Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Third Birthday GSoW!


Life is good.

Here is a birthday video courtesy of our Portuguese team leader Nix Dorf.  Make sure you continue reading after with the most recent May and June page improvements.  Thank you all for your support. 


video



 

Péter Érdi - now translated into Hungarian by Peter Mogyoros

Tudományos szkepticizmus (Scientific skepticism) - complete rewrite in Hungarian by Attila Hartai

Gábor Hraskó - new page created by the Hungarian team

Neil deGrasse Tyson - new Hungarian page for our favourite astrophysicist, by Laura Csécsi and Attila Hartai

Erich von Däniken - expanded in Hungarian by Attila Hartai

Chemtrail - expanded in Hungarian by Attila Hartai

Faye Flam - Richard 

Death from the Skies! - rewritten by Peter Trussell  Before and After

Narendra Dabholkar - Svetlana Bavykina translated to Russian

Anne Nicol Gaylor - brand new page created by Sean Whitcomb

Floris van den Berg - Leon Korteweg had written this page in Dutch years ago and now has translated it into English with the help of Luke.

Marci Hamilton - rewritten by Michael Bigelow - Before & After

Terry Smiljanich - rewritten by Bill - Before & After

Nathan Phelps - now translated to Russian by Svetlana Bavykina and Jelena Levin

The 10:23 Campaign page now has been translated into Dutch thanks to Wim Vandenberghe & Leon Korteweg

New Atheism page has gone through an edit war for several months over on the Dutch WP, but Leon and Emile Dingemans stuck it out and got their changes to stick.

Comité Para is now in Dutch thanks to Leon, Rik and Emile

De Kennis van Nu Radio - in Dutch - Leon Korteweg

Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science in Dutch - Leon Korteweg

Gerrit Hendrik van Leeuwen - In Dutch - Emile Dingemans

Jan Willem Nienhuys' stub was greatly expanded in Dutch by Emile: Before & After

Merseyside Skeptics Society - In Dutch - Leon and Wim

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science - In Dutch - Tijmen, Leon

The history section of Scientific Skepticism has been expanded by Leon and Luke in English: Before & After. Thereafter the entire page was translated to Dutch by Leon and Rik

SGU - Skeptics Guide to the Universe - now in Dutch thanks to Vera and Leon

Skeptical Inquirer magazine is now in Dutch - Leon

Barry Karr - Susan Gerbic

Vasolastine received a rewrite in Dutch by Emile

What's the Harm? is now in Dutch - Leon and Emile

Wonder en is gheen wonder in Dutch by Leon and Emile

Steve Novella rewrite - Jim Preston & Kyle Hamar - Before & After

Astronomical Society of New South Wales - new page created by Greg Neilson

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just in case you have missed them here are some notable mentions GSoW has been involved in.  

Susan interviewed on Skeptically Challenged podcast 

Portuguese blog written by Nix Dorf

Susan on Skepticule Podcast with Paul, Paul and Paul

David Gorski Blog about Frustrated Paranormal People on Wikipedia
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


T-shirts

Conference season is upon us! Looking to show your support of the GSoW team? Wear one of these new T-shirts, available at EvolveFish.com, to show your support for our project.

Order here
(use coupon code "GSoW" for 10% off your order!)



Special thanks to Kyle Sanders of Carbon Dating for the design!
















Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why we have a private forum. A response to Rebecca O'Neill

Yesterday, I was brought to the attention of an article titled Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project – A discussion by Rebecca O'Neill from the Dublin Skeptics and host of The Skeprechauns podcast. As part of her study in online curation, a large part of her research in crowd-sourcing on the Internet focused on the Wikimedia project, which brought her attention to GSoW. She expressed concerns about the way GSoW operates (she did so before on her podcast, episode 57 around 1:02:15), mainly because of its private forum where articles are prepared before they are published, which allegedly isn't as transparent as Wikipedia itself.

I'm happy that GSoW receives some feedback/criticism from within the movement that I can address. As team leader of the Dutch language group of GSoW, I have been part of this great project (with about 150 skeptical editors from around the world!) for exactly 13 months. Consequently, I focus on the Dutch Wikipedia, that sometimes has different rules to the English Wikipedia, and we are mostly translating English or other language articles to Dutch, so my experience is less in creating new articles on the English Wikipedia (and providing pictures, for which we have a wonderful photographers team, but I digress), which appears to be the main subject of Rebecca's article, but I will nonetheless try to address it as best as I can.

Rebecca says that '[w]hilst we can all agree that improving and adding well researched content to Wikipedia is a worthwhile endeavour', her 'main unease' is the fact we have a private (or "secret") forum, "which I have no knowledge of the nature of the discussions on the forum as I have not approached the group to become a member." Well, you can always apply to join if you want to help improve Wikipedia, value the scientific method and the evidence it produces, use critical thinking and want to get instructions on how to write about it in an encyclopedic fashion, because we're always looking for new editors; insiders' knowledge would give you greater insight in what we are actually doing than any hypothesising about what we might be doing wrong from the outside. But we can't demand that of you, and we don't give access to people who are simply interested in 'keeping track of what GSoW does', even close friends – we have a fine blog and Facebook group page for that, both of which are public, which should suffice – we only let people join who want to participate actively, so I'll try to explain it with the insiders' knowledge I have.

