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Should BAG members have an activity requirement?Edit

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of the RFC was to add Version D to Wikipedia:Bot Approvals Group.
Looking at the arguments, the main concerns of the opposition (i.e. the "option C" folks) felt that this was instruction creep, could have some sort of chilling effect on volunteers, and in general was a DONTFIXIT situation. Those who wanted some form of "inactivity requirement" (A, B, and D) felt that bot operators (similar to admins and perm-holding editors) should have some sort of idea of recent developments in order to effectively evaluate bot requests.
Taken as a "first past the post" question, no one proposal has a clear "victory". However, options C and D were the front-runners by a reasonable amount. Those who supported A or B often preferred D over C, giving D a slight numerical edge.
The final thing I considered was the opinions of the bot operators themselves (while their opinions don't necessarily hold more weight, I was curious). However, again, opinions were mostly mixed, following mostly along the general opinions already mentioned, and didn't really sway the conversation significantly in either direction.
In summary, the majority of editors felt that there needs to be some sort of activity requirement for BAG members, and the clear front-runner when choosing "which option" was D. Primefac (talk) 22:45, 16 December 2018 (UTC)

Following a prior discussion, I propose we institute an activity requirement for BAG members, much like Admins have. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 17:43, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Proposed wordingEdit

Version A
BAG members are expected to be active on Wikipedia to have their finger on the pulse of the community. After two years without any activity on bot-related pages (e.g. WP:BOTN, WP:BOTREQ, WP:BRFA, ...), BAG members will be retired from BAG following a one-week notice. Retired members can re-apply for BAG membership as normal if they wish to rejoin the BAG.
Version B
BAG members are expected to be active on Wikipedia to have their finger on the pulse of the community. After two years without any activity on the English Wikipedia, BAG members will be retired from BAG following a one-week notice. Retired members can re-apply for BAG membership as normal if they wish to rejoin the BAG.
Version C
Status quo: No activity requirement.
Version D
BAG members are expected to be active on Wikipedia to have their finger on the pulse of the community. After two years without any bot-related activity (such as posting on bot-related pages, posting on a bot's talk page, or operating a bot), BAG members will be retired from BAG following a one-week notice. Retired members can re-apply for BAG membership as normal if they wish to rejoin the BAG.

