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Wikipedia:History of Wikipedia bots

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This is a (rather incomplete) history of Wikipedia bots that have contributed substantial amounts of encyclopedic material in an automated fashion.

English Wikipedia[edit]

Federal Standard 1037C[edit]

Several hundred articles from Federal Standard 1037C, a glossary of telecommunications terms, were imported in February 2002. The articles were pre-filtered to remove short entries and entries that were from non-public-domain sources. They were then auto-wikified. Only articles with titles that did not already exist on Wikipedia were imported.

Easton's Bible Dictionary[edit]

In August–October 2001, and again in August 2002, contributors imported quite a few entries from the 100-year-old Easton's Bible Dictionary (EBD). IP 216.99.203.xxx operated by Amillar uploaded the EDB text of 125 articles, starting with Abner. IP, operated by Neil Harris, created 130 articles on 7 August 2002, starting with Ænon. IP created 52 articles on 7 August 2002.

These imports caused some discussion because entries were biased, written in a pedantic Victorian prose, out of date, and some were incorrectly wikified (self links or multiple links). The issues were worked out with the bot's creator on the Wikipedia mailing list (see [1] and search for Easton's) and various talk pages, and new contributor guidelines were also revised accordingly. See Wikipedia:Easton's Dictionary topics for the ongoing project, and this list of articles which were not imported.

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica[edit]

The same bot that uploaded the Easton Bible Dictionary material was later used to upload the first major wave of selected articles from Project Gutenberg's copy of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica volume 1.[when?]

IP started uploading on 18 August 2002, starting with Hippolytus.

BC decades[edit]

Because the decade entries are highly structured, a bot was used to load templates for many of them.

Small towns[edit]

(October 18, 2002October 26, 2002): rambot, operated by Ram-Man, created approximately 30,000 U.S. city articles based on U.S. Census tables, at a rate of thousands of articles per day.[2] One error in the data set being used caused a corruption of around 2,000 new articles. Another incident caused the Recent Changes to become more difficult to use for a time and prompted much discussion and the creation of a Wikipedia bot policy.[1]

The anomebot was written in 2003 for the purpose of uploading approximately 5,000 map images to illustrate the U.S. counties articles.

Disambiguation page links[edit]

Rob Hooft's bot was developed on the Dutch Wikipedia in Summer 2003. Although other applications were developed first (year templates), its main use became doing interlanguage links, first at the Dutch Wikipedia, later also in other languages (Danish from August, French from November and many other languages as well). In early October, it was first used on the English Wikipedia, using username Robbot and helping in resolving links to disambiguation pages.


In 2008, a bot (ClueBot II) created thousands of tiny articles about asteroids using NASA data.[2][3] A large percentage of these have subsequently been deleted as non-notable and redirected to a table.[4]

Other language Wikipedias[edit]

Small town bots[edit]

Concurrently with the Rambot, some 800 stub articles on Dutch (500) and Swedish (300) municipalities were created by a bot owned by Jeronimo. These appear under IP 131.155.230.xxx.

On the Italian Wikipedia, city articles have been uploaded by Gacbot. This bot has started been used in 2004 and it was used to upload municipalities of Italy, Poland, Botswana, United States, Germany, Finland, Portugal and partially France; the municipalities of France have been edited in a semi-automatic way by User:Gac and uploaded by User:Gac and User:Paginazero.[5]

The municipalities of China have been uploaded on Wikidata; data is accessible on several Wikipedias by searching for 郭坑镇 or it can be accessed through Reasonator.


In 2013, user:Lsjbot had created about 454,000 articles on Swedish Wikipedia (about half of the project), using data collected from different sources.[3] The bot first wrote articles about species of animals and plants. It has also been used on Cebuano Wikipedia (ceb:Gumagamit:Lsjbot), Dutch Wikipedia (nl:Gebruiker:Lsjbot), and Waray Wikipedia (war:Gumaramit:Lsjbot).

Qbugbot, run by user Edibobb, has created a large number of insect-related articles.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Clément, Maxime; Guitton, Matthieu J. (2015). "Interacting with bots online: Users' reactions to actions of automated programs in Wikipedia". Computers in Human Behavior. 50: 66–75. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.078.
  • Clément, Maxime (2015). Collaboration et automatisation dans le transfert deconnaissances: Perception des agents logiciels parles contributeurs de Wikipédia (PDF) (M.Sc. thesis) (in French). Québec, Canada: Université Laval.

The above two are a truly fascinating read if you're into bot history and social norms related to bots on Wikipedia. They mostly cover 2009–2014ish. The thesis is in French, but the appendix also contains a free copy of the English summary/prior research published in Computers in Human Behavior.

  • Stuart Geiger, R. (2018). "The Lives of Bots". In Lovink, Geert; Tkacz, Nathaniel (eds.). Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader. INC Reader. Vol. 7. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures. arXiv:1810.09590. ISBN 978-90-78146-13-1.


  1. ^ Andrew Lih, The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia, Hyperion, 2009, p. -; Sabine Niederer and José van Dijck, Wisdom of the Crowd or Technicity of Content? Wikipedia as a sociotechnical system, New Media & Society March 1, 2014 16: 290-305.
  2. ^ Nasaw, Daniel (25 July 2012). "Meet the 'bots' that edit Wikipedia". BBC News Magazine. In 2008, another bot created thousands of tiny articles about asteroids, pulling a few items of data for each one from an online Nasa database.
  3. ^ Hern, Alex (5 August 2014). "Wikipedia: meet the man who has edited 3m articles". theguardian.com. In 2008—almost prehistory, by Wikipedia bot standards – an algorithm called ClueBot II 'wrote' 15,000 articles on asteroids, by parsing and rewriting public data from NASA's database. Those articles sat there, being edited by other bots—one changed the tags, another linked to the Japanese version, a third corrected a style guide issue—until an actual human realised that having 'an out of date, broken, copy of the NASA website' wasn't the best way to run an encyclopaedia. In 2012, the creation was finally undone, and today, all of Cluebot's work lives in one 'list of minor planets'.
  4. ^ Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Astronomical objects/Archive 19
  5. ^ Gac, 11/03/2014.