Wikipedia:Bots/Noticeboard

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Bots noticeboard

This is a message board for coordinating and discussing bot-related issues on Wikipedia (also including other programs interacting with the MediaWiki software). Although this page is frequented mainly by bot owners, any user is welcome to leave a message or join the discussion here.

For non-urgent issues or bugs with a bot, a message should be left on the bot operator's talk page. If discussion with the operator does not resolve the issue or the problem is urgent and widespread, the problem can be reported by following the steps outlined in WP:BOTISSUE. This is not the place for requests for bot approvals or requesting that tasks be done by a bot. General questions about the MediaWiki software (such as the use of templates, etc.) should be asked at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical).


sboverride userright[edit]

How would I get User:GreenC bot the new sboverride userright? c.f. T36928 recently closed resolved. -- GreenC 20:12, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Oh, that's a neat user right. User:AAlertBot could use it since it occasionally encounters urls users used that it cannot report and has to trim the report. I spent way too long fixing it when I first encountered this because I assumed bots would surely be exempt from this. I doubt there's any process yet for granting the right though. —  HELLKNOWZ  TALK 21:06, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You'd probably need to lobby for the permission to be added to an existing user group such as "bot", or for the creation of a new user group such as "sboverride". Any preference? –Novem Linguae (talk) 21:18, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Probably should just get added to bot user group. Izno (talk) 21:27, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The bot user group is "trusted" enough to have sboverride added to it imho — this is proposed at T313107TheresNoTime (talk • she/her) 21:28, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess the question is if there is a case when it would be desirable to block a bot's edit due to the blacklist? —  HELLKNOWZ  TALK 21:30, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
IIRC (and I may not), if I try to fix a typo in a section that contains a blacklisted URL, I can't save the edit, even if I am not editing near the URL. If that workflow still exists, it is frustrating. If bots can add blacklisted URLs but regular editors are then unable to edit the sections that contain those URLs, that would be undesirable IMO. If I am misdescribing or misremembering the workflow, or if I am misunderstanding this conversation, let me know in a nice way and I will strike this comment.Jonesey95 (talk) 21:43, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

[...] the link filtering is based on what links existed before the edit vs. what links exist after (exist meaning interpreted as an external link by the software). Do you have any evidence that an edit that did not try to add a link was prevent by this extension? See the code - this part makes it so that if the page already existed, the links that are checked are only those that were added in the current end. --DannyS712 (talk) 00:18, 1 August 2022 (UTC)
— m:Requests for comment/Allow sysops to override the spam blacklist

So, it looks like you don't recall correctly. * Pppery * it has begun... 21:52, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for that; that's twice today that you have set me straight. Maybe I'm thinking of trying to revert vandalism, section blanking, or other undesirable edits and being stopped because I would be restoring a blacklisted link. I can't think of a situation where a bot would put a human editor in such a situation, so we're probably OK. – Jonesey95 (talk) 23:02, 29 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess the question is if there is a case when it would be desirable to block a bot's edit due to the blacklist? AnomieBOT's rescuing of orphaned references. It would probably be better if the bot didn't reinsert blacklisted links, but continue to complain on its talk page for humans to do a proper removal. Anomie 01:27, 30 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You could probably theoretical construct such a bot. But in general, I think whatever bots are doing, if it's an approved task, overrides those concerns.
I wouldn't let an AWB user overide the blacklist, but an AWB bot should be able to plow through. IMO. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 15:19, 11 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Why don't we just create a dedicated sboverride group instead of speculating about whether there is some bot that might be harmed by having the right? * Pppery * it has begun... 15:24, 11 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I could theoretically create a bot that has already existed for 14 years? Anomie 17:19, 11 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bots, AWB, and 'crats[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


There is a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Requests for permissions § AWB and bot access about the appropriate venue for requesting AWB access for bots. Your input is requested. Primefac (talk) 16:28, 8 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

AnomieBOT Disruptive bot edits and dismissive operator[edit]

AnomieBOT (t · c · del · cross-wiki · SUL · edit counter · pages created (xtools · sigma· non-automated edits · BLP edits · undos · rollbacks · logs (blocks · rights · moves) · rfar · spi) (assign permissions)(acc · ap · fm · mms · npr · pm · pcr · rb · te)

User:AnomieBOT has a pattern of "resucing" references by finding a similarly named reference anchor in the history of an article, or in some related article, and injecting it as a replacement for an undefined reference. Sometimes, this works fine. Other times, it intorudces a referenes that's completely irrelevant or inappropriate for the context. Of course, any reader, it just looks like a reference.

As far as I can tell, edits made by this bot aren't reviewed by any human. The bot churns out these edits mechanically, and they're unlikely to be caught unless someone happens along to check the "resuceing" edits the bot has made.

I've cataloged errors made by this bot and others, but received no response from pings in those notes. I have also directly reported these problems to the operator and received a very curt and dismissive reply, inviting me to -- myself! -- review the edits the bot was making.

For sure, the bot is trying to do something very aggressive because it's hard to verify its correctness. But because it is operating unsupervised and trusted to be helpful, it should be held to a high standard. If it can't guarantee its correct behavior, it shouldn't take action at all.

If the bot is making bad edits and the author isn't interested in addressing the issue or even directly monitoring the bot's actions, what can be done? -- Mikeblas (talk) 19:26, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Mikeblas the page you linked to shows rare, rather stale, edits. Is this bot currently making bad edits (i.e. an edit that would be reverted immediately if it were made by a non-bot editor)? Please provide a few very recent diffs. — xaosflux Talk 19:30, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Operator notified of discussion. — xaosflux Talk 19:33, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've linked several pages. You must mean the catalog? "Directly reported" references an edit I fixed this morning, along with another that I brought to the operator's attention last month. This issue is ongoing and has been happening for at least a couple of years, which is part of the point. -- Mikeblas (talk) 19:35, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Mikeblas please provide a few recent diffs showing "disruptive" edits here so we are all on the same page. Don't need a big explanation right now, just a few diffs from this year will be fine. — xaosflux Talk 21:51, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Here are the ones I linked above, explicitly copied here
Here are some new ones:
-- Mikeblas (talk) 04:08, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, thanks for notifying the operator. The header here says by following the steps outlined in WP:BOTISSUE, but I didn't see any specific steps (certainly not any kind of numbered list), and wasn't sure if notification was required or how it was required to be done. -- Mikeblas (talk) 19:37, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I note Mikeblas has been fairly tendentious on this topic; for some time he was in the habit of edit-summary pinging me every time he reverted an edit by the bot that he did not like, even simple reversions of the bot's edit concurrent with reversion of IP vandalism. This is also the first I've heard of this "User:Mikeblas/Robots Behaving Badly" page, nor do I see any evidence that I was ever pinged on that page. Overall the tenor of complaints I've seen from this user suggests to me that they expect human-level AI from the bot, which is IMO an unreasonable request. The request here and at the bot's talk page to "stop the bot" or convert it to a semi-automated task similarly seems far beyond what is reasonable considering how often other editors have specifically thanked me or the bot for the service it provides.
On the other hand, I have been considering looking into the error rate related specifically to orphaned references rescued under Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/AnomieBOT 6, to decide whether that specific portion of the task should be stopped or modified to also check for the source article containing text similar to adjacent text in the article being processed. I haven't yet found time to actually conduct this analysis or look into the feasibility of such modification. If anyone unbiased (e.g. not Mikeblas) feels like conducting that analysis, I'd appreciate the data. Anomie 20:01, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I usually mention whomever's work I'm editing in edit summaries. This gives them the opportunity to review my revisions of their work and re-check my changes. I also think that Wikipedia will automatically notify a user when their contributions are reverted or undone.
My expectation for the bot (and any other, as well as any other user) is that they'll do what's possible to avoid making regressive or disruptive edits. Mistakes happen when people make edits, and we forgive those and try to repair them; but we do rely on policies to decide what to do when that behaviour isn't corrected or appears malicious. Bots are held to a higher standard because we expect them to do work for us, and correct them promptly if they're doing something wrong.
Aside from the inappropriate reference insertion I raise here, I often discover the bot is cleaning errors in vandalism edits rather than cleaning the vandalism itself. And so it only follows that the bot's edits are reverted along with the vandalism.
This bot is somehow (I don't know how) tasked with "rescuing" referencing errors. This task itself requires far more than simple algorithmic replacement or reaction, and instead demands that the bot know what a reference means in the context of the article, gauge its propriety, understand the previous editor's intention about editing or removal, choose an appropriate replacement (or other action), and evaluate: does it make the situation any better?, and so on. Nothing like fixing a date format or deleting hyphens, or even rebalancing parenthesis. The "rescuing" task is an ambitious order, but certainly is not something that I established or expected. OTOH, since the robot is trying to do it, anyone should expect it to do it correctly and reliably.
Fact is this bot often violates that standard and I've provided feedback to that effect. Perhaps worse, it's making edits that have subjective results (or, at least, unclearly defined outcomes) and its efficacy and safety aren't being monitored or checked. In what percentage of its edits is it being productive or disruptive? We don't objectively know. Maybe I'm wrong in that, but I don't think it's a tendentious position.
When pointing out these errors, I've met with excuses (just responding to "garbage input") and dismissal as in the current examples. That the bot's owner actively explains they're not listening to me (biased? because I've reported and documented problems?) and themselves won't monitor the bot at all unless someone else volunteers to do it indicates they're not a responsible bot operator.
Letting the bot make automated edits, dismissing and ignoring feedback, and "considering looking into" problems until some volunteer offers to own the task on their behalf doesn't seem like a responsible way to run a bot. Instead, the position should be to not release wide-spread active behaviour until that behaviour can be verified reasonably correct. Or, to set aside their own bias and face the realization (and feedback) that their goal is too ambitious to be completed reliably without human intervention or any monitoring of its outcome and instead abandon it. -- Mikeblas (talk) 20:57, 15 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You have just posted another 513 words of generic complaint without the diffs of recent problems that you were asked for above. Johnuniq (talk) 01:05, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
After reviewing the so called 'bad' edits, I can't say I see any problem with them. AnomieBot is functionally exactly as intended. E.g. someone removes the 'declared' instance of a reference that's reused multiple times in an article, causing issues like [1] without removal all references to it. AnomieBot then rescues the reference, solving the issue. This is neither disruptive no regressive. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 05:45, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That specific edit is a valid complaint, and is why I'm considering disabling or changing the AnomieBOT 6 task. The problem is that the generic reference name "Canada" was used for an unrelated reference in just one linked article; no idea where the IP got the reference name from in Special:Diff/1124983363. One of the other linked complaints is the same. OTOH, other of the complaints are less valid. For example Special:Diff/1102679930 did fix an error, just not in the "right" way; in Special:Diff/1133658542 Mikeblas would rather have had the orphaned copy removed instead of rescued; and in Special:Diff/1133439631 he'd rather the IP edit had been reverted (I guess). Anomie 13:22, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'll once again dubtifuly AGF in face of the sneering response and spell out the details:
  • Special:Diff/1102679930 made an error message go away, but didn't fix or objectively improve anything. It's pretty obvious that the original root cause was the addition of article prose to the name of a reference anchor. Instead of making the prose visible, the bot codified the error by reusing the article prose in other invocations of the anchor: <ref name="Anuradha Koirala named CNN Hero of the Year 2010 In 1993, Maiti Nepal started with two rooms to protect women from abuse and trafficking. After establishing Maiti Nepal, Ms. Koirala plunged into the service of humanity. Her first work was setting up a home so that women and girls who have nowhere else to turn could find themselves a place to call theirs. After almost three decades today, Maiti Nepal has one Prevention Home, sixteen Transit Homes, two Women Rehabilitation Homes, one Child Protection Home, two Hospice Centers, one Information and Surveillance Center at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and a Formal School (Teresa Academy). More than 1000 children receive direct services from Maiti Nepal every day. All of these were possible because of Ms. Koirala’s firm determination and unprecedented leadership." />
Ignoring the more obvious cause, WP:ILCLUTTER explains that long anchor names aren't appropriate. Why would the bot enforce them? Now, a human must come along and clean up both the robot's meddling and the original error.
  • In Special:Diff/1133439631, the anonymous edit was indeed unreferenced -- the new 2020 stats use a reference from 2010 that doesn't support their verifiability. AnomieBOT abetted the addition of unreferenced material by correcting the newly mismatched anchor name. Why is it acceptable to update objective statistics but not update their sources?
  • In Special:Diff/1133658542 a user was trying to remove a reference to IMDB, which is a listed WP:USERGENERATED source. But AnomieBOT insisted on keeping the reference present and subverted them.
In every one of these cases, AnomieBOT demonstrates that it does not (because it largely can not) consider user intent or surrounding context when making edits. Instead of realistically acknowledging that it doesn't have a high probability of making a constructive edit, it instead brashly assumes it knows best and takes action without regard to the outcome.
I strenuously object to this pattern. (And, sorry for the awkward anthropomorphic wording. I just can't figure any better way to write it just now.) -- Mikeblas (talk) 16:37, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In the Harry Styles example, the article claimed the Harry's House album was certified platinum by Music Canada, but used an undefined reference anchor name to do so. AnomieBOT inserted a new reference to an article about Amazon using Alexa brining its Prime Music service to Canada -- with no mention of Harry's House or its certifications, or even Music Canada itself.
Can you help me understand why you think mechanically adding completely irrelevant references is acceptable? -- Mikeblas (talk) 16:05, 16 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have provided the requested examples and answered other questions, but haven't heard anything back. What are the next steps? -- Mikeblas (talk) 18:50, 21 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Walk away and find an issue that can actually be solved? No bot is perfect, and expecting perfection is unreasonable. Your primary concerns have been responded to, and now you are just nitpicking. Primefac (talk) 19:25, 21 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's hard for me to see either the injection of irrelevant references or the automated undoing of user-intended beneficial edits as "nitpicking". 130-word reference anchor names aren't any kind of "fix".
