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Wikipedia Could Block 67 Million Verizon Customers 481

Posted by timothy
from the but-that's-why-the-internet-exists dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A particularly nasty Wikipedia vandal has forced a discussion to take place over whether to block edits from an address range used by over 67 million Verizon customers. Verizon has not responded to abusive Wikipedia users on their network before, even though the abusive Verizon users have released private information (phone numbers, etc.) of numerous individuals, and made countless threats that have also been reported to law enforcement. Wikipedia has done something similar in the past with users on the AOL network, which used proxy servers and thus allowed vandals to continue disrupting the site. Discussion is also taking place on alternate solutions to deal with abuse from this Verizon user, named 'Zsfgseg' on Wikipedia. If a block of millions is enacted, Verizon could potentially change how they assign IP addresses, or be forced at least to address a PR nightmare."
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Wikipedia Could Block 67 Million Verizon Customers

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:33PM (#34227638)
    Here's the new Verizon Wikipedia page:

    :: crickettes :: [1]

    [1] Citation needed.
  • Misleading title (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:34PM (#34227648)

    Only editing is blocked, not Wikipedia itself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Only editing is blocked, not Wikipedia itself.

      But... then how will they change the article to match their paper?
    • Re:Misleading title (Score:4, Interesting)

      by moonbender (547943) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rednebnoom>> on Monday November 15, 2010 @09:10AM (#34229792)

      Apparently it's not just the title that's misleading. From TFA:

      Wow. That story got a few thing completely wrong:
        * We are not thinking about blocking 67 million customers, but 67 million IPs.
        * Verizon is not the only ISP in the range. It also includes some Comcast and AOL ranges, as well as a few smaller ISPs.
        * The article makes it sound like Zsfgseg made the threads and revealed the phone numbers. That was Grawp (who is actually not one person but a large group of people with the same mindset as JarlaxleArtemis, who is the real Grawp).

              Access Denied – talk to me 04:03, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Binkleyz (175773)
        Agree with your two latter points, but curious..

        The fact that it is 67 million IPs versus 67 million customers means that it could potentially INCREASE the number of customers impacted, based on the presumption that more than one user (via NAT) is in a given location served by a single IP address.

        Wouldn't that make the theoretical (theoretical since, as many have already pointed out, the assumption is that the vast majority of Wikipedia users are not making edits..) impact greater? I looked at those r
  • by areusche (1297613) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:40PM (#34227674)
    The link forwards to a conversation between Wikipedia admins. It seems like there is just one user being a prick. Why not just require user registration for IPs that come from Verizon? Hell, why not require registration for every edit on Wikipedia? I love the idea of being able to make anonymous edits, but seriously wouldn't it make their lives easier by just requiring it for everyone?
    • by areusche (1297613)
      And by it I mean registration, not forcing everyone into editing articles anonymously. Man this has been one long weekend.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Doctorer (1017662)
      It wouldn't stop blocked editors from simply re-registering and continuing their noble and righteous correction spree.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think you can register when your ip is blocked from anonymous editing.

        I'm not sure why this is even news. My isp has been blocked for years. I'll never edit a wikipedia page again. Their loss not mine.

    • by PingPongBoy (303994) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:33AM (#34227976)

      Hell, why not require registration for every edit on Wikipedia?

      Leaving out all philosophical idealism, I see vandalism from some registered users. Registration won't stop the assholes.

      The Slashdot way of filtering out the bad may be useful though. If the idiots can be modded down, their changes can be filtered out in normal usage. Slashdot modding works at a posting level, but Wikipedia could implement it on a user level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DamonHD (794830)

      I don't want any more non-essential accounts. I'd just stop editing entirely. I'm sure I'm not alone.

      My fixes are small but they generally stick, so I think they are deemed useful.

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RichiH (749257)

      > Why not just require user registration for IPs that come from Verizon?

      That's what the "ban" would do.

      > I love the idea of being able to make anonymous edits, but seriously wouldn't it make their lives easier by just requiring it for everyone?

