Here’s How to Know What Edits Governments Are Making on Wikipedia

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 14 2014 12:41 PM

Here’s How to Know What Edits Governments Are Making on Wikipedia

twitterbot
There's a growing interest in what governments edit on Wikipedia.

Screencap from @parliamentedits.

The more transparent a government can be, the better, but sometimes it’s hard to even think of all the things you would want to know about what those in charge are doing. A group of new Twitter accounts is looking to shed light on a niche but surprisingly meaningful government action: Wikipedia edits.

Parliament WikiEdits (@parliamentedits) is a tweetbot that started last week to anonymously tweet out any Wikipedia edits made from U.K. Parliament IP addresses. And the developer, Tom Scott—who is also a co-creator of the emoji-only social network Emojli—made the bot's code open-source so others could set up similar accounts.

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And people have! There are now accounts to tweet Wikipedia edits made from U.S. Congress, Canadian government, Australian Parliament, and Swedish government IP addresses. Though it might seem minor at first, you can see how looking at what governments are editing on Wikipedia could shed some light on trending topics, how a government is trying to do image control about an incident, or which facts government officials—or at least their bored staffers—are concerned about correcting.

So far, the bots have captured edits that range from pretty mundane:

to ... hilariously off-topic.

It seems like interesting tidbits or patterns could definitely emerge if people track the tweets over time, though.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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