Texas Congressmen nailed for altering Wikipedia pages

Wikipedia is an incredible free resource which has the admirable goal of crowdsourcing the world’s knowledge.  Studies dating back to 2005 have shown that Wikipedia is as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica, with more recent studies confirming those findings.

Naturally, having a crowdsourced encyclopedia can lead to problems, particularly when people try to edit entries to put themselves or their employers in a more favorable light.  Wikipedia policy bans editing entries related to your employer.  But, that didn’t stop the offices of eleven Congressmen in Texas.

A review conducted by the Dallas Morning News noted that aides in these offices had edited their boss’ entries to put them in a more favorable light:

Eleven members of the Texas delegation had potential flaws removed, controversies airbrushed and positive content peppered into their Wikipedia biographies by people who used a computer inside the U.S. House, a Dallas Morning News review shows.

Among the items removed were ethics complaints, fights with other Congressmen and moderating more controversial views.

As you can imagine, this is not the first time that a politician has gotten bad press over Wikipedia; indeed, Wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to times in which politicians have violated Wikipedia’s guidelines and tried to edit their own pages.

This is a relatively minor scandal; though Wikipedia is the 6th most popular website in the world, edits on the site don’t usually make major news.  Still, it’s an unforced error.  There are plenty of ways in which a Wikipedia page could be edited without running afoul of Wikipedia policy.

Some scandals are silly.  This is one of them.  Don’t edit your own Wikipedia page from official computers.


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