9 wildest Star Wars flame wars that exploded on Wikipedia

We’ve all witnessed it: The ugliness of geek rage over the minutiae of Star Wars lore and canon. We’ve encountered it in comic-book stores, in line for Hall H, on the message boards. Should Han have shot first? What race is Yoda? In what circumstances is it appropriate to call out, “It’s a trap”?

But perhaps nowhere are the stakes higher than on Wikipedia, the open-source encyclopedia that has become the first resource of record for many Internet surfers. As a result, the multitudinal Star Wars pages on Wikipedia have become battlegrounds for the fandom. From fighting off vandals to epic flame wars over character arcs, here are some of the most heated disputes to grace Wikipedia’s “Talk” pages.

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    The gender of the Millennium Falcon In December 2009, Wikipedia editors went to war over whether Han Solo’s ship should be referred to as a “she” or an “it.” The debate began when one author unilaterally changed all the references to it, calling “she” a “romanticized and unnecessary colloquialism.” One hardcore Star Wars fan dug up every instance where Han and Lando referred to the Millennium Falcon. The discussion ended with Godwin’s Law when another editor claimed that Hitler referred to his battleship Bismarck as a “he” because of its masculine dominance. The Outcome: The editors’ settled on “it” for the sake of consistency with other vessel pages, even though the Wikipedia guidelines allow for either usage.
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    The “Endless Mace Vs. Palpatine Debate” The story goes that when Samuel L. Jackson agreed to play Mace Windu, a prominent member of the Jedi Council in Episodes I - III, he made two requests to George Lucas: He wanted a purple lightsaber and he didn’t “wanna go out like some punk.” And so, in a climactic scene in Revenge of the Sith, Windu backed a pathetic, shriveling Emperor Palpatine into a corner and was on the verge of striking a fatal blow when Anakin intervened. The younger jedi sliced off Windu’s hand, giving the Emperor, A.K.A. Darth Sidious, the opportunity to electrocute him right off the balcony to his death. The controversy: Did Windu really have the upper hand, did deflecting Palpatine’s little lightning bolts scar the Emperor’s face, and did Windu really die? As one editor summarized the controversy, which involved a battle of deletions, revisions and fights over “weasel words”: The argument that Palpatine showed weakness against Mace isn't very solid. How did he show weakness? By having his force lighting [sic] deflected back at him. How did he know Mace was going to do that? What if Mace just absorbed it into his light saber, as Obi Won had against Dooku. Or if Mace got hit? He shot at Mace at point blank range. So basically Palpatine foresaw that he would have his force lightning deflected back at him by Mace, making him look weak even though returning force lightning with a light saber had never been seen before. Just doesn't add up well. The Outcome: As the page stands now, Windu did have the upper hand and scarred Palpatine’s face by deflecting the lightning.
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    Threepio’s sexual orientation Several controversies surround the neurotic protocol droid, including whether the “oh” is an ‘O’ or a zero, whether the page is too long and whether C3PO is an anagram of “OPEC,” a reference to the energy crisis. Perhaps the most frivolous debate and source of vandalism was whether he was a “gay robot.” “If he as human he would live in the castro district of frisco , tahts how gay he would be,” one typographically challenged Wikipedia user wrote on the Talk page. The Outcome: Of course, Star Wars purists prevailed and all references to sexual orientation have been removed.
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    The Jar Jar Binks race card No character has inspired more nerd rivalries in the Star Wars canon than the hapless Gungan and the aggravation is more than amply reflected in the Talk pages. Although there are plenty of geeks arguing about the relative suck-iness of the character, the bulk of debate surrounds the popular reaction to the perceived racial stereotypes of Africans or Jamaicans in Jar Jar’s dialect. The debate spilled over to whether Watto, the greedy slavemaster of Tatooine, is anti-Semitic. And then it spiraled into a name-calling battle over semantics and the use of ALL CAPS. The Outcome: The issue of racial caricature allegations became its own, one-paragraph section at the end of the article.

