[Foundation-l] Wiki Scanner & wikinew

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Wed Aug 22 13:24:17 UTC 2007

On 8/21/07, jason safoutin <cute24minbflo at yahoo.com> wrote:
> My excuse...Do you know how IP address work? ONLY individuals employed by FOX News Channel, or News Corp have access to those IP addresses. ONLY employees are the ones who can log onto the internet with those IPs.

I'm pretty qualified to argue on this point. I may flap my gums on a lot of subjects, but here you've stepped right into an area intersecting my professional expertise. 

In other words, I'm the sort of person you would have asked about this if you had an interest in accuracy rather than spin.

Quite a bit of the print media got this right. ... and considering their track record with technical matters there is just no excuse for Wikinews. 

There are dozens of ways that someone not at all associated from a company could edit from an address block currently assigned to that company.

*Visitors, family and friends of staff are often given Internet access.
**In fact I've used the Internet from the offices of at least 6 large corporations in the last month or so, including 3 Fortune 500 companies. 

*They may intentionally provide open Internet access to the public at their facilities. For example open WIFI, Kiosks.

*The allocations could have changed. Wikiscanner lookup is based on current allocations, but in some cases we are taking about edits months or years old. The allocations listings could be also be inaccurate. Some providers are pretty sloppy about updating rwhois data.

*They may unintentionally provide Internet access to the public, through insecure WiFi, or unsecured desktops in public places.

*Employees home systems may access the Internet via the company network due to leaving up a VPN, resulting in the employees children, friends and family, neighbors, etc all possibly editing from a company IP in addition to the employees after work hours and outside of the office.

*They be intentionally providing Internet access to neighbors.

*They may be running an open proxy. 

*Their desktops may be compromised with a trojan that provides closed proxy services to others.

*Our own records could be wrong.

I could continue for hours... Some of the possibilities are fairly unlikely, especially when you consider the character of the edits but the first couple are rather common which also fit with the edits being related to the companies.

Even ignoring all the possible ways that the edits could have been made by someone with no affiliation with Fox, it's still a *huge step* to go from "an edit was made by an intern or employee of X, potentially after hours or otherwise on their own time", to saying "Company X whitewashes articles".

> You see, before slam Wikinews and whitewash us, maybe you need to use the WikiScanner tool and understand how it works and also understand how IPs work as well.

So I'm a whitewasher now too?
Good thing you don't have my IP address.

You wikinewsies really ought to make up your collective mind. Brian complained that I didn't fix it, now you're attacking me because I did.

I haven't looked at enough of the Fox edits to comment on them, but some of the "whitewashing" allegations I've seen related to Wikiscanner were removing NPOV violating hatchet jobs.  Sure, it would be better to fix the text rather than remove it... 

Our experience is that most likely person to complain about problems with our articles are the subjects themselves. Our most common response to reasonable sounding complaints from anyone is {{sofixit}}.  There is room for reasonable, and certainly somewhat biased, folks to disagree on what constitutes a problem.  I think that so long as we continue to demand people {{sofixit}}, and so long as we have so many hatchet jobs in Wikipedia, we ought to be really careful in what we call whitewashing.

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