World War I/World War I Editathon

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This event took place in June 2012
Enthusiastic Wikimedians on the train towards the Front

Our first World War I Editathon was held on Saturday 16 June 2012 in London. Organised jointly with JISC, the UK’s expert body on digital technologies for education and research, the Editathon brought the Wikipedia military history community together with experts from academia. Our goal was not only to improve Wikipedia articles on World War I topics, but also to build bridges between Wikimedians and academics. This was the first of Wikimedia UK's events aimed at commemorating the centenary of World War I, and we are planning to run several more in 2014.

The Editathon took place at the British Library, with the kind assistance of Andrew Gray, the Wikipedian in Residence there.

For outcomes, please see here.

Event details

  • Who: Wikimedians with an interest in World War I in particular and military history in general; invited academics and experts in the subject matter.
  • When: Saturday 16 June 2012, 10.00 am to 4.30 pm
  • Where: British Library, St Pancras, London. map. The venue is the Foyle Room in the Centre for Conservation, shown in yellow on this map as "Conservation Display".
  • Cost: Free to attend, some expenses were provided.
  • Contact: Contact Chris Keating, chris.keating at or on-wiki: The Land (talk)


  • 10.00-10.30 Coffee & Tea
  • 10.30-11.20 Introductions (including a brief introduction from each academic about their research areas)
  • 11.20-13.00 Editing time
  • 13.00-13.30 Lunch
  • 13.30-13.40 Recap of morning session results
  • 13.40-14.00 'The Challenges of Historicising Armageddon’ Edward Madigan, Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • 14.00-16.00 Editing time
  • 16.00-16.30 Next steps
  • 16.30 Close and (optional) retire to a nearby pub for further discussion


Wikimedia UK World War I Editathon 2012-06-16T10.00:00+01:00 2012-06-16T16:30:00+01:00 Directors' Suite, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD (51.4975,-0.174722)

Online collaboration and participation

The etherpad for the event was at, the content of it can be found here.

There was also an opportunity to discuss things in IRC - irc:wikipedia-en-milhist connect project channel.

#glamwiki hash tag.

What were we editing?

We focused the Editathon around three areas of World War I which JISC have identified as under-represented in digital resources (on the Internet in general rather than Wikipedia in particular:

  • Strategy and Operations
  • Medicine and World War I
  • Global impact of the War

Work on any aspect of World War I was also welcome, and attendees were encouraged to notify us about these before the event.

Challenge Topics

World War I memorial in Saint-Louis, Senegal

We have worked with the involved academics who identified places where there was a particular opportunity to make a big difference in this workshop (where Wikipedia's coverage is patchy or entirely absent, and where the academics attending have expertise in the subject). There are a few we have identified:

  1. History_of_Medicine#20th_century_and_beyond History of Medicine currently has 3 paragraphs on the subject of World War I. Worth a new article?
  2. The Shell shock (or Combat stress reaction) article attempts to put the condition in context, and makes mention of the American Civil War condition known as Soldier's Heart, and the studies of soldiers suffering from traumatic war neurosis during the Russo-Japanese War, though could be developed further. One of the academics attending is Prof. Simon Wessely, a leading expert in military psychiatry, who may provide assistance in which sources to use.
  3. The home front - how every-day lives were affected; "the war effort" etc.
  4. Pacifism and conscientious objection; Conscientious objector#1916-1918 tells us that "Thirty-five objectors were taken to France and formally sentenced to death but immediately reprieved to 10 years in prison"
  5. Ireland and World War I - this has been heavily edit-warred over in the past, and has some gaps and POV as a result - an expert overview would be helpful. Need to cover domestic aspects as well as military ones.
  6. History of WWI by region - where are we missing? What countries or areas should be covered but aren't? The Middle East is partly covered in Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and in various campaign history articles, but does this cover the political aspects enough? Senegal is missing, although Senegalese Tirailleurs is there. Likewise Morrocco, although there is an article on the Zaian War.
  7. Identify and catalogue some artists at War art in The National Archives with unknown artists and improve TNA's records.

