Accessibility links

There’s a moment when a relationship goes wrong when you’re arguing about how to peel an orange, when one of you shouts, “It’s not about the **** orange!”

And, of course, it isn’t. Take that dynamic, add anonymity, a few thousand people with time on their hands and chips on their shoulders, ethnic pride, cultural snobbery, a slew of pedants, and a few vandals, and you have Wikipedia’s edit wars.

Anyone can edit Wikipedia, so on certain topics, users “repeatedly undo each other's edits in an attempt to make their own preferred version.” There are ways to keep this in check with the “three revert rule,” where an editor can only edit a page three times in a day. The high priests of Wikipedia (the administrators) also can step in to protect pages if things get out of hand. But despite all that, still the edit wars rage.

You might expect George W. Bush, Islam, or 9/11 to attract impassioned voices, but Wrestlemania 23? Really? As the people-powered oracle says: “Occasionally, even experienced Wikipedians lose their heads and devote every waking moment to edit warring over the most trivial thing.”

So in honor of Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary here, in my opinion, are the five lamest edit wars. (All descriptions are from Wikipedia's excellent "Lamest edit wars" page.)

1. Eastern Gray Squirrel


"Native species in North America where the dominant spelling is gray. Invasive species in the United Kingdom where they call it grey. Nationalistic tempers simmer for two years in slow and remorseless edit war after a content request for comment supposedly settles the issue in favor of the Americans. Dissatisfied Brits continually tiptoe back, changing a to e, without ever actually proposing a title change for the article. The British are coming! The British are coming! To arms!"

2. List of fictional ducks

"You read that right; edit warring over nonexistent waterfowl. Page protections, admin interventions, accusations of vandalism and sockpuppetry fly like...well, like things that fly, anyway."

3. Death Star

"Is it 120km or 160km in diameter? Even 900km? How shall they word that? Is the hyperdrive class 3 or 4? Who really cares? George Lucas apparently doesn't."

4. Flavor of Love

"Should second-season winner "Deelishis" be credited as her birth name, Chandra Davis, or her stage name, London Charles? Months of IP additions and months of "IF YOU REVERT WITHOUT DISCUSSION, YOU'RE GONNA BE BLOCKED!" ensue. In the end, nobody got blocked and the dispute died down on its own, probably because both sides realized they were battling over a woman who willingly went on a reality television show to "fall in love with" Flavor Flav. Yeah, boyeeeeeee!"

5. Clover (creature)

"The creature from the movie Cloverfield was never explicitly named in the movie, or was it? Is "Cloverfield" the name of the military casefile, or the monster, or both? Some reporter referred to the creature itself as "Cloverfield" so let's go with "Cloverfield (creature)" Wait, shouldn't we follow suit with Frankenstein and call it "The Cloverfield creature"-Or wait, maybe it should just be "Cloverfield creature", maybe it should be "Cloverfield (monster)", no we can't do that, it shows bias and isn't NPOV. Rumor has it that the production staff just called it "Clover", but that's just a nickname, it doesn't count, does it? No matter, we can't use that until we find a source confirming that they call it Clover....OK, now we have one. How's about we skirt all naming conventions and call it "The Monster/Clover (creature)" to make everyone happy. Nah that's no good, back to "Clover (creature)" But wait, that's still not the true name of the creature, so we shouldn't use that. Followed by and interspersed with a cavalcade of "Alright how about we just compromise and set it back to <editor's favorite name>." It's extremely important that an article on a fictional topic which only narrowly escaped AfD be properly named. Rather amusingly, considering how much edit warring there was/is on the page, it's been awarded "Good Article" status."

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG