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Forums: Index > Wiki discussion > Bot policy

The wiki is about to have six bot accounts, three of them managed by bureaucrats. I think it's about time we formalise a proper bot policy and bot policy page. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have two different kinds of bots (with and without admin powers), for instance.

The page would contain a brief explanation of what bot accounts are and how their actions can be monitored on RecentChanges; a brief list of general tasks they are expected to do on the wiki; how bot actions can be requested; how users can create (and get approved) bot accounts of their own; a list of active bot accounts, their operators and the software used; and bot use guidelines.

My proposal for the last one, which mostly summarises wikia-wide requirements and existing practice on this wiki:

  • Fully automated and large-scale semi-automated tasks may not be performed without a bot flag.
  • Bot flags are only awarded to accounts dedicated to that purpose and not used for regular editing.
  • Bot accounts need to labeled as such on their user page, with a link to the operator's talk page.
  • Flagged bot accounts can operate independently, but may perform only tasks for which there is consensus.
  • Bot edits must be accompanied by an edit summary.
  • Bots must use a limited editing rate (less than one edit per second).
  • Bot accounts can be given administrator user rights by a bureaucrat, but only for the purpose and the duration of a specific task that requires them.

Wording isn't final and I may have forgotten something important. Thoughts? --Tulipclaymore 19:17, July 1, 2012 (UTC)

I do agree with these but I question their importance... do we not already think bots through like this already? I suppose it'd be good to have these set in stone.  FANMADE_Animated_Derpy_Hooves_desktop_ponies_sprite.gif Sig1.png Sig2.png  19:28, July 1, 2012 (UTC)
That last one was my rationale. It will also give us something to link to from the bot user pages. --Tulipclaymore 20:16, July 1, 2012 (UTC)
Two thumbs up. Project:Bots is a good page for this. –Throwawaytv 19:38, July 1, 2012 (UTC)
Looks amazing, great job. I do have a single question though, why the limited editing rate? This only prolongs the process of things like mass categorization when they could easily be done in a reasonable amount of time. I understand it reduces mistakes, but when doing things other than categorization I monitor all actions anyways, and a lot of times they take much less than one second to read through.  Food 25px-Surprise.png  20:06, July 1, 2012 (UTC)
It's required by wikia. They're not super-strict about this when it comes to off-peak times, so you could probably get away with a quicker rate from, say, 3:00 to 7:00 UTC. But the limited rate as such isn't really negotiable. --Tulipclaymore 20:16, July 1, 2012 (UTC)
Ah, thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea.  Food 25px-Surprise.png  20:23, July 1, 2012 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. You may want to specify that, I believe, it is standard practice to make labeling edits on bots' user pages using the owner's account, so that there is proof that the ownership claim is true. ~Bobogoobo (talk new) | 05:20, July 2, 2012
Since Wikia approves each bot individually I doubt someone can request a bot flag for an account they don't own. –Throwawaytv 06:04, July 2, 2012 (UTC)
  • What are the criteria for 'large-scale'? What about situation when a user uploads 15-20 images and then categorizes them or just adds the categories to already uploaded images? Examples. Should we encourage the contributors to leave this task to bots? Should we allow them do it themselves?
  • What do you mean by "Flagged bot accounts can operate independently"? Does that mean "manually" (not using additional software)?
Earlier today I deleted around 160 comments, once again forgetting that this clears the recent activity page. Anything that runs the risk of clearing the recent activity page is large scale. "Flagged bot accounts" should just be "bot accounts". Bots should only be used to perform tasks with assumed or explicit concensus and not for "bold" edits, this is what it means. I think this wording is better. The part about bots being blocked when they make non-constructive edits should be obvious, but I guess it's worth mentioning. –Throwawaytv 17:51, July 2, 2012 (UTC)
Re 1: The edits by Bullet Francisco (which I'm guessing is what you're referring to) are quite obviously neither automatic nor semi-automatic. They wouldn't be affected by this one way or the other. I'm not opposed to adding something to the prose section of the policy page (which I'm working on right now) encouraging users to apply for bot flags if they routinely perform what Wikipedia calls "bot-like editing", even if they do so manually, but it's not something I'd force people to do.
Re 2: Other wikis have more restrictive rules regarding bot action, requiring them to announce and get approved every single thing they intend to do. That's a little silly and it's not how we've ever handled bots here. Operating independently simply means that a bot operator can do what he likes when he likes as long as it's an action backed by consensus (regularly freshening up image categories, for instance).
Re 3: That's already in my draft, though in the prose section, not the bullet point list.
--Tulipclaymore 17:58, July 2, 2012 (UTC)

Policy page

Let's try something new. I've put my draft for the policy page up on my sandbox (it already reflects Teyandee's and Throwawaytv's comments from today). If you think something can be worded better, you can change it right there on the page, to be discussed here only if someone disagrees with the change. I'm hoping this approach will speed up the consensus-building process; if it does, we should use it for future new guidelines as well. --Tulipclaymore 19:12, July 2, 2012 (UTC)

Been a week. Assuming concensus. Creating Project:Bots. –Throwawaytv 09:00, July 8, 2012 (UTC)
Consensus for the draft as it existed before you changed it. That's not how it's supposed to work. --Tulipclaymore 18:23, July 8, 2012 (UTC)
I got carried away. I started by only moving the "getting a bot flag" section into the "bot flag" section, and ended up doing a lot of wording changes. None of the substance was changed, though. –Throwawaytv 08:15, July 9, 2012 (UTC)
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