Talk:Fokker Scourge

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Current rewrite not at all satisfactory[edit]

This rather sketchy little article has had a rewrite. No doubt this was actually long overdue.

The problem is that it is now MUCH worse, if fact I am tempted to just revert it back to where it was and reapproach it from the ground up. Faults include the following:

  • In spite of numerous patches put in by other editors, it remains riddled with errors and "double-Dutch" - in other words sentences, even paragraphs that simply don't make sense, at least not in English. It bears all the hallmarks of having been (badly) copied from another source - either by translation from another language, or by paraphrasing without full comprehension - the result is often ambiguous, unclear, unencyclopedic, and just plain badly written.
  • The "re-writer" has apparently not read the article before re-writing it - so that a great deal of the new text duplicates and repeats the information already there.
  • Not all of the new matter is actually relevant to the subject.
  • Little if any of the new matter is referenced.

Sorry - but this is going to have to be re-done - and much of it is going to have to go. I would love it if someone else had a go at this - or even if the author of so many of the new changes had a look at things to rectify these problems. Otherwise it looks like a totally new re-write. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 08:55, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

Well, I've bin and gorn and dunnit! At least it's now actually about the subject of the article, and no longer an attempt to write a potted history of the world. Hope I haven't overdone the references. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 11:52, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
By the way - can we tidy those references (which repeat a lot) with a program or bot or something - or do we have to plough through the whole list naming them? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:12, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

"Current rewrite not at all satisfactory" - dito[edit]

I don't have the time for a protracted argument with you, but I have no idea what the f**k you are talking about. Firstly this was not even close to completion and was not "a re-write". How could anyone possibly think that? It was incomplete and basic summation.

How is it not relevant? What errors? be specific. I hadn't even got around to writing the detail. Repetitions will occur when old is to replaced with new. It ain't done yet.

I have no objection to you adding back your information - but don't wipe out the foundations put there. There is no reason to do so. It is relevant and provides context. Perhaps if you'd read it through you could see that. Dapi89 (talk) 19:30, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

I’ve recovered the old and new (yours). I've wiped out your layout; it was woefully inferior to the simple one that I put there. The detail you've put in is a welcome addition.
I've restored the background to the obvious and logical summary it should be, relating the very recent birth of aviation to the problems of air combat and why/how this period + battle was important to the 'big picture' as is reflected in the introduction, which is a better introduction than the one you replaced it with.
I’ve restored the military campaign box. It is ridiculous to take it out; what + where + when + casualties + commanders + forces involved...pretty self explanatory.

This is a step to an improved article, particularly with the new sources. Dapi89 (talk) 20:06, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

For the sake of the article (which is all I give a <naughty word expunged> about in this context) we obviously need to discuss some questions raised here in a sensible and rational manner. I would suggest that neither your feelings nor my (very considerable) ego have anything to do with the case. You left the article in a right "dogs-dinner" state for some months, and had no comment when I said precisely what I though of it. It was, frankly, SO bad I had to re-write it from the ground up. I put a great deal of patient research and effort into leaving the result reasonably comprehensive, and totally relevant, not to mention well-referenced. Your explanations about your own efforts being a "work-in-progress" do explain a lot, but your assumption that this was self-evident seems strange. In fairness I did suggest you might like to clean up the mess yourself, and allowed plenty of time for you to have started to do so. All I could see was an inadequate article converted into a thoroughly bad one - and my frank comments on the fact ignored. I have a good many very specific things to raise - could you respond quickly this time, and we can talk through them one by one - starting with that inappropriate campaign box.--Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:50, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

OK - look I was prepared for us to talk about what was wrong with that derivative repetitive and largely unreferenced mess - especially since you had actually reinstated a good deal of the improved article anyway. I was waiting for you to hop back in with a few ideas, and some rational defence of what you had done - this is quite an important article, it really needs..

