Proposal for new policy on Bot accounts

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About the Author

avatar I helped Vorticity/Labster found this site because not everyone wanted to trope on Wikia, and because, honestly, there needs to be an alternative to TV Tropes, especially since allegiance to advertisement sponsors and an increasingly oppressive "Stop Having Fun!" Guys atmosphere seems to have replaced the laid back wiki many members of this site used to enjoy.

I'm the tech guy around here, and I mostly just make sure everything is working properly and manage one of the current approved site bot accounts for maintenance edits and other needed projects.

I'm not a fan of admin fiat decision making and prefer to solicit suggestions from the community before making any major decisions, so drop by the The Forums or my talk page if you have a question.

I also do some game reviews for ChristCenteredGamer as of 5/22/2019.

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Original post here:

http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/forums/showthread.php?tid=14133&pid=203762#pid203762

Posted here for universal ATT user comment here thanks to this suggestion:

http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/forums/showthread.php?tid=14133&pid=203768#pid203768

On July 13th, Gethbot (my bot account) made some automated fixes that wound up screwing up more than they fixed. I have, by hand, rolled all those edits back to their antebellum condition before the incident.

That said, this was my mistake, and I own that. Any punishment or penalty deemed appropriate I accept without issue, I take full responsibility for my errors.

That said, I propose we have some new rules for our bot policy going forward.


1. No matter who owns a bot account or the nature of the edits intended, all bots not running regular services (as in, constant) of a known nature (like InternetArchiveBot) must have the bot owner submit all technical information requested on the proposed fixes, including their specific changes in all details and the scope of pages, categories and namespaces affected. All staff must approve of these changes or at least a majority. This applies to all bot jobs done on an "as needed" basis. No "ex post facto" justification is allowed for any ATT user, all proposed changes must be agreed upon by staff consensus at a bare minimum PRIOR to the bot job duration.

For constantly running bot services providing ongoing service of known useful utility, such as preventing link rot and other preapproved tasks, they will otherwise be exempt from this policy until such time they need to modify it to do services outside the pre-approved remit they were authorized, in which instance they must still submit all needed information for prior staff approval before it will be allowed to proceed in either the short or long-term.

2. No "generalized fixes" that would damage ISO standard dating, American/British spelling, or any other changes like that provided by our existing page templates can be allowed. The only exceptions are those agreed on as necessary by appropriate review prior and even then the scope must be strictly circumscribed in accordance with bot policy.

3. If a bot causes an issue, the bot owner is fully responsible for fixing all mistakes made in good faith. Confirmed malicious use of a bot for any reason is immediate grounds for the permanent expulsion of the bot owner and their bot account from All The Tropes. As for good-faith mistakes, they must still be immediately subject to any penalties deemed appropriate by the staff of ATT, depending on the difficulty of repairing the scope of any damage. Any staff who have made either good-faith or malicious mistakes are not exempt by any means, they must suffer the consequences the same as any other user depending on the nature of the damage, how easily it was reversible, done, and intention.

Note, if such penalties include a temporary block from using ATT services, the bot owner must still be obligated to fix any mistakes they made, if feasible and appropriate, before the imposition of such a penalty, but only if the bot owner made the mistakes in legitimate good faith. Malicious use will not allow for this and should be fixed by staff.

4. If the bot uses an automated wiki tool like PyWikipediaBot, AutoWikiBrowser, or Perl's MediaWiki bot script (among other tools), none of their built-in functions that provide "generalized" fixes based on Wikipedia's specific standards can be allowed, unless none of those would break any of the aforementioned rules or any existing mandated ATT template and page code, and any purposeful circumvention of this after the adoption of this rule will be considered the same as malicious vandalism and be dealt with as specified in the previous rule.

5. Archival records may be requested and made available for all bot jobs done on an "as needed" basis and will be archived in a place mutually decided on by staff that are visible to all ATT users, in the interests of transparency, barring certain jobs done for technical or legal reasons that may involve private information or other legal situations that require confidentiality.

Original suggestion here for rule six: http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/forums/showthread.php?tid=14133&pid=203773#pid203773

6. Bot rights are to be reserved for users who have shown a very high degree of competence and trustworthiness. Bots can exceed average API limits of MediaWiki and the potential for chaos in the hands of someone not to be trusted is high, so ATT staff reserve the right to demand (if the bot was used off ATT for other purposes) impeccable credentials proving the trustworthiness of the bot owner and their intentions. As for ATT regulars, the user (either staff or regular troper) must have shown a consistent degree of responsibility in following the rules and their editing history must have very high quality to allow them to be considered for the right to operate a bot, and staff will decide (with input from the community depending on the extent of the bot purpose) whether to greenlight the approved bot account.

Original suggestion for rule seven: http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/forums/showthread.php?tid=14133&pid=203783#pid203783

7. Rollback, a user right for reverting edits automatically, this will be both a requirement for bot owners (to fix any mistakes their bots make) and a prerequisite before we grant bot rights. If a user proves trustworthy with rollback rights, we will consider their request for bot rights as a first priority since they have proven trustworthy with this elevated user privilege prior.

7a. All bot owners existing prior to adoption of this proposal will be granted rollback rights when it is adopted, and all bot jobs (as needed or constant) prior to policy adoption will be exempted from this policy in regards to filling out any forms on what job they wished to do or perform, only those established after will fall under these guidelines.

Original suggestion for rule seven: http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/forums/showthread.php?tid=14133&pid=203821#pid203821

8. ATT staff reserve the right, for whatever reason, to ask a bot providing constant services, to discontinue doing so, for whatever reason we deem fit, pursuant to a consensual decision on the matter by ATT Staff.

9. Miraheze staff are the only parties who, for technical and legal reasons, are allowed to circumvent any of the above since they are the owners of our current hosting service, and if any of our rules conflict with theirs, then theirs take precedent.


A proposed mockup of the boilerplate for bot job requests (as needed jobs only, constantly running jobs will use a modified template) can be found here, please check the page source for technical information and suggest improvements in the comments.

https://allthetropes.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Bot_Job_Request

Proposed form for ongoing bots doing constantly running functions is here:

https://allthetropes.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Constant_Bot_Job_Request

If anyone has further suggestions to make sure all bot use going forward prevents further incident, I heartily endorse it and would be willing to set an example by being the first party subjected to any penalty for this recent incident. My intentions were in good faith and were fixable, but they still caused issues, and thus whenever these rules are finalized or not, I still wish to set an example of being responsible for my error in this incident if the community deems that required.

Do you believe this policy should be enabled on All The Tropes?
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There were 2 votes since the poll was created on 02:02, 24 July 2021.
poll-id E3152F7E0AF404F4B58DCB83BCFCB23A

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