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.
Today, Taha Yasseri at the University of Oxford in the UK and a few pals have ranked the most controversial topics in 10 different languages according to the intensity of the editing wars they generate.
Our best illustrations of 2022
Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.
How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier
These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.
The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.