Hacker journalism: Version control for campaign promises

The always outstanding Threat Level sez:

John McCain’s campaign published a side-by-side comparison of Barack Obama’s Iraq War policy web pages on Tuesday using a new automated online tracking service called Versionista.

Obama statements compared at Versionista

The Friday, July 11 version of the page says: “at great cost our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006.”

The Monday, July 14 version spidered by Versionista says: “Our troops have heroically helped reduce civilian casualties in Iraq to early 2006 levels. This is a testament to our military’s hard work, improved counterinsurgency tactics, and enormous sacrifice by our troops and military families.”

We (software dorks) have been doing this for years.  It’s how we tell who broke something:

Trac project, Changeset 7273 for trunk
Trac project, Changeset 7273 for trunk

Revision: 380, SoC
Revision: 380, SoC

Version control is an enormously powerful tool. If you’re making software without it, you’re nuts. (It’s also the primary reason I don’t use word processors to write – there’s no good way get a diff between two copies of a Word doc. Well, that… and Word sucks.)

I just wish a journalist had done this, instead of a campaign worker.

Ugh. Next time.