On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 10:20 AM, Joseph Reagle <reagle(a)mit.edu> wrote:
Given all the bots, both in terms of vandals and in
repulsing them, I am not sure the following question even makes sense: but how can we
characterize the ratio of productive to unproductive contribution/edits on the English
Wikipedia? Has this changed over time? I do have figures from the literature on
percentages (and their deltas) for administrator activity, policy edits, time to revert
vandalism, etc. The only data point I can find is a single one: the "Bush article had
28,000 revisions, one-third were reverts and, conceivably, another third vandalism"
(Spinellis, Louridas 2008).
It doesn't answer your question that I can see, but there is
There's a few factors making this complicated:
* simple vandalism/revert interactions define the vast majority of
reverts (rather than disputes over content, etc); so is the "revert"
itself productive or unproductive? People who do RC patrol certainly
think they are doing productive work, but nothing is added to an
article, so there's nothing to measure in any conventional sense.
* as time and technology progresses, bots and [[Special:AbuseFilter]]
are doing far more of the simple reversion work that used to be done
by hand pre-2006 or so; so a measurement based on bot edits won't give
you any sort of accurate ratio over time. But it could give you an
idea of the current state of affairs.
* more philosophically: how much intellectual content has to be added
to make an edit productive? Is a bot that just makes minor
wiki-formatting changes doing productive work?
* Low-edit-history, long-tail articles are problematic, as Michael
says; 'acceptance' is more like benign neglect for these articles.
Indeed, (again anecdotally) the majority of articles created just
languish over the long-term; you might have years between someone
placing a cleanup notice and someone else doing anything about it.
Should these cleanup edits, if they remove text and start over, be
counted as very slow reverts? (see the 2006-era articles in any
category in [[Category:Wikipedia backlog]] for some hint of this