      Anonymous edits are one of the corner-stones of Wikipedia. Just changing that because of a situation that is like a thousand ones before... I don't think so.

  • by nettdata (88196) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:47PM (#34227714) Homepage

    This seems silly to me... why would Verizon care?

    If the vandals are doing something illegal, then go ahead and follow the legal procedures to get it stopped, which would probably include subpoenaing Verizon for the identity of the vandals and going after them directly.

    If it's not something that can be handled in the courts, (being a dick hasn't been made illegal, last time I checked) then Verizon may well open themselves up to a lawsuit for helping Wikipedia with this "wrongdoing".

    If it's not illegal, then they'll probably have to adapt their process to take care of the problem.

    And I'd be very interested to see how many good edits or entries were being made from that block of IP addresses. They may well be cutting off their leg to cure an ingrown toenail.

    • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:02AM (#34227786)

      If it's not something that can be handled in the courts, (being a dick hasn't been made illegal, last time I checked) then Verizon may well open themselves up to a lawsuit for helping Wikipedia with this "wrongdoing".

      In fact, this isn't even vandalism. Using chalk on a sidewalk is not considered vandalism because it washes away and isn't permanent. The same could be said about Wiki edits that can easily be undone. Close the system to anonymous edits or STFU.

    • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:12AM (#34227846) Homepage Journal

      This seems silly to me... why would Verizon care?

      They shouldn't. That's what makes this such a non-story. The problem is that there are a lot of people ("editors" they call themselves, until they get to level 2 and become an "admin") who take Wikipedia waaay too seriously. Take this gem from TFA:

      Verizon didn't seem to care. -- T. Canens

      Are you kidding me? That idiot wasted hundreds of hours of admins time, spent all his free time libeling people, outer hundreds of Wikipedia editors by mass-creating hundreds of accounts the included their phone numbers (or so I've heard) and they don't care? What is wrong with those people? -- Access Denied

      My biggest problem with Wikipedia is the direct source of stories like this. It's become a little pool and everyone is trying to be the biggest fish, for two reasons: First, that way they can create their own little kingdom of articles which they've "adopted", bullying people into a consensus which matches their own ideals/agenda. Second, they just want to feel important. Take that Access Denied fellow's name/signature thing for example. Bright red, obnoxious, disrupts the page flow, and yells to everyone, "Look at me, look at me!"

      Wikipedia "editors" are such cute little things.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:47PM (#34227716)

    ... why, exactly, the submitter thinks Verizon gives a rat's rear end whether or not their customers can edit Wikipedia pages?

    • by trawg (308495)

      Maybe because if they did block Wikipedia from Verizon users with a message saying "you have been blocked from this service because Verizon [boring technical or sociological problem that people won't see because by the time their eyes hit the word 'Verizon', they'll be on the phone]", there is a belief that their support costs will go up because of the masses of people complaining and having to deal with those people according to their support process. No idea what Verizon's support is like, maybe they just

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Sunday November 14, 2010 @11:50PM (#34227732) Homepage

    In the news tonight, police find a teenager dead in their basement. Law enforcement received a phone call from a neighbor that they heard a loud scream from the basement, followed by a crash. Police tried to contact the occupants from the doors, but an officer walking around the back looked into a window and saw a body laying on the floor.

    Officers broke in to render emergency aid, and EMTs rushed the young man to the hospital, where he was declared dead upon arrival. But the cause of death has given everyone cause for concern.

    "It was crazy," said Officer Pullayup. "He had this maniacal grin on his face and his garments below the waist were soaking wet with what appeared to be fluids of a sexual nature."

    Further investigations revealed that the teen, known online as "Zsfgseg", had been "trolling" the website known as "Wikipedia" for months. In desperation to halt the abuse, Wikipedia was forced to ban the entire Verizon network, one of the country's largest ISPs. County coroner Dirk Slabber performed an autopsy.

