The editing war has been around since the very beginning, back in 2004 or so, and since then, in the endless wars, a very sophisticated tradition of "Code of Conflict" has already been established as a robust basis of solving conflicts. It's not actually a Code, but a consensus of how the official policies of Wikipedia, such as Neutral Point of View, No Original Research, Citing Sources, should be enforced regarding to the articles about China, the guidelines are clear, and there is no question.
For example, on whether Taiwan should be seen as an independent country - The resolution is simple: Neutral Point of View. If a government claims it's a legitimate government, its official title should be used by default, whether the claim is justified or not is another matter of fact to be described within the articles. Thus, all references to the government of Taiwan is by default, Republic of China, and all references to the government of PRC is by default, People's Republic of China. If there are political questions involved, all the major opinions and important minority opinions should be presented, backed by citations. The same rule applies to all other governments, Wikipedia has no problem of calling the terrorist group the "Islamic State", and then described it as a illegitimate terrorist group within the article.
This system has been kicking around for more than a decade, and any cooperative Wikipedia editors have no problems accepting it, nobody will be offended by "Republic of China", even if the editor is a member of the CPC.
It's not to say that conflicts don't exist. Of course, strong conflicts occur daily, but the conflicts are about the matter of facts and their interpretation (whether the inclusion of this opinion fits the policies of Wikipedia, whether or not the overtone of the article is biased towards the United States, etc). For example, you should expect to see heavy conflicts on articles related to the protests in Hong Kong, on what opinions should be included in the article and how to interpret the sources. But what the policies should be is clear to all editors, the argument is mainly about their treatment and interpretation.
On the other hand, there are people that doesn't know what the community is about, refuse to read the policies, or don't want to follow the rules, these people will start editing wars, indeed, but their edits will be reverted, with their accounts banned when enough people have been annoyed. The constant influx of these people are a daily phenomenon, and warning and banned them is the most underappreciated job. We have seen these people coming from all geographical area and political camps, including PRC, Hong Kong, ROC, Singapore, or the U.S. However, these are mostly trolls, not Wikipedia editors, and these conflicts should not be confused with the actual conflicts within Wikipedia.
Some of the most infamous trolls are from Taiwan, it's not related to the geopolitics, they always exist regardless of political camps. On the other hand, I've even seen literal followers of fascism from PRC that has no problem of following the Wikipedia policies and writing unobjectionable articles... The trolls from PRC contribute the greatest number of unhelpful edits, though.
It's not to say that articles actually follows the official policies as well. Of course many articles are biased. They exist, because there aren't enough people willing to improve them. It's similar to contributing a controversial feature to a FOSS project, the argument can go for months, with a lot of revisions, so it's not a job that many people want to hold. Nevertheless, it's doable, at least for the most notable topic that there are a lot of potential contributors.
Power struggles are common, because everyone has (1) a personal opinion over the subjects, (2) an opinion over how the subject should be described in Wikipedia, (3) an opinion over the existing articles, (4) an opinion over the personal opinion of another Wikipedia editor's opinion, etc, so it's unavoidable. Yet, life still goes on.
Personally, I see the greatest success story is 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests . It's always the most controversial article of all on the entire Chinese Wikipedia, the conflicts have been ongoing forever. The "this article is biased" template was here for 13 years or so. Yet, a few years ago, all conflicts have been settled, all perceived issues have been fixed in the article, and now the content of the article has been accepted by most to be an objective and comprehensive description of the events.
Finally, I must point out that the Chinese Wikipedia don't have the culture of deletion, unlike the English version. Some experienced Chinese editors went to edit the English version, only to find many edits have been reverted and canceled.
This is a really interesting bit. I've largely stopped contributing content to Wikipedia because almost every contribution I've made in recent years has been reverted with little/no explanation. And I'm not talking about controversial topics, either: it's just mostly adding clearly objective information to computer science articles. My impression is that it's territorialism, where a few academic subject matter experts have gained enough reputation to control a page, and now won't let anyone edit it.
Do you have any thoughts on:
1. Why the difference in cultures of deletion?
2. What are the implications?
The entire internet itself used to have a similar barrier to entry in that it wasn't something that 'normal' people 'did.' And so you had a relatively small group of generally 'more academically inclined' individuals mostly just engaging with one another. But as you opened the flood gates the 'newcomers' gradually became the majority and the internet was completely reshaped in their image. So compare, for instance, old newsgroup archives to e.g. Twitter or Facebook. Makes it quite easy to lose faith in society. In my case it simply led to me tossing aside any notion of tabula rasa.
