Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Editors Guide to 1983: Doomsday

1983: Doomsday is an online collaborative alternate history timeline located at the Alternate History Wiki. Originally posted by an anonymous user in 2006, the timeline was later adopted by Sven Kunz (who went by the user name Xi'Reney) and shortly thereafter made into an open timeline, where anyone could contribute. The timeline is the largest and most active timeline on the wiki and is known across the online alternate history community.

1983: Doomsday world map.

I was once an active contributor to 1983: Doomsday shared world timeline. It was a big part of my life, especially during law school when I would actually take time off from studying to write articles on the AH Wiki.  You can see a list of some of the articles most important to me here.  In fact even though Alternate History Weekly Update is about alternate history and its fans in general, there is little doubt that I am a still a huge fan.

So I highly encourage you to think about contributing to the timeline. Be warned: if you are looking for a place where your imagination and creativity can have free reign, than 1983: Doomsday is NOT the place for you.

You need to remember that the Alternate History Wiki is not Wikipedia, a place where anyone can edit. This timeline has seen the creative contributions of dozens of editors and safeguards have been put in place to protect their work. Meanwhile, long-standing collaboration among editors has created a sub-culture on the wiki. This sub-culture includes some of the most active editors on the wiki and many of them are administrators with the power to delete articles and block users. So it is generally not a good idea to annoy them, especially Lordganon, scourge of noobs.

So what can a new editor do if they wish to contribute to this timeline without annoying the established community of editors? Well if you follow these guidelines you should easily become a respected member of the community.

Read the timeline

Alright this seems obvious, but you would be surprised how often it appears that new editors failed to take into account how massive the 1983: Doomsday world really is. There are hundreds of articles with more being created every day. Check out the main category if you do not believe me and do not forget to keep your eye on the WCRB Newshour page which will inform of new content updates to articles.

Do not feel that you are ready to dive in and start creating new articles just after reading a few of the major ones. Spend some time perusing over the articles. Not only will it be entertaining, but you will soon realize how much relevant information you will need to consider in your future articles.

The problem is that there is so much content that it really is unlikely that you can read it all.  The best thing you can do is read the primary articles to the timeline along with those articles focusing on the people, subjects or geographical location you hope to focus on.

Read and understand the rules

The timeline is governed by two sets of rules: the Editorial Guidelines and QSS and QAA (a policy borrowed from Ill Bethisad community). In summary, they outline what is done to prevent new information that contradicts canon or else is just implausible. Despite terms such as “guidelines” and “concepts”, both are strictly enforced as the laws of the timelines. You need to read and understand them because ignoring them will just make things more difficult for you as you try to become accepted by the community.

You should also read and understand the rules of the AH wiki as a whole, since they obviously are important too.  Not following those makes it really difficult to contribute to the 1983: Doomsday universe.

Introduce yourself

By now you should have a good grasp of the story and the rules of editing. But before you edit, you should introduce yourself to the community on the main talk page.  There is some debate about whether this is necessary, but I still recommend that you do so.

Why? How would you feel if some stranger walked into your home and without permission began rearranging your furniture? Now consider how it would feel if the articles you spent days building were suddenly remade by some stranger who just discovered the timeline that very day? You would likely be pissed, so think about how another editor will feel..

To prevent enraging a veteran editor, go to the main talk page and introduce yourself. Tell the community why you like this timeline and why you think you would be a good contributor. You would be surprise at how welcoming the community could be when someone acts as how they would in real life when meeting new people.  Also now that they know you, it makes my next guideline that much easier to do.

Ask before you edit

The greatest difference between Wikipedia and 1983: Doomsday is that the timeline does not ask you to be bold. So if you see an article that you wish to contribute to, do NOT immediately start editing it. Find out who the caretaker of the article is and ask permission to edit.

Usually the caretaker is either the creator of the article or else whoever is currently updating and revising it. You can find out who they are by checking the history section of the article in question.  If you wish to help, leave a message on their talk page or else leave a message on the article talk page. Share your ideas or questions and always offer to collaborate with them. Be polite and respectful, regardless of whatever your qualification may be, even veteran editors do this.  If they say no, respect their decision, leave the offer open to help and then move on.  If they yes...

Research before you create

I cannot stress this enough. Poor research means poor alternate history in general. So when the time comes to contribute to an existing article or writing your own article, make sure you do your research. There is no excuse to not do this. The Internet is a treasure trove of easily accessible information. It is also not difficult to search through the articles of 1983: Doomsday to make sure your new article does not contradict canon.  Do not forget about the other editors as well.  If you ask them if your idea contradicts canon, they will let you know.

Trust me, a poorly researched article will be very obvious to the veteran editors and they will be less likely to work with someone who is not putting any real effort into his/her contributions.


If you follow my advice, your time as a “noob” will be gratefully short. Nevertheless, if you learned anything from this guide it should be this: 1983: Doomsday is a team project. You have to be willing to work as a team player, or else you are going to get kicked off the team. No one is about to trust the rookie until they can see what they can do. Remember that before you start editing.

* * *

Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.


  1. Having a high and mighty attitude is a sure fire way to attract tons of users. *sarcasm dripping*

  2. Actually I don't mean YOU but the mods who *hate* newbies because everyone at one time was a newbie and if they have a *GTFO* view then they will continue to wonder why there isn't any new people. This is what kills the web from true creativity.

    Some cool thing/service comes along and people are attracted to it and come in droves once the word spreads.

    The cool thing/service is quickly overwhelmed with new users to the point the people in charge cannot keep up with the good and stupid people so they decide to rope everybody together and start randomly deleting people who they THINK are spammars even if they aren't and as a result lose potential good users who didn't know what the hell just happened.

    Then the cool thing/service is either abandoned or a larger company buys the shares and runs it to the ground with changes and functions nobody really likes in which the majority oppose it but are not listened to and they give up in frustration leaving only paid trolls who try to inflate the numbers and *cook* the books and the company is left stagnated till a larger company buys it out and it's transfered beyond hope.