Over on AutoAdmit (via Concurring Opinions), folks have been talking about Wikiscanner. This neat application allows you to see recent edits to Wikipedia and who made them, in terms of the editor’s IP address (which often reveals their employer).
As Professor Dave Hoffman notes at Concurring Opinions, law firm lawyers seem to love playing with Wikipedia. A tipster is more specific:
Apparently members of Vault 15 law firms have been making, umm, questionable edits to wikipedia. For example:
– Vandalizing Ann Coulter’s page
– Shameless self-promotion
– Editing articles on BDSM (WTF?)
– Hiding links to Skull and Bones
– Taking shots at Noam Chomsky
– Taking shots at other firms
Eric Turkewitz, over at the NY Personal Injury Law Blog, zeroes in on edits made from computers at Wachtell Lipton (where we once worked). He accuses the firm of “duplicity,” since someone at WLRK is making (flattering) edits to the firm’s page, even though the firm claims it doesn’t engage in advertising or marketing.
But what if the edits were made not by Wachtell firm management, but by a mere associate? Would that be as problematic? Should Wachtell, or any other law firm, prohibit firm employees from touching up firm write-ups in Wikipedia (at least from law firm computers)?
With respect to the Wachtell Wikipedia edits, we have some interesting speculation. Check it out, after the jump.
One would think that billing 3000 hours a year wouldn’t leave you with much free time. But it seems that some WLRK associates need a little more work to occupy themselves with. A tipster sent us this interesting message:
Have you seen this terrific new resource – Wiki Scanner? It lets you run searches on various domains to see what Wikipedia pages are being edited from that domain.
Anyway, I ran a few law firms for kicks and saw that someone at Wachtell was particularly busy (this IP: http://wikiscanner.virgil.gr/f.php?ip1=188.8.131.52 ). Oddly, a number of the entries are for Kramer Levin, Gary Naftalis (noting his recent favorable press in the WSJ), the Trinity School and Judge John Walker. It also includes entries for Exeter (but that update was merely to reflect that Judge Walker is a notable alum); James Comey (to reflect that he clerked for Judge Walker); a few for Columbia Law (to list Gary Naftalis as a notable alum, among others); and a couple for Wachtell itself (removing the word upstart from the description of the firm and describing his edits as having something to do with Cravath being defensive about its M&A position).
Looking over the Wachtell website, [my guess is that] the busy Wikipedia editor is likely this associate (likely the son of Gary), who apparently went to Columbia Law and clerked for Judge Walker. No word on whether he went to Trinity School, but he must have or else he as an unhealthy obsession with it (actually, it seems unhealthy whether he went there or not). It is nice that he is loyal to his dad and his judge (and everyone who has worked for his judge) and his law firm by posting nice things about them (or defending them from the Cravathian hordes). But I wonder if he couldn’t find something more productive to do from the firm’s computers?
I don’t know this kid, but after I noticed this creepy pattern, I figured ATL would appreciate the humor.
Yes, we do — very much so. We thank this reader for the thorough research.
We contacted the alleged Wikipedia editor this morning for comment — by email, because a Wachtell Lipton attorney is never without his Blackberry (we used to take ours out with us on Saturday nights) — but we haven’t heard back from him. If we do, we’ll let you know.
Update: We have removed references to the associate that include his full name, in both the main post and the comments (where we’ve replaced them with his initials). Please don’t mention his full name in the comments going forward.
As noted by some commenters, the item makes no sense identifying the associate (which we do by linking to his WLRK bio). But removing references to his full name avoids the “Google problem.”
Skadden Chicago takes shots at Jones Day over wikipedia [AutoAdmit]
A Slow Day at the Office: Lawyers Editing on Wikipedia [Concurring Opinions]
Duplicity at Wachtell Lipton? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]