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Howard Government: over 5000 edits on Wikipedia
Sunday Aug 26th, 2007 11:59 AM
Public servants have been found to have edited Wikipedia entries. Staff from the department have been found to have made edits to Wikipedia entries on topics such as the "children overboard" affair. Treasurer Peter Costello's page was also edited, removing a reference to the nickname "Captain Smirk"...
by Winston Smith - Indymedia 2007-08-24 10:42 AM +0800

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet says Prime Minister John Howard did not ask any of his staff to make over a hundred edits to Wikipedia.

The Defence Department says it has blocked staff from editing the open access encyclopedia, amid revelations they had made thousands of edits on Wikipedia. The changes, discovered using the WikiScanner program, range from removing anti-Liberal Party comments, to correcting factual information about the Australian Defence Force. Defence computers were found to have made more than 5000 edits to Wikipedia entries, including articles on the "9/11 truth movement", the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Vietnam War-era Pentagon Papers.

An internal inquiry has been launched but the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet says the changes could have come from a number of different organisations using the same internet protocol address. The Prime Minister's office refused to confirm it would also blocked staff from editing Wikipedia, saying it was necessary to track down what had happened first.

Chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia Dale Clapperton says the site can be edited by anyone but there should be ethical considerations as well.

"You also have to ask yourself whether it's a responsible and reasonable use of taxpayer dollars to have public servants trying to sanitise entries on Wikipedia using taxpayer-paid resources to make their point of view more acceptable to the current Government," he said.

Bizarre, obscure, and poorly spelt contributions are among Wikipedia edits traced to the Prime Minister’s department – with one simply stating: “Poo bum dicky wee wee”. Edits made by the PMC have enraged some of Wikipedia's notoriously humourless users. On the PMC's "Talk" page, one user even calls for a ban on edits by the PMC, saying it "has a history of pointless vandalism".

See the full catalogue of PMC changes here


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