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This machine kills trolls: how Wikipedia’s robots and cyborgs snuff out vandalism

18
Feb
2014

At midnight on February 13th, 2014, a Wikipedia user named Lightningawesome added to the list of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters a lengthy biography of Lightning Dash, a capricious, lovable filly existing only in fan fiction. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia “anyone can edit,” and as of this writing it’s had nearly 700 million edits — not all of them well-meaning. Sometimes the mischief is directed, as when The Oatmeal encouraged readers to include Thomas Edison under possible references for “douchebag,” or when Stephen Colbert sends his viewers out to alter “Wikiality” by, say, “proving,” that Warren G. Harding’s middle initial stands for “gangsta.” Mostly, though, it’s predictably uninteresting — shout-outs, profane opinions, keyboard-mashed gibberish — happening thousands of times a day over more than 4 billion articles. As Wikipedia has grown in size and complexity, so has the task of quality control;

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