Population automation: An interview with Wikipedia bot pioneer Ram-Man

Randall M. Livingstone

Abstract


Software robots (“bots”) play a major role across the Internet today, including on Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia. Bots complete over 20 percent of all edits to the project, yet often their work goes unnoticed by other users. Their initial integration onto Wikipedia was not uncontested and highlighted the opposing philosophies of “inclusionists” and “deletionists” who influenced the early years of the project. This paper presents an in-depth interview with Wikipedia user Ram-Man, an early bot operator on the site and creator or the rambot, the first mass-editing bot. Topics discussed include the social and technical climate of early Wikipedia, the creation of bot policies and bureaucracy, and the legacy of rambot and Ram-Man’s work.


Keywords


Wikipedia; wikis; bots; online community

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i1.6027



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