Rebecca compared our forum to what Wikipedia describes as a "secret cabal" and the problems that may produce. If anyone wants to know (as can be expected of good skeptics, and Rebecca indeed indicated she is aware of it), we've had these kinds of criticism before from outside the skeptic movement by people like Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra (twice indirectly), Craig Weiler, Rome Viharo, Russell Targ (indirectly) and Brian Josephson; it turned out on every occasion that these individuals either didn't know or understand the rules of Wikipedia (some didn't even bother to check), or falsely applied them to GSoW when they did. By the way, all of them accused us of 'distorting' their biographies on Wikipedia (if they had one), but GSoW wasn't involved in the editing of any of those pages (you can check it yourself if you don't believe it simply by viewing the page histories, and falsifying this with our blog updates we do about every major edit we've been working on in the past two months). Nonetheless, our project leader Susan Gerbic (listen to almost any podcast interview or filmed lecture she's done since October 2013, for example the SGU interview and the QED lecture Rebecca referred to, or this QED panel discussion (I wave at the camera at 0:11)) and Tim Farley (Sheldrake/WeilerChopraNot Here), and others of us or not of us (for example, Jerry CoyneSteven NovellaSharon Hill and David Gamble), on or off Wikipedia, have rebutted all these straw man critiques, vindicating any suggestion that we don't take criticism seriously, let alone ignore it altogether. But since the criticism comes from within our movement this time, I'm happy to explain it again to fellow skeptics who may have missed it.

I'll address each possible concern:
1. Disruption of the project. Not at all, we're trying to expand and improve it for all of us and remove misleading information, and proudly so.
2. Promotion of its members to become Wikipedia functionaries. This is something we rarely do, there is no real need. One of our members was already an admin before joining, but she never uses admin powers to guard articles against edits of others; she's mostly concerned with guarding copyright laws on Commons, and also notifies us if we are violating it, offering alternatives. Another member has applied to become a patroller on the Hungarian Wikipedia (because new changes to a page must be patrolled there), so readers can immediately view our recent edits. We value discussion of content and jointly seeking a solution to a disagreement rather than imposing our point of view from positions of power (if you want an example of a Wikipedia that is taken over and controlled by people with a specific point of view that don't allow dissent, just look at the Croatian Wikipedia, where conservative revisionist Catholic nationalists rule). 
3. Canvassing. This means mass voting, for example on the (non)deletion of a page, to influence its outcome. We respect Wikipedia's rules and only editors that were involved in editing a specific page are allowed to cast a vote and explain their reasoning.
4. Meatpuppetry. GSoW is not meatpuppetry per WP:MEAT because we do not solicit other people in order to influence the editorial process or to sway consensus. In fact, Wikipedia even gives a list of examples of things we do which do not constitute meatpuppetry. The great irony of this argument is that our 6 critics from outside the skeptic movement mentioned have all tried to do exactly this, either themselves or recruiting others on their behalf to target a single page and change it in their favour. Tim Farley's 3rd article mentioned above, 'When you’re not here to create an encyclopedia, your Wikipedia statistics show it', describes exactly how they do it and why we don't. I myself write about lots of different subjects (history, geography, music, politics, linguistics, philosophy and culture) that have nothing or little to do with skepticism, as can be seen on my user page and checked in my user contributions list.
5. Conflicts of interest. See point C below.
6. Having an "agenda"The "agenda" argument doesn't hold water either: we have an interest in certain topics to be sure, but we are always trying to find RS to back up our claims. On The Skeprechauns, Rebecca even admitted it's an agenda they agree with, so I don't understand their problem with it.

But by far, Rebecca's main concern is that we have a "secret" forum. Rebecca argues that '[a]s a community our actions should be open for all to see, so that they are above reproach.' First of all, nowadays we prefer to call a "private" forum, which Susan explains as follows: 'Since QED I have been trying to use the phrase “private forum” instead of “secret forum”. Obviously it is not a secret, as we are discussing it here. It is a private forum. We built it and use it for training, bonding and organization.'

