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Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the history-no-longer-written-by-the-victors dept.
alphatel writes: Wikipedia has blocked anonymous edits from a congressional IP address for 10 days because of "disruptive" behavior. These otherwise anonymous edits were brought to light recently by @Congressedits, a bot that automatically tweets Wikipedia changes that come from Congressional IP addresses. The biography of former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an "alien lizard who eats Mexican babies." Mediaite's Wikipedia page was modified to label the site as a "sexist transphobic" publication.
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Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:45AM (#47531765)

    The biography of former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an "alien lizard who eats Mexican babies."

    His unmasking isn't supposed to happen for another 20 years, now our plan is shot to hell.

    Damn meddling kids mumble mumble...

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:46AM (#47531779)

    I take offense to the idea that Donald Rumsfeld is some kind of racist who only eats Mexican babies. Donald Rumsfeld isn't a racist - he eats babies of all races equally, without taking the color of their skin or their nationality into consideration. Have a little respect for the man!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:53AM (#47531841)

      But to be fair... the babies are skinned before they arrive on a golden platter for him to devour.

    • Re:I take offense! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Calavar (1587721) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:01AM (#47531913)
      Sure, these edits were mostly harmless, but @CongressEdits is still a great idea because it dissuades politicians from ordering their staff to make edits that could be misleading. I, for one, would love to see an @HeartlandInstituteEdits.
      • by morgauxo (974071)

        I hope they have the same for the executive branch!

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        It's a great idea until they smarten up a bit and get some external people (hello Mechanical Turk!) to do the edits instead. Fortunately, that leaves us a solid decade or two.
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:05AM (#47531959)

      I think that these stereotypes about alien lizards are getting out of hand. All we ever hear about is the baby-eating, and never the fine and nuanced cuisine that goes into it.

    • Re:I take offense! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:34AM (#47532273)

      All joking aside... Donald Rumsfeld is 82.
      He's about as open minded as most other 82yr olds in this country.
      Our problem is that Donald Rumsfeld is a bad guy. Or problem is we put people into positions of power who developed their sense of morality at a time when "The Nazis" were still a valid political party and we didn't generally allow African Americans into the military yet.

      • Re:I take offense! (Score:5, Informative)

        by operagost (62405) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:01PM (#47532489) Homepage Journal
        Our second problem is that we have voters who never learned in school that there were plenty of African Americans in the military, but they were segregated thanks to progressive President Wilson. They also like to pretend that the Nazi party was ever a legitimate party in the USA, when it's the ever-enlightended Europeans and progressive darlings like George Bernard Shaw who liked both the Nazi party and Stalin.
        • Re:I take offense! (Score:4, Informative)

          by blackraven14250 (902843) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:22PM (#47532701)

          Our second problem is that we have voters who never learned in school that there were plenty of African Americans in the military, but they were segregated thanks to progressive President Wilson.

          Our third problem is that plenty of people think it's cool to blame it all on a particular president of a political leaning they do not agree with, even though the US has had African Americans in the military in their own segregated units at least as early as the Revolutionary War [wikipedia.org].

      • Our problem is that we have given a generation of attention-deficient gadgeteers who think that a reader-edited encyclopedia was a good idea public forums to spew their gerontophobic bias.

      • by dargaud (518470)
        You are right. Why isn't there a customary retirement age for politicians ?!? WHY ?
        It's there for ALL other professions, at least in my country.
      • Re:I take offense! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:16PM (#47533235)

        Or problem is we put people into positions of power who developed their sense of morality at a time when "The Nazis" were still a valid political party and we didn't generally allow African Americans into the military yet.

        And in 50 years, we'll be putting people into positions of power who believe something that is a very fashionable idea in 2014. No idea what it will be, but since we pick our leadership from among the elderly, and develop our ideas of what's good, right and proper during our youth, it's inevitable.

        Note also, for reference, the "Buffalo Soldiers". They were around from the end of the Civil War (formed in 1866). There were Negro regiments during the Civil War as well.

        It should be noted also that the 9th and 10th Cavalry, as well as other Negro regiments existed through WW2 until the military was integrated during the Korean War (considerably before the rest of US society).

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          It should also be noted that this same military, which integrated early, is also one of the most conservative elements of society. Which should inform some folks, but probably won't.

    • by plover (150551) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:29PM (#47532799) Homepage Journal

      Have a little respect for the man!

      I already have about as little respect for the man as I possibly can! How much less do I need to qualify under your guidelines?

      Or is that an unknown unknown?

