Bookmarked Eight Colours by Alex Schroeder (
If you’ve looked at Recent Changes on this wiki, or on other Oddmuse wikis, you might have noticed that some of the edits are from people identified by a four-coloured “flag” of some kind. If you select the “flag” you’ll see that every colour belongs to a number. What’s up with this? .... we don’t want hostnames, we don’t want IP numbers, but we still want a way to know whether one person edited ten pages, or each of the ten pages was edited by a different person. This is important for peer review: If I look at two or three edits and they all make sense, I can be chill about the remaining seven or eight edits by the same person. It also helps to get a sense of “presence” if I can look at the list of changes for today and see that there was just one person (me), or whether it was two of us, or five. What I’m doing in the code is I’m taking the IP number of people making an edit, use it to compute a number, and take the first four octal digits (in the range from 0–7) as the “flag”

This seems a nice visual way to see who’s editing a wiki, without showing (or storing) host names or IP addresses: turn the IP number into a small ‘flag’ of different vertical color bands. Then it is immediately obvious if a range of edits come from one editor or from multiple. Look at this image for what I mean.

2 reactions on “

  1. My code also uses Perl’s B module to compute the hash. It’s part of the compiler backend for Perl. It provides a hash function which is always available, and which returns a different hash for the same string once you restart Perl. The interesting benefit to me is that this also confounds long-term tracking: after a while, the code used for your IP simply changes.

    • Thank you Alex, for that addition. That makes sense, as in my experience it’s about the most recent edits in a wiki mostly (like the 150 last edits or so). Having a ‘glanceable’ way, like the colour coding, to get a feeling for edit patterns is very useful, but it’s not needed to have it tied to the full history of someone on that wiki.

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