What resources were available?

We had access to a number of experts in the field, who were keen to help make Wikipedia articles better, so this made the event a great opportunity to work with a real expert in the subject to help improve articles! Being at the British Library, we had access to literally every book on World War I (and any other subject) via the Reading Rooms. We had a digital copy of the British Official History of Operations in France and Belgium on a DVD. Participants were encouraged to bring own resources as well (or booking them from Reading Rooms in advance). We were also signposting people towards good places to find pictures from existing online collections.

Possible sources identified

Medicine and World War I
  • Medicine and Duty: The World War I Memoir of Captain Harold W. McGill, Medical Officer, 31st Battalion, C.E.F. - Harold W. McGill, Marjorie Norris - University of Calgary Press, 15 May 2007
  • World War I: A - D., Volume 1 - Spencer Tucker - ABC-CLIO, 2005
  • A Companion to World War I (Chapter Twenty) - John Horne - John Wiley & Sons, 23 November 2011
  • Medics at War: Military Medicine from Colonial Times to the 21st Century - John T. Greenwood, F. Clifton Berry - Naval Institute Press, 1 August 2005
  • Battlefield Medicine: A History of the Military Ambulance from the Napoleonic Wars Through World War I - John S. Haller - SIU Press, 29 March 2011
  • Harrison, Mark (2010). The medical war : British military medicine in the First World War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199575824. 
  • Reid, Fiona (2011). Broken men : shell shock, treatment and recovery in Britain, 1914-1930. Continuum. ISBN 9781441148858. 
  • Atenstaedt, Robert Leslie (2011). The medical response to the trench diseases in World War One. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Pub.. ISBN 9781443829076. 
  • A Bibliography of Great War Medicine - the Gillies Archive
Indian Army in WWI
  • Roy, Kaushik (2012). The Indian Army in the two World Wars. Boston: Brill. 
War artists
  • Gough, Paul. ‘A Terrible Beauty’: British Artists in the First World War (Sansom and Company, 2010) ISBN 978-1-906593-00-1
  • Harries, Meirion and Suzie Harries. The War Artists: British official war art of the Twentieth Century. (London: Michael Joseph, 1983). ISBN 0-7181-2314-X
  • Haycock, David Boyd. "A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War." (London: Old Street Publishing).
  • Hichberger, J.W.M. (1988). Images of the Army: The Military in British Art 1815-1914. Manchester: University Press.
  • Sillars, Stuart (1987). Art and Survival in First World War Britain. Basingstoke: Macmillan.


- with areas of interest and particular articles outlined.


  • Edward Madigan, Commonwealth War Graves Commission / Oxford University
    • Areas of interest: Churches, Clergy, and Religious affairs in the UK and Europe during the War. Soldiers' identity, psychology and worldview) on the Western Front. The memory of the First World War in Britain and Ireland. Ireland in the Decade of the First World War. British strategy and operations on the Western Front.
  • Santanu Das, Queen Mary, University of London
    • Areas of interest: British war poetry, South Asia and India, nursing in World War I
  • Catriona Pennell, University of Exeter
    • Areas of interest: Turkey's involvement in the War, the creation of the Middle East, Ireland during the War, popular reactions to the beginning of the War e.g. "it'll all be over by Christmas" or the idea of a German invasion of Britain.
  • Rosemary Wall, King's College London
    • Areas of interest: Nursing, surgery and medicine in World War I
  • Simon Wessely, King's College London
    • Areas of interest: Psychiatry, military executions (e.g. Harry Farr), post-traumatic stress, "shell shock"
  • Pierre Pursiegle, Senior Lecturer in Modern History, University of Birmingham
    • Attendance TBC
  • Hope Wolf, Teaching Fellow in Life Writing, King's College London
    • Areas of interest: Literature on the First World War (both recent and contemporary), Life Writing (memoirs, autobiography, testimony), and Memory.

