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Wikipedia edit

Pete Clifton Pete Clifton | 15:02 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2007

There was significant interest in our piece yesterday on the online tool that shows the identity of organisations where employees have changed Wikipedia pages.

The focus of the story was changes the CIA had made to pages, but other organisations - including The Vatican, the US Democratic Party and US company Diebold - didn’t escape our attention.

Words like glass, house and stones spring to mind, because we weren’t exactly sharp about the other obvious question that springs to mind... What about people inside the BBC?

This was an irritating oversight. Some of you have written to complain, others have given the issue a significant airing online (see here, here and here) and beyond.

I still think it was a good piece to write, but we should have asked the question about ourselves - and reflected it in the report - before it was published. That may be the sound of the barn door closing, but we have now put a line at the end of the story about the BBC and the fact that the Wikipedia scanner shows updates from people at IP addresses traceable back to the BBC.

Some of the examples are pretty unedifying, but for every dodgy one there are many, many more uncontroversial edits where people at the BBC have added information or changed a detail in good faith. The scanner also shows the same kind of results for a wide variety of other media organisations.

So what are my conclusions on all this? People from the BBC interacting with social networking sites seems like an entirely proper thing. We are only part of the web, after all, and we should be willing to freely link off to other places and to engage intelligently with some of them.

You are hardly the brightest button if you choose to make unpalatable updates to Wikipedia when you are sitting at a BBC computer, but policing every keystroke of more than 20,000 staff is impossible. One thing is clear – when BBC staff choose to get involved, they should behave well and not in a way that flies in the face of BBC values or risks bringing the BBC into disrepute.

Having said that, I think I’ve broken the rules once too. Some time back I noticed Wikipedia had the wrong information about who was in charge of BBC News Interactive. So I wrote a couple of paragraphs about myself which is by all accounts not good form in the Wiki world. Whoops, I’ll leave you to go in and edit that one.


  • 1.
  • At 03:37 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

You broke the rules, and it should have been obvious to you that editing your "self" would not be good form. You are not one of the "great unwashed". YOU are one of the people in charge of passing UNBIASED information to the masses, and as such you should have known better, a priori.

The correct action would normally be for you to remove everything you added, and let others replace it for you, not edit it for you. But by publishing this article, you have basically succeeded in permanently sabotaging your entry.

A Wikipedian

I agree with a wikipedian... although that particular article on wikipedia doesn't seem to show any biased one way or another.

  • 3.
  • At 03:56 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Mart wrote:

I don't see the problem with edits per se.

Surely its only a problem if the edits made by the BBC could be considered to be biased in some way.

There is a difference between correcting an entry that is incorrect on a fact that isn't disputed (eg the prime minister's birth place) and one that is a matter of opinion (eg public reaction to the Iraq War)

  • 4.
  • At 03:56 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Robert Stanfield wrote:


I'm afraid this is not so much the horse bolting as your own petard hoisting you.

I don't think you even realise how transparent your own excuse sounds:

"The focus of the story was changes the CIA had made to pages, but other organisations - including The Vatican, the US Democratic Party and US company Diebold - didn’t escape our attention."

In other words, the BBC focussed on malfeasance by three American and one Christian organisations. What a surprise. No chance of you mentioning Al Jazeera's updating of the Israel entry, was there, let alone your own editing of the entries on Bush and Blair? Evidently they and yourself 'escaped' your own 'attention'.

At least now we can see why the BBC's bonuses to its staff were necessary. All that extra work put in defacing wikipedia must have been exhausting. And all funded by the British tax-payer. Nice 'work' if you can get it.

  • 5.
  • At 04:00 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Gordon Burford wrote:

Okay, bad form. But I don't really have a problem with people editing info about themselves, provided it's factual and not editorial.

Bit of a howler failing to notice that you were exposing bad form to which you yourselves were participants.

  • 6.
  • At 04:04 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Jeremy- California wrote:

The BBC rocks. Mr. Clifton took great leadership and responsibility in posting this, allowing transparency into the organization and showing the BBC's values in reporting. This is leadership.
PS. Yeah for Alan Johnston being back!!

  • 7.
  • At 04:05 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • michael Jorden wrote:

Once again Al Beeed shows itself for what it is. Arrogant, biased & hypercritical.

Surely its time now to privatize it & let it stand on its own feet instead of forcing people to subsidize this rubbish.

  • 8.
  • At 04:11 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • M D Spangler wrote:

to Tim, Wikipedian:

Mr. Clifton owned up to his misbehavior; to call him on it again is uselessly redundant, no?

I'm just impressed by the admission, since holding one's self accountable for an action is such a rare trait in the US these days...

  • 9.
  • At 04:22 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • A Sylvester wrote:

At the end of the day, Wikipedia is open to everyone. Who cares if a BBC staff member has edited something, surely it's their own opinion/knowledge and not the general opinion of the BBC?

I edit plenty of articles, does that mean I'm bringing my company into disrepute? Just because the BBC is a large organisation, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't do things other people do.

  • 10.
  • At 04:22 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Holden wrote:

Matt 3:56

You dont seem to have any idea about the sort of wiki-editing BBC staff carrying out. I suggest you check out the blog links to find details of the "unedifying" edits (as Mr Clifton so quaintly puts it). Bias doesn't even begin to describe it.

  • 11.
  • At 04:26 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • MC wrote:

Absolutely everything said here could be applied just as much to the CIA, or the Vatican or any of the other organisations the BBC singled out for bad press.

The problem here is not that the BBC edits wikipedia, or even so much the edits themselves, but the mindset that created them. If people working at the BBC think that editing profanities into George Bush's name is a right and proper thing to do, should we trust the BBC's reporting on American politics? If the people who work at the BBC think that the PLA are "freedom fighters" (not an indefensible position, but certainly a political statement with which a great many would disagree) can we trust the BBC's reporting of the middle east? I certainly don't think so.

It can't even be said that the BBC's employees were biased in different directions - all of the edits concerned were trying to slant articles in favour of the same vaguely left wing viewpoint. It isn't even as if the BBC denies this. Andrew Marr said the following:

"The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias"

And reports into the BBC's impartiality have reached the same conclusion. All the evidence suggest that Mr Marr is quite right.

The BBC does not deserve the license fee.

  • 12.
  • At 04:32 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

The seriousness that Wiki editors take with the site is incredibly silly sometimes. It is, and always will be, compromised by its democratic nature.

Expecting everyone to be an unbiased observer is completely unrealistic and some of the comments above show an unrealistic expectation of what Wikipedia will produce.

So what if a BBC editor changed an entry to make it factually accurate? Big deal.

  • 13.
  • At 04:36 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • JG wrote:

I notice you make no mention of the >7000 edits made from the BBC IP addresses.

Two that stand out are the change to George W. Bush's middle name, from Walker to W*nk*r. Also someone at the BBC changed "terrorists' to 'freedom fighters'.

There are many more or this ilk, all biased in the usual BBC institutional anti-US, anti-war, left wing direction.

For partial list of BBC edits people might like to look here, some of them are just amazing!

  • 14.
  • At 04:39 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Justin Evans wrote:

I can't believe people are using this as an opportunity to call for BBC privatization. I'm living in the U.S. at the moment, and sorely missing the Australian public media. This type of self-reflection and self-criticism is precisely what is lacking from the private media; as is any sense of objectivity. And Mr Jorden claims that the BBC is hypercritical? So it is, and all the better. Unlike the hypocritical private media, public media can release information which would lose advertising dollars elsewhere.

  • 15.
  • At 04:41 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • David Smith wrote:

"People from the BBC interacting with social networking sites seems like an entirely proper thing."

But during the working day? Since when did part of BBC employees job descriptions include spending part of their working day surfing the net and posting on the variety of blogs, social networking sites, or forums?

Surely BBC employees should be involved in activities producing output for BBC licence fee payers during working time, and not spending any time generally surfing the net, posting on social networking sites, online encyclopedias, dating sites or whatever - they can do that from their home computer in their OWN leisure time!

Don't you have policies on this for your employees?

  • 16.
  • At 04:41 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • The Master wrote:

Is it true about the turtles Pete?
I like them too...

  • 17.
  • At 04:42 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • john gomm wrote:

So if I know information about me is wrong on a Wiki, what do I do? Can I write a comment saying "the presceding info is wrong could somebody please rewrite it because I have a conflict of interest?" Sounds clunky to me. Maybe this is something wikipedia could develop a method for, if they haven't already.

  • 18.
  • At 04:44 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • cydonian wrote:

Your article currently displays the following text:

Pete has a particular fondness for anthropomorphic turtles.

All I'd like to know is, why turtles? Why not cats, like everyone else on the net?

(As for Wikipedian, thank you for your ettiquette lesson. Now, why dont you go back to your playground and let us deal with the real world?)

  • 19.
  • At 04:45 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • James wrote:

Interesting article Pete.
Strong words Tim.

