# Are third party robots editing my posts and removing my sentences?

The comment on this edit says:

Comment: broken image fixed (click 'rendered output' to see the difference); for more info, see https://gist.github.com/Glorfindel83/9d954d34385d2ac2597bbe864466259f

That links to Broken Image Repairer but the link is not broken. It's a misnomer.

The edit seems to have taken a line that contained an explanation to the reader written in plain English, plus a link to the source, into a imgur link, removing my explanation from visibility in the process.

I remember seeing several posts by users where they have left explicit links to other images as links and not incorporated them and explained in the post that due to copyright issues they have chosen not to embed the image.

In this case I didn't do that. Instead, I actively chose not to display the image because it is Orbomm-1, not Orbcomm2. This is explained in the following sentence.

EDIT: that image (above) is actually Orbcomm-1, a previous mission. Here is an image of the Orbcomm-2 configuration prior to launch

The robotic deletion of my sentence definitely conflicts with the author's intent. I'm not sure of the edit was purely automatic, or if it had human supervision and the human didn't read the following sentence.

BEFORE:

SpaceX second stage after all Orbcomm-2 satellites deployed http://www.spaceflight101.net/uploads/6/4/0/6/6406961/_2113828_orig.jpg

AFTER:

[![SpaceX second stage after all Orbcomm-2 satellites deployed][2]][2]

If you view the edit in Rendered Output you can see the difference, but if you view in Markdown it looks like a tiny, reasonable housekeeping edit.

This software removed a sentence from visibility.

1. Is this the way things are going? Other user's algorithms are going to be removing what I write from visibility? Will this accelerate? Will AI be next?

2. Has this algorithmic sentence removal been vetted in a meta discussion somewhere? (I'm not looking for the 1-on-1 chats advocated at the bottom here)

3. Can individual users, or this beta site opt out of being bot-edited or botited?

4. Can anyone write an editing bot or botiter and start running it?

5. Are botiters reputation-enriching? Is this a new form of gamification?

6. How will two active botiters interact when one lands on a post already edited by another? Will we see bot wars?

7. Are all SE sites being botited? Just betas?

RENDERED OUTPUT:

MARKDOWN:

• In this case, the edit had to be approved. So two humans had to look over it. This must have slipped through the cracks. Did you rollback? – called2voyage Jan 15 at 1:00
• @called2voyage At some point would probably roll back and then tidy up a bit as well, so for now I thought I would just leave it alone so as not to bury the edit. The same username has been associated with many reasonable edits in the past, and that together with the edit appearing (probably) trivial in markdown viewing mode makes just clicking accept tempting. – uhoh Jan 15 at 1:08
• When this question was first posted, I could not see the linked image, only a broken link kind of thing. After it was edited, I could see the image. It looked like an upgrade to me. – Organic Marble Jan 15 at 2:21
• @OrganicMarble It's an explicit, bare url to a working image, rather than a capture of the image into imgr. Is "broken" the SE term for any bare url? – uhoh Jan 15 at 2:23
• I only glanced at it, and it looked wrong. Sorry. – Organic Marble Jan 15 at 2:30
• @OrganicMarble oh please no sorry, I'm really interested in the situation, discussions of best practice, what needs improvement, and in this case *who-who-who let the bot's out? – uhoh Jan 15 at 2:42

The reason my bot edited that post is that the previous revision of that post clearly indicates you've uploaded an image with a descriptive alt text (which is good; most people, including me, just leave the placeholder "enter image description here"):

[![SpaceX second stage after all Orbcomm-2 satellites deployed][2]][2]


It looks exactly the same like the source code for the first image:

[![SpaceX second stage after all Orbcomm-2 satellites deployed][1]][1]


which is shown as an image with alternative text (even before the edit). What's the difference, you may ask?

 [1]: http://i.stack.imgur.com/UlzhU.jpg


Image [1] is already on Stack Exchange's imgur channel, and the rendering engine knows it can safely replace http:// with https://. It's not smart enough to do this for other domains (which aren't guaranteed to work under HTTPS), so my bot helps it a little.

Of course, if you'd rather have a descriptive text and a link to the image, that's fine with me. I am my bot is just restoring the original intent of the author. There's no way this could have been a deliberate bare link instead of an image; if you try to edit from that revision, the editor says it's not accepted. So if someone else was trying to improve the post (e.g. by fixing the typo in the title), they'd have to upload the image as well – or leave it as a bare link which would be possible with the following Markdown:

[SpaceX second stage after all Orbcomm-2 satellites deployed][2]


1. Has this algorithmic sentence removal been vetted in a meta discussion somewhere?

The general reception to this project is very positive so far, though sometimes people are hesitant (which is understandable). A week ago I had a similar discussion on MathOverflow Meta. I'll update the gist to indicate Meta posts are fine for communication as well, if I'm somehow notified of their existence, so thanks for pinging me on your post. There is no central Meta post for this, just like there wasn't any for e.g. SmokeDetector for a long time.

