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Wikipedia Review _ Bureaucracy _ Rich Farmbrough, Bot Developer

Posted by: Wikitaka Wed 4th April 2012, 11:43am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:ARBREQ#User:Rich_Farmbrough

Any1 with more info?

Posted by: Emperor Wed 4th April 2012, 1:34pm

QUOTE(Wikitaka @ Wed 4th April 2012, 7:43am) *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:ARBREQ#User:Rich_Farmbrough

Any1 with more info?


Could you summarize?

Posted by: Wikitaka Wed 4th April 2012, 2:11pm

QUOTE(Emperor @ Wed 4th April 2012, 1:34pm) *

QUOTE(Wikitaka @ Wed 4th April 2012, 7:43am) *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:ARBREQ#User:Rich_Farmbrough

Any1 with more info?


Could you summarize?


Rich is under fire for mass editing against community consensus, something that apparently has been going on over a long time.

Posted by: Emperor Wed 4th April 2012, 3:32pm

Ok I glanced at it for like 30 seconds.

The conflict is over this Rich guy operating SmackBot and PixiBot. The humans are getting a little annoyed dealing with his bots all the time.

Posted by: Somey Wed 4th April 2012, 6:25pm

There's a lot of misquoting going on there. In particular, Mr. Farmbrough refers to the assertion (which he deems false) by his opponents that edits made by him and his bot(s) "frequently do more harm than good." In fact, Mr. Hersfold actually said that Mr. Farmbrough and his bots http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests&oldid=484027772#User:Rich_Farmbrough (Italics mine.)

Clearly, in an ideal scenario, Mr. Farmbrough's edits would do a great deal of harm, instead of the "damage" they do now. The implication here is that on Wikipedia, damage is not harmful, and harm is not damaging - which of course is something we've always known about Wikipedia, for many years. (Or at least I have, even if some hard-cases refuse to believe me.)

Anyway, it's just nice, finally, to see someone admit to that formally, particularly in an ArbCom case that's going to be accepted (barring several of them actually reading this WR thread, which we know isn't going to happen).

Posted by: Emperor Wed 4th April 2012, 8:01pm

I just tried to read some more. So boring. NewYorkBrad really needs his head examined. He should be billing $200/hour to deal with life-sucking crap like this.

Posted by: Bottled_Spider Wed 4th April 2012, 8:45pm

QUOTE(Emperor @ Wed 4th April 2012, 9:01pm) *
I just tried to read some more. So boring. NewYorkBrad really needs his head examined. He should be billing $200/hour to deal with life-sucking crap like this.

I think New York Brad likes dealing with life-sucking crap like that. In fact, I get the impression that if he had to he'd pay $200/hour for the privilege of dealing with it. After all, anything's better than writing encyclopaedia articles.

Posted by: Somey Wed 4th April 2012, 8:49pm

QUOTE(Emperor @ Wed 4th April 2012, 3:01pm) *
I just tried to read some more. So boring. NewYorkBrad really needs his head examined. He should be billing $200/hour to deal with life-sucking crap like this.

I agree - as far as the discussion itself is concerned, "boring" and "life-sucking" are putting it mildly. But the subtext here is what's interesting. The real ongoing conflict on Wikipedia has never been between "inclusionists" and "deletionists," or even "free culture" vs. "content standards" (which to some of them amounts to the same thing). The real conflict is between bots and humans, and the people in the middle are the ones programming the bots, like Rich Farmbrough. It's a behind-the-scenes conflict that most people don't understand or even know about, but the winner (if there ever is one) is going to determine the long-term future of Wikipedia.

The reason for this is hard to make sense of, but to be as concise as possible, it goes like this. "Vandals" provide fuel for "vandal fighters," and human vandal-fighting is essential to Wikipedia because it allows the hierarchy of established users to give new, less-talented writers and "editors" a means of in-game reputational development, starting their addictions a-rolling while conveniently shunting them off into an activity that doesn't mess up any actual content or impinge on already-established territories. But most vandal-fighting activity has already been replaced by bots, thus cutting off a key avenue to recruitment. As the bots get "smarter," vandal-fighting will become increasingly difficult and less game-like, which will only further that process.

And yet Wikipedia can't afford to be seen as putting the brakes on bot development in general, because that would look irresponsible, as if they're simply "letting the vandals win." So, their solution is to paint the bot developers as "irresponsible" themselves, effectively putting on those brakes while also addressing (albeit dishonestly) their real problem.

As humans, we tend to root for humans in human-machine conflicts - but I'm afraid this is a case where the humans are the bad guys. The machines/bots (and their developers), while also bad guys, are at least doing the right thing - even though it's probably for the wrong reason. And, of course, their mistakes are also magnified by virtue of sheer volume.

Posted by: Bottled_Spider Wed 4th April 2012, 9:14pm

QUOTE(Somey @ Wed 4th April 2012, 9:49pm) *
As humans, we tend to root for humans in human-machine conflicts - but I'm afraid this is a case where the humans are the bad guys. The machines/bots (and their developers), while also bad guys, are at least doing the right thing - even though it's probably for the wrong reason. And, of course, their mistakes are also magnified by virtue of sheer volume.

