[Wikiquality-l] Demos of WikiTrust on some Wikipedias are up

Luca de Alfaro luca at dealfaro.org
Sat Oct 17 23:14:32 UTC 2009

Dear All,

we finally managed to put up some demos of WikiTrust on some Wikipedias, to
start gathering feedback.
WikiTrust (http://wikitrust.soe.ucsc.edu/) is an open-source tool that
computes, for every word of text:

   - Who is the author of the word
   - In which revision was the word introduced
   - How well the word (and the surrounding text) has been revised.

For the latter, we color in orange the background of untrusted text; the
shade of orange gradually turns to white for text of increasing trust

To see the demos, go to
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/11087and install for
Firefox the WikiTrust add-on.   You can then browse the
Italian (it.wikimedia.org) and Portuguese (pt.wikimedia.org) Wikipedias, and
we are working on adding other Wikipedias to the demo soon.

Some notes on the demo:

We developed the demo to help us test code suited to running at the
Wikimedia Foundation (WMF).  But the code does not run there now: the demo
is implemented by polling our servers at UC Santa Cruz to obtain the text
information.  This has a few consequences:

   - The demo is slow, as it involves a lot of back-and-forth between WMF
   and UCSC servers.  It would be much faster if it ran at the WMF directly.
   - As the code is not running at the WMF, our servers are not notified
   when someone edits a page.  Thus, when you request information on a
   revision, we occasionally tell you that we don't have the information, and
   to try again in ten seconds or so.  In the meantime, our server at UCSC
   fetches from WMF the revision, and analyzes it.  Again, this would not
   happen if WikiTrust was running more tightly integrated in the WMF.
   - Since we cannot authenticate users (the WMF, not us, is sent the
   authentication cookies), we had to turn off a button that enabled users to
   vote for the correctness of text (inspired by the work on flagged revisions:
   indeed, we could tie the flag to this vote action).

The purpose of the demo is to help us test the code and experiment, and
feedback is most welcome.  Please be tolerant: I am sure there are still
kinks, and we will do our best to iron them out.  You can find links to
mailing lists, bug-tracking systems, code, etc at

Some notes on text trust:

Text trust is computed on the basis of a reputation system for Wikipedia
users.   Users gain reputation when they make contributions that last in the
system.  Thus, new users must do some amount of good work before they gain
reputation.  The trust of the text then depends on the reputation of the
user who inserted the text, and on the reputation of all the users who
subsequently revised the text.  Text can become fully trusted only when it
has been revised by multiple high-reputation authors.  Thus, WikiTrust
highlights changes in articles, and makes it difficult for authors of
malicious changes to cover their tracks.

If you click on a word of text, you are sent to the revision where the word
was inserted.  We also can have pop-up balloons that announce the author of
each word, but we thought that this too-obvious proclamation of who the
author is could lead to silly competition for who last replaced or reworded
a sentence.
We also had the option of voting for the validity of a revision, thus
raising its trust, but since our code does not run at the Wikimedia
Foundation (WMF), we have no way of authenticating votes, and this feature
is thus currently inactive.


I hope you enjoy the demo, and I hope this can be a useful instrument for
those who patrol, maintain, and improve Wikipedia pages, as well as for
those who are just visitors.

All the best,

Luca, Bo, and Ian
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