Tuesday, June 17, 2014

John Huppenthal, Serial Wikipedia "Editor"

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Before he was indulging in sock puppetry on left and right wing blogs as well as more traditional media outlets, before he was Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal was selectively editing his Wikipedia bio, as well as the bios of current Secretary of State Ken Bennett and a former political opponent, State Senator Slade Meade, who Huppenthal defeated in the 2004 senate primary.

That's two cardinal internet sins Huppenthal has indulged in: posting comments as someone else to praise and defend himself, and altering Wikipedia pages to make them more favorable to himself and unfavorable to his opponents. Neither action is illegal, but both indicate Huppenthal has a shaky grasp of the concepts of honesty and integrity.

You can learn more about Huppenthal's sock puppetry here (a Brahm Resnik news clip) and here (my first post on the subject). And you can go to Blog for Arizona for continuing updates.

The newly discovered information is that Huppenthal was actively altering Wikipedia pages in 2006 (recently brought to light in this BfA post), and admitted as much in an email which contains a truly hilarious passage in light of his current anonymous commenting. Geo wrote a November 24, 2006, post on the now-defunct blog, Precinct 134: Senator Huppenthal, you're BUSTED! Geo describes and details the thorough sleuthing process he used to show that Huppenthal went onto Wikipedia at least 28 times to edit entries. He began by editing "Merit pay" and "Standardized testing" pages, then went on to edit his own page 10 times, Ken Bennett's page twice and Slade Meade's page twice.

[I]t would seem that Senator Huppenthal not only has a penchant for writing his own glowing Wikipedia entry (and deleting embarrassing details) as well as fluffing up issue entries to reflect well on him and support his political views, he also edits the entry of his opponent to suppress facts that reflect poorly on him.

According to Geo, Huppenthal inserted 8 glowing references to himself on the "Merit pay" page, added paragraphs supporting high stakes testing on the "Standardized testing" page, removed a reference to a recall initiative from his page, removed two passages from Ken Bennett's page referring to controversies about Bennett's oil company and some trouble his son got into, and removed the information on Slade Meade's page that Huppenthal outspent Meade 2-to-1 in the primary.

Geo points out that a number of Huppenthal's edits were submitted during work hours, but I'm more struck by another time grouping: the number of edits submitted in the wee hours of the morning. Seven of the edits went in between 1am and 4am. We found the same thing in the time stamps on comments Huppenthal left on Blog for Arizona under the names Thucydides and Falcon9. Many of them also were written during early morning hours when most of us are snug in bed.

Self-serving editing of Wikipedia entries falls into the same jaw-dropping category as Huppenthal's more recent sock puppetry. But a passage from the email where Huppenthal admits he was indeed a serial Wikipedia editor takes us into "You can't make this stuff up" territory. In the email, Huppenthal defended himself by saying he left a clear trail of IPO addresses that anyone could follow, and that proves he wasn't trying to hide his work (It doesn't prove that, by the way. It comes closer to proving the opposite). Then he praises himself for not hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

Wikipedia has an option for posting anonymously. I chose not to do that. That's the honest man's trademark. He leaves his signature.

Put that statement next to the hundreds of comments Huppenthal has posted hiding behind the names Thucydides, Falcon9 and Socrates. By Huppenthal's standard — "That's the honest man's trademark. He leaves his signature" — he's flunked his own honesty test big time.

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