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This idea has been in my head ever since I got K6kaBOT up and running -- a bot policy.

The wiki never had a formal bot policy, aside from The_Sims_Wiki:Proposed_user_policies#Bot_accounts, which seems more like something written in one day rather than one formally decided. I think we should write up a proper bot policy.

First things first, I think we should enable an AWB checkpage, located at The Sims Wiki:AutoWikiBrowser/CheckPage. In order for an account to use AWB, they would need to be listed here. Administrators do not have to be on this list -- they are automatically approved. We can list approved bots on this checkpage to allow them to use the program, and we can also add certain human editors to the list too, as AWB was originally intended to be a semi-automated human program, not a bot program.

Next, we should enable a proper approval process for the wiki. Wikipedia requires that each bot task be approved in a formal process. The people who decide whether the bot gets approved or not are in a special committee called the "Bot Approvals Group" (aka BAG). I do not think we need the bot approval process here to be as formal as Wikipedia. The bot approval discussion can be done at the administrators' noticeboard. The requesting user must state why they wish to run a bot on the wiki and what they plan to do with the bot. Once the bot is approved and flagged, it can be used for pretty much any purpose that arises, but changes that require consensus may not proceed without a discussion. If a bot is found to be making controversial edits without community consensus, it may be de-flagged.

Here's how the approval process works:

  1. Before a bot operator can file for a request, they must:
    • Have at least 500 edits to the wiki
    • Have been on the wiki for at least six months
    • Have no current editing restrictions
    • Have no blocks for over a year
  2. When the bot owner files a request on the noticeboard, they must name the username of the account that they are to run the bot on, along with why they want the bot flag and what they hope to do with it.
  3. The discussion will last for at least one week. Any community member can participate in the discussion, and a consensus must be reached in order for the bot to be approved and flagged.
  4. If a consensus exists for the bot, the bot will be flagged by a bureaucrat and added to the AWB checkpage. If a consensus exists against the bot, or if a consensus is not reached, the discussion will end and the bot won't be flagged.
  5. Bots found to be running without approval are to be blocked immediately, regardless of whether they are running on the operator's main account or an unflagged and unapproved bot account.

All users wishing to run a bot must go through this process -- even administrators and bureaucrats. This policy does not extend to bureaucrats giving themselves the bot flag for certain tasks, such as batch file maintenance or as mass cleanup from vandalism.

Bots can have more than one operator, as long as all operators have met the minimum requirements and as long as none of the operators violate the bot policy.

Bots should follow these rules when editing:

  1. All bots must be approved, as mentioned above. If a bot is found to be operating without approval, it is to be "soft-blocked" (autoblock disabled) to avoid affecting the operator. The operator should be encouraged to go through the bot approval process and the bot may only be unblocked once it is properly approved of and flagged.
    • If a bot is making malicious edits (such as vandalism), it is to be blocked like any other vandal account, and the bot operator is to be blocked as well, regardless of whether the bot was approved or not.
  2. Non-controversial changes, such as changes that would normally be flagged as a minor edit and would not be significant enough for an editor to check and review, can be made without any consensus. This includes typo fixing, fixing links to moved pages, fixing double redirects, fixing links to DAB pages, etc.
    • This includes any non-controversial things that need to be done after a consensus was established. For example, if a page was deleted after a deletion discussion, bots can remove links to the deleted page without any additional discussion, since a consensus was already established for the deletion of the page.
  3. More complicated changes, such as changing the instance of a word or a sentence on a large quantity of articles, changing the layout and style, changing templates, etc., require a discussion. Consensus should be established in the same way that we establish consensus now: on article talk pages and/or the community discussion forum.
    • For example, before we can change "the exact same" to "exactly the same" we need a community discussion to ensure the community approves of the change, since both are technically correct. Since "the exact same" is used on many, many articles, we need a community consensus before we can allow a bot to make hundreds, if not thousands, of edits to change this.
    • Bots found to be making controversial edits without prior consensus are to be blocked immediately.
  4. Bots must make it clear in their edit summaries that they are bots, not humans. You can do this by either adding "[[Help:Bot|Bot]]:" to the beginning of the edit summary, or a "(Bot)" at the end. (It doesn't matter how you do this, as long as the edit summary mentions that it is a bot edit)
  5. Bots cannot make more than one edit per second. (This is Wikia's general guideline for bots to avoid flooding the servers) Most bot programs have an edit throttle rate built into them.
  6. The bot's userpage and user talk page must make it clear that the account is a bot. The user talk page may redirect to the bot owner's talk page, but the userpage of the bot may not be a redirect. The bot's userpage should make it very clear:
    1. That the account is a bot and not a human;
    2. Who the bot operator(s) is/are and how to contact them;
    3. That the bot can and should be blocked immediately if it is malfunctioning (see below)
  7. Bots must have an "Emergency Shutoff Switch" on their userpage. This button should link to Special:Block with the bot's username pre-filled (e.g. Special:Block/K6ka leads to the block page with the username "K6ka" already in the username field). You can use {{Emergency bot shutoff}} on the bot's userpage, which automatically does this for you. The idea of this switch is to provide a quick and easy option to halt a bot that has malfunctioned. Bots must have a link to shut them off immediately; if a bot is found operating without an emergency kill switch, it will be forcefully added to the bot's userpage.
  8. If the bot operator(s) is/are blocked, even if just one of them gets blocked, the bot account must be blocked as well. (This does not work vice versa; if the bot account gets blocked, the operators should not be automatically blocked unless the bot was being used for malicious purposes)

