Wikipedia bills itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit."
Anybody, that is, but Adrian Garcia's campaign.
For nearly three months, the Houston mayoral candidate's Wikipedia page has consisted of a brief biography and a single subsection, removed and restored intermittently, that describes allegations of inmate abuse at the Harris County jail during his time as sheriff, an issue that Garcia's rivals have tried to use against him in recent weeks.
"It's a pretty big oversight," Austin-based Republican digital strategist Ryan Gravatt said. "As a digital strategy, you've got to cover all your bases. This is one of them."
Garcia's campaign is aware of the page and began the process of updating it two weeks ago, spokeswoman Annalee Gulley said, adding that the page would be fixed before the Nov. 3 election.
"The Wiki page has not accurately reflected the full biography of Sheriff Garcia since late summer," Gulley said. "We've contacted independent experts to resolve this issue, but the campaign has no direct control of the content of the Wiki page and the timing of the changes made within it."
According to Wikipedia's conflict of interest guidelines, "Political candidates or their staff should not edit articles about themselves, their supporters or opponents."
However, unlike pages for some other public figures, which restrict editing privileges to select groups of users, Garcia's page is not protected, meaning anonymous and newly registered users are free to make changes.
"They should have found a volunteer with digital and online skills to help them correct their Wikipedia page by now," Gravatt said. "In a city like Houston, you should be able to throw a rock."
Two of Garcia's top mayoral rivals - former Congressman Chris Bell and state Rep. Sylvester Turner - have extensive Wikipedia entries; City Councilman Stephen Costello, former City Attorney Ben Hall and former Kemah Mayor Bill King have no entries at all.
Wikipedia editing trails show the user who added the "inmate abuse allegations" section to Garcia's previously sparse page in July, Bog5576, joined the month before and identifies as knowledgeable about topics including "Houston politics, food, landmarks, and Rice University," according to his or her user page.
Since joining, Bog5576 has contributed almost exclusively to Bell's, Garcia's and Turner's pages, much of the information negative toward the candidates.
The user repeatedly has fought to reinstate some of these items after other users removed them.
In July, after the new section on Garcia's page was deleted, Bog5576 wrote, "Initially, one user tried to delete the entire cited section that I wrote about a week ago. After another user restored it, it was deleted again. Most recently, it's been restored. The section is accurate. While it doesn't reflect well on Garcia, it's important information that belongs in his Wikipedia page."
A month later, Bog5576 briefly was blocked in the midst of editing Turner's page.
"We're lucky to have dedicated supporters who remove this garbage as soon as it's posted," Turner spokeswoman Sue Davis said in an email. "We're grateful to the Wikipedia community for recognizing vandalism and ensuring that accurate and unbiased information is posted."
By early September, though, the user was back, contribution history shows, his or her sights again set on Turner.
Bog5576's recent edits include adding more detailed information about Turner's record on gay rights and the circumstances of his loss to Bob Lanier in the 1991 Houston mayor's race. Many of the changes subsequently were removed.