UESPWiki talk:Bots

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Proposed Policy[edit]

I would like to propose the policy UESPWiki:Bots. Firstly and most simply, it gets rid of the red link on Special:ListUsers. Secondly and more importantly, it's because we don't have a policy on bots, even though bots are important parts of the wiki. If it weren't for bots, there are a number of projects that would have taken a lot longer. This policy also helps us define what we mean by a "bot" and what we require of a bot and what an editor who has a bot should do if he wants to put it on the wiki. - Game LordTalk|Contribs 15:01, 25 November 2008 (EST)


  • Support: As proposer. - Game LordTalk|Contribs 15:01, 25 November 2008 (EST)
  • Oppose: As currently written it only allows for one type of bot - the per-task variety represented by both currents bots - and would exclude the kind of constantly-running bots that are common on Wikipedia.
Also, there's no way in which to enforce this policy. There's not necessarily any difference between an edit made by a human and an edit made by a bot. Vesna, for instance, is occasionally known as the VesnaBot for her willingness to perform repetitive tasks, and many other tasks have been taken on by editors in circumstances that might look like bot activity. The most recent example would be the series of DF Redirects that Game Lord took on and which RoBoT then finished (after an edit-summary request from GL). There's no observable difference between the two except at a log-level scan that would show GL edited using the wiki and RoBoT edited using the bot API (which it didn't have to use).
Finally, the only person who can make the required status change is Daveh. Currently, the site has two registered bots, both run by admins. Daveh could take a quick look at Nephele's and my histories and see that even when we do screw up, we both have a history of cleaning up after ourselves. I'll trust Daveh's judgment on this matter, which reduces the policy to "Ask Daveh. Wait and see.". That really doesn't need a policy. –RpehTCE 15:29, 25 November 2008 (EST)
  • Comment:: Why is this vote still open? It has been running for a few years now, can we just say no consensus after it has gone this long without feedback? --AKB Talk Cont Mail 04:53, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
It's not really open, to be honest. It was largely ignored from day 1, and I only voted to stop a default acceptance. rpeh •TCE 07:16, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

() Formally closing this vote which did not pass. Silence is GoldenBreak the Silence 00:57, 13 May 2013 (GMT)

Bot Policy[edit]

Discussion moved from UESPWiki:Community Portal#Bot Policy

The Bot Policy has been a "proposed" policy ever since the page was create 4½ years ago. Does anyone feel there's anything that needs to be added to or addressed on the page, or can I go ahead and make it a full-fledged policy? Robin Hood  (talk) 00:56, 13 May 2013 (GMT)

The Bots is still in its proposal state. It has basically been used as the guideline for bots since its creation, and the only reason it was never fully adopted as a Policy seems to be a fear that it would exclude the type of bots seen on Wikipedia. We are a small site and there has been no hint of a bot of this type in the 4.5 years since the page's creation. Also, if we ever become so large that bots of this kind are needed then all we need to do is have a new set of Bot Policies written that does not in any way hinder the use of such bots. Therefore I am proposing that we have a vote on whether to accept the current page as the Policy that meets our demands and usage at this time. I changed two things from the long standing proposal, I bumped up the owners number of constructive edits to 500, and added the requirement "Displayed a working knowledge of the UESPWiki's coding and formatting". Everything else has been there for years. Silence is GoldenBreak the Silence 00:59, 13 May 2013 (GMT)
Can we also remove the safety function that "The bot will make at most one edit every 10 seconds." because none of our bots do that, and I'm not even sure that the WP bots do that. It seems silly, because with that restriction, *I* could perform tasks faster than a bot. Is it supposed to be swapped? 10 edits every second? Also, "The bot account must have "bot" in it's name somehow, or otherwise define itself as a bot, rather than another human editor. This is simply to prevent confusion." Wabbajak doesn't and I don't think it is needed, since the edits are hidden for most people, and the edits are clearly marked as bot edits. Jeancey (talk) 01:10, 13 May 2013 (GMT)
I un-struck-out your comments, Jeancey, since I'm responding to them. :)
Actually, the ten second thing comes from WP, but the reason it's that way on WP is that they may potentially have several local and remote bots running simultaneously. (Nowadays, there's another method on WP that works better, but we don't have that method available here.) I've amended it based on what I believe Dave said, but Jak may need to refresh my memory, as he's the one who actually had the conversation with Dave, not me.
While I was there, I made a number of other minor edits, including the other one you mentioned, but they're substantively similar/the same as what was there previously, just reflecting what's generally been agreed to over the years. Robin Hood  (talk) 01:12, 13 May 2013 (GMT)

() I'm taking this as acceptance of the policy. A lack of interest in it, added to it being in general use already leads me to conclude that no-one has any serious opposition to a policy that can be changed if it fails to work as intended. Silence is GoldenBreak the Silence 22:02, 21 May 2013 (GMT)

