Anonymous Palestinian Wikipedia Edits

this is work in progress


How active and in what way are Palestinians present on Wikipedia? Given the Palestinian IP range(s) and the Wikiscanner, what could be said about the interests of Palestinian web users, as expressed on the English language Wikipedia? In this research the Wikiscanner is queried for anonymous Wikipedia edits from within the Palestinian IP ranges. The Wikiscanner is a tool that allows querying of IP(range)s to discover what anonymous edits where made by a specific IP(range), amongst other Wikipedia detective work.


First a list of IP ranges for Palestine was obtained by querying and parsing the RIPE allocation list and The derived data was then translated to a format suitable for the Wikiscanner (e.g. becomes 212.106.64-95.0-255) and the wikiscanner was queried for all ranges found. Various queries to Wikiscanner resulted in a list of anonymous Wikipedia edits from IP addresses in the specified ranges. The list consists of an IP, the title of the Wikipedia entry that was edited, the revision number of the Wikipedia article when it was edited from the IP, the comment which was added to the edit, and the time and date at which the edit took place. The list was made sortable so one can easily make a time line, see which IP's are most active and which titles are edited a lot. As the list consists of 4146 edits, further abstraction seemed necessary. Therefor tag clouds were generated which depict a) the frequency of edits for the titles, b) the frequency of edits per IP address, and c) the amount of comments which are the same.


  • Analyse and compare lists (of ip ranges)
  • Wikiscanner
  • Sortable list generator
  • Tag cloud generator

Result visualizations

  • Sortable list (1.1M) of anonymous Wikipedia edits in the Palestinian IP range. When the page has completely loaded it is possible to click on the column headings to sort on that column. Give it some time, sorting is done client side through Javascript. The faster your machine, the faster it will sort.
  • Ordered tag cloud of the frequency of edits per Title, the frequency of edits per IP address, and the amount of comments which are the same. Screen shots of the top results can be seen here:





It is easy to see that people from within the Palestinian IP range do not edit the English Wikipedia a lot. Between December 2, 2003 and August 3, 2007, was anonymously edited 4146 times from within the Palestinian IP range. In this period 2505 different titles were edited, 1821 IPs have participated in the editing, and 1316 different comments were made. The table at the end of this section shows that 2005 was the most active year for editing from within the Palestinian IP range (Note: this might be because Wikipedia added two different policies at about that time: locking and non-anonymous editing of controversial topics).

In terms of power usage: from 10 IP addresses more than 30 Wikipedia topics were edited. From an extra 34 IP addresses between 10 and 30 edits were made. 1096 different IP addresses have been used to make just 1 edit.

The quality of edits differs between the topics. Although there was no time yet to study how certain pages were edited, some illustrative results are described below:
  • Almost half of the edits have been made without comments.
  • Of those edits that have been commented upon, adding references and links, and adding/changing bits of history and biography seem important to those in the Palestinian IP range.
  • Illustrative for the Israeli-Palestinian impasse is the edit to Wikipedia that was made on the 4th of May 2006, whereby '... the capital of Israel, is an ancient Middle Eastern city ...' was changed in '... announced by Israel to be its capital by has not been recognized so by the majority of the world, is an ancient Middle Eastern city...'
  • A more constructive example is the 'Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine' article with 20 edits. In a three day timespan contributions to the same article were made originating from four IPs. The following table is sorted on time:
IP address Title Diff Comment TimeSorted ascending Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 4995162 /* Class Aves */ 2006-04-24 18:09:29 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 49951817 /* Class Aves */ 2006-04-24 18:10:55 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 49952153 /* Class Aves */ 2006-04-24 18:13:13 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 49954264 /* Class Reptilia */ 2006-04-24 18:28:22 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 49955755   2006-04-24 18:39:03 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50118601 /* Taxonomical Classification */ 2006-04-25 17:55:14 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50118979 /* Taxonomical Classification */ 2006-04-25 17:57:51 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50119196 /* Taxonomical Classification */ 2006-04-25 17:59:25 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50119739 /* Taxonomical Classification */ 2006-04-25 18:03:37 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50230420 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 09:19:47 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50230576 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 09:21:33 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50260287 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 14:36:24 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50260875 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 14:41:07 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50261047 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 14:42:32 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50261102 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 14:42:58 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50264864 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 15:10:17 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50265272 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 15:12:41 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50266338 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 15:20:07 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50267586 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 15:28:46 Biodiversity in Israel/Palestine 50268706 /* External Resources */ 2006-04-26 15:37:25

Following table shows the number of anonymous edits per month from within the Palestinian IP range
month # of edits
  2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Jan n/a n/a 1 125 119 80
Feb n/a n/a 0 50 64 82
Mar n/a n/a 1 67 35 129
Apr n/a n/a 0 315 111 83
May n/a n/a 25 354 55 119
Jun n/a n/a 58 242 62 178
Jul n/a n/a 29 195 83 130
Aug n/a n/a 27 225 57 7
Sep n/a n/a 51 104 100 n/a
Oct n/a n/a 60 145 72 n/a
Nov n/a n/a 42 135 76 n/a
Dec n/a 4 66 144 57 n/a


Politics of Wikipedia versus localized politics

By looking at the time line in the table on anonymous edits per month from within the Palestinian IP range, one starts to wonder why there have been so many anonymous Palestinian activity on Wikipedia in 2005. This could be because Palestinians thought some issues very important, e.g. things that happened in 2005 in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, hardly any of the edited pages have any relation whatsoever with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of the edits in 2005 are single edits. Also, the curious Crown Jewels page was massively edited back then.

When studying Wikipedia one has to take into account its (changes in) policies. Since December 2005 Wikipedia has disallowed creating new pages anonymously. Also since December 2005 controversial topics - those that were trolled a lot or those where there was no consensus on - where 'locked', see the Semi-protection Policy. One might think that Palestinians' lives seem to be ruled by controversial issues which might explain why in 2005 a lot of anonymous Palestinian edits were made, and after that not anymore. Although in the previous paragraph it was already showed that this was not true, it might be the case for the Israeli IP's.

Future Research

  • Carry out the same research for an Arabic Wikipedia.
  • If we know which IP addresses belong to e.g. Fatah and Hamas, would we be able to pinpoint their differences in opinion in Wikipedia?
  • The IP addresses could easily be mapped geographically to find out where in the Palestinian territories the edits were made.
  • Devise a new tool that links Wikipedia topics and its date of editing to news about that topic and on that date. See if, and how, much Wikipedia is affected by the news.
  • Look for edits from and

Additional Research

  • Carry out the same research for Israeli IP ranges. See which articles in the English version of Wikipedia entries are edited by both Israeli and Palestinian web users. See ComparisonBetweenAnonymousPalestinianAndIsraeliWikipediaEdits
  • An additional question could be 'how many Palestinian websites link to Wikipedia?'. However, the Google query site:ps did not return any results on September 4, 2007. This line of thought could be furthered by querying all Palestinian websites (whether they are in the Palestinian top level domain or not) for a link to
  • Another question could be 'how many entries in Wikipedia link to the Palestinian web?'. The Google query returned 23 results for this query on September 4, 2007. Most of these results are from, some are from {it,download,es,de}

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Topic revision: r9 - 10 Oct 2007, ErikBorra
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