The curious tale of the Wikipedia vendetta

News organisations around the world have this week been playing with WikiScanner, a new website that reveals the identity of organisations that have edited entries in online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The tool, built by 24-year-old computer scientist Virgil Griffith, does not identify individuals who have edited the online encyclopedia, but users can search for organisations' names to see what edits have been made by users on their networks.

After BBC News Online ran a story focusing on edits made by computers at the CIA and the Vatican, anti-Beeb blog Biased BBC pointed out some embarrassing changes had been made by users of the corporation's own computers, including some "puerile edits" involving Tony Blair and George W Bush. BBC head of interactive Pete Clifton was forced into an embarrassing correction on the BBC editors' blog.

When Damian Thompson pointed out the BBC's "flagrant hypocrisy" on his Telegraph blog, he not surprisingly neglected to mention the 569 edits that have emanated from the IP address range better known as Telegraph.co.uk.

A quick trawl though the list shows that someone at Telegraph HQ enjoys making unflattering amendments to Wikipedia profiles of fellow journalists, including their own colleagues.

During one five-hour period on 3 February, Victoria Plaza computers were used to make subtle changes to the online biographies of various rivals and colleagues, including Jonathan Isaby.

Axegrinder's favourite is the entry for Spy columnist Celia Walden, whose entry morphed from:

In 2006, she has been linked romantically with Piers Morgan, a television personality as well as a fellow critic. She is managed by Knight Ayton Management.

to:

Since 2006, she has dated Piers Morgan, the disgraced former editor of the Daily Mirror and now a television personality as well as a fellow critic. Former lovers include the chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

Also inserted during that period was the scurrilous allegation in Matthew D'Ancona's entry that he is "a former alcoholic".

Elsewhere, Telegraph Wikipedians tried to inform us that Hugo Rifkind's book, Overexposed, "focuses on his girlfriend's weekly drunken flashes at innocent pub-goers."

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