WikiScanner Watches Over Wikipedia

A war is quietly being waged over Wikipedia. Governments, political groups, and corporations are suspected of making anonymous changes in their own favour. A quick search of Google News for “Wikipedia” shows a wide range of censorship assertions from around the world.

Of particular interest is the website List anonymous wikipedia edits from interesting organizations, commonly called WikiScanner, by self-described mad scientist and disruptive technologist Virgil Griffith.

On the WikiScanner FAQ page, with regard to whether one can prove changes are actually made by an organization, technologist Virgil states:

Technically, we don’t know if it came from an agent of that company. However, we do know that edit came from someone with access to their network. If the edit occurred during working hours, then we can reasonably assume that the person is either an employee of that company or a guest that was allowed access to their network.

He also describes how the scanning is accomplished:

In the WikiScanner database, there are 34,417,493 anonymous edits dating from February 7th, 2002 to August 4th, 2007. The WikiScanner database was made by extracting all anonymous edits from the publicly available Wikipedia database dump (which is released about once a month).

There are 2,668,095 different organizations in the database which I am using to connect IP#’s to organization names.

Within the names<->IP# database, there are 187,529 different organizations with at least one anonymous wikipedia edit.

The CBC has been following Wikiscanner‘s findings .

A hat tip to Bob at Flacklife. Posted from home at 8:30 am.


  1. Related – it seems a number of large law firms have been editing each other’s wikipedia entires.

    ATL also has some interesting commentary. Let’s hope this type of negative web use doesn’t become wide spread. It could get pretty ugly.