Jack Evans, Wikipedia Vandal?
D.C. councilmembers have lots of ways to spend the summer recess. Muriel Bowser and David Catania are running for mayor, while at-large Councilmember Vincent Orange visited a headshop. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, meanwhile, has been editing his Wikipedia page to make himself look better—or so some Wikipedia editors allege.
The longtime councilmember's Wikipedia entry turned into a battleground Wednesday, when user "Evansjack1" started deleting unflattering portions of Evans' biography. Sections about Evans' mayoral campaign, his purchases of sports tickets with constituent service fund money, his support for Marion Barry in the face of a Council censure, and a scandal over his use of PAC money all came in for heavy edits from the user, who claimed to be Evans himself.
If Evans really is on Wikipedia, he's not happy with what he sees. Yesterday, weary from a day of back and forth edit wars and banning threats, the purported Evans lamented that the page doesn't reflect his more than two decades on the D.C. Council.
"I am the longest serving Councilmember in dc history," the user wrote. "I have been a leader in revitalizing our city and have great accomplishment, none of which are mentioned. Just a lot of inaccurate accusations."
LL initially doubted that the Evans really was feuding over his legacy on Wikipedia. Evans didn't return LL's call, but surprisingly, Evans spokesman Tom Lipinsky refuses to say whether or not "Evansjack1" is actually Evans.
There are other reasons to suspect that Evans is behind what one Wikipedia editor has termed a "whitewash of his past," though. In an attempt to prove that he or she was really Evans, "Evansjack1" posted Evans' real cell phone number on one editor's Wikipedia profile page and asked him to call. During his mayoral bid, at least one paid Evans campaign staffers got in a scrap on the site over his boss's entry.
And just like his electronic doppelgänger, Evans doesn't exactly have what would be called a thick skin. During his mayoral run, Evans organized a conference call with reporters to respond to a mild insult from Bowser.
While the Wikipedia user has succeed in getting Evans' employer updated to the now-merged Squire Patton Boggs and dropping oddball references to Evans' family having a nanny, some more substantial efforts on Evans' behalf have failed. One of the Wikipedian's main frustrations with the page appears to be the fact that this very newspaper is cited for many of the stories he or she doesn't like. As "Evansjack1" tried to delete references to LL stories about the expense of his failed mayoral campaign or his campaign manager's crack about making the District "look like it barfed up Jack Evans," he or she fumed at the very notion of Wikipedia citing LL.
"Relying on the City Paper which is a satire paper for references is insane," the user wrote. "Stop it and help me get this right. Jack."
The Wikipedia user also wants to keep Evans himself G-rated. He or she has worked hard to delete reference to Evans calling someone "a fucking idiot," repeatedly deleting it on the grounds that it's profanity.
Alas, LL may never know whether Evans really is mucking around on his Wikipedia page. Because "Evansjack1" is a registered user of Wikipedia, his or her IP address isn't publicly visible.
If Evans is behind the account, though, he'll have to find something else to do with his time until the Council comes back this fall. Noting "Evansjack1"'s apparent conflict of interest, the site banned him yesterday for 48 hours.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery