Wikipedia and Political Discourse: The New Hope?

By Shane Greenstein

Posted on November 11, 2016


Rob Gebelhoff of the Washington Post wrote an awesome piece about the latest Wikipedia research to come from Feng Zhu, Yuan (Grace) Gu, and yours truly. The piece by Gebelhoff is called “Science Shows Wikipedia is the Best Part of the Internet.” It refers to our research, Ideological Segregation Among Online Collaborators: Evidence from Wikipedia.


A few details: We researched the prevalence of segregated conversations among the editors of the articles about US politics. We examined over a decade of history for over seventy thousand articles, which were edited by over two million registered contributors.


We classified articles by their degree of redness and blueness (and every shade of purple in between). Based on the changes they made to articles, we classified editors by their degree of redness and blueness (and purple too). Then we examined whether red editors went to red or blue articles, and similarly for blue editors.


Bottom line: We find more “opposites attract” than “birds of a feather.” Moreover, some of the most extreme editors become more moderate over time.


If you are interested, check it out. As you can probably guess, it takes a bit of work to organize and analyze this much data. We hope you find the details interesting. Other articles about the research include…



The preceding is republished on TAP with permission by its author, Professor Shane Greenstein, Harvard Business School. “Wikipedia and Political Discourse: The New Hope?” was originally published on Digitopoly on October 20, 2016.