The solution is easy: if a bot can't make edits reliably, then it shouldn't attempt them ... particularly when no human is actively monitoring the edits to try and improve the behaviour of the bot.
Let's try it another why: why is your position is that the status quo can't be improved upon at all, and asking for improvement is to be met with outright dismissal? Why isn't it important to conisder that bots could be made better -- both more accurate and less invasive? -- Mikeblas (talk) 23:31, 21 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Bots can be made better - to a point. Errors, especially when dealing with this particular subject, are inevitable. Most of the examples you give in the "Here are some new ones" list are GIGO situations; predicting, let alone fixing, these types of errors is unreasonable. Additionally, the point of this bot is not to evaluate orphaned references, it is to fix them, so the argument that "restoring non-RS isn't acceptable" is also unreasonable (specifically w.r.t. the IMDb ref you mention). The "horribly long named reference" issue also falls under that umbrella: it's not the bot's job to evaluate the names of refs.
Out of curiosity I looked at the bot's contributions for the period you pulled your examples from (13-15 January). Out of 172 orphaned references that were fixed, you listed 10, which is a 5.8% failure rate, which to me is perfectly acceptable for a task such as this.
So yes, the status quo can be improved, to a point. Asking for improvement is acceptable, to a point. Telling a bot operator to turn off the robot until its correctness can be verified (source) when it is already operating at a 94.2% accuracy rating is not acceptable. To paraphrase/build on what Anomie said on the bot's talk page - if there is a specific or often-repeated issue that needs to be looked at, that's one thing, but "this bot isn't perfect so shut it down" is not. Primefac (talk) 13:19, 22 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's hard to overcome this defeatist attitude -- that the problem can't be fixed or the errors are inevitable or that these issues are "just GIGO". They aren't unfixable, obviously: turning off the bot stops the errors completely. Of course, the bot does do desirable changes and does them reliably. My suggestion is to turn off the unpredictable parts until they can be made acceptably reliable.
GIGO is a cop-out. Properly-programmed computers evaluate their input. In the face of invalid input, good software raises an error and does not take further action. If we truly think these are GIGO cases, then we're describing a bot that either doesn't care to validate its input and acts regardless. Or are we describing a bot that does evaluates its input, finds it invalid and still acts anyway? A great improvement would be to do away with the unconditional action and instead either evaluate further or quit trying to do the impossible when it's so likely to be a debatable change.
Here, I was asked to provide "some a few recent diffs", and I did. I did not set out to comprehensively evaluate all the edits made in a particular period. Had I tried to, I'd undoubtedly find more problems than I reported and would've driven your computed error rate higher. Note that nobody -- and most irresponsibly, the bot operator -- hasn't evaluated the accuracy rate either and that's another thing that I suggest be done.
But why would you deliberately misapply my list in order to compute statistics in this way?
I also wonder: why is it your position that any bot should be free to run before its correctness can be verified? That seems contrary to anything we know about automation in IT. Yet from the same talk page, the bot's owner {{diff2||1125613668|1125568193|dismissively invited me to monitor the bot for problems}} rather than themselves consider any solution or monitor their bot's edit themselves. -- Mikeblas (talk) 04:32, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you even know how BRFA or bots operate? Every bot task gets evaluated before it is approved, and you can't just "turn off the unpredictable parts" of a bot's code. Code can be updated if something specific is found to be a problem (see for example my Task 17 and its code updates), but not everything can be planned for or prevented. As I believe multiple BAG members have said in this discussion - if you find a repeated, often-problematic bug, it can likely be fixed, but 100% is simply not feasible, and 90-95% is a pretty decent target to shoot for. Additionally, Anomie has said they will look into some of the coding in the Task 6 expansion. Stop expecting bot operators to bend over backwards to fix these edge cases and you might actually get somewhere; flies, honey, etc. Primefac (talk) 09:37, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
These aren't edge cases, and I've provided plenty of examples. Is the code for AnomieBOT publicly available?
Meanwhile, you've decided to ignore the inconvenient questions I've asked you. -- Mikeblas (talk) 14:31, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Feel free to ask it again if I've missed a question that still needs a reply, instead of playing coy. Primefac (talk) 14:33, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nothing coy here: the questions are above and you know which you didn't answer. To me, the most intersting ones are about your misinterpretation of my list of issues as an exhaustive evaluation; and about your expectation that bots can run before they're demonstrated correct -- and further that raising concerns and evidence about bots making errors "is unacceptable" -- are outstanding.
You also didn't answer my question about the availability of source code. But I found it anyway!
After reviewing the code for just a few minutes: Looks like OrphanReferenceFixer is the "task" that implements some of the dubious edits. I'm not much of a perl guy, but it seems like the bot starts in bot-instance.pl by reading all the tasks in the supplied tasks directory.
Seems like we could, then, remove this task just by removing its package code from the tasks directory. Or, by adding code in the enumeration of that directory that finds that file and skips creating the task object for it.
Looks like each task has an "approved" method that returns -- well, maybe there's some way to modify "approved" for the OrphanReferenceFixer task to have it not run without actually removing the code. But I couldn't find code that uses the "approved" value in a task. (Maybe that's because I'm surfing a bunch of web pages instead of browsing a directory full of files, so searching isn't so facile.) Probably could also disable a single task by returning failure from its init() method.
Maybe we want to keep the ORF task but modify its behaviour more granularly. Within the task, it's pretty easy to see that more direct replacements are done with a series of regex replacements in process_page. After the regexes are applied, I don't see any checks that test the results of the change. That is, anything that trips up the regex is going to produce undesirable output, and the code won't notice. This is how we end up with reference anchor names that are 600-something characters long.
This code could check for new errors after its changes are applied and abort its intended change if new errors appear. Such a check would help make the code resilient against input that it wasn't prepared to work. That is, it's at this point in the code where the "it's just GIGO" argument falls over: the code itself doesn't test the validity of its input, or of its own output. GIGO is avoidable.
These regex substitutions could be simple, but since they're implemented with regexes they're quite involved.[2] But more complicated is the reference copying code -- which we find is sometimes injecting irrelevant references and unconditionally claiming victory. This behaviour could be selectively disabled by not executing the code starting at the loop commented # Any orphaned refs?.
And so I think your claim that we can't just "turn off the unpredictable parts" of a bot's code is entirely false. -- Mikeblas (talk) 15:26, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If I had known which question I hadn't answered, I would have answered it, and you still haven't told me so I am done with this farcical conversation. Ask for a question and get eight paragraphs of response... jeez. Primefac (talk) 19:39, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I directly answered: To me, the most intersting ones are about your misinterpretation of my list of issues as an exhaustive evaluation; and about your expectation that bots can run before they're demonstrated correct -- and further that raising concerns and evidence about bots making errors "is unacceptable" -- are outstanding. -- Mikeblas (talk) 23:52, 24 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What is the error rate, how bad is it? No one expects 100% perfection due to the great benefit of the bot, but at the same time we might expect at least 95% accuracy or something and be quite concerned if it was 80% because the 80/20 Rule suggests the first 80% are easy and will be error free, the remaining 20% are very hard - does it at least get beyond the 80/20 Rule? IMO any bot that is 80% accurate should not be running. -- GreenC 14:38, 22 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's part of the problem -- we don't know, since nobody is monitoring the bot for correctness. This bot is very active, so manually tallying its actions would be quite a chore. The "some new ones" list I present above spans about 25 hours, but I certainly did not exhaustively examine every edit the bot made in that time span. -- Mikeblas (talk) 04:04, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't have the time to read all the above, but I skimmed it and have one driveby comment: It seems to me that an article which this bot task has to edit already contains an error, the orphaned reference, or some very weird wikitext which confuses the bot. Without the bot's edits, far more articles would contain errors. Some of the nitpicks, like internal reference names containing vandalism obscured by bot edit, are far less problematic than that. It's a task that's been running for over a decade with success, I'm not convinced a strong case has been made here for the approval to be revoked or modified. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 15:51, 23 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think people would like to believe that, but there's no collected evidence to support it. That is, I don't think there's a strong case to comprehensively claim these tasks are running "with success". Meanwhile, not thoroughly reading the evidence can't mean you're upholding your duties as a BAG member in addressing concerns raised about a bot and its operator. Doesn't your voicing a decision about the same mean that you've ignored the presented facts and are acting on bias instead of reason? -- Mikeblas (talk) 23:51, 24 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Doesn't your voicing a decision about the same mean that you've ignored the presented facts and are acting on bias instead of reason? Or discarding them because they don't think they're sufficiently valid to be of concern. Please try to avoid presenting false dichotomies.
At this point, with multiple BAG members, including the bot author, responding in the negative to changing how the bot functions in the way you would prefer, you should consider an WP:RFC. Otherwise, you should drop the stick. I have some doubt an RFC would resolve in the way you would prefer also, but it does remain an option available, and who knows, maybe people would indeed prefer that the ref-saving task be turned off. Izno (talk) 00:25, 25 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Inactive bots[edit]