!VoteEdit

  • Version A Version D, I feel if you want to be a part of BAG, you have to do BAG stuff. Version B is a second choice though. I'll mention it was very common to remove BAG members for inactivity in the past, so there's precedent to do that.Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 17:43, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version A -(Version D close 2nd) - You shouldn't keep access to groups (much like userrights) that you aren't using and that access isn't being used if the editor isn't working on BAG pages. Nosebagbear (talk) 18:29, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version A - Sounds reasonable. If you want to be a part of BAG, you have to do BAG stuff. The MilHistBot removes MilHist members from the active list after one year. Looking at the BAG, it seems that it could use an extra bureaucrat or two. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 20:16, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    @Hawkeye7: as one, I don't think its that important to be a 'crat at BAG - we don't flag our own approvals and there has been no significant flagging backlog in a long time. Being an administrator is a big plus here, but the most important that we need at BAG is qualified people that will be active in keeping the requests processed. — xaosflux Talk 23:18, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    Version D is also fine with me. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 19:44, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version B. You can still follow bot stuff, just not actively participate. Besides, I don't think a post on some random BOTREQ page once every 2 years is any different. I mean, I agree you ought to do BAG stuff, but version A doesn't really provide any solid "participation" rules. —  HELLKNOWZ   ▎TALK 21:38, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    • Version D sounds more agreeable, but really only because this is being brought up as an issue. In the end, it's the same result as "posting on some random bot page every two years". —  HELLKNOWZ   ▎TALK 19:54, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version A per User:Headbomb and User:Nosebagbear. SemiHypercube 21:41, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    Version D is also fine by me. SemiHypercube 03:19, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C Per Mz7 below. I don't see any particular risk in someone keeping their BAG credentials, and especially not to the same level as admin tools. I see it as a net positive if an inactive member can come back from a break and contribute without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops. I think someone in BAG would have enough clue to see what's changed before diving into the deep end. I'd compromise to B as a second choice, but am very against A per Hellknowz above. Wugapodes [thɑk] [ˈkan.ˌʧɹɪbz] 00:21, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Weak Version B, and Version A as a second choice, basically per Hellknowz. I don't really see any harm to this proposal. Automated editing can occasionally be a contentious place here, and it's a good idea for BAG members to be relatively up-to-date on relevant community discussions. Enterprisey (talk!) 01:56, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I'm a fan of version B here. I think there is some risk, contrary to Mz7 and Wugapodes, as an out-of-touch member would be more-likely to approve bots which are inappropriate and disapprove bots which are appropriate. The former can be problematic to amend if the bot edits many pages (as is their general intent). I have a weak preference to see a tighter timeframe (1 year--same as admins) with a larger warning period prior (1 month, same as admins). --Izno (talk) 05:06, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C - For the life of me, I don't understand why we want to make it more and more difficult to do volunteer work on Wikipedia. Are we suffering from a spate of rouge (or clueless) bot approvers? No. This is just a solution in search of a problem, IMO. Kaldari (talk) 07:12, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C – Per my comments in the discussion section below, I'm not convinced any change is necessary here. We're all volunteers here, so we should be free to take breaks at any time for whatever duration. By successfully requesting BAG membership in the past, these editors have already proved their competence in this area. Unless there has been a radical change in the way we do things here in the last few years, I see it as a net positive for old BAGs to be able to resume their contributions immediately, without having to jump through the hoops a second time. (Consider how administrators desysopped for inactivity are not necessarily required to do RfA a second time, unless they've been gone for more than five years.) I realize the list at WP:BAG#Member list is getting kind of long and bloated. Consider instead putting something like {{collapse top}} over the list of inactive members, and if one decides to come back, maybe give them a quick update on new policies, etc., and just move their name back up. Mz7 (talk) 10:22, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
