Ordinarily, updates go at the bottom somewhere, but this particular update basically destroys the whole point of this post.
Ludwig de Braeckeleer, the person whose article is at the centre of this blog post, has retracted his statement that Virgil Griffith was hired by Wikipedia to create the Wikipedia scanner.Â In his post, he says:
“On July 26, OhmyNews alleged that Wikipedia may have been infiltrated by Intelligence Agencies. The story attracted more than 50,000 readers in just three days, was highly debated on the Web, and translated in several languages.(*)”
“(*) This article has been revised. “
He didn’t even go so far as to suggest why he had made the mistake, or to apologise, or anything else.Â Bad form, Ludwig, bad form!
There is still a miniscule chance that the original statement was still true, but if that is the case then Ludwig (or Ohmynews) were presenting extremely bad form by backing down.Â To make such a statement, stated as fact, and then to retract it with no explanation is really terrible.Â It has the result of greatly improving Wikipedia’s image, and of taking all of us here at Wikipedia Review for a ride.
I am keeping the rest of this blog post for the sake of an archive.Â Bad form, Ludwig!
Ludwig de Braeckeleer, the person who wrote an article uncovering the truth behind the SlimVirgin scandal, has recently written a new article commenting about the truth behind the Wikipedia Scanner. Whilst this issue has been covered in about 100 different news agencies, all of them seemed to have missed the point. They seem to be believing the idea that anonymous IP addresses vandalising Wikipedia are the only issues on Wikipedia. But Ludwig has dug deeper, and discovered a deeper level of truth - that Wikipedia itself had hired Virgil Griffith, the creator of Wikipedia Scanner. He suggests that the reason that they hired him was because Wikipedia wanted to cover up unwanted media coverage from such things as the SlimVirgin scandal, and to divert attention towards the vandals and anonymous IP addresses, and away from controlled articles, which is the heart of Wikipedia’s most serious issues.
“On July 26, OhmyNews alleged that Wikipedia may have been infiltrated by Intelligence Agencies. The story attracted more than 50,000 readers in just three days, was highly debated on the Web, and translated in several languages. Wikipedia quickly reacted to the news and hired Virgil Griffith, one of the best known American hacker, to investigate the matter.”
This is a statement of fact, not an opinion. If Ludwig is lying, then he could be sued by the Wikimedia Foundation, as could Ohmy News for allowing this to be published. Given Ludwig’s track record on accuracy, it doesn’t seem likely that he would state something as fact if it wasn’t.
In a Wikipedia Review post, Daniel Brandt note:
“It is interesting that Wikipedia hired this guy. I’ve been wondering about a couple of things, and this explains them. One thing I found curious is that Jimbo implied when the SlimVirgin story came out that the Foundation was on top of the situation and watching it closely. He had nothing further to say. The other thing I found curious is that this hacker guy must have done a dump of the entire Wikipedia history record for anon edits, and then organized them by IP blocks, and did reverse lookups on the .gov domains and some corporate domains. While that was a possibility in my mind, it seems rather ambitious for a hobbyist doing it for fun. It also seems he’d need a fair amount of bandwidth and a few dedicated servers if he intended to maintain the tool and keep it humming at an acceptable level.”
Like Ludwig, Daniel Brandt is known for his high degree of accuracy. Neither of them get it wrong very often.
Whilst some were doubting their credentials, and whether perhaps on this unique occasion they got it all wrong, some other developments occurred.
Wikipedia’s article on Virgil Griffith, the creator of the Wikipedia Scanner, as well as their article on Wikipedia Scanner itself had remained small and relatively untouched by this issue. There are scant few comments in the Wikipedia mailing list either, a grand total of only 14 comments              . Barely a blip on the radar in comparison to the 300 or so comments that the SlimVirgin scandal created. Whilst it was mentioned in comments related to the Wikipedia signpost, the topic line is unusual, and it didn’t attract any kind of controversy. 
Given the amount of media frenzy that this is causing, why isn’t Wikipedia more concerned? Barely a blip on the radar in their mailing list, no controversy, discussed openly on the sign post, and indeed even Jimbo Wales is quoted as saying that it is good.
If Wikipedia was going to fund it, why didn’t they simply have it as a part of Wikipedia?
According to Wikipedia Review poster Thefieryangel, the answer is obvious:
“I wonder….Maybe they needed a diversion to get the public’s mind off of the SV stuff, since that was was potentially more dangerous, so they came up with this idea and the “spin” is that “yeah, but we caught all of that and corrected it! Ain’t Wikipedia great!!”"
Perhaps more suspicious, however, is what happened when someone tried to add the news article to Wikipedia.
Firstly, 2 anonymous IPs, who had never edited before, “corrected” the information  . Then someone listed as Vishal-WMF, a member of the Wikimedia Foundation, went further and wiped out whole sections of the articles:  . Given that Vishal-WMF is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees, and usually doesn’t edit Wikipedia it seemed odd that he would censor this information. Before this, 5 edits in 3 1/2 months. Now 7 edits in 3 hours. That suggests that the Wikimedia Foundation is seriously concerned about this information being known.
If it was really that they were merely concerned about an “unreliable source”, then why not leave it to other editors? Why are they so keen to have it removed entirely?
For the record, Ohmynews is far from an unreliable source, being used as a source on Wikipedia on 190 different occasions, proving that, at least as far as Wikipedia is concerned, it is very reliable. Indeed, Google news agrees, with 452 different news articles related to them. So why is a source that on 190 different occasions Wikipedia has thought was reliable, all of a sudden on this 1 occasion Wikipedia is saying is lying? It doesn’t add up. And why are they sending out official members of WMF to try to hide this story?
Wikipedia Review member Infoboy felt that this was serious enough for it to be added to Wired’s article on “Most shameful Wikipedia spins” where he added it under the title “Vishal-WMF” Thus far it has received 74 positives and 15 negatives on Wired’s page and is currently their number 1 story. Infoboy also added it to WebCite, which you can view here as he felt that it would be oversighted.
If what Ludwig had said was false, why was Vishal-WMF so keen to have it removed? Each question seems to raise more questions.