Wikipedia’s Top Hits: In America, George W. Bush’s Entry Most Controversial

A new study of the most controversial entries on Wikipedia, the crowd sourced, online encyclopedia, shows that in the English language entry the most fought over is the biography of George W. Bush.

The authors of The most controversial topics in Wikipedia, a study that looked at the most controversial pages by language group, finds some topics stir passions in all cultures–such as matters of religion, God, Jesus, and Muhammad–while others are dependent on more localized matters–such as ages old ethnic conflicts and local politics.

The study looked at the pages that are fought over the most by constant behind the scenes editing by users. The most debated pages undergo what the study terms “edit wars,” which is the back and forth of “reverts,” the action of undoing what another editor added. The goal of the study was to find what subjects were most controversial by language, but also to see what topics straddled cultures.

Maybe unsurprisingly, in the English language Wiki, which is visited most heavily in the United States, the bio of George W. Bush still elicits hot controversy. Bush’s entry appears at the very top among the top ten most edited pages in English. Anarchism comes in second and Muhammad third.

But other topics come in for high passions in the other language groups looked at for the study. In French, female politician Marie-Ségolène Royal is most edited, in Spanish the country of Chile is most debated, and, strangely, the Czechs seem to be most interested in homosexuality. Germanic speakers are most concerned about Croatia.

While the top concerns are all different befitting different cultural interests, one topic seems to appear in the top ten of many of the language groups: Jesus. But even as Jesus himself doesn’t appear in every Wiki language group the subjects of religion in the forms of Christianity and Islam seem to appear in some form in all of them.

The study also seemed to indicate that many issues are geographically centered in areas that speak particular languages. Portuguese articles, for instance, seemed to cluster around issues and controversies located in Brazil, the largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world. Japanese Wikis showed the same cultural self-interest. French, English, and German seemed to be the only languages that evinced a wider range of topics spanning the globe.

The study was produced by an Oxford professor, two from Hungary, and one from the United States and will appear in an upcoming book to be published in 2014 by Scarecrow Press.

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  • Commander_Chico

    Must be because of my repeated edits to add “flaming foolish disaster.”

    • warnertoddhuston

      LOL. You are kind of obsessive…. and repeatedly wrong.

      • Consistently wrong, and often not as good as the (very few) sources he cites…

  • JWH

    This just feels strange to me. I don’t think I’ve even looked at his Wikipedia entry since he left office.

  • EricSteel

    A friend of mine who is a college history professor was tired of his students citing Wikipedia. So as a lesson to them about the perils of Wikipedia he created an entry for himself and filled it with outrageous “facts”, things like he was former king of Romania, won several gold medals in the Olympics, all kinds of crazy things. He then had the students research for some of those facts to see who would hit the Wiki page. Of course when they hit the wiki page and saw it was about him they knew they had been punk’d by him.

    • JWH

      I am of the opinion that Wikipedia is great for research …. to START. When I research things for work, I often go to Wikipedia for a general sense of a subject, then I start following the links to the Wikipedia sources.

      • Commander_Chico

        Exactly. Wikipedia is only as good as the cited sources.

    • Constitution First

      UMASS Lowell forbade any solely internet source (WIKI, being singled out in particular) for citation in our undergraduate research papers.

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  • Constitution First

    Wrong. Most controversial: “Climate Change” Hands down.
    Wiki has on retainer an army of trolls on 27-7 guard-dog duty to cancel/delete and change that suggests facts or truth into that entry.

  • THe “Bridge to Nowhere” evolved a lot over time as well.