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In an effort to show why antagonist fussing is detrimental to the well-being of a wiki, edits were examined on five wikis that have a page the Pixar character "Randall Boggs" that appears in the movies Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University. At least three other wikis also have a page on this character and are listed in the Research dispute/rebuttal section, along with eight other characters that can be researched if necessary.

Analysis

Article: Randall Boggs — statistics as of July 4, 2015

Wiki # of edits # of antagonist edits  % of antagonist edits # of unique editors # of antagonist editors  % of editors Edit war?
Disney 1072 451 42.1% 187 63 33.7% Yes
Pixar 394 108 27.4% 109 29 26.9% Yes
Wickedpedia (Disney Villains) 526 182 34.6% 131 40 30.5% Yes
Monsters, Inc. Movies 251 72 28.7% 30 10 33.3% Yes
Monsters, Inc. 19 10 52.6% 9 4 44.4% No
Totals: 2262 823 36.4% 466 156 33.5% Yes on 4 out of 5 wikis

Key:

  • # of edits: Total number of edits made on that wiki for the article
  • # of antagonist edits: Number of edits that were relating to antagonist fussing
  • % of antagonist edits: Percentage of the total number of edits that were relating to antagonist fussing
  • # of unique editors: Number of people who edited the article, minus any IPs or sockpuppet accounts that could be traced to another account
  • # of antagonist editors: Number of people who engaged in antagonist fussing
  • % of editors: Percentage of the total number of editors that engaged in antagonist fussing
  • Edit war? Did at least one edit war occur that can be directly attributed to antagonist fussing?

Notes:

  • At one point during the count of the edits on the Disney Wiki, the percentage of antagonist fussing edits reached 48%.
  • The "Monsters, Inc." wiki has a higher percentage of antagonist edits since so few people have edited that page. The wiki has been mostly abandoned for almost a year and closed sometime between 2015 and 2020.

Results

Though the sample size is small with just one character across five wikis, it is a good indication of the overall problem.

Several users showed up repeatedly in the list that engaged in antagonist fussing, but that list was not exclusive to them, so this is not a case of a small group of people focusing on just the antagonist level of a character. New editors came and went, continuing the fussing.

One-third of all edits to this article were spent fighting over what kind of an antagonist Randall Boggs is in the two movies. As noted, the users involved in this practice was not static, but it still averaged out to one-third of all users engaged in antagonist fussing.

In addition, many of the users changed their minds several times as to what kind of an antagonist they thought Randall is. Some of this occurred over a series of edits close to each other, or even one right after the other. Others occurred over a period of months. For example, the person might first say that Randall is a "main antagonist" but several months later, they would say that Randall is a "secondary antagonist".

A grand total of 161 different ways were used to describe what kind of antagonist Randall is, with 16 different categories. Many of these were variations of other descriptions such as "tritagonist-turned-supporting antagonist" and "tritagonist turned supporting antagonist" without the connecting hyphens, but since people were so determined to rigidly define the antagonist level of Randall Boggs, every single antagonist description was counted. The list of those descriptions can be found on the examples page.

Contradiction and disproportionate edits

For several of the users, antagonist fussing comprised anywhere from roughly half of their edits to almost 100%. This shows they were ignoring all other details about a character in their effort to rigidly define the antagonist level. Contradictions as to what they thought that antagonist level should be were frequent.

In two specific cases, an editor put in the edit summary that he didn't want "antagonist wars" and put that Randall should be "one of the two main antagonists", then several months later, put in the edit summary "Please do not change to 'one of the two main antagonists'" and then included reasons why it should not that phrase, thus contradicting himself, even though he had been trying to prevent antagonist fussing.

The problem of antagonist fussing was compounded by users inventing words to fit a definition they were trying to make or by mis-using an existing definition. For example, invented words include "teratagonist" and "quadragonist", and for mis-using a definition, they may use the word "secondary" to mean "the second in a group" rather than "less important than". The mis-use was further compounded by putting in qualifiers like "secondary tritagonist", which changes the meaning to "we have several third-level antagonists, but this one is less of a third-level antagonist than the others are" or "this is the third antagonist, but he's less of an antagonist than the others".

Saying "the other people are wrong"

The Trivia section was occasionally used as a way to say that other people were wrong for thinking the character was a particular type of antagonist without actually saying it. Phrases included:

  • "constantly thought to be"
  • "often thought to be"
  • "often mistaken as"
  • "often believed to be"
  • "rumored to be"
  • "many times mistaken to be"

Each of these were followed by reasons why the character could not be that kind of antagonist and was instead a different kind. In this way, the user was saying, "those other people are wrong for believing the character is that kind of antagonist and here's what kind they really are".

In one instance, it was phrased as "He was introduced as the main antagonist, but this was a misinformation campaign to hide the true main villain". Meaning, the people at Pixar involved in making the story were unintentionally lying to the audience and the result was that they hid who the villain would be. A movie studio will not reveal all details about a movie until it premieres, but to unintentionally lie about details of the movie shows ineptitude in their storytelling ability and marketing.

The inclusion of the word "campaign" indicates that the user was trying to say it was a deliberate action on Pixar's part. Such an action would be a "disinformation campaign", which is deliberately lying to the audience for a specific goal.

