Anonymous Wikipedia editors are being watched

Despite Wikipedia's growing sophistication and greater scrutiny placed on content manipulation, individuals and organizations are still tempted to edit Jimmy Wales's online encyclopedia for personal gain by posting under the veil of anonymity. But that veil just became a little more tattered. Virgil Griffith, a Cal Tech graduate student, has an eye on you, Wikipedia tinkerers. He's developed Wikipedia Scanner, a database that correlates the IP address of anonymous posters with the owners of the associated block of IP addresses. That data does not identify individuals, but it's usually good enough to pinpoint organizations from which they make the edits.

Although newly launched, and currently down due to traffic directed from a Wired story, the database has already revealed that Diebold employees really don't want you to know how insecure their e-voting machines are; that Congressional aides have mostly ceased making edits since being busted last year; that Wal-Mart, surprisingly, understands Web public relations by leaving negative content but buffing its image with minor tweaks; and that CIA employees, rather than being guided by self-interest or politics, are much like ordinary Wikipedia users, obsessed with the most extensive and accurate entry for Buffy the Vampire Slayer... no wonder they want to remain anonymous. (Photo courtesy of Virgil Griffith)