Not starting an edit war on Wikipedia

I had a rather enlightening experience involving editing a page on Wikipedia last month. When an edit conflict arises, it’s a pretty interesting situation. Wikipedia is set-up not as a voted democracy, but such a way everyone reach a consensus on the changes, else you incur the wrath of the admins. Here’s my story on my first ever foray into it.

When I was building my MicroPoints iPhone app, the primary source of information on the Microsoft Points conversion rate came from the Microsoft Points Wikipedia page. At the time, the article had displayed a chart on the MSPoints conversion rates.
Of all the research I had done online, this was one of the most comprehensive places on the internet that dealt with the conversion rates. As such, I based most of my conversion metrics on this chart. 🙂

Shortly after I released MicroPoints, I went back to the page to find this chart missing. 🙁
Checking the editing history, I found that another Wiki user had deemed the chart as a potential advertising and deleted it. I thought this was in error, and undeleted it stating it was a demonstration of currency conversion, as per any other currency page on Wikipedia. The other user said that this didn’t justify its presence on the page, and proceeded to remove it. In what I could probably call a rather n00bish move on my behalf, I nearly sparked an edit war by continuously restoring it,  with the other user removing it.

This finally culminated in a near initiation of Wikipedia Content Arbitration, as well as the accusation that I may be  involved in a Conflict of Interest on the matter (ie, there’s no proof I’m not a Microsoft employee trying to pimp the company. XD)

Before contacting the arbitration committee, I thought I would try one last thing. I opted to try out the Wikipedia Third Opinion policy, where a neutral editor can come in and offer their opinion. I wrote up my profile, clearly stating my origins/goals, and wrote a rationale for the usage of this chart under the Third Policy guidelines. A neutral editor did promptly come in and review the case, and sadly for me, said they thought the chart should go too. Their reasoning was that the chart’s purpose was sufficiently ambiguous, it was also potentially non-static content that might change, not to mention it disrupted the layout of the content on the page as well.

Since there were now an overwhelming number of reasons to say that the chart should be best left off, I decided that in the interests of everyone, I should relent and remove it. As a final compromise though, I found another chart that was extremely similar on the IGN website, and was able to place a link to that on the bottom of the page. 🙂

All in all, I don’t hold any grudges and am thankful for the experience. Although not directly available from the Wiki article itself, the information is still accessible from there, so I don’t feel as if the information was truly lost. The other editors were also very professional and commended me on my own standards (since I am effectively making MicroPoints less valuable by trying to preserve this info hehe), and in that respect, I’m quite happy I didn’t end up ticking anyone off at all. ^_^;

At this point, at the recommendation of one of the other editors, I’m considering getting into contributing to Wikipedia a bit more. Content writing aside, there are a lot of Japanese pages on there that need translating, so it would be a cool exercise to undertake. 🙂

In any case, if anyone else out there gets into a Wikipedia dispute, the only things I can recommend is to make your own position very clear, and never lose your cool. If you do all of that, you’ll be fine. 🙂

In the meantime, I plan to place a copy of the deleted chart on my blog (A new post so you don’t have to read all of this to get to it XD), just in case. 🙂 [UPDATE: Microsoft Points Chart from Wikipedia]

  • Published May 28, 2010
  • Categories Personal