Citing ‘disruptive’ edits, Wikipedia bars anonymous entries from Congress-linked computers

BY Anya van Wagtendonk  August 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM EDT
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Wikipedia has banned users from editing its pages if the IP address originates from the U.S. House of Representatives after a controversial edit from an anonymous user. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Wikipedia users logging on from the U.S. House of Representatives have been barred from editing that website anonymously for one month, following a controversial edit to the entry for a popular TV series.

An anonymous user operating from a House-linked IP address made edits to the Wikipedia page for the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” on Wednesday that the site’s administrators deemed “disruptive,” triggering the ban.

According to Twitter account @congressedits, which tracks changes to Wikipedia made from congressional IP addresses, the user targeted a section devoted to Laverne Cox, a transgender actress and series regular.

A sentence originally describing Cox as “a real transgender woman” was changed to read “a real man pretending to be a woman.”

Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia, and most pages can be edited by anyone. Shortly after the page was changed, other users on the site began to track similar changes to other pages stemming from the same IP address.

In response, Wikipedia administrator Fran Rogers barred the associated IP address from editing anonymously for one month. “If you’d like to make good-faith edits, please create an account,” she wrote.

The ban is the third action taken against this Congressionally-linked IP address this summer. Administrators blocked the user twice in July, following complaints about other changes to pages on transgender issues.