Saturday, September 24, 2011

SGU24 ~ What were their Wikipedia Stats?

I'm sure after they get a extra long night of sleep the crew of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe‎ podcast will be evaluating their first ever 24-hour podcast extravaganza.  Steven Novella stated that their goal was to raise critical thinking levels with a dose of skepticism and science (I'm paraphrasing here).  They had a meter that they checked every so often that went from red to green.  I have no idea how they were measuring this gauge or if it was just a prop for the show, but what Novella is advocating is exactly what I have been blogging about for the last few months.

Increasing awareness of skepticism/critical thinking/science is good for society.  A win-win for everyone!

There are many ways to achieve this goal, the SGU felt it could help out our cause by staying awake for 24 hours and letting the world watch them do it.  Maybe it helped?  There were thousands of views, and tons of tweets everywhere. It certainly made people talk and engage with each other, thats all a good thing strengthening our community.  I managed to make it through about 4 hours on Friday night and about 3 hours before and after work on Saturday.

During the hours I watched I managed to get some quick Wikipedia editing done (as I noted in the comments of this blog) Dustin scored a couple great updates to Boiron‎ and  Oscillococcinum‎'s pages.  Lei finished up Vashti McCollum‎'s page, and I'm hoping others were editing away while listening also. I tweeted the Wikipedia edits as they were being finished on the SGU24 tweet, the JREF and Tim Farley re-tweeted a few times.  All good.  I didn't get any comments from the watchers or the SGU (as far as I know) who were following the tweets.  I'll try not to be cynical, but the chat room and the tweets seemed more concerned with the social aspect of the whole event (like how much bacon they could eat) and as I said, bringing us together is a good thing.  Personally I would have liked to see them suggest things for the community to do...write letters, tutor a child, sponsor a classroom... edit Wikipedia for skeptical content... you know things that really improve critical thinking. 

I believe that when someone is in the media's eye and the listener is not sure who they are, or wants to refresh their memory of the person, they are going to turn to the Internet to fill them in.  When typing in that name, usually within the first few hits they will see a link to a Wikipedia page (if that person is noteworthy enough to have a page).  For many reasons (people are familiar with Wikipedia, no popups, no virus, easy to use, neutral and usually sums up the person in a few paragraphs) most people will click on the Wikipedia link before they go to a "personal" website.  Maybe after reading the Wikipedia page they will follow the links to other websites.  I don't have access to their websites sats, but if they are curious about their hits from Wiki most webservices will tell them where they are receiving "referrals" from. 

I thought it might be interesting to see what kind of hits came in to the "skeptical spokespeople"'s Wikipedia pages for 9/23.  The site I'm using is something you can use also.  There is a delay in recording the numbers and I might be premature blogging too early. The delay might be as much as a day, depending on time zones and maybe other things.  We can look at these same Wiki pages in a day or so and see that we can see.

I'm not going to give the real numbers (don't want to turn this into a popularity contest, if you want to know how many hits a site gets, you can plug them into the Wikipedia article traffic statistics tool.  Everything is in percentage based on what is considered normal for Sept 2011.

SGU - +300%
Rebecca Watson - +216%
Steven Novella - +300%
Jamy Ian Swiss - +430%
Richard Saunders - +180%
George Hrab - +34%
Adam Savage - +152%
Tim Minchin - no increase (may be too early to look at his results)

Is this totally scientific? No.  Lots of things might be affecting these numbers.  But it is interesting.

I mention all this not just because I want more people to get involved in doing something to help out the skeptical cause by editing Wikipedia for skeptical content.  But because we need to make sure we have the backs of our skeptical spokespeople.  They represent us!  When people go to their pages, they will be exposed to other skeptical/science/critical thinking hyperlinks that they may follow and read.  They may also click on the links at the bottom of the Wikipedia page (the external links and further reading links).

This is a part of guerrilla skepticism and just plain common sense.  We need to make sure these pages are in order, well written, current, engaging and so on.  You can help, please help, there is so much that needs to be done.  Open a Wikipedia account, ask for help, read this blog for ideas, whatever it takes.  Just join the cause and help.

Our very own Karen Stollznow will be appearing on Anderson Cooper's talk show on October 10th.  She says that she was only one of several people all talking about the harm that psychics cause.  She didn't get to say a lot, but she is going to be our spokesperson for those few comments.  And when people google her (and you know they will) they will find that we have her skeptic back!

FYI this blog discusses the stats after the NBC Nightline "Beyond Belief" show that the JREF recently did. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paranomal Categories ~ SGU 24-Hour Show

Steven Novella and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe tonight begins a 24-Hour Podcasting Show.  He states that critical thinking is at an all time low (he even has a meter to prove it!)  He wants to try and raise the level of science and skepticism during the next 24-hours to at least the yellow level.  I'm challenging anyone listening the next 24-hours to listen in, and really DO SOMETHING to raise the level of critical thinking in the public.  Edit Wikipedia for skeptical content. 

Join me, sign into your Wikipedia account and help edit.  I'm going to be giving updates in the comment section of the edits I do tonight. 

Heres a great place to start...

I love the category function on Wikipedia.  I've talked a lot about this on earlier blogs about using the Skeptics by country page as a way of finding skeptic pages that badly need work.  Putting them in the category has been discussed as well.

As you know from reading the last few blogs, I'm on this kick to find more paranormal pages that are making claims like "medium XYZ has solved many missing person cases" and "the police call in ABC whenever they have a mystery to solve".  You know that kind of thing.  Then when you look at the citations you discover that the citation might not even be there, or is a bad cite (dead link, or links to the psychic's website ect...).

Well trolling around Wikipedia does give you all kinds of strange pages, but I thought why not just go to the psychic's pages from the category page that someone put them in?  Great idea.  I've collected a few of the category pages and pasted them for you below. Remember there might be a lot more, I just haven't found them yet. 

American Spiritual Mediums

Spiritual Mediums

People by Paranormal Abilities


Paranormal Stubs

Paranormal Investigators

Thursday, September 22, 2011

JREF in the news

Just a quick mention that here is a wonderful opportunity for someone wanting to edit Wikipedia in support of the JREF.

Just got this email from them that lists all the citations with them in the news lately!  Designed just for us.  Well not really, but it is perfect for working backwards (having the article, writing the citation then putting it in Wiki)

Also want to mention this...  that's US! 

Top Posts on the Blog

Sensing Murder and friends

My last blog dealing with the deletion of a uncited non noteworthy psychic named Jackie Barrett, made me think that there might be others like her.  Up, just as some kind of advertising.  Face it, being able to state "I'm on Wikipedia" gives credibility.  I'm really disappointed with Wikipedia that they allow this kind of thing to happen.  I assume that there aren't enough volunteer editors out there looking for this kind of thing.  I guess that is why we need to get on the job.

