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Edit Wars Reveal The 10 Most Controversial Topics on Wikipedia

Nov 6, 2014 9:42:40 PM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen

Published: 17 July 2013

From MIT Technology Review...

Article Excerpt: Wikipedia, the encyclopaedia that anybody can edit, is one of the more extraordinary collective efforts of the crowd. Wikipedia’s own estimate is that it has some 77,000 contributors working on more than 22 million articles in 285 languages. The largest edition, the English version, alone offers over 4 million articles.So it’s not surprising that disputes arise over the wording of these articles. Indeed, the controversy can sometimes reach war-like proportions with one editor changing the wording and another immediately changing it back again.These so-called edit wars can be used to identify controversial topics but an interesting question is how controversy varies across languages and cultures. Given its unique position that straddles multiple languages and cultures, Wikipedia is in the perfect position to provide some answers.

Link to the full news story here:

InterpretAmerica's take: Wikipedia is a resource both revered and reviled, depending on who you ask. There is no denying, however, that it is a de facto database for many of the world's languages. Wikipedia provides information and real-time interaction in 285 languages on a single website. It contains a wealth of potential research opportunities and insight into the world's languages and how they interact with each other. This initial research project gives us a fascinating look at how language, culture, and the newly available global dissemination of information intersect. Which topics are hotly debated regardless of language? Which topics appear more linked to culture and region? Interpreters know better than most that language is culture and culture is language. This article gives a look at one way in which that truth manifests. 


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