What the advantages of a private forum are:
A. Anonimity! Wikipedia is constructed so that anyone editing it can remain anonymous if they so choose by using nicknames instead of our real ones. The reason for this is that some of us don't want to be bothered outside of Wikipedia with what we write. An example could be that one wants to write about atheism while still being in the closet inside a very religious community, and have chosen not to come out yet for strategic purposes (anyone who follows atheist podcasts like The Thinking Atheist can relate to this). GSoW members can indicate to Susan that they do not wish to be named, so that their real-life identities won't be exposed when she posts a blog update or talks about GSoW during an interview or lecture. Some of us have decided to use our real name on Wikipedia (Susan is Sgerbic), or use a nickname but either mention their real name on our user page (Tim Farley is Krelnik, which btw is also his Twitter and YouTube name), or only outside of Wikipedia (I am Nederlandse Leeuw, but I don't say so on my user page and prefer to keep it that way for the foreseeable future; I do sometimes say directly or indirecly what my name is on the Internet (as Rebecca acknowledged, my Facebook profile states that I work for GSoW) or in real life conversations), others prefer not to reveal their identity to anyone publicly online, and it's very important that they have that option.
B. Privacy in personal matters. Closely related to anonimity. We can discuss our personal stories and experiences with certain subjects (either in the work threads or in the Tea Room) that we cannot share if we want to remain anonymous. The forum (and the Facebook groups) provides a space for private information that is not fit for WP talk pages where anyone can read them. Susan has stated many times that she would feel bad about publicly arguing in all honesty 'Person X or Y is not notable enough (yet) for his or her own Wikipedia page', especially when it's a close skeptical friend (which can be unintentionally taken as a lack of affection or even an insult), or when it's one of the people we regard as our opponents, who can then claim 'censorship!' and 'conspiracy!' when they read it on our forum. We don't want nor need that kind of drama.
I myself have previously given this fictional example: one of our editors comments inside our forum "Oh man this guy is a total fraud! When I still believed in him, it cost me so much money. I'm gonna write criticism about him on WP to warn others, who will help me?!" You're just not going to write something so personal openly on a talk page, or you'll be made fun of or accused of partiality (not having an NPOV or Neutral Point of View), while here on the forum you'll probably receive sympathy and motivate someone else to actually help you write a scathing piece. For this you need to trust the people you are talking to not to leak any data.
In some cases we do inform our scientific/skeptical spokespeople that we will write, are currently writing or have just written (or rewritten) their biographies on Wikipedia, depending on the situation; they may give us additional references, a voice introduction (new!), but most of all photos to use on the page. It is a common misconception that we can take images from anywhere. Only the person who owns it can upload it because of the strict copyright policy that Wikimedia Commons has. 
C. Preparing an article without interference. Rebecca argues that a secret cabal 'could spawn problems around conflict of interest (COI), especially if the initial conversations about the creation, editing or deletion of articles are not done out in the open'. But it remains unclear why these 'initial conversations' should be public; non-members would still not have a say in reaching that consensus if they may view but not comment. It's kind of true that we create our 'own consensus' on the forum when assessing the sources we want to use in a draft article (Are they relevant? Are they reliable? Are they internally consistent? How should we write about them while avoiding plagiarism (either by summarising, paraphrasing or directly quoting)? etc. or when translating carefully checking what the foreign words actually mean or how they were probably intended by the author of a source), but I don't see anything wrong with that. We publish an article when it is ready, if possible with one or more photos (here again our connections to skeptical spokespeople are important and some prefer them to be anonymous), which occasionally takes time. Sometimes a draft is written on the forum, but most of the time we use our user subpages (in this video – that Ryan Harding and I captioned in English and Dutch – Tim Farley eloquently explains at TAM 2012 why this is preferable).
As an example, just look at my draft of the Comité Para (one of, if not the oldest skeptical organisation in the world): User:Nederlandse_Leeuw/Comité_Para
In my own words, the forum makes it possible to deliver well-referenced, grammar-checked and imagine-loaded qualitative pages instead of unfinished stubs and edit conflicts and edit wars with non-skeptics along the way to good articles. It's much easier to translate eachother's articles etc. to different languages within our group, too. 
But here is the important part: once an article is published, criticism by and discussion with others on Wikipedia itself is welcomed. People can always challenge our text by challenging the accuracy of the sources we have provided and submitting better ones that correct them. Preferably they do this on that article's talk page with a justification why they think their refs are better than the current ones, but if it's just a minor edit, a simple reason in the Edit summary will do. The 'consensus' we reached on the forum is not infallible and we never claimed it was. We are skeptics and self-criticism is one of our core values. But we just think, arguing from our and others' experiences, that preparing it on or via the forum works better than doing it "live" on Wikipedia for the reasons I've stated.
D. Training to prevent "biting" (a.k.a. "throwing yourself to the wolves"). Rebecca explains correctly that '[b]iting is when a more experienced editor will be seen to “smack down” a more junior editor', but argues '[GSoW gives] the distinct impression that they are providing a support structure that is missing from Wikipedia and without it there is no way for editors to learn the ropes which is patently untrue,' which is unfortunately a straw man. There are indeed support structures (she mentioned the Teahouse – not to be confused with our Tea Room), though they can be hard to find, you need someone that has the patience to explain everything to you, you can get lost in their help files etc. and they don't necessarily provide information on how to find and use reliable sources. (When I joined the Dutch Wikipedia in 2008, there was no such thing – and as far as I'm aware there still isn't – but I was lucky to have a patient user explain the basics of referencing to me, and other kind users have helped me along the way and I taught myself a lot by imitating and experimenting). All of this happens in our training threads, where new editors are given tasks on how to do basic editing (by the Welcome Team, sometimes assisted by specific team leaders) and make sure their edits won't be removed right away. Sometimes an editor is so excited to go on to the real work or already has enough experience with editing Wikipedia, that they'll skip or drop out of the training; that's their choice, because GSoW is voluntary. Training is one of the support structures we provide, and if one doesn't need it, fine. Consequences could be that they end up actually not understanding how Wikipedia works, having their articles deleted for bad editing or get drawn into vicious edit wars and lots of name calling on the talk pages, ending in their decision to quit Wikipedia out of utter frustration. We've seen it happen before with members who didn't want to train and play by the rules of Wikipedia. Their efforts are wasted and they've done a disservice to contributing to a reliable online encyclopedia that serves as millions of people's first point of reference.
E. Better than WikiProjects / Motivating eachother. One of the alternatives Rebecca gave is collaboration within a WikiProject, like the WikiProject Skepticism. First of all I'd like to say that what they're doing is fine as far as I'm aware, but it's not my cup of tea (besides that fact that no such WikiProject exists on the Dutch WP, although I could initiate it of course). I've been involved with several WikiProjects, and very often there are individuals listing the topics of their personal interests, saying this or that needs an article, but they don't want to do it themselves or not by themselves. There is little effort to look for common ground with other editors and actually go write stuff. You end up with large indices of red links that almost nobody is interested in and that will scare newbies away with the feeling 'We'll never get this done!' This is different from when you actually can meet people who tell a bit about themselves and why they have a personal interest in a topic without appearing to be biased right off the bat about it or revealing their identity.