(copied from moved-to header)The bot policy asks for this to be handled, with some notifications, over at WP:BOTN, so moved there. Once done if a crat doesn't handle it there, the removal request can be placed here. — xaosflux Talk 10:38, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hello. Per Wikipedia:Bot policy#Activity requirements, we're supposed to be de-flagging bots that haven't been active in two years. xaosflux has this helpful query showing about 150 bots that meet the criteria currently. I dug up a query after noticing that LaraBot still has a bot flag even though that bot hasn't edited since 2014. Can someone please do the necessary notifications and de-flaggings for these inactive bots?

For LaraBot and BernsteinBot, you can just go ahead and remove the bot flags immediately. --MZMcBride (talk) 07:09, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The criteria also needs that the listed operator has also had no logged actions or edits for two years. The query is based only on bot activity, not operator, so most of the 150 in the result do not meet the criteria for removal. I checked about 20 and all of them had active operators. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 08:02, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, that's stupid. Why would operator activity make a difference? I think account activity requirements are a bit daft in general, but keeping bot flags on inactive bots because their operators are still around is particularly puzzling. We should change the policy. --MZMcBride (talk) 09:09, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I keep a bot account that I use for one-offs and it's simply easier to flip the bit once and keep it flipped than request it possibly multiple times for arbitrary runs. Anyway, I'm starting a policy discussion shortly on the topic of inactivity that targets what I think are low-hanging fruit in the report. Izno (talk) 09:19, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nobody is suggesting de-flagging your bot. There's a clear and substantial difference between a bot such as IznoBot that last edited in September 2021 and a bot such as Stwalkerbot that last edited in June 2010. We both know this. :-) --MZMcBride (talk) 09:29, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just a note for the record that Izno's discussion is at Wikipedia talk:Bot policy § Bot and operator inactivity - blocks. Primefac (talk) 13:07, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@MZMcBride: Why would operator activity make a difference? If the operator is around, and there's an issue with the bot account, an active bot operator can take action.
This doesn't mean every other bot should keep its flag, it's just that by policy, automatic flag removal is unwarranted. Stwalkerbot is a bot that's both inactive and by the admission of its operator, unlikely to resume. That makes it a good candidate for a flag removal IMO. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 21:01, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikipedia:Bots/Noticeboard/Archive 16#Inactive bots - February 2022 was the last go around. The report of interest is User:MajavahBot/Bot status report. Izno (talk) 08:24, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Below are the inactive ones by the definition (TAP bot is a couple days from now). Izno (talk) 08:38, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Bot account Operator(s) Total edits Last activity (UTC) Last edit (UTC) Last logged action (UTC) Last operator activity (UTC) Extra details
PDFbot Dispenser 7943 12 Feb 2012 12 Feb 2012 04 Feb 2007 15 Mar 2020
BG19bot Bgwhite 1005055 09 Feb 2017 09 Feb 2017 08 Feb 2017 15 Mar 2020
Makecat-bot Makecat 103877 05 Apr 2013 05 Apr 2013 10 Feb 2013 28 Mar 2020
Lonjers french region rename bot Lonjers 11910 15 Mar 2016 15 Mar 2016 19 May 2020
TAP Bot Thine Antique Pen 1920 14 Sep 2015 14 Sep 2015 13 Dec 2014 24 Jan 2021
Operator notices sent to the 5 operators listed above. — xaosflux Talk 10:41, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Feel free to remove User:Snotbot's bot flag. I haven't used it in 10 years, and I'm unlikely to use it anytime soon. —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 08:11, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Remove bot flag from two bots[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


LaraBot (t · c · del · cross-wiki · SUL · edit counter · pages created (xtools · sigma· non-automated edits · BLP edits · undos · rollbacks · logs (blocks · rights · moves) · rfar · spi) (assign permissions)(acc · ap · fm · mms · npr · pm · pcr · rb · te)
BernsteinBot (t · c · del · cross-wiki · SUL · edit counter · pages created (xtools · sigma· non-automated edits · BLP edits · undos · rollbacks · logs (blocks · rights · moves) · rfar · spi) (assign permissions)(acc · ap · fm · mms · npr · pm · pcr · rb · te)

Please remove the bot flags from LaraBot and BernsteinBot. I don't know what the passwords for these accounts are off-hand and I have no intention of using them again. We should independently fix the bot policy, but my request got a bit buried by me noticing that the bot policy is goofy and not in alignment with actual practice. --MZMcBride (talk) 16:01, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

 Donexaosflux Talk 16:49, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Another bot flag removal request[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


WelcomerBot (t · c · del · cross-wiki · SUL · edit counter · pages created (xtools · sigma· non-automated edits · BLP edits · undos · rollbacks · logs (blocks · rights · moves) · rfar · spi) (assign permissions)(acc · ap · fm · mms · npr · pm · pcr · rb · te)

As prompted by Izno, please can you remove the bot flag from User:WelcomerBot? The functionality of the bot has been completely replaced within the ACC tool and edits are now done via OAuth instead stwalkerster (talk) 23:31, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

 Done thanks for the note @Stwalkerster:. — xaosflux Talk 23:58, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

User:MalnadachBot is running amok[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


The bot User:MalnadachBot is currently going crazy, making edits to thousands (?) of talk pages with completely useless edits to decades-old user signatures. The signatures are completely fine and do not need to be changed. The "font" tags they use work in every browser ever and will continue to work in every browser forever into the future.[citation needed] If font tags are causing someone's linter to complain, then either (a) the linter should not be run on talk pages, or (b) that should be considered a bug in the linter, and fixed.

This bot should be stopped to stop it from spamming everyone's watchlists, and should not be allowed to run again until it can be shown it won't make so many worthless no-op spam edits.