1. to be about the subject in hand - a lot of what you "added back" is about WWI aviation in general - we COULD I suppose write an article about WWI aviation, highlighting the Fokker Scourge (note spelling) - but that article would not belong here. Much waffling about background isn't necessary in an article like this - it all needs to be specifically relevant. Quite different if you're writing a book (like say "Sharks among the minnows") - although even that has a higher percentage of its text on the specific subject than did your version of the article. Most people know that WWI started in 1914 without us telling them for instance (I should hope). This, and a lot of other things, are pure waffle. Personally - I would have liked to put in the other approaches the German high command was into on the "machine gun in an aeroplane" bit before Garros' crash put the spur behind the "through the propeller" approach. The "C' types were used quite aggressively at first - they were shooting down almost as many allied aircraft as the Fokkers anyway - and spread over a great many more pilots. There was even a pusher "C" type (the AGO C.II) that was held in some awe by the allies (it seems to have been faster than the Fokker, a twin fuselage equivalent of the F.E.2b). Another approach was the use of two engined "large battle planes" - the AEG G.I - then called the K.I - the idea that they could fire in every direction. These really only rate a passing reference though.

2. to be specifically referenced. Most of the points made in THIS version could have had multiple footnotes at almost every turn - after you got off your high horse you actually added a good deal of it back anyway, the point is that this is the real kernel of the article!!

3. To be comprehensive. The term WAS a product of the British press - and it was coined after the Germans had lost their air supremacy, and overall allied air losses were down, German casualties were up, and the French in particular were doing pretty well whatever they liked in the air. Hence the desperate moves by the Germans to copy the Nieuport!! The "politics" of the exaggerated coverage RFC casualties got after they had moderated (and before the much more serious rise in casualties from August/September 1916 or so) onwards is not easy to cover in a npov manner (as we must here). It is quite possible I over-do it a little. None the less it is such an important aspect that it must be mentioned in the lead - and covered more closely in the main text.

4. Without pushing the opposite barrow TOO strongly, it MUST get away from the "schoolboys own paper" idea that even at the height of the scourge British casualties were substantial (they never were - Norman Banks actually lists them in "Sharks and Minnows" !!!) and that they were mainly B.E.2s - the main type shot down by the Fokkers were actually pusher types, and French Morane Ls. The history of the Fokker monoplane's greatest successes, and eventual downfall, are in fact primarily centred about the battle of Verdun. Bank's very fair figures - based primarily on raw German claims, average about 20 kills a month (and this includes French casualties, which were heavier than the British!)- at a time when dozens of missions were already being flown every day, is very light casualties by any standards. The allies (not to mention the Germans themselves) were almost certainly losing more to accidents and ground fire! Hysterical rah rah rah based on German propaganda of the time just won't do.

The months of the ascendency of the early Jastas that was to follow are another matter altogether, of course, but this in another story, and has its own article(s).

Still not saying we can't improve this article together - but not by ditching months of painstaking research and repeated rewriting (the new article was of course written off-line) - including the a good deal of my own "background material" - especially after NOT communicating previously about what you thought was wrong with my view of what you had written - after being given three MONTHS (not days, not weeks) to do so.

I am an old grump - and I quite possibly WAS a little unkind in some of my initial reaction - but the time to object was then! The name of the game is rational communication and frank discussion, not getting the sulks. Anyway - I'm not entirely without hope we can work together constructively to improve the article further. Try doing it point by point from here on though.

regards, and sorry for being so undiplomatic. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 11:26, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

"Fokker Scourge" is a term for the events[edit]

This is an encyclopedia, and just describing the events as they happened is what it's all about. But this bare description, especially if it includes a numeration of the light allied casualties (based, in order to be quite fair, on German claims rather than reported losses) at least gives the reader an opportunity to conclude for himself that the TERM "Fokker Scourge" might just be an example of hysterical hyperbole. We can't draw conclusions like this because it would be OR and controversial - but I think we can be forgiven for giving the reader a chance to decide for himself that this might be the case. Talking about the term "Fokker Scourge" as a term in the lead at least leaves the question open. Otherwise we're prejudging that there was a "scourge". --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:08, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

