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Bots noticeboard

This is a message board for coordinating and discussing bot-related issues on Wikipedia (also including other programs interacting with the MediaWiki software). Although this page is frequented mainly by bot owners, any user is welcome to leave a message or join the discussion here.

If you want to report an issue or bug with a specific bot, follow the steps outlined in WP:BOTISSUE first. This not the place for requests for bot approvals or requesting that tasks be done by a bot. General questions about the MediaWiki software (such as the use of templates, etc.) should be asked at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical).

Breaking change for Wikidata descriptions[edit]

I don't know if anyone here will be affected by this, but there will be changes to Wikidata's database. If you know what this means, then this will affect you:

If you directly query the Labs database replicas for anything, then you need to update your code. The Wikidata development team will drop the wb_terms table from the database in favor of a new optimized schema on May 29th.

A new test system will be available on May 15th. You can read more on the mailing list. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 03:05, 27 April 2019 (UTC)

Manually updating database reports[edit]

I have a question, because I'm a bit at a loss. I've recently been trying to create database reports that can help with wikignome tasks. Since I have absolutely no idea how to use toolforge for cron jobs, I've created the tasks as python code hosted on PAWS that I manually run each time to update the report. Below are the 3 tasks I've filed so far, and the result

So, what is the view of BAG in general about manually triggered database reports? I don't want it to be where the task is either speedy approved or denied based on who reviews it first. Thanks, --DannyS712 (talk) 05:01, 28 April 2019 (UTC)

I denied Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/DannyS712 bot 32 because we came to the conclusion (mutually, I believe), that automation was needed, and moreover a lack of prior discussion about creating this report. You did not tell me about your other database report bots. I have reservations about those as well. No other report appears to be ran ad-hoc other than yours. As I said in the BRFA, I'm unaware of any strict rules, but I think we'd much prefer full automation for the official-looking WP:Database reports, which are meant to be reliably updated on a regular basis. If you were to go on a holiday to a tropical island, I doubt you'd want to be bothered with manually updating database reports :) Meanwhile consumers of these reports are quietly waiting your return. This is why we have bots.
I don't know how PAWS works but if you can make it set up a cron for those tasks, then that solves this issue. You have the Python code, so you're almost there... If you want I can give a quick run through of the steps you may need to get your bots on Toolforge. This would include some external learning resources. In the end, I think you'd be doing yourself a favour by letting your bots run independently of your sleep/holiday/real-life schedule :) MusikAnimal talk 05:36, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
@MusikAnimal: I've looked at toolforge, but I don't have the time to learn command-line syntax, etc. right now. Unfortunately, the conclusion was not mutual - I was agreeing that having it run automatically would be nice, but given that I am active almost every day I don't mind clicking a few buttons every few days to update the report. I agree that, in the end, I would be doing myself a favour, but in the middle (for now) I'd prefer a manual task over nothing. As for the official-looking database reports page, I note that many only run weekly, and 5 run even less frequently (4 of them only run once per month). Looking at the talk page, it seems that their isn't an official structure, but rather that it serves as a collection of individually maintained and updated (by bot) pages. --DannyS712 (talk) 05:43, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
Right, but those slower intervals are because they don't need to be updated more often, or that the queries they use take a long time to finish, etc. I see now there is at least one other editor who apparently is not using automation. So it would seem there is a larger discussion in store, one where I might possibly be in the minority.
Overall, let me make it clear there are no inherent rules being broken, as far as I can tell. I did deny your BRFA under the false assumption that you were in agreeance. For that, I apologize. But I do think the notion of manual WP:Database reports needs broader discussion. Maybe MZMcBride has an opinion?

As for your bot tasks, DannyS712: If you could (a) put your code on GitHub (public repo), (b) give me access to your Toolforge tool account, then (c) I can probably take care of the rest, showing you everything I did.

Above all else, it's much preferred to seek support for a new database report at Wikipedia talk:Database reports (though I admit the orphan/links report is surely useful for someone other than just yourself :)

Thanks for starting this discussion, as it is clearly needed. I was unaware others had approved non-automatic WP:Database reports. MusikAnimal talk 06:09, 28 April 2019 (UTC)

