Alternative History

Thinking Back to the beginnings of Doomsday I thought I make a small gallery/retrospective about the HISTORY OF the 1983: Doomsday Timeline--Xi'Reney 22:13, November 13, 2009 (UTC)

Written from my perspective !! 'I have been spending several months thinking about contributing to the AHwikia when I stumbled upon the scenario.

Part 1: The Beginning

Getting through the History of the page (I love wikia, thank you) this is what was first written:

The very first verison of the TIMELINE, created by from December 7th, 2006, 15:36 h

Timeline (1983: Doomsday)

=== September 19, 1983- Colonel Gennady Akrimov replaces Col. Stanislav Petrov as watch officer at the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow, which monitors for a US missile attack on the Soviet Union. Colonel Petrov is re-assigned to a bunker near Odessa.

Sept. 26, 1983- Just past midnight, at 00:40 hrs, the Serpukhov-15 bunker's computers indicated that a US missile was heading toward the Soviet Union. Akrimov, at first, reasoned that a computer error had occurred, since it was only one missile and it didn't make sense that the US would launch one missile in an attack. Questions about the reliability of the satellite detection system had also been raised in the past, so he dismissed the warning as a false alarm, concluding that there was no actual missile.

Very shortly though, the computers indicated that a second missile had been launched, then a third, a fourth and a fifth. Akrimov, a faithful reader of "Pravda" where he had read much of the "warmongering of the American President Reagan" now felt that the attack was real. He telephoned the headquarters of the Stratetic Rocket Forces and told them that his computers showed that a massive US attack was underway.

General Secretary Andropov was awakened by his staff and rushed to an evacuation helicopter standing by. On the way he was informed by the generals that they had "good information" that the Americans were launching a first-strike. They recommended a full retaliatory strike. Andropov, frail and stunned by the news, nodded and gave the launch codes to the SRF commanders.

Eight and one-half minutes later, at over 300 missile bunkers, the order was given....launch. Nearly 1100 Soviet ICBMs in staggered order were launched at the United States, American bases in Europe and Great Britain, and in a plan never publicly revealed at another fifty sites in the People's Republic of China.

Sept. 26, 1983- At around 1am, NORAD launch detection satellites detected the launch from the Soviet Union. It was apparently, to them, a Soviet FIRST-strike and President Reagan was immediately awoken and rushed to "Marine-1", to be evacuated to the Boeing E-4B Nightwatch "National Airbone Command Post". He arrived twenty minutes later and the aircraft took off at about 1:30am.

Enroute, the President was informed by Secretary of Defense Weinberger and the NORAD generals that the launch was confirmed and that it was total. Reagan gave the launch codes and ordered a full retaliatory strike, including "city-buster" missile attacks from the American submarine fleet.

Meanwhile as Andropov's helicopter was approaching the Kremlin's evacuation bunker forty miles outside of Moscow, he received a chilling report. The first "projected" missile had reached its target in Murmansk....but no detonation had occurred. Quickly checking, Soviet generals discovered that the first targets that were supposed to have been destroyed minutes earlier, showed NO incoming warheads and no detonation.

Andropov suffered a massive stroke as he realized he had just started World War-III on a false alarm. A minute later the first Soviet missile detonated in Beijing China, followed quickly by one at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. Minutes after that, a second REAL report of incoming American missiles was reported.

Sept 26, 1983- Doomsday. Over a period of an hour and a half, from approximately 1:45am until 3:10am, over three thousand nuclear weapons were detonated all across the Northern Hemisphere. NATO commanders were ordered to launch tactical Pershing-I missiles at Soviet tank yards, and Warsaw Pact commanders responded with the launch of their Pioneer missiles.

Chinese forces, woefully caught by surprise by the Soviet attack, were only able to launch 30% of their weapons at the USSR. Most hit cities and military bases already destroyed by American missiles and bombers.

Neither American nor Soviet nor any other citizen was given much warning of the attack. Some cities did receive alerts and while local mayors and fire chiefs were scrambling to remember where the air-raid siren was, they were either destroyed or missed in the attack.

EMP (electro-magnetic pulses) from airbursted weapons destroyed some 70% of the electronics across the Northern Hemisphere. Radios, televisions, etc. all rendered useless.

Final death toll on that first day was 1.53 billion people...from the United States, to Cuba, across to the United Kingdom, Western and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, China, Japan, the Phillipines, and three cities in Australia.

And a black pall of smoke, dust, and radioactive ash covered half the world.

Part 2: The Discovery

Louisiannan, Max Sinister and Villa Cruoninga saw the page as well :)

At first I  did not figure out how to I signed as "TheNightsphere" respectively Nightsphere..

