The Wikipedia Vandal Comes Forward

By Deane Barker on December 11, 2005

A Little Sleuthing Unmasks Writer of Wikipedia Prank : The guy who wrote the false entry in Wikipedia that led to the big brouhaha last week has come forward. He was slowly being cornered by someone, and knew it was just a matter of time before he was found:

Using information in Mr. Seigenthaler’s article and some online tools, Mr. Brandt traced the computer used to make the Wikipedia entry to the delivery company in Nashville. Mr. Brandt called the company and told employees there about the Wikipedia problem but was not able to learn anything definitive.

Mr. Brandt then sent an e-mail message to the company, asking for information about its courier services. A response bore the same Internet Protocol address that was left by the creator of the Wikipedia entry, offering further evidence of a connection.

The guy resigned from his job and sent a letter of apology to John Seigenthaler. How he decided to do what he did is a case study in the biggest fear people have about Wikipedia in general:

Mr. Chase told him that the Seigenthaler name had come up at work and that he had popped it into a search engine and was led to Wikipedia, where, he said, he was surprised that anyone could make an entry.

An example of the downside of Wikipedia. Here’s hoping this is just an aberration.

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  1. I knew I could be funny if I just tried to be earnest enough.

    Good to see you here, Jason. My, aren’t we running in fancy circles these days?

  2. I’ve been reading this weblog for a while. Great stuff. Naturally, having spent an enormous amount of time studying Wikipedia, comments on it make me respond pretty intensely. Like someone going “I wonder if this can of lighter fluid I tossed into the furnace is going to cause a disturbance”. Well, yes, yes it does.

    Other than that, steady as she goes. Great stuff, this weblog.

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