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One Woman’s Mission to Rewrite Nazi History on Wikipedia – WIRED

Summary

Coffman recognizes this editor’s handle. He’s Australian, and his User page says he served as a peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. He is the same person who invited her to join WikiProject Military History, a group where editors can chat, take classes, win plaudits, and work on articles together.

Not for the first time, Coffman has been removing material from the article about the tank division. She thinks it’s full of unsourced fancruft, the Wik…….

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Coffman recognizes this editor’s handle. He’s Australian, and his User page says he served as a peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. He is the same person who invited her to join WikiProject Military History, a group where editors can chat, take classes, win plaudits, and work on articles together.

Not for the first time, Coffman has been removing material from the article about the tank division. She thinks it’s full of unsourced fancruft, the Wikipedia word for fawning, excessively detailed descriptions that appeal to a tiny niche of readers—in this case, those thrilled by accounts of battle. The article tells how “the division acquitted itself well” even against “stiffening resistance,” how it “held the line” and earned the “grudging respect” of skeptical commanders. One contributor has used the eyebrow-raising phrase “baptism of fire.” It’s as if the editors don’t see the part lower down the page where a soldier uses the phrase “and then we cleaned a Jew hole.”

The glorifying language, Coffman thinks, is a clear sign that this is historical fan fiction. It elides the horrors of war. If editors want such details to stay on the page, at a minimum they should use a better source than Axis History, a blog whose motto is “Information not shared is lost.”

The interaction starts out politely enough. “IMHO it is good that you are deleting citations from unreliable bloggy sources,” Peacemaker67 says. “But just because material is sourced to them doesn’t mean it is wrong.”

K.e.coffman replies in less than an hour. “Thank you for your note,” she writes. “Yes, I was surprised about how little I was able to salvage as I was editing the article.” She lists 17 bullet-pointed examples of biased language, Nazi glorification, and unreliable claims. “Would Wikipedia not be better without such content?” she asks.

“Well, people are on WP for different reasons,” Peacemaker67 replies. “I don’t go around deleting stuff because I think it might be dodgy.” He cites a page that counsels gradualism in editing, because Wikipedia is a work in progress. “Articles have long histories, and there is no WP:DEADLINE,” he says.

Coffman cites a different doctrine in response. “I’m of the view that there’s indeed a deadline: Wikipedia:The deadline is now,” she writes. “Why perpetuate misinformation when it can be removed, or give legitimacy to glorification while there are already plenty of sites that do that? I believe Wikipedia’s standards to be higher.”

Peacemaker67’s final response, nine minutes later, is curt: “If you take this sort of action on articles on my watchlist, expect to be reverted and asked to provide reliable sources that contradict what is in the article.”

Like other editors whom Coffman will encounter, Peacemaker67 sees something pernicious in her work. In a …….

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/one-womans-mission-to-rewrite-nazi-history-wikipedia/