Wikipedia in Portuguese has banned the editing of entries by those who do not have an account. The measure, adopted after voting among employees, seeks to prevent vandalism, that is, changes that have the deliberate objective of damaging the platform’s credibility. Until then, changes were allowed for everyone and, if the author was not registered, his IP address was visible to the community.
The debate over a restriction on Wikipedia in Portuguese has been around for some years, but it resumed in August. A two contributors pointed out that WikiScan, which accounts for editions on the platform, records a daily average of just over 1,740 IP editions, that is, unregistered users. At the same time, the tool indicates about 5,500 daily editions, on average, of identified accounts.
“Most IP editions are reversed by persistent vandalism and, above all, by a lack of sources, with this second problem possibly arising from the ignorance, on the part of the IPs, of the literature that competes to this”, analyzed the collaborator. For him, the restriction does not make the platform “less free”. “It would remain completely free to access and create content, since there is no higher or unavoidable requirement for creating an account”.
Before that, editing was allowed without an account and the publisher’s IP address was publicly visible to indicate authorship of the content.
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– Wikipedia in Portuguese (@wikipt) October 7, 2020
In the vote, 169 out of 249 employees approved the login requirement for editions of Wikipedia entries in Portuguese. The measure does not apply to the discussion and help pages, which are not so prominent for those who visit the platform.
In conversation with Tecnoblog, the master in computing at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) and one of the administrators of Portuguese-speaking Wikipedia, Rodrigo Padula, explained that the previous rule facilitated improper editing by unidentified users, even though the platform registered its IP address. However, he also understands that the change can alienate new employees.
“From the user’s point of view, he thinks that not creating an account is the most anonymous way and ends up editing in an uncompromised way, without making any kind of registration. Some return and, based on this interest and knowledge of the rules, continue to edit. It is still too early to state this, but blocking by editing by IPs can scare off new publishers, which does not mean that this will mean loss of content and quality, ”he said.
According to Padula, the change should help to optimize the work of Wikipedia collaborators. “There are indications in these figures that it was analyzed that the volume of bad editions and pages created in violation of the rules is very large. So, we have a small volume of collaborators who contribute to Wikipedia on a daily basis and those few collaborators, in the universe of content and visits that we have, end up wasting a lot of time undoing things badly done by other editors ”.
Restriction may affect bots on Wikipedia
With the requirement for edits to Wikipedia in Portuguese to be carried out by registered users, third party tools that accompany information from Wikipedia should be rendered unfeasible. This is the case of the Brasil Wiki Edits (@brwikiedits), the robot that monitors editions on the platform from the networks of the three powers. It was created by Pedro Menezes, who has already collaborated for the Tecnoblog.
Pedro explained to us that Brasil Wiki Edits tracks anonymous editions and compares the IP address of each of them to a list with IP ranges from various public agencies. He states that, “now that editions in Portuguese-speaking Wikipedia require mandatory registration, Wikipedia only shows the username of the person who made it.” With the change, the robot will only warn about edits made by public agencies on Wikipedia from other countries, which does not usually happen often.