Congressional Wikipedia Vandal Faces Another Ban - The UpStream

Congressional Wikipedia Vandal Faces Another Ban

posted Sunday Aug 24, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Congressional Wikipedia Vandal Faces Another Ban

For some reason, Congressional staffers love to spend time editing Wikipedia. Often times these edits are innocuous, but from time to time they can be material edits to content. Occasionally, those edits are not only material, but inflammatory. Fortunately for those of us who rely on the information on Wikipedia, the organization has a process for dealing with these edits.

If a registered user makes edits that are not in the best interest of the information, a moderator has the ability to prevent that user from making further edits, either to the particular topic or as a whole. Unfortunately, there is also the ability to make edits anonymously; this creates a whole different issue.

Firstly, the ability to edit anonymously creates a scenario in which someone can make an edit without any accountability. Once you remove the accountability, for some you also remove the humanity. Secondly, how do you handle content vandalism when the edit is made anonymously?

That topic has come to the forefront thanks to some anonymous Congressional edits that are considered vandalism. From a member of the House of Representatives staff comes an edit to the page for Netflix series Orange is the New Black which shows off a special type of stupidity. The change revolves around series regular Sophia Burset, who is a transgendered character, played by Laverne Cox. The original text read, "played by a real transgender woman" but was edited to read, "played by a real man pretending to be a woman."

Obviously the response in the talk page to this edit was not positive. Other Wikipedia users are calling for the IP address of the editor to be banned from Wikipedia entirely. This would not be the first time this IP has had a ban on it, though. It just recently came off of a ban, which was followed almost immediately by this edit. The editor believes that they are being targeted because the community does not agree with their opinion, which they have forced into the page, and therefore they are calling it vandalism. Other members claim that the offense is in the addition of opinion where, before, there was only well-defined words used.

Whether you agree with the editor's wording agenda or not, it is hard to argue the fact that the edit injected opinion where there was none before.

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