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.
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:
List of military special forces units Wikipedia article edited anonymously by Canadian Department of National Defence http://t.co/VkzBqGn5Sg--Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 11, 2014
to ... hilariously off-topic.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Wikipedia article edited anonymously by US House of Representatives http://t.co/hkLmIa63KW--congress-edits (@congressedits) July 14, 2014
It seems like interesting tidbits or patterns could definitely emerge if people track the tweets over time, though.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?
The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.