But the point of this is that I don't think individuals who are 'more academically inclined' are the sort to sit around wasting hours, days, years edit warring and effectively trolling one another. They can accept different views, values, and also correct themselves when they discover they had a poorly formulated view. Wikipedia entered the game early enough that the internet hadn't gone completely to the 'less academically inclined', and so it had some time to grow. In today's environment Wiki, from scratch, would be simply impossible. By contrast, the Chinese Wiki gets to party like its 1992.
> By contrast, the Chinese Wiki gets to party like its 1992.
On one hand, I'd say it's a gross mischaracterization of the Chinese Wikipedia and the Web in general. Many millions of people now has unprecedented accessed to the Web, and due to the current political atmosphere, various forms of populism has reached its full heights online, not unlike the English-speaking world. Wikipedia is not free from it.
Meanwhile, I'd your description is somewhat true. Due to the cultural barrier created by the Great Firewall, if you are a daily viewer of Wikipedia, it's likely that you are already a more academically-inclined individual. It's even more so if you have an account and make edits.
If the Great Firewall doesn't exist, and the Chinese Wikipedia has high popularity, I guess the community's attitudes towards newcomers will be very difference.
> My impression is that it's territorialism, where a few academic subject matter experts have gained enough reputation to control a page, and now won't let anyone edit it.
I guess it's mostly true. It's more likely to happen if the author has put extensive efforts on writing the article and has successfully defended one's article. But I'd give a minor correction: now they won't let anyone from whose writing style, don't appear to be a person who is familiar to Wikipedia and its cultural norm to edit it.
If you've edited enough Wikipedia articles and participated in the community long enough, you'll be trained to be extremely cautious. And it's very easy to tell from your writing style, mainly it's about (1) citing sources, and (2) neutral tone.
For example, if there is an article about cryptography, and there is an outdated mention of RC4. You may want to add more information, and write
> Nowadays, RC4 is insecure and considered unsuitable for secure applications, thus it is banned and rarely used.
To a Wikipedia editor like me, I'll read this sentence as,
> Nowadays [when?], RC4 is insecure [who says?] and considered unsuitable for secure applications [what applications?], thus it is banned [by whom?] and rarely used [for what?].
If I'm the editor, I'll first spending 30 minutes to find some sources to back the claims. Sometimes, the claims are so obvious that you'll need to be creative when finding sources, peer-reviewed papers and the introductory textbooks are often good sources. Then, I'll write,
> Since 2013, due to the discovery of additional weakness in RC4, such as [[BEAST attack]], or biases in the ciphertext stream, well-known cryptographers such as Matthew Green criticized its continued use despite questionable security status. In 2015, the use of RC4 in SSL/TLS is prohibited by publication of RFC7465 standard.
 Pouyan Sepehrdad; Serge Vaudenay; Martin Vuagnoux (2011). Discovery and Exploitation of New Biases in RC4. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 6544. pp. 74–91. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-19574-7_5
 Matthew Green. "Attack of the week: RC4 is kind of broken in TLS". Cryptography Engineering. (NOTE: this is a blogpost, and normally not a reliable source, it's best to find a news article from a news portal that quote M. Green indirectly).
 IETF. "RFC 7465 - Prohibiting RC4 Cipher Suites".
See the differences?
> 1. Why the difference in cultures of deletion?
> 2. What are the implications?
Each version of Wikipedia operates independently (direct interventions from the Wikimedia Foundation exist, but rare), the rules of the English Wikipedia sometimes don't even applies. Thus, developing different culture in each community is not surprising.
In this case, I think it's simply a difference in philosophy, namely, whether we should take a more liberal approach or a more conservative approach on the enforcement of policies.
There are always enough articles on Wikipedia, and a lot of them do not even reach the common standard of Wikipedia, major reworks are always needed. For example, some articles are written like a personal essay, you can still find these articles on English Wikipedia, if the topics are not common to be reviewed by enough people. Original research is another major problem, some articles not only express opinions of other sources, but some of their own without citations. Meanwhile, the issue of Eternal September and the constant influx of below-average edits can only make the situation worse. In the extreme case, some believe the addition of a poorly-written article is worse than nothing.
Other people believe that we should tolerate the existence of below-average edits, and articles that don't strictly fit Wikipedia's standard of notability, have original researches, etc, to encourage contributions. If you see poorly-written content, it's best for someone who know better to fix it in the future.
Histrionically, members of the Chinese Wikipedia always believe the number of editors are not enough and the community should take an inclusionist idea and be relatively open to contributions. Even today, due to the Great Firewall, it's still a major opinion. But there's also a deletionist faction, concerning the quality of the articles. But it seems on Chinese Wikipedia, neither faction dominates, and for most of the time there is a somewhat peaceful coexistence.
