Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Power Balance on Wikipedia

I've written about my experiences editing the Power Balance Wikipedia page and how important it is to get the message out to people who need to hear it.  Nothing has changed, Power Balance is still one of the top search terms that bring people to this blog, and the WP page still gets over 25K hits a month.  I don't know if those people are following the link from Lamar Odom's WP page, or maybe they just purchased the product and are curious how it "works" or possibly searchers are trying to remind themselves how thoroughly the product was debunked. For whatever reason we still need to make sure the Wikipedia page correctly reflects the best definition and citations possible.

My friend Steve Muscarella shared a new link on Facebook about Mark Cuban's opinion of the product.  He's upset that the NBA is still endorsing the bracelets.  Nathan Miller added the quote to the growing list of criticisms on the WP page. (citation #25)

This made me take another look at the Power Balance Wikipedia page.  I must say that I'm still impressed with the amount of coverage and citations.  I discovered a second period at the end of a sentence but left it for one of you to find and correct.  (One way to get you all to discover how easy it is to edit)

What amazes me is that with all this amazing evidence gathered in one easy to use place, that people still are endorsing and purchasing the product.  I expect that probably with the demise of Power Balance, the spin-offs are taking up where PB left off.  Creating a WP page for each of these companies will happen if they become noteworthy enough, but at the moment that hasn't happened.

So just want to take a moment and thank each and every person/group that has done their research and written (filmed or tested) about this product.  This allowed several Wikipedia editors (not all are from my guerrilla skepticism group) to place these citations (with quotes) onto the WP page for the use of over 300,000 readers each year.  Imagine that. 

One more point.  I'm always a little thrilled to see the familiar red WOT symbol on pages like this.  (see citation #5) This means that if you are one of the 40 million people who have WOT (Web of Trust) installed on your computer, you can rate Internet pages based on your opinion of trustfulness.  Here is one of several articles by Tim Farley explaining WOT much better than I can. Obviously enough people rated Power Balance's website negativity, which is why you see a red warning screen if you try to access their page. Try it!  www.powerbalance.com  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wanted: Photos for Wikipedia

As regular readers of this blog already know, we can not use just any ole' photograph on Wikipedia.  Each image must be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons with all the correct licensing.  The easiest is to have the photographer upload the image themselves.

Here are instructions for uploading
From Flickr
OTRS Open-source Ticket Request System

We need images.  Please please please check through your photo albums and see if you might have an image that we need.  If you aren't sure that the quality might not be good enough, run it by me (susangerbic@yahoo.com).   Hi-rez is not required, but it is best to have something that is well framed with little distractions.  It is possible to photoshop some of the problems, if you don't have that ability, I have people to do that for you and then send it back to you for uploading.  Many times, creative cropping will fix the image. 

Here are a few examples of people uploading pictures.  Check out the newest edition of Paul Kurtz's page, 4 founders of modern skepticism image was taken by DJ Grothe and uploaded by Ken Frazier, the Kurtz desk image was taken by Barry Karr, and the B/W of Kurtz and Gardner was taken by Robert Sheaffer. 

Robert Sheaffer also took and uploaded this image of Whitley Strieber, it is a low-rez image but looks okay here on the page.  This is also a good example of a page that needs work. 

Keep in mind that your image may go world-wide as this one by Greg

One more point before I give the current list of needed photos.  

If you are attending a skeptic/science/atheist function, or know someone personally that has or probably will have their own Wikipedia page, please try to get that image for us.  The easiest way is to actually ask them to pose for an image.  Chose a uncluttered background and avoid water bottles and clutter.  The best photographs are at a high angle (very flattering on necks) have them sit and you stand, or you stand on a chair. 

If you are photographing at a lecture, ask before hand if you can take a picture of them at the podium before they begin, remove the water bottle and other distractions for the picture, then put it right back.  Explain that by doing this quickly beforehand you are going to be able to concentrate on what they are saying and not popping around in front of them while they are speaking.  Also doing this will remove the chance you are going to get them in a speaking moment, a lot of us move our hands when we talk so it helps to get a posed image instead of something with blurred hands.  

If they tell you they hate getting their picture taken, then explain it is a necessary evil. Would they rather have an image of themselves chewing food at dinner?  Someone is going to get a shot of them somewhere, might as well be a flattering one. 

Here is the list so far, hopefully we can get these items off the list.  Some people have one image on their Wikipedia page already, but more would be better, we want to tell a story with these images.  So send the URL to the uploaded picture to me.  If you want to add names to the list also post here on the blog and I'll add them to the list. 

