Fun with WikiScanner, Scientology edition

Masters of procrastination are familiar with the snoopy pleasures of WikiScanner, which lets you input an organization name or domain and get back a list of what folks using their network have been up to on Wikipedia. Some edits are pretty obvious -- for instance, the edits from users at aig.com on "The Fate Of Achilles' Armor," "Lists of Past Disneyland Attractions," and "1975 in Country Music" are obviously attempts to earn their bonuses. But what was the Church of Scientology up back in 2006 to with Kurt Cobain?

Over at Culture kills... wait, I mean Cutlery, Matthew Caverhill searched on a whim for "Scientology" and noticed that in addition to the sort of edits one might expect from a large organization with concerns about their public image, the CoS domains also showed a number of edits to pages done on a single January day in 2006, concerning celebrities who had killed themselves or been murdered by someone believed to be mentally ill.

The edits all pointed to articles on CCHR.org, the domain of the CoS nonprofit Citizens Commission for Human Rights, which inveigles against psychiatry and various treatments for mental illness. The edits, Caverhill reports, fell under the withering scrutiny of other Wikipedia contributors, and most if not all were removed (sample contributor comment: "removed last added link, it spells his name wrong and doesn't really add anything to what's already here") -- a happy ending, but an even happier, albeit tiny, win for transparency where the Web's user-contributed data repositories are concerned.

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