Wow! Just getting in from The Amaz!ing Meeting (which it was) and the first thing I'm doing is uploading pictures so I can get started adding them to Wikipedia.
I did not attend any lectures accept 10 minutes of Richard Wiseman
's awesome lecture. And the two Sunday paper presenters who followed me. Ashley F. Miller was very well received with her lecture on "Emotions Aren’t the Enemy". I followed Michael Hartwell's polished lecture on "The Media Isn't Calling Your Skeptics Group, and It's Your Fault". Michael at one point in his presentation talked about how ridiculous would it look if an Alt Med Wikipedia page had no skeptical criticism on it. It was a perfect lead in for my talk. While
I was in the room for the other papers I was focused on my notes and sadly didn't get to hear any of the other presentations. Guess I will have to wait for the DVD's.
I spent an enormous amount of time in the hallway mostly at the IIG table, meeting people and snapping pictures. It was such a blast. Besides hanging out with friends and the "Hug Me I'm Vaccinated" campaign (which was so well done, important and FREE) the best part about TAM was meeting people interested in talking about Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (and the Got your Wiki Back project).
Oh my gosh, what a blast it was to be up on stage and have all those people listening to me. I could have gone on for hours giving examples and answering questions...but I only got 15 minutes. I gave away maybe 200 business cards with the URL for here, so I can only hope. If you are new to this blog, Welcome! We really want you here, please look over the past posts, add us to your RSS feed and please, please, please comment.
About the presentation. I really had to cut way back on everything, giving a general overview of a project this big is really difficult. The examples I gave were Joe Nickell's article on Vassula Ryden (which Anna finished editing the same day I presented) and the JREF Pigasus Award to CVS Pharmacy. I have the video of my lecture and will clean it up and load it to my YouTube site. I'll let you know when that is finished but I suspect at least a week.
So here is the Wikipedia lowdown, I'll try to keep it in some kind of chronological order.
Sean Faircloth & Secular Coalition for America:
Wednesday night Stirling and I arrive at South Park Casino in Las Vegas and head to the Del Mar Bar, that's where everyone hangs out. I struck up a conversation with Sean Faircloth from the Secular Coalition for America, I have seen his lecture at least once before and I remember being very impressed. He is a great speaker with a "go get em" kind of personality that I can relate to. I had never visited his Wikipedia page nor the one for the SCA. I told him about the "Got your Wiki Back" project and asked if he had a picture on his page already.
He said he hated having his picture taken because he rarely came out looking good in pictures. So I sat him down and snapped one. I think it turned out rather well, and just added it as the main picture to his page. I moved the image that was already there to lower on the page (I thought it looked rather gray and dull, but it is one of those nice "action" shots that work well).
Sean told me that he had heard that it was possible to somehow link the names on his page to other links. He mentioned Richard Dawkins and several others. I explained that this should be an easy change and I would look into it when I got home. And this is exactly what I have done, if you look at the history of the page you will see the before and after. (click on the "view history" tab at the top of the page). I also went through the page and added hyperlinks to all the proper nouns throughout.
To add hyperlinks go to "edit" at the top of the page next to "view history". Then you will be looking at the HTML writing, every word or phrase that you want to hyperlink to you just put the [[ in front of the word, then ]] at the end of the word. Write something in the "edit summary" like "added several hyperlinks". Check the "watch this page" box so it can be added to your watchlist and you will know if someone has changed this page. Then hit "preview changes" and look at what you changed. If there is any red writing then something is wrong. In the case of Faircloth I tried to hyperlink to name Woody Kaplin and it came out red. Either Woody Kaplin does not have a Wikipedia page, or the name of his page is different than Woody Kaplin, maybe his real name is Robert Kaplin? Anyway, I'll leave that for someone else.
I linked to all the names which should have been done when the page was created. The page really needs a lot more work than I have time for. Someone with more writing skill than I have needs to go into "edit" and rewrite the page. This would take me hours to do correctly, but I'm sure one of you can finish it up in minutes. For example nearly every paragraph starts with "Faircloth this..." or "In (insert year) Faircloth...that".
Also if his page needs work I'm sure the SCA page needs the same kind of work. I didn't really look at the page but someone please check into it. (as usual if you are working on the page could you please comment). Just checked out the "discussion" page for the SCA
, totally funny.
I am shocked to discover that he does not have a Wiki page, only a mention
. I've got pictures waiting for a page to put them on...hint...hint...hint. His TAM9 blurb looks pretty impressive, I've seen him lecture a few times at skeptical events and I would think he needs a page as a part of the "We Got your Wiki Back" project.