As always, other users can leave bot requests on a bot operator's talk page, although controversial ones should have reached a consensus first, as always. A bot operator should not initiate a controversial task without consensus, even if someone else requested it.

Now for using AWB without a bot flag, without a bot account, and without bot intentions: the account using AWB must be on the checkpage, as usual, but the discussion is a lot less formal, working a lot like TSW:RFR and it largely comes down to an administrator to decide whether the user should be permitted to use AWB or not. If the user is approved, they are to be added to the AWB checkpage.

Users using AWB should keep in mind the following guidelines:

  1. Using AWB on their main account is not like having a bot account. Edits made are still shown on recent changes for others to see and review.
  2. Users running AWB on their main account may use it as a regular editing tool, and they can edit normally with it (since their edits are not concealed from recent changes). They may use it for typo fixing and copy-editing, or as a regular editing aid.
  3. Users must be mindful at all times that their edits are not hidden from recent changes and that they should be careful not to flood recent changes with their edits. Consider asking a bot operator for assistance with tasks that do flood recent changes.
  4. Misuse of AWB, such as for vandalism, will result in the removal of AWB privileges. In the case of an administrator, it may result in a warning, a block, or in extreme cases, removal of adminship.

Speaking of using AWB for typo-fixing, I think we should create our own AWB typo page and maintain it ourselves. AWB loads typos from the local wiki's AWB typo page (in this case, located at The Sims Wiki:AutoWikiBrowser/Typos); if one isn't found, it loads from the English Wikipedia's typo page. We can copy the list from Wikipedia and then remove entries that we think should be discussed before being added (such as the "the exact same vs. exactly the same" debacle)

A few more things:

  1. Users that get a bot account approved should have both their bot and main accounts on the AWB checkpage.
  2. Users that get their main account approved on the AWB checkpage do not get a bot flag on their bot account (should they have one) -- they must go through the regular bot approval process first.
  3. This policy does not affect or apply to bots run by Wikia. The Sims Wiki has no control over these bots.

This is a big change, but it will hopefully draw the line between bot and human, and make bots a bit more sophisticated on the wiki. Thoughts? --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 14:32, June 9, 2015 (UTC)


I have a few questions. First, wouldn't the point stating that "[b]ots must make it clear in their edit summaries that they are bots, not humans," be redundant? If the bot has already been approved and flagged (as the policy already states is required), then the bot notation automatically gets added to any edits made by the account in Recent Changes. Second, you mention at the top that admins don't need to be added to the check page, yet at the bottom you state that a bot's owner should be added to that page; if the bot owner is an administrator, should they be added or not? Additionally, what of access levels? If an administrator sets up a bot account and requests bot flags, will that bot also receive administrator rights? Or, will that administrator have to go through a separate process to acquire admin flags for their bot? Finally, are you planning on grandfathering in pre-existing bots and bot owners, or will they have to go through the bot request process as well? - LostInRiverview talkblogcontribs 15:32, June 9, 2015 (UTC)

