Massaging the Record

It is not a surprise yet worth noting how people, companies, and institutions are using Wikipedia’s open-editing architecture to provide a more positive spin to stories about themselves. A program called WikiScanner allows one to track to location of computers from which Wikipedia articles were edited. Recent news stories and blog posts report that the CIA, the FBI, a number of major U.S. law firms, presidential candidates, and others have tinkered with Wikipedia articles in which they have an interest. Wikipedia’s response is that it’s “self-correcting” nature will catch and undue slanted articles. That sounds positively organic, as if Wikipedia is a living entity that rushes white blood cells to any place in which the truth is harmed. The truth is that Wikipedia articles will be corrected only if (a) someone notices an suspect alteration, and (b) that someone cares to make the change. He who dies in control of the last edit wins.

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