Wikipedia’s AI Editor Automatically Spots Damaging Content, Encourages New Contributors

To achieve a balance between maintaining quality content and maintaining a good number of contributors, Wikipedia engages the service of an AI editor called Objective Revision Evaluation Service (ORES).

ORES automatically discovers damaging edits – trolls and spammers – and at the same time, encourages newcomer contributors.

Wikipedia holds a unique position of being one of the world’s biggest collaborative projects with its free online encyclopedia. The content of Wikipedia is created by volunteers from around the world. The scale and openness of the of the effort often invites the most creative trolls and vandals.

Wikipedia is edited about half a million times each day, this according to a report made by Wikipedia Foundation’s Senior Research Scientist Aaron Halfaker and Director of Head of Research Dario Taraborelli. A non-insignificant percentage of these edits are biased, malicious and plainly misinformed.

This is not the first time Wikipedia uses an AI editor. Wikipedia previously used AI editors like the bot ClueBot NG and automated tools such as Huggle and STiki.

Wikipedia started with hundreds of active contributors in 2001. These contributors grew to thousands in 2004. In March 2007, these contributors peaked at 56,400.

In the paper entitled “The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System: How Wikipedia’s Reaction to Popularity Is Causing Its Decline” published in 2013 by the American Behavioral Scientist, Aaron Halfaker and associates wrote that at the beginning of 2007, participation of Wikipedia contributors entered a period of decline. According to the researchers, the changes like Huggle, STiki and ClueBot NG introduced by Wikipedia to manage content quality have unintentionally restricted the growth of newcomer contributors.

According to Halfaker and associates, “These (previous) tools encourage the rejection of all new editors’ changes as though they were made in bad faith, and that type of response is hard on people trying to get involved in the movement.”

Instead of driving away newcomer contributors, Halfaker and Taraborelli said, “ORES allows new quality control tools to be designed that integrate with newcomer support and training spaces in Wikipedia (like the Teahouse and the Help desk).”

Open collaborative projects like Wikipedia desperately need a large pool of volunteer contributors. Without volunteers, open collaboration systems like Wikipedia would cease to function, Halfaker and associates said.