Sunday, January 11, 2009

Is Huggle a good tool ?

I remember the day when Gurch first introduced a new tool he invented to make vandal fighting easier. He proudly called it Huggle , probably named after an IRC user/steward Shanel, whose IRC nick used to be 'Huggle'.

I was lucky to be one of the first few ones to use this glorius tool which to me at that time seemed like an awesome idea. The fact that i was on dial-up but I managed to rack up over 7000 edits in a month using that tool. It made vandal fighting/warning and reporting much much easier but within time, this tool became the first choice of nearly all users who dared to test it. Since its inception a year ago, it has made vandal fighting seem like child's play and thus, this is where the problem lies. In the beginning, Gurch would only give this tool out to those he knew and after a few weeks, he set a benchmark for users with 500 edits or more and then after he got tired of maintaining the tool and continuously updating it after users found a few bugs, it was passed on to some other new users who made it easier for other users to download and use the tool for free with no strings attached and thus it became the most useful tool for those seeking to become admins since a person with dedication and time can easily rack up about 10,000 edits in a month and thus becomes a front-runner for the right which every "Troll, dick and harry" want.

One of the major problems i have encountered while using this tool is that most vandal fighters who use this tool don't really care about what and who they are reverting. They just blindly revert a page because some anon removed 'lots of stuff' from that page so it is vandalism to them and hardly anyone ever double-checks to see what they have reverted. I have done that a few times so I completely reduced the amount of time i use that tool and now i barely use it and what is more worse is that the fact that after reverting a possibly 'non-vandal' edit, the user automatically warns the user who probably might have made a legit edit, so it confuses the user wondering why he was warned for removing/reverting vandalism and if that user is a new user or someone who has used the wiki for the first time, it gives them a bad impression of the wikipedia community and thus will probably stop them from contributing again in the future.

There is a policy about how to deal with new users reasonably titled "Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers" or WP:BITE. A line from the policy which states: New contributors are prospective "members" and are therefore our most valuable resource. We must treat newcomers with kindness and patience — nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility.. One might say that we are here to build a wiki or others might say we are here to build knowledge but if we start scaring away our most valuable resource, we will not be able to do either. A wiki is only as strong as its community, and if expect to continue for another 8 years, we must make sure we respect and support that community or else it will collapse.....


chasingsol said...

I know where you're coming from, there is a distinct likelihood of scaring off newcomers with the overzealous use of Huggle. However, without tools such as these, it would be far more difficult to deal with the massive volume of vandalism that does happen.

From my own experience, I made a good faith effort to revert vandalism manually using solely the recent changes feed. It was impossible to keep up and was extremely frustrating and slow. I want to help out, but not like that.

I don't doubt that there are many who make constant mistakes and scare off newcomers. I've made them, and so have you as you've admitted, but I don't think that the small percentage of mistakes that are made outweigh the benefits.

Gurch said...

Um. You can only use it if you have rollback. If someone misuses rollback, it is supposed to be removed. The burden is on administrators to do this if necessary and not give rollback to vandals and trolls in the first place.