  • First choice Version A, second choice Version B. Would have the added benefit of encouraging more BAG members to participate (badly needed IMO) -FASTILY 06:39, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Version A [and D]. Activity on the English Wikipedia is enough; activity on "bot-related pages" is too vague and unreasonable to track. I'm also okay with no change. — Godsy (TALKCONT) 08:40, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
Actually that would be relatively easy to track with a bot. Did they edit a page in Category:Wikipedia bots or its subcategories in 2 years (or their talk pages)? And there's still a one week notice where they can say they're still interested in being part of the BAG. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 13:45, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Not C D>>A>B. I take the concerns over changes in policy, and would add that if someone wanted help with a bot, it wouldn't help to have large numbers of editors they may contact be inactive. Bots and bot policy can be fraught and it's helpful to have active users. Two years is quite generous, so this may not be a titanic change, but a very reasonable start. ~ Amory (utc) 19:09, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Weakish Version B - if enacted today this would change - 1 status, with possibly 2 next year. BAG members should be up to date on current practices. It is also not very hard to "join BAG" if you are qualified and interested so if someone was removed and came back and wanted to help it shouldn't be overly burdensome. — xaosflux Talk 15:23, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    • And an even weaker Version D, opposed to version C, effectively we've "retired" some people after years and years and years of inactivity before, might as well just codify it. — xaosflux Talk 21:36, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Not A. Somewhat prefer version C over version B but I see the merit to B. Maxim(talk) 16:40, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Still prefer version C. Maxim(talk) 20:21, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C only, as per Kaldari. Does my opinion not matter because I've been inactive from Wikipedia for too long? That's the implication. Yet I'm still just as qualified as I was when I wrote the bot policy 16 years ago. The logistical issues can be easily resolved by the simple changes that Mz7 suggested. More process creep won't benefit the project. -- RM 18:57, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    • @Ram-Man: The implication is not that your opinion does not matter, the implication is that a long term inactivity in the bot area could make you disconnected from the current norms and expectations... 2018 is a very different time than 2008. (And to a lesser extent, why remain part of the BAG if you aren't involved with it?) But just by virtue of having commented here (or any bot-policy proposals in the past two year), that is enough to be considered 'active' per version A and D (and B too). Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 19:05, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
      • This shows the flaw in A/B/D: activity doesn't make me more or less qualified. To ensure contributors know current norms and expectations, they should be clearly stated. Unlike A/B/D, this would directly address the issue and not add bureaucratic load. Linking contributors to those guidelines on their talk page is the more effective policy. -- RM 19:36, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version A. The bot policy changes over time, and if someone takes a prolonged absence from all bot-related work, they should face re-confirmation before returning to the area. ~ Rob13Talk 17:20, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    • Version D preferred. Obvious improvement. Comment above still applies. ~ Rob13Talk 23:18, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • None of the above - Version A doesn't account for the fact the not actively posting in bot related areas doesn't put you out of touch as long as you actively maintain a bot. I want to see an option where BAGgers either actively maintain bots, or are active on bot pages.—CYBERPOWER (Chat) 18:09, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    • Yeah I'd be fine with that. Maintaining a bot is being involved, but normally that would also usually mean using your bot's page to address issues and the like. I'll update the wording.Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 18:45, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
@Cyberpower678: - is there a minimal level of activity required to manage a bot, or do any of the simpler ones just run without any oversight action ever having to be made by its managers? Nosebagbear (talk) 19:44, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
