Do you use Wikipedia as your go-to online reference? Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia with over 30 million articles that are written collaboratively by volunteers from around the globe. But what happens when these contributors clash on crowd-sourced material?
When a dispute arises on Wikipedia, every contributor is encouraged to discuss the matter on a “talk page.” Often, however, an “edit war” ensues where changes are made repeatedly by one person only to be “reverted” by another individual. Looking at the number of reverts reveals which articles are the most controversial. Taha Yasseri of the Oxford Internet Institute studied Wikipedia’s different language editions from their inception in January of 2001 and ranked the most contested articles based on the frequency of edits and reverts made (called their “maturity score”). Not too surprisingly, the results displayed in the graph from the Economist confirm, in some ways, preconceived cultural stereotypes. English-speakers, for example, especially Americans, are known to bicker over politics, religion, and global warming, while French-speakers have been found squabbling over UFOs and the psychology of Sigmund Freud.
Hopefully when the Wikimania community meets for their annual gathering between August 7th and 11th in Hong Kong, the mood will be a little more festive among collaborators!
Have you ever published or edited an article on Wikipedia? Have you ever but heads with another collaborator?