Wikipedia biographies of politicians have made the news again, this time in Australia with a story in the Sunday Herald Sun. In a change from previous incidents, most of which focused on edits by unregistered users that were traced back to political staff, the editor involved has been known for some time.
The article focused on the work of Adam Carr, a long-time editor who is also a staffer for Australian Labor MP Michael Danby. In his Wikipedia editing, Carr has been open about his identity, and his employer has been known to a number of people and was previously reported in the Signpost. His user page does not address it directly, but does identify him as a member of the Australian Labor Party.
The Herald Sun story, by Lincoln Wright, was accompanied by the headline, "Liberals hit back at Wikipedia 'dirt' file", suggesting apparently that Carr had been targeting Labor's primary rivals, the Liberal Party of Australia. In reality, the article focused almost entirely on fellow Labor Party members, indicating that this was more of an internal party dispute. Julia Irwin, a Labor MP whose article notes some controversial comments of hers that brought criticism from Danby, was the person quoted as saying that Carr was "getting dirt on people". Wright also reported that Jennie George, another Labor MP, had complained to party Whip Roger Price as well.
In contrast and despite the headline, nobody from the Liberal Party was quoted on the record with any complaints about Carr's work. Two Wikipedia articles about Liberal politicians, Peter Costello and Alexander Downer, were cited as having been edited by Carr, but nothing was said to indicate that his edits were improper.
As a result of these complaints, Price reportedly warned Danby that he should, as the reporter put it, "rein in" Carr. It was not immediately clear when the complaints were made or any warning given. According to Robert Merkel, another long-time Wikipedia editor from Australia, Carr curtailed his editing of articles about Australian politicians after the publicity surrounding US congressional staffer edits in January. Carr is a prolific editor who edits a wide range of topics, but for Australian politicians his substantive work seems to have been directed more to talk pages recently; he has, however, reverted some edits or made changes to things like categories directly on articles, including Michael Danby, since then.
Carr's response to the story was to dismiss it as "a plain and simple smear-job". He said the Herald Sun showed no interest in reporting the real facts involved and added, "I have of course not compiled "dirt files" on anyone." A number of other editors on the Australian Wikipedians' notice board also commented that the claims had no relationship to the work Carr has done on Wikipedia.