Wikipedia 'edit wars' show dynamics of conflict emergence and resolution

June 20, 2012

Wikipedia's crowd-sourced content generation has made it the world's largest encyclopedia, but this model also leads to "edit wars" when editors disagree. The dynamics of these conflicts provide an interesting window into collaborative content production and the emergence and resolution of conflicts in an online environment, all of which are explored in a paper published June 20 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The authors, led by Taha Yasseri of Budapest University of Technology and Economics, identified pages that are either controversial, such as the articles for homosexuality and George W. Bush, or "peaceful," like the pages for and pumpkins. They found that the majority of pages are peaceful, but that edit wars were commonly waged between a small number of strongly disagreeing editors.

Yasseri adds, "Usually editors act in a rather independent, and uncorrelated manner, while during conflicts their activity becomes more intense and follows a more coherent pattern."

However, they also found that consensus is generally reached in a reasonable time, even for controversial articles. There are a small number of articles where this is not the case, classified as never-ending wars, and these generally have many different active editors who have fought at different times.

Explore further: Survey finds majority of Wikipedia articles about companies contain factual errors

More information: Yasseri T, Sumi R, Rung A, Kornai A, Kerte´sz J (2012) Dynamics of Conflicts in Wikipedia. PLoS ONE 7(6): e38869. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038869

Related Stories

Researchers reveal Wikipedia gender biases

August 11, 2011

Computer science researchers in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering are leading a team that has confirmed a substantial gender gap among editors of Wikipedia and a corresponding gender-oriented ...

Report claims Wikipedia losing editors in droves

November 30, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The findings of a Spanish study claiming that Wikipedia's editors are leaving at an alarming rate have been refuted by the Wikimedia Foundation and by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

Wikipedia founder hails role in US

January 26, 2012

(AP) -- The founder of Wikipedia hailed the online encyclopedia's role in helping halt U.S. legislation aimed at cracking down on Internet piracy, saying the proposed bills needed to be stopped because they were flawed.

Wikipedia editors question site's blackout

January 18, 2012

Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day? The shutdown of one of the Internet's most-visited sites is not sitting well with some of its volunteer editors, who say the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten ...

Recommended for you

New ancient otter species among largest ever found

January 23, 2017

Dr. Denise Su, curator and head of paleobotany and paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History was co-author on new research that described a species of otter new to science and that is among the largest otter ...

Major Viking Age manor discovered at Birka, Sweden

January 19, 2017

During spring of 2016 a number of large presumed house terraces were identified by the authors at Korshamn. As a consequence high resolution geophysical surveys using ground-penetrating radar were carried out in September ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

CapitalismPrevails
not rated yet Jun 20, 2012
Why doesn't Wikipedia just post articles from both sides of the issue? Posting one just seems self righteous to me.
ekim
not rated yet Jun 21, 2012
Ah yes, the "fair and balanced" approach. Black versus White doesn't work in the real world due to the prevalence of Grey. The result is either six billion individual articles or a consensus that pleases none.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.