Wikipedia Abuse – Sen. Coleman Staffer Banned

Let this be a cautionary tale.

If you or your organization are mentioned or have a page on Wikipedia or a wiki, you should regularly monitor them for abuse either by a third party or by a member of your own organization.

US Senate and House staffers have recently been banned from Wikipedia for abusing the "open source" online encyclopedia, primarily for writing positive spin on the pages devoted to their bosses and for writing unflattering prose on the Wikipedia pages of other elected officials. More precisely, Wikipedia is banning IP address (web site addresses) ranges assigned to the US House and Senate, meaning anyone coming from those addresses will not be able to edit Wikipedia pages.

It is Wikipedia’s policy that contributors write in a neutral style and that their contributions are independently verifiable.

I first discussed the abuse of wikis by candidates back in August, so it comes as no surprise that we see such abuse writ large among Congressional staffers.

The abuse is bipartisan but here in Minnesota, the only offender is a staffer for our Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Coleman’s staffer is accused of performing two edits in bad faith by doing a major pro point-of-view rewrite of Coleman’s Wikipedia biography.

You can read the Coleman edits alongside the original copy here, here, and here.

UPDATE: AP has run a story with quotes from Coleman’s chief of staff.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.