After hitting the E-stop on this one, one thing the bot author may want to do is configure the bot to only examine main namespace. –jacobolus (t) 00:37, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Jacobolus that bot appears to properly asserting the 'bot' flag on edits, you can avoid seeing bots on your watchlist by checking hide next to "bots" on the filter. — xaosflux Talk 00:42, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are plenty of good reasons to keep an eye on bot edits. Telling people they should stop paying attention to meaningful edits if they don’t want to sift through the massive piles of no-op spam being created by a different bot is not an adequate response. The edits being done by User:MalnadachBot are literally 100% worthless. This is not some kind of important maintenance task. It’s pure distraction and make-work. We are talking people's signatures on talk page comments from 15 years ago. There is no reason whatsoever to care whether these pass someone's made up linter rules. –jacobolus (t) 00:45, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jacobolus have you discussed your concerns with the bot operator already and are at an impasse? — xaosflux Talk 00:52, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The only response is "this is an approved bot" and "you can hide [the edits from your watchlist]". Which is not the response I am looking for of: "I will shut the bot down and stop spamming everyone".
I’m bringing it here for hopefully more eyes, including maybe from someone with some better perspective or authority. Whatever process was involved in "approving" this might also be broken. I don't really know too much about Wikipedia bot policies. And I also would really rather not wade into a big fight about it more generally.
I just want the bot to stop. The current behavior is insane. –jacobolus (t) 00:55, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for reporting this. I have over 16,000 items in my watchlist, and this was annoying me too. I have checked the no-bots box, but I'd rather not have to do it for too long. So if this is all about something optional that doesn't need fixing in the first place, then I too would like to see that stopped ASAP. BilCat (talk) 04:13, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Operator notified. This discussion appears to primarily be about Task 12. — xaosflux Talk 01:24, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Unlike what the heading suggests, this section isn't based on any malfunction or policy issues, you are demanding that we stop working on replacing erroneous and obsolete markup because you don't like it. These are safe edits designed to replace all font tags in one go, the bot has replaced over half a million font tags in 4 days. There are multiple options to hide them in your watchlist, yet if you don't want to use them you will have to put up with it. The only thing that matters in regard to how mediawiki sofware works and its future plans is what the developers who maintain the software say. And they have clearly done so by marking them for replacement, random opinions not based on policy has no bearing on how mediawiki works. Mine is hardly the only bot working on Lint errors. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 05:22, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    replacing erroneous and obsolete markup There is literally no benefit whatsoever in doing this. These html tags have worked for the past 20+ years and are going to continue to work forever. No browser is ever going to drop support. If you linter is giving you a hard time about "deprecated" tags on historical talk pages, that's a linter bug that should be fixed (or better still, you should stop trying to run a linter on 15-year-old discussions).
    If you want to go tell current users to stop using the font tag in their current signature, fine. If you want to fix linter errors in main namespace, it's probably unnecessary busywork for you, but fine.
    But trying to force every bit of historical talk page markup to match new made-up standards based on some kind of pointless crusade with no technical merit is a huge waste of everyone's time and attention, and is grossly disrespectful of everyone else on the wiki.
    how mediawiki sofware works this has nothing at all to do with “how mediawiki software works”. –jacobolus (t) 05:51, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    pointless crusade with no technical merit describes your comment perfectly. My bot (as well as others' Lint fixing bots) has sound technical merit. If you want to propose changes to how mediawiki software should work, do so at Phabricator instead of railing against users working on known issues. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 06:01, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    My complaint is a social one, not a technical one. You are spamming everyone for literally no benefit. I have the same complaint when a telemarketer calls me in the middle of dinner or when my email inbox fills up with viagra ads and Nigerian prince scammer solicitations. –jacobolus (t) 06:09, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Please tone down the rhetoric, it's entirely unnecessary. Legoktm (talk) 06:31, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    There has been no reason articulated for why these edits should happen at all, besides "it's a linter error". Why should anyone care if there's a linter error on old talk pages? Who is "linting" those pages and why? What problem does it cause if there are linter errors there? No attempt has been made to answer any of those questions.
    There was as far as I can tell no community discussion or consensus that millions of old talk page comments needed to be modified. It was just unilaterally decided by a tiny number of people who went ahead and started making millions of no-op edits, polluting everyone's watchlist.
    When asked to explain, they don't make any attempt at an answer, or even indicate that they understand the complaint, but instead hide behind bureucratic "this was already approved". Which again, does not answer any of the relevant questions. –jacobolus (t) 06:48, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Font tags are deprecated according to MDN docs. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 06:05, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yes, but "deprecated" here is a term of art that in the browser/html world means "has worked in every browser for decades (cf. browser compatibility table) and will continue to be supported until the end of time, but one spec editor one time wanted to discourage new uses". This is not something that anyone needs to bother "fixing" on ancient talk page discussion signatures. Imagine if even in the worst case, some new VR-based browser in 2050 drops support for the deprecated "font" tag. Suddenly archived Wikipedia talk page discussions from 2007 will have their signatures revert to default colors of Wikipedia-VR-skin-2045 instead of the originally-intended-in-2007 rainbow effect. Is this really a pressing problem anyone should care about? –jacobolus (t) 06:06, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    (As an aside, "deprecated" in browser specs also occasionally means "was a tricky new experimental feature that was never widely supported across browsers and has already been replaced by something better, so is likely to break in the future"; but that's an entirely different situation vs. tags like center, font, or tt, which are used on billions of web pages and can never be removed from implementations.) –jacobolus (t) 06:15, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    For what it's worth, this was previously discussed this last June. Nothing has really changed since then, aside from the main complaint back then of making multiple edits per page being fixed AIUI (thank you). Legoktm (talk) 06:24, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It looks like the main complaint back then was the annoyance of sifting through spam from useless no-op edits. Which is exactly the same as the complaint today. –jacobolus (t) 06:26, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The main complaint was repeated visits, with each visit fixing just one or a couple of individual signatures. This complaint has been addressed by the bot operator. The bot now skips editing a page entirely if it is unable to fix all of the obsolete font tags in a single edit. – Jonesey95 (talk) 06:34, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    This is a mischaracterization:
    • “I'd like to ask that the MalnadachBot be halted or its impacts on watchlists be removed... We don't allow cosmetic edits for a reason.”
    • “Are we certain the errors need to be fixed?”
    • “I'm really unclear on why fixing these lint errors in old discussions is worthwhile. Is there a pointer to a discussion on this?”
    • “Do we really need to fix Lint errors on pages from 10+ years ago that nobody reads?”
    • “If either browsers or MediaWiki dropped support, then we could go about updating the old HTML, right? There's no reason to think support will be dropped anytime soon?”
    (none of these questions were ever addressed) –jacobolus (t) 07:01, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @Jacobolus: See also WP:HIDEBOT to hide a specific bot from your watchlist. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 06:35, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Thanks for that. I've asked about that before (can't remember who or where) within the last couple of years, and was told it wasn't possible (at least then). I'll definitely try it out on several annoying note (and users too!) BilCat (talk) 06:52, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    has replaced over half a million font tags in 4 days I am curious whether people would complain less if it ran slower, as there really is no urgency here. Legoktm (talk) 06:36, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Last 4 days I was running it on pages with most errors. Previously when I ran slower, people complained that it has been going on for a long time, someone or the other will be unhappy regardless of pace. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 07:20, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Legoktm asks a reasonable question. The bot currently edits roughly 10,000 pages per day, which I think is a typical bot pace (about 10 edits per minute). There are currently 8 million Linter errors, reduced from 21 million thanks primarily to this bot. If we estimate that something like 6 million of those errors are fixable by bot, and each edit fixes one error (unlikely, but the worst-case scenario), we can have 10,000 edits per day for 60 days, or 1,000 edits per day for 600 days, or some other trade-off. For most bots, we put up with a fast pace because they are only doing a few thousand edits, or at most a few days of edits, at that pace. The scale of this cleanup is different, and it may be worth a community conversation. – Jonesey95 (talk) 07:33, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Style guidance for bot User pages?[edit]