There are some simple bots where we only find out they aren't being watched/maintained because they break and it turns out the operator hasn't been active for months if not years. There's no process to determine if operators are active. WP:BOTPOL does however say indirectly that that's not allowed. —  HELLKNOWZ   ▎TALK 19:57, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version D - As long as the user demonstrates knowledge of bots, then they can continue to serve as BAG, however, not going anywhere near bots only puts them out of touch with constantly changing community viewpoints on what they expect a bot should do. BAG must be the voice of community consensus, and not being familiar with it can cause issues.—CYBERPOWER (Chat) 15:43, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Note A version D has been added. Pinging @Amorymeltzer, BU Rob13, Cyberpower678, Enterprisey, Godsy, Hawkeye7, Hellknowz, Izno, Kaldari, Mz7, Nosebagbear, Ram-Man, Wugapodes, Xaosflux, Fastily, Maxim, and SemiHypercube: who participated to give them an option to update their !vote. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 18:55, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version D. --Tom (LT) (talk) 23:09, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version D. If a user continues to maintain her bot but is otherwise inactive (as per Cyberpower), she can demonstrate activity and meet the requirement by a simple comment on the bot talk page saying that the bot is actively maintained. feminist (talk) 02:26, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Meh: the bar for Version D is low enough that it doesn't take much to meet it. (E.g., ignoring my other contributions, I've arguably met it just by operating EarwigBot, even though the bot is stable enough that it hasn't required any substantial changes or attention in years. Does "operating" need to refer to an active involvement rather than a passive one? How would this be determined uncontroversially?) I think Version A is a reasonable low bar for a BAG member, and two years is a long time, so if this encourages someone to edit a few BRFAs in a couple years who wouldn't otherwise, I suppose that's a net positive. That said, I don't disagree with Kaldari's argument either, so I'm fine with Version C as well. — Earwig talk 19:34, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C anything that means I don't have to be aware of the problems that are happening in the bot related dramahs of Wikipedia. Don't really care about anything else, as this is quite literally the part of Wikipedia I care least about and every time I see it on some public board I get annoyed: sort it out amongst yourselves how you want to deal with this, don't bother the rest of the community. If you do, my vote will always be to stick with the status quo because nothing is ever actually broken with bot policy. TonyBallioni (talk) 20:50, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version A -> Version D IMO. Demonstrated knowledge of the bot policy is important. SQLQuery me! 09:44, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support D, A, or (weakly) C, in descending order of preference. D is more inclusive. I agree with the overall rationales for this, and we should apply something like this to all special "bits", like page-mover, file-mover, template-editor, etc., since the constraints on the use of these tools shift over time (not always in ways that are codified in detail in policy and guideline bureaucratese).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  11:22, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C. Because there's no clearly defined problem that the other versions are trying to solve. –Ammarpad (talk) 08:33, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C per comments by Ram-Man, addshore, etc. All people who I would trust to review bots as BAG members despite their apparent inactivity. Also, it's very exciting to see relatively inactive bot folks come back for this discussion, so maybe we need to have it more often ;-) Legoktm (talk) 00:49, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  • C >> A > D >> B Basically, a solution in search of a problem. There is no security risk associated with BAG membership, so being part of the BAG means having (1) a clue about how bots work and (2) a clue about the applicable policies. (1) does not really expire with time (methinks), so the only concern is (2). The risk of a former BAG member greenlighting a shaky BRFA based on a change in policies and luring a gullible bureaucrat into activating a rogue bot seems too low to me to justify the WP:CREEP. This being said, if we decide in favor of the creep, then it should focus on familiarity with bot guidelines, so standard editing does not cut it; merely operating a bot does not necessarily demonstrate familiarity with all bot guidelines, either. TigraanClick here to contact me 17:02, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  • A > D > B (in that preference order, I do not support option C) BAG members need to show that they are abreast of current community expectations and simply running an uncontroversial bot does not demonstrate this very well, but that is better than any activity on wp which is significantly better than no activity requirements at all. Note that this is only for members of BAG, not for all bot operators. Thryduulf (talk) 18:25, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  • C. This is a clear cut example of WP:AINTBROKE/WP:SLFP. No change needed. ProgrammingGeek talktome 13:37, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Version C. Useless as there is no problem to solve. jni (delete)...just not interested 06:09, 3 December 2018 (UTC)
  • Not Version C if you're not involved, there's no reason to hold a position - it is NOT about how qualified you are, it's about how useful you are and anyone who is elected by the community is elected for particular reasons, the main being, getting the job done. --QEDK () 17:16, 15 December 2018 (UTC)

