#toofew FemHack: #toofew FemWikiBot

#toofew FemHack: #toofew FemWikiBot

The experiment:

Considering the vast majority of Wikipedia’s editing is performed by its wikibots, let's collaboratively create a speculative #toofew FemWikiBot that could, theoretically, continue forward into the future the work we begin here today.

Join me March 15, 2013 on the #toofew FemWikiBot GoogleDoc, @stargould, #femwikibot or at Duke’s #toofew edit-a-thon FHI event to think through the thought experiment of #toofew FemWikiBot.

The final product will be posted here.

 

 

The result:

After the #toofew afternoon of editing the collaborative #toofew FemWikiBot GoogleDoc, with 100+ viewers and a handful of editors, we produced, as any good experiment does, more questions than answers. A selection of our notes is posted here.


The Wikibot

1. What is a wikibot?

  • According to Wikipedia, “A bot (derived from 'robot') is an automated or semi-automated tool that carries out repetitive and mundane tasks to maintain the 4,185,821 articles of the English Wikipedia.”
  • The wikibots have Wikibots Wikipages and a Wikibots Wikipages Directory
  • Some even have their own wikipage (and a curious anthropocentric sort of subjectivity). Cydebot writes “I am written using the pyWikipediaBot framework. Most of my work centers on moving and deleting categories and updating listified pages of categories. I am an admin bot, so don't make me get all SkyNet on you. I currently have around 2,900,000 edits!"
  • There are, perhaps unsurprisingly, Semi-bots. This begs the question, Is a Semi-bot only half a bot?

2. What are a wikibot’s duties?

  • Bots verify content by trolling existing content
    • Is this the main reason why ‘original content’ is not approved for wiki articles?
  • According to Wikipedia, “There are currently 1,681 bot tasks approved for use on the English Wikipedia; however, they are not all actively carrying out edits. Bots will leave messages on user talk pages if the action 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. Exclusion-compliant bots are listed at Category:Wikipedia bots which are exclusion compliant. There are exactly 736 bots flagged with the "bot" flag right now. There is also a range of tools that allow for semi-automated editing of large numbers of articles.”
  • Bots edit (both content and organization)
    • “Just like a human editor, a Wikipedia bot reads Wikipedia pages, and makes changes where it thinks changes need to be made..." (wiki)
  • Bots feed content into wiki from external sources
    • Q: Who chooses these?
      • A: Bots are created by a botauthor - and it seems anyone can be a botauthor - and then the botauthor submits the bot to the Bot Approvals Group aka BAG. The BAG then approves or rejects the bot.
      • Are there #toofew fem(ale)(inist) botauthors?
      • Are there #toofew content-feeding bots that collect information from nonbiased, pro-fem sources?
        • Note: It seems sometimes using only pre-published material, even from a 'reputable' source, can be highly problematic: "In October 2001 and again in August 2002, contributors imported quite a few entries from the 100 year-old Easton's Bible Dictionary. These imports caused some discussion because entries were biased, written in a pedantic Victorian prose..." Seems anything written during this time - and before AND after - could easily be anti-fem biased. #toofew has a job to do!
      • Could we create a bot to feed articles from a feminist journal or resource?
      • How does this bode for a future based on wiki-knowledge?
  • Bots carry out anti-vandalism actions
  • Bots also datamine
    • What would Femwikibot data mine?
    • What would  Femwikibot do with the mined data?
  • What happens when a bot goes rogue? A wiki version of a flash-crash? (The Next Rogue Algo)
  • What would happen if we wrote a bot to scrape identifying information from all bots thus making them indistinguishable from ‘real’ editors?
  • What would happen if bots became socially aware?

Interesting Note to Note: Different languages are apparently more or less ‘picky’ about the type and quality of articles accepted (by ‘real’ editors and/or by bots). Quoting “The otherwise very reluctant/skeptic/picky Swedish Wikipedia community has gladly accepted these well-written articles....” (via)

 

  • So does this mean that a more progressive language has a more progressive Wikipedia?
  • Are certain wikipedias less female-friendly?
  • Note Added: The above mentioned Swedish Lsjbot is primarily used for “the articles on all the world's living creatures. […] Completed projects are to create articles for all the world's bird species and all the world's fungi. A goal in the long run is to robotic create items for the one million species that lacks articles, and it is not realistic to expect that any man creates for the foreseeable future. The creation is now underway, and is expected to take about a year.” (about Lsjbot) So, it’s for an indexing of species.
  • And for the language of less than 9 Millions speakers, using a bot to expand Swedish wikipedia contents which unlikely to be controversial is very much practicable.
  • In terms of being progressive, it is interesting whether or not there’ll be a gender-neuter bot on the swedish site when the feminists here really pushing for the gender-neuter pronouns which has already been used in a small circle of cultural magazines, novels and children literatures.

The ontological question(s):

If a body is what a body does, Is a wikibot what a wikibot does?

3. What are a wikibot’s goals?

4. Does a wikibot desire?

5. Do the wikibots have biases? personalities? teleological ontologies? All code has the biases of its creator, no?

6. What/How are wikibots?

7. What is wikibot-being? = unpaid non-stop robotic laborer...

  • If bots became socially aware, we might need to pay more attention to this one...



What would a FemWikiBot be?

FemWikiBot

1. Would FemWikiBot be gendered or neuter? Would FemWikiBot gender swap like (this bot extension, Jailbreak the Patriarchy, does), or gender neutralize (like this, Jailbreak the Binary one) or de-gender wikipages?

  • We, at Duke #toofew think pronoun equality would be best - so neither extreme (Jailbreak the Patriarchy nor Jailbreak the Binary above
  • To insert trans language is a political claim and injecting the politic can be an empty gesture and/or political intervention on a site (Wikipedia) devoted to unbiased knowledge.

2. What are FemWikiBot’s goals?

  • gender parity, no unnecessary politic or overly transgendered agenda
  • Another idea: to make pages about our pronoun use or to link to an existing page about pronoun use to call attention to it as an issue
    • but is sticking with the status quo denying future progressivity? Should we adopt gender neutral pronouns?

3. What/How would FemWikiBot datamine?

4. Which wikibot actions/duties would FemWikiBot perform?



5. Would FemWikiBot be a cyberfeminist?

 

Re/Sources

 


asg