A woman’s mission to rewrite Nazi history on Wikipedia


So Coffman did what she always did: she read. And because she happens to be between work, she is free to immerse herself in history for a long time. She learned about the Civil War, which is the conflict behind the many upheavals in the United States. She read about the “Cause of Failure” ideology, which claimed that the Federation was actually fighting for the noble Southern ideals, rather than fighting specifically for slavery. She relived her understanding of World War II, a struggle she was more familiar with.

Perhaps the lack of work and lack of cooperating people are also what makes Wikipedia an attractive pastime. This is what it should be: another hobby. At first, Koffman insisted on tentative and sporadic suggestions. But then she was editing almost every day. There are too many problems to be solved. She likes the site’s intricate bureaucracy-guidelines on etiquette and reliable sources, policies on dispute resolution and article deletion, academic articles and discussion pages cited by editors, just like case law. “Wikipedia is very strict,” she said. “I’m good at giving instructions.”

“G’day”, Peacemaker67 starts He gave Kirkoffman’s notes. It is the end of 2015, and he is worried that an article on Wikipedia (“WP”) on the SS tank division composed of Nordic Nazi volunteers has recently changed. “Sorry, there seems to be some misunderstanding about what should be deleted on WP, I just want to clarify before this goes too far.”

Coffman recognized the handle of the editor. He is Australian, and his user page says that he worked as a peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. He is the same person who invited her to join WikiProject Military History. In this group, editors can chat, take classes, win praise and write articles together.

This is not the first time that Koffman has removed material from an article about the tank department. She thinks it is full of unfounded fanaticism, the flattery in Wikipedia, and the overly detailed description attracts a small number of readers-in this case, those who are excited about the description of the battle. The article tells how the division “behaved well” in the case of “stubborn resistance”, how it “held its ground” and won the “barely respect” of skeptical commanders. One writer used the phrase “baptism of fire”. It’s as if the editor didn’t see the part where soldiers used the phrase “then we cleaned a Jewish hole” at the bottom of the page.

Coffman believes that this beautifying language clearly shows that this is a historical fanfiction. It eliminates the horror of war. If editors want these details to remain on the page, at least they should use a better source than Axis History, a blog with the motto of “lost unshared information”.

Be polite enough at the beginning of the interaction. “IMHO, it’s a good thing that you remove the citations from unreliable blog sources,” Peacemaker67 said. “But just because the material comes from them doesn’t mean it is wrong.”

Kecoffman responded in less than an hour. “Thank you for your message,” she wrote. “Yes, I’m surprised that there are so few things I can save when editing this article.” She listed 17 key examples of prejudiced language, glorified Nazis, and unreliable claims. “Wikipedia is not better one No such content? She asked.

“Well, people use WP for different reasons,” Peacemaker67 replied. “I won’t delete things everywhere, because I think it might be cunning.” He cited a page that suggests progressive editing because Wikipedia is a work in progress. “The article has a long history, no WP: Deadline,” He said.


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