Dean Cameron (any)
Jim Lippard (any)
Marilyn vos Savant
Robynn McCarthy
Stephen Barrett (any)
R. Joseph Hoffmann (any)
Mac King (more)
**Here are some photos that are needed for the "Signers of the Humanist Manifesto project:
    A. Eustace Haydon (professor of history of religions, University of Chicago.)
    E. Burdette Backus (minister, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles)
    Edwin H. Wilson (managing editor, the New Humanist)
    F.H. Hankins (professor of economics and sociology, Smith College.)
    John H. Dietrich (minister, First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis.)
    John Herman Randall, Jr. (department of philosophy, Columbia University.)
    R. Lester Mondale (minister, Unitarian Church, Evanston, Illinois.)
    Robert Morss Lovett (editor, The New Republic; professor of English, University of Chicago.)
A. B. Shah, Pres., Indian Secular Society
Alan F. Guttmacher, Pres., Planned Parenthood Fed. of America
Alfred McC. Lee, Prof. Emeritus, Soc.-Anthropology, C.U.N.Y.
Antony Flew, Prof. of Philosophy, The Univ., Reading, England
Archie J. Bahm, Prof. of Philosophy Emeritus, Univ. of N.M.
Arthur Danto, Prof. of Philosophy, Columbia University
Brigid Brophy, author, Great Britain
Chaim Perelman, Prof. of Philosophy, Univ. of Brussels, Belgium
Chauncey D. Leake, Prof., Univ. of California, San Francisco
Clinton Lee Scott, Universalist Minister, St Petersburgh, Fla.
Corliss Lamont, Chm., Natl. Emergency Civil Liberties Comm.
Edward Lamb, Pres., Lamb Communications, Inc.
Edwin H. Wilson, Ex. Dir. Emeritus, American Humanist Assn.
Eustace Haydon, Prof. Emeritus of History of Religions
H. J. Blackham, Chm., Social Morality Council, Great Britain
Herbert Feigl, Prof. Emeritus, Univ. of Minnesota
Herbert J. Muller, Professor, University of Indiana
James Hemming, Psychologist, Great Britain
James W. Prescott, Natl, Inst. of Child Health and Human Dev.
John Anton, Professor, Emory University
John Herman Randall, Jr., Prof. Emeritus, Columbia Univ.
John W. Sears, clinical psychologist
Joseph Fletcher, Visiting Prof., Sch. of Medicine, Univ. of Virginia
Joseph L. Blau, Prof. of Religion, Columbia University
Kai Nielsen, Prof. of Philosophy, Univ. of Calgary, Canada
Lionel Able, Prof. of English, State Univ. of New York at Buffalo
Lord Ritchie-Calder, formerly Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland
M. L. Rosenthal, Professor, New York University
Mark Starr, Chm., Esperanto Info. Center
Mary Morain, Editorial Bd., Intl. Soc. of General Semantics
Maxine Greene, Prof., Teachers College, Columbia University
Miriam Allen deFord, author
Paul Blanshard, author
Paul Edwards, Prof. of Philosophy, Brooklyn College
Raymond B. Bragg, Minister Emer., Unitarian Ch., Kansas City
Richard Kostelanetz, poet
Roy Wood Sellars, Prof. Emeritus, Univ. of Michigan
Theodore Brameld, Visiting Prof., C.U.N.Y.
Babu R.R. Gogineni (Executive director, International Humanist and Ethical Union)
James Dewey Watson (Medicine, 1962)
Jerome I. Friedman (Physics, 1990)
Jim Herrick (Editor, the New Humanist)
Johann Deisenhofer (Chemistry, 1988)
Lloyd L. Morain
Paul D. Boyer (Chemistry, 1997)
Riane Eisler (President, Center for Partnership Studies)
Sherwin Wine (Founder and president, Society for Humanistic Judaism)
Stephen Mumford (President, Center for Research on Population and Security)
Vashti McCollum
Vern Bullough (Sexologist and former copresident of the International Humanist and Ethical Union) Warren Allen Smith (Editor and author)
Claude Allegre, Farrell Till, George Abell, Isidor Sauers,  Stanislaw Burzynski, Andrew Weil, Stephen Barrett,  Drauzio Varella. James Oberg, Jerome ClarkLinda Howe, Michael Goudeau, Sherwin Nuland, Dean Radin, Robert Priddy, Victor Stenger, Curtis Peebles, Donna KossyGerald Glaskin, Terence Hines, James Moseley
Penn & Teller separately

Just for fun, here is my list of contributions.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

World Wikipedia - 4 months later

World Wikipedia has been busy.  We are on month four of the formation of this group and moving forward. 

Here are a few updates. 

Luis Garcia Castro created the Spanish version of SkeptiCamp's page.  That really makes me smile when thinking about a grassroots group like SkeptiCamp being supported by another grassroot group.

Today, the Dutch Wikipedia group (lead by editor Rian van Lierop) launched the 7th version of Jerry Andrus, this means the page is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese.

I've learned how to add info boxes to Dutch Wikipedia pages that already exist, and have had some success improving the appearance of a few skeptical pages. 

James Randi Before
James Randi After

Michael Shermer Before
Michael Shermer After

The Wendy Hughes video that explains the We Got Your Wiki Back! project has now been translated into Spanish and Dutch (plus the English subtitles). 

