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The Mistreatment of Eliot Spitzer On Wikipedia

by Eric Barbour

FairnessWhile New York State Attorney General in the early 2000s, Eliot Spitzer became famous for prosecuting fraud and insider trading in Wall Street. It is likely that he earned a number of political enemies during this period, as this article suggests. He made enemies on Wall Street and the political right, and was a routine target of conservative bloggers. He was elected Governor of the State of New York in 2006 in a landslide, and was sworn in on 1 January 2007. Yet he resigned on 17 March 2008, after a scandal about his relationship with a prostitute became public on 10 March.

Did his enemies also edit Wikipedia? Many of the articles relating to him read like hit pieces, with hostile and negative information rarely balanced by anything positive. Some of the articles were created specifically about his scandals. Most of the negative information was inserted by the same small number of editors, who had not previously shown substantial interest in Spitzer’s career. As usual for the eccentric culture of Wikipedia, most of these “editors” are completely anonymous – a situation that invites abuse. Were they paid to edit? Many Wikipedia articles have been (provably) edited for pay in the past, a violation of Wikipedia’s erratic and inconsistent rules on conflict-of-interest editing, which are most often the problem with Wikipedia “BLPs”, or “biographies of living people”. The reader is invited to examine the following articles and decide how “neutral” they are.


Eliot Spitzer

Spitzer’s personal biography was first created in February 2004, and looked like an ordinary, bland Wikipedia lawyer’s biography for three years. Many edits were performed on it by an odd character called

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