It appears that any con-artist can whip out a page, and get it past the editors.  Lots of people post stubs, thinking they will get back to it soon.  Well sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.  Whether this is well-meaning or just laziness can be argued all night.

Guerrilla Skepticism isn't just leaving well-cited references that have a skeptical slant, but checking sources for paranormal claims.  I keep finding this kind of crap, " working with clients and also with law enforcement. She has worked alongside district attorneys, law enforcement, and America's Most Wanted to help solve case files across the United States."  as I found on Barrett's page.  The citations that were left to prove this were from her own blog and website.  WHAT!

Here I am preaching over and over that you must cite carefully and only noteworthy citations and people are getting away with this thing.  Okay, need to calm down and get to my point.

It isn't just the psychic grief vampires, I'm sure this is happening in the alt med world as well as all the pseudoscience areas.  I just happen to troll the psychic pages so I'm more likely to notice it.  John Farquher and I are working (slowly) on the psychic detective page and I've started looking at existing citations a little closer.

Noticed this on psychic detectives...
"The Australian Sensing Murder television series features self-described psychics assisting with unsolved murder cases. Although the psychics have been able to anticipate some facts known only to the police, none of the cases have been solved, over four seasons."  
No citation, so this will be removed.  But it made me curious what is this Sensing Murder show?

Found this in the lead paragraph.
The psychics have not managed to solve any of the cases, although they have uncovered facts that only police knew about.[dubious ] They have in some cases provided actual names of persons related to the area the crime was committed to police, names of persons confirmed by serving or ex-serving police officers to have existed and resided in close proximity to locations of crimes around the time they were committed.[citation needed

One thing that is really frustrating me is that some editor on Wikipedia is flagging these things, then not going back to check up it. Doesn't the editor make some kind of note, mental or otherwise to check up?  The Jackie Barrett page was flagged in 2007.

Reading over the citations it appears that all are from which lists all the episodes. 
Then there are a few that have dead links.  

  1. ^ "Sensing Murder an Export Success"
    . 17 May 2002. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
    [dead link]
    . 26 April 2004. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Sensing Murder Responds to $2 million Paranormal Challenge'"
    . NZ Reality TV. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
    [dead link]
 Really makes you wonder?  

So what to do?   Does this page deserve to remain on Wikipedia?  I'm going to go through
it again and remove anything not cited, or has a broken link and see what is left.  

Back on the psychic detective page I notice this reference to the police calling in
psychic Debbie Malone. The citation did not include a URL, but I managed to search 
and find it anyway.  The article is vague with little skepticism.  I expanded on the blurb 
which was originally only this "The NSW Police Forces' Missing Unit has referred 
families of missing persons to psychic Debbie Malone."  
The NSW Police Forces' Missing Persons Unit has referred families of missing persons to psychic Debbie Malone, one Former Detective Senior-Constable Jeffrey Little felt her description of what happened was "exceptional". While other NSW officers felt she had not helped solve any cases. Sergeant Gae Crea and Detective Sergeant Damian Loone, state that she did not give us anything the police and the public didn't already know. Crea recounts "I've dealt with a lot of psychics, but no one has ever said, 'I can see where the body is buried and I'll take you there'" 

I'm of half a mind to remove the entire blurb.  It has been 3 years since this happened.  If this woman had 
any special ability and was assisting the police then surly she should have some media attention?  At least
her own Wiki page?  But no.  

So removed the uncited nonsense from the beginning paragraph on Sensing Murder's page.  A blue hyperlink caught my eye for one of the psychics that appeared on the show.  Haven't looked at it yet... what do you think we will find?  

Deb Webber

Well it is quite critical of her.

On 13 August 2004 Australian Channel 7 broadcast a show called "Caught on Hidden Camera", in which they asked Deb Webber to give readings to three people. The three asked to contact deceased relatives that did not exist. Deb Webber claimed she was able to 'contact' these people.

But following the citations which really there is only one you find this edit that leads to a skeptical site that is now defunk.  To be fair this reference to her being busted on TV cannot remain if there is no citation for it.  This is just going to have to wait for me or SOMEONE reading this to take care of.  

I think I will have to sleep on these edits, just too late right now to make good editing decisions.  I am not the only person out there in the skeptical community capable of making these edits.  If you are interested in taking this on, then simply do so.  If you want help or advise please comment and I will make sure you get the help you need.

We must be vigilant, we need your help.  Please please please make it a point to help edit.  If you lack these skills and do not want to learn them, then spend a few minutes stumbling through Wikipedia clicking on links.  If you find something suspicious please just post here.  Someone will take a serious look at it.  Shame on us for allowing this to continue.   

Monday, September 19, 2011

Squeezing one more out and How to delete a page on Wikipedia

It all started with a mess of newspaper articles that I just can't get myself to recycle.  I just finished up James Underdown's Wikipedia page and have some leftover articles I didn't use.  I don't like just filing things away somewhere as I doubt I will get back to it anytime soon, usually it just gets covered up with more stuff.  Well reading through one article by the Chicago Tribune from 2007 I was struck by some really great quotes by the author of the article Larry Potash.

I had used one of the quotes on the main psychic page, but I want to use more of this article.  Pure gold, and I hate to just toss it.  Thankfully I found the article on-line so you all can follow along.  This is an example of working backwards.  Start with the noteworthy article and then try to find a place to put it.

I had used the beginning of the article for the psychic page.

Concerning the television psychics, James Underdown states that testing psychics in a studio setting is difficult as there are too many areas to control, the psychic could be getting help from anyone on the set. The editor controls everything, they can make a psychic look superior or ridiculous depending on direction from the producer. In an Independent Investigation Group IIG expose of John Edward and James Van Praagh they discovered that what was actually said on the tape day, and what was broadcast to the public were "substantially different in the accuracy. They're getting rid of the wrong guesses... Once you pull back the curtain and see how it's done, it's not impressive at all.

But love this part.

Psychics don't seem to rely on their "powers" to detect their own cancer -- they go to the doctor, like the rest of us. They don't predict when the train will arrive -- they look at the train schedule. And even psychics (along with everyone else) can guess correctly now and then. But under scientific scrutiny, and incorporating statistical probability, no psychic has met the test.

When producers see that psychics aren't making the grade, I fear they may lower the bar in their testing methods or simply elevate the psychics' performance through creative editing.

In the end, the psychic phenomenon you see on TV will only be an illusion, much like it is in real life.

Great isn't it?  But where to put it?  I can't add more to the psychic page, that would just be too much, besides I would really like to quote him, and that is Really too much.

So I reread the article again and realized that its about a TV show called America's Psychic Challenge.
 Do they have a Wikipedia page?  Yep they do.  (while searching for this page I found another one Paranormal Challenge I'm going to save that for another blog I think).

Looks like the winner from the first (and apparently only season) was Michelle Whitedove, who is not noteworthy enough to have her own Wikipedia page BTW.  ("yes" I guess I am turning into a bit of a snob, but it seems to me that someone who can communicate with dead people should be changing the world of science as we know it) Looks like she won $100K so maybe she is just being really frugal and making the money last?