  • 20.
  • At 04:49 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Ned Livingston wrote:

Perhaps I'm an ignorant barbarian, but what's so bad about one editing one's own information? Who knows more about you than you? Granted, one should avoid blatant self aggrandizement, but if you get carried away, there are plenty of people out there who are glad to play watch dog and can edit your information. On sites like people are encouraged to keep their own information current. How is a Wikipedia entry for someone, still living, so different?

  • 21.
  • At 04:53 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

I disagree with the complaint from "Wikipedian" above, I think subjects of articles should be able to insert information about themselves--in fact I can't think of anything more valuable for this type of publication--but the edit should be fully signed, or perhaps added as a footnote, and some third party would have to verify the identity of the submitter. This may sound more convoluted than the typical submission, but a first-hand statement from a subject is of inestimable value.

  • 22.
  • At 04:53 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

The comment by Wikipedian Tim seems to contain a fundamental misunderstanding of what Wikipedia is.

Pete Clifton violated Tim's preferred etiquette when he wrote about himself. But Wikipedia is, by its nature, not the private preserve of Tim and people who agree with him.

To speak of Pete "permanently sabotaging" his entry is basically out of touch with what Wikipedia is.

  • 23.
  • At 04:54 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Harvey wrote:

I find the reaction of Wikipedia supporters to self-interested editing deeply hypocritical.

When the accuracy of Wikipedia is challenged, the standard response from Wiki-fans is "if it's wrong, get in there and change it: that's how Wikipedia works -- be part of the solution".

So someone reads something -- a fact or interpretation -- about themselves or their employer which they know or believe to be wrong, and in good Wikipedian practice, edit the page.

At which stage the very people who keep saying that the strength of the enterprise is based on editing of pages by "those who know" suddenly start crying foul.

Can't have it both ways -- but the Wiki-fans certainly try.

  • 24.
  • At 04:58 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Jim Brennan wrote:

The strength of Wikis is that anyone, including employees of the BBC, can edit articles. Like any encyclopaedia, it is a collection of subjective views.

Much more worrying is the level of earnest outrage demonstrated by "Wikipedians" above - suggest you log off more and get some fresh air!

  • 25.
  • At 05:01 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Holden wrote:

A Sylvester 4:22

It is not just a matter of personal opinion of BBC employees in Wiki-edits that is causing the rumpus in the blogshhere. Some wiki-edits have been seriously abusive and libellous to various world leaders (given the BBC track record of media-liberal bias no prizes for guessing which ones). The fact that these edits originated from inside the BBC potentially makes the corpration leagally liable for them. Much the same as libelous private emails that originate from a corporate website are ultimately the responsibility of the website owner and successful corporate procsecutions have previously been made for these.

Peter Clifton's argument that it is impossible to monitor the activities of 20,000 staff is no legal defence. If I were the BBC DG I would be making a few very grovelling apologies to certain current and ex-world leaders as a matter of some urgency. Fortunately James I is now past serving libel writs, so the BBC is safe on that one.

  • 26.
  • At 05:04 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • sam wrote:

As a longtime (2 year+) Wikipedian, I agree with M D Spangler's thoughts. As long as you attempt to be honest and transparent, and as long as your edits were made _in good faith_, then you're on the right side of the spirit of our policies and guidelines. "Assume good faith" is one of the most important rules our community has codified.


  • 27.
  • At 05:04 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • sam wrote:

speech is free, as is wikipedia. no one should be fooled into thinking wikipedia is unbiased nor that it is correct. i cant count the number of things ive found on wikipedia that just arent true. but thats the internet, and that's opinion. certainly nothing to get bent out of shape over. if i need information, i get a book, not an online source thats open to editing from any random person.

  • 28.
  • At 05:14 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Michael Johnston wrote:

I agree with Rich 4:30 pm 16 August that first person entries can be of "inestimable value". Of course the sources must identify themselves for such value to accrue.

  • 29.
  • At 05:16 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Shawnna wrote:

It seems that Wikipedia was created such that anyone can make reasonable edits. I don't remember reading anywhere that if you are affiliated with the government, news media, religious organization, or any other restriction to it's patrons, that you may not partake in the free exchange of knowledge that Wikipedia has created.

Great job to the editor for coming including himself in all of this. It is important to see that we are all interested in sharing a little knowledge, even if it is about yourself.

  • 30.
  • At 05:22 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Virginia wrote:

The issue is not whether it is wrong to edit Wikipedia. The issue is whether (a) a reputable news agency should pick out only certain information to publish, information which reflects the new agency's bias, and (b)whether the computers of a reputable news agency should be used to edit a Wikipedia article in a defamatory and perhaps libelous manner.
And since when is it "impossible" to
"police every keystroke" of 20,000 employees? 1975?

  • 31.
  • At 05:22 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

In answer to the question on the homepage - "Were the BBC wrong to edit Wikipedia?" - no, obviously not. Perhaps a better question would be "Were the BBC wrong to edit Wikipedia to remove sourced criticisms of the BBC?" Or "Were the BBC wrong to call Dubya a w****r?" There's a question you don't expect to be able to ask of a respected public-service broadcaster...

  • 32.
  • At 05:23 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Ronald Grover wrote:

Surely its time now to privatize it & let it stand on its own feet instead of forcing people to subsidize this rubbish.

You haven't seen real rubbish until you privatize.

The BBC is biased occasionally and does make strange use of quotation marks at times, but hey, the BBC staff is human.

All things considered the BBC still stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of private news organizations in being even handed.

  • 33.
  • At 05:27 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • "Anonymous" wrote:

Anonymously editing your own biography in an encyclopedia? That's a direct conflict of interest, I don't think "Whoops" really cuts it.

  • 34.
  • At 05:29 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Patrick wrote:

I've been an editor on Wikipedia for several years.

It's a project I believe in (still) and I appreciate. Having said that, some of the protocol and etiquette is complex, hard to understand and, in some cases, contradictory. (For example, there is a group of "deletionists" vs a group of "inclusionary" editors.)

I have much respect for Pete Clifton, and that respect is only strengthened by his admission of error. As someone else stated, one of the CORNERSTONES of Wikipedia is to "assume good faith".

Aside to Ned Livingston: Your thinking is intrisically correct - who knows more about you than you? However, the larger concern is one of objectivity. We Wikipedians aim to write articles that have a neutral point of view and offer an objective analysis of the subject (supported by fact). Of course, the end result of that can vary widely, but that's the idea for legitimate edits.

  • 35.
  • At 05:35 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Bob Robert wrote:

Pete Clifton--you should be ashamed that you wasted even two seconds to make this post.

You don't even mention what the 'dodgy' edits and try to sweep it under the rug by a bs mea culpa 'yes, yes, I've edited my own ego page.' Nevermind the deep-seated political biases at the BBC are being spread in a new manner--that's not what is important. 'We're part of the blog 2.0 world as well...'

Pathetic post. Utterly pathetic.

I cannot see anything wrong with editing one's own entry on Wikipedia, so long as it is done openly and transparently. All very well to argue that others should make the corrections - but there is absolutely nothing to guarantee that "others" will.

JG - as for the BBC being left-wing -- well, from where I'm sitting the BBC looks like a right-wing propagandist. I'm thinking of the Iraq war -- where the BBC's sins of omission in reporting the war are vast; the constant implication being that British/US troops are still needed there.

Take a look at this Nation article:

to see what is NOT being reported on a day-to-day basis; the creation of a permanent US presence, the corruption of the US-supported government, the corruption of US-employed contractors, the dreadful civilian death toll (the US disparages the Lancet figures, but endorses figures reached by an identical methodology in the DRC).

Most disgraceful of all:

- 28% of Iraqi children are malnourished
- less than 200 Iraqis have been allowed to enter the US as refugees this - invade a country, trash it, and then refuse even to take refugees caused by your mess?
- The US does not count Iraqi civilian deaths. (Imagine the scandal if police in the US 'collaterally' killed bystanders, but didn't bother to count the dead.)

The US should announce a timetable for withdrawing all its forces; announce that it is prepared to enter negotiations with all terrorists and insurgents (no 'terrorist insurgency' has EVER been defeated militarily - only politically), and plan for the replacement of its forces with UN forces. That's a real peace plan.

  • 37.
  • At 06:05 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Carl wrote:

As an academic involved in the sciences, I would like to point out that for several hundred years the sciences have used the process of peer review (very similar to the wiki concept, albeit a bit more formal) and while information frequently gets published that is wrong or even fraudulent, over the long run the system works, that is to say that human knowledge progresses. In my opinion the real problem here is that we (that is western society, I can't speak to the rest of the world) do not teach our youth to be sufficiently skeptical and cross check critical information. It we would make that change, we wouldn't have to worry about biased posts temporarily showing up on wikipedia regardless of the source.

