Sunday, October 07, 2007

Japan worker chided for wikipedia habit

TOKYO -- A Japanese bureaucrat has been reprimanded for shirking his duties to make hundreds of Wikipedia contributions about toy robots, officials said Friday.

The agriculture ministry said the bureaucrat, whose name was not released, contributed 260 times to the Japanese-language Wikipedia entry on Gundam, a popular, long-running animated series about giant robots that has spun off intricate toys popular among children and adults who belong to the so-called "otaku culture" of fascination with comic books, animation and robots.

"The agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam," ministry official Tsutomu Shimomura said.

The agriculture ministry verbally reprimanded five other bureaucrats who contributed to entries on movies, typographical mistakes in billboard signs and local politics. The six employees together made 408 entries on the popular Internet encyclopedia from ministry computers since 2003.

The ministry did not object to employees making limited contributions on World Trade Organization and free trade agreements.

The reprimands emerged from an internal probe following recent media allegations that a growing number of Japanese public servants were contributing to the Web encyclopedia, which anyone can edit, often to reflect their views. An unspecified number of other bureaucrats apparently had contributed to Wikipedia on Gundam, but could not be identified, Shimomura said.

Shimomura said the ministry reprimands were not related to WikiScanner, a recently introduced free program that reveals the identities of the computers used to make Wikipedia changes.

The agriculture ministry issued an order prohibiting employees from accessing Wikipedia at work, while disabling access to the site from the ministry, Shimomura said.

An Imperial Household Agency official was reprimanded last month for deleting references criticizing imperial tombs on the Wikipedia through the agency computer.

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