This page seems to be neutral enough, but a stub.  So what to do?  Is it even worth the effort?  I'm sure you know the answer already, of course it is relevant.  If it is on Wikipedia then even if they receive zero hits, it still needs to be done.  Tomorrow might be the day that it receives thousands of hits.  Actually this page gets about 1,000 a month.

Noticing that there is a wiki hyperlink to this person Jackie Barrett who was the runner up.  More on Jackie later.

Now I'm reviewing the page more in detail.  I think that the present tense should be changed to past tense.  Also note that this is here List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal and no one seems to have noticed or cared.  Looking at the discussion page someone in 2008 wrote that they edited to eliminate the awful pro-bias of the article.  And someone in 2010 removed a link to a broken URL.  That's all the conversation going on there, so I don't feel any need to write there with my proposed changes.  Doubt anyone would get back to me in a timely manner.

So after playing with it for a bit here is what I came up with. 

Reporter Larry Potash writing for the Chicago Tribune states that paranormal reality shows like APC are cheap to produce which means we will probably see more of them. Potash contacted James Underdown from the Independent Investigation Group IIG who says that the TV set is a horrible place to test a psychic. There are too many things to control, you can't know if the psychic is receiving help from an audience member or someone working on the crew. Potash believes that psychics are not so psychic when the cameras are off, they "go to the doctor... look at train schedules" just like everyone else. Psychics sometimes do guess correctly, "but under scientific scrutiny, and incorporating statistical probability no psychic has ever met the test". He worries that when producers see that the psychic isn't showing spectacular results, they may lower the testing bar or "elevate the psychic's performance through creative editing". Underdown states "Once you pull back the curtain and see how it's done, it's not impressive at all."

This is Wikipedia, if you can write this better please do so, won't hurt my feelings at all.   I took the same citation from the psychic page, changed the access date to today (because I did access it).

On to Jackie Barrett's page.  Yikes!  The discussion page says that this is written like an advertisement, boy is that true.  The citation that states she has worked with law enforcement is from her own blog.  Another reference is to her website.  There is a critical heading, but it is empty.

Here is the person who wrote the page.  23:01, 24 November 2007 Lyndela (talk | contribs) (4,529 bytes) (Created page with ''''Jackie Barrett''' (White Serpent) is a psychic medium, spiritual healer, author, and humanitarian.[[')

The next edit is from someone who wants to have it deleted the same day it was posted.  23:05, 24 November 2007 Tiggerjay (talk | contribs) m (4,540 bytes) (Requesting speedy deletion (CSD A7). using TW) (undo)

Then right after that there is this edit.  23:21, 24 November 2007 Irishguy (talk | contribs) (4,310 bytes) (removed speedy, reference cleanup. Notability asserted) (undo)  

I'm going to look into it a bit further and see what was going on.  That seemed to be happening really quickly.  Well Irishguy has retired, but he lists all the pages he created and Jamy Ian Swiss was one of those pages.  Interesting, and he is the person who removed Jackie Barrett's page from deletion.  Tiggerjay, is into editing anything Disney and edits here and there.  The page creator is Lyndela, who does not have a editor page.  

Looking over the page again I note that there are only 5 references.  One is her personal website, one is her blog, one is a video that no longer exists, one is a reference on a website showing that she has been on a ghost hunt and lastly the only credible one is the reference to the show America's Psychic Challenge.  And LOL just clicked on that link and it does not exist anymore.  Boy it sure helps to check out the references they leave.  

So as far as I'm concerned this page should be deleted.  She is getting 100-400 hits a month.  Not very noteworthy for someone who is psychic.  Now how to delete a page?  No idea. 

Took me awhile to find this instruction page.  Guess you all are going to be following me through this process.  It says that there are 3 steps.  Leave this template {{Tfd|{{subst:PAGENAME}}}} on the discussion page you want removed.  Okay so far so good.  

Next I follow a link and put this at the top of the page

{{subst:Tfd2|TemplateName|text=Why you think the template should be deleted. ~~~~}}

Here is what I wrote. 

Template:Jackie Barrett

Template:Jackie Barrett (edit|talk|history|links|watch|logs|delete)
The page has only 5 sources One is her personal website, one is her blog, one is a video that no longer exists, one is a reference on a website showing that she has been on a ghost hunt and lastly the only credible one is the reference to the show America's Psychic Challenge that she was on and the link is broken. This person does not fit Notability standards. Her one claim to fame is that she was the runner up on the aforementioned APC, the winner of that show and the other contestants do not have Wikipedia pages. The show host John Burke does not even have a WP page.
(sorry this is my first attempt at asking for a deletion, I see that it is in red when I preview my edit, but can't figure out how to fix it, I'm trying to do it just like the Big Sky one below)Sgerbic (talk) 05:49, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Here on this blog it looks like the links are all in blue, there when I click preview there is a lot of red.  I tried over and over and could not figure it out.

For my future reference (and possibly yours) here is the html of what I wrote.

 ==[[Template:Jackie Barrett]]==

{{Tfd2|Jackie Barrett|text=The page has only 5 sources}} One is her personal website, one is her blog, one is a video that no longer exists, one is a reference on a website showing that she has been on a ghost hunt and lastly the only credible one is the reference to the show [[America's Psychic Challenge]] that she was on and the link is broken. This person does not fit Notability standards.  Her one claim to fame is that she was the runner up on the aforementioned APC, the winner of that show and the other contestants do not have Wikipedia pages. The show host John Burke does not even have a WP page.

(sorry this is my first attempt at asking for a deletion, I see that it is in red when I preview my edit, but can't figure out how to fix it, I'm trying to do it just like the Big Sky one below)~~~~

Now I have to go to the user page who first launched the page and let them know what I'm doing.  Lyndela does not have a user page, but I went to the discussion page for her non-existent user page and left the message that I have requested its deletion and why.  It appears that I went to the right place because the other time in 2007 someone left her the same message (but more official).  

At no time did Lyndela respond.  Wonder if she has done any editing other than this page?  I clicked on the "contrubutions" next to her user name on the history of Jackie Barrott's page.  Here is what I got.  Looks like she has only made three edits in total. 

 Pretty interesting page that user page.  Put any editor's name in that box and you can see all the edits they have been making.  

So now I'm done.  We have been learning together tonight. All this just because of a few sentences from a newspaper article I wanted to squeeze one more edit from.   I'll report back on what happens to the deletion of Jackie Barrett's page.  

This just in from a WP editor... 