DiscussionEdit

  • Why 2 years? I always feel that these things (access, userrights etc) depreciate too slowly - particularly reasonably significant ones. Why not 1 year or 18 months? Nosebagbear (talk) 18:31, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
  • It's an irony there is not always enough staff to deprecate the staff on a timely basis. -- GreenC 20:26, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    • This exactly. Ironically, the comment by Fastily is why former members, like myself, are not interested in participating, even though it is badly needed. Options A and B both increase the amount of process overhead. This is not an attractive proposition. Threatening to remove membership will not encourage more BAG members to participate. Losing adminship due to inactivity just made me give up on Wikipedia administration completely. -- RM 17:08, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • That's ridiculous. If you don't use it, then you don't need it. Believe it or not, BAG membership isn't a collectible trophy -FASTILY 06:59, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • No one said it was a trophy. That comment, and the proposed policy change, does not assume good faith. Rather, make the current norms and expectations clear and solve the only-in-theory problem. -- RM 13:27, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • With sysop and other advanced permissions, there's a security risk involved with keeping them on dormant accounts (increases attack surface and all), and that's a big reason why we remove those permissions for inactivity. However, with BAG, there doesn't seem to be such a risk – if a BAG account is compromised, maybe it might approve a BRFA that isn't well-thought-out? If an old BAG member comes back from inactivity, it strikes me as a net benefit for them to be able to resume their contributions immediately, rather than requiring them to sign all the paperwork a second time. Maybe we could remove them from the list, but if they come back, we can just add them back without needing a second request to join BAG. Mz7 (talk) 21:18, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    I think I would support a trivial re-application; maybe something like (from BAG member to applicant): "Have you reviewed the changes to the bot policy since your absence began? Do you understand those changes? If you do not, what do you not understand and why?" Or something similar. That would satisfy my standard for "has an understanding of the current bot feeling". --Izno (talk) 05:09, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
    Izno, the trivial re-application thing sounds like a good alternative to the proposals above. Mz7 (talk) 10:24, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
    Maybe some language like "BAG members who are inactive for X length are "censured", meaning they cannot approve BOT tasks. They may remove this censure by answering in public the <insert questions I posed above> on the bots noticeboard. The thread must be available for 48 hours for community comment.", rather than the above proposals. --Izno (talk) 14:52, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
    If this proposal is accepted, I suggest using something like "suspended" instead of "censured", which doesn't seem apt. Given that I don't think an inquisitorial process is envisioned to determine if someone is current with policies and guidelines, but a self-proclaimed assurance, I feel this approach is more suitable than removing membership and requesting re-application. isaacl (talk) 18:33, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    Yeah, "censure" is what popped into my head. "Suspended" works as well. --Izno (talk) 03:21, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    @Izno and Mz7: not sure how many you follow (and they are relatively rare), but RFBAG is a fairly simple process already, nothing like RFA. — xaosflux Talk 00:55, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux: I looked into the requirements after. It requires a good bit more than my suggested process, even if there isn't the drama of an RFA. I envision a process which is a lot closer to the re-admin after inactivity process. I don't think they need to go through the 7-day, advertise everywhere rigmarole. --Izno (talk) 01:23, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
    Given that everything that was covered in the first request would likely still hold true, the only thing new is the candidate saying, yes, I am up-to-date on latest policies and guidelines. It feels like overkill to remove membership and go through the whole request process again just to have this statement made. isaacl (talk) 23:00, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • As a purely editorial comment, if either proposal gains acceptance, I suggest the first sentence be reworded to avoid an idiomatic phrase, and have something like BAG members are expected to be active on Wikipedia to be aware of the latest policies and guidelines. isaacl (talk) 23:02, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
    I agree and/or would like to see the admin inactivity language here (I am not sure if that is contra your suggestion). --Izno (talk) 05:09, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
  • @Headbomb: Question: How many Wikipedia policies have actually changed substantially in the past 2 years? Kaldari (talk) 07:18, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
    • @Kaldari:, a great deal of them actually. The biggest change was the update of WP:COSMETICBOT, but there's been updates about adminbots and other technical stuff like new bot-related userrights. But there's been subtler changes about current practices/bot trials too. It's nothing extremely hard to relearn, and the subtler things are not likely to cause huge issues because they are pretty rare, but someone that isn't active on Wikipedia/in bots will be out of step with community expectations, or won't be able to give the most relevant advice. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 13:02, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
      Wikipedia:Bots/News/201704, Wikipedia:Bots/News/201707, Wikipedia:Bots/News/201803, Wikipedia:Bots/News/201808 detail the major changes over the last 18 months or so. There's a couple of minor things that changed since the last bot newsletter too. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 13:08, 15 November 2018 (UTC)

Let's PING all current BAG members on this. Don't know why I didn't do it from the start:

Current:@Anomie, BU Rob13, Cyberpower678, Headbomb, HighInBC, MBisanz, MusikAnimal, Slakr, SQL, The Earwig, Xaosflux, Addshore, Hellknowz, Jarry1250, Kingpin13, MaxSem, Maxim, Aaron Schulz, Brandon, Carnildo, Chris G, Cobi, Coren, Daniel, Gimmetrow, Jake Wartenberg, JamesR, Josh Parris, Madman, Mets501, Mr.Z-man, OverlordQ, Quadell, Reedy, Snowolf, ST47, Tawker, Tim1357, Tinucherian, and Werdna:
Former:@AllyUnion, Andrevan, Δ, Bluemoose, Dreamafter, EdoDodo, Essjay, Fran Rogers, Freakofnurture, Fritzpoll, Giggy, Harej, Hersfold, Joshbuddy, Kingboyk, Lightdarkness, Maelgwn, Magioladitis, Martinp23, Pgk, Ral315, Ram-Man, Richard0612, Robchurch, Talrias, TheFearow, X!, and Xeno:

Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 16:38, 16 November 2018 (UTC)

Thanks for pinging me but it's not clear I can participate in the discussion due to restrictions posed against me by Arbitration Committe. -- Magioladitis (talk) 18:08, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
For my part, I don't comment too much anymore but I still watch everything. Including giving all new BRFAs a look-over for obvious denials or "this needs WP:VPR". Anomie 18:43, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I don't see a huge downside to allowing for indefinite BAG membership, as there isn't really a security concern. As long as you're including policy changes in the bots newsletter, no one should be left in the dark. If they do miss them, that is their problem. Being active every day doesn't mean you'll take in the policy changes, either. Policy changes happen frequently across the wiki, no one can keep up. Meanwhile WP:BAG indicates who's (semi-)inactive, so you know who to approach with inquiries if needed. That said I don't really oppose a BAG activity requirement, I just think it's a little silly =p After all, we don't require that admin actions be made when desysopping due to inactivity (though I think we should), and that actually has a security concern. Anyway, speaking for myself -- I've been mostly inactive as a BAG member, but I'm still around watching things, and I do hope to get back into actual reviewing soon :) MusikAnimal talk 21:30, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I echo MusikAnimal. I may not be active in much of the reviewing process any more, or even as active on enwiki as I used to be, but I am always watching and can be approached. ·addshore· talk to me! 10:50, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I agree with MusikAnimal and User:Addshore above. -- Cobi(t|c|b) 00:16, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • FWIW, if I was going to cast a !vote above I would be swaying between C or D, based off the fact that I agree with what Hellknowz said and as well a Mz7/MusikAnimal's comments. - Kingpin13 (talk) 19:00, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I probably haven't touched BAG stuff probably since earlier this year, but I've also been largely inactive in general due to work issues and a constant buzz of depression. If someone really wants to kick me off, stop me from being able to help when backlogs arise, and make me go through some process just to start helping again—despite my spurts of inactivity literally never being a problem in the past—I say that's silly and it actively discourages someone perfectly capable of helping from doing so. Maybe I'm just crazy. --slakrtalk / 01:21, 1 December 2018 (UTC)
  • I am with MusikAnimal on that. Recall that any participation and involvment is purely in volunteer basis. PS I am allowed to participate in this discussion see Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Clarification and Amendment. -- Magioladitis (talk) 08:39, 1 December 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Humans editing with bot accountsEdit

I misunderstood the situation. Nyttend (talk) 21:47, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Bot accounts should not be used for contributions that do not fall within the scope of the bot's designated tasks. In particular, bot operators should not use a bot account to respond to messages related to the bot.

Now that one must have the interface editor permission to edit .js, .css, etc. pages, an operator can't edit such a page in a bot's userspace without using the bot account. Would it be appropriate to add a footnote <ref>The bot account may always be used for appropriate purposes when technically necessary, e.g. editing script pages in its userspace when the operator does not have the "interface editor" permission.</ref> I don't know if this is something that would be deemed a problem; no point in causing rule creep if there's no problem currently (e.g. it's already appropriate to use the bot to edit its scripting), but if an acceptable thing is technically a rules violation, we ought to tweak the rules. Of course, this assumes that there's a reason for a bot account to have such scripts; I don't use any of them, except one or two that someone else wrote to affect the appearance of my account's skin. Nyttend (talk) 21:31, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

I don't think this is necessary, especially given the rather small number of bots (probably approaching zero) that would even need js or CSS tweaks. –xenotalk 21:39, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
Okay, thank you. Nyttend (talk) 21:47, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Notification of BAG nominationEdit

I am just writing this to inform WP:Bot policy that I have requested to join the Bot Approvals Group (BAG). I invite your thoughts on the nomination subpage, which is located here. Thank you for your time. --TheSandDoctor Talk 05:42, 14 January 2019 (UTC)

