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Evidently, the motive for encyclo-vandalism is sometimes just humor. According to a report in the New York Times, the contributor who entered false information about Seigenthaler (claiming he’d played a role in Robert Kennedy’s assassination) was playing a joke on some friends. Since then, the perpetrator, Brian Chase, who was ferreted out, has apologized to Seigenthaler, who accepted his apology.

I tested the Wikipedia correction process while reporting for this article. After logging on, without giving an e-mail address, I edited the entry dedicated to musician Tom Waits. In a section on the artist in the 1990s, I wrote that Waits had played a concert with Elvis Costello, Elvis Presley, and Mr. Ed (the talking horse). Within 24 hours, the Presley and Mr. Ed references were removed, but the Elvis Costello citation – also false, but not as glaringly so – remained.

There are real, perhaps inevitable weaknesses in Wikipedia’s system. But the Siegenthal ordeal seems to have unleashed a disproportionate number of Wikipedia critics. News site Official Wire, run by, is now posting stories that allege “Nazi-style behavior” among Wikipedia contributors and editors.

And this week, a site called went live, soliciting feedback and, more significantly, instances of monetary damages caused by Wikipedia. Their goal is to launch a class-action lawsuit against the site. When I called the phone number listed on that site, the person who answered refused to give his name, then rattled off a long series of allegations against Wikipedia. The charges felt specious to me, and were quite vitriolic.

A quick piece of sleuthing turned up a likely explanation: also runs an organization called QuakeAid, the Wikipedia entry for which cites some questionable circumstances surrounding the organization and its founders. Furthermore, some of the anti-Wikipedia articles found on Official Wire are written by “Jennifer Monroe,” the same name listed as having registered the domain

Although Baou’s actions imply a multi-pronged revenge campaign, some anti-Wikipedians appear to have more reasonable complaints. Daniel Brandt, the man behind (and also, says that until Wikipedia drops its policy of allowing anonymous posts and edits, the quality of the site will suffer. “For research purposes you ought to be able to find [authors],” he says.

But Brandt, too, has a personal reason to be upset with Wikipedia. He admits his opposition to the site came after he learned that it included a page about him with links he considered unflattering. Brandt was a prominent draft resister in the 1960s.

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