SAN FRANCISCO, CA –
A series of coincidences during server upgrades for the Wikipedia.org website resulted in an unfortunate outcome Tuesday when all seven admin password were accidentally disabled, making it impossible for anyone to administer the world’s largest online encyclopedia.
“Yeah, it was one of those late night mistakes” said Ratavan Gumli, the project lead for the freelance team hired to do the upgrades.
“I’ve seen it many times – one guy is logging in to delete the old database, another is installing the upgrades. Normally there are several logins that can be used in case one gets corrupted, but unfortunately they were all erased one by one as we tried to fix the problem.”
After several setbacks during the night, the first incorrect admin login occurred around 3AM Tuesday morning. “I definitely made some bad choices” said IT tech Brandon Surley. After typing the wrong password twice from memory, Mr. Surley looked up the correct password but mistyped it. “I got confused, and then I think the stress of freezing out the first login made me botch the second one – because I knew we would have to notify the client.
“And really I should not have tried to guess the passwords for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth admin logins that were taped to the side of the monitor. That was just dumb. It’s just that I thought if I could guess the passwords, we could finish up and no one would know the difference. 20/20 hindsite I guess.”
No Eighth Login
After freezing the sixth account, the team contacted the client who had one remaining admin login that they could use to reset all the others. However, the client misread the password, and the technicians, who were under a deadline, tried it three times in quick succession, locking themselves completely out of the system for good. “I have to say, when the client told us there was no eighth admin login, that definitely threw us for a loop. But I guess they weren’t kidding”, said Mr. Surley.
The freelance company chosen for the upgrade, IDN Tech Group, had a solid track record in silicon valley, and has performed many successful upgrades for large commercial clients. “I guess we just had an off night”, said Mr. Gumil. “It’s hard to believe we logged in incorrectly so many times, but the passwords of course are very complex and hard to read when you’ve been up for 24 hours.”
Site Is On Its Own Now
Because all seven admin logins have been disabled, there is no longer anyone that can manage the sprawling 40 million articles in 293 languages that an estimated 14 million people visit each day. “Basically, the site is now a zombie. We can’t control anything that’s happening on it” said an employee of Wikipedia who spoke on condition that their name not be used. “If you have a valid user credential, you can write whatever you want. It’s basically the wild west from here on out.”
A message was left on the Myspace page for Encyclopaedia Britannica asking for comment, but was not returned as of press time.
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