Critic claims censorship on Collins Wiki

Last updated 15:45 09/07/2013
Judith Collins Wiki

JUDITH COLLINS: As she appears on Wikipedia.

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Justice Minister Judith Collins' office has become embroiled in a Wikipedia war with ministry critic Roger Brooking.

Brooking is an outspoken critic of Collins and the Justice Ministry and was a prolific Wikipedia editor - now banned - under the username Offender9000.

Writing on his blog at the weekend Brooking said his entries had been slashed from lengthy articles to stubs of little more than a few hundred words.

He voiced concerns that Collins or her staff were behind the edits though admitted to Fairfax Media he had no proof.

A spokesperson for Collins admits to making minor changes but said they were up-front about who they were - claims backed up by Wikipedia logs and supported by a Wikipedia editor.

Comments from Collins' office appear in the Wikipedia logs.

"I am Judith's press secretary. Happy to help out by providing a more recent photo for use. As I have a clear [conflict of interest] ... I won't be editing content on the page but I may suggest changes which you can choose to take up or not and can provide further background material etc as requested," the press secretary wrote in February.

Brooking pointed to pages he had edited, including articles on legal aid, the police, corrections, Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Government Communications Security Bureau - which had been slashed.

"I thought New Zealanders had freedom of speech - according to the Bill of Rights we do. But Judith Collins and Chris Burns don't seem to think so," he wrote.

Speaking to Fairfax, Brooking admitted he had no proof but was concerned about the changes and the fact he had been banned from editing Wikipedia.

While Brooking bemoaned the changes he was often forced to defend his own entries and changes against accusations of bias by other editors.

His entries are tagged by Wikipedia over issues such as an unclear citation style and suggestions they possibly needed to be rewritten.

A Wikipedia editor with the username Gadfium told Fairfax Media via email that Collins' office had been open about its contributions though they were told they should refrain from making further changes.

"They declared their conflict of interest and only edited the Judith Collins article to supply a requested photo," the editor said.

The removal of a comment from an article about David Bain which it considered defamatory to Collins was "understandable" and the staff did not try to reimpose the changes when they were reinserted but "began a civil discussion at an appropriate page".

Gadfium said Brooking was blocked from editing because of concerns about bias and because he was also operating anonymous accounts, something which is not allowed.

Several editors had since attempted to rebalance his articles.

"In many cases, the articles have been considerably reduced in size. This rebalancing may have gone too far in some cases, but an ebb and flow is part of our system," Gadfium said.

A spokesperson for Collins told Fairfax they had only made the edits to remove bias and add a photograph of Collins.

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"These two actions were the only two made - and both [were] completely transparent and in accordance with Wikipedia policy."

- Stuff

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