Is there a simple way to take advantage of a Bot on WikiTree?

+12 votes
374 views
There has been a great deal of discussion of the use of a Bot to improve or change profiles.  We all are concerned about changes made by others, Bot or human.  We want discussion and colaboration before making changes.  We also recognize that there are many problems that could be identified by the right software.

So why not do it this way?

Allow a Bot to review profiles just as any of us can and then - it would not make any changes but instead send a message to the profile manger with suggested changes.  The suggestion could  be - a complete new bio with sources or just a spelling change   - what ever is identifed by the Bot.  The manager would then decide what to do - ignore it, as many will.  OR - copy and paste revised material after making a review, OR select material to change.  Just as we do when another manager identifies a possible improvement to a profile we manage.

This leaves the managerment of each profile in the hands of the manger and  gives us the advantage of using a program to identify problems and propose solutions.

Sure - it requires that each manger review before any changes are made - but isn't  want most of us want?
in The Tree House by Philip Smith G2G6 Pilot (270k points)
retagged by C S
I agree, the best use is to find an alert for problems in profiles, like we do today with the bot for potential duplicates, and post a message to the profile. Two cases I can think of here - missing/impossible dates, and unrecognized locations. The location check would require a database of known valid historical locations (familysearch provides an API for this, WeRelate also did).

One case I can think of where you might want a bot to change profile biography data - Merged profiles where the sections were not cleaned up and consolidated. I wrote something like that a while back, but only used it on the profiles I personally managed, manually. It just put information from each section (biography birth/baptisom/marriage/death/burial, sources, references, acknowledgments) in the correct order. That required a lot of work because it was not always clear what information goes in which section.

4 Answers

+6 votes
 
Best answer
I like the idea of a bot, but another option is to make it a tool instead of a bot. An option on one of the pull down lists to run the "Check my Bio" tool would let managers get the input when they are looking for it as opposed to a bunch of e-mails. I can imagine several useful tools like "Check my Links", "Check my Dates", ...
by Peter Whalen G2G6 Mach 2 (24.7k points)
selected by Bea Wijma
Peter, that would probably be a good way to integrate the bots with WikiTree itself.  They're still bots, though - just with an easy entry to use them.  It would be up to Chris to decide if he wanted to incorporate bots in WikiTree itself and, of course, up to Jonathan if he wants to offer them to WikiTree.
+3 votes
What is a bot? Some of us are new to this game so have a little patience and please explain.

Thank you
by Ann Ross G2G6 Mach 1 (11.6k points)
Jonathan,

An Internet bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_bot Internet Bot.
A good definition has already been given above.  I'd like to add an example of a very well known bot - the web crawler used by search engings like google, yahoo, bing, etc.  It continuously "crawls" the entire web, looking at website files and collecting information from them, which it stores in a humongous database.  This is what gets searched for hits every time you look for something on one of these search engines.
+3 votes
I mostly agree with everything you have said and I think that this would be a great way for a lot of bots to work.

That being said, I do have a few reservations. Firstly, unlike with humans, it is difficult for users to reply to a bot if they require further information, so this would have to be taken into account. Secondly, this could result in a large amount of email spam.

Also, bear in mind that currently the bots on ForoTree only go through profiles on a user's watchlist. That means that primarily the user who will first see the alert will be the user who activated the bot. If this user then goes through and makes all the changes manually, surely it would make sense for the bot to just go ahead and make the change? Obviously it will depend on the change.

There are also some general exceptions where this makes the bot altogether useless, although I appreciate if you don't agree with the use of such bots.

For example, one of the bots that is currently being tested on ForoTree is the "Family Search Citation Cleaner". The purpose of this bot is that when a user cites Family Search they can just copy and paste the citation from Family Search into an inline reference and then leave the profile alone. The bot then goes into the profile and tidies it up so that when that person or someone else goes back into that profile later, it is much easier to edit because the bulk of the citation has been moved to the bottom of the page.

Now I understand there are various different methods of doing this and that there are ongoing discussions about these various methods, and that debate will continue elsewhere.

However, regardless of the particular method adopted, my point with this example is that the whole purpose of this particular bot is to save the profile manager time from having to tidy up source formatting. If this is the primary aim of the bot, then posting a comment to let the profile manager know that their sources need tidying up is not going to be helpful at all. In fact, it would probably be more of a nuisance.

If you haven't already, I would recommend taking a look at Wikipedia's Bot Policy to see how it is managed there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Bot_policy
by Anonymous Wainwright G2G4 (4.7k points)
By the way, Jonathan, just for grins I sent a private message to your bot to see if anything happened - I didnt' really expect a response, so I wasn't disappointed when it didn't happen!!!
I got your message, thanks! The bot says hi.
+4 votes
I don't think there's one answer for bots.

I think it's all contextual-- or as Legal Genealogist often writes: "it depends."

There are many ways a bot could work. It could correct typos; it could add a category; it could, as Jonathan mentions here, reformat citation text.

What I think would be great is for the community to identify the most frustrating things we face, that *could* be automated, and see if there are ways for a "bot" to handle those.

For example, looking for some of the worst culprits in a gedcom upload and getting rid of them. For a bunch of ugly stuff we don't need on profiles, see

http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/GEDCOM-created_biographies
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (757k points)

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