Everybody seems to be extremely excited about WikiScanner, a nifty tool for helping people peek at who’s editing what on Wikipedia. It’s not particularly user-friendly, but it’s usable enough to have set off a lively round of Internet Gotcha. Wired has smartly crowdsourced (I feel unclean for having used that word, but whatever) this process — check out the list of questionable edits their readers have compiled.
There’s something very of-the-moment about this, don’t you think? The culture of the Net has been about anonymity and identity-play and such since forever — for yonks, as our former colonial oppressors would say — but you can sense a sea change in the air, a mass hunger for accountability and name-naming that hasn’t been there before, and which WikiScanner plays into.
I don’t get why everybody is saying that this is the end of Wikipedia though. It’s not like Wikipedia edits were magically untraceable before this, it was just tougher. I assume the Wikipedia people are stoked — this is just the kind of malfeasance they hate, and WikiScanner just makes it easier to ferret out. This is going to be great for Wikipedia. “Mark my words.”
I do wonder if some enterprising hacker could take WikiScanner a step further — automate the process of matching corporations and agencies with the entries they shouldn’t be editing. That would be an idea for somebody, unlike me, who has actual mad skillz.