I can trace my first real additions back to 10:18, 8. Feb. 2008... i can remember me sitting in the office and being nervous about posting my first ideas:

  • The New United Nations including a lot of countries being mentioned for the first time (e.g. Canada (Iqualuit Government, Guyana Cooperativa, etc.). Then I was still placing things in th future up to 2013... :)
  • MSP history
  • Nimitz Recon Mission 2009


I am still smiling when I read this now and look around to what extent this scenario has grown...amazing and appealing...--Xi'Reney 22:13, November 13, 2009 (UTC)

Part 3: The Merry Band

I'll try to share my recollections of how the timeline grew, from the early moments when I first joined it. - False Dmitri (talk) 16:08, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

I came across the introduction to 1983: Doomsday early that August and like so many people, I was hooked by both the style of the original writer, and the possibilities in this compelling setting. By that time, Xi'Reney had already laid out many of the big ideas of the world, especially the major federations in ANZ and South America. They already had the frenemy relationship that still defines world politics in 1983DD: over here the two were locked in geopolitical competition, over there they're cooperating out of a sense of responsibility to the world. The League of Nations was also a thing, though maybe it was still being called "the New United Nations". I immediately started drafting my first contribution, Hawaii.

For the early months, maybe to the end of 2008, Xi'Reney was the sole boss of the timeline. He approved every new contribution, though I can't really recall him saying no to anything. Mostly he responded with encouraging messages, written with liberal use of caps-lock. It was exciting. He had found something and helped it grow, and now a whole crew was lining up behind him.

Louisiannan and I were veterans of Ill Bethisad, so we brought that mentality. The "Cycle of Proposals" that 1983DD adopted comes straight from that earlier project. Many of the ideas from this era were small and modest, many of them little islands like the ones I had written: the San Juan Islands, Bermuda, the Netherlands Antilles. But some of the more ambitious and outlandish ideas also got their start. Celts! The True King of France! The True King of Britain! The Church of... Abe Lincoln? The weirdness soon became an iconic aspect of the timeline. The point was to have fun.

Part 4: The Explosion

The second half of 2009 was when 1983: Doomsday became a phenomenon. You can see the inflection point if you look back at the 2009 news archives. Up through the summer there's a short item every week or so. Then in September, you start to see something new almost every day, and the news gets longer and more involved. The timeline became by far the biggest thing that this wiki had ever seen, and it was happening live.

In many ways, the energy of those days prefigured the map games that began just a few months later. (Baconton invented the first Map Game in February of 2010). People were role-playing their countries, acting out the drama. We experienced in real time the Saguenay War, the unification of Texas, the opening of Vermont's diplomatic relations with the world. We were getting attention. Discussion threads on, a TVTropes page. It had become clear that the uniqueness of the premise was allowing for participation on an unprecedented scale.

Part 5: The Growing Pains

Now, it's certainly possible to have a project with hundreds of contributors. But it's awfully difficult to do that in an egalitarian community with no real lines of authority, and when it's supposed to be a shared continuity in which everything is supposed to sync up with everything else. It became nearly impossible for any one person to stay abreast of every new development. Lordganon was the only one to even try, as can be seen from the award-winning map that he began in 2011 and dutifully updated for the next four years. LG's unflagging attention would eventually make him the recognized leader of the project as other contributors moved on.

The process that we had settled on, still based on that of Ill Bethisad, was "your proposal becomes official if you post it and nobody objects." This worked (and, believe it or not, is still working as I write this in 2021) for IB, which never exceeded a dozen or so active contributors at any given point. But 1983DD had outgrown it. Things were entering the timeline almost unseen and un-vetted by anybody.

The confused state of the timeline is best seen in this long, long discussion thread in June of 2010. Louisiannan left a disappointed message under the heading Disregard for the Cooperative Nature of the Timeline". He kept it brief:

More and more it seems to me that contributors to this timeline are taking a "this is mine, screw you and your suggestions" attitude. If this is how the timeline is developing, I'm just about ready to pull out.

The discussion ranged beyond that to cover the huge gamut of problems caused by the size and speed of the timeline. Things got especially weird when Gblack61 showed up claiming to be the original creator of the timeline. The original version of the timeline had famously been written by an anonymous IP address (back when that was allowed on this wiki). So there's no real way to confirm whether Gblack was who he claimed to be - but his words ring true to me. What he said, however, was far from helpful: essentially, you've all done a terrible job and the whole thing should be scrapped.

That served to derail the conversation. But we'd heard each other out and at least defined the challenges, even if solutions were still elusive. A few things changed: shortly afterward, the talk page got reorganized into the current configuration. But the pace of growth didn't let up.

Part 6: Stasis

This was too much for me, and during 2011 and 2012 I became steadily less involved both in the timeline and the wiki as a whole. The pace of new articles and news items continued during those years, but some signs of stasis were setting in. Proposals got stalled in the talk page and were still there a decade later. That page started to become a wasteland that nobody had the time or energy to tame.

For most of 2012, you can see the timeline continuing to grow steadily, but with the sense that it involves a smaller and smaller set of people. Arstarpool has compared it to summer vacation at a declining resort. People kept showing up to edit, the routines continued, but everything each year felt diminished. In 2013, there's a sudden drop in activity. By 2014, 1983: Doomsday was perhaps Not Quite Dead, but it was clearly no longer a major force within the wiki community. Proposals continued to trickle in, as they would for a couple of years more. But the project was so big, and the main talk page so messy, that it probably overwhelmed many a potential new contributor.

