This data map shows trolls and weirdos destroying Wikipedia in real time

Right now, someone—in fact, multiple people—are editing Wikipedia. And thanks to this livemapping project, we can see The People’s Encyclopedia evolve in real time.

The matter-of-factly titled Wikipedia Recent Changes Map updates a global map in real time and lists updates as they occur. However, this map only logs the editing behavior of unregistered editors who are identified by their IP addresses (and therefore, the geolocation).

rcmap.hatnote.com/#en
Encyclopedia magic in real time.

The creators of the map admit that these unregistered users only make up 15% of English language Wikipedia updaters. As you may expect, within this population of unregistered editors, there are the trolls who would have good reason to not register with Wikipedia. And there’s also monomaniacal weirdos who are less concerned with the integrity of the Wikipedia project than they are with adding their personal two cents into some pop culture obsession.

So, while not all unregistered editors are weirdos or trolls looking to spray their lingual graffiti all over the site, it’s safe to say if anyone is going to mess with the site in some matter, they’re going to be unregistered. The Map’s about section references a 2007 study that found unregistered users were far more likely to vandalize Wikipedia than registered users.

And the map presents a mesmerizing and steady parade of nonsense. For example, at the time of writing this, I was able to see that someone in Washington State edited the PlayStation 2 Wikipedia page to claim that The PS2’s DualShock 2 controller is [sic] “a horrible idea that should have died in the pits of my lords fire.” It has since been edited back to its original language describing the controller as “essentially a PlayStation DualShock with an analogue face.” Or someone in Newtonville, MA wanted to edit the Lists of Animal Sounds page to include the fact that Alligators make fart sounds (also since edited back). And here’s someone from Dublin doing all sorts of damage to the Wiki page of Gaelic footballer, Billy Sheehan.

We should note that within the unregistered population of editors are people truly adding quality content, like fixing the unexplainable absence of Charlotte’s Web and Stewart Little from author E.B. White’s page. And we should give those anonymous, responsible editors a hardy thanks. But really, if you’re were gong to vandalize the site that makes it so easy to do so, you’re going to go in under the wire.

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