    • by Rakarra (112805)

      Look, no one said that Rumsfeld won't eat non-Mexican babies, but everyone knows that Mexican babies are the most delicious ones. That's not racist, that's just being a gourmand, and it's a taste he probably picked up eating at the finer restaurants on the beltway with lobbyists.

    • Considering that Donald is an Alien, then he should be able to show an Visa Permit to stay on this planet; I think we should "fly" him back...
  • In the case of Donald Rumsfeld, it should say: "Evil, alien lizard who eats Mexican babies and puppies."

  • If anybody cares (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:49AM (#47531797)
  • by aicrules (819392) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:53AM (#47531827)
    I assume this means they're certain he is NOT an alien lizard who eats Mexican babies? I mean, it does seem pretty unlikely, but we should at least check into it.
    • Correct. He is proud American domestic lizard who eats Mexican babies. Sorry about the mistake.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Exactly. Just tag it with [Citation Needed] and let people know that there's a chance he might not be.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well Louis C.K. Asked him just that back in 2011, and instead of a simple yes or no answer he dodged the question. Now, I'm not saying he's not not a lizard person, but if he wasn't not not a lizard person I wouldn't think a simple not-yes wouldn't not suffice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fustakrakich (1673220)

      Well, if he is an alien, let's make sure he doesn't overstay his visa.

    • Sorry, that would be disqualified as "original research."
    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      Now that it is mentioned here, slashdot can be cited as the reference for his culinary proclivities. Problem solved. Put the edit back with a citation.
    • by msobkow (48369)

      I suggest an autopsy to determine the truth. :P

  • I hope this is coming from some over zealot unpaid interns, working for the congress. Not from the actual congressmen themselves.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't that different than the kind of stuff you would hear when Robert Byrd would start filibustering. He wasn't so big into the 'space-lizard' conspiracy, but he would gladly go so far off-topic that a GPS couldn't find a route back to whatever vote was scheduled to happen.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        yeah, he must have been having flashbacks of being the grand wizard of the KKK, he wasnt about space lizards, but he did go by the name grand dragon!
    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Surely the number of congressmen computer literate enough to edit Wikipedia unassisted would be small enough to check by name.
      • by penix1 (722987)

        There is a far, far easier way assuming the government really wanted to get the individual who did this.

        All federal internet traffic goes through Mount Weather, VA in the East (Denton, TX in the west). Every activity done right down to mouse clicks and keyboard keystrokes are recorded with no expectation of "privacy". It is in fact a part of the agreement you sign every time you take the required network security training every year. So finding out who was accessing Wikipedia at the time of the edits become

    • I hope this is coming from some over zealot unpaid interns, working for the congress. Not from the actual congressmen themselves.

      I hope this is coming from the congressmen themselves. They're much less likely to cause damage trolling Wikipedia rather than if they're attempting to pass legislation.

    • Given the scope of some of the edits...

      Probably a lot of bored congressional staffers. One of my favorite edits was this one:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde... [wikipedia.org]

      However, other topics of interest have been Wendy's, Choco Taco, the current home town of Orly Taitz, a rant about gender identity on both the GID and Mediate pages(I'm in agreement with this anonymous person here), various pot shots at conspiracy nut bags...

      There's a LOT of white washing going on here, don't get me wrong, but it's being buried under a

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:56AM (#47531871)
    Now if we could only block all of the other disruptive behavior from Congress.

    Fuck, with this bunch of chuckleheads, we can't even get roads and bridges maintained.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:04AM (#47531949) Homepage
    Looking into this, this ip address has been vandalising Wikipedia for over 4 years now...

    Wikipedia does not ban people who repeatedly vandalise their site, over a period of years?
    • Looking into this, this ip address has been vandalising Wikipedia for over 4 years now...

      C'mon, we're working hard enough to undo the "an IP address is a person" myth, to keep the government from smashing people who have shared wifi/tor exits/etc., without perpetuating it ourselves.

      You'll notice a few helpful edits from staffers too - only most of them on Capitol Hill are psychopaths, not all of them. Probably the good editors already have accounts, though.

    • Wikipedia does not ban people who repeatedly vandalise their site, over a period of years?

      The other editors get so much sadistic pleasure of continuing writing the "I wanted to let you know that I undid one of your recent contributions" notes that they do not want to completely ban an user.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      That IP had been vandalizing for years. That IP is not a person. Period.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        So a person didn't make the edits because the IP did it?
        • by wbr1 (2538558)
          A person made the edits. However,if you ban the IP or IP range, then you ban innocent bystanders. This is unacceptable. Period.
          • by AK Marc (707885)
            No, you ban no "innocent" people. You ban an IP. The IP isn't the person, remember? They can edit from home, or get a login and keep editing all they want. The IP offended, so the IP is banned.