Minor update to WP:BOTISSUEEdit

I've added 'Alternatively, a targeted edit filter rule may be requested if only part of the bot's edits are problematic.' to the major issue section, as an alternative to stop buttons or blocks. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:44, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

@Headbomb: (BRD'd that) - Well sure anything could be "requested" but how is this a "policy" issue? Even from a "practice" issue - if someone is causing disruption and refuses to stop, block away. — xaosflux Talk 21:54, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Agreed. The last thing we need is to have an extra edit filter just because a bot is half-helpful. If it should be blocked, it should be blocked. There's no shortage of folks at AN, ANI, etc. That being said, something similar could perhaps be relevant at WP:MEATBOT, as the edit filter may be helpful dealing with bot-like editing by multiple/changing IP addresses. See for example Wikipedia:Bots/Noticeboard/Archive_12#Possible_bot_editing_from_German_IP. ~ Amory (utc) 22:04, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Well that very much depends on the bot. Most bots have single tasks/purposes, so if it's malfunctioning, you're not throwing any baby away with the bathwater when you're blocking. But say you've got User:InternetArchiveBot that is fucking up archival on one specific domain. Then you could have a InternetArchiveBot + domain filter to selectively block the bot while the issue is being worked out. Likewise for say some WP:AWB-based bot where there's an issue with a specific subrule or specific section of the AWB codebase. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 22:05, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
There can be a hazard filtering software bugs. The bug is masked so there is no urgency to fix the code. It also gives control over bot behavior to someone besides the bot writer, another form of hazard. The hazards have comparisons with geoengineering and network neutrality, respectively. It might have occasional and special application, policy though? -- GreenC 23:08, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Well it would be in the 'how to' section, which is mostly about giving editors and admins options on how to deal with issues. Blocking is still an option, but it might not the most desirable of options. It's like an equivalent to kill switch for a specific task, when a kill switch for the task isn't provided. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 23:37, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
This is strongly related to the discussion at User talk:Citation bot#'User-activated'. I don't think it's acceptable to subject the entire pedia to another edit filter to enable a single bot to continue functioning. That's not how this policy works. --Izno (talk) 00:53, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
It is, but it's a workable solution while the bug is being fixed. The goal is damage prevention, and that's one of the options available, which is much less drastic than a block, which doesn't block the 99% good to tackle the 1% bad. "to subject the entire pedia to another edit filter" is gross exaggeration, only the bot is subject to the filter. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 00:58, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
@Headbomb: the 'workable solution' would be for the operator (who is responsible for every single edit) to make an adjustment. — xaosflux Talk 01:57, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
Well yes, but that adjustment can sometimes take a few days/weeks depending on real life work, server access, the deployer not being the same person as the person who coded the fix, or just development time in general. Let's take my own User:Bibcode bot. Let's say it works fine today, but down the road something happens (like a URL change somewhere) which makes the bot screw up the addition of DOIs in 20% of its edits, but never screws up the addition of arxiv and bibcode links. Everyone can agree a fix in the code is the long term solution, but why should the bot be blocked for 100% of its edit when we can specifically target the problematic 20%? Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 02:05, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
If you are screwing things up and can't stop - your bot is literally "out of control" and needs to be shut down - if you can't do that it should be done for you until you can find a better way to take responsibility for your edits. Any edits you want your bot to make can wait: There is no deadline. — xaosflux Talk 02:08, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
Or, you can put the edit filters in, and have the 20% of the edits that are problematic wait, while the 80% that's fine get done. There might be no deadline, but there's no reason to purposefully delay improvements when they can be made. It certainly would have been useful during the WP 1.0 bot issue a while back. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 02:14, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
I think that was a text book example of an out of control bot. Not only was the operator completely unresponsive - but it wasn't even clear who the operator was! Nobody was taking responsibility for their edits, and personally I find that completely unacceptable. — xaosflux Talk 02:32, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
But again, using an edit filter would have let the good, non-problematic part of the bot serve the community while the other issues were worked out. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 02:43, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
Return to the project page "Bot policy".