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Future Internet 2016, 8(3), 31; doi:10.3390/fi8030031

Conflict and Computation on Wikipedia: A Finite-State Machine Analysis of Editor Interactions

1,2,3,4
1
Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, Department of Informatics, Indiana University, 919 E 10th St, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA
2
Program in Cognitive Science, Indiana University, 1900 E 10th St, Bloomington, IN 47406, USA
3
Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, 513 N Park Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA
4
Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
Academic Editor: Emilio Ferrara
Received: 16 February 2016 / Revised: 14 June 2016 / Accepted: 29 June 2016 / Published: 8 July 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [504 KB, uploaded 8 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

What is the boundary between a vigorous argument and a breakdown of relations? What drives a group of individuals across it? Taking Wikipedia as a test case, we use a hidden Markov model to approximate the computational structure and social grammar of more than a decade of cooperation and conflict among its editors. Across a wide range of pages, we discover a bursty war/peace structure where the systems can become trapped, sometimes for months, in a computational subspace associated with significantly higher levels of conflict-tracking “revert” actions. Distinct patterns of behavior characterize the lower-conflict subspace, including tit-for-tat reversion. While a fraction of the transitions between these subspaces are associated with top-down actions taken by administrators, the effects are weak. Surprisingly, we find no statistical signal that transitions are associated with the appearance of particularly anti-social users, and only weak association with significant news events outside the system. These findings are consistent with transitions being driven by decentralized processes with no clear locus of control. Models of belief revision in the presence of a common resource for information-sharing predict the existence of two distinct phases: a disordered high-conflict phase, and a frozen phase with spontaneously-broken symmetry. The bistability we observe empirically may be a consequence of editor turn-over, which drives the system to a critical point between them. View Full-Text
Keywords: conflict; cooperation; finite-state machine; tit-for-tat; critical transition; hidden Markov model; memory; social norms; knowledge commons; Wikipedia conflict; cooperation; finite-state machine; tit-for-tat; critical transition; hidden Markov model; memory; social norms; knowledge commons; Wikipedia
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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DeDeo, S. Conflict and Computation on Wikipedia: A Finite-State Machine Analysis of Editor Interactions. Future Internet 2016, 8, 31.

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