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Re: Hello directly from Jimbo at Wikipedia

Steven J. Murdoch wrote:
> What needs to be done is to give Wikipedia a way to tell the
> difference between legitimate Tor users and abusers. The basis for my
> proposal is that abusers can currently get IP addresses quite easily,
> through open proxies, zombie machines or simply rebooting their ADSL
> modem, as well as through Tor.
> To mitigate abuse from Tor, the cost of committing abuse through Tor
> needs to be just higher than the cost of an abuser getting another IP
> address.  This is not very high. 

I do not use Tor, and so at risk of offending those who already think
that I "hate Tor", I will say that it has been said to me by some people
that we're lucky that Tor is horribly slow, or lots of people would use
it, making the problem much worse. :-)

> Whether this will work depends on the type of abuse that Wikipedia
> receives, and Jimbo is much more qualified to comment on this then me.

The typical problem case, and I asked around for horror stories to
confirm my impression, is that some lunatic first starts writing at
Wikipedia in an incoherent, biased, offensive, etc. way.  The community
at first tries to work with them, because it does take a while to absorb
our peaceful ways if you're used to Usenet or mailing list debates.  But
eventually, the worst offenders end up getting blocked.

Then they go ballistic.  Imagining themselves to be el1t3 h4xx0rs, they
write (or find online somewhere) vandalbots and start using them to
replace pages with "fuck you" or goatse images or... well, there seems
to be no shortage of creativity in the world of the deranged and snubbed.

We don't sweat this too much.  We just block them and rever the changes.
 The problem is much worse for small wiki sites than it is for Wikipedia
because we're fully staffed by hundreds of smart people 24 hours a day.
 The people on the frontlines tell me this isn't such a huge problem,
because we do things to limit the abuse.

One of the things we currently do is block Tor.  I consider that a
reasonable solution to the vandalism problem, but an unfortunate thing,
since to my mind, Tor is something very good.

It would be nice if we could look at the edits coming from Tor and say
"Oh, these are fine, they are mostly responsible edits."  It'd even be
ok if we could look at the edits coming from Tor and say "Ok, so there's
a touch more vandalism from these than from other ip pools, but there's
also some good stuff coming through from places where we normally don't
see a lot of editing activity.  We'll put up with it."

As it is now, we look at it and say "oh, jesus".