You chose the wrong deletion method. (Not a surprise. There are a gazillion of them) WP:TFD is Templates for deletion. You were wanting an article deleted. So you wanted one of the three deletion systems that can delete articles. WP:AFD, WP:PROD, and WP:CSD. Those are Articles For Deletion, Proposed Deletion, and Speedy Deletion. The one closest to the TFD that you tried to use is AFD. Your TFD debate was removed from TFD soon after you entered it, but was started as an AFD discussion for you. (Wikipedians can be quite helpful when they want to be. :) ) Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Jackie Barrett is the link to the full AFD discussion.
For future reference, the differences in the three article deletion methods are: CSD is Speedy deletion. It is for extremely limited criteria. If the situation does not exactly meet one of the CSD criteria, then speedy deletion *cannot* be used. OTOH, it is the fastest criteria. Admins like me can apply it at will if we find an article that we think meets the criteria. And anyone can tag for speedy deletion, and an admin will deal with it fairly rapidly. This is what you saw in the older history of the article you want deleted. Someone thought that the article met a speedy deletion criteria, tagged it as such, but someone else (usually but not always an admin) came along and disagreed and declined the CSD deletion.

In this particular case the reason was Notability. The bar to avoid speedy deletion is much much lower than the bar to avoid it in a full debate. An article really only needs to assert notability in some vague way to avoid speedy notability deletion.

Next deletion method is WP:PROD. Prod is intended for uncontroversial deletions. You can use (almost) any reasoning in your PROD deletion request. The key though is that it only takes a single protest of a PROD deletion to invalidate PROD deletion for that article. PROD is thus fairly simple, but if anyone disagrees, they are free to remove the PROD deletion notice.
Last is AFD. Articles for Deletion. This is where you launch a full deletion debate on the article. This is what you tried to do with your deletion attempt. Except for using the wrong system, I think you made a pretty good deletion argument. :)

There are also deletion systems for Templates (WP:TFD), Categories (WP:CFD), Redirects (WP:RFD), Files/Images(WP:FFD), and Misc (WP:MFD). I likely missed a few in this list. So there's no real surprise that you missed the correct one on your first try. :) - TexasAndroid (talk) 21:40, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

UPDATE on Jan 9, 2012

Today is clean out my computer day.  Went to Facebook and realized that there are "hidden" messages there that I have never seen.  One was from Jackie Barrett (who is calling herself Joanne, but posting from Jackie Barrett's FB account)

Here is what she told me the responses...

Sept 25, 2011

"Hello, I am writing you in regards to Jackie Barett's wiki page it has come to my attention that you have marked the page for deletion I would like to address this. If you are not aware Jackie is the author of 2 published books , holds both a captains badge and FBI badge for her work she has done on cold cases, on the tv show Medium P.I the captain of cold cases Sean Crowley of NYPD stated that Jackie has worked with him on hundreds of cases. She also was featured on AE special titled the Amityville The Final testament , has appeared on an episode on WE tv Secret Lives Of Woman. She has a long list of media appearances so to correct you in your statement that the only notable apparance was Americas Psychic Challenge you are not correct in this statement. So for future reference before trying to delete an informative wiki page about a person that is notable you should research further. Thank you Joanne"

my response today...

"Just now noticing this Joanne (or are you Jackie?)

Wikipedia does not do all the work looking for the citations. If the notoriety and citations are not on the page then the page has to be deleted.

The problem is that the page was not informative. You can't just make these claims on a FB message page, there must be evidence of what you are saying.

Also all discussions like this one should be done publicly on the deletion page (which is now closed) or on my talk page on Wikipedia.

I would love to see this captians badge and FBI badge. Is there a URL that can prove they exist? If so it will be the first time I've ever heard of a psychic receiving some kind of recognition from the police."

Her response...

"Well you obviously have not done your research have fun policing wiki lol"

As usual the psychic is making a claim that they can not (or will not?) back up.  People have to understand that on Wikipedia and when trying to make a claim elsewhere you have to back it up.  Some seem to think that the burden to prove something does not exist relies on the skeptic.  Why can't they understand this?  If you are making a claim, then it has to be backed up in order for it to be taken seriously.

I don't want to have a back and forth with this person who isn't even clever enough to hide her identity on FB.  Maybe I should look into this Sean Crowley of NYPD person?  Here he is now as a PI.  It gets more interesting, here she is appearing with Crowley for some radio show.  I'm thankful that Jackie/Joanne brought this to my attention. 



Oscillococcinum, Boiron and CFI

So working backwards here is a project that someone might be interested in tackling.  Keeping in mind that Wikipedia Editors are a bit nervous about me sending a bunch of skeptics over to a page for some of this "guerrilla skepticism" stuff.  I think it is called "sandbagging".  Anyway, this arrived in my email a few weeks ago and I thought it might be useful but never got to it.

CFI and CSI Petition FDA to Take Action on Homeopathic Drugs

Apparently CFI and CSI have this going in a press release.  Here is the link to the article.  I haven't looked into it in great depth, so I'm not sure that a press release is a good citation.  There may be links to follow that will get you to something more noteworthy.  Remember a secondary cite is better.  Don't quote the person writing the blog/petition/press release but quote the newspaper/journal/TV news show that quotes the primary cite.

Anyway, I think a mention on the Boiron and the Oscillococcinum pages might be warranted.  Its not every day they get such attention from skeptical groups...or maybe they do?  If so why isn't there already a bunch of mentions on their pages?  We can't just assume that the public knows as much as we do about these products.

Bioron gets about 1,000 hits a month, and Oscillococcinum gets 7,000-8,000 hits a month.  I would avoid the homeopathy page unless you have a really awesome citation and blub.  That is a well-watched page and the editors have worked long and hard coming to some kind of agreement about what should be on the page.  Before editing homeopathy (which is semi-protected) discuss what you want to do on the discussion page, listen to the comments from the other editors.  BTW homeopathy gets about 90,000 hits a month, so people are clearly interested in this topic and coming to Wikipedia for answers.

And don't just stop there, I'm sure there are a lot more places the citation can be used, with slight modifications to the blurb left on the page.  There are a lot of "fringe" smaller pages that the public is reviewing and we need to make sure they are getting the entire picture. 

Remember editing on Wikipedia needs to be neutral, let the article speak for you.  Less is more sometimes and make sure the citation is really good.  Think about the importance of this, over 1 million people are reading the homeopathy page each year, do you think that a well-written blog/podcast on that subject would reach that many people? No pressure or anything.  

Brian Dunning "Start with Wikipedia"

Just found a nice article by Brian Dunning from 2007 about Wikipedia.  While the topic is about finding good quality journal articles, he quickly moves into his opinion, "start with Wikipedia."

Many Wikipedia articles end up being the closest thing to an authoritative consensus that we have on a given subject. Each article continually improves over time until it becomes what Wikipedia describes as the "ideal" article: "balanced, neutral and encyclopedic, containing notable, verifiable knowledge."

