We’ve been exploring the effects of conflict among the editors of Wikipedia pages. As part of that research, I’ve been looking for Wikipedia talk page activity surrounding conflict events. I find the discussion between editors and their motives (expressed or apparent) gives insight into how conflict events grow and affect the participants.
A rather interesting example that I followed for the last couple of days is a conflict over the inclusion of content in the article about COMET, a web architecture paradigm. This particular conflict can be characterized as “inclusionists vs. deletionists“. One side wants all possible information to be available; the other side wants all content that doesn’t fit the strictest standards to be removed. The two opposing views are characterized by their preferred versions of the article (inclusionist – deletionist).
One especially interesting characteristic of this particular conflict is the way that the request for comment was handled. A link to the diff between the inclusionist and deletionist versions of the page was submitted to reddit.com (a news aggregation site) where the link was promoted quickly to the front page. Whereas it is much more common to simply ask other Wikipedia members to get involved in the discussion, this approach brings in a wider audience and shows them the side of Wikipedia that, usually, only dedicated editors care to see.
If you have the energy, I recommend looking through the request for comment section of the talk page. This discussion is a fascinating example of how editors from around the world, that work for free, can hold a reasonable discussion about what does and does not belong in an encyclopedia.