    "It looks like he orgasmed to death,"

    Police have been unable to reach the parents, who neighbors say only show up once a week to throw food down the back steps of the basement.

  • I hope he/she is getting in all the laughs now, because when they finally do decide to p0wn him/her, it won't be funny anymore.

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:18AM (#34227890)

      I hope he/she is getting in all the laughs now, because when they finally do decide to p0wn him/her, it won't be funny anymore.

      Who would "they" be? If this fuckwit is even in the U.S. I'd be surprised. He could be pretty much anywhere: sure, the activity is coming from an address assigned to Verizon, but we may find it belongs to some poor schmuck who had no idea his computer was being used to proxy vandal traffic.

  • by Christian Marks (1932350) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:09AM (#34227828)

    I created an account on Wikipedia to learn more about its culture and vernacular. But when I attempted to edit my user page, I was greeted with the news that my IP--one among 8192 other Verizon addresses--was banned. An appeal to lift what I considered to be an excessive block was denied by an administrator. But now I see that banning a mere 8192 address won't satisfy the administurbatory will to power. I was wrong to politely request that an exception should be made in my case. I must have been suffering from a profound sense of entitlement commensurate with my self-importance when I made my appeal. Blocking millions of IP addresses is not enough. Wikipedia's administrators must be encouraged to ban the entire Internet.

  • by TexVex (669445) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:17AM (#34227884)

    Verizon could potentially change how they assign IP addresses, or be forced at least to address a PR nightmare.

    I'm sorry, but this is Wikipedia's issue to deal with, not Verizon's. And, to imply otherwise is just trolling.

    • by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:19AM (#34228368) Homepage

      No, *Verizon* have a vandal, that is paying Verizon money to vandalise the Wikipedia.

      Often the vandal is breaking multiple laws, and the ISP is enabling them, for money, and refusing to investigate it or even warn the user off.

      It's not an ethically or legally neutral position for Verizon to take, and Verizon have failed to act before with other vandals. It's almost certain that the vandal is breaking Verizon's own terms and conditions as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gl4ss (559668)

        ability for "vandalism" is directly tied to being net neutral. being net neutral as an isp is taking money and providing a pipe. just looking up who the person is or what he does on the net is a breach of that. that's how it goes. neutrality is a bitch if banhammer is your answer.

        if he really is doing severe things it's easy enough to call the cops on him. THE ISP IS NOT THE POLICE! THEY DO NOT HAVE POLICE POWERS! they literally should not be able to look at their logs and give information on that to some r

  • [...] solutions to deal with abuse from this Verizon user, named 'Zsfgseg' on Wikipedia.

    All they have to do is block all edits made by Zsfgseg.

    What, no good?

  • I'm not too impressed. The Wikipedia admins working on this are named "The Thing That Should Not Be" and "Access Denied". I've never heard of either of them in five years on Wikipedia.

  • Are Wikipedia admins serious? Do they really think that most of the bad press will be against Verizon if they block VZ's ip range? That's hilariously egotistical. No, if Wikipedia blocks Verizon customers from editing, most if not all the bad PR will be aimed squarely at Wikipedia for over-reacting to a single troll. Perhaps the Wikipedia admins are so big-headed that can't possibly see why Verizon will not, ever, care about their individual site enough to track down a single vandal.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wshs (602011)
      It's more about getting VZ customers to complain to VZ customer service. However, just like their wireless IRC ban, they'll place the blame everywhere but where it belongs, with VZ's network littering the internet with abuse. Not that long ago, they were the world's largest source of spam (a title now held by a PA company called BurstNet). To this day, they still provide bulletproof hosting to botnets, script kiddies, and spammers.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:36AM (#34227998)

    "Now because of the infractions of recruit Zsfgseg, all 67 million Verizon users will have to run up Currahee ... three miles up, three miles down. All weekend Internet passes are hereby revoked."

    Verizon user: "Lieutenant, permission to speak, sir."

    Lieutenant: "Permission granted."

    Verizon user: "Why can't I edit Wikipedia pages?"

