IP Editing: Privacy Enhancement and Abuse Mitigation/Similar Editors
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The "Similar Editors" feature it will help connect different unregistered editors when they edit under different auto-generated account usernames.
Earlier conversations have also referred to this project as "Nearby editors" and "Sock-puppet detection". We are still trying to find a suitable name that is understandable even to people who don't understand the word sock-puppetry.
- 26 July 2022: We have completed version 1 of the tool that aims to collect feedback about the similarity predictions of the feature from checkusers. As we receive feedback on the predictions we will work on improving the prediction script to include more features and get better accuracy. The tool will be deployed to English Wikipedia in the next few weeks. Due to our current technical limitations, we can only deploy to English Wikipedia at the moment. We will be working on expanding to more languages in the next few months.
- 16 April 2021: This project is in its early planning and design stages. There is a sockpuppet detection script that is being worked on by the Wikimedia Foundation Research team that could assist in detecting when two editors exhibit similar editing behavior. We heard a lot of support for this project when we started talking about it a year ago. We also heard about the risks of developing such a feature. We are planning to build a prototype in the near term and share it with the community.
On Wikipedia, sock puppetry, or socking, refers to the misuse of multiple Wikipedia accounts. To maintain accountability and increase community trust, editors are generally expected to use only one account. While it’s not always bad, often sockpuppets are used to mislead, deceive, disrupt, or undermine consensus on the projects.
Major forms of sock-puppetry:
- Logging out to make problematic edits as an IP address
- Creating new accounts to avoid detection
- Using another person's account (piggybacking)
- Reviving old unused accounts (sleepers) and presenting them as different users
- Persuading people to create accounts for the purpose of supporting one side of a dispute (meat puppetry)
The goal for this project is to build a tool to help detect sockpuppet accounts. This could be useful in:
- Detecting long-term abusers who switch accounts or edit anonymously because e.g., their other accounts have been blocked for damaging behavior. Being able to more quickly link together accounts helps checkusers to understand the severity and extent of a block that might be needed.
- Identifying groups of accounts that are working together to introduce bias, misinformation, or leave the impression of discussion or consensus where there is none. Often none of the edits made by accounts like these warrant blocking so it can be very difficult to detect these rings of accounts and helping checkusers gather evidence to detect this behavior could potentially be very helpful.
Feature Design and Mockups
To be written