Stories from the anti-disinformation repository: Tools created and used by Wikimedians to counter disinformation

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A photograph of 2023 Wikimania Singapore attendees raising their hands in celebration
2023 Wikimania Singapore attendees raise their hands in celebration. Image by Zack McCune, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The core mission of the Wikimedia community includes creating, promoting, and sharing trustworthy information on the Wikimedia projects, which includes countering disinformation to ensure those projects’ integrity. This goal demands concerted efforts, where Wikimedia volunteers and communities engage critically with knowledge, verify sources, and uphold encyclopedic principles while creating and sharing content on the projects. Wikimedians embody this spirit through their diligent creation and use of tools that are crucial to identifying and correcting false information in order to safeguard the online information ecosystem. Their arsenal includes powerful tools such as Wikipedia Huggle and Citation Hunt, which are key to maintaining the reliability of information sources on the Wikimedia projects. 

Wikimedians contribute their energy and time to ensure that the Wikimedia projects are accurate, cite reliable sources, and maintain a high standard of integrity, while also challenging the spread of disinformation and false information. In 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation began to identify initiatives and activities that Wikimedia communities, affiliates, and the Foundation created to counter disinformation. This exercise resulted in the Anti-Disinformation Repository, a collection of all tools and projects that prove why and how Wikimedia is an antidote to disinformation

This story is part of a three-part series that explains how Wikimedia volunteers counter disinformation and illustrates how important such efforts are to protect and enrich the online information ecosystem. 

Wikimedians’ tools in the fight against disinformation 

The proliferation of disinformation and manipulation tactics in the online information ecosystem has become more evident in recent years. Detecting and confronting these harmful practices requires detection tools, which Wikimedia volunteers can leverage to effectively counter malicious campaigns before the content gains traction and, thus, safeguard the public from misleading information.

Tools such as Huggle and Citation Hunt reflect common tactics to improve the quality of Wikipedia’s articles and enhance the reliability and trustworthiness of the encyclopedia’s content. Huggle is an editing interface that shows how articles are revised, and is used to deal with vandalism and other unconstructive edits on Wikimedia projects in order to maintain the quality of the projects’ content. This tool, available in more than 30 languages, loads and reviews edits made to the projects in real time, identifying potentially unconstructive edits in the articles and allowing users to revert the changes quickly. Huggle operates as a semi-distributed system, gathering edits through a provider (e.g., the Wikipedia API), and processing and examining them. The information is then shared with other anti-vandalism tools like ClueBot NG so that this data can improve their effectiveness. Huggle’s mission to fight vandalism intersects with the goal to combat disinformation by upholding the integrity of the Wikimedia projects and creating a more reliable environment where accurate and reliable information can flourish.

This proactive approach safeguards the accuracy of information and maintains Wikimedia projects’ credibility as reliable sources of knowledge. Huggle reinforces the community-driven nature of the projects, facilitating more coordination among Wikimedians united in their commitment to address vandalism. Collaborative processes on the projects are based at their core on the use of reliable sources to assess trustworthiness of content. At the same time, Huggle strengthens Wikipedia’s verifiability principle, since it ensures that all content on the encyclopedia is supported by reliable and previously published material from credible sources, defined by the communities themselves. 

In parallel, citations serve as the backbone of Wikipedia’s content in the pursuit of accuracy and credibility. Citation Hunt is a valuable tool in this endeavor, streamlining the process of fact-checking and enhancing the overall trustworthiness of Wikipedia articles by highlighting sentences or paragraphs where citations are lacking. From there, Wikimedians can choose to search and add sources to the statements directly through the tool’s interface. By empowering volunteers to corroborate the verifiability of the sources that they cite in several languages, Citation Hunt helps them to uphold the rigorous principles of verifiability and accuracy that characterize Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects and strengthen the reliability of their content.


The significance of developing and using tools to detect online disinformation and increase information integrity cannot be overlooked. Wikimedians exemplify a proactive approach in confronting disinformation by equipping their communities with sophisticated tools that are user-centric, context-specific, and are designed to support the unique needs of volunteers contributing to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. The commitment of Wikimedians demonstrates that the right tools and collective efforts can safeguard a healthier and more resilient online information ecosystem regardless of borders and contribute to helping everyone, everywhere, to participate in the sum of all human knowledge. 

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