The problem with covering the term as a term in the lede is that it then misleads the reader into thinking that the article is about the term, rather than about what the term denotes. Another problem is that the term does not "describe" the period in question, it refers to it. I understand what you're trying to convey, but it might be better to simply be explicit about it. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 13:20, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
I agree that this is not an easy one, and I respect your argument, but the article IS about the term, in a way - otherwise we'd call it something else. I think to ignore the term (as a term) here would prejudice an impartial reader into supposing we are endorsing what is, as you seem to imply yourself, not a very good description of what it refers to. I don't think we should err on the other side either: for instance by referring to the "so-called 'Fokker scourge'", as one source does - just trying to preserve complete neutrality, even at the expense of a little verbosity. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:00, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
The article isn't actually about the term; with your logic, all Wikipedia articles would be about terms, and that muddies an important distinction. There is some coverage of the term as a term in the lede, so perhaps that would be the place to articulate the hyperbolic nature of the term. I can imagine something as simple as "the term was coined to characterize such and such as bla bla bla." — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 22:00, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
A perusal of WP:LEAD may be helpful here. Most Wikipedia articles are referenced by a clear, reasonably unambiguous term. This one, for the best of reasons, is not. An important function of the lead is to define what the article is about. I think "the term was coined to characterize such and such as bla bla bla" might in this case be a bit TOO explicit - as I remarked in my first post to this thread this IS an encyclopedia article rather than an historical treatise, and we do need to be as neutral as possible. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:30, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by a "clear, reasonably unambiguous term." If you mean what the term refers to, I can see that there are two possible meanings that are very similar to each other. I'm also not sure what we're being neutral between. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 18:36, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
This argument doesn't apply to the vast majority of articles, where our "obvious" title is unambiguous, and descriptive of the topic of the article. If we had the choice we probably wouldn't use "Fokker Scourge" as an article title at all - for instance we could call it the "Fokker Eindecker Period" or something like that. Being stuck with a term that isn't just a bad description, but seems to describe something that didn't really happen - I think it is fair enough to talk about the term as a term in a way that might otherwise be a bit redundant. Neutrality in this case is steering between going all revisionist and saying how the scourge bit (in the context of a particularly bloody war) is less based on physical events and more about what people thought about them, and on the other hand, talking up the events to fit the "scourge" bit. Either might make interesting writing - neither, I feel, would be encyclopedic. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:20, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
Ok, the basic format of article ledes is to begin with something to the effect of "'X is __" with the blank being a simple definition. If there is no simple definition, then some hedging is in order. But it seems that fokker scourge has a simple enough definition that hedging is unnecessary in that first, defining sentence. What you seem to be implying is that, because the term itself is not the best term, we should go away from this formula. There's nothing in WP:LEAD that would encourage that rationale and I don't think it's a sufficient reason to do away with it. If you don't feel that there is sufficient backing from sources to unambiguously say "this term is kind of hyperbolic" or "this term was coined to emphasize X or Y" then we shouldn't try to weasel our way into implying it. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 16:47, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
How would you put it then? You can see, perhaps, what we lost in your original edit. I am always open to the idea of improving this article - especially its (rather difficult) lead. Certainly we don't want to "weasel" our way round stuff (by no means sure we do) - but on the other hand don't want to imply that we're making an OR type decision that we can only back up indirectly, either. An article like this is very different from what we might say if we were writing a chapter in a book rather than an encyclopedia entry. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:25, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I did a quick Google Books search of "Fokker scourge" to see what sort of wording I'd find, here's the first page of results:
  1. this source (2002) defines it as "the period when the German fighter wreaked havoc on its French and British opponents" and "began with the introduction of the E.I." characterized as the first monoplane with interrupter gear (p. 227).
  2. this source (2001) defines it as the period of superiority of the E1 "over contemporary French and English machines" (p. 131)
  3. this source (2011) defines it as "an onslaught of single-seat monoplanes equipped with mechanical interrupter gear" (p. 7)
  4. this source (2002) defines it as the problem wherein "Allied aircraft...could not cope with the technological advance of the synchronizer-controlled machine gun" (p. 75)
  5. this source (2008) doesn't really do a good job of clarifying what the term means, it's either a period of time (presumably one of air superiority) or the actual plane itself. (p. 39)
  6. this source (2008) defines it as the period of "dominance of the new German Fokker E.I. aircraft" (p. 198)
  7. this source (2000) defines it as the period when "Allied loses soared" presumably due to the E.I. (p. 10)
  8. this source (2006) doesn't have a clear definition either, (a page on the chapter covering it is missing in Google preview) though it does seem to be the period
So it was pretty consistent until I found this source (2003) which characterizes it as an "air-war propaganda campaign...for the purpose of demoralizing the enemy and undermining the opposing public's confidence in its leadership" (p.101-3 ) Also important for our purposes, it has fokker scare as a more modern synonym. So I looked up "Fokker scare":
  • this source (1999) similarly characterizes it as an example of the psychological phenomenon where a new technological surprise of one side is overrated by the other "" (p. )
  • this source (2009) defines it as "the success" of the E.I. due to its technological innovation (p. 88)
A number of these sources (1, 3, 4) don't really have encyclopedic wording, which you've expressed as a priority. Because you had expressed concerns about NPOV, I feel like the 9th and 10th sources might be good to draw from to get wording that reflects a more detached view. Have you encountered the term fokker scare before? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 16:54, 22 March 2013 (UTC)


