@Trizek (WMF) So here is the specification of the bot: The core idea of the bot is to gamify the Wikipedia-writing experience for contributors. Gamification is a commonly used concepts in fields such as pedagogy and management. It refers to using the principles of game design into non-game context. E.g., in game design, one of the principles is to make sure players have immediate feedback about their progress. Thus, a common practice in pedagogy gamification is to have students do online exercises accompanied by computer programs created to give immediate feedback.
The functions of our bots are as follows:
1. The bot identifies the users to be tracked. It will use an array to store the names of users it is tracking.
2. For each user, the bot proposes articles under 500 words for them to write. Group 1 participants will be recommended articles that are under the topics they list as their interests, while group 2 participants will be recommended articles that are not under their topics of interest. According to the flow theory, activities that are perceived to be relevant to oneself are more likely to induce flow (Shernoff et al., 2003).
3. Each user will earn points based on the quality of their contributions. At the end of each week, the points will be displayed to them on their user talk page, alongside tips and hints for improving their scores (flow theory, principle of feedback).
4. After the user has added a set milestone of word count, the bot will leave comments at the user’s talk page or the talk page of the article they are editing, to give comments. The comments will be randomly taken from a set of prepared comments, which are to be written by the researchers. The comments will be individualized to a degree, e.g., a comment that suggests an user to utilize more references will be more likely to appear if the article(s) written by that user has lower-than-average citations per unit word counts (flow theory, principle of feedback).
5. If an admin or editor edits an article by the focal user, the bot will prompt the admin or editor to give comments to the user (flow theory, principle of feedback).
6. If the user’s score has exceeded a certain threshold, the bot will prompt admins and editor to nominate him/her to become new admin and editor, so that he/she will be able to access new functionalities (unlockable contents are commonly used in game design).
7. The bot will keep doing 1-5, until a milestone (total word count of 30,000, according to the current plan) has been reached. After that, the bot will leave a final comment on the user’s talk page.
8. The bot will create a leaderboard, listing the names of the top 20 users who have the highest scores in that month, and send messages to the focal users informing them of their positions on leaderboard (principle of competition). Leaderboard is a common feature in gamification to provide opportunities for competition (e.g., Deterding, 2013; Dicheva et al., 2015; Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011).
9. In the context of Wikipedia, researchers cannot prohibit certain users from using the features of customizing one’s user page. Hence, the manipulation cannot be ‘whether the user can customize’. The bot can, however, instruct and prompt the users it keeps track of to customize their own user pages, thus creating more opportunities for these users to use customization features. For each user, the bot will record the number of edits and word counts he/she made to his/her user page (customization is commonly used in game design).
10. For each user, the bot will give him/her the names of under-bot users who edit similar article types as him/her and prompt them to contact each other to discuss potential opportunities for cooperation (principle of cooperation).
We are planning to do a field experiment with this bot and publish papers from it.