Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Tanganyika v. Tanzania

Tanzania is the name of a country in Africa. Tanganyika is, among other things, the older name of that country, more or less. It is a formerly used term that should no longer be used to refer to that country.

Wikipedia has this wrong on the indicated page on August 16th, 2014. Any wiki authors out there, please feel free to fix. I recommend changing the term “Tanganyika” to “Tanzania” and deleting the rest of the sentence.

Why not change this myself? Here’s why.

Treatment of Climate Change and Hockey Stick Controversy in Wikipedia

The current Wikipedia entry for Climate Change has about 7000 words on that one page (including notes, all the other words that show up on Wikipedia pages). The current Wikipedia entry for the Hockey Stick Controversy has about 25,000 words in all.

The controversy over one aspect of climate change, the basic observation of temperature change known as the hockey stick graph, is certainly not more complex than, more important than, or harder to explain than climate change as a whole. Is this a failing of Wikipedia? A success for the Climate Science Deniers who are also hoping to have the conversation about “the controversy” be an order of magnitude lengthier in our schools than any discussion of climate change? A random occurrence? I’m thinking a little of all three.

25,000 vs 7,000. Holy crap. Would someone who works with Wikipedia please see to this? Thank you.

Wikipedia Wars

ResearchBlogging.orgThere is an item in PLoS ONE on one of my favorite topics: Wikipedea. This study examines the Dynamics of Conflicts in Wikipedia

… we build up samples of controversial and peaceful articles and analyze the temporal characteristics of the activity in these samples. On short time scales, we show that there is a clear correspondence between conflict and burstiness of activity patterns, and that memory effects play an important role in controversies. On long time scales, we identify three distinct developmental patterns for the overall behavior of the articles. We are able to distinguish cases eventually leading to consensus from those cases where a compromise is far from achievable. Finally, we analyze discussion networks and conclude that edit wars are mainly fought by few editors only.

Sounds like trolls to me.

This is one of more interesting graphs produced by Science (the practice, not te magazine) to date this year:

Figure 4 from the article: Temporal Edit Patterns of Lady Gaga and Homosexuality. The horizontal axis is time, each vertical line represents a single edit. Despite the large differences in average time intervals between successive edits, the bursty editing pattern is common to both cases. Figure from OpenAccess Article at PLoS ONE.

Bottom line: Conflict and “editorial wars” are actually fairly uncommon, but those uncommon cases consume a large amount of editorial resource. The research shows that consensus is usually reached in a short amount of time (but the story is more complex … see the origination article for details).

What the article does NOT address is the quality of the article when the consensus is reached. I do not personally regard “consensus” as the ideal objective.

Yasseri, T., Sumi, R, Rung, A, Kornai, A, & Kert├ęsz, J (2102). Dynamics of conflicts in Wikipedia PLoS ONE, 7 (6) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038869