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EA Staffer Attempts to Alter Wiki History

by Carlos Bergfeld, Aug 15, 2007 7:37pm PDT
Related Topics – Electronic Arts

Someone at EA doesn't want you to know about Trip Hawkins, the publishing giant's original founder. On multiple occasions, a user with an IP address of 159.153.4.50--within a range registered to Electronic Arts' Redwood City headquarters--has tried to remove several references to Hawkins' legacy from the Electronic Arts Wikipedia page. Shacknews made the discovery using a tool called Wikipedia Scanner, made by Cal Tech grad student Virgil Griffith and detailed in a recent Wired article. The tool cross-references the anonymous Wikipedia editors' IP addresses with a WHOIS IP query and other data. The most damning evidence stems from an extensive "cleanup" by the aforementioned EA IP address on November 20, 2006. A side-by-side comparison of the revisions reveals the removal of Trip Hawkins as founder of the company from the "key people" section of EA's Wikipedia description box. The EA Wiki user also removes a reference to Trip Hawkins' founding of the company in the main description of the entry, and cuts a paragraph from the "History" section detailing Hawkins' business plan. Seemingly unsatisfied with the entry a few months later, a user at the same Redwood City IP address attempted to further purge Hawkins' name from the introductory paragraph in the "History" section on April 5, while adding a paragraph emphasizing the achievements of Larry Probst, former EA CEO and current chairman, when he became sales VP in 1984. Though by this time, the references to Hawkins as founder of the company had been added back to the Wikipedia entry. Other changes made by the user in the November cleanup focused on clearing out controversy associated with the publisher's business practices. A user at the Redwood City IP removed a line--"The company has also been the subject of criticism, most notably for its business tactics and its employment policy"--from the end of the introductory description of the company. In addition to removing several paragraphs from the "Criticism" section, the user deleted references to the notorious ea_spouse debacle and spun the class action lawsuit brought on by overworked, undercompensated employees to portray the company in a good light. The new text would describe EA as having "led the industry in reforming work/life balance issues that are endemic to the software industry." And a line tacked on at the end would add a consolatory but unattributed statement: "Since that time, many other game companies have been struck with similar lawsuits." The IP in question is the most active Wikipedia user among the IP addresses registered to EA, accounting for a third of the 1,351 changes made by the lot of them. Many of the changes attempted by this EA-registered IP have since been reversed by the Wikipedia community. It's certainly in a company's interest to correct mistakes regarding its operations on a publicly available Internet information site, but one has to wonder where the line should be drawn. Shacknews contacted EA about the issue but did not receive a response.




Comments

36 Threads | 112 Comments

  • This is an interesting twist... EA actually published a game, in 1985, with Timothy Leary called Mind Mirror. Is the modern EA trying to sever it's subversive beginnings, trying to erase it's links to "the most dangerous man in America?" Is EA ashamed of it's Trip(py) history? Isn't it more embarrassing for them now to develop an endless supply of insight lacking sports games with limited appeal, than it would be to publish interesting games that skate on the cutting edge of personal and inter-personal psychology, like they were 20 years ago? Does EA or Trip Hawkins have any other trippy skeletons?