Indecision and edit wars

Many of the edits showed that even the people who were antagonist fussing weren't sure what kind of antagonist Randall was by putting words like "probably" and "maybe" in front of the antagonist level. In a couple of cases, the antagonist level was contradictory. Examples:

  • "deuteragonist-turned-main/secondary antagonist" — this says that Randall was both the main antagonist and the secondary antagonist at the same time
  • "co and main antagonist" — this says that Randall shared being an antagonist with another character but was also the main antagonist at the same time, which means he is not really sharing being an antagonist because he is more of an antagonist than another character

On four out of the five wikis, at least one edit war occurred over the antagonist level. In most cases, this was done without a statement why in the Edit Summary, but on some, it was clearly marked as an Undo or Revert. One editor attempted to get around being blocked by creating a sockpuppet account in order to keep reinstating which antagonist levels he wanted (even though those kept changing as he kept changing his mind). This was determined by the similarity in the user name and the fact that corrupted code in the categories would suddenly reappear after being fixed by other users. Due to the nature of the corrupted code, it is unlikely to be a reproducable glitch, but rather the result of going back through the edit history of the page and re-saving his previous edit. In order to get that same exact corruption of the code without hiding the fact that he was re-saving his previous edit, the user would have to type exactly the same words as before and alter all previous edits by other users to bring the page to the same state for the glitch to appear. Re-saving a previous edit is a simpler and more logical explanation of how this occurred.

On the Disney Wiki, the page for Randall Boggs was temporarily protected twice to put an end to the antagonist fussing and edit wars. In the first case, the mid-level protection was chosen, but was ineffective because most of the users who had been engaging in antagonist fussing already had had their account for more than four days before this went into effect. Therefore, they were able to immediately continue antagonist fussing, with the first instance occurring a half day after the protection was set. The second time, it was fully protected for a week so that only administrators could edit it. Antagonist fussing resumed within eight hours of when the protection expired.

Conclusions

Due to the fact that a precise antagonist level is open to interpretation, it is very difficult to get editors to agree on which interpretation to use. The only way to decide on a precise antagonist level would be to put it up to a vote of the community, then continually police the article to make sure it was not changed once the level voted on was implemented.

This will result in a different kind of edit war as the administrators or users entrusted with Rollback rights revert the unauthorized changes to what the community has decided. In order to make it enforcable, this would have to be backed up with blocking users who make the unauthorized changes.

With one-third of the editors and one third of the edits being spent fighting and squabbling over trying to find a precise antagonist level without going through a forum or other vote by the community, this is time and effort that is not being spent on improving the rest of the article. What the character is like as a person, what their background is, how they interact with others and other details are being ignored because users are trying to pin a rigidly-defined label on the character that nobody can agree on. Saying that a character is a "former tritagonist-turned-secondary protagonist" says nothing about why that character is in the story.

In real life, people do not discuss stories in such rigidly-defined terms. People do not say, "let's take all of these characters and line them up side by side so we can see who is more of an antagonist than the others are". Even formal literary discussions in universities and other aspects of the publishing industry do not waste time trying to delve that deep.

Simpler and general descriptions are more useful: "main antagonist", "main protagonist", "minor antagonist", "minor protagonist". Anything beyond that brings the user right back to focusing on trivialities instead of learning important details about the character. But even then, words like "villain", "friend", "brother", "co-worker" and "hero" convey more information about what the character is than "antagonist" and "protagonist".

Analysis has shown that antagonist fussing leads to edit wars, and edit wars are not healthy for a wiki's community and members. Until such time as further research provides a more compelling reason as to why antagonist fussing would be useful and beneficial to the wiki, it is hereby prohibited and subject to being blocked.

Research dispute/rebuttal

If anyone wishes to dispute the findings based on the sample size an/or possible bias on the part of the researcher (RRabbit42), they are encouraged to do their own research. Here is the criteria used:

  • An edit was counted as antagonist fussing if it specifically mentioned the antagonist level in the introduction, body of the page, Trivia section or as a category.
  • An edit war was counted as occurring if the Edit Summary specifically showed one edit being undone or reverted that related to an antagonist.
  • An edit war was counted as occurring if the antagonist information was changed within one day of the last time it was changed.
  • If the same person made the previous edit and changed the antagonist level to something different on the second edit, this was counted as an edit war with themselves.

A special note was made if one of those edits was to protected the article due to an edit war.

Pixar characters were chosen because it was known that they could be found on several wikis. Characters from other franchises such as Marvel comics, Star Trek or Star Wars could also be selected by anyone who wishes to conduct further research, but it is recommended to choose characters that are present on at least three wikis.

Recommended characters to research:

Character Villains Wikia Wickedpedia Disney Wiki Pixar Wiki Monsters, Inc. Movies Antagonists #1 Antaognists #2 Total Edits
Randall Boggs 852 listed above 193 165 1210
Chef Skinner 165 259 827 255 n/a 70 13 + 24 1613
For the second Antagonists Wiki, the first page contains a few edits before it was redirected to the second page.
Henry J. Waternoose 336 359 827 255 125 297 161 2360
Sid Phillips 211 226 321 320 n/a 61 16 2235
Johnny Worthington III 189 107 115 144 54 39 14 662
Dean Hardscrabble n/a n/a 219 126 60 26 13 1344
On Wickedpedia and the Villains Wikia, it was determined that Dean Hardscrabble is not a villain, so the page was deleted.
Anton Ego 54 160 164 108 n/a 32 41 559
Chef Skinner 135 172 149 66 n/a 67 24 613
Prince Hans 1040 120 2010 n/a n/a 152 64 3386
Note: In January 2015 on the second Antagonists Wiki, the page for Hans was permanently fully protected specifically due to antagonist fussing.


These characters have a total of 22,982 edits that can be checked to prove or disprove the conclusions shown on this page, and were obtained on July 5, 2015.


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