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Wikipedia flamewars

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By Emily Temple-Wood

The science of Wikipedia flamewars

The Washington Post reported Tuesday on the most controversial articles on various language Wikipedias as determined by a cross-continental research group. The Post conveyed mild amusement at the large number of controversies surrounding football/soccer - fully half of the most controversial pages on Spanish Wikipedia and the most controversial on Romanian and Hebrew - and felt that the relatively small number of intractable discussions was a positive both for Wikipedia and for humankind. Of the more predictable disputes, reporter Max Ehrenfreund commented specifically on German Wikipedia's Croatia, and English's George W. Bush, anarchism, and Muhammad. Ehrenfreund discussed the method the researchers used to determine the most controversial articles, which included checking for the frequency of reverts, controlling for vandalism, and examining the diversity of editors working on the article.

Also mentioned was the previous paper published by the Yasseri group that showed that most content disputes trend towards a consensus, with a very small number remaining on a trajectory towards continued conflict.

The research was also covered in outlets including CNN, Digital Journal, the New York Post, CIO Today,, the Washington Times, and NBC, among many others.

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales explains its mission to be mainstream

The Guardian published an overwhelmingly positive article on Jimmy Wales's comments in London on the future of Wikimedia. Wales was quoted lauding the Foundation's efforts with the media-celebrated and community-maligned VisualEditor and Flow. He also praised the Education Program as being part of the technological revolution of education, as well as the GLAM efforts. His remarks in London were also covered by the Independent, which included additional information on Wikipedia Zero and work by the developers' team. Other news stories on the topic were published by outlets including Business Insider and IT Pro Portal.

In brief

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Sounds like Wikipedia Is Even More Sexist Than Everyone Thinks to me - AFAIK all the previous surveys were estimating editor ratios, while this is "users", who are readers + editors, and of course far more of the former. That only 23% of this group is female is new, surprising and alarming to me, though the Pew survey also seems to make some huge assumptions. Johnbod (talk) 01:32, 26 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I think you're misreading the blog post. If you look at the table included there it does say that 23% (well, 22.7%) of editors are female. Readership remains about equally split between genders.
Also if anyone's looking for it, the full research article is here. The link in the blog seems to be broken. the wub "?!" 18:30, 27 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
It looks like a fair bit of fuzzy math to me. They basically concluded that the survey results were biased by self-selection and then tried to figure out how much the results should be fudged to account for the bias. As the abstract says, the results are "contingent on explicit assumptions". Kaldari (talk) 05:29, 31 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

"Flamewars" indeed. What are discussed are edit wars. The fact that the journalist conflates content disputes with flaming people in no way implies that the Signpost, which knows better, should follow suit. Charles Matthews (talk) 07:30, 29 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

The problem with the editing wars piece (and I sent a message via Twitter to two of the authors) is that it doesn't mention the existence of protected pages. Obviously, some of the most controversial Wiki articles have been locked and protected and are thus not targets of active editing wars. But, of course, the investigators have no access to data about people who have tried to edit locked pages but failed. So, this aspect (that the most controversial articles are locked) was not acknowledged at least, not in the article abstract or in the media reviews I read. Newjerseyliz (talk) 14:52, 29 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]


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