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Wikipedia Controversy Explorer and Detector

Team members

Erik Borra, Pierre Jullian de La Fuente, Carolin Gerlitz, Paul Girard, Anne Helmond, Mathieu Jacomy, Marc Tuters, Thomas Poell, Bernhard Rieder, Esther Weltevrede


Comparative in terms of 1. comparing networked articles, 2. comparing languages, 3. comparing article with talk pages histories

By comparing activity and controversy indicators such as templates we are thus able to determine where the controversy is located

How it works

Insert one article url of a controversial topic
the tool will retrieve the related article network, in a selected variety of languages, and including talk pages.
subsequently all articles and talk pages are analyzed for the following indicators: edit activity, templates, bots, links in the intro, creation dates and these are visualized

explore and locate controversy

Wikipedia Global Warming

Extend on the network of articles - comparative
Pace of the controversy - intensified activity in specific articles
emerging keywords, especially after forking -

Cross-language comparison of the global warming controversy
this is both interesting in terms of local pov on the controversy as well as the local negotiation and implementation of policy, guidelines into bots and infrastructure

  • determine article network based on Global Warming
  • editing activity per article over time - Pace visualization, Stream Graph visualization
  • editing activity of top contributors across articles
  • article network graph over time - to which articles does Global Warming link to, bi-directional links
  • cross country analysis - in-depth analysis for German, French, Dutch
  • controversial countries - determine article networks
  • editing activity in network over time
  • image comparison across language articles

Johanna’s article on cultural differences


  1. All internal Wikipedia links within the body text of Wikipedia article (Global_warming).
    Depth = 1
  2. Convert the URL encoded characters into original characters (URL-decoder - Bernhard) - UTF-8
  3. Translate article names from the different language networks into English by fetching the English article name from the side bar (under Languages). And include it as second node name/label with the original language: e.g.



  1. From the starting article (global warming in different languages) the outlinks and the ‘what links here’ are retrieved. Compare these two lists and keep only mutual links to serve as ‘starting points’
  2. Outlinks from the starting points are retrieved (1 depth) and co-linked.
  3. Output in csv and gexf format.

List of starting articles:

1. Chinese

2. English

3. Hindi

4. Russian

5. Japanese

6. German

7. Korean

8. Farsi

9. Arabic

10. Afrikaans

11. Spanish

12. Portuguese

13. Indonesian

14. Italian

15. French

1. Get all editing steps

Initial discussion page analysis in German, Spanish, Afrikaans and English
What are the culturally specific (as well as overlapping) policies, practices, bots, rules etc?

German: Articled flagged as “controversy” in discussion page. Recurrent questions are collected in the FAQ section of the discussion page.
FAQ section addresses the absence of global warming critique - states openly that controversial opinions have been outsourced to a specific article on “controversy around global warming”

Spanish: Main page: POV disputed.
Three banners on discussion page:
  1. Whole or part of article has been translated from English
  2. Polemic/disputed theme. Include references.
  3. This article is a frequent source of heated debates. Please try to remain calm when editing here. > Instructions on “how to remain calm in a conflict”
Be as cool as a cucumber.

Request for Spanish images: compare the image URLs across language wikipedia’s

Afrikaans: Siebot (interwiki bot) is very active, making links to other languages (confirms Sabine’s finding)

Afrikaans is not active at all. Discussion page has 1 sentence, lot of bots.

The nationality of bots
In Afrikaans there many bots editing the page. sometimes the bots do not have a page, or the default template.
Global bots:
global bots (without policy)

The following wikis have opted in to global bots, but otherwise do not use the bot policy. They are not consulted on changes to the policy.


Percentage of edits made by bots
Are the same bots in the same spaces? Compare lists, or maybe later Gephi network. Lots of bots, no humans,

edit activity

Talk: pages
edit activity talk page
Compare editing and discussion activity - does both occur at the same pace?
(In the case of Global Warming, the discussion page features more edits than the article. It shows peaks pf activity when there are none in the article.)

  • Bots_languages3.png:

  • Bots_languages4.png:

  • Bot_per_country.png:

  • outImagesGraph2.png:
Topic revision: r2 - 13 Oct 2011, EstherWeltevrede
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