@MusikAnimal: I'll try to figure out how to do step b, and once I do I'll let you know. Thanks for the offer to help! However, no that I've cleared up the miscommunication with task 32, would you be willing to reconsider your decision? --DannyS712 (talk) 06:16, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
@DannyS712: Well, for starters, I still haven't seen anyone show support for it... That's probably easy to get. But at any rate you have most things scratched off of the Toolforge list. I don't see an urgency to write to WP:Database reports when we can do this the proper way, and with a proper BRFA to go with it. The bot userspace is always an option too, at least in the meantime! :) MusikAnimal talk 06:31, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
@MusikAnimal: I first posted 2 weeks ago at Wikipedia talk:Database reports#New reports, and since then there has been some support and no opposition. Until I figure out toolforge (thanks for the help with that) can you take a look and reconsider? --DannyS712 (talk) 18:18, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
  • @DannyS712: so as far as these go, once you publish something to WP:DBR - what ends up happening is other people rely on it, and rely on it being current. This is not along the lines of normal edits or bot tasks where we say that noone should even count on a future edit. Is it "right" - not sure, but it is what it is. You certainly should feel free to make all the reports you want, unless they are going to be "popular" and regularly maintained - putting them in your bot's userspace and just linking to a userspace index under the "Other reports" section on DBR may be best. For such reports, unless you are going to be updating them at some very high volume, you don't need BRFA's either. Is that guidance helpful? — xaosflux Talk 16:08, 28 April 2019 (UTC)
    Yes. I think I'll take MA up on their offer to help with toolforge - once its update automatically, it'll stay current. --DannyS712 (talk) 19:04, 28 April 2019 (UTC)

DannyS712, I wrote this for Kadane maybe it is of use. Any help let me know. --- GreenC 16:33, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

Permanent link, in case the page gets archived. eπi (talk | contribs) 05:00, 5 May 2019 (UTC)

In my experience, nobody really cares how a database report is being updated. For what it's worth, when I initially wrote these reports, I used this account ("MZMcBride") and there wasn't automation. I'm also not sure it needs to matter to a volunteer if users rely on a particular report. It's unreasonable to expect that a database report author needs to maintain the report, particularly when database report users will very often want the report updated indefinitely. That's a very long commitment! --MZMcBride (talk) 05:08, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave... –xenotalk 18:26, 13 May 2019 (UTC)

Bot unblocks[edit]

Hi there, we currently have two blocked bots with pending unblock requests. To a lay admin, it's unclear whether these bots can be unblocked outright at this point, or if we should get the nod from BAG first, or at least from a bot-experienced admin. Can someone who is more qualified handle these?

Thanks in advance, ~Swarm~ {sting} 19:21, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

Often for blocks of bots any admin can feel free to unblock when they believe the original problem won't reoccur when the block is lifted, see Wikipedia:Blocking policy#Blocks in temporary circumstances (second bullet). This can be as simple as the operator stating that they've disabled the offending code. On the other hand, if it was blocked as an unapproved bot there's usually no reason to unblock until BAG approves a trial as there's usually nothing the bot account is allowed to do that is prevented by the block.

BTW, if the operator is an admin, that may even implicitly allow the operator to do it themselves. Exactly how clear it has to be before that applies is arguable, safest is to only do so if the blocking admin explicitly said something like "feel free to unblock when that's fixed". Anomie 21:06, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

As far as Citation bot goes, it appears the block was for making inappropriate edits (that would have been inappropriate if made by a human editor as well) - assuming this is the situation, it needs to be resolved first. It appears there is still active discussion occurring about that point? — xaosflux Talk 22:08, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
You are incorrect, the complaint was that a very few links to copywrite infringling citeceerx references were added. That is long since fixed. The second complaint is that the bot does edits on its own without a human being getting credit. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 22:13, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
It is a minor complaint that doesn't cause any harm to the encyclopedia, but it is an annoyance. IMO that shouldn't be enough to maintain the block, but I'm pretty involved in the discussion, so I'm not keen to give the thumbs up myself. Someone else could though. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 23:53, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
@AManWithNoPlan: can you elaborate? That bot is operated by Smith609, who is responsible for any edit made under that account. Is there a complaint that it is making edits outside of its approval, or that the approval needs to be revisted? — xaosflux Talk 00:20, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
People are able to request that the bot edit a specific page, but the bot does not force users to reveal their identities. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 00:27, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
OK? Is there a specific BRFA task # where you expect this to be occuring? Tt looks like it is using an ancient (in wiki time) passed-on BRFA (Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/DOI bot) - which doesn't seem to require that. As long as Smith609 is taking responsibility for the edits, this doesn't seem to be a specific violation of anything, is there more to this? — xaosflux Talk 00:41, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

The bot has been approved many different times as features were added. Always approved to run as a pure bot. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 02:42, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

