making connections in the Wikipedia Co-op
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MatchBot is a MediaWiki bot that runs in the Wikipedia Co-op, a space that fosters mentorship and the sharing of skills needed to edit English Wikipedia. Co-op members and mentors are identified by the presence of category tags on a profile page. MatchBot inspects these categories to match mentors and learners, who are then free to follow up with each other and start asking and answering questions.

More technical information on the bot's role on English Wikipedia.

Getting started

To download with git:

$ git clone

Update config.json with your bot's login information and database credentials, and make any other necessary changes (see [Configuring MatchBot](#Configuring MatchBot) for more information).

To create a database with the expected schema:

$ python path/to/matchbot/misc/

To run the script manually:

$ python <path-to-config>

If you have installed this with git clone as above and are in the path/to/matchbot/ directory,

$ python .

will run the script.

MatchBot will not run if the directory specified in <path-to-config> does not contain config.json, time.log, and a logs/ folder.

Running on Tool Labs

MatchBot is designed to be run on Tool Labs with an associated MySQL database.

Steps to get started:

  • Make an account for your bot on the wiki you're running it on.
  • Set up an account with database access on Tool Labs.
  • Clone this repository.
  • Edit config.json to include your bot's information (wiki and database logins).
  • Set up a virtual environment with all necessary dependencies. Set up and activate your virtualenv with
path/to/virtualenv$ virtualenv .
path/to/virtualenv$ source bin/activate

and then use pip to install the needed dependencies:

$ pip install mysql-python
$ pip install sqlalchemy
$ pip install git+git://
  • If you want to set the bot up to run every five minutes, add the following line to your crontab in your Labs project account:
*/5 * * * * jsub /path/to/virtualenv/bin/python /path/to/matchbot/ /path/to/matchbot/

This will use the jsub job scheduler on Tool Labs to run the bot using the virtualenv that you have set up previously.


See requirements.txt for dependencies.


  • The development version of mwclient can be installed with pip:
$ pip install git+git://

The 0.7.1 version of mwclient should work as well but has not been tested yet.

  • SQLAlchemy depends on MySQLdb. On Tool Labs, if you are having a problem involving MySQLdb, try running pip install mysql-python from inside your virtualenv.
  • Python3 is not supported.

How matches are made

MatchBot's category-based matching algorithm is as follows:

  • If possible, a Co-op member is matched with an available random mentor in the same category as the request (writing, best practices, etc.).
  • If there is no available mentor with the skill, the member is matched with an available random mentor who has signed up to mentor in the "general skills" category.
  • If there are no mentors available in either the relevant category or as general mentors, the Co-op maintainer is notified so that the maintainer can find a match manually and notify both people.

MatchBot assumes that:

  • Every Co-op member/mentor will create their own profile page.
  • Only sub-pages of Wikipedia:Co-op and Wikipedia talk:Co-op are relevant to MatchBot's activity (queries or edits).
  • Users will correctly tag their profiles with the correct categories, whether via manual edits or through the profile page creation gadget.
  • Mentors who are not accepting new learners will manually add the opt-out category to their profile pages.
  • That there will be a certain amount of oversight and manual intervention in correcting errors, handling missing matches, etc. from the Co-op maintainer.
  • If a Co-op member's profile talk page does not exist when MatchBot tries to post a greeting, it will be created as a Flow board. Existing talk pages will be edited as usual.

Configuring MatchBot

MatchBot keeps user-configurable information (login and database information, text of the greetings to post, the default mentor to contact when a match is not found, relevant category titles, and namespace/subpage information) in a configuration file.

To change these settings, use a text editor to edit config.json. You should add config.json to your .gitignore file to avoid accidentally uploading your bot's credentials to your code repository. A sample configuration file is provided.

JSON quirks:

  • JSON expects no comma after the last item in a list. If you are getting mysterious JSON-related errors, check your lists.
  • Only use double quotation marks, ".

Configurable settings

Categories (categories):

As described in [How matches are made](#How matches are made), MatchBot uses the presence or absence of categories on Co-op pages to match mentors and learners. A mentor may opt out by adding the opt-out category to their profile page. Requests for a mentor are made by placing one of the request categories on a Co-op profile page. A mentor declares their mentorship interests by adding one or more of the mentor categories to their Co-op profile.

All categories should include the "Category:" prefix.

  • general: The category for mentors who are willing to mentor on any category.
  • optout: The category for mentors who do not with to receive new matches.

