2. Wikipedia's Help From the Hill
3. On The Hill; Five Senators' Aides Reportedly Alter Online Bios
4. Quirks in the News: Wikipedia suffers political edits
5. An 'Adequate' Euphemism
6. President Bush Delivers Message in Nashville; Cindy Sheehan Arrested over T-Shirt; Nagin Testifies At Senate Hearing; Alito Sworn In; Rating White House Strategy; McCain Endorses Shadegg; Bush Takes State Of The Union Outside
7. Wikipedia entries altered for several senators, representatives
8. A Collection of Bizarre Stories from the World of Politics Including Senatorial Slips of the Tongue, Doctored Political Photos and Bios and Drastic Measures to Balance the Budget in New Jersey.
9. Coleman; Guess What Online Encyclopedia Is Close To Being "Wiki-Served"?
Montana; Wiki-When Will They Ever Learn?The Hotline
February 9, 2006 Thursday
Someone from Sen. Conrad Burns' (R) office "apparently edited the senator's entry" on Wikipedia in 1/06 "to remove a controversial remark he had made about Arabs, the Web site reported" 2/7. A recent investigation by Wikinews "found that an unknown editor using an Internet protocol address assigned to" Burns' office removed references to a comment Burns made in '99 calling Arabs "ragheads" and his voting record on Native American issues. "The same person then inserted a glowing paragraph" describing Burns as a "voice for the farmer."
Burns' spokesperson James Pendleton "dismissed Wikinews' findings when asked about it" 2/8, "pointing to the site's open-source nature." Pendleton: "They have exactly zero credibility. Because there is no fact-checking, anybody can go in and put in whatever they want."
"Wikinews recently investigated edits coming from the IP addresses of U.S. Senate offices. It found that the vast majority of edits were actually helpful." Wikinews correspondent Wayne Saewyc: "A very small number of them were not." Other "head-scratching edits" came from the offices of Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Tom Harkin (D-IA). "The Burns article has since been returned to its original format" (Williams, Bozeman Chronicle, 2/9).
Wikipedia's Help From the HillTechNews
February 9, 2006, Thursday
Yuki Noguchi; Washington Post Staff Writer
The scope of the scandal keeps growing, and now that an investigation has been launched, a growing list of Capitol Hill members and their staff appear to be involved.
No, this isn't about fallout from the shenanigans of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. This concerns Wikipedia -- the online encyclopedia written and edited by anyone who wants to contribute -- and the suspected perpetrators of untruths about certain lawmakers.
Recent reports about editorial antics taking place on the site -- selective erasures of past faux pas, outright insults and dozens of other politically motivated revisions -- prompted Wikipedia to block temporarily some addresses on Capitol Hill from being able to edit entries.
At the same time, Wikinews, the affiliated news site about Wikipedia, launched an investigation into changes from Senate offices. Wayne Saewyc, a volunteer Wikinews editor, designed a computer program to match up more than 65,000 possible Internet addresses to offending changes, and it traced them back to various lawmakers' offices. (A similar gumshoe tactic could not be used on House offices, because those computers share an Internet address, according to Wikipedia and Wikinews).
This crime-scene-style investigation points to staff members of at least five offices: Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
In all cases the edits removed factually accurate but unflattering descriptions of the lawmakers, and in many cases they added some beautifying language describing awards or glorifying legislative records.
An entry for Feinstein removed references to her net worth and a $190,000 fine she paid for not disclosing that her husband, Richard C. Blum, had guaranteed her gubernatorial campaign loans in 1990.
Edits allegedly made by Burns's staff removed references to his calling Arabs "ragheads," inserting a paragraph instead called "A Voice for the Farmer" that touted his advocacy for agriculture.
"I don't know why this is a story," said James Pendleton, a spokesman for Burns. "There is no sanctity in Wikipedia. Somebody will always come and change it." He declined to comment on Wikipedia's assertion that some of the changes came from his office.
The edits to Feinstein's entry were done by a former staffer acting alone, said Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the senator. "Online encyclopedias are prone to errors," he said, but staff members have been directed to coordinate changes with the senator's communications people, who are to contact Wikipedia directly.
Wikipedia maintains that, by soliciting edits from all volunteers, the site generally arrives at a neutral description of people and events -- a contention challenged by some on the Hill.
"There were several factual things that were wrong," said Tom Steward, a spokesman for Coleman, defending the staff's changes to the senator's voting record. "There are some subjective things in there, but obviously, as the editors of their site, they have the final say in what they write."
The edits to Biden's entry removed and altered references to incidents of alleged plagiarism. Biden spokesman Norm Kurz said changes that were "made to Biden's site by this office were designed to make it more fair and accurate."