  • 38.
  • At 06:07 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • S Handley wrote:

It would be extremely difficult for an organisation such as the BBC to police 20,000 employees actions when using company computers - especially in a media organisation where employees would need generally unrestricted access to things like Wikipedia for research purposes.

However, perhaps the BBC's policies do need to be reviewed when it comes to staff use of computer equipment.

One comment I would however make, is that perhaps you should edit your article somehwat to provide more information about what edits the BBC has been found to make.

  • 39.
  • At 06:18 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • ezra abrams wrote:

why are all the comments so gentle ? Hypocritical is the minimum that should be used to describe the bbc in this case.
Not that this is unique or even unusual: in my view, the bbc and other major media outlets are incredibly hypocritical and arrogant about themselves, excusing behaviour in themselves that, in others, would be grounds for the strongest condemnation.
As Benjamin Franklin said, a free press is guaranteed only to those who own one.

  • 40.
  • At 06:40 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • josh wrote:

Where did the idea of unbiased reporting come from? Seriously? It’s such an absurdly childish concept that it mystifies me that thinking individuals still get caught up in its illusion.

Nothing human is unbiased, nor should it be. The very act of covering a story displays the opinion that the story is worth covering, that it is more important than the millions of events that don’t get covered. News is made as much as it is reported. It’s made by interest. How can we expect anything good to come of disinterest?

Language is never unbiased, and there we aren’t even talking about personal or political bias, but the ingrained way of thinking that is displayed in how language has evolved. The example from this article, the “Terrorist/Freedom Fighter” issue, demonstrates this well. Neither term is factual, in the sense that either one displays a huge bias… The original article that used the word “terrorist” was also necessarily biased, but no one is complaining about the original article.

And yet we still get upset when a reputably unbiased information source is revealed to manifest some kind of opinion. It’s right to be upset, but people get upset for the wrong reason. We shouldn’t be upset because they are biased, but because they ever gave the pretence of being biased. Can we trust BBC reporting? Yes, in the sense that we can trust it to provide information through a recognizable lens.

There was a theologian by the name of Bernard Lonnergan that said “objectivity is our best subjectivity.” I happen to like the BBC because it has a liberal slant to it. It seems to me that sympathetic political position means that the reports I get will filtered through a lens that is closest to how I would see things were I actually there. That said, it’s not the only place I get information from. It can’t be, and that’s no comment on the quality of the reporting.

It seems to me that the BBC comes closest to what I consider a meaningful sense of the term “unbiased.” Considering that the BBC is a publicly funded organization in a country that supported, say, the war in Iraq and has been led a pro-American government, the BBC has been generally critical of both the Iraq war, it’s own government as well as the Americans. This seems to me to demonstrate that public funding does something positive for the voice of a news agency. Especially in comparison to the (privately funded) North American media that quickly lost any pretence of being anything other than a propaganda machine.

My problem with the BBC article on the Wikipedia scanner is simply that it was bad reporting. It undermined itself. What’s happened now is that the, I think, interesting comment on CIA involvement will be lost in this “scandal.” I don’t imagine anyone thought they were getting away with anything here, so it seems to me, simply, like a massive oversight, lazy reporting. Which I do have a problem with.

There is, however, a categorical difference between the BBC and the CIA editing Wikipedia articles. The CIA’s mandate is precisely the propagation of disinformation. That said the absurd defacement of Wikipedia articles is disturbing no matter who produced them.

  • 41.
  • At 06:40 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • John Smith wrote:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the BBC edited some articles on Wikipedia. Insofar as the edits are factually correct and informative, I would regard this as being entirely within the remit of the BBC. Indeed, I believe the BBC's charter obligates the BBC to be involved in Wikipedia to some degree.

Those BBC-ians who have made inaccurate or deceptive edits should, however, be made to suffer horribly. I was thinking back-to-back interviews by Terry Wogan and Noel Edmonds.

The BBC isn't perfect, but it is a primary source of both news and entertainment for many countries, the USA included. No sane person trusts American news, and American drama is only ever intended to sell advertising space and fast food.

Far from cutting down on editing Wikipedia, I would suggest the BBC make it integral to how news archives and background material are processed. It's not the editing that is the problem, it's the graffiti, and the BBC Canteen has "cures" for people like that.

Stand tall. It's better than selling yourself short.

  • 42.
  • At 06:53 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Oli Wilkinson wrote:

Claiming the BBC doesn't deserve the license fee because it has a cultural- liberal bias is simply absurd.

However, because it is itself a media organisation, you would think that there was some sort of guidance to employees about updating pages on wikipedia whilst sitting at your desks.

Ah well, it'll all come out in the wash. If we privatise the BBC we will have absolutely no good accountable media left in this country; or perhaps globally.

Think about the alternatives before you bleat on about revoking the licence fee.

  • 43.
  • At 06:57 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Brendan in Ohio wrote:

Comments 6 & 8 make good points; the BBC being honest and fessing up really does show leadership and integrity. If Fox Noise, Bill O'Reilly's staff, etc. were caught doing something like this they would deny, deny, deny.

And it's laughable that many of my compatriots stateside seem to think that the BBC is rabidly left-wing. Like post 36 points out, BBC has done its fair share of giving credibility to our illegal invasion of Iraq; hardly a radical position.

  • 44.
  • At 07:02 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Steve Hill wrote:

I'm amazed you all care so much!

(ex Beeb, now NHS)

  • 45.
  • At 07:13 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • joao wrote:

We all saw it coming or didn't we? It only means that Wikipedia is a hit... and hit that you can edit... you can edit and get caught. So it works!

  • 46.
  • At 07:17 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • JE wrote:

What I find most amusing (and annoying) about this entire string of articles and posts is the complete over-reaction of people. So the BBC pointed out users within certain organizations edited Wiki articles, so they didn't mention themselves, but later added a side note, who really cares? At least they fessed up and made fun of themselves in the process. The fact remains that Wikipedia always has been and always will be a democratic, user edited site with half truths and misinformation, but so are a lot of sites and a lot of news articles. Even if it's something published in a peer reviewed journal you'd do best to take everything you read with a grain of salt, use some common sense and critical thinking before you believe it. As for Wikipedia, if someone wants to be stupid and add ignorant comments to an article then let them, but all will see where it originated from. Lastly, for those who insist on flaming the BBC and Mr. Clifton you ought to beware for we all live in glass houses.

  • 47.
  • At 07:32 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • A Contributor to Wikipedia wrote:

Hypocrisy is hardly something new or unexpected in the News world, though admittedly I am always disappointed when it occurs on the Beeb. Still, some of the entire controversy seems to be little more than a publicity stunt by Wikipedia itself.
After all, if the point of Wikipedia is to create a forum by which people are encouraged edit in a free and open manner, then that should include members of the CIA, the media and the DMC. Doing so in a derogatory or inflammatory manner is, of course, not acceptable, but then again most of the posts that I’ve seen have appeared to be fairly straight forward. Those that haven’t been were normally caught in fairly short order and, to be honest, just make the individuals and the organizations they work for seem pathetic. All the same, this hardly makes them unique, or even uncommon in the wide-world-of-wiki. People are breaking the rules of engagement all the time on Wikipedia, and even when they are editing with the best of intentions, the information is frequently biased, inaccurate or just plain wrong (see Celt for example). That having been said, the double standard the media, including the BBC have for expecting others to live up to standards (in both personal behavior and accuracy of reported data) is hardly news.

  • 48.
  • At 07:32 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • A. wrote:

See post 11 for the real rundown. Basically, your article tries to slant that edits by the CIA are somehow sinister and we should all be looking over our shoulders. Edits by corporations are greedy and self serving. But the fact of the matter is that if you look at the percentage of edits that are actually newsworthy, the number is infinitesimal. *An* edit by the CIA - out of hundreds, might be worth talking about. *A* change by Diebold out of numerous is interesting.

Tell us its happening, great, that's what you do. But let's try to put a little perspective on it, shall we?

  • 49.
  • At 07:33 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • S wrote:

Focus people! The real issue is the bias in the original article and the possible broader implications.

What I find particularly distressing is Mr. Clifton's flippancy. It doesn't say much about his journalistic integrity if he can so easily throw off a major error in judgement with a laugh.

And I find it sad and sickening that this hasn't seemed to engender one iota of soul searching for the organization--that is rot!

  • 50.
  • At 07:38 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Keith Baldwin wrote:

Any sensible person will surely treat Wikipedia and the BBC like anything else non-fictional (or is that fictional) that they see/read - don't believe it until you've rechecked it at other places. You need to be happy that any "story" is correct, so you go on rechecking until you are satisfied. e.g. !I know that this global warming is manmade as I have seen it confirmed on several BBC webpages!!

  • 51.
  • At 07:38 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Mass media is rubbish.

Is anyone surprised ?

  • 52.
  • At 07:39 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Hugh Blackett wrote:

It's really an open shut case. The BBC has publicized the doings of other organizations and implied wrong-doing. The BBC turns out to be doing the same thing and so is by default also guilty.

