Monday, February 13, 2012

Bad Astronomer gets 2 hour makeover on Wikipedia

I'm really busy. I'm working on the examples that I will be using for the Cafe Inquiry workshop at CFI West on Feb 29, 2012.  At this workshop I am going to talk for a bit about this Wikipedia project and then allow people to edit real pages for the remainder of time.  My idea is to forward the participants a email with specific instructions of exactly what to edit.  Mainly the first few examples will be "copy this" and "paste exactly here".  I'm also giving them the reasons why they are doing what they are doing, and forcing them to add it to their watchlists.  I'm hoping they will go home and look at the watchlist again and look more in depth at their edit.

As I said, I am busy creating these examples and making sure they work correctly and the instructions are very clear.

I've written about Phil Plaits Wikipedia page many times here on this blog.  He is one of those skeptical spokespeople that keep popping up in the public's eye and I know every time he does there is a spike in his Wikipedia hits.  Currently he's generating about 3.5K hits each month.  A page we ought to have an eye on, right? 

I wondered if maybe I could write an example that could be used at the workshop.  Looking over his page I felt that the changes I wanted to make are too advanced for beginners to copy/paste.  I needed to move on to easier edits.  But I felt guilty about leaving Plait's page for the to-do list that its been on for ages.  So I decided I would invest 2 hours.  That's it!  Whatever I could accomplish in that time I would do.

I've just learned how to add filmography info to a Wikipedia page, and noticed Plait has a imdb link.  So I ventured over and saw that he has quite a few film credits but not like William B. Davis's page that took me 8+ hours to edit.  I'm not going to go into detail how to add tables like I did.  Put it this way, I learned by copying the info from a famous actors page and studied the pattern.  I played with it for awhile until I figured it out.  Its the kind of task you don't want to stop in the middle of, you get into a kind of rhythm with all the | and the |- and <br/>.

Once done I realized I had 20 minutes left.  I quickly uploaded an image I took when the IIG awarded Plait's "Bad Astronomy" show for critical thinking content.  Popped that image onto the page (there is a nice empty area caused by the Filmography table) and time was up.

I still don't like the lede.  As I've said before the sentence about him quitting his job in order to write a book is unprofessional.  It might be true but there must be a better way of saying it.  Phil Plait's page is going back on the to-do list.  Maybe someone will get there before me and continue working on his page?  Hopefully so.

Phil Plait Before

Phil Plait After

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