Since the beginning of July, Twitter account @congressedits has been cataloging and publicizing edits made to Wikipedia articles from IP addresses linked to the United States House of Representatives and related offices. If a congressperson, staffer, intern, or anyone using a computer affiliated with Congress makes a change to Wikipedia, @congressedits tweets it out.
While many edits made are simple grammatical or factual ones (birth dates, district numbers, etc.), other changes have been downright bizarre. In response to @congressedits, Wikipedia has issued a 10-day ban on anonymous edits made from House IP addresses. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said, "There is a belief...that it only provoked someone—some prankster there in the office—to have an audience now for the pranks, and actually encouraged them rather than discouraged them."
The ban means @congressedits has been quiet since last week, but these examples are a taste of what was going on from the esteemed halls of our government.
1. Horse Head Mask
The Edit: Added "President Barack Obama shook hands with a man wearing a horse head mask in Denver."
This is true, and a more fleshed-out version of this fact appears on the current Wikipedia page. Good edit, anonymous staffer (or congressperson).
2. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
The Edit: "Bon Jovi" and "Ludwig Van Beethoven" added to the list of musical artists featured in the series.
Both names still appear on the page, marking some of the most important and lasting work to have ever come out of the U.S. House of Representatives.
3 and 4. Choco Taco
The Edits: "In addition, Choco Tacos have been a staple of vending machines in the Rayburn House Office Building of the U.S. House of Representatives honoring former Speaker Samuel Rayburn's devotion to his favorite snack" added, as well as the category "American brands."
While the "American brands" category remains, the tidbit about Choco Tacos being former Speaker Samuel Rayburn's favorite snack was removed. While unsubstantiated, it's certainly not a stretch—they are a delicious ice cream snack.
The Edit: "In 2014, the Wikipedia page on Journalism was used as click-bait to remind reporters that a more important story is the refusal of House Republicans to raise the minimum wage, pass immigration reform, extend unemployment insurance, and improve our roads and bridges" was added.
That this change appeared under the section describing how the Internet has affected journalism and that it is being used as an example in various news stories and lists about the Congressional Wikipedia edits means we've formed a Russian nesting doll of self-referentiality with nothing more than questionable source material. And you still had to read about the various refusals of House Republicans, meaning the whole thing worked. The scaffolding holds.
6. Ben Smith
The Edit: "Smirnoff Ice enthusiast" added to the Buzzfeed editor-in-chief's page.
Sounds about right.
7. Gender Identity Disorder
The Edit: "This whole article is transphobic. Trans people's identity isn't a disease. Just because I have a penis doesn't make me less of a woman" added at the end of the post.
This looks to have been in response to another argument that has since been stricken from the page, which, at varying stages of edits, looks like an Internet comments section.
8. The Atlantic
The Edit: "The Atlantic's Megan Garber broke the story of Wikipedia's Choco-Taco entry being edited anonymously from a U.S. House of Representatives IP address" added.
An edit coming from an anonymous congressional IP address about an edit that was made from an anonymous congressional IP address. We have officially crawled up our own posteriors.
9. Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories
The Edit: Added that Moon landing conspiracy theories are "promoted by the Cuban government."
This bit of info actually remains, although it is more thoroughly sourced: "James Oberg of ABC News said that the conspiracy theory is taught in Cuban schools and wherever Cuban teachers are sent."
The Edit: Added "These allegations are completely unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality" to the page about reptilian shape-shifters ruling the world.
Must've been tough typing that with those clawed, scaly hands.
11. Assassination of John F. Kennedy
The Edit: Added that Lee Harvey Oswald acted "on behalf of the regime of Fidel Castro, and that Jack Ruby also acted behalf of the regime of Fidel Castro."
Still waiting to confirm Castro's involvement with the Choco Taco.
The Edit: Added "french fries" to products.
The Edit: Added the adjective "great" to describe internships.
Anonymously editorializing Wikipedia pages is the future of brown-nosing.
The Edit: Mentions that the website is a "sexist transphobic" blog "that automatically assumes that someone is male without any evidence."
This is a reference to a story about a previous anonymous congressional edit that was written with gendered pronouns.
And the thrilling game of cat-and-mouse being played in cyberspace continues.
The Edit: Added "modes" as something Phish blends besides genres.
Good thing these are anonymous, because that is very embarrassing.