Hardly surprising when senior people, as I assume Andrew Marr must be, cannot even express themselves either clearly or in English. He is quoted above as saying:

"The BBC is not impartial or neutral", which means in simple English it's biased. Very clear!

"It's a publicly funded", which means it receives tax payers money, urban or rural to run an "urban organisation" whether the rural contributors like it or not. Somewhat controversial!

"... with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people." 'With' in what sense? The English is meaningless. Do they listen to his drivel, clean his office, demonstrate outside his workplace, write his nonsense or just over-ride the existence of older, thinking, British people who may choose to be private about their sexuality? Completely unitelligible!

"It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias"...what on this earth does that mean? It's so meaningless it would be better not expressed at all! Total gibberish!

Conclusion: BBC editorially incompetent and unfit to edit Wikipedia!

  • 53.
  • At 07:50 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • MC wrote:

"Claiming the BBC doesn't deserve the license fee because it has a cultural- liberal bias is simply absurd."

Not wanting to be forced on pain of imprisonment to fund an organisation that skews its broadcasting in favour of a political ideology with which one does not necessarily agree is absurd? I don't understand. How can you then go on to justify its tax funding and state-imposed pseudo-monopoly on news by appealing to its lack of bias:

"If we privatise the BBC we will have absolutely no good accountable media left in this country; or perhaps globally."

This is just ridiculous. You admit yourself that it is biased, and if you mean "accountable" in the more general sense of being open to scrutiny and change then that is simply not the case at all. Unlike something like Sky, you HAVE to pay for the BBC whether you agree with the way it's run or not.

We have an entirely privatised newspaper sector, where papers are overt about their political affiliations allowing people a choice. In my mind this is far superior to one state monopoly that claims impartiality but actually is anything but. Or do you think that The Guardian, The Sun Etc. ought to be nationalised and amalgamated into one paper? That is basically what support for the continued state preferences for the BBC amount to.

  • 54.
  • At 07:54 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

Actually Brendan, Fox WAS caught doing it too

But the only mention you'll find on the FOX website is some copy from AP (which does hold it's hands up to doing the same thing!) which doesn't mention FOX's behavior,4670,TechBitWikipediaScanner,00.html

The BBC may not be perfect, but as this shows it tries to be transparent and puts things right. And it's not a question of the fact Fox can do what it wants because it isn't funded by a licence fee. It's a question of journalism and ethics.

Oh yes, and if you look at these edits you'll see they're mostly spot on. Music, Engineering etc One idiot mocking President Bush isn't proof of some concerted liberal bias.

  • 55.
  • At 08:05 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Jack Tucker wrote:

There is nothing wrong with interested organizations editing Wikipedia to ensure factual accuracy.

But, that does not extend to editing Wikipedia to promote propaganda.

BBC cast a shadow on its credibility by not reporting its own involvement. A shadow that should have not been cast.

BBC is as reliable as media gets and it is disappointing to me as a regular American viewer when my most trusted news outlet lets me down.

It's a tempest in a teapot, but I expect you to do better in the future.

  • 56.
  • At 08:05 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

post 43 said "'s laughable that many of my compatriots stateside seem to think that the bbc is rabidly left-wing", well, that's the states for you. I also don't see that editing a publicly editable encyclopaedis is a problem, as long as it is done honourably, which I doubt strongly to be the case with the CIA or the Vatican. But then again, I'm biased...

The BBC is wrong to edit Wikipedia because it's publicly funded?

Disinformation is OK as long as it comes from a private corporation?

... ... ... I must say, this has to be the most bizarre "argument" ever.

  • 58.
  • At 08:17 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Melissa wrote:

"Where did the idea of unbiased reporting come from? Seriously? It’s such an absurdly childish concept that it mystifies me that thinking individuals still get caught up in its illusion."

Well said Josh.

Here's a very simple and sane solution to this issue.

BBC could maintain a page that reports on Wikipedia articles they edit. There, accountability.

Here is how I see it. Just as in any organization, you can't expect every 'employee' to uphold some corny standards as if it's some fundamentalist religion chiseled into stone tablets. To those freaking out over this issue....get out of your cubes for a minute and quit this political and internet holier-than-thou argument.

I have no doubt in my mind there are BBC interns throwing back a few pints at lunch and poking fun on wikipedia. Big deal.

Get over yourselves, its just the internet, not the end of the world =)

  • 60.
  • At 08:46 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Josh wrote:

To have an online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone, and then to criticize people for editing it, is sheer folly and misses the point entirely. Readers of Wikipedia have a responsibility to themselves to read with a measure of skepticism, and I for one have understood that since its inception. If we must point fingers in this, they should be firmly pointed at anyone who read the articles and believed the hype.

  • 61.
  • At 08:46 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • latch man wrote:

'Fair and Balance' is not a Western Trait; ask from the Indians to the Indian, from Americas to Asia.Did i miss Africa?
The BBC represents and helps perpetrates western hegemony onto the rest of the world. They know that and you know it, so stop the melodrama about the bbc and cia editing Wikipedia, thats small stuff nobody died. Ask the Iraqis.

I thought that Wikipedia was supposed to be a web encyclopedia instead of political outpost of propaganda.

Yes if an article has factual data misrepresented then it should be corrected. However please leave the propaganda out of it.

I assume most of the comments are written by regular users of Wikipedia.

Is your poor English indicative of your own standards of judgement?

Wikipedia's information is mostly written by people with "axes to grind" and is always suspect.

It is my opinion that the sort of people who have commented here with their weak standards are those who do not understand Wikipedia is mostly propaganda.

  • 64.
  • At 09:18 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Mike Bush wrote:

If a news organization portrays itself as neutral, when it knows it has a left-wing bias built into it (through the people it has employed), then it should not claim itself to be neutral.
To claim any semblance of fairness, it should note its bias (perhaps in the About Us section). Otherwise it is just like any other privately-owned, owner-biased news organization that is pushing its point-of-view and no others.
For instance, the Toronto Star has a mandate in its corporate constitution to uphold the liberal principles of its founder, and once in a while it mentions this to its readers (usually in sneaky, small way that it hopes nobody will notice, but that is typical of the leftists that are always trying to deceive people.)

I think it is fine to correct a mistake on the Wikipedia about yourself since we all know that misinformation has appeared in the past on Wiki.
The Wiki tool is flaky and we should do what it takes to rectify bad information.

  • 66.
  • At 09:24 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • John wrote:

Well if they have time to surf the net at the expense of the TV Licence paying public (A forced subscription fee) then perhaps the BBC has alot more people th make redundant

  • 67.
  • At 09:42 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Poyan wrote:

Dear Maunga.

You should know that studies have shown Wikipedia to be a more accurate and precise source of information than Encyclopedia Britannica, which includes roughly 5% the amount of information when compared to the English version of Wikipedia. For this reason, Wikipedia receives approximately 450 times the online traffic when compared to the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica.

Your misinformed comment about Wikipedia is a very typical attack by the right against what they fear the most, an open source of information. The idea that this source of information cannot be coerced must be terrifying indeed to the likes of FOX /Sky News, or the various corporations who would rather the public to rely on marketing/advertising companies for their sources of information.

  • 68.
  • At 09:57 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Bill Mincey wrote:

Wikipedia is what it is. I don’t have a problem with that. On the whole, it is an excellent source of information. Fortunately, it is not the only source. Books, periodicals, newspapers and sometimes actual government records exist, depending on what is being researched. Quite often Wikipedia authors will list some of these for you. It makes it a great starting point to find out just about anything. Should people working in government or in Corporations be allowed to edit WikiPedia articles? Sure. Should the BBC alert people to the fact that this happens? Yes. Should people working at the BBC be allowed to edit articles about the BBC? Of course they should. There are plenty of other sources of information that can help you determine any bias that may have crept into any Wikipedia article. If you really want to understand any given topic, there’s no substitute for looking at different sources. I don’t believe this is a problem with Wikipedia, the BBC, Diebold, the Vatican or the CIA for that matter. The facts are out there and speak for themselves.

  • 69.
  • At 09:57 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Joanne wrote:

Props to the BBC for owning up to the omission in the original news article.

Anyway, surely it's not going to be always "the BBC" that's made the edits, but "someone using a BBC computer". It's quite a different thing. I bet there are few organisations of the BBC's size worldwide where there wasn't some Wiki-editing going on. What use BBC workers make of their computers is up to the BBC to police and has little to do with what viewers/readers think of the corporation. And how many of us can seriously claim that we've always spent every hour of our working lives using our computers/the internet for purely work purposes? I haven't. I'm at work now, and right this instant I'm not working. These edits in and of themselves have zero to do with the BBC's reporting, they reflect the opinions of whichever BBC employees made the edits.

  • 70.
  • At 10:15 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Kris wrote:

"Wikipedia's information is mostly written by people with "axes to grind" and is always suspect."

