Last modified: 2011-03-13 18:04:32 UTC

Wikimedia Bugzilla is closed!

Wikimedia has migrated from Bugzilla to Phabricator. Bug reports should be created and updated in Wikimedia Phabricator instead. Please create an account in Phabricator and add your Bugzilla email address to it.
Wikimedia Bugzilla is read-only. If you try to edit or create any bug report in Bugzilla you will be shown an intentional error message.
In order to access the Phabricator task corresponding to a Bugzilla report, just remove "static-" from its URL.
You could still run searches in Bugzilla or access your list of votes but bug reports will obviously not be up-to-date in Bugzilla.
Bug 5223 - Identify bot edits from accounts that lack bot flag
Identify bot edits from accounts that lack bot flag
Product: MediaWiki
Classification: Unclassified
Special pages (Other open bugs)
All All
: Lowest enhancement with 1 vote (vote)
: ---
Assigned To: Nobody - You can work on this!
Depends on:
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2006-03-10 03:07 UTC by Connel MacKenzie
Modified: 2011-03-13 18:04 UTC (History)
0 users

See Also:
Web browser: ---
Mobile Platform: ---
Assignee Huggle Beta Tester: ---


Description Connel MacKenzie 2006-03-10 03:07:36 UTC
Currently, a system of wild guessing is used to determine is someone is a 'bot.

Edits performed using the python suite of code should be flagged differently,
especially if performed from an account that does not have the bot flag set.

Obviously, there are certain times where this is considered acceptable (i.e.
less than 50 edits.)  But identifying this class of edits separately would be
Comment 1 Brion Vibber 2006-03-10 05:52:52 UTC
Keep in mind that this is totally unreliable; a malicious bot could pretend 
to be human, or pretend to be a bot, as it wills.
Comment 2 Connel MacKenzie 2006-03-10 08:13:25 UTC
(In reply to comment #1)
> Keep in mind that this is totally unreliable; a malicious bot could pretend 
> to be human, or pretend to be a bot, as it wills.

Exactly.  But with no way of discerning which is which, no judgement (with
respect to a wiki's local policies) can be made.

All kinds of spoofing exists - bogus or unrelated edit summaries, "minor" etc. 
This one simply will indicate that someone seems to be using the
code.  Some people will want to pay attention only to bot edits (sometimes)
while other people will want to exclude all of them all of the time.  Right now,
only the server "knows" which is which.
Comment 3 Edward Z. Yang 2006-06-18 04:12:56 UTC
Marked enhancement. What you're suggesting is somewhat equivalent to HTTP user
Comment 4 Rob Church 2007-01-15 14:09:05 UTC
(In reply to comment #0)
> Currently, a system of wild guessing is used to determine is someone is a 'bot.

No, it's not - it's quite simple. A local bureaucrat assigns a user "bot"
rights, which suppress that user's edits from showing up in the default recent
changes view; it's an additional filter. This is typically done because someone
would like to perform a large number of edits, semi or fully automated, without
flooding changes pages, but it doesn't have to be.

Detecting apparent bots is dangerous, because if one manages to spoof as such,
and we grant it bot rights, then potentially unpleasant editorial changes will
go unnoticed by the vast majority of users.
Comment 5 Connel MacKenzie 2007-01-15 23:05:38 UTC
Rob, that is the *opposite* problem.  What you say is true on Wikipedia,
perhaps.  But on Wiktionary, it would be really helpful to see which users are
actually using automated tools to create lots of entries quickly (not marked
with the bot flag) so that they can be slowed down or coerced into compliance
with existing formats, before they go too far.  That's why my original request
wasn't to filter in any way; merely to _flag_ such edits in Special:RecentChanges.

It is quite the opposite response to suggest that someone pretending their bot
might be given the bot flag.  The natural result that I see, is that they'd be
given a short term block, while at the same time a lot more people would
suddenly pay attention to those edits.
Comment 6 AnyFile 2007-01-16 18:40:42 UTC
The only thing I can think is to show in a special way in recent changes such
eidts (for example in a way similar to the red exclamation mark used for the
markaspatrolleddiff mecchanism.

But the main problem is how to know that an edit is made by a bot?
One way can be using the HTTP user agent string (see #3), but this way you will
able to catch the edit made by compliant bot that agree to use a specific string
in the HTTP user agent identification.

One other way would be to trig a mechanism when too many edits are made on a
limited number of time by one user or one IP (this would not have to be done in

Note You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.