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Sept. 29: The Dynamics of Disagreement

  • Knox Hall 509 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

WHEN: Thursday, September 29, 2016, 12 - 1:40 PM

WHERE: Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd Street, Room 509

Disagreement and conflict are a fact of social life. However, negative interactions are rarely explicitly declared and recorded and this makes them hard for social scientists to study. We overcome this challenge by using complex network methods to investigate the patterns in the timing and configuration of contributions to a large online collaboration community. We analyze sequences of reverts of article edits to Wikipedia, the largest online encyclopedia. I will present two projects that study disagreement between human editors and bots on Wikipedia.

In the first project, we compare temporal motifs in the data to a null model and find evidence that human editors on Wikipedia get involved in negative social interactions and that status plays a role in these. In the second project, we track dyadic interactions over longer periods of time and find that Wikipedia bots fight too and that just like humans, bots from different languages behave differently.

Our analyses point to the existence of certain negative social dynamics within the Wikipedia community that have not been previously explored. These dynamics carry implications for the knowledge collection practice conducted on Wikipedia. Our methods can be applied to other large-scale temporal communication and collaboration networks to identify the existence of negative social interactions and other social processes.

Milena Tsvetkova is a sociologist who uses computational and online technologies to study fundamental social phenomena such as cooperation, contagion, and inequality. Her research interests lie in the fields of computational and experimental social science. She uses online experiments, agent-based models, network analysis, and game theory to study cooperation, contagion, and inequality in large social groups. In 2015, Milena completed her PhD in Sociology at Cornell University, where she worked under the supervision of Prof. Michael W. Macy. Her dissertation used online and computational experiments to investigate the contagion of prosocial and antisocial behaviour among strangers. She also holds a Master of Science in Sociology and Social Research from Utrecht University and a Master of Arts in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture Design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lunch will be provided. For inquires about Networks and Time, please contact coordinators Byungkyu Lee ( or Mark Hoffman (

Funding support for the Networks and Time Seminar Series is provided by the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, administered by INCITE, which features events and programming that embody and honor Lazarsfeld’s commitment to the improvement of methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.