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In recent years, a variety of new data dissemination protocols have been developed specifically for wireless sensor networks (WSN), but no realistic performance comparison between them has been attempted. This paper reports on the results of a simulation comparison of three available data dissemination protocols for wireless sensor networks, using Ns simulations. Our performance study provides useful insights for the network designer, such as which protocols scale control traffic well, improve data delivery or reduce overall energy consumption. We suggest that making these protocols truly self-learning can significantly improve their performance, and comment on how some of these parameters can be dynamically derived through measurements of network and event dynamics.