Note that I'm no doubt going to be criticized for pointing laypeople toward Wikipedia as a starting point for research, mainly due to the usual criticisms of Wikipedia. But, as I said before, Wikipedia's weakness is also its strength, and I do stand by this recommendation, especially for laypeople of a given subject who don't otherwise have the experience to choose a good starting point.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Welcome New Wikipedia Editor Dustin Phillips!

Mark Edward and I were recently on the Rational Alchemy podcast discussing Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia and elsewhere.  The podcast released on Sept 15, 2011 which caused a jump in my stats for this blog on that day. 

I received a really interesting email from Dustin Phillips who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.  I'm going to share some of the conversations I've had with Dustin (yes I have his permission to do so) because I think that the questions he asks and the things he learns are all relevant to others reading this blog and wanting to edit.  Also Dustin is really articulate and organized, both traits that make for excellent Wikipedia editors.  I'm really excited that Dustin is on board with this project. 

"I heard the Rational Alchemy podcast today that you and Mark Edward were interviewed on, and I found it very inspiring. I like the idea of a "skeptic army," and I'm eager to join. My research and writing skills are fairly good, and I would like to put them to use in the work you're doing on Wikipedia. I'm looking for something I could devote two or three hours per week to do--maybe more eventually. Would you say a good place for me to start is by picking a few topics I'm interested in, and tracking their respective pages on Wikipedia (monitoring for changes and editing as needed?) Or is there some other way I can put my skills and time to better use in helping the cause? I imagine you might be receiving a number of e-mails like this, in light of the Rational Alchemy interview, so if you can't respond right away, I'll certainly understand. And if you are unable to respond directly to me, that is ok. I'm following your Guerrilla Skepticism blog now, and look forward to reading about more of your ideas for the skeptic cause."

Dustin Phillips
...The first thing to do is to gauge your level of ability.  You probably already are comfortable using the computer, do you already have a Wikipedia account?  That is the first thing to do, make sure it is active.

Second thing is probably to start reading through my blog.  I know it is long, but have a ton of stuff in there, easy to advanced.  All kinds of ideas of things to do as well as not to do.  I want you to be happy with the area you pick.  I have a few people working on pages that they feel passionate about and are really getting into it, sites I have never heard of.

Something that really surprised me is that many people who are really comfortable using the computer and doing software things really aren't comfortable editing Wiki.  There are a lot of rules and it can be intimidating.  I am more than willing to walk you through whatever means needed to help you.  I am very friendly and approachable.  Yes, I am busy but this project is really important and I don't have a problem with even the little instructions.  So if you get lost on something just let me know.

If you have some real interest in a specific area, or maybe a specific talent then maybe I can steer you towards a specific blog or two?"
I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I recently joined the Louisville Area Skeptics, but I've been following the skeptic movement for many years.

In response your questions: I'm very comfortable with computers. I do Internet-based research on a daily basis as part of my job, so scouring the net for information is something I'm quite good at. I have some, limited experience with html.

I actually just opened a Wikipedia account today. I've anonymously edited a few pages on there in the past, so I at least know the basics.

As far as specific areas of interest, I'm particularly interested in keeping tabs on alternative medicine--especially herbs, homeopathic remedies and vitamin supplements (ie anything sold in stores.)

I will definitely start reading through your blog. I'm excited to read more about your ideas for cooperative skeptic work! 

...Alt med.  Good choice.  I admire someone wants to work on that area, VERY important but not my area of interest.  On my blog there is a list of "keywords" and you should maybe search for homeopathy as I have done a little work on the Normal pages of Walmart and CVS Pharmacy. 

Also with Power Balance bracelets, check that out. 

You have opened an account as a real person.  Excellent.  Now you need to make sure you follow all of the rules and we can get you started.  I'm on skype and if you need help doing edits just let me know and we can screen share so I can watch you or you can watch me edit. 

If you have a page you really want to work on, let me know in advance and I will suggest how to go about that.  The changes you should make for awhile should be small, learning ones so that you can make bigger changes later. 

Again there is so much you can do, and you can do them at your leisure.  Just stay organized so you don't spend a lot of time remembering where you were, or where the document you were using to edit. 

Dustin it is so difficult for me to tell you what to do, please read through as much of my blog as you can.  Ask me questions, I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.  Please avoid the main homeopathy page as well as the other really popular pages.  Those pages are patrolled by experienced editors and you shouldn't try changing anything unless you really know what you are doing.  Some editors aren't really excited about new editors messing with something that it has taken them months to get agreement with.  Read the discussion areas first. 

I don't want to scare you away from editing, as it is really important and a blast to do.  But start out simple, gain confidence.  If you don't see something obvious you want to start with, then try working backwards.  One of my early blogs I talk a lot about this.  Find an article in a reputable journal or newspaper ect that would make a great cite.  Read the article several times looking for a way to make two or three good sentences that kinda sum up the point of the article.  Then go to the site you want to leave it, then decide if it is something that should be there and where on the page.  Blaa Blaa Blaa ect...(I describe on the Pet Psychic blogs how to edit in detail)

Anyway, if you write comments on the blog I get an email directly.  I love that because the comments (and how I answer them) are where the best conversations happen, plus other people learn from the discussion. 
 From Dustin-
"Awesome! Thanks so much for your help. I'll catch up with your blog this weekend, and stick my toe in the wiki editing waters. I'll also browse through Wikipedia and see what specific topics I might be interested in. Power Balance bracelets are definitely of interest to me. Avoiding main topics is great advice--I hadn't thought about that. I also had never payed much attention to the discussion areas on Wikipedia. I'll catch up with your blog, and familiarize myself with Wikipedia better, and let you know when I need help with the next step.
Thanks again! I think this is really important work, and I'm so happy to be able to help out."
"Hi Susan! I just made my first major Wikipedia edit. I watched the film Contagion this weekend, and was pleased with its depiction of science, so I added a section to its wikipedia entry called "Scientific accuracy." Other wiki editors had been expressing interest in adding it, but they hadn't done anything in the past week, so I went ahead and added it. I added some references to a medscape article written by Paul Offit and a slate article by Carl Zimmer, so I got some skeptic folks in there."

"Hopefully you'll be able to see the edit I made before anyone takes it down. I hope I did everything right. I've never done a wikipedia edit beyond grammar corrections before this, so let me know if I messed up anything. :-)"
From Dustin-
" I read through your blog. It was very helpful! There are parts of Wikipedia (like the discussion page and view history) that I never knew existed. I have added "power balance" to my watch list as well as the dowsing wand "GT200." I'm creating some Google alerts to help me keep up to date on all these issues. I really like the idea of "working backward" that you mentioned on your blog. In some ways, that's how my edit of the Contagion page came about. I was pleased with the film's depiction of science and googled for articles regarding that. I found Paul Offit's review of the film, and realized that a mention of pro-vaccine crusader Paul Offit on the Contagion wiki-page would be fantastic. And now I can track the Offit page views and see if there's an increase in hits. Ben Radford wrote a review of the film on CFI's site, but unfortunately, I'm having troubles finding a line in it that would be suitable to quote in the "Scientific Accuracy" section I created.

