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Wikipedia's "Supreme Court" to Review Seemingly Distant History
The Explosive Academic Essay That Catapulted the Case to Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee
Believe it or not, the hottest controversy on Wikipedia right now isn’t about Elon Musk, Donald Trump, or ChatGPT. In fact, it’s something seemingly more distant: the history of Jews in Poland during World War II.
The vast majority of controversies between Wikipedia editors are handled locally by the contributors working on those articles without a formal dispute-resolution process. Only a handful of controversies rise to the level where the Arbitration Committee—essentially Wikipedia’s Supreme Court—agrees to get involved. Only seven last year, and six the year prior. But an explosive academic essay published by professors Jan Grabowski and Shira Klein in February about Wikipedia’s coverage of the Holocaust in Poland spurred ArbCom to review the matter, opening a new case on March 13 after finding the topic’s articles to be “broken” and its editorial culture “toxic.”
As of now, the tribunal is collecting hundreds upon hundreds of page edits known as diffs, digital evidence from more than a decade’s worth of bitter back-and-forth changes. ArbCom’s final decision on the case is scheduled for May 11, but those who are looking for Wikipedia’s highest court to issue a ruling on the historical truth might want to temper their expectations.
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