Arguing about Krasnovodsk

What do you think you know, and why do you think you know it?

During the Soviet period of 20th century history, there was a town in Turkmenistan known as Krasnovodsk. After the collapse of the USSR, the strongman of Turkmenistan, one Saparmurat Niyazov renamed the town after his own personal preferred name, “Turkmenbashi” (or Türkmenbaşy in the diacritical romanization). This took place in October 1993.

Since then, the town has been commonly known as Türkmenbaşy. Unlike certain other town names (Derry or Londonderry? Kiev or Kyiv? Bangalore or Bengaluru?) this is not a topic of dispute. The airport is known as such, news coverage refers to the town as such, 等等. It is what it is, and it is the city of Türkmenbaşy. Until last week, when an editor moved the Wikipedia article from Türkmenbaşy, Turkmenistan to [[Krasnovodsk]].

That editor (who shall remain unidentified here) largely relied on the “Shaggy Defense” — blind denials of the facts. The editor claimed the town “has never been known by any other name, even in the modern era”, despite the clear declaration by the government of Turkmenistan that the town was renamed. The editor removed all mention of the new name from the article along with renaming the article to [[Krasnovodsk]].

It took about a week to revert that out-of-consensus move of the article to [[Krasnovodsk]]. I assume that if an editor moved [[New York City]] to [[New Amsterdam]] it would be reverted in a New York Minute. Of course, the average English speaker does not even know one town in Turkmenistan, much less the handful it would take to have an opinion on Türkmenbaşy.

For the record: Samarkand, Bukhara, and Tashkent are all in Uzbekistan, not Turkmenistan.