Monday, March 28, 2011

Practicum 5 - Eric

The newest thing I have learned about Wikipedia is that users can create bots to crawl through articles to fix up common mistakes. These include potential vandalism, date format, basic spelling, etc. I looked into it a little bit, but I think it's way too much work (read: programming) to create my own bot. It seems relatively uncommon, as there are only 668 bots for all 3.5 million English articles. It's interesting (but not completely surprising) that these exist, but the only way to know that the bots are editing are to view the page's history

In my preparation for the presentation tomorrow, I also found out that in order to find out more about Wikipedia-related subjects (users, bots, etc.) you can search for WP:Users or WP:Bots. By prefixing your search with either "Wikipedia:" or "WP:" it looks for the pages directly tied to wikipedia. This was very useful to find some stats (WP:Stats) and general information for tomorrow (WP:About).

On that note, here are my questions for tomorrow:

Is it still collective intelligence if only a few users edit an article?

Why are most people only consumers of Wikipedia, and not also editors?


  1. That's really interesting about the bots in Wikipedia. Thinking about it, it makes sense. It would be impossible for a small group of users to fix little mistakes, like spelling and links.

  2. I never really know much about Wikipedia except that you could basically search anything and everything. I knew that anyone could edit a page but not much about how to go about editing. I found it really interesting when you told us how your roommate purposefully vandalized a page in order to see what would come of it. It's crazy that within the same minute, it was back up in its original format. Do you people sit and watch their pages that they have edited or how do they get fixed so fast? Is this where the wikipedia robots come in? Does it tell you if a bot fixed it or if a person restored it?

  3. All bots have to be registered under a human user, just with a different account that's linked back to the human. The bots' names usually involve "BOT" such as SwierczekBot or SpellingBot.

    Sadly, though, I have read about Wikiholics - people that are super obsessed with articles that they edited.

  4. Do these "bots" qualify as clarifying glitches in the system like we were talking about in the "Bad Gaming" lecture the other day? Or is this completely separate because its the actual Wikipedia people who are creating these bots? But you also said that normal users can create bots too..

    Just a question :)

  5. Lauren - I wouldn't say this qualifies as part of glitches at all because the use of bots was integrated into the website to make certain edits less tedious on us humans. They also don't really fix any glitches that occur; they are set up for a specific task (spelling, grammar, broken links, date format, etc.) but not glitches that the website's functional code may or may not have.