The bot equivalent to the atom bomb was ignited.

Since Rambot in en.wikipedia back in the old days bot generated articles are a source of constant controversy. The main points remain unchanged since that:

  • Supporters say that a bot generated article is better than none at all and that they attrac new editors.
  • Opponents say that bot generated articles don’t contain encyclopedic content but just databases and that it is frustrating reading a Wikipedia full of substubs instead of a small one with decent articles and that maintenance of bot articles is a nightmare, especially if article numbers grow faster than the community can deal with.
  • Needless to say that I’m an opponent to bot generated articles cause:

    Wikipedia is an encyclopedia which predominantly incorporates summary texts describing the unique features of its items in indvidual texts.

    A bot can never achieve that. However up to now I just grumbled silently as until now the majority of content (not always pages) in any Wikipedia was still written by humans.

    But recently the Volapük Wikipedia decided to ignite the ultimate bot bomb: A Wikipedia almost entirely written by bots. Yes nearly 100% of all bytes in there are from a bot. They defense themselves with comparisons from Rambot to page number cheating and that they have a right to do stupid things cause others did it previous, too… They even argue that single bot articles maybe are longer in bytes than some human written articles and thus suggest these bot articles necessarily contain more information and are thus even „the better articles“ (TM). I could go on…

    Some people thus wanted the Volapük Wikipedia to be closed entirely but failed. I therefore started a more sensible attempt in order to save the good bits there: A request for deleting all minor bot generated articles in Volapük Wikipedia and moving it back to the Wikimedia Incubator. But see yourself how these people manage to discuss things down to the level of supressed minorities and other things that always „work“.

    P.S.: Don’t forget. Please take the time for reading and make your own image prior to posting anywhere any comment about that.


    9 Antworten to “The bot equivalent to the atom bomb was ignited.”

    1. GerardM Says:

      it is insensitive to blunder in a situation like this asking for admin status on Meta without even first engaging the Volapuk community. It is insensitive when the project just survived a vote for deletion. It is not sensible when you do not know the first thing about a language.

      When your issue is with bot generated articles, but more specifically the quality of those discuss this. Build yourself a platform, but do it in a way that is positive. What you have done is massively shot into the foot of this cause. This is a shame because the net result is decidedly negative.

    2. arnomane Says:

      I don’t get it how a differentiated proposal about deleting masses of articles without a full sentence and keeping and improving the good articles and not even questioning the vo.wikipedia in itself can be insensitive (in contrast to a closing proposal). Furthermore I even don’t demand admin rights in this Wikipedia if there is something more effective but well you know we discussed this earlier and I don’t want to repeat myself over and over again.

      Several people have tried to improve the situation inside vo.wikipedia. All they got were unacceptable reactions and even more ridcoulous excuses („you didn’t write anything on your user page“). So vo.wikipedia has challenged the tolerance of others severely and as they do have an impact on the others and as they deny this they lost their souvereignty.

      I certainly won’t step back until Smeira accepts that a 100% bot Wikipedia is the worst idea he ever had.

    3. HappyDog Says:

      I’m sure Smeira would be the first to admit that a 100% bot created Wikipedia is a terrible idea. However you clearly know nothing about vo.wp if that’s what you think it is!

    4. arnomane Says:

      No sadly not.

      a) Some articles in there were written by humans (for example Smeira), but nearly 100% were generated from other Wikipedia’s templates using a bot.

      b) Smeira openly questions if a bot written encyclopedia is a bad thing

      Beside on the one side he admits that he wanted to do „something crazy in order to attrac new people to Volapük“ on the other thing he says that „page numbers are not important“. He just argues that way that it suits his plans regardless if it is inconsistent in itself.

    5. Smeira Says:

      I think I’m being misinterpreted here. Let’s make things clear.

      * Do I think a 100% bot-made encyclopedia is a good idea? NO. Of course human editing is essential. I’ve said that on the discussion page mentioned here, and I’ve said that in the discussion of the first closure proposal.

