Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines/Vote/Bots

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The Wikibooks:Bots/Unstable draft is open to edits, but any that generates a valid objection (due to changes to meaning or function of the text), will be restored to the proposed version of October 24 2008 that is open for vote.

Key points[edit]

  • Defines what fully-automated and semi-automated bots are.
  • Outlines proper use of bots (such as the recommendation to have "bot" in the edit summary)
  • Clarifies the status of user scripts (they are not bots)
  • Clarifies when the bot flag is needed (uncontroversial tasks which flood RC should get the bot flag)
  • Describes the flood flag, and it's appropriate use (temporary flag admins may use to prevent RC flooding while performing uncontroversial tasks)
  • Explains the procedure for getting a bot flagged (clear cases may be flagged immediately upon request by a bureaucrat; other cases are submitted to the community for approval)


  • Only registered users with at least 20 edits can vote.
  • Vote ends one week after the last posting or consensus has clearly been reached.
  • Add votes in the format #~~~~


  1. --Panic (talk) 00:50, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  2. --AdRiley (talk) 14:59, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  3.  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 17:52, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
  4. --Reece (Talk) (Contributions) 20:38, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  5. --Whiteknight (Page) (Talk) 15:21, 9 November 2008 (UTC)


  1. --darklama 02:07, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
  2. --Swift (talk) 08:58, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
  3. No more policies please. --ЗAНИA Flag of Italy.svgtalk 14:29, 22 November 2009 (UTC)


  1. -- Chazz (talk) 19:39, 25 October 2008 (UTC) (as I apparently don't have sufficient grasp of what is going on)

Comments and concurrent motions[edit]

Comments previously made at WB:AA

I've incorporated this into a proposed bot policy. I think this is the direction Wikibooks should head with a bot policy. It has a lightweight approval process by giving bureaucrats lots of leeway to flag bots. As well, it sets our with reasonable clarity what the purpose of the flood flag is and how it is to be used. While I don't expect that we'll make heavy use of it, it's a good solution, especially for deleting/moving large books and other similar repetitive tasks which flood RC but aren't actually bots. I hope the rest of the community agrees, and will support implementation of the proposal. While I've tried recently to tighten up the language, there may still be areas needing improvement, and I invite anyone with the inclination to suggest improvement to both substance and style.  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 01:04, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

I've read the text and all it states is already common practice in general or just clarifies definitions, it doesn't enforce or makes any requirements, defines absolute practices (absolute in the mining that there can't be any exceptions/risky behaviors). I wouldn't object making it a guideline but tagging this type of general information/common practice that is directed to a minority of the community as a policy seems to dilute the importance of the other higher impact issues that really need enforcement.
Any particular reason for that selection? I also notice that there is a yet unvoted and unclosed proposal (for what I examined of the text seems to present in the newer one), was there a particular reason to have 2 "similar" proposal "running" at the same time? --Panic (talk) 04:11, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
The discussion above regarding temporary bot flags was the impetus, though I (and WK) had been wanting to put together a good policy for some time. Since I wanted to implement the flood flag, it seemed obvious to include it in the bot policy and approve them simultaneously. The other discussion you're referring to is stale; I wouldn't view that as a basis for building consensus.  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 00:11, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Regarding the flood flag for what I understand as for the functionality the benefit is that it will make non bot edits (that were using the bot flag) to be correctly labeled on the logs, Is this correct ? --Panic (talk) 04:23, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

The flood flag is a temp bot flag with a critical difference: Any administrator may flag and de-flag themselves. This means any admin may use it (up to now I think only bureaucrats have ever used temp bot flags) - and you don't have to wait for a bureaucrat to add it, and the bureaucrat doesn't have to stick around to remove it when you're done. As well, approving a bot policy instead of letting bureaucrats do whatever they want seems prudent regardless.  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 00:11, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

