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Busy day at the Wikimedia Foundation office?

by Roger Hogsky



UPDATE: There has been a response to this story from the Wikimedia Foundation, which is reproduced at the bottom of this piece.

Many businesses and organizations operate their offices from a central Internet connection that establishes just one IP address for all of its employees (and visitors) to use. However, by doing so, it can lead to situations where one employee or one visitor is up to no good on the Internet, leaving behind the IP address breadcrumbs that incriminate the whole organization.

You would think that an advanced technology juggernaut like the Wikimedia Foundation would be very careful and secure about how it allocates its publicly-viewable IP addresses to employees and visitors to their headquarters, but perhaps this is not the case. Let’s juxtapose some activities taking place within or regarding the Wikimedia Foundation, on some particular days in recent history, shall we now?



April 2, 2008:
Wikimedia Foundation board chairperson Florence Devouard asks the WMF lead attorney Mike Godwin:

Let’s say… if the board was to decide on a dual governance between a “board of trustees” and a “program council”, what would the legal comment you would provide ?

Same day, over on Wikipedia, from the Wikimedia Foundation’s IP address, regarding the Bean (THL) article:

They have a very distinct taste to them. They kind of resemble the smell of cat litter. They are really dark green like a crayon.


July 5, 2010:
Wikimedia Foundation dignitary, Samuel Klein, discusses prioritization of spending:

I agree we should have specific goals for resources, both short- and long-term. The reason to allocate a fund for long-term infrastructure support, is to avoid confusing that with generic reserves (with “no immediate goals”).

Meanwhile, back at WMF headquarters, they’re changing the name of the East Bakersfield High School (THL) sports teams from “Blades” to:



January 6, 2012:
John Vandenberg, the strikingly handsome president of Wikimedia Australia, has an important question for the Wikimedia Foundation:

Canadian public consultation on TPP closes February 14, 2012.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_Pacific_Partnership

Is WMF and/or WM-CA intending to submit their views? How can we help!?

Do we have a list of submissions to govt.by the Wikimedia community?

Sorry, John. The Wikimedia Foundation won’t have time to respond to you today. They’re busy editing Dom DeLuise (THL) to say:

Dom Deluise, he used to be a chef on T.V., but now he just sits at home with his ass up his ass!

Also, someone at the WMF was at work on Rob Parker (sports journalist) (THL), which suffered from a days-long campaign to defame the journalist:

In his free time, he enjoys blowing Oriental Sausage and shoving uncooked eggs up his anus.


July 23, 2012:
Cristian Consonni, board member of Wikimedia Italia, is concerned that his questions to the Wikimedia Foundation are going unanswered:

I am sorry to insist on this issue but having received almost no answers in the past week I fear that I was not clear in my request. But I indeed have some questions, so I restate them here:
* Using browser localization capabilities may be perceived as invasive. Would you like to use browser localization tool in Wikipedia? (yes/no, why?)
* Do you think the trade-off between bothering user asking to send position information and potential benefits (more accurately localized messages) is worth?
* Are you happy with the current system ?
* Do you think a deeper study of the issue (i.e. a new survey, conducted on a broader sample and in a more scientifically precise way) would be useful or would help you make a more informed decision?
* Have you any further proposal for the use of the system?

Mi dispiace, Cristian, the WMF is busy with edits like this:

Tom begins his mission by proclaiming his catchphrase “While there’s cum in my knackers!”


July 30, 2012:
Stevie Benton of the Wikimedia UK announces a report covering activities of the previous month:

I’m happy to be able to share with you Wikimedia UK’s report covering June 2012.In the report you can read about meetups in London, Manchester, and Cardiff, get the latest on Train the Trainers and our EduWiki conference, and GLAM activities including our first WWI editathon.There’s also some updates on board activities, fundraising, the recruitment of a Developer and communications.

Meanwhile, back at WMF headquarters, they’re updating Billy Elliot the Musical casts (THL):

from after july 22 zach is still with cast, but isn’t performing because he did something to his leg


August 2, 2012:
Senior director of grantmaking at the Wikimedia Foundation, Anasuya Sengupta makes an important announcement:

I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) portal today. The FDC Proposal form is available for all eligible entities to use immediately, and can be created by going to the main portal page and starting at the “I am ready to begin” section.

However, behind Sengupta’s back, someone at WMF headquarters is updating the Wikipedia article about Generation Z (THL):

Members of Generation Z are also the most likely to fight in the inevitable Zombie War.


By now, we’re all familiar with the Wikipedia-faithful line that “vandalism on Wikipedia is usually fixed within minutes”. But how many of us were aware of the volume of Wikipedia vandalism that issues forth from the Wikimedia Foundation headquarters itself? It’s embarrassing, WMF — maybe it’s time you clean house.

UPDATE: Wikimedia Foundation spokesman Jay Walsh has issued the following clarification in response to this story: “The alleged addresses are not WMF office IP addresses (in other words they didn’t take place from within the Foundation). They’re WMF server (the servers that host all of the Wikimedia projects) IP addresses that were assigned to some edits due to a misconfiguration. Under some circumstances, the user’s IP would not be recorded and a server IP address through which they’re accessing the Wikimedia network would be recorded.” Walsh added that the error has since been fixed, but “there may still be rare circumstances under which this does occur”.

Image credit: © JD Hancock (image detail) / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

3 comments to Busy day at the Wikimedia Foundation office?

  • Jimmy Wales once said, “I think that anonymous (non-logged-in) editing is, on the whole, worthwhile. The delicious irony, of course, is that what is commonly called ‘anonymous’ editing is not particularly anonymous, as the whole wonderful Wikiscanner thing has shown.” Right again, Jimbo — right again!

  • Sorry, you're completely wrong

    tl;dr: What you’re seeing is a technical glitch, these edits weren’t actually made from the WMF office.

    The IP addresses you traced are the IP addresses in the Wikimedia datacenters, not in the office. The office has a different IP range starting with 216. I’ve seen accidentally-anonymous edits from the WMF office before (happens on occasion) and the IP address range is different.

    What you’re seeing is most likely the result of some sort of bug attributing edits to the caching proxy it came though. For instance, maps to cp1044.wikimedia.org (cp = caching proxy). So the information about where these edits came from is lost, they could have come from literally anywhere in the world.

  • EricBarbour

    “What you’re seeing is most likely the result of some sort of bug attributing edits to the caching proxy it came though. For instance, maps to cp1044.wikimedia.org (cp = caching proxy). So the information about where these edits came from is lost, they could have come from literally anywhere in the world.”

    In other words, the Wikimedia Foundation is running an open proxy. Intentionally or not, I can’t tell. An open proxy that spammers have been using to cover up their own IP addresses.

    If Wikipedia hates open proxies so much that they’re running a custom bot (ProcSeeBot) that does nothing but block the IPs of open proxies to prevent truly-anonymous editing of Wikipedia, then why is the WMF operating an undeclared open proxy?