Does the general public all have 'axes to grind' against certain institutions and are not just editing because they feel a sense of achievement and responsibility when contributing to a collaborative work?

  • 71.
  • At 10:16 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Leisure-Suit Larry wrote:

I basically agree with "John Smith" in Post #41--apart, that is, for the following little rant:

"No sane person trusts American news, and American drama is only ever intended to sell advertising space and fast food."

I personally find NPR outstanding. Oh, wait, that's government-owned too....

I'd respond to the part about fast food, but I feel a sudden craving for a Double Whopper.

--Indian Citizen living in the U.S.

  • 72.
  • At 10:24 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Al E. wrote:

People seem to forget that the Wikipedia is open to everyone to edit because there's a good chance some people know more than others. Mr. Clifton for example, will clearly know more about himself and the BBC than the majority of us, so his additions are nothing if not helpful. However, so long as he does not add any false information there should be no worry of an unethical action involved.
Wikipedia's truly democratic format allows for the ultimate transparency, such that we can see who wrote what and with what bias, if any. This makes it as accurate as possible.
If anything grossly false is on an article, you can bet it won't last on Wikipedia for very long.

  • 73.
  • At 10:33 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Alexandra wrote:

Good point post 63. I´m not really bothered by these edits one way or the other. What bothers me is that the whole uproar shows just how much status Wikipedia has come to have.

I am all for democracy, but honestly, why would anyone think that the best source for information is an article compiled anonymously by just anyone, anywhere, anyhow? Sadly I know far too many people (particularly in my generation - I am 25) who do believe just that, that Wiki is the best source for anything and everything. Personally, I hate the thing, having found far more disinformation than information on it.

I think some of the moral outrage here is a bit rich. In my opinion, anyone who blindly accepts something as "fact" without any information regarding the identity or qualifications of its source, (presumably because looking beyond the first google hit is too taxing) is clearly not too interested in either the "whole story" or journalistic integrity.

  • 74.
  • At 10:35 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • julian vigo wrote:

Well, this begs the question, once again, as to what constitutes a conflict of interest? I think transparency in reporting as well as wiki updating is essential. I would only wish that we could this similar type of query made to BBC's more general articles where factual accuracy is still lacking:

1. early in the Iraq "war", a madrasa was incorrectly translated constantly (a "madrasa" is a school)

2. and the Iraq "war" is not, in fact, a war--the major participating countries never "declared war"; hence the use of the word "war" should always remain in quotes and indeed the phrase "Western terrorism" ought to replace the word "war".

And the list goes on. So I would love to see more of this factual accuracy being discussed in the open here!

  • 75.
  • At 10:39 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Jon E wrote:

Surely there's a difference between Wikipedia articles edited by people who happen to work at the BBC and Wikipedia articles edited because someone in authority at the BBC directed a BBC employee to do it. Yes, the edits in question involve BBC computers, but how many people posting to this thread haven't used a work computer to do something personal? (Posting to this thread, perhaps.)

The BBC as an institution has no business directing edits of any kind unless they a) relate directly to factual matters about the BBC and b) are done in a transparent way. But as individuals, BBC staffers have a perfect right to edit Wikipedia or whatever other website. Indeed, I'd encourage them to do so; many of them are better informed than most. They should just learn to do it at home rather than at work.

And for those complaining about the BBC "perpetuating Western hegemony" or, on the other hand, "demonstrating its liberal bias," my suggestion is to imagine the alternative. For the anti-hegemonists, what news organization doesn't come out of its culture and doesn't have massive biases? Al-Jazeera gives a different point of view, yes, but not a more honest one. Given its constraints, the BBC is an excellent and honest news outlet. And at least it acknowledges that the rest of the world exists. I'm American, and my domestic news coverage doesn't acknowledge any part of the world where we don't have troops or where people aren't starving to death trendily. Those opposed to public funding of the media should take a long, honest look at the US media and ask themselves if they really want to get their information from journalists who have to pursue profit above all else. Before privatizing the BBC, ask yourselves if you want thorough coverage of the world or endless stories about whether your ketchup can kill you and whether squirrels water-ski better than cats. Getting nothing but that sort of "news" explains why 40% of Americans STILL think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in plotting 9/11.

  • 76.
  • At 10:41 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • wikireader wrote:

wikipeda needs more professional people to expand since the story, factual and contents link is quite limited and weak. As a student researcher cannot find what I want. It is a very good reference site, because this is voluntary and public fund,less bias will be better.Other language translation and professional will be much more welcome but shouldn't put personal and political bias in the articles.


  • 77.
  • At 10:43 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • susab wrote:

Come on. Everyone has a bias on Wiki and in the news. The real trick for the BBC and other news groups is to be upfront with their bias. I don't care which way a news group lends too, just be upfront. My real problem is, news groups should not edit Wikipedia during working hours. A news worker can correct the article, only at their free time.

  • 78.
  • At 10:58 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

How about we focus on the real issues throughout the world? The issues such as the Iraq war, the military build up in China, pollution/environmental destruction, Wal-mart using child labor..etc Instead, these people are bent on editing Wikipedia?
As an American I have realized that my freedoms have gradually disappeared so that I must now choose to rely on outside sources for news. However, every news outlet/media has their own bias. In my opinion the most unbiased way to interpret the news is using multiple venues throughout the world. I personally enjoy BBC, Guardian Unlimited, Arab News, and Jerusalem Post. Unfortunately the majority of American News Organizations are owned by one or two powerful republican men.

  • 79.
  • At 11:34 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Christopher wrote:

Just use a proxy if you want to protect your identity. Googling on "anonymizing proxy" yields:

Amongst many others. It's amazing how little people know about the spoor you leave as soon as you do _anything_ on the Internet.

  • 80.
  • At 11:41 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • PeterB wrote:

It's all opinion. Tracking who makes changes is good. If you are seriously editing the information so it reflects what you think, you need to be able to substantiate what you write. Conservatives tend to be paranoid. Can I substantiate this? Not with valid data, but I can point to a few posts on this article to use in my argument. People should be free to say what they think, but with the freedom comes the responsibility of being prepared to argue. Changing George Bush's middle name is vandalism, as is spraypainting it on walls. If you do this, then be prepared to be outed and take responsibility for your actions. The BBC should publish the names and emails of the vandals within and let them deal with the consequences of their vandalism.

On another note. Publicly funded news organisations should be left liberal leaning to counter the right conservative leaning of the private press. Balance is the key.

  • 81.
  • At 11:58 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Chris McGeorge wrote:

Everyone knows Wikipedia is the most unfactual source in the world. Who cares if people add or edit it, its still not backed up and no one really uses it as evidence, its more of an opinion site, i think however it is funny how organisations have used it, as a political tool, thinking it can not be traced back to them, good on the bbc to bring this up:)

  • 82.
  • At 12:18 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Bill Bailey wrote:

"the BBC.....It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people."

Sounds terrific to me, keep up the good work folks......and I only fit one of those catagories, I'm neither young or an ethnic

  • 83.
  • At 12:22 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Blake Finley wrote:

Appropriate for BBC to edit as long as the intent is not to distort, misinform, or conceal corruption.

I'm not terribly impressed by the self-importance Wikipedia has gained over the last year or so.

I used to spend a fair amount of time cleaning up the English on Wikipedia. Then there was an explosion of snootiness, an "us versus them" mentality that has poisoned the well too thoroughly for me to return to it.

Cleaning your own entry hardly seems the sin it is so commonly declared to be. Writing a puff piece is risible, and I'm sufficiently a nobody that I shall likely never have cause to edit any entry pertaining to me. Nonetheless, facts are facts, and you're likely to be the world champion expert on facts pertaining to your own self, no?

But no. Wikipedia has become an exercise in the self-identified "little people" telling those they identify as "big people" who those big people really are.

I call shenanigans.

  • 85.
  • At 01:03 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • jack wrote:

Expecting the BBC to police their employees' web activities is ridiculous. Smart employers have given up cracking the whip regarding web surfing and posting because it can't be evenly enforced and it craters morale. Moreover, as more employers become laissez faire, the probability of legal trouble diminishes.

There is the fact that some BBC employees have shown their hands, all of which are left. So be it; I can make judgments independently. But please Beeb, stop making pretensions at impartiality. The difference between you and Fox News is one of degree and not one of kind. News these days is just so much infotainment.

  • 86.
  • At 01:06 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • John Veranth wrote:

Regarding editing your own information: Most compilations of biographic information on living persons (Including Marquis Who’s Who) send a draft to the subject person for verification and correction.

  • 87.
  • At 01:22 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I really don't understand how a story about Wikipedia turns into a call for the removal of the license fee or for the privitisation of the BBC. From my understanding the BBC is one of the better news organisations out there.

  • 88.
  • At 01:51 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

The CIA is an intelligence agency whose role is to protect the interests of the USA and propaganda is an essential part of its brief. Nobody expects the CIA to be impartial.