You don't know how bad I want to put this picture on Saunders Wikipedia page. But I suppose I won't because he is really a good guy. I think it would jazz up the page quite a bit and it is a tribute to Randi.
Richard has one of those pages like Brian Dunnings that goes to a disambiguation
page. Really would like to figure out how to fix this, but I don't have the skill.
While we are on the subject of changing pictures on sites that already have images, take a look at these two pictures I got. Would love to hear some opinions if these images should go on their pages.
This next edit I did was completely the idea of Tim Farley. I was invited to a speaker dinner on Saturday night and Tim pulled me aside and asked me to get a picture of the 4 latest JREF fellows. Tim had already added a blurb on the JREF page in anticipation of getting an image to go there.
Here is the addition to the JREF page. While I was in the adding picture mood I just copied the citation and added the image to Karen Stollznow
and Steve Novella
's pages. Quick to do once you have it written correctly. Its just a matter of knowing where to put the image in the page. Here is what the reference looks like.
[[Image:Four JREF fellows 2011.jpg|thumb|250px|Latest [[JREF]] fellows. Tim Farley, Karen Stollznow, [[Steven Novella]] & Ray Hall. Portrait taken at The Amaz!ng Meeting TAM9 from Outer Space July 16, 2011]]
The 250px that is listed here can be a larger or smaller number depending on how big you want the image to be when saved. Play around with the number and keep hitting "preview" looking at what the page will look like. When you have it correct then hit save.
When Tim Farley's wiki page is launched (hopefully soon) we can add this exact same reference to his page. Same for Ray Hall.
I had some really great conversations with some of the speakers that were kind enough to talk to me. The questions I received were all pretty typical ones, "How do you get an edit to stay on the page?", "Can I edit my own page?" and so on. They all sounded pretty excited about someone having their Wiki backs, even a little modest about having a page at all. Most said they have seen their page and wish it could be updated.
asked if I could retake her picture when she was wearing something colorful. She was wearing a burgundy outfit at the time we were talking but she got scooted away too quickly. Actually I really like the image I took of her that is on the page right now.
I had so many things I wanted to get done those days, but really there was so much going on and by the third day I was exhausted. The same can be said for all the speakers that wanted help with their Wikipedia pages, they were overwhelmed and tired.
After I gave my paper presentation I had several people come up to me to talk about helping out. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend. Everyone of them were intelligent and pumped on wanting to help out. Most asked "what do you want me to do?" as you remember I only had 15 minutes on stage to get the plea out for help as well as describe what the project is all about. I usually asked each one about their interests and also tried to determine what was their Wiki editing skill level. I had beginners as well as advanced, but all willing to help out.
I really wish I had done a better job of getting names from those that approached me, I got a few business cards but only a few. The things I heard from them were great, one woman (her name was Britney but I think it was spelled differently than normal) told me that as a whole the skeptic community has more intellectual ability than it knows what to do with, editing Wikipedia is an obvious outlet for that. She said that she hangs out with some really smart people who love to complain, but when she asks what they plan on doing about it, she just hears crickets. (I'm sure I misquoted you a bit Britney, but that was the general overview of our conversation?)
Linda was another one that Got It! She said that she could spend as little or as much time working on this project. Exactly correct. You can work on these projects when you have the desire and time to do so. I ask that you please write on the "discussion page" of the article you are working on telling other editors what you had planned to do next, and so on, giving them a guide of how to finish what you were doing.
I explained that we need help with everything. Grammar, photos, re-writes, adding citations, adding references, getting people into categories, and on and on. Editing Wikipedia for skeptical content should be a joy, I don't want to assign anything to anyone. I might make a few suggestions for people who are beginning, but really I want editing done in an area that is of interest.
Tim Farley suggests that an editor should not stay only on one subject matter as it is possible that the other editors will feel there is a conflict of interest. Yes, I know, I have a conflict of interest as I'm editing with the clear goal of adding skepticism to the articles. But unless someone looks really closely at my edits they won't see that pattern. What would turn up would look more like a list of edits I've made. It would look something like this, Steve Novella, Power Balance, John Edward, The See Clearly Method, The Simpsons, IIG and Sean Faircloth. No clear pattern for someone outside the skeptic community to see. Tim suggests that if you are worried about creating a pattern, you should edit something completely different like your hometown's page or maybe your school.
All in all, I'm exhausted but super thrilled that I was able to meet like-minded people out there who understand how important this project is. We are the front line people. We have the ability to change minds and really impact the skeptical community. Pick the area that is of interest to you and get to editing!