Wikipedia is taking a ten day break from its exhausting, often times manipulative relationship with Congress by announcing a ten day ban on edits coming from the institution.
Wikipedia: Congress’ edits ban are designed to gain attention
According to an article in Fast Company, the ban is due to edits coming from Congress in a fashion that is designed to gain attention. This is down through a humorous Twitter bot titled @CongressEdits that sends out a tweet whenever someone from inside Congress makes an edit.
Fast Company noticed some interesting trends.
While edits were often mundane, such as changes to the pages of members of Congress, they were sometimes entertaining. For instance, this morning on July 25 at 8:14 in the morning someone from Congress, likely a music fan, must have had time on their hands as the Wikipedia page of Phish was updated with seemingly innocuous and perhaps meaningless change.
Other changes point to changes being made to the most questionable of conspiracy theories. For instance, the Moon landing conspiracy theory page was updated to say that the conspiracy itself was promoted by the government of Cuba, itself a conspiracy theory that to date is unproven and even little known. (If members of Congress want to see a real conspiracy theory how about taking a look at MF Global and the documented evidence against senior management for fraud that has yet to result in criminal charges.)
Conspiracy theories edited from Congress
Another conspiracy theory edited from Congress had to do with “shape shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies.” Someone from Congress sought to add the comment “These allegations are completely unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality.”
One idol member of Congress sought to add to the Wikipedia definition of a Choco Taco – an ice cream desert product marketed by Good Humor-Breyers. A thoughtful person inside the halls of Congress thought the product should be categorized under “American Brands,” as if there was ever a doubt.
The practice of allowing edits from Congress is ending, Fast Company noted, because the edits themselves and the highly followed Twitter bot appear to be a mechanism to draw attention to issues and certain members of Congress. “Persistent disruptive editing” is what Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC that he believes some workers inside of Congress are doing. He says they have commandeered the @CongressEdits Twitter account to seek attention, helping issues go viral.
“There is a belief from some of the [Wikipedia] community that it only provoked someone–some prankster there in the office–to have an audience now for the pranks, and actually encouraged them rather than discouraged them,” Wales said.