As an unrelated aside, is there any kind of CSS style guidance for the about pages of active bots? I find this one has an almost entirely illegible (to me) page. It looks like this in my browser:

Screengrab of MalnadachBot.png

jacobolus (t) 07:29, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I have said in my talkpage, Jacobolus was involved in a recent dispute with me, casting aspersions and editing disruptively following which they were briefly blocked, as seen here and here. They are bringing this up hoping something will stick, after reading the page and going through the links that has all the explanations they are demanding here. Everybody is allowed freedom with styling their userspace. However if any uninvolved editor has a problem with it, I will replace it with another font. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 08:01, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was annoyed at you in October for pointlessly deleting a few templates that I had put a lot of effort into a decade ago without offering any reasonable justification for it, hiding behind bureaucratic legalese when called out, and refusing to explain yourself or engage in discussion. I had forgotten about that whole episode by now, because I decided it wasn't worth the considerable hassle and community organizing effort it would take to try to fix the currently broken and abusive "templates for deletion" process. But that is all entirely off topic here.
I am annoyed at your bot now in February because it is filling up my watchlist (and everyone else's) with huge numbers of no-op "fix linter error" edits to 15-year-old talk page discussions which do not need to be made.
I really couldn't care less what font you use on your user page. But if your bot is going to put a link to an explanatory page in every one of its millions of edit summaries, you might as well try to make the page legible to people who click through, no? (While you are at it you might expand the explanation on the page to answer common questions such as "why does this need to be done at all?" and "where is the community consensus supporting this change?") –jacobolus (t) 08:11, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ, this is indeed hard to read. — Qwerfjkltalk 08:22, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Qwerfjkl: Thanks, I have removed Brush Script MT font. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 08:33, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, it's pretty rare for people to come to this noticeboard to talk about a bot when they're happy about something it did, but I am pretty glad that all those goddamn lint errors in subpages of WP:SIGNPOST have been fixed -- manually fixing that would have been a gigantic pain. jp×g 11:17, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Tagging edits that fix lint errors[edit]

If we created an edit tag like "Fixing lint errors" and bots used that tag, it would be straightforward for people to set their watchlist to exclude any edit with that tag, which would allow people to both see regular bot edits but hide just these. Legoktm (talk) 06:42, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think this is a reasonable path forward. not tagged filters have been enabled for a week or two. Izno (talk) 18:24, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I created a tag, fixed lint errors. Legoktm (talk) 06:56, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prioritizing lint error fixes by pageviews[edit]

Or, we could just stop wasting electrons on fixing linter errors on sub-sub-subpages of AfD talk pages from 2005 that literally no human will ever visit again between now and the heat death of the universe (and even if they did, it would probably render perfectly fine since browsers still support deprecated tags; and even if they didn't, the worst that is likely to happen is that some long-retired perma-banned sock troll's signature might look a little wonky *gasp* oh, the humanity). I still don't understand why anyone defends this useless and annoying bot task. Here's an idea: how about we allow bots to fix linter errors on any page in mainspace, and any other non-mainspace page that has received more than 50 pageviews in the last 12 month period. Without such restrictions, it's like a tree falling in a forest and no one is around to hear it. We're fixing lint errors for the exclusive benefit of webcrawler bots who index these pages periodically for search engines. Seriously, is there any other bot task that inspires so many random editors to independently come here to complain every month or two? Even for those of you that think Malnachadbot is doing the Lord's work, can't you at least admit that the unprecedentedly high frequency and volume of complaints about this bot task is at least cause for some concern? Closing these threads isn't going to make the problem go away... —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 08:03, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Instead of counting pageviews, it would be better to just stop these edits from the talk namespace altogether. Even the edits on "recently viewed" talk pages are from stale discussions that ended more than a decade ago. If someone is bothered by seeing superfluous pages on their list of pages with linter errors, they can just stop looking at that specific linter error. That would affect far fewer people than telling every other editor to modify the filters on their watchlists. –jacobolus (t) 17:54, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Off-topic for the question being discussed
why anyone defends this useless and annoying bot task – But have you considered that this bot has spammed more people’s watchlists more times than any other bot in the history of Wikipedia? Is that not an accomplishment with celebrating? –jacobolus (t) 09:48, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is yet another entirely unnecessary comment. This does not add anything to the discussion and needs to stop. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 10:16, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Scottywong: In the previous thread in June, you said you would look forward to the day when MalnadachBot can replace all font tags in a single edit. Now that the day has come, you are back saying it should edit only most viewed pages. What's wrong with the bot editing both now that all font tags are being replaced? When a bot is working on an unprecedented scale, it is naturally going to bring more notice than other bot tasks. I have worked to handle any bugs reported, there is plenty of support as well and other bots are also working on this. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 11:19, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ: Making a dozen or two edits per page to fix this linter errors was indeed a huge problem, and I appreciate you fixing it. That fix will continue to come in handy when you fix linter errors on pages that actually matter. But, that doesn't mean that your bot task doesn't have multiple problems. You are fixing errors on millions of pages that are very unlikely to ever be read by a human again. Yet these pages persist on people's watchlists, from back before the time when a feature was added such that you could add pages to your watchlist for a temporary period of time. So, for these low-traffic and no-traffic pages, the only noticeable effect of your work is to clutter up people's watchlists, and there is no benefit to anyone. For instance, a page your bot just edited a few moments ago is Talk:The Year of the Sex Olympics/Archive 1. In the last 12 months, it received one pageview. Perhaps you can tell me what you see as the benefit of "fixing" user signatures on pages that no one will ever read? I can't see any possible motivation to do this work other than to be able to say, "I have a bot that made 10.7 million edits!" —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 16:35, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sigh, I regret re-opening this discussion. @Primefac if you don't mind re-closing it. Legoktm (talk) 15:44, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Legoktm: No need to close the discussion prematurely; you can just remove this page from your watchlist if you're annoyed by this conversation. —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 16:37, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The discussion was already closed, I wanted to discuss a technical solution to make it simpler for users to hide these bots, but you and others just hijacked it to rehash the already-closed discussion, sigh. And no, unwatchlisting this page isn't an option because well, I'm a bot operator and expected to follow this noticeboard. Legoktm (talk) 17:13, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ok, and I wanted to discuss a technical solution to make the bot focus only on pages where fixing linter errors are likely to provide a minimal benefit to humanity, and ignore the errors on pages that no human is likely to ever read again. Just because you disagree with my idea doesn't mean you can continue to sigh aggressively and just close the discussion. —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 17:23, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The section header is "Tagging edits that fix lint errors". Given that none of the comments after that even addressed my proposal, can I move all your unrelated comments into a new subsection? Legoktm (talk) 18:03, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sure, fixed it for you. Now keep your sighs in your own subsection. —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 18:19, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have hatted a few off-topic (for this subthread) discussions. You are welcome to keep going with your back-and-forth, but please limit the un-hatted discussion to the original proposal/point being raised. Primefac (talk) 17:47, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I moved them to a new subthread so they don’t distract from each topic. –jacobolus (t) 18:04, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bot about page does not explain what the bot is doing, bot administrators do not answer basic questions[edit]

If you read the bot’s about page, there is very little description of what the bot is doing, why it is doing it, who made those decisions, or where those decisions were discussed. There is no attempt made to describe or answer common complaints and questions.