Harkin's spokeswoman, Allison Dobson, said that the alterations were made by a junior staff member and that the office has reemphasized a policy that any changes must be authorized.
Saewyc, the Wikinews editor, said he solicited comment from the senators' offices but has not received any replies.
Meanwhile, some congressional offices are doing their own sleuthing. Staff members for Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) traced one offending change -- inserting that "he likes to beat his wife and children" -- to an Internet address in Omaha. But the person couldn't be identified from the general address, said Jen Rae Hein, a spokeswoman for the congressman.
Instead, the office called Wikipedia, which put a temporary freeze on edits on Terry's entry and took down all references to the offending edit.
Reported By TechNews.com, http://www.technews.com/
On The Hill; Five Senators' Aides Reportedly Alter Online BiosTechnology Daily
February 9, 2006 Thursday
Vol. 10 No. 9
At least five Senate offices reportedly have been involved in editing unflattering comments from lawmaker biographies at the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, The Washington Post reports. Wikipedia temporarily blocked some Internet addresses on Capitol Hill from being able to edit entries, and Wikinews, the affiliated news site of Wikipedia, has launched an investigation into changes made from Senate offices. The investigation points to staff members of at least five offices: Joseph Biden, D-Del.; Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "I don't know why this is a story," said James Pendleton, a spokesman for Burns. "There is no sanctity in Wikipedia. Somebody will always come and change it."
Quirks in the News: Wikipedia suffers political edits....
February 9, 2006.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Talk about spin -- The Washington Post reports some U.S. Senate staff members allegedly made politically motivated revisions to the Wikipedia.
The online encyclopedia that solicits input from the public has blocked -- at least temporarily -- some Capitol Hill addresses. Volunteer news editor Wayne Saewyc said a computer program matched up more than 65,000 possible Internet addresses to ferret out the offenders. A similar program could not be run on House staff members because those computers share addresses, the Post said.
The addresses traced back to staffers in the offices of Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Joseph Biden, D-Del.; Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. The offenders allegedly removed accurate but unflattering information and replaced it with glorifications of the lawmakers' records and other puffery, the newspaper said.
The Post said Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., did some of his own sleuthing and found someone inserted that he "likes to beat his wife and children." It traced back to an Omaha address.
An 'Adequate' EuphemismThe Washington Post
February 8, 2006 Wednesday
A Section; A17 , IN THE LOOP
More Senate staff members appear to have been gussying up their bosses' bios on Wikipedia, which calls itself a "a free online encyclopedia that allows any of its users to edit its content."
"In some cases," Wikipedia sleuths reported, "they have removed negative facts about their senator from the articles." Wikinews reporters say they checked Internet addresses of those who changed Hill bios on the Wikipedia site and traced the deletions and additions to Senate offices.
Wikipedia folks had already identified what it said was improper spinning of articles about Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
Five senators were added yesterday: Democrats Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Republicans Conrad Burns (Mont.) and Norm Coleman (Minn.).
President Bush Delivers Message in Nashville; Cindy Sheehan Arrested over T-Shirt; Nagin Testifies At Senate Hearing; Alito Sworn In; Rating White House Strategy; McCain Endorses Shadegg; Bush Takes State Of The Union OutsideWashington CNN February 1, 2006 Wednesday
Copyright 2006 Cable News Network All Rights Reserved.
Show: The Situation Room 4:00 PM EST
February 1, 2006 Wednesday ... BLITZER: Jack, thank you very much. See you in a few minutes.
Your taxes are paying for it. Congressional aid surfing the popular Web site. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, allows visitors to add and edit entries on just about everything possibly. And apparently, some lawmakers aren't very happy with their bios, how they appear online. Jacki Schechner has got some more -- Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: That's right. This is the Web site Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, that anyone can edit. And essentially, what happened here is congressional staffers went in, made some changes to bios online.
Now, we've confirmed with Representative Marty Meehan's office that it was someone in his office that made some changes to his bio. What happened was an enterprising reporter Meehans' home district contacted Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, that he noticed the changes were coming from an IP address, an Internet protocol address, that was traced back to the House of Representatives.
So they checked this all out, and it was, in fact, true. Now, he's not the only one this was happening to. Norm Coleman's staff, they actually made changes in Wikipedia as well. For example, it was part of Norm Coleman's bio that says that he was voting 98 percent of the time, along with President Bush, and that he wasn't a moderate Republican. His staffers went in and made these changes, saying that he was, in fact, a moderate.
Now, they're not the only ones immune. There are thousands of changes online. Other senators' bios have been affected. Robert Byrd, for example, Senator Bill Frist. What they did, Wikipedia did, in response to this was ban the IP address at the House of Representatives. They did that for a couple of days, try to deter people from going in and making all these changes.