1. Can individual users, or this beta site opt out of being bot-edited?

Sure. First of all, the author gets a message that a suggested edit is made on their post; this gives them the chance to rollback and contact the person who edited it. If even after explaining why I do this, you still want to opt-out, that's fine. The simplest way is to fix all broken images yourself (according to a test run of the bot, you have no other posts on Space Exploration it can fix; I could have given you a list of posts if there were any) but it's not too hard to exclude users on a single site or even entire sites.

1. Can anyone write an editing bot and start running it?

There are a handful of bots which help moderating the Stack Exchange sites. Some of them flag, some of them comment and various other post chat messages around the network. I'm not sure if there are any other editing bots currently active, but I don't see why editing should be exempt from this. (We even had an AI which automatically answered Git questions on Stack Overflow, but I can't find the link now.)

1. Are botiters reputation-enriching?

Yep, I gain reputation for approved edits, but not much; on most sites, there are only a handful of images which can be repaired. I've considered running it on a separate account, but then I'd be harder to contact. Also, under my own account it can repair broken images on 11 sites + their metas without bothering reviewers.

1. How will two active botiters interact when one lands on a post already edited by another? Will we see bot wars?

Well, there can only be one suggested edit on a single post at the time. The second suggested edit will just fail.

1. Are all SE sites being botited? Just betas?

The bot runs on all main sites, but after 15 sessions, it's finished on most sites. There are about 50 sites where it's still active. Since it's not possible to suggest edits on Meta sites, those are exempt.

• Thanks for your reply, can you explain the "clearly indicates" in the first sentence? You link to ~400 words of flat unformatted text but it's hard to know what is clear to an algorithm. – uhoh Jan 15 at 9:21
• It's the same part you mentioned in your question: [![SpaceX second stage after all Orbcomm-2 satellites deployed][2]][2]. The exclamation mark indicates it's an image, not just a link. – Glorfindel Jan 15 at 9:22
• I'm not a very good forensic editoligist, but this looks like a problem I'd created around edit #12 that I'd liked the looks of and kept after that. This was 3 years ago and only my 4th question here and I didn't know much about SE's UI at the time, so it looks like the bot did in fact do a good job here, and the answer is "yes" and then "yes-but-no" to the title of the question. || I've used the edit as launch point to ask about botiting in general (the numbered points). If you have any comments on those please feel free to answer here or even write a separate answer for those. Thanks! – uhoh Jan 15 at 9:51
• Sure, Markdown can be hard and it takes a while to get used to (let alone understand all intricacies). I'm currently editing the post to provide an answer to your other questions. – Glorfindel Jan 15 at 9:57
• Is the @Glorfindel 'bot authorised to make imgur copies of potentially copyright images? – JCRM Jan 15 at 11:37
• No, but that's not the bot's fault. If the image is copyrighted, it shouldn't have been embedded (as an image). See space.stackexchange.com/legal/terms-of-service/public#licensing – Glorfindel Jan 15 at 11:40
• Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough answer! I really appreciate it. When the singularity arrives and AI becomes self-aware, it will eat the entire SE ecosystem for breakfast to learn about the world, and botiters such as yours will have made that process microscopically easier and a few nanoseconds faster. ;-) In the mean time, it appears it is making it easier for readers to enjoy authors posts (including mine) by fixing problems even the author (in my case) could not recognize. – uhoh Jan 15 at 23:45
• URLs are not subject to copyright. Inlining an image leaves the decision about whether to make a copy to the third party server. The Bot, by submitting such an image to Imgur, is claiming it the image can be relicensed in that way. – JCRM Jan 16 at 7:59
• @Glorfindel hi I'm still really curious how a botiter can edit so well! Here either it, or you (or both) caught the capitalization and added a space (e.g. voyager2 → Voyager 2). But I'm curious what made the decision to remove Uranus and Jupiter tags? Checking the answer one can see that these massive planets are fairly important. Was the tag removal the bot's idea, or the human's? If bot, does it check to see how prominently the terms are repeated in the answer before deciding to remove them from the question? I'm just really curious, thanks! – uhoh Jan 29 at 14:16
• That was a manual edit ... I thought the Voyager tag was more important than the planets' - it could've happened to Saturn and Neptune as well. – Glorfindel Jan 29 at 14:21