@AManWithNoPlan: OK - so can you point to what task you think is malfunctioning? — xaosflux Talk 03:26, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
I take it that part of the contention is that some people want a feature request added - @Headbomb: I think you are one of the requesters of this? I'm not seeing how this is a showstopper. If Smith609 is allowing his bot to make "bad edits" then, sure it should be stopped (and putting a name of who they made the bad edit on behalf of isn't really fixing that core problem is it?). Smith609 could work on fixing that lots of ways, including by only allowing certain users to trigger the bot. Are there some examples of bad edits that the bot is making for reference here? — xaosflux Talk 03:49, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
@Xaosflux: I am indeed one of those that requested that. The reasons mostly being that when it was adding CiteSeerX links, this would have been useful to WP:TROUT users that didn't review the bot's edits. This would still be useful for trouting people that don't review the bot's edits, or to help users that try to use the bot, but there is no outstanding/egregiously problematic behaviour in terms of actual edits (at least as far as I can tell). Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 03:56, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
I have several concerns about this bot relative to BOTPOL. First that its operator of record appears to be an absentee landlord: before the bot was blocked they had not edited any page related to the bot for several months (and ditto before that). There was a recent, contentious, RfC about the bot's behaviour in which they were pinged multiple times, but did not participate at all (despite editing elsewhere on the project). I have several times asked them (on their talk page and on the bot's talk page) to confirm whether they are in fact still the bot's operator, and to address WP:BOTACC, second para, and WP:BOTCOMM. There has been no response, beyond removing the question with the edit summary Archive aggressive comments. During the RFC the bot's proponents argued that since the bot was user activated it was not the bot that was responsible for the problematic edits (but it didn't identify the user activating the bot). Once the bot was blocked for, among other things, not identifying the activating user, the bot's operator suddenly chimed in claiming it was, in fact, the operator that was responsible for the edits (see also this thread at WT:BOTPOL). The net result seems to be that nobody takes responsibility for the edits.
Second that this bot relies on a 11 year old BRFA for a task to "Adds DOIs to citations provided using {{cite journal}}". But the bot has changed extensively in the decade since that BRFA and its maintainers now appear to operate on the assumption that it has de facto approval to do "anything at all that is related to citations" with no need for a new BRFA (in the above RFC they were asked several times for the BRFA that authorized mass-removal of valid citation template parameters, with the only response a suggestion that it was "grandfathered in" due to the bot's age, and besides, the bot's maintainers didn't think anyone ought to use those parameters in any case, nevermind CITEVAR). There are several concerns surrounding responsiveness to the community and only making uncontroversial edits. I think the bot's various tasks need to be analysed (documented), and which ones have actual authorisation sorted. Existing BRFAs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (last one in 2011).
As for the two direct reasons the bot was blocked… As I understand it the addition of the problematic links has been stopped and this reason for the block resolved. In fairness it should also be noted that just how problematic these links are (or are not) and how our various policies applies to that issue is not clear cut, and the bot's de facto maintainer has taken steps to get that question resolved through community discussion at Wikipedia talk:Copyrights#CiteSeerX copyrights and linking with no real conclusion (ie. the community has failed to provide the necessary guidance).
The second reason is the issue of not attributing edits to the user responsible for them, which has not been resolved. The bot now has some mitigating functionality that, when I looked at it, at least included a form field to voluntarily provide a user name that the bot would then insert into the edit summary (see I've not paid close enough attention to tell whether this is the sum of the changes made to address this issue (I would hope the operator would answer that question). Usually this might have been "good enough" for practical purposes, but given the problems outlined above, the bot's mode of operation, and the potential for abuse (for example, during the RFC there were—alleged, not substantiated—claims that there was a dramatic uptick in removing the citation parameters in question, in an apparent effort to get them removed before the community could prohibit that behaviour: i.e. anonymous mass edit-warring using the bot), my conclusion is that in order to actually meet the requirement for attributing edits to the user making them, the bot must implement some form of actual authentication. It doesn't absolutely have to be OAuth, but it needs to be something that achieves the same effect. It should probably also not allow blocked or non-logged-in users to use the bot. But to be absolutely clear: I am here talking about potential for abuse, not any actual ongoing abuse (the bot is currently blocked, after all), and the requirements of BOTPOL.
PS. Apologies for the wall of text. I know some people dislike that, but if I could have written this shorter I would have. --Xover (talk) 14:29, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
some times it takes a lot of text. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 14:39, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for pointing out that the general community responce to my attempts at various times to start discussions has resulted in less than the sound of crickets. The whole citeceerx issue was never really resolved other than the bot stopping the addition since it is not a high value feature anyway. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 14:48, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
"There has been no response, beyond removing the question with the edit summary Archive aggressive comments". Sure, if you ignore the response, and the patently obvious evidence that Smith609 operates the bot. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 15:35, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
Easy to miss a response when it's ten days later. Fewer such assumptions might not go amiss. ——SerialNumber54129 15:40, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
You appear to be confused. They have indeed edited, sporadically, in the interrim. As I wrote above. However the first diff you provide (which message was one of the ones included in the diff I provided) is a response to the blocking admin, not to my query, and addressed a completely unrelated issue. My query was a reply to that message and they have not provided any kind of response to that, much less actually addressed the query. The third party presuming to answer for the bot's operator (your second diff, message also included in my original diff) may well find the answer blindingly obvious, but I am not posessed of such powers of mind reading. By pure happenstance I am perfectly capable of interpreting various logs at Github, but that does not seem a reasonable requirement for resolving a question addressed to a bot's operator. Their ability to periodically click the one button it takes to merge a pull request on Github is also completely orthogonal to the question asked: do they, in fact, consider themselves the bot's operator—with the attendant responsibilities set out in BOTPOL—and can they address WP:BOTACC, second para, and WP:BOTCOMM. I do not feel that this is an unreasonable question to pose to a bot operator, and by implication of your argument it should not be a hard one to answer. And yet I have now literally waited months without an answer (the irony...). --Xover (talk) 16:34, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
Citation bot (talk · contribs) is operated by Smith609 (talk · contribs), as it made evidently clear by the prominent {{bot}} template featured on its user page, as required per WP:BOTACCOUNT. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 17:14, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
That's a start. Let's get it to adhere to the rest of BOTPOL shall we. ——SerialNumber54129 17:35, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
What parts of BOTPOL do you feel the bot isn't adhering to? Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 17:37, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
All the more remarkable then, that after I have asked three times, over three months, they have still not managed to affirm this, much less respond to the rest of my question. In fact, you may feel free to consider the repetiton here the fourth time, in the fourth month, that I have asked the question. --Xover (talk) 18:01, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
That you refuse to hear the answer to your question is your problem. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 20:22, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
You may want to take a look in the mirror when it comes to refusing to get the point. --Xover (talk) 06:14, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
I could be wrong about this but my understanding was that user-initiated tools are not subject to bot policy. This came up when a well-known user-initiated tool by a well known and respected bot op was causing problems, and the operator was not responding to fix requests. A BAG member told me that it was outside the responsibility of the BAG group, they could not block it. Since this is similar to what happened with Citation bot, I'm thinking I was given bad information. Are Tools that edit Wikipedia (on behalf of a user and triggered through a web interface) subject to bot policy? -- GreenC 20:52, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
For tools like WP:TWINKLE or WP:AWB, the answer is usually no, unless there are WP:MEATBOT concerns. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 21:05, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
I mean tools like Citation bot and others like it, of which there are many, where the user initiates through a web interface and the bot edits on their behalf and the user (not the bot operator) is responsible for the edit -- this being the key difference from classic bots. -- GreenC 23:05, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

