Your raise a valid point: It makes sense that focusing only on detected
cases may not be representative or indicative of how widespread the
Has anybody ever though about running a survey with a representative sample
of registered editors? Given the nature of the behavior I can imagine
response rates would still be affected by social desirability bias, but it
could at least be a starting point for a slightly less biased estimate....
Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia ∙
Computer Science and Engineering
<https://www.usf.edu/engineering/cse/> ∙ University
of South Florida <https://www.usf.edu/>News 🕫*New email address*:
*Hoaxy Botometer*: Check out our new tool:
On Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 10:12 PM Kerry Raymond <kerry.raymond(a)gmail.com>
The thing about sockpuppets is that we only know about
the ones that have
been detected (and some of them have been large groups of 100s of
accounts). The problem is that we don’t know about the undetected ones. I
am sure many of us have had suspicions about the behaviour of certain
accounts but to request a sockpuppet investigation requires a level of
evidence above suspicious behaviour (specifically identifying another
account). New users with sophisticated editing skills and writing on topics
associated with living individuals, businesses or products in a positive
way often seem to me to be the kind of account likely to be doing
undisclosed paid editing, and almost therefore certainly a sockpuppet of a
paid PR person, but if each account writes about a different topic, it is
difficult to work out what the other accounts might be to look for evidence
How far underwater does the iceberg go?
*From:* Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
*Sent:* Tuesday, 19 March 2019 11:37 AM
*To:* Research into Wikimedia content and communities <
*Cc:* Kerry Raymond <kerry.raymond(a)gmail.com>
*Subject:* Re: [Wiki-research-l] Sampling new editors in English Wikipedia
Does anybody know how prevalent are sockpuppets? Has anybody tried
estimating the percentage of editors that have created at least one
additional account? (Legitimate or otherwise.)
On Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 20:20 Stuart A. Yeates <syeates(a)gmail.com> wrote:
In addition to Kerry's excellent examples there are users editing
wikipedia though TOR, the anonymity and censorship circumvention
network. These users face extra scrutiny.
...let us be heard from red core to black sky
On Tue, 19 Mar 2019 at 13:04, Kerry Raymond <kerry.raymond(a)gmail.com>
Apart from the legitimate alternate accounts and the illegitimate
accounts, there are other ways that alternate accounts exist.
Occasional contributors often forget their username and/or password.
recovery isn't possible unless you provide an email address at
sign-up (it's optional, but you can add it later). So what such people
then do is just create a new user account (I'm not sure there is anything
else they can do). I see this sort of behaviour a lot at events. The other
variation of the problem is that they did provide an email address but it
is one not easily accessible to them at the event (i.e. a librarian who
signed up with a work email address that cannot be accessed outside of the
The other group of people with multiple accounts are those who edit
serial IPs. The same person can use a number of IP numbers
over time. Often you don't realise it is the same person unless you see a
lot of their work and can see a pattern in it. For example, at the moment,
there is a person with a series of IP accounts that is changing a common
section of a Queensland place article to be a subsection of another, who I
notice on my watchlist . This person appears to acquire a new IP address
every week or so, but the pattern of editing makes it obvious it's the same
person behind it. Whether or not an IP address can be considered "an
account" depends on your purposes. The one IP address can also be used by
multiple people (e.g. coming through a shared organisational network in a
library or school). It is claimed by some people that many new users do
their first edits anonymously, so if you are serious about studying "new
contributors", then maybe you have to look at anonymous editing. And also
even regular contributors may sometimes choose to edit anonymously, e.g.
being in an unsecure IT environment and reluctant to use their
username/password in that situation (particularly people with administrator
or other significant access rights).
Because I do outreach, I look for new accounts that turn up on my
send them welcome messages etc. Because I also do training, I
see a lot of genuinely new people in action where I can observe their
edits. So when I see new accounts or IPs doing far more "sophisticated"
edits than I see new users do, I tend to suspect they are not genuinely new
I think the best you can do is look for new accounts and be prepared to
that show signs of sophisticated editing (either in terms of they
are doing technically or what they say on Talk pages or in edit summaries).
For example, no genuine new user will mention a policy (they don't know
they exist). Also genuine new users don't tend to edit that quickly, so any
rapid fire series of successful edits is unlikely to be a genuine new
user. I think this inability to know if a new account represents a
genuinely new user is an inherent limitation for your research and should
be documented as such explaining the many circumstances in which new
accounts might belong to non-new users.
From: Wiki-research-l [mailto:
Behalf Of Pine W
Sent: Tuesday, 19 March 2019 5:27 AM
To: Research into Wikimedia content and communities <
Subject: Re: [Wiki-research-l] Sampling new
editors in English Wikipedia
Some users will state on user pages that an account is an alternate
However, this practice is not followed by everyone, and those who
do follow this practice aren't required to so in a uniform way.
Alternate accounts which are not labeled as such, and which are used for
illegitimate purposes such as double voting, are an ongoing problem. You
might be interested in the English Wikipedia page
Alternate accounts can also be used for legitimate purposes, such as
have one account for their professional or academic activities
and another account for their personal use.
Good luck with your project.
On Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 1:30 PM Haifeng Zhang <haifeng1(a)andrew.cmu.edu>
I'm building an agent-based simulation of Wikipedia collaboration.
I would like my model to be empirically grounded, so I need to collect
data for new editors.
Alternative accounts can be an issue, but I wonder is there a way to
identify editors who have multiple account?
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