In the end, it's quite possible that even if we opened up our forum to be viewed by the public, somebody is going to claim we're not showing everything and still have other boards or threads 'that they don't want you to know about' in constructing yet another crazy conspiracy theory. In response to earlier criticism, Susan jokingly replied 'As far as having too much influence on WP and that we might do something bad in the future.  Well I broke my crystal ball, so we will just have to wait and see what the future has in store for us.' Really, we are open to discuss specific cases in which we may have done something wrong, especially on the talk pages where specific discussions belong, but will remind our critics of their burden of proof.
I'm glad that Rebecca has expressed she is 'not advocating for the GSoW to stop what they are doing', and hope to have sufficiently 'reflect[ed] on how and why [we] are doing it' here, being as open and honest as I could be. We're always discussing how to improve the way we work to get the best result we can get. So far we have received a lot of support and praise, and in addressing genuine and well-meant criticism, and perhaps changing our procedures as a consequence of good suggestions, I hope we can inform the outside world about what we're doing and why. Yes, we have a private forum, and we're fine with that.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sunglasses Needed: March - April GSoW updates!

GSoW continues to shine through 2014.  We have been so busy with training and updates I almost forgot that there is a world outside GSoW that enjoys reading about all the changes we are making. Look at what we have done to bring quality articles about scientific skepticism to Wikipedia. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

First thing I want to show off is our Voice Intro project run by Kyle Hamar and Ryan Harding.  It has been a struggle working on how to make this as efficient as possible, but we think we have it figured out.  All editors are now trying to collect audio from their "targets" to make this project grow.  Its slow going but we are making progress.  This week we just added our first non-English audio to the list, check out Peter Erdi's Hungarian audio.

If you know of someone that who has a Wikipedia page and needs audio, please contact us at GSoWteam@gmail.com for instructions.  We are also featured on the main page of the Russian Skeptic organization. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------

GSoW made the short list for an Ockham this year.  Very exciting to get this kind of recognition. Hopefully we will be able to impress the judges for next year. 


---------------------------------------------------------------------

I've just returned from speaking at QED in Manchester, England.  What a frickin blast!  Several of my editors descended on the venue where we bonded and plotted.  We also had many new editors join us along the way.  I'm looking forward to all the great talent we can add to our team.  Thank you to two of my team photographers Robert McDermott and Andrew Merritt for allowing me to put my camera down from time to time knowing they would be everywhere getting the photos we needed.  See their work on many of the pages we have released.  Watch our podcast recording here and here

I'm going to give you only one link to look at if you are interested in what went down at QED, and that is to the one-stop website of Lanyrd.  I can't encourage you enough to become familiar with this conference site, when people add content here, everyone wins.  Here is the QED area, but as you explore you will find that most conferences are located here.  Anyone can add content, so please take a minute and help fill in the gaps from past conferences.  

--------------------------------------------------------------------

One more thing if you would like to keep up-to-date on all things GSoW, please "like" our Facebook page here.

===========================================

I think you will notice a theme with a lot of these pages, lots of focus on anything connected with Cosmos and astronomy.  Our thought is that when Cosmos is on TV and in the news, people will be curious about the program and the people surrounding it, it is in our best interest to make sure those readers are getting the best information and we also want to show off our spokes people.  

So put on your sunglasses as these updates should dazzle you.  Turn on HatNote to set the mood and enjoy our March-April updates!

===========================================

Climate Scientist Andrew Dessler's page received a rewrite from Bill, complete with audio.  Before and After

QED speaker Coralie Colmez received a brand new page from editor Richard who noticed that her mother was also due for her own Wikipedia page so he made that happen.    Leila Schneps not only received a brand new page, but she was featured on the front page of Wikipedia as a Did You Know.  Check out the view stats for that day, total outreach, total win for our community.

