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JANUARY 29, 2011

Flowers of Babel
venn diagram




If you’ve read a thing or two about the inner workings of Wikipedia, you know that the online encyclopedia’s most interesting conversations—and throw-downs—take place backstage, in the discussion forums. Now a website called Notabilia has taken 100 of the most controversial articles and turned them into something like an artwork, or a group EKG.

“We analyzed and visualized Article for Deletion (AfD) discussions in the English Wikipedia,” the site’s makers explain. “Each time a user joins an AfD discussion and recommends to keep, merge, or redirect the article, a green segment leaning towards the left is added. Each time a user recommends to delete the article a red segment leaning towards the right is added.“ Look at the visualization itself and you’ll see that the most controversial subjects tend to follow a straight line, whereas the conversations where all parties agree look like swirls. All of the threads are clickable—they’ll take you to the actual discussion pages. Taken together, they’re beautiful as well as thought-provoking.

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