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Wikifiddling and loathing on the campaign trail


The Times* tells a sorry tale of someone who claims to be a lowly volunteer on the McCain Presidential campaign team sprucing up the soon-to-be Republican candidate for Vice President's Wikipedia profile, or at least it did before they paywalled it (argh).

The Wikipedia entry for Sarah Palin was overhauled substantially for the better in the 24 hours before the surprise announcement of her selection as Republican vice-presidential nominee.

A mystery Wikipedia user — under the name Young Trigg — put in about 30 edits to the biographical article on the website.

Young Trigg got into some spats on the discussion pages of Wikipedia, but its not a simple case of Wikifiddling by a candidate - some speculation makes out that Young Trigg (the name a reference to Palin's young son) was a fan / political wonk who got lucky - they earned a lot of kudos for their work on the profile from the Wikipedia community, as well as having some of their entries cut back.

The importance of Wikipedia profiles is clear. For millions of people who had no idea who Sarah Palin was before the announcement late last week that she would be running for Vice President of the United Statesthe first place they were likely to turn was Google. And the first place Google is turning is Wikipedia.

Because of services like Wikiscanner and a general growing understanding among the media about how Wikipedia really works, simply giving your or your favourite spokesperson a boost on Wikipedia is not going to work these days. As in this case, it's more likely to attract scrutinizeny than warm feelings from the people you were trying to impress.

* I actually first read this in a great piece of reporting in the New York Times, but since yesterday evening the paywall's gone up on the article. Grr. So The Times (of London) can get my link instead.


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