The BBC on the otherhand is a publicly-funded body, supposedly with a 'public service ethic', and is required by law to be impartial. The BBC's Wikipedia mutilations are therefore far more serious than those made by the CIA. Defacing and mutilating an online encyclopaedia is not only unworthy of an institution which has "educational" pretensions, but also brings disrepute on the standards and ethics of British journalism at a time when it can least afford it. This sort of thing is grist to the mill of the anti-license fee lobby. The BBC should publish an apology to Wikipedia, giving it at least as much prominence as that given to your "CIA scoop."

Can I suggest that the BBC removes the word "British" from its name if it wishes to engage in this sort of puerile vandalism in public places.

  • 89.
  • At 02:10 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • 'nother Wikipedian wrote:

Maybe as a condition of employment at the BBC five minutes could be spent on "self promotion" and the likelihood of being caught doing it.

Though it's a bit disgraceful that someone on your staff "polished the apple" so to speak at least you are talking about it. Which I find commendable...and open. Kudos.

Fox News edited a number of pages (some time ago), talked about the breaking story (today in fact), and failed to mention their own complicity at all...which, frankly, is typically.

Shocking isn't it?

  • 90.
  • At 02:43 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Richard Borwick wrote:

... it's a big wide world...
From my viewpoint - Brisbane, Australia - I use the BBC website to tell me what's going on around the planet. It seems to me that I am grown up enough to 'self-filter' any 'bias' I find. How do I know this? Because I am looking for world news. If I need pre-filtered news I can tune into Channel 10 (aka Fox News) and get non-stop water skiing squirrels. Just like the difference in buying a pre-digested meal from a fast food joint or going to a 'grown-up' restaurant.
I am therefore extremely happy with the good licence payers in the UK for supporting the organisation that supplies this service. Thank you.

ps. If you're wondering why I use the BBC rather than our own version, the ABC, it's because the news happens first on the BBC News website. It astounds me, frankly, how much all our local newspapers and broadcast news organisations get their material from the BBC News website. If I was a UK Licence payer I wouldn't be getting upset by the perceived bias, I would be upset by how much the BBC News reporters and editors are subsidising the commercial concerns of the likes of that great American citizen, Mr. Murdoch.

  • 91.
  • At 04:39 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

Come on Beeb - the final paragraph "acknowledgement" at the bottom of its article (rushed off the front page of the news page I see) is far from adequate. If the BBC is going to mention that some bored CIA employee put "Waaah!" on the start of a paragraph describing the Iranian President, it could mention that one of its own staff members changed the US President's middle name to "Wanker", and relabelled Palestinian "terrorists" as "freedom fighters". The current correction still leaves the impression that BBC employees weren't doing anything on the mischevious scale of others mentioned in the article, when in fact, it seems at times BBC employees are guilty of worse. I have no problem with the BBC having a left wing bias - I am however very disappointed that where it has a reputation for fully covering all sides of stories even where reporters carry such a bias, it prefers not to report, and then to underreport and mislead its viewers on stories that embarrass itself. I find the BBC's treatment of this article (even now with inadequate "correction" added) far more disappointing than the stupid acts of its employees on Wikipedia that it still refuses to report where it should.

  • 92.
  • At 04:46 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Neil McGowan wrote:

The BBC has a clear political agenda which pervades all their news stories. I recently had to take recourse to complaint, to have them correct a story that "America needs rocket-sites in Poland to shoot down Iranian-launched missiles aimed at the USA". (A simple look at a map shows how wrong this story was, and that the BBC was simply banging the US drum as usual - in search of paying viewers in America).

I am not at all surprised to find that the BBC pays people to alter Wikipedia articles to fit their agenda.

  • 93.
  • At 05:44 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

What is lost here amongst the critics is that there is a very good chance that other people for example cleaners or others with access to these computers (in those organisations) can be accessing them after hours to post or corrupt sites like typically Wikipedia, rewriting history or whatever from seemingly authorative sources, using those computers. What eventually happens that if this happens at enough reputable places who are left to contribute when all those others have been blacklisted. Those a Wikipedia and the organisations want to have a good look at their security and at what time those attacks are happening.

  • 94.
  • At 06:10 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Paul G wrote:

Wikipedia is an open source of information and anyone can manipulate the entries listed. As useful as it is, it's just one of the many sources of information that is open to manipulation. The fact that it can be manipulated 'directly' is probably the real point of discussion. Every institution (including the BBC) has external influences and agendas that influence the way information is delivered. The truth is virtually impossible to find unless you see or experience it for yourself. And even then it is subjective.

So members of staff at the BBC (better known as individuals or members of the public) edited articles on which they have some knowledge. And there was me thinking that people weren't meant to do that kind of thing on Wikipedia! Come on guys, this is hardly the biggest misdemeanour in the world!

  • 96.
  • At 07:00 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • jean shaw wrote:

1) Organisations are legally responsible for correspondence issued under their name. An e-mail address e.g is such an item.
2) Employees who misuse an organisation's means of communication are in breach of their terms of employment and should be warned about their future conduct.

  • 97.
  • At 07:33 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Ken B wrote:

I agree with those who say wikipedia gets up its rather sanctimonious own rear end sometimes. Of course there will always be bias, or else it's just a data book which no one would read. And people who happen to work at the beeb are entitled to write there, like the rest of us. For all that its right-wing baiters hate it, the BBC is widely agreed to be far more balanced than most news organisations, particularly the privatised ones that merely spout the corporate propaganda of its owners like most US media. (One of the big US networks is owned by the armaments industry, for pete's sake!!) As if calling one or other group 'freedom fighters' is biased but using the term 'terrorists' isn't? Get real! The important thing is that we as a community have a access to a range of sources, and learn to reach our own judgements. Long live the BBC, as its one of the last bastions of resistance to big business control of all communications.

  • 98.
  • At 07:39 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • DJ wrote:

I find it interesting that people find it so difficult to dfferentiate between "the BBC" and staff at the BBC.

It's extremely unlikely that "the BBC" made the edits as so many people state. That would imply that the BBC's management directed its staff to do the edits - possible but not very likely.

What happened is that staff at the BBC have made edits while using computers on the BBC networks. Many of those edits will have been done in good faith by well-meaning people; many will have been done by pranksters or people with malicious intent.

It happens in every organisation with computer netwworks that have fairly open access to the internet. Most people use it appropriately - either for work purposes or fairly benign social purposes - while a proportion don't.

It's fairly straightforward to catch those who use office networks inappropriately for accessing porn and the like, but much, much harder to catch people who are doing things like edit Wikipedia.

In fact, in many ways this is a non-story as it should really be "people use office computer networks to editor Wikipedia". Well, there's a surprise.

The real story would be if any organisation - the CIA, the Vatican, the Iranian Government, the BBC or anything else - was running an organised and directed campaign to subvert Wikipedia. Is there any evidence of this?

  • 99.
  • At 08:38 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • MattLondon wrote:

As at Comment No. 77 the BBC story still doesn't report (1) that 7,000 plus edits were made from computers at the BBC (7,000 plus!) or (2) that one of those edits was an offensive and inaccurate alteration to the Wiki biography of the President of the USA - or (3) how many edits can be traced to CIA computers - though the "new web tool" allows this (hence how we know of the Beeb's 7K plus).

If the story was worth reporting in the first place ALL this is worth reporting. In particular the Bush edit from a BBC computer must be as newsworthy as the Ahmadinejad one.

This all adds up to a one sided and partial presentation of news - and all rather self serving. Some commentators might think that "bias" is acceptable (though I don't think you will find many on the right of the political spectrum - though both left and right pay the license fee) but can anyone defend such abysmally dishonest standards of reporting: not telling us about things BBC reporters find it distasteful to be honest about.

  • 100.
  • At 08:59 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

With all the complete rubbish on Wikipedia, it must be refreshing to have at least one page with some information provided by someone who knows what they're talking about. If the subject is yourself, who better to write the article? As long as you provide the appropriate citations...

  • 101.
  • At 09:19 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Charles Franczak wrote:

"That may be the sound of the barn door closing,.."

I would have expected a BBC Editor to know it was a stable-door closing even if they didn't recognise the significance.

  • 102.
  • At 09:52 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Michael Carter wrote:

Jonathan's article was basically just a little story on how wikipedia while being big and bold, is weak to misinformation and the scanner can help with that.
There wasn't enough evidence to point a finger at a major figure/business/party and hence the entire article was basically the equivalent of internet gossip.

To take his lack of including BBC involvement as course to ridicule the BBC itself is a very large leap, one which you'll probably fall flat on your face afterwards.

The fact that a later correction has been published speaks volumes of the managerial side of BBC, and further criticising a self professed sin publicly, is in very bad tastes.

And for bias, everything's biased as I agree with josh and his giant post, the truth is sometimes hidden among many opinions and sometimes it's so far outside the picture it's running out of the gallery in a bid for freedom.

