Are anonymity-seekers just like everybody else? an analysis of contributions to wikipedia from Tor

Chau Tran, Kaylea Champion, Andrea Forte, Benjamin Mako Hill, Rachel Greenstadt

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    User-generated content sites routinely block contributions from users of privacy-enhancing proxies like Tor because of a perception that proxies are a source of vandalism, spam, and abuse. Although these blocks might be effective, collateral damage in the form of unrealized valuable contributions from anonymity seekers is invisible. One of the largest and most important user-generated content sites, Wikipedia, has attempted to block contributions from Tor users since as early as 2005. We demonstrate that these blocks have been imperfect and that thousands of attempts to edit on Wikipedia through Tor have been successful. We draw upon several data sources and analytical techniques to measure and describe the history of Tor editing on Wikipedia over time and to compare contributions from Tor users to those from other groups of Wikipedia users. Our analysis suggests that although Tor users who slip through Wikipedia's ban contribute content that is more likely to be reverted and to revert others, their contributions are otherwise similar in quality to those from other unregistered participants and to the initial contributions of registered users.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationProceedings - 2020 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP 2020
    PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9781728134970
    StatePublished - May 2020
    Event41st IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP 2020 - San Francisco, United States
    Duration: May 18 2020May 21 2020

    Publication series

    NameProceedings - IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy
    ISSN (Print)1081-6011


    Conference41st IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP 2020
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySan Francisco

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
    • Software
    • Computer Networks and Communications

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