Hemant Mehta was long over due for a page - Fred Green & Tad Callin spent long hours making that happen.  We knew we were also going to try for a Did You Know, but before we could nominate it we wanted to make sure Mehta's "I Sold my Soul on Ebay" page was in order.  So everything stalled until Jairo Arce & Christine Daley were able to get that page rewritten.  Even the Secular Student Alliance WP page received a spike in views.

The Mark Crislip/QuackCast page was an embarrassment. It is what I call a "non-scroller" which means you don't have to scroll to see the whole page.  Our community really should be ashamed that we allow pages like this to exist on Wikipedia.   Sean Whitcomb got to work and turned out this amazing transformation.  We contacted Mark for audio and I think he wins for funniest Intro Audio.  After


Rachael Dunlop now has a brand new page (with audio) written by new editor Sean Whitcomb. Rachael has been sitting on our list since we started collecting people to put on our list. She kept getting passed over, not because we were worried that there wouldn't be enough information, but because creating a page from scratch is a lot of work. I think Sean and team did a terrific job. Rachael was also featured on the front page of English Wikipedia as a Did You Know... Here are the stat views during that day.

Edinburgh Skeptics received a page rewrite from editor Julie.  This happened while I was at QED which was most exciting, loved bragging about it when I was traveling in Scotland.  Before & After

 Elizabeth Pisani another speaker at QED received a rewrite from editor Jay Young. Before & After

The Dutch category page for Cognitive Bias is now available for Dutch readers thanks to Emile Dingemans.

The MC of QED was Paul Zenon whose page also received a make-over.  Paul's page rewrite was something I attempted at the beginning of GSoW back in 2011 but just got to busy to finish.  Julie picked it up and finished just in time. Before & After

Angela Saini's page was one of those pages we kept thinking we were done with, but every time editor Christine Daley asked for feedback someone kept giving her more to add. Before & After  And then there is this sweet tweet...




Normally I don't assign work to be done.  Only in training, which is what happened in this case. GSoW was joined by a talented editor that wanted to join our team.  I had been thinking about the Audrey Santo page for some time and found that our new editor Andrea Crain was the perfect person to take it on.  And she sure did.  This will require some reading as the changes aren't as obvious as many of the above make-overs.  Before & After

A brand new page for Anne Nicol Gaylor was created by Sean Whitcomb. Keep an eye out for her page to be a DYK soon.

Brand new page for Emily Lakdawalla by Nathan Miller - And on April 1st the page was featured on the front page of Wikipedia as a Did You Know. And to keep up with the theme of the day, Nathan came up with a April Fools hook. See if you can spot it. Here are the view stats from the extra exposure she received that day.

Jennifer Michael Hecht received a rewrite by Jim Preston and this is Jim's first rewrite. Before & After

R. Joseph Hoffmann cleanup by Kevin Elsken. This is Kevin's first major improvement. Before & After

Not exactly one of our skeptical spokespeople, but Nellie Bly is someone you are going to enjoy reading about - Translated from English into Dutch by Vera de Kok & Leon Korteweg.

The Péter Érdi page had all kinds of citation problems and was an orphan (which means nothing links to it) before Peter Mogyoros got a hold of it and rewrote it.  This was Peter's first launched page.  It also has audio and once the page is launched in Hungarian (very soon) it will have our first non-English audio. Before & After 

Coen de Bruijn, Emile Dingemans and Leon Korteweg translated the Simon Singh page into Dutch.

Ray Hyman has been a focus of ours for almost two years, and has been translated into Portuguese and Dutch.  He now has a Wikipedia page in Spanish courtesy of Cristina.  

Brand New page in Dutch created for the series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey by Coen de Bruijn, Leon Korteweg and Wim Vandenberghe. And also Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey in Portuguese by Filipe Russo.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain now has a page in Dutch because of team leader Leon Korteweg .  

The Swedish Skeptic Society better known as Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning now has a Dutch Wikipedia page thanks to Wim Vandenberghe and Leon Korteweg.

Here is an unusual one.  I lectured at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY summer 2013.  You might not realize it, but CFI has an amazing library full of donated personal libraries and just about everything in print that has anything to do with skepticism and the paranormal.  While there the librarian Tim Binga showed me Steve Allen collection.   Allen was interested in everything and collected information on many subjects.  This archive also has the original script for Allen's TV series Meeting of Minds and I snapped a few photos while browsing through the archive.  I uploaded the images and then assigned this page for a rewrite which Kevin Elsken took care of.  Before and After

A brand new page for the Oh, No Ross & Carrie Podcast by Sean Whitcomb. I had several editors that were hoping they would get to be the one that wrote this page. Sean was quickest on the draw.