Over time I will expand the number of topics I track. Let me know if there are any specific topics where my help is especially needed. And, of course, I'll continue to follow your blog. :-)"
Dustin.  Your edit and conversation on the discussion area is all picture perfect!  I can't see anything that might need to be changed.  Only thing I noticed and didn't check were if there were Wikipedia hyperlinks to Homeopathy and to some of the names where you left.  Maybe they were but just somewhere else I didn't read?  I would really like the homeopathy one hyperlinked (I read it in the plot summary) as it would bring people to that nasty bit of pseudoscience. 

I read the article by Ben Radford and agree, there isn't anything you can put in the article from him, sad as I would love to see even more skeptics quoted and linked.  You did wonderful with what you found. 

I read through the discussion area and you responded exactly as you should, and I love that they even responded with "It's great! Thanks for adding. Erik (talk | contribs) 16:28, 18 September 2011 (UTC)"
Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help and the jump-start your interview on Rational Alchemy gave me!

I put Wikipedia hyperlinks on the names (Paul Offit, Carl Zimmer, etc) but I hadn't thought to check the Plot section for potential work. Hyperlinking "homeopathy" is a great idea! I hadn't thought of that. I'll perform that edit right now.

Yeah, a quote from Ben Radford and link to CFI would have been perfect, but, oddly, his review doesn't really mention the science of the movie. However, I will continue to monitor the skeptic-sphere for any articles that I could use. It seems like the kind of thing that skeptic doctors like Steven Novella and Harriet Hall might write about in the coming weeks. I follow their writing closely, so if they say anything, I'll definitely catch it.

On a side note, I definitely recommend the film to skeptics. It's rare to find a film that gets the science so right. And the villain of the film is a alt med, conspiracy theorist who makes money promoting a homeopathic remedy. He's sorta' an amalgam of Mike Adams (aka "the Health Ranger"), Andrew Wakefield, and so forth. And the film even makes it clear that he's a fraud. It's satisfying to see some skepticism in major Hollywood film.

Next on my plate is to collect some info I can use on power balance and GT200. I'm usually pretty busy during the week, so I might not be able to do too many edits over the week, but I'd like to get into a rhythm of collecting data over the week, then aim to perform a couple major edits on the weekend, then gradually increase my work over time. I'm not exactly sure how the rhythm will work yet...I imagine I'll figure out what works best for my schedule as I do this more and more. Today was like me "testing the water," and I definitely like it and can't wait to do more! I'll definitely keep you updated on my progress.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Did You Know... James Underdown?

Wow this was so fun!  I've been working on creating a Wikipedia page for James Underdown from CFI and IIG and I learned so much that I'm bursting to share my experience.  But I know I'll just bore you all to death.  Lets just say that I'm better able to answer questions you might have about editing that I didn't know a few weeks ago.  Please please please ask if you need help on anything.  Leave comments here on the blog and I'll answer as quickly as I can.  Or email me at

Did you know...?  Here is a blog I wrote about Karen Stollznow's 8 hour experience on the front page of Wikipedia.   Make sure you read the comments as well as I give the numbers for the 8 hours.

So I was able to manage through the crazy "paperwork" Wikipedia requires to nominate a page for the Did You Know... ? section and I persisted until it happened.  I think this had a lot to do with it.  Editors would leave a note saying...this needs to be fixed...or that sentence isn't cited correctly...  I would check back pretty regularly (by watching my Watchlist) I would fix everything they wanted fixed, added and removed anything that was a problem.  I felt that they finally approved it and put it up because I was so on them.  

Why is DYK important?  When you manage to get your page listed in this section you are exposing the Wiki page to an audience outside of skepticism that we are aiming for.  Thousands of people hit that page, and a lot of them scroll down to see the DYK section.  Maybe they like to see what is newly released?  Maybe they just have a "thing" for DYK?  Who knows, but they are going there and we should be aiming for the attention that DYK offers us.

Not only did Jim's name get hit on, but so does all the skeptical links that are included on his "hook" and on his main Wiki site.  The ripple effect.  When we are aware that this is going to happen, it forces us to really step things up and make sure that all the pages that are about to be hit are cleaned up.

Also Jim's page has now been checked over by some serious editors from Wikipedia looking at the writing, checking out the sources and so on.  His discussion page announced the DYK and the results.  I'm not going to link to the pages here because I really want you to go there and look for yourself.  That's what this blog is all about, doing things.

Here are some of the results from that 8 hour window.

Jim normally receives about 30 hits per day.  He received about 6,400 hits in that 8 hour time.  WOW!

Here is the hook ... Did you know... that James Underdown (pictured), an investigator of fringe science claims, once declared himself Poet Laureate of Calumet City, Illinois, and toured Midwest comedy clubs under the name Jim U-boat?"

I originally had submitted this......that James Underdown director of Center for Inquiry West CFI and founder of the Independent Investigations Group IIG, once declared himself Poet Laureate of Claumet City, IL and toured Midwest comedy clubs under the name Jim U-boat?

They shortened it and added fringe science and took out IIG and CFI.  But that's what Wikipedia is all about, you don't "own" anything.

Calumet City got an extra 200 hits.   Poet Laureate got about 300-400 more than normal.  The term fringe science (that I didn't even know was in Wikipedia) got an extra 4,400 hits.  These were all in the hook.

Once you are on his page, lets see how the things hyperlinked did.

Center for Inquiry got about 285 hits extra
Humanist about 60 extra
IIG got about 150 extra

So there was some activity with the hits.  I report these in numbers, but you have to remember that if I were talking about a percentage, then we would be seeing 500% increases and higher.

The IIG did see a small about of hit increase to its main page from people following the links from Wikipedia.  Barry Karr from CFI is having problems accessing his numbers today but will get back to me with them.

Here is a screen shot from that day.  


Rational Alchemy Podcast

Just released tonight.  Rational Alchemy Podcast ~  Mark Edward and I discuss Guerrilla Skepticism.  I rant on and on about Wikipedia, sounds like an obsession for me but suppose it is.  Jeff Wagg and Brian Walsh were wonderful, Jeff makes some excellent points near the end about the importance of Wikipedia, I think that maybe I should just let him handle my publicity in the future.  He was able to sum things up much better than I.

Anyway, please give us a listen.  Enjoy or Ignore the rants.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Checking Sources

I often here the excuse why "I don't edit Wikipedia anymore is because the paranormal people just change everything that I write and put up whatever links to support their point of view".  Well that might be a valid argument for someone who is looking for a reason to not edit.  If you follow that same logic then there seems to be little reason to clean up litter or graffiti as it is just going to occur again.

If this is genuinely happening then we need to know how to combat it.