Two things that we might want to change:
  • tested ... on the test version of the UESP (with permission) - Just drop the "(with permission)" - I don't think it is needed (no real damage can be done to the test server) and probably the only one with authority to withhold permission is Dave anyway.
  • heavy server traffic (Defined as noon-9pm PDT weekends and 3pm-9pm PDT weekdays) - drop the time range - current practice seems to be to ignore this (?), so we may as well remove it. Not running bots during high traffic times is a useful policy however, but will depend more on game-releases than time ranges (but even then we might want to run bots for page-creation, despite high traffic).
--Alfwyn (talk) 13:31, 25 January 2014 (GMT)
To my knowledge, all of our current and past bots have some kind of load-adaptive coding anyway, so as response time increases, the bots attempt to slow down. That makes any kind of time- or circumstance-specific policy fairly unnecessary, I think. I'm not saying we should get rid of the policy altogether, just change it to something more like "Bots should adapt to changing conditions and slow down or stop if the server response time is excessive. Bot creators are also trusted not to run unnecessary jobs if servers are overloaded." Robin Hood  (talk) 23:27, 8 February 2014 (GMT)
Sounds good to me. --Alfwyn (talk) 22:07, 9 February 2014 (GMT)

The 10s/edit policy gives RC patrollers time to shut the bot down before it does too much damage if there is something wrong with it. I have more issues with the "500 constructive edits" condition, for obvious reasons. Also, the opening paragraph isn't clear enough about whether the policy applies to semiautomatic tools (where you need to press "save" on every change, like AWB does normally). --◄mendel► (talk) 13:57, 13 February 2014 (GMT)

The policy is missing on semi-automated tools because we don't have an editor that uses them, we can either make this policy stand for both or go down a route like WP's where editors (after having 500 article-space edits) request permission to use semi-automated software. Semi-automated software is something I would be personally interested in but would like to see us go down a more WP-style route.
In my opinion these are guidelines for semi-automated programs that I feel we should implement (probably in a separate policy):
  • Editors running semi-automated programs would not be required to have a separate account.
  • Edits made should be clearly marked in the Edit Summary as semi-automated.
  • Editors must request permission to use semi-automated programs.
  • Editors that use semi-automated programs should have at least 500 article-space edits
  • Those edits who want to use a semi-automated program with under 500 article-space edits should list what they would use the program for in a request.
I think that both Bots and Semi-automated programs should not make more than 1 edits per second. --Kiz(email - talk) 14:28, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
It is a good idea to have a separate account if you make a large number of changes semiautomatically, i.e. if these changes are rule-based, because that makes damage control much easier. Since AWB can also help with standard edits, it makes sense to not proscribe this, but it's still a good idea (and an exception to the sockpuppet rule).
AWB appends (using AWB) unless you tell it not to, so I'm good with the "clearly marked" rule.
I don't see the need to request permission for that because a) if I turn the RC note off, you won't ever know, and b) as far as I'm aware, being granted permission on WP just results in AWB unlocking "full auto" mode; you can always use it semiautomatically. --◄mendel► (talk) 14:45, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
See also: Wikipedia:WP:BOTASSIST. --◄mendel► (talk) 15:08, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
It's pretty easy to tell when someones using a program or not, the timing in a program is much more regular as opposed to when doing it by hand, and generally using a program is quicker. But if we're going to start going down the route "you won't know if I turn the edit note off" then perhaps thats not the sort of person we want to be making mass edits. I don't see how having a separate account for a semi-automated account helps damage control, not being a blocker I don't know the block options, but in case of reversions I can't see that it makes any difference. --Kiz(email - talk) 15:12, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
Mendel, I do understand why you would have an issue with the 500 edits thing, but that's pretty non-negotiable. We don't really want to go around granting bot rights to anyone who wants it and can run a bot, because then, if we approve you (for instance) someone else who is less trustworthy or knowledgeable could ask for a bot and there would be no grounds to say no. 500 edits cuts out the vast majority of cases where someone would fulfill the requirements of a bot, but not really deserve one. Also, as Kiz said, it is fairly obvious when someone is using an unapproved automated program on the wiki (as you did earlier with the MetaTemplate stuff). Obviously you weren't blocked, mainly because you only used it to read info and dump it into a sandbox, rather than to actually make changes across the wiki. If you are dedicated enough, it isn't that hard to get 500 edits in a couple of days. Jeancey (talk) 19:03, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
Some more thoughts (different ones!) on that matter:
  • This policy should stand for both fully-automated programs (like it currently covers) as well as semi-automated programs like AWB. Users should use a separate account (similar to those currently in use) for both fully-automated and semi-automated programs.
  • Users should have passed a Patroller nomination (unless we choose to have a seperate nomination with similar qualifications), which shows that they are a reliable and trustworthy editor who knows the Policies and Guidelines, as well as following their guidelines for activity.
The patroller requirement is mainly just so the owner goes through a form of community discussion rather than actually needing to be a patroller. --Kiz(email - talk) 20:05, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
As long as it's semi-automated, and a user needs to click on Save themselves, I don't see any major issues letting them be used. After all, we already have HotCat available to all editors, which is a semi-automated tool. AWB just performs a wider array of tasks. Robin Hood  (talk) 20:21, 13 February 2014 (GMT)

