Who says everyone can edit Wikipedia? That’s an urban legend. I discovered that while looking up the Wikipedia article on Singapore opposition leader JB Jeyaretnam yesterday.
On top of the page it says: "This article or section needs to be updated". The article doesn’t seem to have been updated since early last year.
But when I pressed the edit button, a new page opened with this headline: User is blocked. Below that was this message:
Your user name or IP address has been blocked from editing. You were blocked by AmiDaniel for the following reason (see our blocking policy): vandalism.
(AmiDaniel apparently is a Wikipedia administrator.)
I was shocked because I have never even tried to edit Wikipedia before. Nor did I intend to edit the article on Jeyaretnam. The only reason I pressed the edit button was to see how articles are edited.
Apparently, Wikipedia doesn’t allow articles to be edited by visitors from a Singapore Internet service provider unless they are registered Wikipedia users with their own accounts. That became clear when I again visited the site and pressed the edit button several hours later. This time I got this message:
Editing by anonymous users from your shared IP address or address range is currently disabled. Registered users, however, are still able to edit…Please register an account if you wish to edit.
The Wikipedia page on blocking policy explained:
Blocks are used in order to prevent damage or disruption to Wikipedia, not to punish users.
I wonder what anonymous visitors from the Singapore Internet service provider did that provoked Wikipedia to block them from editing its pages. After all, the original message said I was blocked for "vandalism" !