The system for approving new proposals also broke down. Whereas earlier people had the expectation of graduating pages quickly and with minimal discussion, now, with most experienced editors gone, people submitted proposals with a vague sense that they had to please the pre-existing community, which had become really tenuous by that point. The ultimate example of this is Daesunglim, who crafted a huge galaxy of pages about central Pennsylvania beginning in 2013. He dutifully kept them as proposals for the next six or seven years, there no longer being any clear procedure for approving new content.

Part 7: The Revival

New ideas never stopped trickling in, though by the late teens there was basically no community left at all. This trickle began to pick up in 2019, corresponding with a rise in the level of activity on the wiki as a whole. 1983 Doomsday was still an important part of our site, and newcomers wanted to be a part of it.

SigmaHero045 deserves a lot of credit for the timeline's revival. He became heavily involved on the principal talk page and responded to many of the ideas that were coming in, including the ongoing work of Daesunglim in Pennsylvania and a flurry of new proposals for Britain. His discussions helped make it into a living page again, even, dare I say it, a community. The talk page was still a mess, but it was a vibrant mess. Sigma's ideas also resulted in genuine improvement to some new pages; you can see this in the process by which Republic of Jefferson was written, for example.

While Sigma revived 1983dd's discussions, GryffindorKrypton came in with high-quality new content in 2020. His writing for the Guyana Cooperative, richly illustrated and filled with interesting details about culture and daily life, is what first caught my attention and alerted me that something exciting was going on. Gryff actually wrote dozens of new pages, many of which are now canon, while others are incomplete as of this writing.

Doomsday was back, but without some organization I knew it wouldn't get very far. I took it on myself to sort through the old discussions. I posted about it in this section "Cleanup and Revival". There was no established process for what I was doing, so I tried to move quickly yet cautiously. I archived about 50 discussions in my first burst of activity, and over the next few months worked to keep trimming down the list of proposals.

The #1983-Doomsday channel on Discord had existed for a while but mostly limited to short discussions and observations. Now mostly thanks to Mal3ssio97 and Thewolvesden, it became a place to discuss content creation. That was another big change, though of course not everybody was on Discord.

Part 8: Judicious Review

The era that began in mid-2020 and continues as of this writing [20:21, 18 October 2023 (UTC)] has been marked by a lot of activity, but also by a slow, methodical pace compared to the project's original heyday. Discord permitted discussion with depth and freedom not possible before, and we could use it to play around with ideas in sometimes unexpected ways. Typically new proposals were allowed to sit around for a couple of months before final approval, not a bad balance between the madcap pace of the early period and the stasis of the middle one. The activity drew some new contributors and drew back some longtime ones, such as ForsakenPear, Imperium Guy, Arstarpool and Fxgentleman.

The same era marked the first attempts to soberly reassess some of the products of the wild years. There had always been things in the timeline that strained plausibility. Some of them dated from XiReney's first sketches, while others were from the period when content was being written faster than it could be discussed. The growing group of active contributors was in agreement that some of this needed to be adjusted to better conform to known facts about Cold War history or standards of realism. The big question became how to make these changes while respecting the work and creativity of past contributors.

After months of discussion in the pandemic-laden waning months of 2020, we moved forward with the first large review project at the start of 2021. The area of choice was Greece, a place that jumped out for its strikingly odd appearance on a map. There Greece sat, inexplicably brooding over an enormous swath of the eastern Mediterranean. What we did with Greece set the tone for the next couple of years of reviews and adjustments. It was important to most of us that we keep whatever we could. In this and almost all subsequent reviews, contributors would float ideas to root out the canon and replace it with something completely new, and almost inevitably, we would find a way instead to massage the canon and make it work better. In Greece's case, this occurred in a dramatic fashion with the original creator, Mr.Xeight, who was lured back to participate in the discussion (without making any wiki edits). On Discord, he argued that we should gut all of his work and start from scratch. Increasingly frustrated at the need to make compromises with his own past self, he left the project angrily, one of the more difficult moments of the era.

A fairly sizable group of us spent the rest of the year writing new proposals for Greece, Cyprus, Libya and Egypt, wrapping it up in late December. This opened a rush of other reviews: some big, some small, some justified, some not. The undertaking essentially set out the community's task for the foreseeable future: find a way to make our sprawling timeline more coherent, harmonious, and well-informed, while preserving the spark that makes it special. Disagreements from now on would center around how to do that.

The most extreme example of this entire dynamic was the review of Sicily and greater Italy. The process dragged out over three years and saw countless versions rise and fall. Many times in the page's history, you can see the timeline's canonical Sicily get totally replaced with an idea for a new entity, only to be pulled back again to something less disruptive to the storyline. Every contributor had to constantly fight to control the impulse to "rewrite it the way that *I* would have done it"


A selection of ancient visual content to help us all remember the visual evolution of the timeline