User:OrenBochman/WGT/Wars of Attrition

Edit wars (wars of attrition)Edit

Some debates are inherently contentious nature leading to edit wars and total war

Due to misaligned incentives, conflicted interests and misguided sense of ownership online communities are plagued by aggressive behavior. On content management systems (e.g. wikis) these manifests as edit wars, online and offline harassment, legal threats. The primary Wikipedia policy involves consensus, however, when a highly Machiavellian editor identifies (say via signaling) that he is faced by a less experienced editor, the high Mach will engage by making a power play.

Power plays are aggressive moves, often within the gray area of acceptable behavior which can have a number of outcomes:

  • Grieving the "opponent" who will stop a Socratic sensation of flow associated with knowledge creation on a wiki. This is typically due to a need to coordinate on a talk page with an uncooperating editor.
  • Confound an opponent who accepting the aggressor is i.e. right will move on.
  • Intimidate a lower mach opponent whose investment in their contribution is a low stake one.
  • Enrage an opponent who, responding in spades could easily respond far beyond they gray are of the acceptable and place himself in a situation where any request for intervention may go against him.
  • Precipitate an intervention from an admin who will usually pass for the above outcomes but who may censure the aggressor.
  • Be foiled by a sophisticated opponent. (c.f. Slim. v.s. Guzman on paid editing)...

Both due to a lax approach enforcement policy highly Machiavelian users who enjoy and thrive in conflict may commit a sequence of aggressive moves.

Based on [1][2]

  • an edit conflict between two users culminating in arbitration may be modeled using a game of wp:chicken.

Two editors are represented:

How can a war of attrition can arise in a world with an objective information function?

  • Agents have (resolvable) information asymmetry say a different interpretation of policy - (c.f. should we hyphenated).
  • Two agents have a categorical information asymmetry say, atheists v.s. Christians or a b
  • Three agents have a non-transitive information asymmetry say three editors playing rock paper scissors.
  • A large scale conflict with two or more groups and any number of

Power playsEdit

Openings or Power Plays (an attempt to claim control over an article) [2]:

  • Article scope - Central and peripheral content is strictly delimited by an individual or core group of contributors.
  • Prior consensus - Decisions made in the past are presented as absolute and uncontested. (this is a common law model using precedents. It also represents an attempt to reduces coordination costs - however, the claim of uncontested decision is clearly taking thing too far.)
  • Power of interpretation - One sub-community commands greater authority than another. (Coalitions will often lead to the formation of one or two elite. These elites can have a valid purpose, but hey do tend to become abusive as they gain power). Many elites have the power to block an action but less power to carry out their wishes.
  • Legitimacy of contributor - Traits of a contributor (e.g. expertise) are used to bolster or undermine a position - (This is Wikipedia's reputation mechanism at play - a factor that can lead to cooperation.)
  • Threat of sanction - Threatening to use sanctioning mechanisms (e.g. blocking) or to pursue formal arbitration. (This is not all bad since threats of punishment can be a path to cooperation).
  • Practice on other pages - Content organization on other articles is used to validate or discredit a revision. (This is a normative argument and may be useful in a TronBot Mediated setting)
  • Legitimacy of source - cited source is discredited.

Middle Games:

  • Talking to one another - for example to try an NPOV coordination
  • Request for Comment - RfC
  • Editor Assistance
  • Netiquette Alert
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration sub-game
Swerve Straight
Swerve Tie, Tie Lose, Win
Straight Win, Lose Crash, Crash
Fig. 1: A payoff matrix of Chicken
Swerve Straight
Swerve 0, 0 -1, +1
Straight +1, -1 -10, -10
Fig. 2: Chicken with numerical payoffs
  • in their view arbitration has tow functions
    • on boarding potentially good contributors and weeding out potentialy bad contributors.
    • explain to those editors that survive the process how to coordinate their work.

a extended form of this game may describe more granular arbcom decisions:

  • Anti Social (vandals,disruptive,discourteous, make a minority attack,stalkers,harassers,vandals etc.)
  • Anti consensus:
  • Violations of Editing Policies
  • Impersonation
  • Contempt
  • Article Chaos

arbitration can result in results

Gloassary & NotesEdit


  1. Hoffman, David A. (2010). "WIKITRUTH THROUGH WIKIORDER" (PDF). Emory Law Journal 59 (2009-17).  Unknown parameter |Author1= ignored (|author1= suggested) (help)
  2. a b Travis Kriplean; Ivan Beschastnikh; David W. McDonald; Scott A. Golder (2007). "Community, consensus, coercion, control: cs*w or how policy mediates mass participation" (PDF). Proceeding GROUP '07. international ACM conference on Supporting group work. Retrieved May 11, 2012.