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Defending Wikipedia

Nov 5, 2008Web 2.0 Summit


Wikipedia seems to ranks first for many most generic search terms

228,247 page views in October

Wikipedia traffic stats are available at

high visibility attracts troublemakers
High visibility attracts troublemakers
  • Vandals
  • Soapboxers, Cranks, Divas
  • Conspiracy theorists
  • Trolls, Griefers, Insane people
  • Nationalistic edit warriors
  • Racists, Hate mongers
  • Death threats, Suicide threats
  • Stalkers, Predators
  • Parasitic marketers, Spammers

Patrols are used in Wikipedia to watch over a class of pages and take any appropriate actions. Most patrol actions are performed by individual Wikipedians, but some are performed by bots.

There is a great need for patrols in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is huge (2.6+ million articles). To help maintain reasonable quality a number of Wikipedia community members have set up long-standing patrols.

Patrols focus on various pages, noticeboards and feeds. Many of the well-known patrols have hundreds of users, and are directly responsible as a first line against vandalism, or other potential problems.


ClueBot, a famous patroller

wikipedia bots
Wikipedia Bots
  • Polite: play nicely with human editors.
  • Heuristics: scoring imitates human intellect.
  • Tedious work: scanning for open proxies, identifying copyright violations.
  • Free, open source: Anybody can view and use the code.

semi automated counter vandalism tools
Semi-automatedCounter-vandalism tools

Automated scripts patrol for suspicious looking edits and bring them to the attention of a human operator. The human decides what needs to be done, and the script takes care of the details.

Rollback, Twinkle, Huggle, VandalSniper, Lupin’s Anti-Vandal Tool – all open source.

deletion process
Deletion Process
  • Removes cruft from the encyclopedia
  • Relies on group discussion
  • Helps editors who confuse Wikipedia with MySpace



The WikiMedia spam blacklist is public and free

dispute resolution
Dispute resolution

Fights lead to disruption. How we prevent fights:

  • Third opinion
  • Requests for comment
  • Mediation, for content issues
  • Arbitration, for behavioral issues
  • Appeal to Jimmy Wales (He usually just points to one of the above.)

arbitration is wikipedia s supreme court
Arbitration is Wikipedia’s Supreme Court
  • Request for arbitration
  • Evidence, Discussion, Decision
  • Arbitrators are the village elders

arbitrators help resist cabalism
Arbitrators help resist cabalism
  • Arbitrators are elected by the community
  • As a group they can dismiss administrators who abuse power.

want to know more
Want to know more?

On Wikipedia go to User talk:Jehochman and leave a message.

See also


The Ten Commandments for Web 2.0

  • There is one Internet. It is a shared resource.
  • You shall use neither bots nor macros to create links, nor to spread comments.
  • You shall not allow your advertising dollars to go to scrapers, scammers, nor spammers.
  • Honor your visitors. Do not sell impressions nor links to companies you do not vet.
  • Do not use of sock puppet accounts for vote stacking, spamming friend requests, nor other schemes.
You shall not form cabals nor engage in elitist plots to disenfranchise people.
  • You shall not grieve other users by spoiling their fun, troll, nor post flame bait.
  • You shall not scrape content, plagiarize, nor assist in the theft of virtual assets.
  • You shall not distribute badware, scumware, spyware, nor malicious bots.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s traffic, nor engage in parasitic marketing.