Wikimedians - In person

We have reached full capacity as this event proved very popular.

  1. (confirmed) The Land (talk) 18:22, 11 April 2012 (UTC) (organiser) - I'm particularly interested in naval warfare and military doctrine. However, there are so many interesting topics, I'll decide what I'm doing on the day!
  2. (confirmed) Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:55, 11 April 2012 (UTC) - general interest; happy to advise on templates & QRpedia especially.
  3. (confirmed) 1917 on the western front, particularly the operational and organisational aspects. (Keith-264) 08:01, 12 April 2012 (UTC) 08:01, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
  4. "Strategy and Operations" looks good to me. (have to reconfirm nearer the time as I'm Scotland based and I'm awaiting a new arrival in my family) 10:05, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
    Any chance you could let us know your Wikipedia username? :-) The Land (talk) 12:08, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
    If this is you, please get in touch to confirm! Andrew Gray (talk)
  5. (confirmed) I'll have to have a think about how the Archives might participate. But I'll be there regardless. With some books --Mr impossible (talk) 16:35, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
  6. (confirmed) StratOps is my area of interest - mostly subterfuge topics. --ErrantX (talk) 14:43, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
  7. (confirmed) Might be more efficient to lug books across London to an editathon than to wade through them where I live. Would be especially nice to be able to discuss face-to-face with others the bigger picture of where efforts are best spent on editing. I have written on minor topics in the history of medicine in the early 20th century, so I would be interested in anything to do with the 'Medicine and World War I' topic area. Carcharoth (talk) 23:29, 18 April 2012 (UTC) A broader overview of my interests in this topic area is at en-wikipedia at User:Carcharoth/World War I desk. Carcharoth (talk) 09:19, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
  8. (confirmed) I mostly write biographies (I'm author of the only two FAs on a Chief of the General Staff, and of the article on the Iranian Embassy siege), and mostly post-WWII, but I'll write about anything that piques my interest. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 15:39, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
  9. (confirmed am only) I've mostly written about how the war developed after the armistice, eg the Occupation of the Rhineland, Inter-Allied Rhineland High Commission etc, and also some other areas that some feel are a bit tangential such as Malleson mission. Nevertheless I feel these areas impact on the Global impact of the war.Leutha (talk) 16:36, 1 May 2012 (UTC), 1 May 2012 (UTC)
  10. (confirmed) Hoping to write about naval tactics of the First World War, and the way that the huge change in warfare impacted smaller, developing navies worldwide. Richard Symonds (talk) 17:17, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
  11. (confirmed) Eh pre-dreadnaughts activities. Otherwise in the area of medicine British anti-Lewisite would be a nice target.Geni (talk) 08:19, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
  12. (confirmed) Very interested in attending, I tend to do a variety of MilHist related items, but would primarily be looking filling out some of the smaller articles on WW1 era small military ships. Miyagawa (talk) 17:57, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  13. (confirmed) Most of my WWI work to date has been biographies (though I did rewrite w:en:Christmas Truce after discovering how scrappy it was) but from a global perspectives angle, I'm quite interested in writing about demographic impacts of the war, or Indian involvement. Andrew Gray (talk)
  14. (confirmed) I have some ideas for particular articles and will prep these for launch at or shortly before the event so that they'll be eligible for DYK. But, as I said at the AGM, the most important article for this topic is the main one. That is currently just B-class and so we might try to raise it a notch. My tutor at college was Norman Stone who has written recent histories such as World War One. I'll ask him for a critique of our article, which may help. Andrew Davidson (talk) 09:20, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
  15. (confirmed) If there are still spare places. Not much interested in the military side of things, but happy to work on political aspects, pre-war, during, and post-war. Would turn up with no agenda and happy to be allocated where potentially useful. But don't want to block a place for anyone more qualified and will happily withdraw if someone better nominates him/herself. Tim riley (talk) 19:47, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
  16. (confirmed) Rich Farmbrough - interested in the Commonwealth War Graves, as I have recently edited a bunch of these. Also interested in cryptanalysis, though WP is fairly comprehensive in its coverage. Rich Farmbrough, 02:10, 29 May 2012 (UTC).
  17. (confirmed) Mark Malik — shell shock and cowardice/desertion. Also anything to do with strategy and operations. User:mm_jimmy (talk) 21:30, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  18. (confirmed) Dave Liney - global effects of the war, but I'm happy to help out on anything. Mcsony (talk) 12:53, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
  19. (confirmed) I would like to join in, not the strongest topic for me as a specialist generalist, so I do not want to knock out a seat for someone more worthy. I would be happy to socialize, share thoughts about the wider vision for the WMUK & British Library partnership and on the other side of the spectrum help with some of the gnomic work, including template design or knocking about a bit of mass processing of articles, data scraping or image page formatting with my bot skills if there a need (though some of this might not be possible from my laptop on the day). I would like to ensure that the recent announcement by the National Archives about war art digitization is capitalized on, see press release. -- (talk) 09:15, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
  20. Charles Matthews