            No innocent IP was harmed in the making of this message.
            • by wbr1 (2538558)
              Do not confuse my statement. I never said the IP is a person. I said banning it affects multiple people including innocent bystanders. A crowd is not a person. Do we bomb a crowd because a few are bad actors?

              We should always err on the side of least effect on innocent people, preferably no effect.

              • by AK Marc (707885)
                And it does not "ban" any people, innocent or otherwise. It bans anonymous edits from an IP. That isn't a person. That is just one of the many ways of making edits. It certainly isn't a "ban" as they still get "use" of Wikipedia, reading and otherwise. They just can't edit, anonymously, from that IP. Edit anonymously from home, or get a login. It's not a hardship to anyone.
      • That IP is not a person. Period.

        That IP is not a person. Yet. Give the Supreme Court a little time, would you. They'll have IP's making unlimited campaign contributions before you know it.

  • Chris Hedges (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:09AM (#47531991)

    “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.” - Chris Hedges

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:11AM (#47532031)

    I was amused to see that TFA was a front page BBC article. For comparison I went to CNN and FOX to see what was reported there. Didn't find anything on either of those 2 sites.

    • Well, it's not like this is really news yet. Let's see if we can dig up what's really happening at Congress. Is a representative actively sanctioning this behavior? If so, then that's news.
    • I learn more about what happens in the US from foreign news than I ever do from US news, with the exception of The News Hour on PBS, NPR and Democracy Now.

      American mass media and "journalism" is a vast miasma of bloated infomercial junk food weight loss car commercial erection drug propaganda aimed at conditioning whats left of the American Mind into dull and plodding consumerism and hopelessness.

      Bread and Circuses and all that.
      • by hax4bux (209237)

        I love your .sig

      • by MaWeiTao (908546)

        I agree with you on everything exception your mention of Democracy Now. They definitely cover some legitimate stories and they haven't been commercialized, but they're clearly pushing a particular worldview and appealing to a certain demographic in very much the same way as Foxnews. Just because you happen to agree with that particular perspective doesn't mean that they aren't biased.

      • by maird (699535)

        ... American mass media and "journalism" is a vast miasma of bloated infomercial junk food weight loss car commercial erection drug propaganda aimed at conditioning whats left of the American Mind into dull and plodding consumerism and hopelessness. ...

        That part is not fair. The other day when I got hooked on watching large building controlled explosion demolitions (implosions) were it not for a local Las Vegas TV station's news department's one hour coverage of it I would not have discovered the superb footage of the thirty second downing of the Alladin with the inclusion of sacrificial cameras. I love you balcony cam!

  • That's an unfair assertion, and completely not supported by facts.

    Don Rumsfeld has NOT been proven to be an alien, nor have I seen any evidence that he prefers Mexicans over any other nationality, much less the exclusivity implied by the wiki entry.

    Glad they fixed it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't understand why he doesn't simply deny these allegations. Every time he has been asked he avoided the question. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz_gy7-bOoo

  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWW (79176) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:22AM (#47532149)

    What is really sad is that these congressional staffers show suck a lack of professionalism and honor in doing their jobs.

    There used to be a time where you could politically disagree with some but still be great friends, or at the very least amicable colleagues. Nowadays, the other political side is just filled with inhuman enemies that need to be degraded and driven into oblivion.

    The concept of a government and laws derived from debate and compromise and consideration of different sides of an issue has been wiped out in favor of "I am right and you are wrong, and since you are wrong you can shut the hell up."

    So much of this shit looks like stuff a 3rd grader would come up with to insult their enemies.

    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dbc (135354) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:55AM (#47532451)

      There used to be a time where you could politically disagree with some but still be great friends, or at the very least amicable colleagues. Nowadays, the other political side is just filled with inhuman enemies that need to be degraded and driven into oblivion.

      Indeed. I recall when Hubert Humphrey retuned to the Senate floor after months of cancer treatment. He was terminal, in the last weeks of his life, but he found the energy to return one last time. Barry Goldwater, a man he had run against during a presidential election, a man who was always on the opposite side of any debate, crossed the aisle and embraced Humphrey in a bear hug that lasted a least two minutes, Senate decorum be damned. On national television. These two men, decade after decade, made the case for their beliefs, debated vigorously, but never lost each other's respect. Where has that gone?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Where has that gone?

        Forsaken for the sake of the Eternal Campaign. You are now always campaigning for your party's next presidential candidate, which means the other party must always be demonized.

