A new Twitter bot has been set up to catch all of the anonymous Wikipedia edits being made from the US Senate and House of Representatives. Follow @CongressEdits and you can see for yourself, in real-time, any alterations that come from the IP addresses associated with Congress. The stream doesn’t reveal who exactly is making the edits, just where they’re coming from and what exactly was altered.
Edits so far include tweaks to pages about dance movie Step Up 3D and Republican politician Justin Amash, though presumably politicians and staffers may now be more cautious about making edits during working hours, at least anonymously. The feed was inspired by a similar account built for the Houses of Parliament in Britain, and various other streams (including one for Canada) have now been put together.
Web developer Ed Summers, creator of @CongressEdits, says the tool is more about promoting transparency and accountability rather than trying to catch people out. “My hope for @congressedits wasn’t to expose inanity, or belittle our elected officials,” he writes in a blog post. “The truth is, @congressedits has only announced a handful of edits, and some of them are pretty banal. But can’t a staffer or politician make a grammatical change, or update an article about a movie? Is it really news that they are human, just like the rest of us?”
Summers says he hopes the account encourages Senate workers to make more important Wikipedia edits using registered accounts, entering into meaningful debates rather than correcting grammar. “There is an incredible yearning in this country and around the world for using technology to provide more transparency about our democracies,” he writes. “I created @congressedits because I hoped it could engender more, better ideas and tools like it… More understanding, and willingness to talk to each other.”
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