  • 103.
  • At 10:12 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Spencer wrote:

One would have to ask how good a journalist is if blinded by thier need to point out the speck of dust in their enemies eyes they ignore the beam in their own.

Especially when they claim to act without bias. This is simply disgraceful behaviour.

  • 104.
  • At 10:24 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

DJ (comment 98) is right. The hypocrisy is that the BBC could be said to have implied by innuendo that the CIA, Vatican and others were engaged in systematic propaganda exercises when their people edited Wikipedia. If the BBC's edits were by rogue individuals not reflecting BBC policy, then it's reasonable to extend that presumption of corporate innocence to the other organisations concerned. If there is evidence of corporate malpractice, let's hear it.

Wikipedia seems to have rules that promote the ability of PR companies and the like to puff out there items. Check out the not-a-doctor-of-medicine entry on Gillian Mckeith and she's got some user called SlimVirgin undoing anything that might add balance to the article. I got banned for a fortnight for putting the word "non-clinical" in front of "nutritionist" ffs.

And it's not just the BBC who make the kinds of edits described above, I spent ages sorting out the entry on TV channel "five" which had been puffed out of all recognition by someone at the channel.

Auntie, please edit Wikipedia, but INCLUDE PROPER REFERENCES and then they will be uncontroversial.

  • 106.
  • At 10:37 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Eric wrote:

Having read a number of Wikipedia pages recently, I find it is the preserve of opinionated misinformers, the innocent ill informed, the out of date and those with a (usually bizarre) axe to grind: in fact just like the over subsidized and unrepresentative BBC.

It seems to me that given the nonsense that passes for fact written by most 'Wikipedians' there is nothing wrong with BBC staff changing information about the corporation. The same goes for the CIA or the Vatican. Allowing other people or corporations (especially the subject matter of the article) to edit Wikipedia is what it is all about.

If the oh so precious self proclaimed 'Wikipedians' have a problem with this they can debate fact and fiction in the ego match which is the discussion box.

As to unauthorised usage by BBC staff - that is a problem for BBC internal employment discipline. A unauthorised tea break edit by some lefty journo in Shepherd's Bush can't really be seen as an act of the BBC.

If some weirdos' opinionated junk was written about me on Wikipedia I would consider suing the owners of the website in libel as publisher. I would also change the page in a flash and probably put myself in a more favourable light.

  • 107.
  • At 11:17 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • John Anderson wrote:

Yes, the majority of the 7000 Wiki edits from BBC IP addresses were innocuous. (And let us assume that they were all made within the 30-minutes each day that the BBC apparently allows its employees for free surfing. Big assumption !)

What is far more serious is that it has been demonstrated (eg at the link below) that there are lots of edits that reflect a media-liberal point of view - some of them downright offensive and puerile. But no-one has yet shown an edit that shows a right/conservative slant. This seems to be further evidence of the underlying bias in the BBC. Couple it with Helen Boaden's half-apology this week for the adolescent trick on John Redwood this week. Couple it with what the BBC Trust and BBC management have tacitly agreed about the metro-liberal outlook at the BBC.

Time and time again the BBC is accused of leftie-liberal bias. When there are blatant and undeniable examples (eg Barbara Plett) a half-hearted apology is made - but no disciplinary action is taken. Most other times, there is merely bluster and denial from the BBC. We all then wait for the next excess of bias - or rather we observe the steady drip-drip-drip of slanted news coverage.

It is time for the half-apologies to cease. If senior management at the BBC cannot correct the endemic bias and restore the political balance required under the Royal Charter, they should resign. Their half-apologies have ceased to be convincing - the stables need to be properly cleaned.

  • 108.
  • At 11:26 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Sao Paulo wrote:

"When BBC staff edit Wikipedia, they should not bring the BBC into disrepute

Pete Clifton,
BBC head of interactive news"

So much for the BBC being impartial and neutral. If you guys have so much free time on your hands then perhaps the Director General has more people to lay off

  • 109.
  • At 11:58 AM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

Only in the deluded world of the bloggers on Biased BBC can a single edit of George Bush's Wikipedia page by a single BBC employee be considered as proof of institutional bias.

  • 110.
  • At 12:10 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Ron wrote:

Storm in a teacup: Lots of bad things are happening in the REAL world, and you're complaining about Wikipedia (which I do enjoy reading, but really don't want to edit) being edited!?!? Nevermind alcohol-related deaths, gang war, knife/gun crime, let's concentrate on something trivial!!

I always knew Humans were stupid, now I have the Citation Needed.

  • 111.
  • At 12:31 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Robert Stanfield wrote:

The BBC cannot have it both ways. Either this is just employees messing around with wikipedia when they should be working or it is an deliberate policy. The story by the BBC took the implicit line that the CIA and Vatican as organisations were amending wikipedia. When it is revealed that people at BBC computers have made over 7,000 edits, it suddenly becomes nothing to do with the organisation. That is the point.

As Paul rightly pointed out in message 88, we expect the CIA to engage in propaganda and disinformation. That is a proper part of the job of any intelligence service. I am rather more disturbed that the BBC, supposedly an impartial news organisation, is employing people who deface online encyclopedias, and in such a juvenile fashion.

The amended article is still inadequate as the BBC has shied away from admitting the scale of its own employees editing, and the nature of some of the worst examples. Utter hypocrites caught in their own net.

  • 112.
  • At 01:01 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Given that one edit from within the BBC was about Blair’s heart attack, changing Blair's drink from coffee to vodka and his workout from the gym to the bedroom I suspect that the political bias isn’t as clear cut as some of your critics would like.

Actually the list of culprits is pretty long: Apple, Microsoft, Ford, Wal Mart & many, many other big companies plus The Republicans, the Democrats, Fox News, New York Times, The Guardian, News International, Express Newspapers, many religious groups (inc. the Vatican) and so on. Quite a few 'edits' are obviously by disgruntled/bored employees.

There’s a couple of entertaining lists here, one compiled by the guy who designed the software that tracked these edits.

But the whole point of Wikipedia is that it’s a communal enterprise. Some edits do improve the quality of entries, others range from teenage vandalism to ideological warfare. This latter kind of re-editing is not new, is well known about and one reason I (& many others) look for sources other than Wikopedia on some topics. More:

Some types of Wikipedia entries are pretty sound: chemistry, physics etc. but other topics are covered by people who obviously aren’t expert, this then prompts people to ‘correct’ entries, even though their expertise is questionable. Where interpretation is subjective e.g. a biography or person's profile, I honestly don't believe there is such a thing as 'unbiased'. That may be something we have to be mature enough as readers to acknowledge & live with. (The lack of expertise is a major problem on Yahoo Answers and the BBC's H2G2.)
(Yahoo Answers is frankly a joke aimed at attracting teenagers.)

All the above are reasons are why one of Wikipedia’s founders went off and started CITIZENDUM with stricter editing rules, greater expertise and less open access.

A final comment: I’m surprised you didn’t think that the BBC staff might appear on the list. In your position it’d been my first question, if only to know of potential ‘blowback’. I imagine some other organisations would have thought of little else.
A lesson there perhaps?

  • 113.
  • At 01:59 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Dave Milne wrote:


So incorrect biographies are better than autobiographies ?
Someone else's mistake is better than a truthful correction ?

  • 114.
  • At 03:09 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • S wrote:

Mr. Clifton and the BBC take note--here's a reminder of how ethical journalism should be approached.

"A good newsroom is a sacred and magical place in which we can and should test every assumption, challenge each other's thinking, ask the fundamental questions those in power hope we will overlook...

...if we allowed our news meetings to evolve into a liberal latte klatch, I have no doubt that a pathological case of group-think would soon set in. One of the advances of which I’m most proud over the years is our willingness to question and challenge each other as we work to give our readers the most valuable, meaningful journalism we can...

...It’s not about "balance," which is a false construct. It isn't even about "objectivity," which is a laudable but probably unattainable goal. It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism -- the difference between what we do and the myopic screed that is passed off as "advocacy" journalism these days."

Dave Boardman, Executive Editor Seattle Times

To see the original memo, in full;

  • 115.
  • At 03:34 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

Rank hypocracy of the worst kind, headlines implying the CIA is systematically changing Wikipedia for its own ends when it turns out the BBC staff appear to making thousands of changes as well!
Of course they're all doing it off their own backs while without any evidence at all the article implies something sinister from the CIA, any chance some CIA employees are doing exactly same as the BBC ones??
The addition of the line at the end of the piece in no way excuses the implication and I presume you'll be publicly apologising to the CIA and the Vatican??

No?? Didn't think so!

  • 116.
  • At 08:33 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Ele wrote:

This is another sad example of good behaviour being set aside in the presents of anonymity. As responsible adults our morals, values and ethics should be our supervisor, chaperone, and guide. Hypocrisy, vanity, conspiracies, bad work ethic, etc.; it comes down to us as individuals making choices between right and wrong. The article should have focused on the petty acts of graffiti, the integrity of Wikipedia and the potential damage misinformation causes our younger readers around the world. Instead, in tabloid fashion, we sensationalize and posture for higher ground.