The most prominent feature of the page is a large banner bragging about how the bot has made the most edits of any user in history. The obvious conclusion is that making the most possible edits is a driving motivator for the bot's activity.

If we want to talk "necessary" vs. "unnecessary", here is what I think is a "necessary" prerequisite to keep operating something this disruptive: the people approving / operating this bot should sit down with each-other, have a frank discussion about what the bot's actual purpose is, what the pros and cons of running the bot are, whether there is community consensus supporting the bot's operation, and come up with some straight answers to questions from people who are annoyed by the bot.

What is "unnecessary" is a pattern of deflecting questions and blaming anyone who complains, hiding behind the authority of un-linked, un-described "decisions" by unnamed people at some past time which cannot be meaningfully questioned. –jacobolus (t) 10:43, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Still continuing with casting aspertions I see... click on the link WP:LINT provided by the bot in every edit summary and it will take you to a page describing what is being done. Why, who, benefits and other questions are answered if you go down the rabbit hole from there. But then that is not what you asked in my talkpage, you demanded it stop, were told it is doing what it is approved for and given options to hide them, and you jumped straight here. ಮಲ್ನಾಡಾಚ್ ಕೊಂಕ್ಣೊ (talk) 11:16, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay. I clicked through WP:LINT and I arrived at this:
The obsolete-tag error is the result of deprecated HTML elements. Since it is unclear to us at this time how far we want to push this goal of HTML5 compliance, this category is marked low priority. Some wikis might choose to not address this right away. Other wikis might want to get ahead and want to be HTML5 compliant. It is possible that some wikis might write bots to address this. So, please use your judgement and wiki-specific policies to guide you in how much effort you want to spend on this. If, in the future, there is greater clarity about pursuing this more aggressively, we will reflect that by updating the severity of this linter issue appropriately.
[...] MediaWiki currently whitelists these elements, and they tend to be output the same way as input. This means that when browser vendors decide to remove these they will simply display as regular undecorated text. [...] It is likely that browser vendors will give us significant notice before making any breaking changes given how prevalent these deprecated elements are used across the internet.
(my emphasis; we might also add, browser vendors are never going to change these behaviors)
But the advice from this page was not followed. Nobody bothered "using their judgment", crafting "wiki-specific policies", or asking for community input. Instead some self-appointed Lint-fixer bot crew took the Linter’s list of rules as gospel and rushed ahead to replace every 15-year-old rainbow signature that nobody but wiki-historians is ever going to look at again with a new "spec compliant" version. Along the way, there was never any apparent consideration of the downsides or side effects of that rush to action. –jacobolus (t) 11:30, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Jacobolus: For reference, here are the volumes of thoughtful community discussion that took place on the pros and cons of this bot task prior to approving it. Even the bot operator was surprised that it was so easy to get such an enormous bot task approved, see their comment on the talk page of the BRFA. —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 16:50, 3 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This has already been discussed ad nauseam. — Qwerfjkltalk 08:02, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Where is this discussion “ad nauseam”? Do you have a link? I have asked repeatedly for a link to such discussion, and nothing has been provided except past complaints similar to this one, all of which were arrogantly brushed aside.
Was this discussed someplace where there was broad community input? Was there some formal decision-making process involving a broad community consensus? Who made such decisions, under what criteria, what alternatives did they consider, and where was the thought process recorded/explained?
Why won’t (can’t?) the folks defending the bot behavior answer any of the several basic obvious questions that people are asking?
Why does it seem that the people defending the bot behavior cannot even comprehend (let alone care about) the negative side effects and resulting criticism? –jacobolus (t) 10:05, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Off-topic for the question being discussed
@Jacobolus, what are the negative side effects? That it annoys people who don't want to see the edits, but won't hide them on their watchlist? — Qwerfjkltalk 12:36, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The negative side effect is that it spams every other editor on the site, filling their watchlists with dozens of spurious entries that turn out to be pure useless noise. Then when people complain, instead of trying to understand the complaint, the response is “this is your fault for not hiding bot edits”. Which is just blaming the victims here. –jacobolus (t) 16:32, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jacobolus, but why don't you hide the edits? — Qwerfjkltalk 17:01, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Because tracking bot edits in general is useful. Bots regularly screw things up, or do part of a job that needs manual human intervention to finish. There are many (many) wikipedia editors tracking bot edits for all sorts of valid reasons, but literally not a single one of them cares about whether a signature from 2006 on an archived talk page was made purple via a font tag or a span tag. It’s pure spam. –jacobolus (t) 17:22, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you don't care about MalnadachBot's edits, you can hide that bot from your watchlist. If you cared about the quality of its edits, you can still do a spot check every now and then. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 17:26, 4 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I wrote a short essay explaining why I find the Linter project and these edits valuable. It does not address every single critique leveled here, but I sincerely hope this allows us to move past exaggerated rhetoric like "literally not a single one of them cares", "edits being done ... are literally 100% worthless", "literally no human will ever visit again between now and the heat death of the universe", "fixing lint errors for the exclusive benefit of webcrawler bots", and "there is no benefit to anyone". Legoktm (talk) 07:34, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Great, thanks! That’s significantly more helpful than the sum total of everything that has been said by bot operators/administrators in the entire past history of responses to these questions. If someone had made such a response months ago it would have saved considerable bother and facilitated a meaningful conversation. Now let’s dive in.
  • aligns us with HTML5 efforts in general
    First, why do you think this is an important abstract principle? Second, why do you think it matters for 10+-year-old content? Third, why do you think using <span style="color: red;">John Doe</span> is meaningfully "aligned with HTML5"?
    Moving toward "semantic" HTML was a theme starting in the late 90s. CSS was introduced in ~1997, and HTML4 (1999) deprecated font and several other "presentational" elements. HTML5 removed any mention of them (while promoting some common tags like 'b' and 'i' to be "semantic" under retconned definitions). The HTML spec authors, browser vendors, and CSS advocates wanted web page authors to move away from baking presentation directions directly into their markup, because that approach is inflexible, adapts poorly to change, interacts poorly with alternative user agents (e.g., screen readers), doesn’t give meaningful information to machines examining the markup, and so on.
    Instead, web page authors are supposed to use semantically meaningful elements where possible, and apply named classes to them for finer-grained control than the element names alone can provide. Then they are supposed to style the content of the page using CSS stylesheets, which can be swapped out for different purposes or easily changed site-wide.
    We should notice here that using the "style" attribute to add presentation directions to markup is heavily discouraged, because it has essentially all of the downsides of the old deprecated presentational tags (it's just a slightly different markup syntax for accomplishing the same discouraged idea). It is kept around as part of the spec because there are some use cases – like sites where page authors can’t control the CSS readers will see, but still want to modify the presentation away from the defaults – where alternatives are not possible. But using a span with a "style" attribute as a replacement for "font" is not a meaningful improvement to the markup.
