Menachem Mendel

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Some Wikipedia News

For those of you who thought that you could make totally anonymous changes to Wikipedia entries, think again.  It seems that someone at Cal Tech has developed a program to at least identify the computer networks from which changes were made.  Here are some of the interesting finds from the BBC.

On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the exclamation “Wahhhhhh!” before a section on the leader’s plans for his presidency.


Other changes that have been made are more innocuous, and include tweaks to the profile of former CIA chief Porter Goss and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.

When asked whether it could confirm whether the changes had been made by a person using a CIA computer, an agency spokesperson responded: “I cannot confirm that the traffic you cite came from agency computers.

“I’d like in any case to underscore a far larger and more significant point that no one should doubt or forget: The CIA has a vital mission in protecting the United States, and the focus of this agency is there, on that decisive work.”

The “decisive work” must explain the Oprah article.

On to more serious Wikipedia issues.  In general I think that many of the Wikipedia entries, in both the English and Hebrew versions, on Jewish subjects aren’t that bad, some better than others.  In order to help facilitate more accurate entries a number of historians have created “task forces” to essentially oversee the entries in certain fields.  See here for a full list of history projects and here for a full list of projects.  While a task force, if done properly would be nice, I think that it is more important for those knowledgeable in the field of Jewish Studies to contribute to Wikipedia.  For more and more people it is not only the first, but sometimes also the only resource that they will use when they research a specific subject.  By the small number of Jewish Studies scholars who either blog or have serious web pages, I may be asking too much.

3 Responses to “Some Wikipedia News”

  1. 1

    “I think that it is more important for those knowledgeable in the field of Jewish Studies to contribute to Wikipedia.”

    “קריינא דאיגרתא איהו ליהוי פרוונקא”
    (The reader of the letter, he shall be the messanger)

    As an avid reader of your blog, and a major contributor to the Hebrew Wikipedia, I would like to invite you, and all other readers of this blog to come and contribute to Wikipedia. Although we have some excellent editors, we still have a lot of articles to write and improve.

    (Please write to my e-mail if you are interested.)

  2. 2

    The Wikipedia article on the Oral Law leaves much to be desired.

  3. 3
    Menachem Mendel:

    I was including myself among those who have to help out with Wikipedia. I’ll be in touch with you.




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