The following three lists contain descriptions or categories corresponding to the mentorship skills that the Co-op focuses on:

  • skillslist: Short text descriptions of the skills
  • mentorcategories: Category names used on mentor profile pages to offer mentorship in a skill
  • requestcategories: Category names used on member profile pages to request instruction in a skill

There may be any number of skills/categories in these lists, but there must be the same number in each of them and each list must be in the same order.

Database information (dbinfo):

  • dbname, host: Database name and host for the MySQL database you are using to log matches (see Logging).
  • username, password: Username and password for the MySQL database; distinct from the bot's wiki username and password.

Default mentor (defaultmentorprofile):

The title of the Co-op maintainer's profile page in the Co-op. This person will be notified if no match is possible.

Messages (greetings):

MatchBot edits Co-op profile talk pages to deliver matches. It has two types of messages: one that is posted when a match is successfully made to notify the Co-op member and their new mentor of the match, and one that is posted when no match can be made and which welcomes the person and notifies the Co-op maintainer.

Greetings may be posted on standard talk pages or as new topics on a Flow board. If a page has already been created as a standard talk page, the bot cannot turn the page into a Flow board.

The bot will need to have the flow-create-board right in order to create Flow boards on blank pages. This right can be granted by adding the bot to your wiki's flowbot usergroup. If this right is not granted, the bot will post the invitation on a standard talk page.

  • topic: Topic of the new Flow post (for Flow boards) and section header for normal talk pages. Also used as the edit summary.
  • greeting: Text of the Flow post or the section contents. This will generate an Echo notification for the mentor.
    • {0}: The user name of the mentor
    • {1}: The skill requested ("communication", "general editing skills", etc.)
  • nomatchgreeting: Text of the Flow post or section contents if no mentor can be found.
    • {0}: The user name of the Co-op maintainer
  • noflowtemplate: Template to add a new section and notify the learner when posting on a standard talk page. Designed to be used with either the match and no-match greeting.
    • {0}: Title for the new section
    • {1}: Requester's name (so they get an Echo notification)
    • {2}: Section text

NOTE: All {N}-type text listed above must be included in your messages, no matter what other changes you make to the message text. For example, a nomatchgreeting string that does not contain "{0}" is not valid and will lead to errors that prevent the message from being posted.

Login information (login)

  • username, password: Your bot's username and password on the wiki it runs on.
  • protocol: http or https. https is more secure and is recommended if the wiki supports it.
  • site: the URL of the wiki the bot runs on (for instance, for English Wikipedia)
  • useragent: Information about your bot. When running on WMF-run wikis, it must contain your bot's user name and a way to contact the person responsible for running it. For more information, see the User-agent policies.

Namespace/root page/prefixes (pages):

MatchBot operates on sub-pages of the main Co-op page and of its associated talk page.

  • main: Title of the main page. All Co-op profile pages are sub-pages of this page.
  • talk: Title of the main talk page. All Co-op profile talk pages are sub- pages of this page.


MatchBot logs information every time it is run. All log files are stored in path/to/matchbot/logs/; the database of matches is stored on Tool Labs.


Information about each time the bot runs is logged to the matchbot.log text file: the date and time the script was run, whether the script successfully edited one or more pages, successfully logged information on one or more matches to the associated relational database, and whether any errors were handled while the script ran.

Example line in matchbot.log:

INFO 2015-01-01 01:00:45.650401 Edited: False Wrote DB: False Errors: False

To cap the size of these files, a new log file is started every 30 days. Two backup logs are kept, each for 60 days.


Information about matches is logged to a relational database with the following structure:


| Field      | Type        | Null | Key | Default | Extra          |
| id         | int(11)     | NO   | PRI | NULL    | auto_increment |
| luid       | int(11)     | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| lprofileid | int(11)     | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| category   | varchar(75) | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| muid       | int(11)     | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| matchtime  | datetime    | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| cataddtime | datetime    | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| revid      | int(11)     | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| postid     | varchar(50) | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| matchmade  | tinyint(1)  | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| run_time   | datetime    | YES  |     | NULL    |                |

MatchBot's match logging is backed by a MySQL database on Tool Labs.

Help on Tool Labs is available on the #wikimedia-labs IRC channel on Freenode.


When possible, MatchBot simply logs errors and allows the script to continue. Errors are logged to matchbot_errors.log. They include a stack trace for all exceptions raised, including ones that are logged and handled so MatchBot can finish running.

The matchbot_errors.log file is not automatically rotated. If the file is inconveniently large, you can compress it or delete it.