Hard News by Russell Brown


More Wikipedia Scanning

Someone at Air New Zealand has excised chunks of the Wikipedia article on Flight 901 to Erebus, and at least two people from an IP address range associated with Telecom have removed text critical of Telecom or Xtra. But it would be wise not to go off the deep end about it.

The Erebus edits, made in 2003, were picked up by Rob O'Neill at NZBC with Wikipedia Scanner. The first, in June, replaces quite a bit of text about the post crash investigation and the Mahon report, but actually improves the sense of the article. But the addition in December of "It should be noted, however, that pilots are divided to this day as to whether the responsibility for the accident should rest with the pilot or with the flight planning department," seems like someone's opinion. There was fairly heated discussion about it at the time.

The Telecom and Xtra edits, to which a reader has drawn my attention, might be seen as reasonable, given that previous versions were often ranty: case in point on the Xtra article. Here, a reference to Telecom's poor service is moderated with the words "in some people's opinion". This is a reasonable update.

One of the IP addresses ( was blocked for being a shared address, and a registered user on that address describes him/herself as being " an IT Specialist in the Telecommumications [sic] Industry in New Zealand." There's also a list of edits from an adjacent address.

Given the lack of disclosure, a couple of these sail a bit close to the wind, but these are not edits from the Telecom PR department, and appear to have been made in good faith by people who contribute usefully to Wikipedia - in most cases anyway. Here, last month, one of the Telecom users warns "To the poster of the sick comment, I will ask for this to be investigated, as this is a dismissable offence."

The IP address that was the source of the "sick comment" ( was blocked for being a shared address, a decision endorsed by a registered user on that address who describes him/herself at being " an IT Specialist in the Telecommumications [sic] Industry in New Zealand."

If nothing else, the transparency afforded by Wikipedia Scanner is useful, and to the good of the project.

On Friday, I also listed edits from BNZ/National Australia Bank (where someone is big on comparative religion), Treasury (the natural home of the pedant, it would seem), Qantas (including the priceless ""Changed NZ Island references around. The South Island is colder than the North"), Lion Nathan (including minor vandalism) and Fonterra.

Meanwhile, Salon has an extremely useful lay guide to exactly what happened and why in the US sub-prime mortgage market. If you read nothing else today …

Matt McCarten has an interesting column on the Auckland mayoral race. I think Alex Swney will be worth watching.

And Spare Room has a very funny clip speculating on how it would be if business meetings were like blog comments.

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