In particular, Yasseri and co focus on whether bots disagree with one another. One way to measure this on Wikipedia is by reverts—edits that change an article back to the way it was before a previous change.
Over a 10-year period, humans reverted each other about three times on average. But bots were much more active. “Over the 10-year period, bots on English Wikipedia reverted another bot on average 105 times,” say Yasseri and co.
Bots and humans differ significantly in their revert habits. The most likely time for a human to make a revert is either within two minutes after a change has been made, after 24 hours, or after a year. That’s clearly related to the rhythms of human lifestyles.
Robots, of course, do not follow these rhythms: rather, they have a characteristic average response time of one month. “This difference is likely because, first, bots systematically crawl articles and, second, bots are restricted as to how often they can make edits,” say Yasseri and co.
Nevertheless, bots can end up in significant disputes with each other, and behave just as unpredictably and inefficiently as humans.
Many of the bots seem to be designed to make varyin- language versions of the same Wikipedia pages consistent with each other, yet the bots do not always agree. Solve for the equilibrium, as they say…