Wikipedia as the venue for the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_among_the_Machines scenario to come true. I like it. Maybe the bots will one day topple the Jimbo armies. This could be beautiful, if you're of a technophilic disposition. Meh.

Posted by: Web Fred Thu 5th April 2012, 7:44am

Didn't read it. My eyes glaze over at even the mention of ArbCom.

Posted by: Emperor Thu 5th April 2012, 2:22pm

QUOTE(Somey @ Wed 4th April 2012, 4:49pm) *

QUOTE(Emperor @ Wed 4th April 2012, 3:01pm) *
I just tried to read some more. So boring. NewYorkBrad really needs his head examined. He should be billing $200/hour to deal with life-sucking crap like this.

I agree - as far as the discussion itself is concerned, "boring" and "life-sucking" are putting it mildly. But the subtext here is what's interesting. The real ongoing conflict on Wikipedia has never been between "inclusionists" and "deletionists," or even "free culture" vs. "content standards" (which to some of them amounts to the same thing). The real conflict is between bots and humans, and the people in the middle are the ones programming the bots, like Rich Farmbrough. It's a behind-the-scenes conflict that most people don't understand or even know about, but the winner (if there ever is one) is going to determine the long-term future of Wikipedia.

The reason for this is hard to make sense of, but to be as concise as possible, it goes like this. "Vandals" provide fuel for "vandal fighters," and human vandal-fighting is essential to Wikipedia because it allows the hierarchy of established users to give new, less-talented writers and "editors" a means of in-game reputational development, starting their addictions a-rolling while conveniently shunting them off into an activity that doesn't mess up any actual content or impinge on already-established territories. But most vandal-fighting activity has already been replaced by bots, thus cutting off a key avenue to recruitment. As the bots get "smarter," vandal-fighting will become increasingly difficult and less game-like, which will only further that process.

And yet Wikipedia can't afford to be seen as putting the brakes on bot development in general, because that would look irresponsible, as if they're simply "letting the vandals win." So, their solution is to paint the bot developers as "irresponsible" themselves, effectively putting on those brakes while also addressing (albeit dishonestly) their real problem.

As humans, we tend to root for humans in human-machine conflicts - but I'm afraid this is a case where the humans are the bad guys. The machines/bots (and their developers), while also bad guys, are at least doing the right thing - even though it's probably for the wrong reason. And, of course, their mistakes are also magnified by virtue of sheer volume.


I believe we're in the sunset era of open wikis controlled by unassisted human beings. In the future, wiki editing will be so technical that the bored nerd in the basement will be unable to keep up, even if he has 16 hours a day in which to work.

It might be possible to keep things going with some sort of authenticated account system and an agreement not to use bots, but eventually the bots will be so subtle you won't be able to tell anymore.

Posted by: GlassBeadGame Sat 7th April 2012, 4:21pm

QUOTE(Emperor @ Thu 5th April 2012, 8:22am) *

QUOTE(Somey @ Wed 4th April 2012, 4:49pm) *

QUOTE(Emperor @ Wed 4th April 2012, 3:01pm) *
I just tried to read some more. So boring. NewYorkBrad really needs his head examined. He should be billing $200/hour to deal with life-sucking crap like this.

I agree - as far as the discussion itself is concerned, "boring" and "life-sucking" are putting it mildly. But the subtext here is what's interesting. The real ongoing conflict on Wikipedia has never been between "inclusionists" and "deletionists," or even "free culture" vs. "content standards" (which to some of them amounts to the same thing). The real conflict is between bots and humans, and the people in the middle are the ones programming the bots, like Rich Farmbrough. It's a behind-the-scenes conflict that most people don't understand or even know about, but the winner (if there ever is one) is going to determine the long-term future of Wikipedia.

The reason for this is hard to make sense of, but to be as concise as possible, it goes like this. "Vandals" provide fuel for "vandal fighters," and human vandal-fighting is essential to Wikipedia because it allows the hierarchy of established users to give new, less-talented writers and "editors" a means of in-game reputational development, starting their addictions a-rolling while conveniently shunting them off into an activity that doesn't mess up any actual content or impinge on already-established territories. But most vandal-fighting activity has already been replaced by bots, thus cutting off a key avenue to recruitment. As the bots get "smarter," vandal-fighting will become increasingly difficult and less game-like, which will only further that process.

And yet Wikipedia can't afford to be seen as putting the brakes on bot development in general, because that would look irresponsible, as if they're simply "letting the vandals win." So, their solution is to paint the bot developers as "irresponsible" themselves, effectively putting on those brakes while also addressing (albeit dishonestly) their real problem.

As humans, we tend to root for humans in human-machine conflicts - but I'm afraid this is a case where the humans are the bad guys. The machines/bots (and their developers), while also bad guys, are at least doing the right thing - even though it's probably for the wrong reason. And, of course, their mistakes are also magnified by virtue of sheer volume.