Thanks - that is most incredibly helpful - I'm already starting work on incorporating some of these sources - although I normally like to have at least handled a source in hard copy (I personally own most of those already cited) these are looking excellent. Thanks!!!! --Soundofmusicals (talk) 20:42, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Glad to help. What do you think about renaming the article to "Fokker Scare"? It's less common, but it's more neutral. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 15:44, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
A better description of what actually happened too - but it fails the WP:Commonname test I fear. None the less I have already set up Fokker Scare to refer to this article. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 18:54, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

That lead!![edit]

Another editor has made a very brave attempt at reworking the lead - I appreciate this, as it has probably always been the most shakiest part of this particular article. On the other hand the new lead didn't quite work either (without going into specifics). I have done my own "rework" - addressing a few of the new infelicities, while trying hard to retain the best aspects of the most recent edit - in particular the rearrangement of material, which largely DOES work. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 18:41, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Peripheral detail[edit]

I am open to discussion, but I am very concerned that this article remains succinct and 100% specifically relevant. The trouble with adding more and more detail (however accurate) around the edges is that we might lose that particular quality, and even lose sight of the essential facts in a cloud of waffle. Hence my reverting edits from someone I know to be a very constructive editor with an excellent grasp of the subject matter. Please don't take any of this personally! --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:04, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Technology and psychology[edit]

The first paragraph of the lead currently reads:"Significant as the technical advantage of the new fighter was, the psychological effect of its unheralded introduction was also a major factor". There are two separate things here - one is the actual technological, or technical, advantage of the new fighter (the Fokker) - the other was the psychological effect - it seriously dented Allied (especially British) morale because it was unexpected. The Germans had been behind in this particular department, and now, suddenly, for the first time since the beginning of the war, they were ahead. This upset people.

Changing this sentence, as someone did, to "The significance of the technical advantage of the new fighter was the psychological effect of its unheralded introduction" - DOES indeed make sense, but not (quite) the sense of the source cited, nor the sense we wished to make. The psychological effect of the new technology was far from the only significance it had, nor, perhaps, even the main significance. Young men were also being killed, to mention just one other "significance".

