On Wed, 15 Dec 2004 10:44:37 -0500, Fennec Foxen <fennec(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On Wed, 15 Dec 2004 20:43:35 +1100, Rebecca
Ram-Man's proposal wasn't unreasonable,
and due to the number of
people it needed to reach (i.e. far more than the usual 100 people that
vote on most polls), it wasn't necessarily a bad idea to choose talk
pages over a post on the Village Pump or equivalent.
Indeed, but we must consider what messages should be designated
"reasonable", and the community must be involved in making this
decision, not just the bot.
I say let this one pass, but subject any further
mass messaging to a
similar rigorous examination.
How about further mass-messaging be approved
*beforehand* rather than
ex post facto? This is the crux of the matter: not that "mass
messaging is evil" or "mass messaging via bots is evil" or "bots are
evil" or "mass messaging about licensing is evil" or anything like
that. It's just that *any operation of a bot needs to be approved
beforehand*. A reminder from Wikipedia:Bots --
Before running a bot, you must get approval on Wikipedia talk:Bots.
State there precisely what the bot will do. Get a rough consensus on
the talk page that it is a good idea. Wait a week to see if there are
any objections ... <snip>
1. Sysops should block bots, without hesitation, if they are
unapproved, ***doing something the operator didn't say they would
do***, messing up articles or editing too rapidly.
At no point in time did Ram-Man say on Wikipedia_talk:Bots that he
would be using the bot to send solicit thousands of users via their
talk pages. Wikipedia:Bots just says that Rambot "scans and modifys
all existing county and city articles to implement miscellaneous
changes and updates. As time permits, the bot also functions as a
generic SpellBot with human interaction." A note on the talk page from
Nov 8 also indicates that Rambot will resume its *normal* operation,
citing "requests for changes that are months and months overdue". He
linked to Rambot's user page at that time, where there was no mention
of a mass messaging project:
This is clearly not something Ram-Man said the bot would do.
In this case, perhaps the consensus to run the bot would have been
achieved, allowing the bot to operate, but in general I do not think
that the "implicit consent" measure employed by Ram-Man ("I already
have explicit and implicit permission from hundreds of users to
perform this action") based upon nonnegative replies to his
solicitation should be considered a valid measure of community
consensus in these matters. Indeed, Ram-Man states "After all, I have
a track record of not asking for permission" and complains of the lack
of attention to the WIkipedia_talk:Bots page, using these as excuses
not to file for permission.
I think that this is already deemed unacceptable by standing bot policy.
WikiEN-l mailing list
While it is a bit rich to claim retro-active consensus for the bot, I
for one wouldn't be pushed about making a big deal out of this
specific abuse of a bot (I mean, it admittedly doesn't look like the
guidelines have been followed).
Perhaps others too agree.
Once again, I re-iterate that I consider that this doesn't need to set
any kind of precedent. If there is a "next time", simply visit it
again as we are doing now, and hey, if it's a different issue where
everyone is baying for blood, take serious action. There's no specific
reason not to treat things on a case by case basis. And it's not
"unfair", because if the "next time" is worse, then it deserves to be
There's no call to make a big fuss over this bot messaging out of fear
of future (more serious/widespread?) abuses.
Well. That's all my two eurocent anyways. I may be out of touch with
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