Monday, January 30, 2006

"No SoupWiki For You!"

There's clueless, there's dumb, and then there's this:
A story came out last Friday from Evan Lehmann about the abuse of Wikipedia. While these Wikipedia abuse cases are getting common, this is the first time it was directly attributed to congressional staffers in the United States House of Representatives. Staffers of Representative Marty Meehan (D) deliberately made alterations on Meehan's Wiki by erasing embarrassing but factual information about the congressman.
O.K., not only is this wrong from a moral standpoint, but it's incredibly stupid. First of all, it's deleting easily verifiable, objectively factual information. Meehan did promise to serve no more than 8 years. (Ooops). And he does have the largest campaign war-chest, according to the FEC. As Smilin' Jack Ross would say, "these are the facts and they are indisputable."

Second, the likelihood of this getting back to the source approaches 1. It's not like it's hard to track the edits back to House servers:
As it turns out, there were thousands of other times that Wikipedia modifications were tracked down to the House of Representatives' network.
If you are going to play these kinds of dirty tricks, send Jo-Jo the Idiot Intern Boy down to Starbucks with a laptop so you at least have plausible deniability. Did I mention dirty tricks?
some of the changes were grossly abusive. The worst example was when congressional staffers modified the Wiki of Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor (R) with the statement "smells of cow dung" and modified Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) as "ineffective". The abuse was so excessive that the Wikipedia temporarily blocked the House's IP range last November and December.
The words "Democrat" and "gang" and "couldn't shoot straight" spring to mind unbidden, though I imagine that this is, like Abramoffthe proverbial "bi-partisan scandal".

To make a larger, and largely non-partisan, point, these are the guys who are making technology related law. And they don't show knowledge of the first damn clue as to how these things work. It's no wonder copywrite gets extended ad infinitum (see Eldred), Network Neutrality may go by the boards, the idiocy of mandating broadcast flags (which would require new gadgets contain only that technology which has been "certified by the FCC as being not unduly disruptive to entertainment industry business-models." Read that sentance again.) etc., etc., etc.

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