      * Do I defend bot-created artricles? YES, for the reasons pointed out at the beginning of this page: these articles are better than nothing — and they also fill gaps in the coverage of a Wikipedia (why is there a stub on this town but not on that town? etc.). (Let me add that I have criteria for them too: I only support like bot- or human-created stubs that are: (a) readable (no gibberish), (b) relevant — contain information that you usually find in reference works and encyclopedias, (c) correct — contain no factual errors.)

      * Do I think the proportion of bot-created articles is a problem? NO. If bot-created stubs are a good (not an excellent and worderful, just an OK, not-so-bad) idea, then lots of them are, too. I don’t see how their number changes in any way their (small but true) usefulness.

      * But Wikipedia is „an encyclopedia which predominantly incorporates summary texts describing the unique features of its items in indvidual texts“! Well, there are other definitions. One I’ve also seen around is „Wikipedia is an attempt at building a repository of all human knowledge.“ Another one is „Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.“ Which is the best definition? The latter two are, IMHO, very compatible with bot-created articles, even lots of them, while the first one seems to be designed to exclude them.

      * Am I devaluating human work by thinking so? NO. Human work usually is A LOT better than bot work (though humans are also known to create what Arnomane calls „junk, crap, rubbish etc.“ too). If there’s a lot of bot work in a Wikipedia, how does that devaluate human work? If there are a lot of „cheap“ novels around, in which way does that devaluate the work of writers like Dostoevsky, Proust, Grass or Faulkner?

      * But we get the wrong idea by looking at a big project like the Volapük Wikipedia! We see 100 000 articles and we immediately think it’s like the Britannica! Well, that’s a FALLACY: lots of „cheap“ novels don’t mean their authors are as good as Dostoevsky. (It doesn’t mean that their novels are useless either — they may well be ‚good enough‘ by other criteria. Have you ever tried to write a cheap novel and get it published and sold? You’ll see it involves quite a lot of work.).

      * But how do we judge the Volapük Wikipedia then? You need two numbers to judge the Volapük Wikipedia: bot-edits and human-edits. By bot-edits, Volapük is a big project; by human-edits, it’s a small project. The English Wikipedia, on the other hand, is a big project by both criteria. That’s the difference, and it should be emphasized. To keep claiming that the number of articles by itself is a good criterion for the overall quality of the project is simply a misuse of statistics. Think of criteria like the one I suggested when I created the „List of Wikipedias by sample of articles“ at Meta. Suggest others if you will and discuss them. But let’s stop thinking that Wikipedia is the Olympic Games: nobody should be there to break world records.

      * But Smeira is bad, he’s using „oppressed minority“ and „sovereignty“ rights to hide the problems of the Volapük Wikipedia and escape his due punishment! NO, I am definitely not. I haven’t used the word „minority“ even once in the whole discussion: all my arguments have to do with bot-created stubs and whether or not they’re bad (plus reactions to the comments of other people, considerations about the proposal itself, the fact that the transfer-to-incubator part is technically a very bad idea, etc.). The introductory text to this discussion says this, but does give any examples: only a vague „go there and see for yourselves“. Yes indeed. Please do go there and see for yourselves. While you’re at it, compare Arnomane’s comments with mine: he basically says „bot-created stubs are bad“ and refuses to explain further when asked why; then he keeps accusing me of destroying the debate and hiding the truth behind cloudy words and lots of text. Hm. I admit I write a lot. But look at what I wrote here thus far. Is it hard to understand? Look at what I wrote in the discussion page. Is it hard to understand? You be the judge.

      — Smeira

    6. Resources for the Volapuk case « millosh’s blog Says:

      […] Arnold: The bot equivalent to the atom bomb was ignited, December 28th, […]

    7. wikipedian Says:

      Arnomane for president, that wikipedia is a case of high-level trollism.

    8. Smeira Says:

      Hi wikipedian, note you’re making accusations without evidence or arguments. You’re just angry, that’s all. And you have no reason to be. Or can you name one?…

    9. Pilchard Says:

      Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

      cheers, Pilchard.

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