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News Link • Technology: Software

Study reveals bot-on-bot editing wars raging on Wikipedia's pages

• theguardian.com by Ian Sample

For many it is no more than the first port of call when a niggling question raises its head. Found on its pages are answers to mysteries from the fate of male anglerfish, the joys of dorodango, and the improbable death of Aeschylus.

But beneath the surface of Wikipedia lies a murky world of enduring conflict. A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years.

Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply "bots", that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks.

In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences.

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