Wikipedia, in theory, is great. Anyone can write about a topic they are familiar with, and anyone who wants to learn can access it for free. In practice, there is some disagreement.
Of course, there is always disagreement in academia. However professors can’t change each other’s existing papers, then change the back, and change them again, and change them back…
The term for this is “Edit Wars.” It has been the subject of several studies and some organizations have (foolishly) attempted to moderate it.
Floating Sheep, a site that geographically maps activity on the Internet, created a map of edit wars in different language versions of Wikipedia.
This is the English map,
There are whole continents under that red mass. These dots represent where editors have changed or even completely delete another’s work (then the first editor changes it back, and it gets deleted again…).
What could cause such controversy? The top five for this map are George W. Bush, Anarchism, Muhammad, The list of employees of the WWE and Global warming. If you’re not supposed to bring it up with strangers or a family dinner party, you can argue until to your heart’s content with others around the world.
People have accused the Internet of keeping people from talking to each other, which is true. People are much less likely to talk to each other in the waiting room or the subway when they can just take their phone out at talk to whoever, about whatever, they want.
The fact is the Internet has also brought people together and they have found others with similar tastes. People who think cats are funny, people who take pictures of food, and people who love to complain and argue.
What’s interesting is where these people are arguing from. There are a lot of changes to the Spanish language Wikipedia coming from Japan, a small surge in the Czech Wikipedia coming from the Midwest and some huge dots for the French Wikipedia come from Mexico and California. The authors of the article believe some of these come from educational institutions.
The English version, however, is being edited from all over the world, indicating its spread and universality. It is the most widely spoken second language in the world according to nationsonline.org, and the mother-tongue of debaters.
Smaller languages are limited mostly to the nation where they are spoken, but not English. Does fighting on the Internet have the ability to bring the world together? Usually when different cultures came in contact, the result was less than pretty. Now it’s brought down deleting other people work from an online encyclopedia. It’s not great but it could be worse, and it has people talking and not physically fighting (always and improvement). People can also see who is criticizing them and why, and can watch as the comments and changes are made.
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