Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/News/October 2010/Editorials

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Five years of military history, by EyeSerene

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On 23 October 2010, the Military history WikiProject celebrated its fifth year of existence. We at The Bugle thought it would be fitting to mark the occasion by taking a look back over this time period.

The first organised collaborative military-related venture on Wikipedia began as early as October 2002, when TeunSpaans started WikiProject Battles. Around six months later WikiProject Military was created by Stan Shebs, and in January 2005 Ilyanep began WikiProject Wars. The Military history WikiProject was born in the merger of WikiProject Battles and WikiProject Wars on 23 October 2005, and in September 2006 WikiProject Military was absorbed into the project creating the scope we recognise today.

2006 was a busy year for the fledgling project, during which much of our current structure was put into place. Some of the highlights were:

In early 2007 we adopted our B-Class assessment criteria, which largely completed the development of the project quality scale until C-Class was introduced to Wikipedia in mid-2008 (since which time we've had a number of discussions about making use of the additional class). Our popular article-writing contest was introduced in March 2007 as a means of encouraging and rewarding article improvement. With participation from more than 60 editors, many of whom are regulars, an impressive 2057 articles have benefited as a result. Our style guide became official in late 2007, and has since been expanded to cover not only style but content and notability as well.

The pace of change has slowed over the years, but as a project we've continued to try develop both what we do and the way in which we do it, in response to our members' (and Wikipedia's) needs and expectations. In January 2009 we decided to recognise outstanding contributors to the project with our "Military historian of the Year" award, and September saw the formation of our our first special project, Majestic Titan. During this time we also redesigned the project interface (which, for nostalgia value, used to look like this). Recent innovations have included creating a learning resource for our members, setting up the strategy think tank where much project development now takes place, expanding and redesigning The Bugle so that we can keep our members and other interested editors better informed, and various initiatives that have streamlined the way in which the project runs.

All this, however, would have been for nothing without the outstanding contributions made over the last five years by you, the editors of our military history articles. In 2007, Simon Fowler wrote in his Guide to Military History on the Internet (ISBN 9781844156061) that, of those sites that "every student of military history should bookmark" because they "display scholarship and [are] genuinely useful to researchers", "the best is Wikipedia". He goes on to compare our military history articles very favourably to those of Encarta and Britannica, writing "Wikipedia is often criticised for its inaccuracy and bias, but in my experience the military history articles are spot on." Three years after this glowing assessment we're only 14 featured articles away from our milestone target of 500; as a project we've written roughly 16% of all featured articles on Wikipedia. Equally inspiringly, we've supplied around 12% of Wikipedia's 10,260-plus good articles. We know though that we can't rest on our laurels; there is still much work to be done.

Those of us who've been with the project for some time have seen many editors and initiatives come and go. Change is an inevitable part of any on-line community, and we gratefully remember and honour the contributions of those who have moved on to other things. One constant, however, has been the high quality of our project coordination team and in particular our lead coordinators, without whom the project would undoubtedly have developed a very different character from that which we all know. We've been incredibly fortunate in attracting editors who understand that the project exists, in the words of one of our most distinguished and longest-serving coordinators Kirill Lokshin, "to support the development of good articles ... to help article writers where possible, and to avoid hindering them otherwise." It is thanks in large part to the consistent dedication and selfless devotion of some of Wikipedia's best and brightest that the Military history WikiProject is respected throughout Wikipedia as a productive, collaborative and collegial environment in which to work.

So, a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all who've made the last five years of military history so successful... and here's hoping for many more happy and productive years to come!