Capitol computers have been barred from modifying Wikipedia for 10 days, due to “persistent disruptive editing.” The legislative body was told by Wikipedia administrators that it is welcome to make “useful contributions” once the ban expires.
“You have been blocked from editing for a period of 10 days for persistent disruptive editing, as you did at Mediaite. Once the block has expired, you are welcome to make useful contributions,” a Wikipedia message said.
“If you think there are good reasons why you should be unblocked, you may appeal this block,”administrator Tom Morris told Congress on Thursday.
The ban follows an existing one-day ban that was imposed earlier this month in reactoin to the Mediaite incident referenced by Morris. IPs originating from Congress computers were found to have edited Mediaite’s description to a “sexist transphobic news and opinion blog” that “automatically assumes that someone is male without any evidence.”
“Please refrain from making unconstructive edits to Wikipedia, as you did at Mediaite. Your edits appear to constitute vandalism and have been reverted or removed,” wrote yeoman editor ‘WineGuy.’
One Washington staffer protested that they were all being banned for the “actions of two or three.”
“Out of over 9,000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range,” he said, adding that some of them were just making grammatical edits or “adding information about birds in Omsk.”
The first set of controversial edits was exposed by @congressedits, a Twitter bot that monitors anonymous edits made from congressional IP addresses. Though the account was only created a fortnight ago, it already has 23,400 followers.
Only anonymous edits from the IP address 18.104.22.168 have been banned; users with their own accounts are still free to make edits.
One said that he wouldn’t sign in with his password at work. “Theoretically people could find out who I am, but good luck, I’m behind seven proxies,” the user wrote, referencing an ongoing internet meme.
Previous changes made from the same IP address included one to the page of RT’s Abby Martin. On July 14, an edit by a member of congressional staff changed “American journalist” to “Russian propagandist.”
Another target of a congressional editor was the article about Crimea. Earlier, the article looked like this:
“Sovereignty and control of the peninsula became the subject of the ongoing 2014 Crimean crisis, a territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine.”
However, on July 24, the article was changed to:
“Although the region is a ”de jure” part of Ukraine, control of the peninsula became the subject of the ongoing [[2014 Crimean crisis]], when the peninsula was illegally annexed by Russia.”