() I've never used a semi-automated editor so I don't know the exact edit times, but say for example an edit takes two seconds to load, make the change and then you just click save, lets say it takes you two seconds to hit save as well. Thats 4 seconds an edit, in a plain unmarked account flooding the recent changes, if the user isn't a patroller, these then all have to be manually checked and patrolled. Which is why I think it better to include semi-automated programs in the current policy. --Kiz(email - talk) 20:28, 13 February 2014 (GMT)

Psh.... I can edit faster than that. Jeancey (talk) 20:42, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
Oh, and going back to the point that started this all, our old policy about 10 requests/min (or 1 request/6 sec), which was originally imported from Wikipedia, was brought down to 1/s for writes and 10/s for reads because of the impracticality of the slower speed. A job that has, say, 2000 pages to edit, like my last one did (rounding up a bit for a nice even figure), would take a minimum of 400 minutes for the loads and saves of those pages alone. Adding in the pages that it had to load but not save, as well as talk page checks after every edit (which are separate loads in most of our bots, though better-designed frameworks could largely work around that), and you're looking at over 12 hours.
Not only is that impractical in its own right, since a bot editor might want to shut down or reboot during that period (I shut my computer off at night, since it's in my bedroom), it's also more likely to allow errors to slip through, since bot creators obviously won't stay at their computers and monitor for that whole time, where shorter times make it more practical to do so. The environment here is also a bit different than Wikipedia, in that the bot editors we've had have all been long-term users, so they're much more familiar with the editing environment, which means they're more likely to spot errors, since they're seeing pages they've likely seen before.
On a side note, my bot's timings can be changed per job, and I've recently set the default to 10 reads/sec and 1 write/2 secs. So far, I'm finding that that's a good rate for small to medium jobs, and gives me enough time to check that the edits are correct. With larger jobs, especially when they're well-established jobs or involve only trivial edits, I'll set the rate to the fastest speed our policy allows (10 reads or 1 write/sec). Robin Hood  (talk) 21:12, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
Re: Kiz @15:12, 13 February 2014 : it's a matter of how much red tape you want to throw up. I don't actually care that much if you're going to use red tape to prevent me making constructive edits, but it's not good for the wiki, and it's a futile requirement because it's hard to enforce.
I didn't actually do any botting for the metatemplate stuff, so it's not easy to tell - you tried to and were wrong. ;-P The point isn't the botting: it's engaging on large-scale editing project without sufficient consensus that would be the problem, and I've known editors to do that by hand. But you won't know by the number of edits whether people are mature enough for that or have the tech savvy to configure their bot right.
For damage control: damage control of bot edits can be done by having another bot undo the damage, and it's easier if that's a consecutive list of edits on the bot account. --◄mendel► (talk) 21:53, 13 February 2014 (GMT)
You are saying you looked through every template page by hand and then added the link to your sandbox? I find it much easier to believe that you used an automated or semi-automated program to look through the templates and come up with that list. In any case, you can make edits to the wiki perfectly fine without using a bot. What kind of edits would you be making if you were given a bot that our current bots can't do? You are basically asking for permission to use a bot we don't really need while also not fulfilling the requirements to run said bot that we have for the wiki. This isn't about us not wanting you specifically to have a bot, it's about us trying to come up with requirements which are reasonable for someone who is trusted to edit the wiki with a bot. We don't just give out the permission left and right. If we gave you a bot, we would literally have to give ANYONE who wanted one a bot, because anyone who spent a few weeks talking on talkpages about things could qualify. Jeancey (talk) 22:02, 13 February 2014 (GMT)

Using a pre-written bot[edit]

As in, a bot that's not mine and already exists, namely Pywikibot. Would this be allowed? I've used it before on Fable Wiki, and it definitely does what it's supposed to, but aside from being able to follow the instructions for how to use it, I don't really know much about it. So I couldn't explain in detail how it works or what tasks it would perform, aside from linking to the things it can already do. I also don't think it has talk page termination, but would be happy to add it if anyone knows how. Pywikibot certainly isn't as advanced as HnB, but is very good at mundane tasks like categorizing and text replacement. Thoughts? --Enodoc (talk) 23:09, 19 June 2017 (UTC)

As Rpeh noted back near the beginning of this talk page, the policy was largely designed with one specific type of bot in mind. It's not well-suited to bots that run all the time, and it doesn't even consider pre-scripted bots or human-assisted bots, which I'm not sure even existed back when this policy was written. Personally, I have no major issues with you running a pre-written bot without knowing all of its intricacies, as long as it's one that's well tested and you're using the built-in scripts. If it doesn't support talk page stopping, then I'd also suggest a requirement that you always be around when it's running, or that you know an admin is around. Robin Hood  (talk) 01:23, 20 June 2017 (UTC)
Sure, that's fair. Most of the things I've run before on Fable wiki were per-edit checked for the first few changes anyway. The link to dev doesn't seem to be working, otherwise I'd give it a few tests on the system. --Enodoc (talk) 11:32, 21 June 2017 (UTC)
No, Dave took dev down a while back...I don't remember why...and hasn't put it back up yet. Robin Hood  (talk) 22:32, 21 June 2017 (UTC)