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Computer Bots Are Like Humans, Having Fights Lasting Years

By ­niversity of Oxford

February 27, 2017

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Software robots designed to fix errors on Wikipedia often engage in online fights lasting years, with bots repeatedly undoing each other's edits.

Researchers at the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in the U.K. studied the interactions between bots on 13 different language editions of Wikipedia over 10 years. The study concluded that bots, like humans, appear to behave differently in culturally distinct environments and can have complex interactions with each other.

Bots on English Wikipedia undid another bot's edits 105 times on average, while each German Wikipedia bot reverted another bot's work only 24 times.

The number of reverts is smaller for bots than for humans, but conflicts involving bots last longer and are triggered later.

The researchers suggest humans can react more quickly to reverts by other editors, whereas bots will systematically crawl through articles and are restricted on the number of edits permitted.

From University of Oxford
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