Bots Help Manage Wikipedia

 

Wikipedia has become the biggest online encyclopedia in the world. The English language version now has over 4 million articles, written and edited by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. But there is more to Wikipedia than just the volunteers who are willing to write content.  Hundreds of small computer programs, called “bots”, keep Wikipedia running and do many small tasks.

One of these bots, for example, searches articles for irrelevant content, for sentences or phrases that to not belong there. For example, when someone writes a paragraph about baseball and puts it into an article about food, just for fun, bots find the passage and delete it quickly.


Without these bots that constantly patrol Wikipedia it would be an almost impossible task for human editors to watch out for such things. The project is so big that it would take editors months or years to scan and correct the millions of articles and billions of words in Wikipedia. Because these bots do a lot of the administrative tasks in the encyclopedia, humans can concentrate on writing content and doing research.

Wikipedia logo

 

The bots do other jobs as well.  They link articles that belong to the same subjects, add articles to category lists, format text and compare references.

Bots have been around since the beginning of Wikipedia ten years ago. Although they do not write their own articles they do collect information and write a short paragraph called a stub, containing the essential data. Then human editors extend the article, put it in better style and add additional data to make it longer.

Critics fear that bots might someday get out of control and do damage to Wikipedia. But the encyclopedia’s organizers reject such a thought. They say that bots are programmed and run by humans and can only do the things their creators tell them to do.

Although bots are very helpful for Wikipedia, human editors do not need to be afraid that they will one day take over the encyclopedia. Just like a computer cannot take over language teaching completely.

 

 

Related Topics

 

Words

  • additional = more
  • administrative = about organization
  • although = while
  • billion  =  a thousand million
  • compare = put side by side
  • completely = totally
  • constantly = always
  • contain = to have in it
  • content = article, story, information
  • creator = here: person who programs a bot
  • damage = destroy
  • data = information
  • delete = remove
  • edit = correct or change something
  • encyclopedia = a project that can be a book, a CD or online information containing facts about many different subjects
  • essential = important
  • extend = to make longer
  • fear = to be afraid of
  • format = to put into a special design
  • human = person
  • impossible = something that cannot be done
  • irrelevant = something that does not belong to the article
  • link = connect
  • passage = phrase, sentence or paragraph
  • patrol = watch, control, check out
  • reference = part of something you say or write in which you mention a person or a thing
  • reject = not to think about such an idea
  • research = to find out new information about something
  • scan = look at quickly
  • stub = a short article or piece of information
  • task = job
  • volunteer = unpaid helper