I move that the proposal should be renamed as Bot and Flood Flags to reflect what is covered in the text. Both proposals edit history/talk pages should be merged on the new page.
I started by thinking that there was no need to make the proposal into a policy, but have changed my position on this, the text does go beyond a guideline for the attribution and use of the flags, as it defines situations for the removal and rules to operate the flags, that need by definition be enforced. The adoption of the text as a policy nevertheless makes the it unchallengeable, this has an impact on the flood flag removal (admins may grant and remove themselves, but only bureaucrats have the right to remove the flag from other Wikibookians), this puts bureaucrats on the spot to be available and act timely, to avoid a situation were someone can do a huge amount of damage. --Panic (talk) 00:50, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Rename sounds fine to me. Administrators are trusted to not screw up - allowing bureaucrats to remove the flood flag is intended as a last resort. I'm unclear what you mean by the phrase "The adoption of the text as a policy nevertheless makes the it unchallengeable."  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 01:48, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I take the distinction of policies versus guidelines very seriously, they are distinct in subtle but important aspects. Policies should cover enforcible rules were things must be done in certain ways and aren't opened to challenge, there will not be any circumvention to the text. In this case it prevents any administrator to usurp the special distinction given to the bureaucrats even if the administrator feels it would be justifiable. Guidelines should be used for non enforcible rules, like the last adopted Be Bold, and can be circumvented if special unforeseen circumstances arise. --Panic (talk) 02:43, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps some attention should be given to operational defitinitions. I'm open to the possibility I have misused the defined words; Feel free to correct me.  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 02:50, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I would feel very nervous on touching this particular subject again and I'm doing it only since we are attempting to approve a new draft and you asked me about it. This topic is one of those that caused problems with some of the administrators, so I will keep away of it and only bring it up if there is relevance as we adopt new texts by community decission. I leave it to you, now that I made the point again to do with it what you will, just for historical reference I add the first version of the Wikibooks:Policies_and_guidelines that still retains the distinction I stated above. That page is historically relevant, but is not a policy or a guideline and so the content tends to be highly volatile. --Panic (talk) 03:44, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose - I don't think the Unstable branch is as well written. The Unstable branch for instance has a section on semi automatic bot and a section on fully automatic bot that go beyond what I feel a policy should, while the other version is shorter, clearer and is part of defining what bots are for the purpose of the policy. Unstable also places restrictions on bots which I think are unnecessary and should not be required. --darklama 02:07, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Whiteknight and I had tried to remove barriers - what do you think is unreasonable? I don't see why description can't be part of policy. For example, Wikibooks:Naming policy describes automated tools you can use to change naming conventions. I can't agree that brevity for it's own sake is to be desired - one should use as many words as are required, and no more. If there is redundancy in the text as I've written, I'd be happy to remove it.  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 02:16, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't think the description of automatic tools nor the tips section should of been made part of the naming policy either. Both should of been included in some other page(s) and linked to in a see also or related pages type section instead, but that isn't the issue I have here. The issue here is that I think more words are being used than are needed and the description in the unstable branch is not entirely correct. For instance someone can use semi-automate tools without verifying the results, and fully automated bots are capable of logging activities to make it easy for a person to verify its activities. The use of AutoWikiBroswer as an example of semi-automatic also demonstrates the problem with attempting to categories all bots as being either one or the other, because of the self-admission that its also capable of fully automatic tasks. That is an example of how the Unstable branch is unnecessarily complicated. This problem was fixed in the "stable" branch. Requiring all bots to use Bot in their name might not always make sense or be necessary to identify a bot. Special:Listbots for instance can help users to identify bots and {{user bot}} can also be used to identify bots. Also with SUL now being common, a cross-wiki bot may not use bot in their name because not all projects require it. User:CommonsTicker being a good example of a bot that would be required to be renamed if Unstable was enforced as is. --darklama 02:55, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I also share the view that the text is to verbose but having taken a look I couldn't find a way to reduce it without losing valuable content, even the descriptions you mention as superfluous are useful to make a distinction on what a bot is. I've made some simplifications, maybe you can find more. As for special cases we could probably add a list. --Panic (talk) 04:09, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
"Stable" branch says at the top:
Bots are computer programs that interface with Wikibooks typically performing complex tasks faster than a person could. Bots can consist of functions inside client programs or tools that are only run under direct control of a human operator (semiautomatic), a program that performs tasks automatically without direct oversight of a human operator (fully automated), or anywhere in between.
So I think its possible to say what is said in both sections in the unstable branch less verbosely. I'm also not sure what the point really is in making such a distinction since what seems to be of concern is making sure useful bots which regularly flood RC receive the bot flag and making sure anyone/anything else that might temperately flood RC receives the flood flag. --darklama 15:43, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Do you agree with any substantive issues, or simply the length of the text?  — Mike.lifeguard | talk 16:23, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Besides specific issues that I have already mentioned, I haven't taken a good look at the part about the flood flag yet. I feel the length of proposal in some areas distracts from whatever attention or goals the proposal has that differs from the stable branch, and will discourage the average person from reading it, which I think should be considered a big issue. --darklama 17:17, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
Just to clarify you position Darklama, your objection is only to the length of the text or due to the fact that it covers both the flood and the bot flag? --Panic (talk) 18:43, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
No, I object because I feel the proposal is unclear about what its purpose is, what objectives it has, what problems its attempting to resolve, and I think that is probably caused by being too verbose and lengthy. I haven't looked at the flood section because I get lost and confused about what the proposal is trying to say every time I read it, before I even get to the section about the flood flag. I feel also that the proposal is a solution in sought of a problem. Wikibooks hasn't really had any problems with bots that I know for there to be much need for requirements which also makes it seem like instruction creep to me, which I also object to. Looking at some of the key point as a guide:
  • Why are fully-automated and semi-automated bots defined and given their own section? There doesn't seem to be any connection between them and any requirements for the bot flag, so how is it relevant?
  • Why are proper use of bots outline? I haven't seen any improper use of bots or concerns arise to justify any specific requirements.
  • Why is a clarification on the status of user scripts necessary? What does user scripts have to do with the bot flag?
--darklama 19:23, 25 October 2008 (UTC)