Monday, October 22, 2012

Indre Viskontas - We Got Your Wiki Back!

In September 2012 I lectured at the San Francisco, Reason 4 Reason "Skeptical Speaker Series".  This group is set apart from most other skeptic groups because it encourages becoming active in the movement.  Founder, Jay Diamond (also on my "people to watch list") asked me to speak because he knows that I am forever advocating people to find their passion in the movement and go out and make it happen.  Until they find that niche they should work on smaller crowd-sourcing projects like WOT, Wikipedia and others.

During that lecture, I was asked in the Q&A what could the audience do today to help with the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project.  The question came from a skeptic group that had traveled from Chico, CA to attend my lecture and also watch operatic soprano and host of "Miracle Detectives", Indre Viskontas, sing.

Thinking quickly, I told them to convince Indre that it was time for her to have a Wikipedia page.  I had approached her before at SkeptiCal in March 2012 after being impressed with her lecture about her time co-hosting "Miracle Detectives".   I never heard back from her.

Yes, I know that I don't need her support to write a Wikipedia page.  Anyone who has been through this process knows that it is very time-consuming and tedious.  Having some support with the target giving you their bio, and uploading images is such a time saver.  The tedious editing still remains.   Finding and getting correct licensing for an image is really the area that needs their help the most. 

So the Chico Skeptics worked their magic and the next day I received an email from Indre telling me that she would supply me with a bio if I needed it.  And that's all that was really needed from her, just a place to start.  Near the end she had to get the photographer to upload the awesome image that now sits on her page.

Enter Brad McDowell from Iowa.  Brad found this project while attending his first TAM this summer. He started out by captioning several Ray Hyman interviews into English, which was really helpful and allows other people to translate the videos into other languages.  Then those videos can be used as citations for pages in other languages.

He saw my call out for someone to begin a page on Indre Viskontas.  He was VERY new, but did a fabulous job as you are about to see.  Brad and I worked on this together by email, he did all the work and I just watched over his shoulder and explained code and editing as they came up.  We don't just throw people into the project with no training, we are careful with what we release, and several of the editors on the project oversee the page before its launching.

So here today I present a brand new page, by a brand new editor.

Congratulations Brad McDowell. 

Indre Viskontas


  1. Thanks for the kind comments, Susan. :-) I'm pretty happy with how it came together, and I hope Dr. Viskontas is happy with the results, too.

    Speaking as someone who is just getting started with this kind of work, it wasn't really that hard to get started. Susan helped me a lot by creating a userspace with a suggested organization for the article. That changed as I learned more about Dr. Viskontas and gathered references, but it helped to have that as a starting point. That and some other example pages also helped me get the drift the WP scripting pretty quickly.

    This blog is a great resource, too. Susan would often send me links to blog posts in anticipation of issues that would come up at various phases. That was quite helpful.

    With all the support, the article seemed to come together pretty naturally.

  2. Just in case you weren't paying attention. Brad's Indre page made the Did You Know? front page of Wikipedia for 8 hours. Only the best new pages make the front page, and quite an honor.

    What happened as a result was 7,500 views that day. And each hyperlink in the lede of the article got a boost in hits as well.

    So way to go Brad!