<CPOV> Wikipedia as an Alternative United Nations-Like Forum

Jon Awbrey jawbrey at att.net
Fri Jun 18 19:28:45 CEST 2010


The situation is not quite as you say, since the use of multiple accounts
by a single person is not strictly verboten as some people seem to think.
This is probably one of the most frequent topics on The Wikipedia Review --
incidentally, WR staffer Herschel Krustofsky has just written an excellent
white paper on the State of the Sockpuppet Issue, as the natives know it:


It is an empirical fact that the mapping of persons (or corporate entities)
to user accounts is both one-to-many and many-to-one (the latter being known
as "public" or "shared" accounts), and Wikipedists have no way of controlling
either with any degree of effectiveness, no matter how much blue smoke they may
blow about the CheckUser mystique.

If you follow the discussions at The Wikipedia Review, you will know that there
has been a constant stream of investigations into flagrantly abusive and fraudulent
exploitation of multiple accounts by onetime "trusted" administrators and their "pets",
many of these investigations being conducted in ad hoc, if somewhat implausibly denied
coordination between "Good Samaritan" WP users and the members of The Wikipedia Review.

There is a wealth of data and a host of savvy informants there if anyone
is really up to pursuing the truth about Wikipedian culture and practices.

Jon Awbrey

andrew.famiglietti at lcc.gatech.edu wrote:
 > Jon,
 > Interesting. Are you implying that many Wikipedia accounts are not, in fact,
 > representative of actual persons? Within Wikipedia, as I'm sure we're all
 > well aware, the practice of a single individual creating multiple accounts
 > is called "sock puppetry" and is considered a very serious form of fraud.
 > In my research, I've often found it very difficult to establish the extent
 > to which Wikipedia is successful at defending itself from Sock Puppets,
 > since the data on the IP address identities of registered users is only
 > available to those admins with access to the CheckUser tool.  Obviously,
 > this data cannot be freely handed out for privacy reasons.  I've often
 > thought about trying to talk to the Wikimedia Foundation about the
 > possibility of getting IP data for a proper study of the issue, thought
 > the hassles of IRB clearance, negotiating with them, and my own mediocre
 > skills at quantitative methods have dissuaded me from doing so.  However,
 > my time in the community has left me with the impression that they take
 > the matter very seriously, there may be no better way to piss a Wikipedian
 > off than to call him or her a Sock Puppet!  Anyway, what I'm getting at is,
 > because this is such an interesting issue so clearly in need of more research,
 > I'm very curious to know what data lead you to believe that identity fraud is
 > rampant on Wikipedia.  This is clearly an area where any new evidence could
 > shed a lot of light on a confusing situation.
 > - Andy


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