Wikimedians - Virtual participation

  1. I'm interested in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of WWI, describing the operations and strategies of the engagements on Wikipedia. Sorry can't be at the British Library in person but hope to be able to make virtual contact on the day. --RoslynSKP (talk) 01:25, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
  2. Primarily interested in technical advances including industrial production and transportation. Potential topics include the 1918 flu pandemic, the North Sea mine barrage, early history of nitrocellulose Military Rifle propellants, development of internal combustion light railway tractors, armaments production by Baldwin Locomotive Works, the .276 Enfield cartridge and associated P'13, P'14, and M1917 Enfield rifles. I look forward to virtual participation opportunities from the other side of the Atlantic.User:thewellmanThewellman (talk) 02:47, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
  3. Might come in person, but this is not an area I'm really interested in, & I will hold back to allow those who are a shot, if places are limited. At the least I should be available online. Johnbod (talk) 16:10, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
  4. Not sure I'll be able to make it in person, but I may be able to provide some backup to User:Mr impossible on archival resources. David Underdown (talk) 16:37, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
  5. I've a longstanding interest in the period especially the changes the War brought. Would like to work with others to improve articles about arts/artists and the war. Examples: the demise of the Vorticists as a result of the war; the creation of the role of Official War Artists (Britain, Australia, Canada); beefing up text on the war work of specific artists especially Arthur Streeton and Paul Nash; creating list of artists killed in the war; and especially on the change to policy that meant artists in the next war were allowed to do something else other than fight. Can't do all this but perhaps can help make a dent. Anyone interested in the GLAM/WWI nexus? If yes, talk to me on my WP userpage. 01:23, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
  6. How I wish I could join in this event. However, I am thousands of kilometers away from where the actual event will be hosted. However, taking part in it virtually is also possible of which I would love to have a share in it. The Battle of Megiddo catches my interest, and would to be part of its editing. Thanks! --Nkansahrexford (talk) 00:50, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  7. I'm interested in Strategy and Operations, and want to take part in editing articles related to warfare in the air. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
  8. Wish I could join but I live on the other side of the world. It would be really intersting to learn more about the german surface raiders and the action in the pacific. Also would it be possible to set up some sort of live feed on the chat so numerious pepole can be wrighting at once. Nhog 5/30/12
  9. I'm interested in editing Strategy and Operations papers particulrly surrounding the role of the Intelligence Services --User:Twistedlinguist (User talk:Twistedlinguist) 12:35 30/05/2012.

Broader discussion

  • Continuing collaborations on how to improve Wikipedia coverage and navigation tools on the subjects we've covered on the day?
  • What's the future - how do we bring academics and Wikipedians together on this (and other) subjects?


New, or heavily revised articles

Improved articles


Non WWI related

Reflections and coverage