Tuesday, December 20, 2011

William B. Davis ~ Page Makeover

Back in late October 2011 I wrote this article about improving William B. Davis's Wikipedia page.  I wouldn't really have cared about his stub page except for the fact that he is one of our skeptical spokespeople.  I hadn't known this before until I accidentally stumbled across an interview he gave where he credited skeptic Barry Beyerstein for introducing him to the skeptical community.  (I had Beyerstein on Google Alert which is how I discovered the interview) Once I discovered this fact, I knew I had to clean up his page.

So I looked around and added all the skeptical references I could find.  Then got my friend Brian Engler to upload a really nice image of Davis leaning on the CSICON podium.  I started making changes here and there and also contacted Davis on Facebook.

He was more than helpful.  I got all kinds of links from him as well as pictures.  Tonight I'm launching his page, along with the "before".  I think you will really be amazed at the changes.

Here is a bit of knowledge I picked up along the way.

One idea I had was to make his page a DYK page as they allow brand new pages as well as expanded stubs as candidates for the front page of Wikipedia.  What I didn't realize at the time was that by making changes to the "live" page and then waiting a few weeks and adding more and then a bit more I was taking the page out of the running.  The rule is that the page needs to expand "5 fold" and have at least 850 words (not counting citations, charts and captions).

If I had not made any changes to the page when I first approached it, and then did all the work on my user page (or sandbox) and then copied/paste/saved the page live I would have expanded the page 5-fold.  Adding bit by bit to the live page erased that condition.

Coping the page and pasting it on my user page enabled me to be able to work "off-line".  I was able to make changes to the page without having to give a reason for each change.  Also when I copy/paste/saved the page back "live" it will be with a fresh history.  Only showing the one edit where it is completely done.

Tim Farley looked the page over as well as Dustin and Lei and helped with some spelling and so on.  Tim changed the page from going to a redirect page for William Davis - Premier of Ontario page to a disambiguation page for William Davis people. 

Tim also wrote a code that kept my user page from being searchable whenever anyone typed in "William B. Davis" into a search engine.  Only people with the URL could now find the page.

I also wasn't familiar with IMDB, I looked at Martin Landau's WP page and discovered how that editor made a chart for all the film credits Landau had.  I went into "edit" and copied all the text on Landau, pasted them into Davis's page and through trial and error changed everything.  It took a long long time to type all that info into Davis's page.  In the end I learned a lot about making charts.  Learn by doing!

Another problem I ran into over and over with his film credits was that some shows had WP pages, others didn't and some "linked" to WP pages, but not the correct WP page.  I know there is a short-cut bot out there on WP that will fix these problems quickly.  But I don't know how to use it.  What I did for every title, person and place was to put the name into WP's search.  I could then make the edit for the hyperlink to go to the correct page.  (blog explaining how to do this in detail). 

The reason I went to all this trouble was three-fold.  Firstly anyone who is going to credit Barry Beyerstein with anything is going to touch a soft spot in my heart.  Secondly the whole idea of the We Got your Wiki Back! project is to make sure that when people venture over to our spokespeople's pages they can see that they have well-written and cared for pages.  Thirdly William B. Davis is famous.  He receives about 4-5 thousand hits a month to his page.  That means potentially 4-5 thousand people will be reading about Beyerstein, Skepticism, CSICOP and the critical thinking quotes that I left.  A total win for skepticism!

Not all of our spokespeople are going to make such an impact, Davis we know for sure will.  Who knows who might be next?  I'm not privy to everyones schedules.  Tomorrow Ben Radford might score an amazing interview on CNN and the world will be looking at his page, will it be ready?  Does it reflect well on skepticism? Does it appear that Radford is respected in his community?  In his case, the answer is "yes".  But so many of our spokespeople are lacking great pages.

I'm not sure where I will be focusing my Wiki eye tomorrow, but if you have a suggestion or would like to help with this project and don't know where to start, please contact me.  susangerbic@yahoo.com

William B. Davis page the first time I saw it

William B. Davis page after the We Got Your Wiki Back! project

Added Dec 25, 2011
Just finished listening to Jacob Fortin's "The Good Atheist" podcast whom interviewed Davis a few days ago.  Very funny how this interview happened and its link to the page make-over.  I'm going to submit the story to the IIG's www.theoddsmustbecrazy.com site.  Take a look.

Also took the interview with Fortin and gleaned the best quotes about Dawkins and John Mack and created a citation back to the podcast.  This is how it is supposed to work folks.   Get as much information out there for the world to follow back to our skeptical content.  We need to have each other's backs as well.   http://www.thegoodatheist.net/2011/12/22/the-good-atheist-podcast-episode-154/


This just in.  Received this message a few minutes ago on my "talk page"

"William B. Davis is fantastic, your edits made a huge difference in quality! Nicely done! You should put it up for Good Article status! Not sure if you're aware, but there are some great article checking tools here

Dreadstar 19:58, 25 December 2011 (UTC)" 

That was a really welcome message.  Usually I cross my fingers whenever I see that I have a new message on my talk page, and say to myself "what did I do wrong now"?

So I followed the instructions Dreadstar gave and read everything I could find about what is a "good article" and how to nominate the page.  Apparently a Good Article is something that if approved will appear at the top of the discussion page.  Only one in every 250 WP articles are considered "good articles" (I would think that would be a bigger spread, but they are counting ALL WP pages, not just the paranormal pages I keep running into)

I nominated the page, now I wait as there is quite a back-log.  An editor will be in touch to review the page and offer suggestions to improve the page.  I guess I have 7 days from that time to make the changes.  It gets reviewed again and again and if approved then it will get the special attention as a "good article" They have a page devoted to "good articles" so it will join that.  I have the page listed under "the Arts" which is Davis's main claim to fame. 

There is an even higher honor apparently, one called the "featured article" page.  This is for pages that are the Best of Wikipedia. Only one in 100 pages are featured articles.  Guess I have some new goals for 2012.  I'm a competitive sort, and want my gold star!

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