The French Paul Kurtz page now has some new pictures, waiting for the French team to start improving the whole page, but in the mean time there is more to look at. Same for the Polish page.

We now have an Indian Wikipedia team.  This is a unique approach we are taking, as they will be editing in English but will focus on topics more associated with India.  This group just formed and is still in the reading everything process of learning, but expect great things from them. 

One thing that came out of the formation of the group was that a page on this elderly gentleman was brought to my attention.  I spent a bit of time cleaning out most of the nonsense (maybe more will need to go).  I was amazed that he was reported to be several hundred years old, someone had even added his name to a category stating that he was born in the 900's.  Yet we know that he died in the 1970's.  I don't think so. 

I've left only one reference and am waiting to see if others come in and improve the article, otherwise this mud man's page is likely to be deleted.

Devaha Baba Before
Devaha Baba After

We also added our first Urdu editor, just waiting for him to get settled in before we start him on projects.

Nix Dorf arranged our first Google Hangout for the editors.  It was a blast but as usual we had a bunch of technical problems.  Getting those all ironed out for our second try.  Finding a time was also interesting, but really very exciting to have people from all over the world on the call. 

Nix is in Brazil
Nicola Mazbar in Atlanta, Georgia
Svetlana Bavykina in Russia
Luis García Castro in Spain
Luis Filipe Pratas in Portugal
and myself in California

If you haven't been keeping up with the World Wikipedia project, here is the blog from our 2 month anniversary. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We Got Your Wiki Back - Jerry Andrus en Español

The World Wikipedia project is still moving along as planned.  Joining Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Russian is a brand new Spanish page.

Thank you Linda Mazarredo and the Español team for another beautiful page everyone in our community should be familiar with, Jerry Andrus.

As a special treat Linda seems to have found a new video of Jerry Andrus performing his illusions, the video is in Español, but don't let that keep you from watching.  There are a few illusions I've never seen before and I thought I had seen them all.  The ability to WOW us with his own handmade illusions is one reason I selected Jerry Andrus to be the first focus of the World Wikipedia project, he is Universal, no words are needed to amaze us. 

As I look out my window tonight I see a gray and cold evening closing in.  The perfect night to stay home bundled up, take some time to watch all of these videos in whatever language you chose (many of these, our World Wikipedia editors have captioned in several languages).  You can show these to the young people in your life and open their eyes to the amazing world of optical illusions, and then have the discussion of how easily we can be fooled by our eyes.  Think about it, Jerry Andrus can be a discussion everyone on every political spectrum will enjoy, maybe it will facilitate that all important discussion we need to start having with each other, how do we know what we know?


Jerry Andrus in Español

25,252 11/8/12

Hurricane Sandy - Wikipedia - Global Climate Change

Thank you Tim Farley for bringing this article to my attention this morning.  BTW Tim, I love your blog Skeptical Software Tools.  I receive it right in my inbox and know I'm going to learn something new that will make advancing the skeptical movement cause even easier.  Just hope the good guys are reading also.


This article by POPSCI's reporter Dan Nosowitz tells one of the stories of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project.  We do not advocate vandalism, we advocate getting the message of science into the hands of people who need it, the readers of Wikipedia. 

I know very very little about global warming, so would be VERY uncomfortable editing a page about hurricanes or global climate change.  That is why we need a diversified team of editors who understand the rules of Wikipedia, what is allowed and what is not.  How to cite and how to work with other editors to make the best page possible.  Wikipedia is not a joke, it is where the majority of people get their information.  Even if they do not go directly to the Wikipedia page, we know that the reporters that are creating the media (radio, TV, print) are getting their information from the Wikipedia page.  Maybe not always cut and paste, but are influenced by the write-up, citations and hyperlinks to other pages.

Here is one paragraph from the above article that I cut and pasted here.   (my bolding)

When I told Jay Walsh about the back-and-forth regarding climate change, he said, "It doesn't surprise me to hear that. Climate change is a bastard--it's one of those really complicated topics within Wikipedia, because the [editors] are so science-focused." But he wasn't upset that one point of view had been steamrollered on a Wikipedia page that received more than half a million hits in three days--he was intrigued about how the process went, and about how it was eventually ironed out, in a way. "The article doesn't not do its work because of that," he said. Walsh talked about a "good faith" versus "bad faith" edit: Ken Mampel really thinks he is improving that page by eliminating an unclear passage about climate change, so that's a "good faith" edit. Which, for Wikipedians, means the system is working. But what about for those 500,000 readers who didn't get the full story?

Make sure you look at that Wikipedia article traffic statistics link in the middle of the paragraph, I use this tool several times a day and I know you will find it interesting to play around with too.  Just make sure that the name you insert in the search box is exactly the name on the page you want to look up.  Also you can see the hit count for different languages (again you have to put the name exactly as it is on that other language page)

So if you want to help out with the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project, please contact me at susangerbic@yahoo.com.  You don't have to be an expert on anything, I need doers more than I need experts.  I do train.