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A man is shaking hands with a bot
A physical robot

A bot (a common nickname for software robot) is an automated or semi-automated tool that carries out repetitive and mundane tasks to maintain the 41,178,702 pages of the English Wikipedia. Bots are able to make edits very rapidly and can disrupt Wikipedia if they are incorrectly designed or operated. For these reasons, a bot policy has been developed.

There are currently 2,039 bot tasks approved for use on the English Wikipedia; however, not all approved tasks involve actively carrying out edits. Bots will leave messages on user talk pages if the action that the bot has carried out is of interest to that editor. Some bots can be excluded from leaving these messages by using the {{bots}} tags. There are 159 exclusion-compliant bots, which are listed in this category. There are 312 bots flagged with the "bot" flag right now. There is also a range of tools that allow semi-automated editing of large numbers of articles.


Bots have been used in the past to create large numbers of articles that were uploaded to Wikipedia within a short timeframe. Some technical problems were experienced and this led to the formulation of a bot policy.

Bot policy

Wikipedia policy requires that bots be harmless and useful, have approval, use separate user accounts, and be operated responsibly.

Bot Approvals Group

The Bot Approvals Group (BAG) supervises and approves all bot-related activity from a technical and quality-control perspective on behalf of the English Wikipedia community. On the English Wikipedia, the right to flag a bot is limited to bureaucrats.

Running an automated bot on a separate account requires approval, which may be requested at Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval.

How to create a bot

Some programming experience is needed to create a bot and knowledge of regular expressions is useful for many editing tasks.

The Chicken Scheme, Common Lisp, Haskell, Java, Microsoft .NET, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby programming languages all have libraries available for creating bots. Pywikipedia (Python Wikipediabot Framework) is a collection of tools developed specifically for creating bots.

How to hide a specific robot from your watchlist

There is no way of hiding specific bots through user preferences or default watchlist settings. However, it is possible with a user script by following these simple steps.

Main steps
  1. Go to your Special:MyPage/common.js page, and add importScript('User:UncleDouggie/smart watchlist.js'); (diff)
  2. Remember to bypass your browser's cache.
  3. Go to your watchlist. There should be a box with several options. Tick the 'Enable hide user buttons' box. This will let you hide specific bots (and users) from your watchlist.
    Note: You might want to untick the 'Enable hide user buttons' box after you ignore a bot to ensure that you don't accidentally click 'hide user' when browsing your watchlist.
Optional steps
  1. If you find this box annoying, go to your Special:MyPage/common.css page and add #SmartWatchlistOptions {display:none ! important;} (diff)
  2. Remember to bypass your browser's cache.
  3. If you want to show the box again, for example to reset your ignore list, go to your Special:MyPage/common.css page and remove #SmartWatchlistOptions {display:none ! important;} and remember to bypass your browser's cache. Redoing optional steps #1 and #2 will hide the box again.

While you are completely free to ignore any bots (or users) you want, it's a good idea to only ignore bots with well-defined tasks, which you trust to not make any mistakes.


Some examples of bots are:

See also

Wikipedia space