Study: Wikipedia Bots Locked in Edit Wars with Each Other for Years

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Wikipedia’s editing bots have become “locked in combat” over content in entries, according to a report by The Guardian.

“Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply ‘bots,’ that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks,” explained The Guardian.

In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action.

While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Pages on Alexander of Greece, Aston Villa FC, Ghost in the Shell, and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were also often disputed by bots.

“The fights between bots can be far more persistent than the ones we see between people,” said Taha Yasseri, who worked on the study. “Humans usually cool down after a few days, but the bots might continue for years.”

You can read the full article at The Guardian.

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington or like his page at Facebook.


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