User:Xenon54/On automated tools

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

(Disclaimer: I mean no offense to those who create and maintain these tools. I am not criticizing the tools, I am criticizing how they are used.)

Twinkle. Huggle. Igloo. Popups. WikiGuard...the list goes on.

Most seasoned users of this website have been reverted by one of these at least once. They're automated tools, designed to make vandalism reversion as easy as pressing a link and possibly filling in a text box. Simple, right? On the surface, certainly, these tools look to be Wikipedia's saviors -- a way to fight back the ever-growing tidal wave of vandalism.

Take a look at everything that is supposed to make our lives simpler: telephones, automobiles, firearms, computers. What do they have in common? Without knowledge, preparation and, yes, a little bit of common sense, all of those objects have the potential to cause damage if they are misused.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You already know this, and you're wondering why you're wasting your time with this essay. Keep reading...

An automated tool is admittedly no firearm, but the potential for misuse and damage, whether it is accidental or deliberate, is readily apparent. Two examples of misuse I see quite often:

  1. The inexperienced user. He wants so desperately to help Wikipedia that he often hits the revert button too fast, without fully ascertaining whether the edit should actually be reverted. Time and again this user is forced to sheepishly apologize for his actions, but he never changes his mentality and continues to make the same mistakes. (The mentality that all new users need to practice vandalism fighting is poisonous, but that is a topic for a later essay.)
  2. The edit warrior. He uses automated tools to effectively break the three-revert-rule in the heat of edit war.

All right, I'm a man of few words and I'll cut to the chase: how should these problem users be eliminated? Admittedly, it's not the easiest situation to resolve. For the new user, obviously one cannot change another person's mind. You cannot tell another person to slow down and accept any type of reasonable response, let alone a change. Perhaps a (small) limit of length of time is necessary in order to ensure a user has some experience before going into the forest of recent changes. As for the edit warrior, a system by which access can be revoked. I'm no programmer, so I don't know how feasible such a system would be.

I have used Twinkle only sparingly (very sparingly) in the last few years. I don't see a need to use automated tools given my current editing patterns. But for those who believe they are necessary, they must concede that common sense has to be used. The tools have the potential to either tremendously benefit or complicate Wikipedia. It's up to the users to decide.