Penny4NASA received a brand new page written by Nathan Miller.  This page sat for over a year incubating until it received enough notoriety for release.   Our plan was to add the mention of Penny4NASA to Neil deGrasse Tyson's WP page which we did months ago.  Only with Nathan's release of an actual page have we been able to really see the impact we have had.  With the popularity of Cosmos, Tyson's WP view stats have gone from 100,000 a month to 300,000+ a month.  In April 2014 his page was the 313 most viewed page in Wikipedia.  That is a unheard of number, a total win for science and scientific skepticism.  Possibly Penny4NASA has been fighting for media attention and some people may find them on Wikipedia totally independent from its mention on the Tyson page.  Nevertheless Penny4NASA's WP views are doing well, 1,445 in April 2014.   

And one more... this one has a bit of a story behind it, so bear with me. As you all know I was scheduled to appear at QED in Manchester, England. I asked my GSoW team to please help with the pages of all the speakers that would be at the conference. One of my new team members (who actually had been a WP editor for years but new to GSoW) Chris Allen was assigned the Nathan Phelps page rewrite. On our forum we discussed for over a month some of the changes Chris was making to the page, we went back and forth about all kinds of things. The page was nearly ready for release, but we had weeks left until QED, no real hurry.

One night I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw a post from Nathan Phelps saying that his father, Fred Phelps had just been taken to hospice. This is the kind of event that GSoW works so hard to be prepared for, one of our spokespeople making the news. Ok, Fred Phelps isn't one of our spokespeople.... but Nathan is. So I contacted one of my team leaders who would be the first one awake to get that page published. Ryan was in England (I'm in CA) and quickly proofread the page and managed to contact Chris and told him to publish it. The team worked wonderfully, and Chris was a trooper. He went to the Westboro Baptist and Fred Phelps pages and made sure that Nathan was mentioned on them. Nathan Phelps - Chris Allen Before & After

So then came Fred's death and the views to his Wikipedia page soared. Because of the ripple effect Nathan's page views also spiked. Here are the WBC views. This is a major win for Wikipedia and Scientific Skepticism.

Because the English page is in great shape, that means it is ready to be translated.  The Dutch team was quickest to respond and now Dutch Wikipedia readers can now read all about Nathan Phelps because of Leon Korteweg & Coen de Bruijn.

==========================================================

Here are a few recent interviews that explain GSoW and will keep you up-to-date on all things GSoW.  

In Portuguese - Nix Dorf explains GSoW to the Fronteiras da Ciencia podcast.

Susan after QED an interview by Eran Segev on Skeptic Zone.

QED attendee András Pintér's write-up on the conference in Hungarian

Susan being interviewed on Virtual Skeptics

Dave Gamble's blog responding to Rupert Sheldrakes accusations. (yes, this is still happening!)

Detailed blog by Tim Farley about the actual numbers concerning who is editing Wikipedia.

GSoW editor Peter Mogyoros is interviewed by a Slovakian podcast


----------------------------

Write to us at GSoWteam@gmail.com








Tuesday, April 15, 2014

QED, Starry Nights Full of Space-Editing... and T-shirts!

QEDcon

This past week, our own Susan Gerbic appeared at QEDcon in Manchester, England! Susan has spearheaded multiple projects, not the least is our Wikipedia user group, and she shared ideas for getting involved "beyond the choir."

Space!

For the most part, this update has a bit of a theme to it. Several members of our user community got really excited about the then-upcoming relaunch of Cosmos, and wanted to learn more about its host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and some of the space-related enthusiasm he's generated. Additionally, we are also excited about the opportunities for citizen science participation in space and astronomy, as well as some of the folks who endeavor to perform educational outreach regarding that engagement.

Tyson's manned-spaceflight advocacy, including public speaking and testimony before the United States Senate, has inspired a nonprofit organization (Space Advocates) to launch a campaign, Penny4NASA, to advance a human-spaceflight agenda and the increasing of NASA's budget. In so doing, they've generated quite a bit of enthusiasm and a fair bit of coverage within the space enthusiast community.

Citizen science projects connect researchers with a wide user base and enable engaging educational and collaborative opportunities that are hard to imagine otherwise. As mentioned in a previous update, we performed a substantial expansion of Pamela Gay's biographical article, including newly sourced coverage of CosmoQuest, a citizen science community "bent on together advancing our understanding of the universe."

Editors Tad Callin and Kyle Hamar helped draft and support multimedia efforts on a brand new biographical article on Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society. Lakdawalla's research, educational outreach and coverage of all-things-planetary are worth checking out! On April 1 (April Fool's Day), the article was featured on Wikipedia's "Did You Know..." front page section, with a whimsical hook: "...that Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society has identified places where Martian drones can land on Earth?" (a playful April Fool's nod to her work evaluating Earth-based locations for testing Mars-bound UAV designs). This brought quite a few new viewers to the article (stats).

T-shirts

Conference season is upon us! Looking to show your support of the GSoW team? Wear one of these new T-shirts, available at EvolveFish.com, to show your support for our project.

Order here
(use coupon code "GSoW" for 10% off your order!)

Special thanks to Kyle Sanders of Carbon Dating for the design!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jan & Feb 2014 - We've been Busy!