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    Trashing Chewbacca

    For reasons lost to the anonymity of Wikipedia, the loyal Wookiee companion of Han Solo has become a subject of extreme vandalism. Among the edits:

    - Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler listed as the actor who played Chewbacca.


    - Chewbacca described as “This is also a friend of mine AKA Brooke"

    While that inspired anger by Chewbacca fans, it didn’t come close to the debate that ensued when someone added in a paragraph comparing Chewbacca to Jesus Christ (a reference to his death in a 1999 tie-in novel). As one user wrote: Some rabid Jesus freak added that Chewie's death was comparable to Jesus' and that Chewie died for Anakin's sins, returned after 3 days and spread the gospel. What the hell is that garbage? I'm Christian myself and find it insulting that someone would slander this character with religious crap - leave the bible where it is and stop trying to claim characters as Superman and Chewie as religious icons!.

    The Outcome: The page is currently clean, with no references to Jesus.

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    James Earl Jones’s voiceover

    Revered African-American actor James Earl Jones, of course, is famous for providing the iconic booming voice of Darth Vader. But is that his most famous part, considering he’s also won a Golden Globe and an Honorary Academy Award for roles where he actually appeared on screen?

    The argument over whether Star Wars should be included in the lead paragraph of the entry went on so long that the discussion has been locked down permanently.

    The Outcome: His Star Wars role is now the last sentences of the first paragraph, with most of the emphasis on his awards for the film The Great White Hope.

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    Ewok Warfare

    “I hate ewoks, like many people. They're stupid, clumsy, stone age and look like overgrown teddy bears. How can they beat up a stormtrooper with a rock? I mean stormtroopers can withstand a projectile going fast.”

    That’s a fairly representative sentiment among Wikipedia users on the Ewok page. The real discussion, though, is over whether it was really feasible for the Ewoks to defeat the Storm Troopers--with commentators chiming in with comparisons to insurgents in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Outcome: Editors relied upon a 2004 documentary to cite the Viet Cong as a direct influence on George Lucas when he created the Ewoks.

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    Boba Fett, dead or alive

    In the first major action sequence of Return of the Jedi, everyone’s favorite bounty hunter died an inglorious death falling into the sarlacc, the toothy, tentacled creature embedded in the Great Pit of Karkoon. Or did he?

    Wikipedia editors have long argued whether a short story in the collection Tales of the Bounty Hunters, wherein Fett escapes from the sarlacc, is in fact canon .

    “Who decided to bring Boba Fett out of the sarlacc's mouth? That's really stupid and annoying! Why can't Boba Fett just stay there and die!,” one editor wrote.

    Another editor followed up: “Why on earth would [anyone] kill off such a badass in such a wimpy manner?”

    Then Boba Fett rang in himself (or at least an anonymous poster posing as him) on the sarlacc’s page: “"SARLAC IS TOTAL A GIANT F#%@G SPACE P#%@Y." (Redaction added.)

    The Outcome: Fett is listed as alive, with caveats, while the cursing sarlacc comment was removed as vandalism.

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    Anakin vs. Vader

    For awhile, Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader had two separate entries on Wikipedia, which led to an epic flame war over whether they were one and the same. Obviously, Anakin later became Vader, but that wasn’t good enough for some hardcore fans who felt their personalities were so different that one page wasn’t enough. In the end, this was an example of the overwhelming response: For all of you who say keep separate, because they are two separate characters, then split the Anakin's article into "Young Anakin Skywalker" "Padawan Anakin Skywalker" "General Skywalker" "Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker" "Darth Vader Pre-Armor" etc. It's an all or nothing arguement, either make many articles on the different variationsof this character, or do what Wookieepedia has done and make it ONE FREAKIN ARTICLE! It's not that hard to figure out!

    The Outcome:Far from being the only epic argument over the Skywalker family, this discussion is one of the few that had to be locked down. The pages were ultimately merged.

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