I decided to kill two birds with one stone today and talk about a recent event that I am interested in and how it relates to the Wikipedia article assignment. For those who don’t know, the former Autonomous Socialist Republic of Kosovo (which the Firefox AND WordPress spell checkers don’t seem to know how to spell) declared its independence from the Republic of Serbia on Sunday. I wrote about the breakup of Yugoslavia in my 485 paper, so this is kinda near and dear to me.
Why is this news? Well, its very important in the context of recent history because NATO stepped in between Serbia and Kosovo in the late 1990s after Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the overwhelmingly Albanian population of the Serbian province of Kosovo. The UN still has a mission there to guarantee the rights of all citizens. Essentially, ethnic tensions are still high. The Albanian population of Kosovo decided a few months ago (which is why this isn’t a shock to anyone) to declare its independence from Serbia in February. The few Serbs living in Kosovo have reacted negatively, and Serbia itself is furious.
So, I figured that now is as good a time as any to look at the Kosovo Wikipedia page, and what did I find?
Well, its a pretty detailed historical article that covers Medieval, Ottoman, and Modern Kosovo, including accounts of both former Yugoslavias and the Wars of Yugoslav Succession. Wikipedia offers a pretty good mix of everything you could want to know about the new country, including Kosovo’s pop culture and demographics.
However, they also announce that it is related to a current event, which is where all of the really funny stuff starts happening. 😀 I went to the discussion page and found that the Arbitration Committee (probably two guys in a coffee shop in Seattle) placed the article on “probation” because contributors are going off topic. You can’t make this stuff up. What is so controversial? Well, to begin with, people are debating the demonym for people who live in Kosovo. Is it Kosovans or Kosovars? (Its Kosovars, by the way) With how prominent Kosovo is in the news now, the powers that be apparently needed to protect the article, because everyone thinks they know something interesting to add about Kosovo. The discussion centers around letting people add information they have “found.” My question is, why now and not before it became newsworthy? (AKA, once you heard of the place)
The Revision history page tells the same story. Before Sunday, the Kosovo page had approximately 5-10 edits on a busy day, but usually it was 4 or 5 days between edits before anyone changed anything. Since Sunday, there have literally been hundreds of edits, mostly down to silly stuff like the names of people and places while a few earnest people add the only relevant information.