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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Wikipedia Vandalism History of Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin’s entry on Wikipedia dates back to 2002. Checking the Wikipedia history function, you can retrieve any state the page was in. Including its modest start with nothing but the words “One of the founders of Google internet search engine.” Checking the history, you can also see all the temporary vandalized states of the entry. The history of Brin article vandalism, editorializing or other non-Wikipedia-approved approaches includes (with vandal writing often removed as swiftly as it’s introduced):

Vandals are often not logged in to Wikipedia, so only their IP address shows. Sometimes, vandalism is sneaked in as seemingly subtle edit. Using the version comparison functionality of Wikipedia, you can however still quickly locate the edit. Try to find the vandalism in this paragraph:

As another example, the sentence “Sergey was assigned to show Larry around the university on a weekend tour” was briefly changed to “Sergey was assigned to show Larry around his bedroom on a weekend tour.” Other edits are a little less subtle, like the following one:

Not all edits which get reverted are pure trolling. Some people just get carried away and become too subjective. In the following passage, statements which were added and then removed are shown in bold:

A lot of edits which are then undone by other editors are also just additions of URLs, like repeated tries to add “” as the “homepage” of Sergey Brin. Sometimes, people also just confuse the entry with the Wikipedia talk page, where discussions should be moved. The entry “not right bub” below a paragraph was created at 0:22 on March 8, 2007, enjoying its time in the spotlight for roughly an hour before it was removed.

For some time in 2007, the entry was also protected, judging from certain Wikipedian comments. Not long after the protection was removed, the request “To all who love Sergey Brin – stop blocking him Please.” appeared, and was trashed 2 minutes later. The following entry appeared on Wikipedia a little longer, at around 46 minutes:


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