Hello and welcome to the first edition of The Bugle for 2013! We hope everyone had a happy and safe festive season, and that your batteries are recharged for another productive year of military history at Wikipedia.
In this issue we welcome a new contributor to our monthly op-eds, Crisco 1492, who highlights war films as an area deserving greater attention from MilHist editors. We also offer a new-look Featured and A-Class articles page, which aims to give a little more insight into how the articles in question got to where they are, as opposed to effectively rehashing their lead sections, as was the practice previously; much of this material has been taken from editors' nomination statements, and we'd strongly encourage more descriptive introductory statements for future nominations!
Finally, along with our usual contest results, awards section, and book reviews, we have a special report (below) by Nick-D on a phantom war that nevertheless remained a Wikipedia article for quite some time, a stark reminder -- if any were needed -- of why we need to spotcheck sources.
Your editors, Ian Rose (talk) and Nick-D (talk).
The war that never was ... except on Wikipedia for 5 years
Wikipedia's coverage of military history attracted international media coverage for all the wrong reasons in December. In July 2007 a fairly detailed article was created on the Bicholim conflict, which covered a war fought between the Portuguese rulers of Goa and the Maratha Empire from mid-1640 to early 1641. This article was assessed as a good article in September 2007, but failed a featured article nomination later that year, mainly as page numbers weren't provided for the various references. However, late last year User:ShelfSkewed became concerned that the article wasn't accurate. After undertaking research into the extensive references to credible-sounding books provided in the article, he determined that most of these works didn't actually exist. Moreover, no other sources discussing this war could be found. ShelfSkewed outlined his concerns at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Bicholim conflict, several other editors confirmed that the sources were fictitious, and the article was deleted. At time of writing this is the eighth-longest lasting hoax to have been logged at Wikipedia:List of hoaxes on Wikipedia.
The deletion of this article received coverage in several news outlets. The Daily Dot broke the story, noting that the article had "fooled Wikipedia editors for more than 5 years". Yahoo News also reported the article's deletion, commenting that it was one of many hoaxes articles to have been uncovered. PC World and the British Tabloid the Daily Mail also carried the story, as did news websites from Germany, Indonesia, India  , Italy and Sweden. While several of the stories argued that this was an example of how Wikipedia disseminates low-quality information, most had a fairly positive tone and highlighted the extensive work that goes on to police articles as well as the rapid deletion of this article.
Last modified on 23 January 2013, at 10:50