One of the advantages of a wiki is being able to watch Recent Changes. It’s a nice way to see what is happening, either to watch for vandalism, to help collaborate on articles, or to see who is active.

The problem is that Wikipedia’s recent changes list is that it’s crazy busy. There’s no way for one person to watch it. Wikipedia has a project devoted to tracking vandalism through Recent Changes, and there are even software tools written for this.

Some members in WikiProject Oregon watch for changes on Oregon-related pages. I use a large watchlist, but a more authoritative way to do it is to watch all 9135 articles in the project through the RecentChangesLinked function. It’s even on this blog- look at the upper right part of the page.

This list is maintained by keeping a list of every article in the project. WikiProject Oregon member EncMstr has maintained this list by hand (and using a hand-run vim script). I realized this would be a great use of the MediaWiki API.

A long story later, but the code is done, released under the Berkley license and available on GitHub. It runs on my personal server daily; EncMstr used to run it every few months.

Seeing the recent changes list more frequently allows us to watch the newest articles- another bot usually finds 1-5 new articles per day that are related to Oregon, and these new articles can result in a lot of collaboration between us.

So, to echo a fellow Oregonian reporter, “I, for one, welcome our robot overlords!”


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