Dariusz Jemielniak, full professor of managment at Kozminski University, co-founder of NeRDS (New Research on Digital Societies) group, Berkman Center for Internet and Society fellow at Harvard University and visiting scholar at MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and member of Board of Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, opens the new series "brainfood. methods 2 inspire" at Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, inspired by exploreAT! project, aiming to stimulate experimental scholarship and foster innovation in the Humanities.
In my presentation, basing on a longitudinal, qualitative, ethnographic, study of Wikipedia community (en-wiki and pl-wiki), conducted 2006-2016, relying on my experience of participating in the Wikipedia community in several different roles (admin, bureaucrat, steward, etc.), and forthcoming in a book later this year, I want to present an analysis of typical conflict trajectories on Wikipedia. I am going to use the so-called critical case analysis, and base the discussion on the most epic and longest edit war in the history of English Wikipedia, that is the infamous Gdańsk-Danzig war, which I analyzed edit by edit and comment by comment (over 400 thousand words). I want to show that conflicts are not only inevitable on Wikipedia, but that they are an important reason making people edit. Conflicts help increase the stakes of staying in the community and escalate the commitment. And they are persistent exactly because of the way the social system of Wikipedia interactions is designed: breaking the rules results in blocks, so the only way to win an argument is to add sources and repeat our view long enough. And yet, the trajectories of conflicts (I am going to describe the four most common ones) are far from optimal, as they often result from editors' exhaustion, and quitting (especially in the case of new editors, whose commitment has not escalated yet). In the presentation I am going to offer several possible tweaks and lessons from other participative communities and open collaboration methodologies (action research, Mondragon, etc.).