WikiScanner is a web site where you can enter a range of IP addresses (e.g. 126.96.36.199-255), and receive a list of edits to Wikipedia that were made from any relevant IP address from within that range (e.g 188.8.131.52). Alternatively, you can enter a company's or corporation's name, and receive a list of Wikipedia edits made from that company's IP range.
This information has been completely and freely available all along, but WikiScanner serves as a convenient "mash-up" for people who don't know anything about IP ranges, for people whose empty intellects lead them to be excessively curious about the banal edits made to mundane Wikipedia articles by nameless people from various ordinary organizations and businesses, and people who can be brought to the brink of orgasm by the discovery that nameless people at the "Church" of Scientology added their anti-psychiatry propaganda to an article about Columbine.
Key Point Of Uselessness
One key concern about the WikiScanner is its utter uselessness in regard to learning who actually made a particular edit. For example, the truth about which of the thousands of New York Times employees thinks that cat-killing former Republican Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee is a negro will never be known -- WikiScanner can only check on edits from IP addresses, which are usually shared by many people, or shift around within a group of people. It can't tell you where someone using a Wikipedia "username" is editing from, nor can it be even slightly accurate when looking at an IP range owned by a major ISP.
For example, it is not very exciting to learn that a nameless person among thousands or millions with Internets service from Earthlink, or Comcast, or BigPond, or Demon seems to know a little too much about coprophilia.
People are apparently shocked that an anonymous IP from the FBI removed an aerial photo of Gitmo, as if that would keep the Mossad rescue operation from coming down. The most common type of edit discovered with WikiScanner, however, even from large corporations or government agencies, are totally nondescript bits of proofreading, or adding a useful fact, or clarifying a poorly-written paragraph, on the usual enormously long and tl;dr page concerned with Kamen Rider V3, or an election that was held in Florida in 1922, or the childhood nick-name of a 19th century Polish rabbi.
Why Was WikiScanner Created?
WikiScanner was made by a student named Virgil Griffith, "also known as Romanpoet," who is a 1337 Americunt h4xx0r. Jimbo Wales had known his family for a long time, and in fact, even had a Wikipedia page written about young Virgil, long before the WikiScanner was revealed. Jimbo noticed at a holiday dinner a couple of years ago that Virgil seemed to be a computer whiz kid. Jimbo hit upon the idea that Virgil could create the WikiScanner. It would seem like such a cool thing, and the media would undoubtedly go wild, drawing many new readers to TOW, and would also serve as a means of deflecting attention from the constant real life internets drama created by The Wikipedia Jews.
He decided to pay not only for Virgil's complete university tuition at Caltech, but also paid him to do a dump of the entire Wikipedia history record for anonymous edits, then organize them by IP blocks, and then do reverse lookups on hundreds of .gov domains and many thousands of corporate domains. Naturally, as a young student, Virgil would never have been able to afford the numerous dedicated servers, hundreds of hours of time, and outrageous amount internets bandwidth to do the work on his own, Indeed, Jimbo even provided several round-the-clock helpers for him as they put the project together.
When WikiScanner was revealed to the world in 2007, the media completely bought into the hype that this new tool was going to create huge scandals and that it would "make the internet a better place" by "increasing transparency" in politics and other contexts where dishonesty is the norm. In reality, there were two or three very petty incidents of trying to make one's regime look better. For example, John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, had 5 or 6 minutes of e-shame when Internets detectives revealed that some of his staff had removed things in Wikipedia articles that were detrimental to the reputation of his government. This revelation started a brief shit storm in the Australian news for one entire day before it was totally forgotten.
This didn't stop "Wired" and other sites from encouraging people to contribute "interesting" or "humorous" discoveries from the WikiScanner. People did indeed contribute these, but non-aspies somehow don't find these to be of the slightest interest. They are entirely devoid of lulz.
None of this is surprising or interesting
Messing around with WikiScanner is an interesting way to pass the time for people who are true Wikipedia devotees, who fuss and obsess over the sacred law of NPOV, and who are totally thrilled when another no-longer-spoken language like Old Frisian or Yavapai joins the Wikipedia-world, and spend hours reading and writing hundreds of pages of inane discussion and debate about a Wikipedo's minor transgression in editing some stupid article. WikiScanner is for them.