Yeah, academics scoff at it and we all know that it should be taken with a grain of salt.
But we’re calling bullshit if you mean to tell us Wikipedia isn’t one of your primary means for learning the history of, well, anything.
Nothing beats primary sources, but there’s only so much time in the day — and even if there were a few more hours you probably wouldn’t put in the necessary time to trace back the Love Actually production process anyway?
Let’s face it: Heuristic or not, Wikipedia is the ultimate digital resource for knowledge. It is, for the broadest of cultural bases, how history is recorded and consumed today.
So, in keeping with the trope that winners write history, it’s worth noting the “edit wars” that determine what ultimately winds up on the free encyclopedia. The Economist explains:
When disputes arise on Wikipedia, contributors are encouraged to go to a “talk page.” But often an “edit war” ensues: a change is repeatedly done by one person and undone by another—known as a “revert.” These reverts represent the most controversial articles. Taha Yasseri of the Oxford Internet Institute and colleagues looked at Wikipedia’s different language editions from their inception (January 2001 for English) to March 2010 and ranked the most contested articles, based on the number of reverts and the number of edits the contributors have made (dubbed their “maturity score”). The results in some ways confirm cultural stereotypes.
The most contested English Wikipedia pages, in descending order:
They all qualify as controversial, excepting No. 4 whose inclusion is probably more a reflection of the WWE’s shitty labor practices.
Click through to see the five most heavily edited pages in 10 different languages.