Wikipedia Edit-Wars Studied for ControversyCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: June 28, 2012 05:33AM
Depending on the information you are looking for, Wikipedia can be a good or a bad source. This is why I can still remember some teachers forbidding my classes from using it as a listed source, because how correct its information is depends on whoever most recently edited the page. However, if the information you are collecting is actually about the collective editing of articles, then there is likely no better source.
Published in the Public Library of Science ONE journal is a paper studying how conflicts emerge and eventually resolve on Wikipedia. These conflicts can occur for internal or external reasons, such as editors simply disagreeing with each other or new events that are edited in faster than editors are informed of them. While the external events are impossible to predict, the researchers found the internal conflicts often started or were restarted when new editors joined in.
To measure the controversiality of an article, the researchers looked at the number of edits to the articles, which is recorded by Wikipedia. Consensus is achieved when the controversiality measure becomes static or increases very slowly. Never-ending edit-wars are just the opposite as the edits never stop and controversiality just increases. Luckily, these edit-wars are very uncommon with just 100 being found in the 3.2 million articles the researchers examined. Those wars were normally perpetuated by editors who have fought previously, and are not common within the editorial community.