    Lieutenant: "Because one of youse 67 million recruits is a royal fucking dickhead. Any questions?"

    Verizon user: "Why does Wikipedia hate us?"

    Lieutenant: "Wikipedia doesn't hate us. They just hate you, Verizon user."

  • by Skellbasher (896203) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:43AM (#34228034)
    It's not Verizon's responsibility to do anything unless people on their network are breaking laws. Last time I checked, general trolling was not against the law. (If it were, half the internet would be shutdown. :) ) Wikipedia needs to get their act together and secure their own site better. The fact that they're even considering blocking editing from /6s and /8s is absurd.
  • by foxylad (950520) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:49AM (#34228068) Homepage

    59 comments and no-one has traced Zsfgseg yet?

    In the good old days we'd have posted his ip address, phone number, physical address and his mother's maiden name by comment 20. Comment 32 would detail how his PC was cracked and display images of the nong via his webcam. By comment 50, his bank account would have been emptied, citizenship revoked, and 2,500 pizzas would be arriving at his door.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Hang on dude, I'm still trying to find out what Wikipedia is!

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      In the good old days we'd have posted his ip address, phone number, physical address and his mother's maiden name by comment 20. Comment 32 would detail how his PC was cracked and display images of the nong via his webcam. By comment 50, his bank account would have been emptied, citizenship revoked, and 2,500 pizzas would be arriving at his door.

      Ever considered that maybe those Slashdotters just don't give a shit about this particular instance?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 15, 2010 @09:09AM (#34229786)
      I think you have slashdot confused with 4chan
  • by br00tus (528477) on Monday November 15, 2010 @12:59AM (#34228104)
    Wikipedia brings this on itself. I used to be heavily involved with Wikipedia. I think the supposed openness of Wikipedia can be deceptive. I don't really think it is as open as it appears. I know this is hard for most people to swallow, since even people who should know better don't believe it. It is more open then say, Encyclopedia Britannica, but there is an undercurrent of control there. Jimbo Wales is well known for running an Ayn Rand mailing list, Reason magazine talks about how the economist Hayek inspired Wales to create Wikipedia, which Wales has said, and so on. Of course his opinions could be held in constraint, and he obviously is not draconian about a party line he supports, but there are strings being pulled, fairly openly for anyone who pays attention.

    For example, the very controversial editor JayJG did not get elected into the Arbitration Committee, too many people opposed (including me) and others got more votes - so Wales appointed him to it. Great, if you want Wikipedia to favor JayJG's line on Middle East politics, which is what he was always POV edit warring over.

    Another example - look at the history of the Wikipedia Review page on Wikipedia. It was blocked from creation by the power users there, and an article could not be created until mid-2008. OK, you say it is not notable enough (although thousands of other less popular websites have articles - although Wikipedia doesn't allow you to cite other relative articles as evidence for relevancy, one of their bizarre rules of this type). Well mention of the existence of Wikipedia Review, linking to it and so forth was banned for years on the Criticism of Wikipedia page. It's a real sign of the cultishness of the admins that the Criticism of Wikipedia page forbid links, or even mention, to the most prominent forum for criticism of Wikipedia. I guess they finally relented, but by that time a lot of the critics (like me) left. Look over that page's history and the discussions and archived discussions.

