Make a Difference in a Different Way: Twitter Bot Creators and Wikipedia Transparency.
Software robots (bots) are a major part of contemporary Internet culture, employed by businesses for customer service, artists for digital expression, and ‘bad actors’ for misinformation. A recent line of Twitter bots, known as WikiEdits bots, has attempted to increase information transparency on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. This study expands on previous work on Twitter bots by investigating the motivations and experiences of the developers who created bots that monitor Wikipedia for edits made by government bodies and other primary stakeholders. Thirteen qualitative interviews were conducted with a global sample of WikiEdits contributors, revealing various opinions on the successes, shortcomings, and significance of the project. The data reveal that participants hold a high level of computer and programming literacy, and while some creators were driven by activist ideals, others used the project more as a personal technical challenge. This study contributes to CSCW’s interest in how activism is materialized, enabled, and constrained by examining the ways in which a loose network of developers with various motivations use platform affordances to highlight data transparency possibilities.