    The WHATWG and HTML5 spec had a different goal, which was to describe browser implementations as they currently work / describe a standardized way of parsing html-in-the-wild that could be successfully implemented by every browser. It was pretty successful, insofar as it is now much easier to write cross-browser-compliant webpages because browser implementations are now more-or-less spec complaint.
    None of these spec changes or advocacy movements ever had a goal of forcing web authors to rewrite old markup. There are billions of extant web pages with all sorts of funky html on them which browsers will inevitably have to deal with (i.e. do their best to parse and display) forever. (That includes the "font" and similar presentational elements which are very unlikely to ever be removed from browsers.) These projects were instead about standardizing browser behavior and encouraging web authors to write better pages in the future: more maintainable, more friendly to assistive technologies, etc.
  • People tend to copy and paste things they find in other wiki pages
    Can you come up with a concrete example where someone copy/pasted a "font" tag they found in a signature from a discussion from 2004–2010 into the main article namespace anytime in the past 5 years? This seems like a vanishingly rare problem to worry about. (Luckily, we apparently have some kind of linter tool which we can use to check the main namespace and fix any such problems that arise quickly and easily!)
  • it's much simpler for people to develop tools if they don't need to implement support for all types of legacy behavior ¶ Imagine a tool that automatically checked pages use of colors for appropriate contrasts
    This hypothetical tool sounds neat. By all means run such a tool against the main article namespace (or for that matter, against bot about pages in user space). But it is not ever going to be meaningful for old talk page signatures. Or new ones for that matter. Personally I think non-standard signature styles are stupid and editors should all get rid of them, but you can't unilaterally go change people's signature styles without starting a gigantic pointless fight, and it would be far too much hassle to get every user to go run your tool against their own past signatures.
    Can you think of any other examples where you need an automated tool to change everyone’s old signatures? I honestly cannot think of this ever being plausibly necessary. Even if there’s some mild accessibility benefit or another, you’d be rewriting the talk history for the most marginal of conceivable benefits.
  • OK, but are those worth making edits to a bunch of pages that are just for archival and no one really cares about or will ever look at again? Sure. I don't see this as any different from updating deprecated template parameters or merging duplicate templates.
    Yes of course this is different! (And you shouldn’t bother updating deprecated template parameters in old talk pages either.) One is about making Wikipedia articles – you know, the whole point of the site – more maintainable and removing friction for all editors. The other is about .... more or less nothing.
All of these brainstormed ideas are fine, but they are not serious (where by serious I mean something like “I plan to do X on Y schedule using Z formal process”); it’s just “what ifs” off the top of someone’s head. It’s not worth undertaking this huge disruptive project for the sake of a bunch of speculative future benefits that are marginal at best and realistically have almost no chance of ever coming about. Someone can easily restart this bot project if such ideas ever materialize as something concrete.
More importantly, there should be some kind of broad community support before undertaking such a large and disruptive edit campaign. The "tidy team" ("lint trappers?") shouldn't just unilaterally decide to do whatever they want, irrespective of criticism, with no formal process, no discussion, etc. –jacobolus (t) 08:45, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikipedia would be a "what if" off the top of someone's head if it wasn't created. If Wikipedia never existed, creating a free online encyclopedia sounds exactly like a huge disruptive project for the sake of a bunch of speculative future benefits that are marginal at best and realistically have almost no chance of ever coming about. This is by no means a rebuttal, just noting the similarity here. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 09:26, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No, Wikipedia was a random tiny website started, like any website, in its own tiny corner of the internet not initially affecting anyone outside itself. It was started by the company Bomis as an experimental spinoff of the also-experimental "written by pre-approved volunteer experts with peer review" Nupedia; both sites were originally intended as for-profit advertising platforms. (Bomis had been profitable running ads on a search engine for pornography.) Wikipedia was based on a new implementation of a few-years-old technology (the wiki, invented by Ward Cunningham, riffing on decades-old ideas from internet/computing pioneers). Wikipedia quickly grew despite various social/technical problems because it was overall a good idea and garnered lots of grassroots support from a wide variety of people who built up a community here. This comparison is bonkers. –jacobolus (t) 17:16, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wasn't talking about the origin story of Wikipedia. I am not going to engage with this thread any further. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 00:21, 6 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It was a complete non sequitur. You might just as well say e.g. “You shouldn’t dismiss speculative future benefits. At some time in the past, the idea of abolishing chattel slavery was nothing but a dream.” But that would be just as irrelevant to whether or not we should programmatically modify the source of every historical talk page signature on Wikipedia to trivially switch from one kind of discouraged presentational markup to another. –jacobolus (t) 01:13, 6 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wasn't here to argue. 0xDeadbeef→∞ (talk to me) 01:18, 6 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
P.S. if you really want to "align" wikipedia talk pages with HTML specs, you should try to get Wikipedians / Mediawiki to stop using definition lists to represent indentation in conversations. That would make a much more significant "semantic" difference than anything you could possibly ever change about font tags. Of course, it would also be extraordinarily disruptive to the point it’s pretty much completely impossible at this point. –jacobolus (t) 09:03, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's clear that no action will result from discussion on this page, other than people rudely collapsing other people's civil comments for no apparent reason, and rehashing the same tired old suggestions of different ways to ignore the bot. There have probably been 5-10 mini-discussions here on on the bot operator's talk page, but they all end up fizzling out in the same way, because the few editors in a position of authority happen to disagree. @Jacobolus: the only real path forward would be to start an RfC (either here, or possibly at WP:VPT, not sure what the most appropriate venue is), so that we can finally have the wider community discussion on this topic that should have taken place before this bot task was ever rubber-stamped (y'know, that discussion that everyone implies already happened but no one can link to). I won't have time for a while to draft one, not sure if you're interested in taking something like that on. —⁠ScottyWong⁠— 23:15, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It’s not really worth it to me to lead a community organizing effort. I feel like writing articles is a much better use of my time. (And hint to the bot crew: writing articles would be a much better use of your time too.)
I guess the bot edits will continue to just be a pointless stick in everyone’s eye. –jacobolus (t) 23:26, 5 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bots operated by Cyberpower678[edit]

Cyberpower678 might be on a little R&R break from Wikipedia, as they are not responding. Meanwhile, his bots seem to not be functioning as they should. I know the admin stats have not updated for a while. And apparently other tasks are stalled out. Please see User talk:cyberpower678 and its recent archives. Is there an alternate admin who can get things back up and running? If not, I guess we just wait it out. — Maile (talk) 01:16, 1 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]