    These things are fairly out in the open, there are a lot of other biases that are harder to point to so obviously. I should also say that someone who spends there time editing the pages on say, quantum mechanics, may never run into these problems, and for them Wikipedia is working quite nicely. It is just when someone has perhaps a different point of view then Jimbo Wales on Ayn Rand, or on JayJG on the Middle East, and so on down the line for the rest of his lieutenants that this becomes obvious. But if one is interested, look into the JayJG Arbcom appointment, look into the blocks from mention of Wikipedia Review on the Criticism of Wikipedia page etc. As I said, there is a cultish quality to Wikipedia, I posted about this on Slashdot before and you get replies from some admins, like "You are one of THOSE PEOPLE! An ENEMY of WIKIPEDIA! A VANDAL/SOCKPUPPET/WHATEVER!" It is the same cultish thing as banning mention of Wikipedia Review that existed before - if Wikipedia is open, why are people critical of Wikipedia on Wikipedia Review considered "enemies"? I should mention I was once blocked for some hours - for criticizing Essjay, who was an administrator who lied about his credentials, and used to refer to his non-existent credentials when edit warring over different articles. This was reported in the mainstream press (about Essjay, not me). I posted to his page that he should be ashamed of himself and I was blocked by an administrator for that for 24 or 48 hours, I forget. So yes, I am one of those "vandals" who was blocked from Wikipedia.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      At least you got further than me. My attempt to learn the ropes was prematurely cut short when an admin blocked a range of 8192 Verizon IP addresses. I found this out when attempting to edit my user page. My appeal was summarily dismissed since there really is no mechanism for distinguishing legitimate users from vandals. To add insult to injury, Wikipedia requires that the appeal remain on my talk page until the range block is lifted some time in 2011. I thought that banning editing from a /19 was excessiv

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      Well, that is another topic altogether, but I think part of the problem is that the number of edits don't measure how good an editor is any more than the number of lines of code measure how good a programmer is.

  • To clarify (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eyrieowl (881195) on Monday November 15, 2010 @01:50AM (#34228290)

    From TFA, looks like it's discussing a soft block...which would mean that Verizon customers could still edit, they would just have to do so from an account. No doubt all those Verizon customers will Really Suffer when they have to use/create a login to wikipedia...a login which is really nearly as anonymous as the ip editing. <gasp!>

  • Solve it with IPv6 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cwolfsheep (685385) on Monday November 15, 2010 @02:59AM (#34228556) Homepage
    Rather than blocking a whole field of public IPv4 addresses, let's have Verizon (who's deploying an LTE network for phones) & Wikipedia (who already uses it on their backend) push big for IPv6 migration. This situation will become easier to manage, not harder.
  • by Y-Crate (540566) on Monday November 15, 2010 @03:35AM (#34228672)

    "UR FAIR USE RATIONALE IS NO GOOD!"
    *removes professional headshot, posts shitty cell phone picture of a celebrities' shoulder*
    "Here is a headshot I took with my DSLR, fill flash and $10,000 lens."
    "UR PICTURE IS NO GOOD!"
    *reverts edit to shitty cell phone photo*

    "UR FAIR USE RATIONALE IS NO GOOD!"
    "Well the photo comes from government archives and originated in the SS, so I don't think anyone is going to..."
    "UR FAIR USE RATIONALE IS NO GOOD!"
    *nominates photo for deletion*

    Rinse. Repeat.

    I know many of them are either admins or obsessive super-editors who have ingratiated themselves into the community, but damn.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday November 15, 2010 @03:45AM (#34228702) Homepage

    I love Wikipedia. It is one of my favorite websites. I have a tab open there right now (doing some research on the oil embargo in the 1970s).

    All that said, Verizon not only shouldn't be required to respond, they should be enjoined from responding barring due process under the law. Anonymous speech is one of the most important principles of true democracy. That does not mean that Wikipedia has to allow this abusive asshole's behavior, but they have no place asking Verizon to identify or chastize him.

    If this was some sleazy politician asking Verizon to cut off a user who was posting incriminating evidence on the politician's web forum, we wouldn't bat an eyelash before condemning the politician and demanding that Verizon refuse.

    Principles are the things you abide by even when the outcome is exceedingly distasteful. Anonymous speech is so vital to the practice of free speech that we must not stand for, let alone condone, infringement of it. Not even to stop this asshat from vandalizing one of the true wonders of the information age.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday November 15, 2010 @11:52AM (#34231272)
    I read TFA, it just talks about banning him. All hte links I found just go to more discussions about banning him and how he's evading said bans. But I can't find what he did that caused all the commotion in the first place. Could someone who has worked it out, please enlighten me?

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