Submissions/Refighting the War of 1812 on Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
"Refighting the War of 1812 on Wikipedia"

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Richard Jensen
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Montana State U--Billings
Personal homepage or blog
see blog BOWISSUES (free login required)

Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

This year is the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and my presentation will examine how Canadian and American editors have handled the war in the main article. Sometimes they re-fought the war, as they balanced scholarship/RS and patriotism in a quest to tell the world what really happened. The "War of 1812" article receives 200,000 hits a month and there are numerous related articles on causes, leaders and battles with their own heavy traffic and sometimes revealing debates. The main article now runs about 18,000 words long, with 155 footnotes. Over the years nearly 4000 different editors have made one or more edits, and it is currently on the watchlist of 645 editors. My talk will explore who edits the article, what they say, and why they say it. I will focus on the most active editors in terms of edits and substance (I have the most edits.) For each highly active editor I will examine their non-1812 edits to see where their Wikipedia interest lie. I will email them and ask for direct answers as well. I will cite the Talk Page (617 editors wrote over 190,000 words--that's about a 400 page book!). I will especially use Wikipedia:Mediation Cabal/Cases/2009-11-11/War of 1812. It took 15 editors there two months to reach compromise after 13 drafts, as they explained and debated the nuances of their views on the article.

In a broader context we have national identity as expressed in a worldwide encyclopedia that everyone reads. It is especially important for Canadians, many of whom date their nationhood to "winning" that war. These attitudes are strongest in Ontario, but weak in Quebec and are rejected by the Canadian First Nations, which all historians agree were the big losers in the war. I will use some extra-Wiki sources, such as some public opinion survey data and current magazines that discuss the war. I presented an earlier version of my findings to the annual convention of the Ontario History and Social Science Teachers' Association. Several teachers told me it gave them an idea for how their students can explore the construction and biases of Wikipedia in more systematic fashion.

Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
will use Powerpoint
Special request as to time of presentations

Interested attendees

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  1. At first I thought you mean Napoleonic invasion on Russia. Saper (talk) 22:51, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Interesting, but what about British editors? CT Cooper · talk 19:30, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Airwolf (talk) 13:19, 24 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Interesting! SarahStierch (talk) 23:09, 24 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Okeyes (WMF) (talk) 23:50, 27 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Geraldshields11 (talk) 19:48, 12 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Michelledavison (talk) 13:06, 13 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Nataev (talk) 20:30, 13 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Add your username here.