Wednesday, October 19, 2016

One Thing that's Becoming Less Partisan

Many of us worry that political partisanship is increasingly dividing and paralyzing America. But one thing that is not being either divided or paralyzed is Wikipedia:
The findings show enormous heterogeneity in contributors and their contributions, and, importantly, an overall trend towards less segregated conversations. A higher percentage of contributors have a tendency to edit articles with the opposite slant than articles with similar slant. We also observe the slant of contributions becoming more neutral over time, not more extreme, and, remarkably, the largest such declines are found with contributors who interact with articles that have greater biases.
So Wikipedia, at least according to these economists, is becoming more diverse but simultaneously becoming less partisan. I think that's the best news I've read all month.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Wikipedia is sort of a self selecting system, though.

Anyone can edit wikipedia, but there is an established core of veterans who subscribe to the notion of neutrality, and they effectively have the final say. You can edit a page however you want, but odds are good that if it isn't neutral enough, that edit will disappear in short order. This means that new editors either get with the program, get fed up and quit, or stubbornly persist and get banned.

If you set up rules for a web community and are firm in enforcing them - particularly if you give the community itself the power to self enforce - then you trend toward whatever philosophical ideal you've laid out in your rules. It just so happens that the people who built wikipedia decided they wanted it to be factual and neutral, and they've done a good job of encouraging that mentality over others through consistant and collaborative/collective enforcement of those core values and rules.