Friday, June 24, 2011

We Got Your Wiki Back! ~ How To

So you've read my blog on why we need to have our spokespeople's backs.  Awesome, I hope you 'got it' and and wondering where to start.  As you can guess there is a ton of work to be done.  Throughout this blog you will see lots of ways you can help.

A visit to a site that is quickly growing to be one of my favorite resources on Wikipedia.  The page devoted to 93 American Skeptics.  There are pages for other countries too.  Now you and I know that 93 is an very low number.  We could probably just go through one of those Steve and Stephanie shirts that list 1,000 scientists named Steve or Stephanie who believe in Evolution and get a lot of  them on this page.  (seems like that would make an interesting blurb that could be copied/pasted on every one of those pages)  I've discussed a couple times how to add people to this list so I won't go into it again here.

The American Skeptics listed here may be a great starting point for anyone interested in the We Got Your Wiki Back! project.  Simply close your eyes and click and make that person your project for awhile until you feel it is better than what you started with.  I'm sure that many editors are going to need to collaborate to get these things right.

I also advocate that when you are editing a page you should approach that person and let them know you have updated that page.  I'm sure this isn't correct Wikipedia policy, but FaceBook and email make this so easy today that we should take advantage of it.

My reasons for doing so are these.

1.  They need to know we care.  They need to feel supported.  They need to know We Got Their Wiki Back!

2.  I approach nearly everyone (skeptical world) that I quote or edit.  I have never received a bad response, mostly it is just a thank you.  And several times they have been confused how they got a page in the first place, it just seemed to appear.  They don't know how to edit it (I explain they aren't allowed to edit their own page) or the power of having a Wiki page.

3. The best person to know if there is something incorrect on the page is The Person you are editing.  I'm not saying to hide unflattering things about the person, but many times there are errors with dates and names and are easily corrected.  Maybe they have some new research you can look into if they want to point you in that direction.

I hear this from time to time "So and so needs their own page" and they might be right.  There is a growing list of people who need their own pages.  I'm currently working on James Underdown (CFI West and IIG founder) followed by Barry Karr (CSICOP).  There is a lot of work involved when you start a page from the ground up.  I would not recommend it at all.  If you start it then you need to finish it.  It is heartbreaking and frustrating for the person who is getting the page if you just drop the ball and leave it unfinished.  The grief is not worth it unless you really are driven, have the necessary editing skills developed and can write the whole page from a neutral point of view.  These aren't Fan Pages we are making, but encyclopedia pages used for references.

Thought I would mention a comment from someone I know who recently discovered he had a really nice Wikipedia page.  This person had approached a group overseas about a project he wanted to do with them.  They wrote back and asked for more information about who he was.  This person told me that he said "check me out on Wikipedia" and when he said that he felt really good about it.  We have his Wiki Back!

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