[Wikimedia-l] A task list for a beginning project

MZMcBride z at mzmcbride.com
Wed Aug 1 01:10:48 UTC 2012

FT2 wrote:
> A bot that can be given a list of the important templates, or categories of
> templates, would be good for starting a new project. Once articles exist,
> at least some meaning comes through and it's more likely people will edit
> them.


People should be _extremely_ cautious when using bots to try to propagate
(new) wikis. Page-creation bots are a form of inorganic growth in a place (a
wiki) that demands organic growth.[1] Wikis must, by and large, evolve over
time naturally, otherwise the bots risk damaging the culture of the wiki or,
in rare cases, it's possible for these bots to kill the wiki entirely.[2]

This isn't to say that pulling in templates from other wikis can't be useful
(of course it can be [though remember to attribute your source!]), but if
mass page creation is done with a bot, it needs to be done with exceeding
caution and accompanied by a full assessment of the impact of these page
creations. The effects of these page creations is of course amplified on
smaller, more vulnerable wikis, though the caution to avoid mass page
creation largely applies equally to larger wikis as well. That is, 10,000
new and unused templates on a small Wikipedia that only has 400 articles is
terrible, but it's not as though the English Wikipedia or any other
established Wikipedia with millions of articles wants 10,000 unused
templates either.


[1] Wikis have been previously compared to children. "Creating a wiki is
like creating a baby, yes you should have a good reason to create one, but
if you don't for whatever reason, you should have an _extra_ good reason for
killing one," bawolff once infamously said. In this case, the inorganic
growth is analogous to cancer or anabolic steroid use.

[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/BOTOVERUSE#History has most of the
history, though I could swear a project or two has been "restarted" due to
bots over-running the site. Does anyone have a citation for that?

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