Now it is quite possible that the sentence concerned could be more felicitously expressed - but its principal significance is not its felicity of expression, but (this being an encyclopedia) its actual meaning. Changing the expression to make it neater and more "logical" is only a "good thing" if it leaves the meaning intact. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 13:45, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

"Lay the bogey" (comment on recent "edit of an edit")[edit]

To "lay" a ghost is to exorcise or banish it. This phrase none the less seems to have been originally connected with GOLF (where of course it means to finish a hole one stroke below par), rather than the evident meaning of "to exorcise the evil spirit". A pun, probably. In any case the dictionary glosses our meaning here as "anything annoying". It has several other meanings in air force slang, including "unidentified (or enemy) aircraft". Although it IS sometimes spelled "boogie" - this seems to be from confusion with a similar (but distinct) word with a musical connotation (boogie-woogie). "Lay the boogie" gives lots of Google hits, but these are mostly connected with a song title - which was probably originally a similar, if less exact pun to the golf one. But I agree that "laid to rest" is clearer, given the phrase itself seems no longer to be current, and has lost its instant recognition. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:50, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Parabellum vs "Spandau"[edit]

The following is a detailed explanation for my reversion of a well intentioned edit from a knowledgeable editor.

The first few Fokker Eindeckers were armed with Parabellum machine guns - but much more to the point they were fitted with the first (unsatisfactory) version of the Fokker synchronization gear. Probably not our place really to "lead the historical consensus" and state that it was the unreliable gear (the production gear, while still liable to failure, was much more reliable) that caused problems for some of the early Fokker pilots - this seems much more likely than the idea that it was the Parabellum gun itself (being essentially a lightened Maxim the Parabellum should have made a fine synchronized gun). All our sources, not to mention our other articles touching on this subject, are agreed that the reason for the adoption of the "Spandau" rather than the Parabellum as the standard "pilot's gun" was essentially one of availability - the Parabellums were all needed as observer's weapons. In any case, this level of detail is not really necessary at this point - the information is essentially peripheral. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 08:35, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

That first defining sentence![edit]

An editor has suggested the following as an "improvement on the current one.

The Fokker Scourge, also sometimes called the Fokker Scare, was the period during World War I in which the Imperial German Fliegertruppen held air superiority on the Western Front as a result of the superior Fokker Eindecker aircraft. The Fokker Eindeckers, a monoplane fighter, were also equipped with synchronised machine-guns that could fire through its propeller without causing damage, making it superior to the Allied aircraft then in service.

I am in two minds about "during the First world War" or words to that effect. I think this only really belongs in this sentence if we feel that the typical reader of the article will have doubts. But... And I think that "exerted an ascendency", while neat (and incidentally totally "grammatical") smacks a little of the style of our source?

Especially for the "uninitiated" - several misleading statements are added, however.

  • The Fokker Eindecker was a pretty straight copy of a pre-war French sporting aircraft. Without going into particulars it was not in itself "superior" to anything very much, except that (when it worked) the synchronisation gear enabled a tractor aircraft to fire forwards. In particular, the implication that part of its superiority was that it was a monoplane is even more misleading, since it was quite quickly found necessary to replace it with (superior) biplanes. A reader who actually WANTS this level of detail can either read the article, or even just click on the Eindecker link. Pre-1913 monoplanes had several fundamental aerodynamic and structural drawbacks - as the "monoplane" article makes clear.
  • The "definition" of a synchronised armament incorporated into the "lead sentence" is also misleading. Propellers were in fact very frequently damaged by synchronisation gears, especially the very far from reliable early version of the Fokker gear. The Eagle of Lille himself managed to shoot his own aircraft down at least twice by "damaging his propeller". Even if it didn't always work, it was of course a revolutionary piece of equipment, but we already said that. A full definition of what we mean by gun synchronisation in this context can be best got by clicking on the link.
  • "Air Superiority" is a term that has quite a precise definition. There is a whole article to follow to ascertain to what degree the "scourge", in retrospect, really constituted air superiority in the modern sense. Although, as I said, I don't much like "exerted an ascendency" myself. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:46, 10 September 2014 (UTC)