Congressional staffers have made more than 1,000 changes to entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia in the past six months, an investigation by the Lowell Sun has found. The Massachusetts newspaper highlighted changes made by staffers for U.S. Rep Marty Meehan, D-Mass., including the removal of a mention of his broken term-limits pledge and information about the size of his campaign war chest.
Wikipedia's open nature invites editing by the public. But made by have drawn criticism.
While many of the changes discovered by the Lowell Sun were done to enhance political entries, not all were positive. Statements traced to a House IP address included entries that U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., "smells of cow dung" and that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is "ineffective."
Blog community response:
"I think this proves two things : a grassroots initiative like Wikipedia can become important enough for the suits to get worried; a grassroots free-for-all shared responsibility only works in an ideal world without any hidden agenda. This last issue could prove to be instrumental in the further evolution of what we fondly call Web 2.0."
"It's worth noting that the references in question -- Meehan's breaking of his pledge not to run for more than four terms -- have been restored to the page. There are likely to be a lot more Wikipedians who are willing to keep this up to date than congressional staff members who want to alter history."
--Center for Citizen Media: Blog