For example, in comparison to lacking professional participants, Chinese Wikipedia seems to be more welcoming for edits on rock stars, video games, or animations. A lot of these articles contain fandom culture that is not really adheres to Wikipedia's policies. A few years ago, there was even a "Spoiler Warning!" templates, which is quite funny. Though standards have been higher in recently years, templates like these have already been canceled because it's unsuitable for an encyclopedia, but still, it's mainly inclusionism here...
Also, the enforcement of rules is more passive. If you add some paragraphs to an article that looks reasonable, most editors won't touch it, unless it's controversial.
On the other hand, if you ask for a peer-review, you'll encounter the faction of deletionism. The most common example is participating the community vote to decide whether a new article should be showed on the homepage (Do You Know..., a common way to increase exposure and feedback of new articles). It's likely that you'll face a conservative review.
I think this system, more or less, works. But the Chinese Wikipedia does have a lot of pooly-written articles, I have to say.
Yes. But I think the exclusion you're talking about is a good thing, IMO, and not really what I'm talking about. I've literally added citations to scholarly research, or made a word a hyperlink to a related Wikipedia article and had them deleted without explanation.
Ironically, I've added a few whole pages and had them go largely unchallenged--I suspect this is because adding pages is a less visible event to those watching a topic.
I don't think Wikipedia should lower their standards. It may be that there was some very good reason my changes were reverted. My underlying complaint is really just that there's a lack of visibility into why changes were reverted.
Aha, I watch all the articles I've written and check them routinely. Any changes is obvious and cannot escape detection (but I do not revert changes!). Meanwhile, adding new articles or changing less-known articles can only be found from the global Wikipedia changelog that have huge amount of activities, I guess people only checks for blatant guideline violations.
> Yes. But I think the exclusion you're talking about is a good thing, IMO, and not really what I'm talking about. I've literally added citations to scholarly research [...] and had them deleted without explanation.
Hmmm, another reason for deletionism is whether the content is encyclopedic or notable. The official policies state,
> Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, but a digital encyclopedia project. Other than verifiability and the other points presented on this page, there is no practical limit to the number of topics Wikipedia can cover or the total amount of content. However, there is an important distinction between what can be done, and what should be done, which is covered under § Encyclopedic content below. Consequently, this policy is not a free pass for inclusion: articles must abide by the appropriate content policies, particularly those covered in the five pillars.
Often in practice, content that is "unimportant" or "insignificant" is often removed.
According to what I've read, I think these two opinions:
breaucratic enforcement of standard and,
strict removal of unimportant articles
is the main criticism of Wikipedia's deletion culture. However, strangely it seems neither applies to your contributions. I think I don't fully understand the deletionism on en.wikipedia.org as well. Is there someone who know better about it?
> My underlying complaint is really just that there's a lack of visibility into why changes were reverted.
Although I don't understand your problem, but I recommend to try check the changelog of the next revision after your edit. Unfortunately, sometimes you cannot find a meaningful commit message, just a boilerplate "REVERT". It's an important responsibility to write edit descriptions properly, so other people can see the reason in the changelog. But just like software development, when people do it from time to time, they'll simply hit the revert button and stop writing anything meaningful in the log.
I guess you can start a topic at the talk page.
You must realize on the Chinese Wikipedia you don't need to delete anything if only content the Chinese government wants on there is only what gets posted? E.g. How quickly before posting about Tiananmen Square Massacre before it gets deleted, and perhaps how quickly before you get an in-person visit from the authorities?
It appears that you don't understand what I'm talking about.
First, Wikipedia is an independent website run by the Wikimedia Foundation in the jurisdiction of United States (in the State of California I believe), no matter what the language is.
Second, the Chinese Wikipedia includes participants from all over the world, including U.S. and Singapore. And so far it's unlikely that the single ideological group can obtain great control of Wikipedia without being opposed. In fact, due to the Great Firewall, there are concerns that the Mainland China is underrepresented in some articles.
Third, also, so far the governments haven't arrested users for writing Wikipedia articles.
Your comment is uninformed and unfounded.
> E.g. How quickly before posting about Tiananmen Square Massacre before it gets deleted
Please reread the last paragraphs of my comment.
I specifically used the "Tiananmen Square Massacre" (I called it "1989 Tiananmen Square Protest", in compliance of the Wikipedia's policy of neural point of view), as the success story of how the most controversial history can finally be written in a way that editors across of geographical and political spectrum can agree that it is a good article written according to the standard of Wikipedia.