  • 117.
  • At 08:58 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Allie wrote:

Since Wikipedia is a flawed concept and an unreliable source, why on earth are people at a respected organisation like the BBC bothering with it anyway?

  • 118.
  • At 12:43 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Thomas wrote:

Who really believes that a BBC employee editing a wikipedia page is anything other than a private individual using their professional knowledge to improve the site? Just as it's unreasonable to claim that the BBC should be able to monitor its 20,000 staff, it is equally unreasonable to claim that this staff en masse has an agenda for biasing the content of wikipedia.

So why on earth is that inference made about other organisations?
The list of organisations reads with a subtext:
The CIA - we hate the American security services
The Vatican - Catholics are sinister
The Democrats - faux balance of reporting / American politics is corrupt
Diebold - we hate big business.

Incidentally, is Diebold really a famous company? Not really, but it makes the voting machines for US elections...

  • 119.
  • At 01:41 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • J C Johnson wrote:

Wikipedia 'shows CIA page edits'
By Jonathan Fildes
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Did you really just update YOUR entry,,,

7000 times???

The BBC is a mouth for the left,, admit it,, and move to the back of the bus,, as the 3rd rate blog you are...

  • 120.
  • At 02:12 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • noobie wrote:

Your hypocrisy, BBC, stinks

  • 121.
  • At 03:54 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Richard H. Richard wrote:

I don't trust BBC any farther than I can throw them. BBC is an organisation infested by the leftwing, which in turn are in the pocket of the islamists. BBC today, is worse than Pravda during the Soviet Union. Every bit of news is angled into anti-american, anti-zionistic and anti-christian stories.

I wish I was just another nutty conspiracy freak, I really do. But I have been monitoring BBC closely for several years, and the facts speak for themselves. That BBC twists todays wiki-story to focus on CIA and the Vatican, is not even shocking to me. Nothing BBC does will shock me. They are a media of lies and deceit.

One day we will prevail and the people will be rid of government controlled propaganda. I long for they day when the BBC headquarters will be turned into a historical propaganda museum. I wish you all the worst. You are a disgrace to journalism.

I won't apologise, I had to get if off my chest.

  • 122.
  • At 09:23 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • mike wrote:

despicable and clearly biased organization. i cant believe Brits actually pay a tax for this rubbish. Al-Beebeera is about as reliable and accurate as Pravda.

  • 123.
  • At 09:50 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Andy Gill wrote:

A pathetic response.

Some of these edits were blatantly biased and far from innocent. For example, in the piece on the bombing of the King David Hotel in Israel in 1946, the page was edited to refer to Jewish "terrorist" organizations. The word "terrorist" was repeated three times.

I thought that the approved BBC word was "insurgent" or "militant" - or is that just used for Muslims? Yet another example of anti-Israel bias at the BBC (as if we needed one).

The public are at last waking up to the fact that there is something rather rotten at the heart of the BBC.

  • 124.
  • At 06:28 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Andy 'Walker' wrote:

Settle down, children.

  • 125.
  • At 07:07 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Lie wrote:

Some of you are really stupid. Wikipedia never have rules, laws, or anything against editing self, only self editing is discouraged since it is very easy to be bias in writing self-biography, but it is allowed as long as it is done in a goodwill manner. Our Pete here has exampled a pretty good editing self-biography that isn't doing bias. The informations there are facts and other informations in which is almost impossible to be written by any other people save the man himself. And it should be noted that there is difference between facts and opinion, facts are unchangeable (how could you change your birth date?) but opinion is bias-able. Yes, it is possible to selectively reveal facts that would make an article bias, but considering wikipedia's openness, doing such is useless as other people would add the missing facts sooner or later.

The reason why BBC has to choose just three companies for example is because space, it is not feasibly possible to include all of the companies, etc that does some editing on Wikipedia.

And it should be realized that when somebody in any company write vandals in Wikipedia, it would only mean that the person is a bad willed person, but the company should be left untouched, unless it is proofed that the company (not only the boss of the company or another leading figure in the company, but the whole company itself) is encouraging such manner.

Brand monitoring is nothing new and it is very important for companies and even media entities such as the BBC to keep an eye on what is being said about them and, if possible and appropriate, respond to it. I don't suggest that the appropriate response to a negative inclusion on Wikipedia would be to remove it. But certainly that's where company policy comes in? It's true that you can't keep an eye on every employee but surely companies that practice online brand monitoring should have a policy about it, how to monitor, log and respond; who responds and how.

  • 127.
  • At 01:43 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Alex Elderfield wrote:

I both value the BBC as a new and entertainment resource funded by my taxes and as a source of intelligent (in the majority of cases) informed individuals contributing to public resources like Wikipedia. If only the H2G2 had lived up to the same promise. Other than the odd daytime TV show (which I’m lucky to be at work for, so escape) I find the BBC programming superior to that on the commercial satellite channels and would happily pay an additional fee for more BBC content.

  • 128.
  • At 09:05 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • jonathan evans wrote:

i love the complaints about the hypocrisy of anonymous edits... from people writing under aliases!

Nice try, BBC. However, what about how you deliberately sanctioned and condoned the vandalism of Wikipedia?


  • 130.
  • At 11:02 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Bryan wrote:

Ken B at no. 97 joins others in writing the following:

"As if calling one or other group 'freedom fighters' is biased but using the term 'terrorists' isn't?"

Quite right Ken, using the term terrorists to describe terrorists is not biased. It's accurate. Unless of course you imagine that deliberately blowing Israeli women and children to pieces on a bus or in a restaurant is not terrorism. And to describe those responsible for terror as freedom fighters is not only biased, it is reprehensible and morally indefensible. Unsurprising therefore, that the edit came from a BBC computer.

The BBC provides us with yet another fine example of Newspeak by describing the BBC exposing others' editing of Wiki rather than its own as an "irritating oversight." The Biased BBC blog – which Pete Clifton links to, to his credit, it has to be said - broke the story of the BBC’s Wiki edits. Then, lo and behold, the BBC comes up with the story. An oversight? Hardly. This was an attempt to get in first and distract attention from the BBC's own Wiki wrongdoing since it knew its Wiki edits had just been exposed on the internet and the info would spread quickly. How did it know? BBC staff read and comment on the Biased BBC blog.

So let's try to translate the "irritating oversight" Newspeak back into its original English:

"Cynical, deceitful manipulation of facts" sounds about right.

Own up, BBC

  • 131.
  • At 11:35 AM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Reynolds (BBC) wrote:

Chris Sherlock - I'm not sure you can describe the edits you point to as "deliberately sanctioned and condoned". Also, the Rory Cellan Jones and Radio One examples seem like people having fun and being a bit frivolous - and being open about it.

  • 132.
  • At 06:26 PM on 08 Oct 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

There are so many assumptions built into almost every comment here that all I can do is laugh.

Here are some of the assumptions I see.

1. There seems to be an assumption that BBC employees don't have breaks during their shift when they are allowed to do things for personal enjoyment.
2. There seems to be an assumption that all BBC employees share a common knowledge of everything everyone has done, including knowing what wiki edits everyone has written while at work.
3. There seems to be an assuption that the original author of the news report had some reason to investigate the BBC as a possible source of "tainted" edits.
4. There seems to be an assumption that reporters don't use the wiki as a source of information during their reports.
5. There seems to be an assumption that someone like a reporter who may use the wiki shouldn't return the rewards they reap through editing/improving the tool they have benefitted from.
6. There seems to be an assumption that the BBC as an entity has directed some/all of the edits made.
7. There seems to be an assumption that the clearly childish edits that have been given as examples were given an "ok" by the BBC because we haven't heard of anyone getting in trouble for doing those edits from work.
8. There seems to be an assumption that the BBC has the internal controls needed to police their employee's wiki usage.
9. There seems to be an assumption that the nature of the initial report was vastly different than what it was. The report brought to light that many organizations have had edits coming out of them that seem biased and or innapropriate. Pleae note that the report doesn't ever say someone did anything inappropriate, the article bring the topic up, shows some examples of edits made and lets the reader draw their own conclusion. Obviously the writer of the article could have chosen examples to guide the thought process in a way that they desire, but there is no proof to that, only more assumptions.
10. There seems to be an assumption that what someone does at work in terms to the wiki is going to be different than what they do at home. If a BBC staffer went home and made the edits (not the clearly childish ones) would there be a problem? Whats the difference as to where the edits are being made, unless your suggesting that the BBC as an entity was having these edits done as a course of business? The original article of course raises that issue without ever saying it directly, which was in my opinion the true reason for the article. All the same, unless you have some internal memo showing the BBC directing these activities then your just making more asumptions.

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