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Jul 24 2011

Guerrila skepticism on Wikipedia

One of the paper presentations I really enjoyed at TAM9 was Susan Gerbic-Forsyth’s talk on guerilla skepticism on Wikipedia. Not everyone has the time or motivation or talent to organize events, give talks, write blogs, etc – but people frequently ask how they can help the skeptical movement. Susan’s main suggestion was for people to edit Wikipedia.


It seems simple at first, but it really is important. One, Wikipedia is one of the first places people look when they run into a new term or name. It looks terrible if someone’s Googling a famous skeptic or skeptical organization and their Wikipedia page is sparse or nonexistent. Two, many articles often have a very paranormal and supernatural bias. It would be great if all false claims also had information from trusted sources on why they’re false. Otherwise they go unchallenged.


If this seems like something you’d be interested in, Susan has lots of practical information over at her blog. And these methods usually apply to atheist articles too.


This also seems like a good time to mention that I have a redirect, but not an article. Cough cough. And my friend Jason claims he’s cooler than me because he has an article and I don’t. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.


Er, I mean, it’s totally about increasing accurate representations of human knowledge, not a popularity contest. Right.


This is post 45 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Three Ninjas

    It’s a popularity contest as long as I’m the popular one.

  2. 2
    Kevin Jones

    It’s only a popularity contest until someone loses an eye.

  3. 3
    rok us

    also, you should check outhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W

  4. 4
    Azkyroth

    I don’t know; there’s a fair amount of evidence that guerillas do in fact exist…

  5. 5
    Codex

    I was going to make one for you, got as far as making myself a profile before CBA Syndrome kicked in.Also, someone’s made you one before me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J…EDIT: I added an extra sentence…

  6. 6
    Dag-Erling Smørgrav

    Sure you do.

  7. 7
    Codex

    I’ll add, I’m useless with Wikipedia and CBA Syndrome still afflicts me, so someone else nice can source it xD

  8. 8
    Skepgineer

    My hobby: like adding [[Logical Fallacies]] to the See Also section of the article on the Ontological Argument, and adding [[Imperialism]] to the See Also section of Operation Ajax.  Edgy, eh?

  9. 9
    Susangerbic

    Rok UsI’ve tried commenting at the Rational Skepticism Wikipedia project but it looks abandoned.  No one is commenting on anything I left.  So I decided to move to my own blog, where I can advise, suggest and plead for people to help out the cause.  I also have a lot of tips, and ideas for editing.  If Rational Skepticism became active again I would be very pleased.  Looks like a lot of people have joined on but they are keeping to themselves.  So much work to be done.Susan

  10. 10
    Susangerbic

    What a horrible page.  The person who made that and dropped it should be ashamed of themselves.  The Boobquake page is actually quite excellent.  I’m going to add this to my watch page and maybe someone who knows you better Jennifer can get to work on it.  The way it is at the moment is quite bad.Actually I only know you for the Boobquake (which was pretty awesome BTW) and don’t know how much notoriety you have for your own Wiki page.  Everything has to be backed up with citations.  Blogs do not count.  You need secondary sources to support you.  Like being mentioned in newspapers, TV and such.  Outside of Boobquake what kinds of things do you have?  Wiki isn’t supposed to be about popularity, but quite frankly it is.  I’m having a lot of interest in people wanting their pages updated (and I’m fine with that) but I want a trade out.  If I’m updating your page then that same person should be working on someone elses page, or an article somewhere else.  There is too much work to be done, and it is too important to be wasted on niceness. 

  11. 11
    Susangerbic

    Jonathan Ray ~ we need all the help we can get.  Keep on editing!

  12. 12
    Jen

    I got a lot of media coverage in Indiana for my atheist activisim on campus. I’m on the speaker’s bureau for the SSA and CFI, and I’ve spoken at national conferences (AHA, SSA, TAM) as well as regional ones (CFI Kamloops, AA Oakland Rapture RAM). I’ve also been published in the Atheist’s Guide to Christmas and appeared on podcasts like Radio Freethinker and , and I was the guest skeptic on Dan Savage’s Save Love podcast.And…uh. Stuff. Still sleep deprived right now. Should I just dump sources here or what?My only hesitation with editing other articles is the only ones I know stuff about are the ones I have a conflict of interest editing (for example, the SSA). Hm…

  13. 13
    Susangerbic

    Sounds good Jen.  I don’t have time at the moment to get your page up to speed, but I can if no one else gets on it.  You would think that as talented as your readers are someone would write to you and you could send them all the links and they could take care of it.  HINT HINTAs far as only editing things you know.  Not that important.  We have tons of articles just waiting for the grammar police to set in and clean up the articles.  In my blog I talk about working backwards.  Finding an article first, then inserting it into a Wiki site.  I just added the [[Category: American skeptic]] to your wiki page that puts you on the screen that I showed at TAM9.  It took me two seconds (okay it took about 10 seconds) but it is an important thing that needs to be done.  I allows editors to be able to find the pages that we need to work on.  Part of the “We Got Your Wiki Back” project I keep going on and on about.  We need all the skeptic people’s pages to have the country category inserted on their pages.  Did you know that there are only 6 Canadian skeptics?  Now that is just silly.  Tons of pages need editing.  As you said, I give a lot of tips and ideas on my blog.  The conflict of interest policy isn’t as big a deal as you would think.  You can’t be working on your own personal page, but you should be able to do simple edits to other pages that might give you a conflict.  If you are clear about who you are on your editor page, and you aren’t making changes that reflect only in the positive light to your edit, and your not hiding things then there shouldn’t be to much of a problem.  You can add things, and clean up things, add photos ect…  Susan

  14. 14
    Susangerbic

    Thanks for all the hits from BlagHag to my site!  Wrote a blog today talking about the MAJOR improvement to Jennifer’s Wikipedia page (and other people’s as well)http://guerrillaskepticismonwi…Wanted to mention that Jennifer needs a completely different picture on her Wiki page than the one on the Boobquake page.  We really want to make sure to address the question, is she noteworthy enough without a mention of Boobquake?  That is the kind of thing that Editors are going to want to make sure get answered.  Having the same picture on both pages does not help.  Here is a blog on how to upload pictures to WikiCommons.  http://guerrillaskepticismonwi…Susan

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