  1. While the bots are flagged and hidden in recent changes, they are not in page histories. Thus, having this extra thing will help avoid confusion when people skim through page histories long after the edits have dropped off recent changes.
  2. Oh my, didn't notice that when writing this. No, they do not need to be added to the checkpage.
  3. Bots operated by administrators are automatically eligible for adminship, with no separate processes for it (this is the current system). If the administrator, for some reason, does not wish for this to happen, they are free to request their bot be sysopped at any time. If an administrator steps down or is demoted, the bot will also lose its sysop flag.
  4. Existing bots do not need to go through the approval process (and thus are automatically considered "approved") but they will still need to abide by the other terms of the policy.
--I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 16:47, June 9, 2015 (UTC)
That's weird. I'm sure I can remember K6ka using his own account to do bot edits before he got his own bot account, and had it bot flagged? -- C.Syde (talk | contribs) 05:43, June 10, 2015 (UTC)
Those would fall under the category of "using AWB on the main account". By then I actually did have a bot account, but it was flagged and operating on another wiki and not The Sims Wiki. It was LiR's suggestion to have it flagged. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 12:00, June 10, 2015 (UTC)
Oh, okay. -- C.Syde (talk | contribs) 20:41, June 10, 2015 (UTC)
I feel like there has to be more prerequisites before making a request for your Bot to be run on the wiki. But, I'm going to bite my tongue and wait for more users to comment before I give my response to this. ~ Beds (talk - blog) 20:54, June 10, 2015 (UTC)
What prerequisites are you talking about? -- C.Syde (talk | contribs) 20:58, June 10, 2015 (UTC)
Without knowing exactly what additional prerequisites Beds is talking about, I will say that I wouldn't mind a point being added stating something to the effect that the requesting user needs to have advanced editing experience. Simply achieving X number of edits isn't challenging and doesn't necessarily demonstrate skill. Showing that you know what you're doing and that you won't cause tons of problems once you let your bot loose on the wiki is important. - LostInRiverview talkblogcontribs 21:04, June 10, 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, having a high edit count doesn't equal skill. While I do have a reasonable amount of skill, my experience with AWB is very limited. But all my AWB edits so far have been done under my supervision. AWB may have fixed those typos in my AWB edits for me, but it was I who hit the publish button, and it was I who made the final decision as to what AWB edits would be saved and whatnot. I wouldn't move on to more advanced AWB stuff, until I felt that I'd mastered the basics.
But regardless of my current experience, whether or not I currently use a bot account on this wiki doesn't bother me. I wouldn't normally use a bot account on a wiki where it didn't have the bot flags, because then it would almost seem like I was using a sock-puppet account to do AWB edits, instead of using a genuine bot account, or something. -- C.Syde (talk | contribs) 05:37, June 11, 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Okay, so I tried to wait a couple of days and hoped that a few other users of the community would have participated, but I might as well give my honest opinion of this. I think it's good, you have written up a pretty good policy here, but the prerequisites are a little too soft. You should add something along the lines of "Knowledge in the AWB software" as a very high need, as in, if you just downloaded the software and automatically think you are ready for a Bot, then you aren't ready. The user must have at least six months use of AWB software, along with evidential proof that their Bot(s) have done constructive edits for their own wiki/another wiki/whatever under their belt. Another prerequisite should be that the user hasn't made any controversial edits on their own account for at least six months. By controversial, I mean edits that have caused issues for the wiki (whether small or large). I realise that I am coming across a little strong here, but I feel we need to have some strong prerequisites for this. ~ Beds (talk - blog) 22:22, June 12, 2015 (UTC)

I'm not sure if users would need to wait for at least six months, but they should definitely wait a considerable length of time before their bot requests are approved. -- C.Syde (talk | contribs) 22:27, June 12, 2015 (UTC)
The editing requirement should be lowered or removed altogether. The six month wait serves as a sufficient restriction. Ѧüя◎ґ (talk) 23:24, June 12, 2015 (UTC)
Speaking from personal experience, the six month experience with AWB requirement I think is too steep. Consider that before I created LiRBot, I never used AWB. Literally, everything that I learned to do with AWB software was learned on-the-fly and with that account. Were there hiccups? I'm sure there were; we can't expect perfection. Speaking again from my experience with using AWB, it's much more important that a user be familiar with editing in general than with editing in AWB. It helps to think of AWB as a piece of software that makes editing quicker; it does not make editing automatic. The bot only does what the operator tells it to do, as C.Syde alluded to. That is a good reason to have a steeper-than-usual expectation of experience on the part of the operator when it comes to general editing, but extensive prior history with AWB itself shouldn't be a prerequisite. I do, however, agree that the bot operator's own account should be free of recent blemishes, especially blemishes that demonstrate a lack of skill in editing.
@Auror, by "editing requirement," are you referring to the 500 edits on-wiki requirement in the initial policy, or Beds' experience proposal?
LostInRiverview talkblogcontribs 23:41, June 12, 2015 (UTC)
Oh my, let me be clear here... AWB isn't the only bot software out there. In fact it's the "underdog" of bot software. Pywikibot and Peachy are just some other bot programs out there that do far more than AWB. Restricting the policy to AWB is undesirable because it doesn't work with other bot software. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 00:04, June 13, 2015 (UTC)

Bump - A consensus is not yet present in favor of or opposed to the policy. - LostInRiverview talkblogcontribs 03:02, July 23, 2015 (UTC)

Personally I don't think we should have any requirements set in stone for requesting rights since I don't see edit count/time on wiki as equal to experience all the time. I would prefer something like guidelines of some sort, similar to the sort of stuff we have for requesting rollback. I'm fine with imposing the "no editing restrictions" rule. Additionally, perhaps it could be an idea for only rollbacks to request bots, which does two things for us: we've got a good idea they know what they're doing, and if they do mess something up, they'd be able to clean up after their bot. ђ talk 11:57, July 23, 2015 (UTC)
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