In the course of a live chat last night (5/12/10) organised by the Final Frontier facebook page
and Florida Today
, Richard Hoagland had this to say:
11:17 RCH: Wiki is NOT to be trusted, on ANYTHING CalTech, who wrote some neat tracking siftware, that MOSt of the 'edits" on Wiki are by ... (wait for it) -- NASA! :)
(The typos are definitely
forgiveable, remember this was LIVE.)
He's referring to the WikiScanner, created by Daniel Erenrich and Virgil Griffith, and he quite clearly doesn't understand what it actually does.
The WikiScanner sorts and catalogs wikipedia edits by the IP address of the editor. One of the cute things it can then do with its database is to rank organizations by the frequency of edits from their addresses. It got some publicity when it first came on line because IP addresses belonging to NASA ranked very highly -- possibly first, I can't remember. Mike Bara jumped on this fact and came to the utterly erroneous conclusion that NASA was "censoring" space-related wikipages. This is no doubt what Hoagland was remembering last night.
It hardly needs saying -- but of course even if NASA addresses ranked #1 in the scanner's analysis, that does not mean "most edits are by NASA." Duhhhhhhhh.....
Here's why Bara and Hoagland have made YET ANOTHER major error. The WikiScanner logs edits from NASA-related IP addresses, regardless of the subject matter
. So if a NASA employee who happens to be a Seinfeld fan edits a page describing his favorite show, that counts as a "NASA edit."
In one actual example
, logging edits from NASA Goddard, only 5 of 32 edits were considered "fishy," meaning that they were on spaceflight topics and might have signalled a conflict of interest. A few sample topics: The Moody Blues, The Young Ones, Peter Falk....
One typical example of the RUTHLESS, AUTHORITARIAN attacks on wikipedia by the jackbooted hordes of NASA:
In "The Young Ones (TV Series)" -- corrected "principle players" to "principal players"
So much for NASA's "censorship"!!! What clowns Hogland & Bara are.
If you want to verify this, here are the steps:
1. Go here
2. Enter 'nasa' as organization name.
3. Click on 'Pray reveal thyself.'
4. In the resulting select list, check the box for the first entry for 'Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center' and hit that 'Scan' button down at the base of the page.
...and finally, if you'd also like to see an example of the edits that are considered "fishy," you can see the edits to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite page here.