A Third of Wikipedia Discussions Are Stuck in Forever Beefs

Samantha Cole at Motherboard: “Wikipedia, the internet’s encyclopedia, is run entirely by volunteers—people who spend large swaths of their personal time making sure the information that hundreds of millions of people access every day stays accurate and up-to-date. Of those volunteers, 77 percent of Wikipedia articles are written by just one percent of Wikipedia editors. As such, tensions tend to get a little high, because these editors are often highly invested. They’ve been arguing about corn for nearly a decade, for example, and there’s a long-running edit war about the meaning of neuroticism.

When editors disagree about an edit to be made on a Wikipedia article, they start by discussing it on the article’s Talk page. When that doesn’t result in a decision, they can open a Request for Comment (RfC). From there, any editor can choose a side or discuss the merits of whatever edit is up for discussion, and—in theory—come to an agreement. Or at least, some kind of decision about how to make the edit.

But a new study by MIT researchers found that as many as one-third of RfC disputes go unresolved, often abandoned out of frustration or exhaustion. The most common sticking points were chalked up to inexperience, inattention from experience editors, and just plain petty bickering….

But they didn’t just critique how Wikipedians argue: The researchers developed a tool called Wikum that they say will help resolve more discussions, and make it easier for editors to stay involved when arguments get gnarly. The tool uses the data they found and analyzed in this research, to summarize threads and predict when they’re at risk of going stale….(More)”.