Wikipedia articles carry with them a revision history that logs every change made to an article, as well as information on the user or IP address that made the change. The revision history and user information can provide someone gathering intelligence with as much or more information about a topic than its article. Many Wikipedia editors are personally connected to the articles they edit, or otherwise have a stake in what is being said, and by processing the revision data, it’s possible to gain some insight into those connections.

This is somewhat awkward and time consuming to do through the web interface, so it helps to automate. I had a need to determine what revisions and users introduced certain phrases in an article, and wrote the following script to help:

To use, first export the article(s) you want to process to XML using Wikipedia’s Special:Export page (be sure to uncheck ”Include only the current revision”). Once you have the XML saved locally, usage is as follows:

./wikiadded.py <xml file> <word or phrase>

The output is comma-delimited and contains the Wikipedia timestamp, user information (username/id or IP address), and a link to the revision that introduced (or re-introduced) the phrase.

Hope this is of use to someone besides myself!

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