Firstly you can't just change an article and expect it to remain that way, unless no one is watching the page (see watchlists blog) Or the changes you make needs to be well written and cited.  The paranormal point of view has every right to be mentioned when done correctly.  Wikipedia isn't trying to be balanced, but it does try to be neutral.

If a secondary source is written giving a positive slant to the article then good!  Lets put that in and cite it.  The reader should be able to follow the link (if given) and/or be able to go to the document (at a library or write to the publisher) and obtain the reference.

When done correctly the cite should be left for all to read, but if there is counter-evidence that refutes the cite then that should also be referenced.  And it should not come down to a argument, just state the facts of each article and try to remain neutral

This blog is about guerrilla skepticism, my bias is obvious, but I do support good research from both sides.  Not only is it important for the skeptical community to find critical thinking articles and insert them into paranormal Wikipedia pages, but it is also important to make sure that all cites are "real" and truly represent the original article in the secondary source. 

Working on the Psychic Detective page today I noticed these blurbs and thought "that's odd, I've never heard of a psychic ever finding a body, I should read that cite". 
However, psychics in Australia have successfully located the bodies of victims, the disappearance of whom were under investigation, on three occasions. In 1996 The body of Paula Brown, who had gone missing, was found after her family contacted Simon Turnbull and two other psychics. They indicated that she had been killed and told the family the location of the body, in Sydney at Port Botany. An initial search missed the body, a second search found the body 15 meters from where the initial indication of the location was.[22]

^ Kerry Anne Kennerly interviewing Psychics on "Midday Show" 1996
 So I tried to follow these links to discover the original article.  The link is broken to the youtube site, it says that the owner has removed their account.  So then I tried to find the article somewhere else on the Internet, I've discovered this woman Kerri-Anne Kennerley who is a Australian news-anchor who had been given the "Bent Spoon" award by the Australian Skeptics.  Just because I can't find the reference to check it does not mean it does not exist.  But in the mean time I'm removing the citation to the discussion page where I will note that someone needs to find a citation for this claim.  

Lets just say that there was a citation we could read for ourselves, and the article did interview some psychics that said that they found the bodies.  What then?  A psychic on a news interview claiming to have found a body is not newsworthy enough alone as evidence.  Otherwise anyone could get an interview saying that they have traveled to the moon and ate some of the cheese they found there and that is why they are over-weight.  Saying something like that does not then get added to the cheese or moon Wikipedia pages.  That isn't noteworthy.  

If it is a prominent psychic that has a Wikipedia page of their own, then maybe the reference will go up, but with counter evidence from another secondary site saying that they are nuts.  (I'm sure they wouldn't actually say nuts, but you know what I mean).  Both references would be in the same blurb on the page.

Here is another reference from the same Wikipedia page.  

In 2001, the body of Thomas Braun was located by Perth based clairvoyant Leanna Adams in Western Australia. Police had initially been unable to find the body. They later confirmed the remains to be his using DNA testing.   ^ Butler, Paul Milton "DNA test proves body was Braun's" Centralian Advocate, 23/2/2003 p3
This is a bit harder to check.  They have given us the reference but there is no on-line link to the article.  That does not make it incorrect but it does make it more difficult to find.  I often site books or magazines that are not on-line.  But it is easy to find the publisher's website and order a copy of the article, or possible to go to a library and find the reference (or order it).  It is unlikely to that would do this, but it is possible.

But this isn't a simple statement that is being made.  The editor is making a giant claim that this body was found by a psychic.  This should be front page news all over the world, proof of psychic ability?  Yes!  Yet I'm searching all over the place and can find no reference to it.   I can't even find a way of contacting the "Centralian Advocate".  I did manage to find this site and I did ask them if they can provide me some way of contacting the Centrailian Advocate or finding the article (I gave them the cite, it should be easy for them to search for the reference).  In the mean time I am also going to remove the reference to Leanna Adams (who is so not-noteworthy that she does not have her own Wiki page).

The title of the above article is "DNA test proves body was Braun's" not "Psychic Leanna Adams finds body of missing hiker, Thomas Braun".  That alone should say something important about the reference. 

Leanna Adams psychic does turn up these articles.  Fails to find body of Peter Falconio. And this reference to finding the before mentioned Thomas Braun.

A Perth-based psychic, Leanna Adams, who led the family of a missing Alice Springs man to his body last year, was convinced Mr Falconio was buried near a creek bed near Barrow Creek, after she had visions of his murder, the newspaper said.

Again she was not even helpful enough in finding Thomas Braun that this pro-paranormal site "The Age" doesn't give her much more credit other than a quick mention of a "missing Alice Springs man".  According to this article a family member took Adams to the place where Braun was last seen and they found his body there.  Wow!

Does this belong on a Wikipedia page for psychic detectives?  It is under the heading "Prominent Cases".  I'm sure that if the psychic had indeed found Mr. Braun then that might be prominent.  But this reference is just not up there with any kind of real evidence.  So off the page it goes.  If some other editor wants to put it back in, my watchlist will tell me that it happened and I can take issue with it, unless the reference is really good.

Lastly, there is one more reference that needs checking on the psychic detective page.
In August, 2010, Aboriginal Elder Cheryl Carroll-Lagerwey claimed to have seen the location of a missing child, Kiesha Abrahams, in her dream. The missing child's disappearance was being investigated by police. She took them to a location where a dead body was found, however it was of an adult woman and not the body of the child.
  1. ^ Arlington, Kim "Supernatural sleuths and the search for truth" The Sydney Morning Herald 30/12/2010, p4
  2. ^ Cuneo, Clementine "Kiesha searches stumble on Corpse" The Daily Telegraph, August 13. URL =

Checked these sources and they are valid and correctly cited.  I'm not going to touch this reference at the moment.  I'm sure a case could be made that this is neither positive or negative psychic detective.  She made a claim, they followed up on it and indeed there was a body.  End of story. 

So in a nutshell, this blog is to remind anyone interested in editing Wikipedia for skeptical content that it isn't ONLY about inserting well written, well cited skeptical/scientific references.  Something just as important is to check existing sources, not only the pro-paranormal ones, but even references left by skeptical editors.  We can't be leaving litter or graffiti laying around either. 

Found this interesting essay on Wikipedia today that was written by an editor.  I think his points are relevant to the psychic detective page.
  "All material added to articles must be attributable to a source with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy, and one appropriate for the information in question. In practice you do not need to attribute everything; only quotations and material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed, through an inline citation that directly supports the material." 
Things "difficult to believe" are very important to make sure are cited.  That someone has graduated from a specific college with a certain degree in X year isn't really up there on the difficult to believe level.  If someone is claiming that they have regrown a limb, well then that needs to be referenced.  The source you are getting the info from also is important.  A tabloid newspaper might not be the best reference for celebrity updates that are likely truthful.  Thou I'm sure we can find exemptions, those would be further backed up by more reputable sources as the story breaks into the mainstream.