I think you will find that GSoW has had a couple really busy months. We have completed more tasks in the last two months than we did in the 6 busiest months of 2013.  I am glowing with pride as I write this blog.  This is truly getting stuff done.

Things are just starting to come together with our forum.  I've taken over the training process and it is insane but I love it.  I assign tasks that are as simple as correcting spelling, rewording a paragraph, repairing a citation.  To difficult tasks like completely re-writing a page. 

Mostly new people are assigned what I call "backwards edits" mainly from podcast interviews.  I've made spreadsheets with every episode of specific podcasts, and then assign the new editor the task of listening and relistening to the interview and seeing if they can use the podcast to support or improve the Wikipedia page.  Most times I have not listened to the episode, and many times the new editor has not heard of the "target" before.  In other words this is the opposite of how most WP editors edit.  We are not starting with a "target" in mind and looking for sources to improve it, but having the citation and looking where to put it. 

This forces us to expand to people and organizations we have never heard of.  And it exposes our editors to podcasts and people they were unfamiliar with.  Once the podcast has been used as a citation, then that spreads the Skeptic Love to Wikipedia readers who might never have discovered that podcast.  We are working through entire podcasts and in time will be able to ask what percent of their website hits are coming from Wikipedia.  It might take a while, but we are here for the long haul.  

Below you will see many page improvements.  There are a few brand new page creations, but most are re-writes.  Many came from brand new editors who have joined since January.  They started with the assignment to add one backwards edit to a page, and then they were supposed to leave it alone and then start a new assignment.  But instead they got interested in the "target" and kept working on the page. 

This is just what we finished in January and February.  As I write this blog, there are many many more that are in the works, some are mostly done but we are waiting on audio, photos or just one more thing before launching the page.  

Our goal is to get as many as possible on the front page of Wikipedia as Did You Knows.  This is an outreach to the general Wikipedia reader who might never have heard of scientific skepticism.  We are also approaching our "targets" once we are almost done with the page and asking for an audio recording.  You will see a few on the pages below, and I think you will agree with me that it really brings the page alive. 

I want to quickly mention that I've tried to give a shout-out to the person(s) responsible for working on the page.  Usually there is one strong lead person.  But GSoW is a team, many people contribute to this effort.  People find photos and citations,  proofread and all kinds of other support functions.  And the audio team is working to clean up the audio, get the correct licensing, uploading and turning it into the correct format and adding it to the page.  In some cases you will find we have added closed-captioning to the audio.  I also have photo people who do their photoshop magic on images before we add them to the Wikipedia page.  There is a lot going on behind the curtain.

If any of this interests you, please consider joining our team.  We need people with all kinds of skills.  We do train and mentor.  Training does take a bit of a commitment, so approach us when you have some time to learn.  

Write to us at GSoWteam@gmail.com

And see below to catch up on what we have been doing in the media.  Also where you can meet us in person.     

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Freedom from Religion Foundation (Chris and Bill)
Before &  After

Phil Plait - This page has been evolving since I started GSoW, it keeps getting improvements.  With the 14 citations that Nathan Miller has added I think we are done for awhile.  Before & After 

Alan Melikdjanian - Like Plait above, Melikdjanian's page was previously mentioned in a past blog as receiving a makeover.  This is Captain Disillusion, but all you cool cats already knew that.  Editor Kyle Hamar has managed to expand it even further. Before & After

Arthur T. Benjamin  -  Was on our to-do list because of an interview he had done with the Meet the Skeptic's podcast - Sean Whitcomb was given this as a backwards edit and kept going.  He has done a terrific job with this re-write. - Before & After 

Pamela Gay - Received a brand new page courtesy of senior editor Nathan Miller.  Nathan has been focusing on astronomy because of the release of Cosmos in March, we feel that once that is released the world will become more interested in science and the people associated with it. We need to have something for all those readers to find when they are searching.  In order to encourage outreach Nathan managed to get Gay's page featured on the front page of WP for 8 hours as a Did You Know? feature.  This gave Gay's page an additional 1,000 readers.






Burzynski Clinic' s Wikipedia page continues to be updated in English.  Now our German team has completed a rewrite of the English page.  

Edwina Rogers's page received a make-over from editor Tad Callin (who came to GSoW after reading a tweet from Phil Plait) Before & After 

Todd Robbins also received a mini-makeover by Christine Daley who heard of us from the Skepticality Podcast.  Before & After

Kylie Sturgess - one of the first to participate in our new Voice Intro Project.  She has a few updates and check out the new feature.  Really awesome isn't it?

