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User:AnomieBOT dropping information from substituted templatesEdit

This is not a formal request to have User:AnomieBOT blocked or anything, just a heads-up that there is a problem with it, it has been reported to the author, and they have responded in a way that makes me think they're unwilling to fix the problem.

See User talk:AnomieBOT#Losing_information for the details, but the summary is that the bot's template substitution drops encyclopedic information (such as a reference author's name from the articles' wikitext because it is performed even when a Module:Check for unknown parameters would throw an error. My suggestion is that the templates be fixed to include this check; the bot should be fixed not to substitute in case of an error (I've reviewed the bot's source code to check this is feasible and straightforward; it is), and not to substitute templates which do not check for unknown parameters.

The important point here is that "simply" fixing the templates does not undo past damage, or prevent future damage when templates change again. Someone will have to use whatever logs there are of AnomieBOT's activities to go over past changes and correct them, but there's little point in doing so while the underlying issue persists.

(Feel free to discuss this in the appropriate place or ignore it as you see fit; but I don't see how responses along the lines of "the bot is just following human instructions" are relevant to the issue. Of course it is: that code should be changed).

Eelworm (talk) 07:01, 14 October 2020 (UTC)

As you've already been told, the issue is with the template, not the bot. — JJMC89(T·C) 07:07, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
And as I've already responded, I disagree with that opinion. The template does need modifying, but the data shouldn't be lost for the time period up to the point at which the template is modified. Eelworm (talk) 10:43, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
This seems to me to be a case of WP:MOLEHILL. People use incorrect parameters to templates all the time, for various reasons. AnomieBOT's substing preserves the visual result of the template being substed. If the unused parameter actually is "encyclopedic information" as claimed, that should be determined at the template's talk page and the people there should figure out some way for the information to be included in the template's output. Anomie 11:13, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
If your point is that AnomieBOT doesn't perform very many substitutions in the article namespace, that's correct; however, of those it does perform, a large proportion is incorrect.
Again, the problem is that any fixes to the template would not be retroactive. As it is, I estimate there are hundreds of edits which remove the author of a reference or its access date from the article's wikitext. I claim that's clearly encyclopedic information, and if it doesn't constitute a mountain I wonder what does.
You say that people use incorrect parameters to templates "for various reasons". I don't think "so the template gets substituted and the incorrect parameter removed" is among those.
Again, this is easy to fix for the future, once and for all, and then we can go back and clean up the "molehill", by going through thousands of edits and identifying which ones need to be reverted. As it's a mere molehill, I assume you're volunteering for that part. (More seriously, I don't think the reference to WP:MOLEHILL is at all appropriate when talking about hundreds or thousands of articles.)
As for the claim that the substitution "preserves the visual result of the template being substed", that is correct only as long as the template isn't modified afterwards. By the very nature of substitutions, later fixes to the template will no longer improve the visual result of the template invocation, and the extra information that was previously present (but wasn't being displayed) is lost in the chaos of the article history. Eelworm (talk) 11:52, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
Eelworm, there are certain templates that are required to be substituted, and AnomieBOT just enforces those. People putting in wrong information that the template won't render anyways, is not Anomie's problem. He is running an approved task and it is doing exactly what it is designed to do. Substituting templates requiring substitution. —CYBERPOWER (Chat) 14:01, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
(edit conflict) You make a lot of unsupported claims there. Let's look at some real numbers. The "abruf" parameter was added to de:Vorlage:Internetquelle at 2019-03-22T01:42Z. Since that time, AnomieBOT has made 697,084 edits. 74,261 of them were TemplateSubster edits. 1,126 substituted {{Internetquelle}}. 516 involved |abruf=, affecting 461 pages (350 articles, 38 draft pages, 68 user pages, and 5 talk pages). Your claim that a large proportion [of AnomieBOT's edits] is incorrect seems incorrect.
I see no indication that de:Vorlage:Internetquelle contains an "author" parameter that is not supported by Template:Internetquelle, as you implied in your post. As for the access dates, I'm unsure how useful they really would have been since the people adding them apparently didn't check whether they were being rendered. But you're welcome to go through the list and add access dates to any you think need them.
And yes, AnomieBOT preserves the visual result of the template being substed at the time of substitution. That's exactly what everyone else involved expects and intends. If they wanted any arbitrary undefined parameters to somehow be preserved in the wikitext too, they'd do that when setting the template up for substing. Anomie 14:15, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
Perhaps, templates with extra parameters on pages that have been edited recently AND are drafts/sandboxes should be skipped. AManWithNoPlan (talk) 14:47, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
Eelworm has been told at a previous discussion the way to stop this potentially invalid substing: If there is a problem with substing of a particular template, stop it from being substed until the problem is fixed. I'm pretty sure that the documentation for {{Internetquelle}} is not protected. If Eelworm does not feel comfortable editing that documentation, they can place an edit request on the template's talk page. – Jonesey95 (talk) 15:39, 14 October 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for all the responses; I admit that the estimate I gave is just a rough estimate, and it seems better numbers are available (but not easily, to me). I remain convinced that the problem is precisely as I described it and that damage is being done to Wikipedia by treating it as a bot playground. What I learned was that this seems to be an individual opinion opposed by a broad consensus, and it's thus better to discuss this on my user talk page or elsewhere (please ping me if you still think a response from me would be useful). Eelworm (talk) 06:31, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

@Anomie: Doing a quick check of some edits, this clearly changed the visual output (before: authors are listed; after: authors aren't listed). Surely that isn't the bot's intended functon. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 07:03, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

Headbomb, issue is the template I think. |auteur1= is only supported in Template:Lien web in the live format, it doesn't exist in the subst format, so it's omitted on subst. Template error, rather than bot error, I think? ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 12:52, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
Exactly. Why is there even a separate "live mode" and "subst mode" for that template? Anomie 14:00, 15 October 2020 (UTC)
From my experience, substed templates with a lot of parameters generally have that happen so that there aren't dozens of blank parameters being placed on an article when it is subst, but (again, in general, haven't looked at this template) often that template coding will mess up the wrapper and/or code that is meant to be displayed until such time as the template is subst (i.e. it might not pass a parameter correctly, or end up with extraneous pipes or #if statements, etc). Primefac (talk) 16:13, 16 October 2020 (UTC)

Proposed change to templateEdit

Before I go and do it, I'd like to seek approval to change {{BotTrial}}. Currently, it says to send it to trial, and either the # of edits or days to run it. I would like to add the sentence Please provide a link to the relevant contributions and/or diffs when the trial is complete. I want to add this because I just dealt with a bunch of BRFAs where I couldn't figure out which contribs were relevant to the trial because the bot had run other tasks in the meantime.

I know I could just state the above every time I approve a task for trial, but at that point isn't that what templates are for? Primefac (talk) 16:53, 16 October 2020 (UTC)

Seems fine to me. — xaosflux Talk 16:55, 16 October 2020 (UTC)
Primefac, I’m going to need to see template change proposition form 435 in triplicate before I can consider this change. —CYBERPOWER (Trick or Treat) 02:03, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
Great idea. Enterprisey (talk!) 02:10, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
No, it must go trough quintriplicate approval! One day it's a minor improvement to a template used on a technical workflow, the next day, it's deleting the main page. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 02:13, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
I.e. go ahead. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 02:31, 17 October 2020 (UTC)
Thanks all, done. I put the same message at {{BotExtendedTrial}} as well for completeness. Primefac (talk) 10:29, 17 October 2020 (UTC)

Proposal: Cosmetic Bot DayEdit

Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#Cosmetic_Bot_Day_(CBD) -- GreenC 15:44, 25 October 2020 (UTC)