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Portrait of a Wikipedian: Ted Frank

By Eric Barbour

Here we examine a major scandal and Arbcom case, and a major embarrassment for Wikipedia, which transpired in August-September 2007. It is almost forgotten today. The principal is a well-known conservative attorney, and the apparent “victim” was filmmaker Michael Moore. The real victim was the truth.


[Editor’s note: the numbers in brackets are links to individual edits on article or discussion pages at Wikipedia, what are called by Wikipediots “diffs.” The practice of citing “diffs” is integral to WikiLawyering, one of the more exciting and fulfilling aspects of the Wikipedia Experience.]

Essentially, Wikipedia was being edited by Ted Frank, notorious tort-reform activist and right-wing attorney, with the assistance of his conservative “Team America” Wiki-Friends, most notably MONGO plus minor conservative WP figures Crockspot and Noroton. At first he edited under his real name, then later under THF, starting in June 2006. A popular subject: tort reform. By March 2007 he was patrolling vandalism using Twinkle, thus ingratiating himself with the insider crowd. See his talk page for examples. Mr. Frank proved to be a very successful “Wiki-lawyer”. There are many cases of Frank editing Wikipedia to slant its coverage to the right and in a pro-Israel direction. Examples: [1] [2] [3] [4]


Frank’s POV pushing brought him into frequent conflict with one of Wikipedia’s most liberal characters, David Shankbone. [5] [6] Because both Frank and Shankbone were well-regarded by Wikipedia’s mandarins, the situation simply worsened.

Frank was a frequent litigator on behalf of large drug companies, so he was mentioned in Michael Moore’s 2007 health-care documentary ”Sicko’‘. As a result, Frank began to edit Moore-related Wikipedia articles to make Moore look bad. [7] The dispute escalated during

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