About Conflict and Polemic

The forms of negativity

Given that Wikipedia pages are the product of positive and negative forces, the problem arises: how do we show such negativity? Various levels of complexity are possible, but there is the need for simple and yet meaningful ways to quickly summarize the negativity of a page. Negapedia uses two measures, conflict and polemic, somehow complementary to each other. Conflict and polemic vary with time, and so every page shows both the recent situation and the historical trend of negativity, thus illustrating the evolutionary behavior. Conflict and polemic of pages can also be compared, providing ranks (for instance top tens) and corresponding awards.


I am at peace with God. My conflict is with Man. (Charlie Chaplin)

Fights occur in Wikipedia in various forms, for instance every time a sentence is deleted, or when an entire page is brought back to an older version. Conflict measures the overall combined size of these fights: in other words, how big is the underlying informative battle. Therefore, a high level of conflict corresponds to very unstable content, whereas a low level of conflict corresponds to content that, once added, tends to stay stable. Summing up, conflict measures the quantity of negativity.


When reason and unreason come into contact, an electrical shock occurs.
This is called polemics.
(Friedrich Schlegel)

Knowing about conflict tells us about the negativity within a page, but what about its community? For instance, the people behind a page could be pacific, but then the arrival of few users could provoke a fight of large proportions, bringing conflict up. Alternatively, the content of a page might be stable (low conflict), but the micro social world of that page could be highly polemical, leading many users to small battles. So, a high conflict does not necessarily mean a generally hostile community, and a low conflict does not imply a pacific community. Polemic takes these other subtle aspects into account, not measuring the quantity of fights (like conflict) but instead their quality: the hostility level of the community.