't even have to do that. All you have to do to get around an IP adress ban, is to go through a proxy server.


RE: Go home and edit?
By T1 on 2/1/2006 2:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
To amend my last post, I sincerely confess, I have used to be a Wiki-vandaliser myself. Although, I stopped after I started to use their website for research.

Maybe Wikipedia should have another version of the articles whose content would only be updated, if the material has been sent through fact-checkers and professional researchers, and to deter immature people from vandalizeing, they should send an automatic e-mail to vandalizers putting in some legal threats.


RE: Go home and edit?
By bigpimpatl on 2/4/2006 8:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
and where would they get the money to get "professionals" to research every article? if only money fell from the sky...


ha
By NullSubroutine on 1/31/2006 11:27:05 AM , Rating: 2
ha, if you notice the first post on this subject was deleted...censorship about a censorship article, woohooo!!!




RE: ha
By Griswold on 1/31/2006 12:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
What happens at Wikipedia can hardly be called censorship, as it is not some authority censoring facts, but some nutsacks removing stuff they dont like and adding stuff that makes them look better - besides insulting and dissing other people bio's.


RE: ha
By maxusa on 1/31/2006 12:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
Change the Threshold level to "0" to see all posts.


ROFL&P
By Zepper on 1/31/2006 11:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
Don't you just love it when the rudderless lefties try to justify/rationalize their own actions by claiming that others do it? I say, show me! The fact is is that others DON'T do it in significant numbers.
On other forums I've posted that I'm willing to take a bet that lefties are caught up in this at a rate of at least three to one over the other side (probably 4 or more to one, but I don't like to make a bet I can't win).
. There have been no takers - 'nuff said...

.bh.




RE: ROFL&P
By Decaydence on 2/1/06, Rating: 0
RE: ROFL&P
By Zepper on 2/2/2006 10:53:10 AM , Rating: 2
I notice you made no effort to refute my premise. Just the typical ad-hom. the left uses when they have no real basis for their position. The amount is left to whoever takes up the bet...

.bh.


RE: ROFL&P
By mindless1 on 2/3/2006 7:29:33 AM , Rating: 2
You might just be full of yourself.

He has a right to an opinion just as much as you do.


hi.
By yanquii on 1/30/2006 6:02:43 PM , Rating: 5
Politicians will be politicians no matter which side they come from.

I love Wikipedia. I visit the site more than I probably should and this article puts a smile on my face.




UMTS
By johnsaw on 1/31/2006 11:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
Bla, bla, have you ever heard of 3G (or at least GPRS) access to web?




RE: UMTS
By johnsaw on 1/31/2006 11:59:24 PM , Rating: 2
Or proxies. Just make your home computer with a dinamic IP broadband a proxy...


Hmm
By nomagic on 1/30/2006 7:00:25 PM , Rating: 2
I understand their feeling. If I have a page in wikipedia, I would edit it like crazy too.




Incorrect information
By bersl2 on 1/30/2006 11:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
First of all, the longest IP ban imposed in this case was one week.

Furthermore, the ban has since been rolled back, pending further discussion.




Haha
By AggressorPrime on 1/31/2006 3:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
Government 0, Wikipedia 1




why not???
By cymagen on 1/31/2006 7:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
What's the big deal? Why not create a sort of cache, or entry history in wikipedia, and let users rate which one they believe is more accurate, or the ones that should be shown? That's what wikipedia is all about right--a human encyclopedia? And then incorporate an alert system that says something along the lines of "Alert-This item has recently been modified by user X, with IP address X(click for info on IP address), click here for changes." This would probably create a more open system that would discourage this kind of crap from happening. It is ridiculous that--with such cheap hardware and bandwidth--something can just disappear forever--we should not erase history...




1984 is here
By DanDaMan315 on 2/2/2006 8:32:51 PM , Rating: 2
When you own the past you own the future...




NOW HEAR THIS!
By Pythias on 2/3/2006 4:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
They're all rotten. Not one of them on either side really gives a rat's hairy ball bag about any of us. Do you morons really believe that any of those freaks care about "the little man"? STOP defending these pricks. None of them on either side are worth the effort.


That is all.




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