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Comment Re:Why is a study necessary? (Score 1) 96

This article summary is sensationalized misinterpretation of the actual paper. Yes, bots have maintainers, and yes, maintainers are alerted when bots get reverted. The actual study is mostly about changes that get promulgated across different language Wikipedias. Because that's a loose-coupling, those are a little more difficult to detect. That's all.

Comment Re:In fact theses are puppeteers who are fighting (Score 1) 96

Honestly, no one is fighting. This article is sensationalized. The bots in question are doing dinky maintenance stuff. Some of them are written in such a way that as an unintended side-effect, comes into conflict with the way another one is written. And in particular, this addresses when that happens across different Wikipedias (different language versions), where the relationship is loosely coupled. Wikipedia doesn't allow you to write a bot for the sake of enforcing your personal agenda. Those get shut down.

Comment Re:Further Proof Wikipedia is Unreliable (Score 1) 96

No informed person is making the argument that WP is reliable. It's a starting point, that's all.

But by the way, the initial article is about bot-conflicts by bots doing things like fixing redirect-links and broken references; meta-stuff. These conflicts have nothing to do with the factual content of the articles.

Comment Re:A better summary (Score 4, Insightful) 96

This is vastly better. Slashdot's summary is one of the most sensationalized non-issues I've seen on /. in a few months now. It didn't take very long at all for bot conflicts to become obvious to bot-authors, at which point and they quickly put in code to notice edit conflicts. When the bots spot back & forth editing, they back off, and alert the bot's maintainer. It took a little longer to notice loops that spanned across the different language editions of articles, but that's because the relationship among them is usually pretty weak. This Summary acts like a bot-conflict spanning 3629 articles is something impressive. In that time period, that represents around 0.01% of the article namespace when you span all language variants of WP, and the bots in question do seriously boring things related to cleaning up redirect-links or fixing named references if they become broken as an unintended side effect of a user's edit.

As far as this better summary, and looking at a longer summary from the Alan Turing Institute website, it looks like it's also inflating the implications of the study. It's certainly true that simple rules can result in complex unintended conflicts, but that's already a well-known idea. Specific novel lessons learned from this study have pretty weak implications to AI. And the cultural conclusions it draws are borderline silly. "the same technology leads to different outcomes depending on the cultural environment. An automated vehicle will drive differently on a German autobahn to how it will through the Tuscan hills of Italy." I'm gonna guess that this guy isn't a software developer. Upon checking, yup, he's a physicist turned social-scientist.

Comment Re:Wikipedia has a comments section? (Score 1) 174

True; it functions if you take the time to read the documentation and appropriately go up the chain. But yeah, that whole confusion of how to edit in a manner that doesn't get your head bitten off is certainly a problem that scares away potential contributors. There absolutely are tons of instructions that you must wade through to find the information needed, and many new people don't want to be bothered with all of that. The appropriate thing that users are encouraged to do when they see a new users make an inappropriate edit is to revert the edit, and post a friendly template-message to the user's page, welcoming the new user while informing them of the reason why the edit wasn't appropriate.

Mods generally only step in if they happen to be monitoring the changelog of that page, or you go to another part of the website to request a moderator come take a look at something. And by default, mod users look exactly the same as regular users when they comment. You gotta add an extension to your browser for the moderator to show up with a highlighted username.

Comment Re:Wikipedia has a comments section? (Score 1) 174

I agree that it'd only be a problem for a small subset of topics/articles. But a small subset of 5.3 million articles is still a heck of a lot of articles. Since Wikimedia is a nonprofit organization, I suspect they feel such a feature would be beyond the scope of their project.

That said, if you have a general question on a topic, you can often get it addressed by formatting comments as "I feel like the article should explain {insert question here}, but I'm unable to find an appropriate source. Could someone help with this improvement?" -~~~~

FWIW, anecdotally speaking, I've seen horrible cringetastic comments almost every time I've made the mistake to scroll down to the comment section on the IMDB page for nearly every popular television drama or comedy, nearly every film that has the potential for a sequel, and on nearly every actress who at any point in her career was considered attractive. So, pretty big subset.

Comment Re: Real life (Score 1) 174

Yes, I think they're two rather different breeds of trolls. Twitter is a free-for-all where you can find a trending target, and start attacking people you disagree with, or just don't like. Wikipedia is a place where everyone is trying to make articles the way they believe they should look. The personal attacks come as a result of disagreements or misunderstanding of the content guidelines or disputes over the merits of a source. Personal attacks are mostly on the order of "you're an idiot for including all this unimportant and unsourced information about your favorite character who showed up in only two poorly-selling Star Wars Expanded Universe novels!" and "You're a jerk, for deleting all the content that I worked so hard to type up!". The anger frequently comes from a common interest to contribute to a project that will have some sort of lasting legacy.

Comment Re:Wikipedia has a comments section? (Score 1) 174

Nah. Article edits aren't moderation. Moderators are moderation. It's their job to step in when editors disagree about the state of an article. And if moderators get out of line, you can alert other moderators to get a second opinion. And if they inappropriately side with a moderator who is out of line, you can appeal to administration. It's certainly not perfect, but it's a decently thought out system (And if someone is able to come up with improvements, it's possible to get them put into effect). My point is that the moderators are volunteering their time and effort because they wish to maintain and improve the quality of an encyclopedia; and the same is true of the Wikimedia Foundation. They are not particularly interested babysitting some general discussion forum.

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Much of the excitement we get out of our work is that we don't really know what we are doing. -- E. Dijkstra