Posted by: ateedub | July 7, 2008

Civil Service & Wikipedia

The good folks at the Environmental Protection Agency are, administration willing, keeping us safe from killing our own planet. But they are also, apparently, a very eclectic group of people. According to Virgil Griffith‘s WikiScanner, users of EPA IP addresses are interested in everything from 117 (the number, not the year) to ZOOM, a children’s television series I have never heard of.

While I find it notable (for lack of another term) that anyone would posit that 117 is the average number of times a woman has sex in a year, apparently the dutiful EPA employee who made that edit to Wikipedia failed to provide a reference, so it was removed a mere 15 minutes later.

This same user has made 110 edits within the timespan cached on WikiScanner. While many of them seem to be as random as 117 and ZOOM, others are exactly what I was looking for:

Additions made:

Air conditioner

HCFCs in turn are being phased out under the [[Montreal Protocol]] and replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), such as R-410A, which lack chlorine.

Clean Water Act

The Act also prohibits potentially harmful spills of oil and certain hazardous substances.


* [http://] – The US Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘eCycling’ program.

All of these, as well as numerous smaller corrections and updates, seem to indicate that these edits were made as this individual used Wikipedia and found errors or opportunities to contribute his own knowledge. This is precisely in line with Wikipedia’s goals.

Now let’s look at another individual IP. Based on the technical edits to aromatic hydrocarbons, I’m going to assume this is a scientist. His taste in movies trends toward the classics, he can’t resist Karl Rove bashing, and he’s definitely a Cornell alumn. As I dig deeper, I realize he also has a vandalism problem.

On the whole, there does not seem to be any overt EPA-related non-NPOV editing by EPA staff members. Most of the edits from EPA computers were made by these two users (1148 out of 1449), whose eclectic interests tell more about themselves than their employer. In fact, I now even know the first guy’s name. Oops!



  1. Actually, I think that guy might be a DOUBLE Cornell alum. At least I hope that’s the reason why he knows so much about the Law School and the College of Engineering!

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