They couldn't do it in the Senate, however, because the Internet protocol addresses are varied. They know that they're coming from the building, but there's not one address like there is in the House.
BLITZER: Jacki Schechner, thank you very much.
Wikipedia entries altered for several senators, representativesGreat Falls Tribune (Montana)
February 1, 2006 Wednesday
Montana; Pg. 3M
Wikipedia entries altered for several senators, representatives
U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns morphed from being "a controversial speaker" to "a voice for the farmer."
Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, a former Democrat, was no longer "a liberal" during his college years, but "an activist." Coleman became a Republican in 1997.
And Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn was classified as "the most annoying member of Congress" in 2005.
There's a reason that Wikipedia, the online, reader-edited encyclopedia, warns users that entries may contain "significant misinformation."
Somebody - probably, several somebodies - appears to have messed around with the entries of several U.S. senators and representatives.
The changes to the entries for Democrats and Republicans alike ranged from amusing to partisan to downright vandalism, said Jimmy Wales, president of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia.
The Web site posted a detailed list of the changes made to the entries, and also restored the entries that had been tampered with.
Burns, for instance, is now back to being "a controversial speaker," the heading over a section about his various speaking gaffes, such as suggesting to a woman last fall that she could stay home and be a full-time mother if she lost her job to outsourcing.
The section was briefly replaced with an entry that began:
"Burns has been a true advocate of the agricultural community. Given the fact that over 64 percent of Montana is used for farming or ranching, Burns has worked hard to secure federal funds to aid cultivation."
While decrying Wikipedia as proof that the Internet is a "buyer-beware" situation, Burns campaign spokesman Jason Klindt added that "we're happy to run on the senator's record of delivering for Montanans.
"Unlike our liberal opponents," he added, "we don't need to manipulate the truth to win the election."
The changes to the congressional entries appeared to have come from several Senate and House Internet addresses. Wales said Wikipedia briefly blocked submissions from congressional addresses.
"Most of the edits that have come from the House and Senate are perfectly fine," he said. "A few are highly partisan and highly inappropriate. A handful are truly embarrassing because they involve outright vandalism."
For instance, the entry for President George W. Bush was altered to include "George W. Bush is the worst president to sleep in the White House!"
The entry for Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was changed to delete references to a plagiarism controversy during Biden's 1996 re-election campaign. The new information included a line saying that Biden's name is regularly on the short list of possible presidential candidates.
Likewise, a reference to the fact that Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin falsely claimed to have flown combat missions over North Vietnam was removed.
The entries for the other two members of Montana's congressional delegration, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, do not appear to have been altered.
Klindt said that no one had asked him to try and find out whether any of Burns' staffers had changed the senator's entry.
A Collection of Bizarre Stories from the World of Politics Including Senatorial Slips of the Tongue, Doctored Political Photos and Bios and Drastic Measures to Balance the Budget in New Jersey.Fox News Network
January 31, 2006 Tuesday
Brit Hume; Todd Connor
The online user-edited encyclopedia Wikipedia has discovered more than 1,000 changes to the biographies of senators and congressman made by Capitol Hill staffers, and its founder calls the extensive editing, quote, "vandalism."
Staffers from Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Marty Meehan and Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman admit deleting unflattering but accurate details from items on their bosses. And anonymous Hill staffers, presumably not from his office, modified an article on Virginia Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, adding the statement, quote, "smells of cow dung."
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says such massive editing and is unacceptable and he's temporarily banned the entire House from making further changes.
Coleman; Guess What Online Encyclopedia Is Close To Being "Wiki-Served"?The Hotline
January 31, 2006 Tuesday
Sen. Norm Coleman's (R-MN) staff "made revisions" to his Wikipedia bio. Wikipedia "featured" his bio "as one of a half-dozen that had been edited by Senate employees" (see 1/30 Blogometer). Coleman CoS Erich Mische "said the editing was done to correct inaccuracies and delete information that was not reflective" of Coleman.
Coleman was described as a "liberal" in college; his staff changed that to "activist." Mische: "Six of one, half-dozen of another." Coleman's staff "deleted a reference" to Coleman deciding to run for SEN in '02 after Karl Rove "persuaded him not to run" for GOV. Mische said "they never told him not to run" for GOV. The staff also deleted a reference to Coleman voting with Pres. Bush 98% of the time in '03, "despite running as a moderate" in '02. Misch: "That probably should have stayed in there."
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: "It appears to be a major rewrite of the article to make it more favorable" (Frommer, AP, 1/31). "Heard on the Hill" notes that Hill staffers have made so many Wikipedia changes that the site "has blocked the entire House three times" from accessing it. Wales calls the "more than 1,000 changes" made my House staffers "vandalism." And he "lists the offenses" bio by bio (Akers, Roll Call, 1/31).