I Sold my Soul on Ebay -  book by Hemant Mehta just got a makeover as well.  We are about to launch Mehta's personal page and felt that the book's page had to be in great shape as well.  Notice that the before only has 3 citations, hardly understand why this page existed on Wikipedia at all.  Before & After

Peter Mogyoros completed a quick makeover on Hungarian scientist Szilveszter E. Vizi. Before & After

Adam Rutherford - Richard did an amazing job with this rewrite I think you will find.  Before & After

Susan Haack's page was expanded from 9 citations to 12 by new editor Michael Bigelow who has just about finished GSoW training. There was a time that I was worried that Michael had disappeared from GSoW, I wrote to him and he said he has been busy reading her book. Before & After

Seth Shostak received some additional citations and improvements from Christine Daley, since these updates I have found several more citations, so expect to see Shostak's name back on this list.  Before & After 

Jerry Coyne also received a nice page remake from newish editor Kyle Hamar. Coyne came to my attention when he wrote about GSoW over the Sheldrake drama. Still I didn't look at his WP page until a month ago when I was going through old episodes of the Point of Inquiry podcast looking for backwards edits I use for training people. I looked at his page and asked Kyle, can you find anything else for this page, I think it looks a bit lean. Oh my gosh, Kyle could have written two WP pages for him. Before & After

Paul Offit was another rewrite from Kyle Hamar. Just like with Coyne, the Offit rewrite came because I assigned a backwards edit to Kyle, the page started with 17 citations, and Kyle has expanded it to 22. Before & After

Mark Edward received some small updates as well as audio.

James Underdown had audio added as well.

Maryam Namazie got a lot of attention from the Dutch powerhouse Leon Korteweg.  He and Ryan Harding re-wrote the English page (from 6 citations to 22) and then Leon and editor Rik Delaet translated that to create the Dutch page. English Before & After  -  Dutch  And this is a perfect example of how the World Wikipedia team works. 

Elizabeth Pisani's page was saved from deletion by another new editor Jay Young.  This page had 2 flags on it, notability and lack of citations.  I'm looking back at Jay's training thread on our forum and see that this was almost his first project with GSoW, he learned quickly.  At the time of this writing I see that we could not find a image, we tried many sources and Jay even contacted the TED people, but we didn't find one.  Before & After 

Emery Emery also received a brand new page.  This was another of Jay Young's creations, and now that I'm writing this blog I see we really handed him a lot of work. When you look at these pages it might not look like a lot of work, but really it is.  When we approached Emery and asked for audio, I realized that I really didn't know what the time limits were.  We were given a few examples that were all cookie cutter type examples.  Emery broke those rules as you will see when you review his page.  Quite refreshing.

Annie Laurie Gaylor - This was rewritten months ago by Chris Peterson but it slipped by getting mentioned in the blog.  Before & After 

Archie Cochrane - You might remember was mentioned last year as it was translated into Dutch.  But now editor Peter Trussell (who is still in training) rewrote the page in English.  Before & After 

John Allen Paulos - Rewrite work by Coen de Bruijn who is not completely finished with training yet. Coen will be joining the Dutch editing team when he is done. I should mention that this is another backwards edit from the Meet The Skeptic's podcast. Because I'm limited to English, I train in English. As the teams grow bigger, eventually we will be able to accommodate training non-English editors. Before & After

Ray Hyman - Now has a page in Dutch thanks to Rian van Lierop and Leon Korteweg

Bill Nye the Science Guy - Before the Nye vs Ham debate, GSoW took a look at the Bill Nye page which appeared to be in good shape. The Bill Nye the Science Guy page (yes it is a completely different page) had some citation issues. Jay Young took a look at it and gave it a quick makeover. Just in time too. GSoW believes that we need to have WP pages in great shape in order to make sure we have them ready for when the public becomes interested. Before & After

The following graphs are quite interesting.  The first one shows the spike on the Bill Nye page on Feb 5th the day of the debate.  



 This graph shows the spike for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry page on Feb 5th. The only mention of CSI on the Bill Nye page was a hyperlink under a photo.


Here are the results for the Bill Nye the Science Guy's page on Feb 5th.
 


Eugenie Scott seems to be always on this update list. We have translated her page into several languages the last year. I thought we were done with her English page. But newish editor Christine Daley went in and added even more. Current Page

Scientific American Magazine - Just received a rewrite in Portuguese, I think calling the page a re-write is being generous,  probably should just say Filipe Russo created the page brand new. I'm amazed that these pages were allowed to exist on Wikipedia.  Great work Filipe.  Before & After 

Jan Zaanen - This person knows what quantum actually means and probably can explain it too. This awesome re-write courtesy of Coen de Bruijn. Before & After

Atheist Manifesto - or maybe I should say Atheïstisch manifest has been newly created in Dutch by our prolific Leon Korteweg and Vera. 

Sanal Edamaruku was finished just in time to make this blog.  Thank you Lei Pinter and Christine Daley for such great improvements. Before & After

Lastly I was able to squeak in a photo on the Neil deGrasse Tyson page that I noticed on Facebook. The photographer was our very own Richard Saunders.  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Skepticality Podcast 

Our first Russian podcast -  Общество скептиков

Skeptical Connections Podcast 

Skeptic Zone Podcast - Richard Saunders and I discuss GSoW and my cancer treatments.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Where you can find us next... I will be speaking at QED in Manchester, England in April.  And of course you can find me hanging out at TAM in July in Las Vegas and SkeptiCal in Berkeley, CA in May.  

Our German team leader Michael  will be speaking at SkepKon in Germany in May. 

I think that is all we have scheduled at the moment.