Also I want to add that the additions to the psychic detective page are all recent.  And probably are there because of a call out I made to the paranormal community to bring references to the article.  Here is the discussion thus far. 

I've just added a bit more Australian content, as psychics in Australia have located at least three bodies as far as my research shows. Like elsewhere, police in Australia do not seem to like to admit to officially using psychics, but in fact they actually do on occasion. In particularly NSW Police, a number of whom have sought advice from Debbie Malone. Interesting stuff, and wouldn't have believed she actually does as much as she does until I read some of these articles.... and I'm naturally a skeptic. Deathlibrarian (talk) 13:49, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Deathlibrarian, your citation was already in use on this page, so I used the multiple reference tag for it. By the way, I'd like to consolidate this whole section of the article as I see the same thing being said multiple times. — Preceding unsigned comment added by John.Farquhar (talkcontribs) 14:42, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm removing the articles below as there is no citation to the first paragraph and the second is not re searchable. If you would like me to give more detail why these articles are not noteworthy I will elaborate when asked. Sgerbic (talk) 23:11, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

James Underdown ~ Writing a page from scratch ~ Stating NPV

This is really advanced and a time consuming task.  Not impossible, totally doable but not something new editors should be working on IMO.  We are going to talk about building a page from scratch. 

First off do not expect the page to be ready to publish quickly.  The example I'm going to give took several weeks.  Then I held onto it for a few more weeks waiting to make sure there was nothing else I wanted to include, plus I was trying to understand the instructions for the "Did You Know" project. 

Tim Farley gave me some really great advise when starting a new page, don't actually work on it on the page it will eventually become.  Work on it on your "user" page or in the Wikipedia Sandbox.  Let me explain.

When you decide that you are going to write a page, you first have to discover if there already exists a page.  Before I started Jim Underdown's page I tried looking on Wikipedia for Jim Underdown and James Underdown and made sure it wasn't already done.  I also asked him if he knew if someone was working on it, don't want to get all done and discover someone else has beat me to it. 

What I discovered was that there used to be a page called James Underdown, but it was long deleted.  It had been for a rugby player or something.  So the search brought up a page giving me that info, and it wanted me to write the page right there.  If I had done that, then the whole time I was editing it other people would be able to watch me, and help.  Also every edit I did would also be in the history of the page, Tim suggested that having a fresh clean history would be a good thing.  So I created a user page for Jim.  It looked like this User:Sgerbic/James Underdown

If you would like to go back to the beginning of the history of this page, you can "watch" me build the page before your eyes.  Here is the very first draft created on June 8, 2011.  Looking back on it now, this is a far better draft than a lot of real pages out there. 

To see the history of the page you go to the top right of the page you want to view.  Click on "view history" and you will see a lot of links appear.  Go to the very bottom of the page (in this case it is only one page, but  some pages you may have to click on further edits).  What you are looking for is a date written in blue like this. 05:51, 8 June 2011  You can watch the page grow as you move up in time.  Interesting.

You will discover that I do not write the page all by myself.  I allowed Jim to give me links to his articles and he helped me with grammar and spelling.  In the world of Wikipedia at first this seems like a major no-no.  Wikipedia believes that if a person is noteworthy enough to warrant a page then there should be enough data floating around for the writer to find, plus the writer shouldn't be personally involved because then they won't be neutral.  This is all really true, we don't want people making vanity pages, or trying to hide unflattering information.  We are trying to write an encyclopedia not People Magazine.

In truth I don't have the time to gather all the information by myself when I know that a quick email to Jim and he would be able to come up with most of the links quickly.  Who better than the subject to have the info stored somewhere.  In reality I could have gone to a website Jim already had stored somewhere and copied the links and never have contacted him at all.  The only difference is that I notified him that I was doing this, and asked for as much info as I could get. 

Once you have gathered everything you can find, you have to sort through it.  Read each link, toss out the ones that are not going to be helpful, and follow up on other leads.  It can be very time consuming and something that the subject should not be helping you with.  Only the writer can know what to keep in, as I said you don't want to hide unflattering but noteworthy items.

In Jim's case it was a little easier as I was able to find him mentioned elsewhere on Wikipedia with citations.  I just copied the links to the citation and then pasted them back into his page.  It is important to re-follow those links to make sure the link still works, and it is going to the place you intended.  Plus on a on-line citation you need to write the date you "accessed" the page.  

While your working on the page you should make sure it is clear that it is not a regular Wikipedia page.  Pasting this {{Userspace draft|source=ArticleWizard|date=June 2011}}  into the top of your edit page will give you this...
This is not a Wikipedia article: It is an individual user's work in progress page, and may be incomplete and/or unreliable. The current/final version of this article may be located at James Underdown now or in the future. For guidance on developing this draft, see Wikipedia:So you made a userspace draft or Wikipedia:Requests for feedback.This draft was last edited 30 days ago.
When you are completely sure you are done with the page and ready to publish, then you need to check with a few more people.  When I wrote my first page I tried to leave it on a page where other editors will look it over and offer advise.  I don't even remember where that was because after a few days and getting no response I grew frustrated and actually went to a few editors I had "met" on Wikipedia.  They looked it over and made some changes to it.  Then you have one more decision to make.  Do you want to try and get the page featured on the front page of Wikipedia?  It will mean a lot of views.  See this blog for more info.

In the case of Jim Underdown, I wanted to get him featured as a Did You Know?  That was kinda tricky as I'm not the type that follows written directions well.  The reason why this needs to be decided right away before publishing is because only pages five days old or less can apply (or pages that were severely edited). I'm not going to detail how I got Jim on that DYK page at the moment because I don't know if I did it right, and I don't know if he will be accepted.  

When I decided to actually publish the page (I call it launching) then I went to "edit page" and copied everything (except the "This is not a Wikipedia article...") and then went to normal Wikipedia and typed in "James Underdown" in the search bar.  It came up with the same page I had found in June when I started the project.  I simply pasted everything into the page, wrote in the edit summary area, hit preview and reread the page again, and added the page to my watch list then finally hit publish.  This page now has a different URL than the Sgerbic/James Underdown page.  And it has a clean fresh history.

But I was not done.  Remember I know Jim Underdown.  

You need to disclose this to anyone who might think that the page isn't neutral or wants to make ugly for some reason.  Wikipedia editors have this policy called "In Good Faith" which means that until you have other knowledge contradicting it, you need to assume that the editor means well and isn't trying to fool/hide/lie or whatever the rest of the readers/editors.  

So on Jim's discussion page I left this little message.  

Launching James Underdown's page today. To be clear about any possible NPV I want to admit that I do know Underdown personally, I stand by everything in this article. If you have any concerns with any possible conflict of interest, I will gladly stand back and allow you to make the necessary changes without complaint from me. I understand that though I am the creator of this page, I do not "own" this page, it is the property of the world. Sgerbic (talk) 23:17, 31 August 2011 (UTC)  

And I mean it.