I am going to throw this out there. The bot is approved to edit any pages it wants to (as long as it does not have a no robots tag). In fact historically it did this and even did certain categories without being asked. So, the fact that we prioritize pages a human wants us to look at is a reduction in our authorized activities. I realize this is a highly technical interpretation of the rules, but some people want to follow the letter of the law, here you go. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 13:52, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

A quick reminder that I (like most people involved) actually have a day job, family, other volunteering, etc. Please everyone remember this during discussions, etc.. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 02:23, 4 May 2019 (UTC)

Inactive bots - May 2019[edit]

Per the bot policy activity requirements, the following bots will be deauthorized and deflagged in one week. These bots have not made an edit in 2 or more years, nor have their operator made an edit in 2 or more years.

BOT_user_name BOT_last_edit Oper_username Oper_lastedit Notes
User:StatisticianBot 20161104065821 User:Dvandersluis 20161019
User:DYKReviewBot 20161030205038 User:Intelligentsium 20161030
User:DefconBot 20160902053125 User:A930913 20160403
User:Mr.Z-bot 20160830220939 User:Mr.Z-man 20160821
User:BracketBot 20160719215737 User:A930913 20160403
User:DrTrigonBot 20150617013726 User:DrTrigon 20160626
User:DixonDBot 20130329214425 User:DixonD 20170204
User:MGA73bot 20130202213645 User:MGA73 20160925
User:Lucia Bot 20121116225341 User:Beria 20170501
User:Ryan Vesey Bot 20120928012455 User:Ryan Vesey 20170308

Should an operator wish to maintain their bot's status, please place "keep" and your signature in the notes column above for your bot. Deauthorized bots will need to file a new BRFA should they wish to become reactivated in the future. Thank you, — xaosflux Talk 03:27, 14 May 2019 (UTC)

Required user talk notices left. — xaosflux Talk 03:33, 14 May 2019 (UTC)