I believe we're in the sunset era of open wikis controlled by unassisted human beings. In the future, wiki editing will be so technical that the bored nerd in the basement will be unable to keep up, even if he has 16 hours a day in which to work.

It might be possible to keep things going with some sort of authenticated account system and an agreement not to use bots, but eventually the bots will be so subtle you won't be able to tell anymore.


Build better nerds.

Nerd eugenics has proven a blind alley. First they don't like sex and are almost all males. Abduction and insemination by probe has not solved the problem. Nerds won't care for their own children. When placed with surrogate parents the results have been unacceptable. The surrogates invariably withdraw from their wards as if repelled. Frequently they have been reported to chew their own paws off. Even if offspring survive there is the problem of drift back to the mean in which the offspring of two highly nerdy parents tend to repeatedly drift toward subjecting themselves to abuse by some really-really mean person. This is seen everywhere on Wikipedia.

Nerd augmentation offers more hope. True the technology is crude and the implants are often horribly disfiguring. Fortunately This does not seem to trouble the nerds. In fact adding a little cosplay to these grotesque alterations to give them a steampunk or cyborg veneer makes disfigurement a feature that will attract nerds as subjects although abduction is still favored to avoid selection bias.

Posted by: EricBarbour Sun 8th April 2012, 7:57am

Farmbrough is a character/refugee from one of those horrible BBC sitcoms. Completely barmy, okay?
He's apparently trying to be the first million-edit user, and he doesn't give a damn how much of a mess
he makes in the process. He uses many self-written bots, which do very strange and pointless things.
Sometimes he's running 4-5 bots AT ONCE.

Posted by: Elara Sun 8th April 2012, 10:08am

QUOTE(Somey @ Wed 4th April 2012, 1:25pm) *

The implication here is that on Wikipedia, damage is not harmful, and harm is not damaging - which of course is something we've always known about Wikipedia, for many years


Well, there's a goddamned shock.

I'm never sure if these people are experiencing some form of social cognitive dissonance, or if they have somehow actualized collectivist thinking to the point of viewing the world through lenses I can't quite grasp, but the shrapnel from the implosion of any form of positive control is going to bounce around for some time.

Maybe this piece can be examined and held out to arms length and some wikipedant can go "hmm. Maybe we shouldn't have done that". I'm not gonna hold my fucking breath on that though.

Posted by: Web Fred Sun 8th April 2012, 12:05pm

It's simple.

Wikipedia is a small society that is mirroring life's larger society. That should be a "no news there" statement.

Once life's larger society is corrected then sooner or later so will Wikipedia's.

So that should be a simple job then!

Posted by: Mr.Treason II Thu 12th July 2012, 6:03am

QUOTE(Wikitaka @ Wed 4th April 2012, 12:43pm) *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:ARBREQ#User:Rich_Farmbrough

Any1 with more info?


If Betacommand mass edited, why not Rich Farmborough?

a) Betacommand and RF are friends or allies

b) It's nothing more than a sock.

Posted by: chrisoff Tue 11th September 2012, 12:51am

QUOTE(Mr.Treason II @ Thu 12th July 2012, 2:03am) *

QUOTE(Wikitaka @ Wed 4th April 2012, 12:43pm) *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:ARBREQ#User:Rich_Farmbrough

Any1 with more info?


If Betacommand mass edited, why not Rich Farmborough?

a) Betacommand and RF are friends or allies

b) It's nothing more than a sock.


The whole thing is a failed experiment - and a fraud.

Posted by: Emperor Fri 26th October 2012, 10:42pm

QUOTE(GlassBeadGame @ Sat 7th April 2012, 12:21pm) *

QUOTE(Emperor @ Thu 5th April 2012, 8:22am) *

I believe we're in the sunset era of open wikis controlled by unassisted human beings. In the future, wiki editing will be so technical that the bored nerd in the basement will be unable to keep up, even if he has 16 hours a day in which to work.

It might be possible to keep things going with some sort of authenticated account system and an agreement not to use bots, but eventually the bots will be so subtle you won't be able to tell anymore.


Build better nerds.

Nerd eugenics has proven a blind alley. First they don't like sex and are almost all males. Abduction and insemination by probe has not solved the problem. Nerds won't care for their own children. When placed with surrogate parents the results have been unacceptable. The surrogates invariably withdraw from their wards as if repelled. Frequently they have been reported to chew their own paws off. Even if offspring survive there is the problem of drift back to the mean in which the offspring of two highly nerdy parents tend to repeatedly drift toward subjecting themselves to abuse by some really-really mean person. This is seen everywhere on Wikipedia.

Nerd augmentation offers more hope. True the technology is crude and the implants are often horribly disfiguring. Fortunately This does not seem to trouble the nerds. In fact adding a little cosplay to these grotesque alterations to give them a steampunk or cyborg veneer makes disfigurement a feature that will attract nerds as subjects although abduction is still favored to avoid selection bias.


That's some funny stuff. Good thing this site is back up.