Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Twitter Account Perhaps Worth Following

@congressedits. CongressEdits is a bot, created earlier this month, that automatically tweets anonymous edits to Wikipedia from IP addresses originating from Congress. You may have heard the occasional story over the years about some office or other getting caught editing their own page or something that they disagree with politically. That was about the only way you'd hear of it previously. Here, everyone's getting caught red-handed every time.

Not that you'd always characterize it as 'getting caught red-handed'; after all, a lot of the edits are as benign as everyone else's. Choco Taco, for example. But there's enough precedent in place that it's worth sifting through the benign edits to find the suspicious ones.

How does Wikipedia feel about this new account? Well, they've since banned Congress from editing for 10 days, so it can probably be assumed that they appreciate the heads-up.

They may also appreciate the legislative editbots that have since popped up in other countries that thought, hey, that's a hell of an idea there; we'd like to catch anonymous edits too:

*Australia (@AussieParlEdits)
*Canada (@gccaedits)
*Chile (@EstadoEdita)
*Denmark (@FTingetWikiEdit)
*France (@wikiAssemblee)
*Germany (@reichstagedits)
*Ireland (@IrishGovEdits)
*Israel (@israeledits)
*Italy (@Parlamento_Wiki)
*Lithuania (@LRSwikiedits)
*Netherlands (@2dekameredits)
*Russia (@RuGovEdits_en)
*South Africa (@parlizaedits)
*Sweden (@RiksdagWikiEdit)
*Switzerland (@swissgovedit)
*Ukraine (@UaGovEdits_en)
*United Kingdom (@parliamentedits, and they were actually around first, but I am American and therefore neener neener)

And as if that wasn't enough, nongovernmental editbots have also popped up, such as for the CIA (@ciaedits), oil companies/defense contractors (@oiledits), pharmaceutical companies (@phrmaedits), Goldman Sachs (@goldmanedits), and Monsanto (@monsantoedits). I'm sure this isn't going to be the last of them; a pretty good approximation of the list as it stands can be found here. And if you want to make a new one, the source code is here.

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