      • by jae471 (1102461)
        Dan Inouye and Bob Dole was another good example of close friends on opposite sides of the aisle.
    • by plover (150551)

      The vandalism in question is coming from someone who has access to a congressional staffer's computer, not necessarily a member of congress. This could be anyone from a member of congress to a teenage page to the 12-year-old nephew of a congressman's chief of staff to an intern to a night watchman. Apparently, there are about 9000 people with regular access to the machines in this address range. Given a sampling of 9000 people, how many are going to be as impolite as an internet troll? That there is at

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      the big secret is that in priivate, they ARE all still friends behind closed doors. R and D are 2 sides of the same coin. washington is like the WWE, all scripted
  • "Out of over 9,000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range based on the actions of two or three? " Tell that to voter fraud bills, the claim of "welfare queens" and not allowing female reproductive rights because "some use it to be promiscuous". Not so fun now that it's on the other foot, is it? However, unlike those claims, they do have control of AND responsibility over their entire network. This IP ban is standard practice for IT security. If they can't secure their networ
    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      Tell that to voter fraud bills, the claim of "welfare queens" and not allowing female reproductive rights because "some use it to be promiscuous".

      You missed gun regulation bills because "some use guns to murder", banking regulation bills because "the fraud laws that were violated arent good enough", gambling regulation bills because "some people gamble away their house", ....

      ...pretty much everything they do... including all the liberal shit that you didnt want to mention and probably dont even realize is the exact same thing...

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:40AM (#47532337)
    While Wikipedia is varying in quality, I'm actually glad that we have at least some kind of transparency to see who makes the various edits. I wonder what kind of manipulation or shilling has been going on with dead tree encyclopedias or history books?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some of the edits are funny and the response to the Wikipedia admin from whoever is doing this is also kinda funny

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?diff=617234780&oldid=617214414

    Apparently most of the other Congressional staffers editing Wikipedia are transphobic otherkinphobic conspiritard Republicunts shilling for the heteronormative patriarchy. And it seems like a lot the Wikipedia administrators are as well. No wonder this site is so biased. 143.231.249.138 (talk) 18:46, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

    I have just been informed that there's a Twitterbot posting all Wikipedia edits from Congress. There have been questions as to exactly which edits are otherkinphobic. The edit calling Donald Rumsfeld and "alien lizard" was clearly intended as a smear against otherkin people. Firstly, we prefer the term "Scalie". The term "alien lizard" is considered a slur. Secondly, if he wants be open about his species identity (if the claims that he's not cisspecies are true) then that should be his decision. People shouldn't be outed for their species identity before they want to come out. 143.231.249.138 (talk) 21:56, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

  • The biography of former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an "alien lizard who eats Mexican babies."

    Truth hurts...although I hear Guatemalan babies are much tastier with better spices.

  • This is going to drive the Area 51 conspiracy theorists crazy...
    This edit [twitter.com] on this article [wikipedia.org].

  • by Omega Hacker (6676) <omega.omegacs@net> on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:26PM (#47532739)
    From the article, presumably from a staffer: "Out of over 9,000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range based on the actions of two or three? Some of us here are just making grammatical edits, adding information about birds in Omsk, or showing how one can patch KDE2 under FreeBSD."

    Sorry, but if you're a congressional staffer, using a computer in a congressional office, why are you making edits about birds in Omsk, or KDE? You want to make those edits, do them from your own home on your own time. There, I fixed it.
  • by Toad-san (64810) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:52PM (#47532999)

    ""Out of over 9,000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range based on the actions of two or three? "

    Yes. It may get the attention of the guilty parties. I, for one, want to see the exact identification of that House representative, the office guilty of this ongoing abuse. Name names, cowards!

  • by vovin (12759) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:07PM (#47534181)

    You should probably look at *all the other edits* to articles made around and during the vandalism spree.

  • If congressional staff is denied this recreational outlet, they will just find other mischief.

    Which can only result in more laws and more spending

  • by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:37PM (#47534445)
    Things are out of balance. We have a Central Intelligence Agency but we do not have a Central Stupidity Agency. Until we do the House of representatives is taking the role and we have people or lizards like Donald Rumsfield and the right wing to help keep our nation well influenced by total stupidity.
  • The Mediaite page is still not quite kosher. At the end of the first paragraph:

    "There's significant evidence to suggest that they're also inundated with Thetans."

    So....yeah.

  • Corporations are to be afforded the divine rights of human beings! [This article has multiple issues. Please help improvement or discuss these issues in chambers.]

    (On the discussion page it looks like all the recent edits are coming from five guys at the Supreme Court.)

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