Andy Carvin is intrigued about a school in Canada that asked Wikipedia to block its IP address after a series of vandalism incidents dating to 2002.
We have had a similar experience. Here is my reply.
After a series of vandalism incidents from our school IP address, we have asked a Wikipedia admin to block our IP address indefinitely. At the same time, we are taking advantage of the teachable moment to provide some instruction at an all-school meeting about the implications of online vandalism and the interconnectedness among people in online communities such as this one. The difficult question is how much vandalism to a public resource we are willing to tolerate while the teaching is taking place. That’s why we decided to first institute the ban.
Most students who edit Wikipedia pages have not a clue about the potential impact of their edits. High school students are in a developmental stage that makes it difficult for them to grasp the implications of actions in any community, never mind one as abstract as cyberspace. Many are only now emerging from a very concrete, self-centered stage, so that even when you teach them about the implications of editing on Wikipedia, they just don’t internalize the lesson until it happens to them.
We host our own online forums, photo galleries, student email system, and Moodle site. In all of these systems, users are automatically identified by their login name, encouraging them to take responsibility for their posts. Ideally, we would like to have only the anonymous Wikipedia user, which is identified by our IP address, blocked from using Wikipedia. That way, users would have the register in order to make changes, both limiting the damage to the school community when a person vandalizes the site, and also creating consequences for posting malicious content. The only problem is that it appears that the block has affected all posts from our address, registered or not. I am going to contact an admin to determine whether we can get a more selective block, which would be the most pedagogically effective. Wikipedia in its current form makes it too easy for a student to make a rash mistake under the banner of adolescent experimentation.