Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peter Gleick and Wikipedia

You know I keep finding evidence of how important the We Got Your Wiki Back! project is.  Opened the San Jose Mercury newspaper this morning and saw a familiar name and face looking at me.  Peter Gleick sounded so familiar, then I remembered that he was one of the main lecturers at SkeptiCal May 2011.  I presented that year also and took a lot of pictures which oddly enough made it up on the Wikipedia pages of Yau-Man Chan and Bob Carroll.  I noticed that Peter Gleick had a nice Wikipedia page but was missing a picture so click click goes my camera and there goes up another image for Wikipedia.

Regular readers of this blog know I'm a major believer in making sure all our spokes people's pages are in good shape, with content as well as attractive looking.  No red type, awesome photographs that help tell the story and citations that actually say what the citation links to. 

Also I'm all for making sure that skeptical organizations are getting recognition where ever we can fit in a plug.  All three of the aforementioned have SkeptiCal mentioned in the caption.  IF SkeptiCal was noteworthy (not yet but hopefully soon) they would have their own Wikipedia page that would contain a live link so readers could link to.  And that works backwards as well, when SkeptiCal gets its own page, the past speakers will be listed somewhere on SkeptiCal's page with live links so people can click over to their page.  Don't you just love Wikipedia?  I dare you to visit a page and NOT click on at least one hyperlink.  Its like eating potato chips right?

Anyway, I posted the picture for Peter Gleick back in June 2011.  Now it seems his name is all over the place and people are scrambling to find out who he is.  The skeptical community already knew who he was, but as I keep saying we aren't improving Wikipedia for the choir, but for the rest of the world that is trying to find out who is who.  I especially find it funny that people are going to see Gleick speaking at a skeptical conference that generally is skeptical of the global warming skeptics.  That is going to confuse most people. 

Having a well-tended Wikipedia page really helps with his credibility.  His page needs more content (and probably more pictures) but for the most part it looks better than most. 

The lede (also called leed) contains this bit. 
On February 16, 2012 Gleick resigned in disgrace from the American Geophysical Union Task Force on Scientific Ethics after he confessed he had obtained and distributed documents from the Heartland Institute by impersonating a board member, and apologized.
I've already left a comment on the talk page that I believe the word "disgrace" should be removed.  This is how things are done on Wikipedia.  I can go in and just edit it out (the BE BOLD policy) but for the moment I'm just going to ask and see if whoever edited it in the first place can back up that word.  It sounds like opinion to me?  Maybe Gleick actually used the word disgrace somewhere?  If so then the word should remain.  

Now back to my main point, backing up my claim that people are visiting Wikipedia for more information.  Yes I know that his personal website is probably getting a lot of hits, but that isn't a neutral site and people know that.  They want someplace that will sum up the person, and that place is Wikipedia.

So what do the numbers look like?  Normally Gleick gets about 80 hits a day to his Wikipedia page.  Yesterday (remember this tool is off 24-36 hours in reporting numbers) the page got 3,774 views.  When I came home from work ready to write this blog I noticed the next day's numbers are already in.  3,130.  I'm leaving the link for you to watch the numbers hit as the story unfolds.  Exciting huh!

So what about the supporting cast?  Does the Heartland Institute have a Wikipedia page?  Apparently they do and Gleick is already mentioned on their page.  Someone is on it!  What do their hits look like since the story broke? They have seen a spike in traffic as well. 

Eugenie Scott and the NCSE might even see a spike in their hits.  Don't see anything for Eugenie Scott, and only a slight increase for NCSE.  But it is difficult to know what might trigger a wave of Wikipedia views.  Tomorrow Dr. Scott might be interviewed on CNN discussing the issue, we just aren't able to plan for everything.  Its like a giant pond with a stone thrown into the water causing a ripple effect with other Wikipedia pages seeing an increase in hits.  This is why we need to have their backs.

We need to be ready. 

Please help with this project.
Write to me at

BTW join me this April 21st at SkeptiCal (they have a great speaker list and some might just need their pictures taken.  Race me!)


  1. Well said, Susan. Now, if we can only get Skeptical Inquirer to improve the quality of their photographs......!

  2. LOL Bob. I hope your not talking about the picture Mark took of me in SI. I needed to do my roots, didn't know they were going to use that picture.

    I'm currently going though all of the TAM9 and TAM8 photographs that Ingrid took. She is going to upload to Wikicommons for our use.

  3. the one on p. 33 of the latest SI where you look like you've just seen a ghost

  4. A ghost? Really Bob, do unicorns have wings?

  5. It's "Eugenie" Scott, not "Eugeine".
    Figuring pointing it out would be worth while since I would imagine proper spelling helps hits as well.

  6. Thank you DS you are correct. I don't know why I keep misspelling her first name. I think it looks correct because I've done that so many times.

    I have one employee that keeps spelling maybe "mabie" to her it looks correct.

    Apparently psychics to the same thing with dead or missing people whom they have claimed to have found. It seems that if they misspell the persons name then the family members will not discover the psychics are trying to gain from their loss. The normal public won't notice the misspelling or if they do won't think anything of it.

    1. lol check your spelling and go and edit it

    2. I found one. Maybe it would be helpful if you just pointed out the spelling mistakes so they can be fixed?