Automated editing refers to the use of computational tools make changes to pages. This page discusses the types of automation employed on Wikimedia projects and discusses some of the issues automated editing poses for behavioral measures of human editors.
Types of automation
Automated tools used on Wikimedia projects can generally be divided into two types, semi-automated human-computation tools ("cyborgs") and fully-automated robots ("bots").
Semi-automated human-computation tools
These tools mix human judgement with algorithmic support to get support a subset of wiki tasks.
|Automated tedium||AutoWikiBrowser (AWB) is a semi-automated en:MediaWiki editor designed to make tedious repetitive tasks quicker and easier. It is essentially a browser that automatically opens up a new page when the last is saved. When set to do so, it suggests some changes (typically formatting) that are generally meant to be incidental to the main change.|
|Specialized tasks||Huggle is a semi-automated count-vandalism tool designed to make identifying and reverting vandalism faster and easier. Huggle uses computational classification strategies to flag edits that are likely to be vandalism, performs reverts and sends warning messages to "vandals" on behalf of the user.
Snuggle is a semi-automated socialization support tool designed to make identifying and supporting good-faith newcomers faster and easier. Snuggle uses computational classification strategies to flag good-faith newcomers, displays summaries of newcomers' work and their interactions with other editors and enables users to categorize and contact good-faith newcomers in need of help.
These tools perform actions on Wikipedia will little or no human intervention. See en:Category:All_Wikipedia_bots for a list of bot accounts on the English Wikipedia. For details on identifying bot users, see bot user.
|Loading content||rambot -- largely considered to be the first Wikipedia bot -- was used to add and maintain U.S. county and city articles.|
|Mass messaging||EdwardsBot was a used to send local and global mass messages to Wikipedia editors. (note that MassMessage has rendered such bots redundant)|
|Style & refactoring||Helpful Pixie Bot (among other tasks) corrects ISBN numbers in citations.|
|Norm enforcement||Sinebot signs comments added to discussion pages that were not signed by the commenting editor.|
|Specialized tasks||ClueBot NG is the most prolific counter-vandalism robot on the English Wikipedia. ClueBot NG uses computation classification strategies to identify and revert egregious vandalism as well as send warning messages|
Measuring human effort
Since automated editing tools minimize or negate the need for human effort and accelerate the rate of editing, they undermine the use of edit count/rate as a signal for human editor effort. For this reason, research of human behavior in Wikipedia tends to discard the edits of bot editors (e.g.  and
Importance of automated tools
Detection of automated edits and R:bot users
- Halfaker, A., Kittur, A., Kraut, R. E., & Riedl, J. A Jury of Your Peers: Quality, Experience and Ownership in Wikipedia. WikiSym'09 ACM, New York, NY, USA, (pp. 15:1-10). pdf
- Halfaker, A. & Riedl, J. (2012). Bots and Cyborgs: Wikipedia's Immune System. IEEE Computer 45(3) 79–82. DOI=10.1109/MC.2012.82 pdf
- Halfaker, A., Geiger, R. S. & Terveen, L. (2014). Snuggle: Designing for Efficient Socialization and Ideological Critique. CHI'14 pdf
- Geiger, R. S. (2014). Bots, bespoke, code and the materiality of software platforms. Information, Communication & Society. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2013.873069 pdf