Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jan & Feb 2014 - We've been Busy!

I think you will find that GSoW has had a couple really busy months. We have completed more tasks in the last two months than we did in the 6 busiest months of 2013.  I am glowing with pride as I write this blog.  This is truly getting stuff done.

Things are just starting to come together with our forum.  I've taken over the training process and it is insane but I love it.  I assign tasks that are as simple as correcting spelling, rewording a paragraph, repairing a citation.  To difficult tasks like completely re-writing a page. 

Mostly new people are assigned what I call "backwards edits" mainly from podcast interviews.  I've made spreadsheets with every episode of specific podcasts, and then assign the new editor the task of listening and relistening to the interview and seeing if they can use the podcast to support or improve the Wikipedia page.  Most times I have not listened to the episode, and many times the new editor has not heard of the "target" before.  In other words this is the opposite of how most WP editors edit.  We are not starting with a "target" in mind and looking for sources to improve it, but having the citation and looking where to put it. 

This forces us to expand to people and organizations we have never heard of.  And it exposes our editors to podcasts and people they were unfamiliar with.  Once the podcast has been used as a citation, then that spreads the Skeptic Love to Wikipedia readers who might never have discovered that podcast.  We are working through entire podcasts and in time will be able to ask what percent of their website hits are coming from Wikipedia.  It might take a while, but we are here for the long haul.  

Below you will see many page improvements.  There are a few brand new page creations, but most are re-writes.  Many came from brand new editors who have joined since January.  They started with the assignment to add one backwards edit to a page, and then they were supposed to leave it alone and then start a new assignment.  But instead they got interested in the "target" and kept working on the page. 

This is just what we finished in January and February.  As I write this blog, there are many many more that are in the works, some are mostly done but we are waiting on audio, photos or just one more thing before launching the page.  

Our goal is to get as many as possible on the front page of Wikipedia as Did You Knows.  This is an outreach to the general Wikipedia reader who might never have heard of scientific skepticism.  We are also approaching our "targets" once we are almost done with the page and asking for an audio recording.  You will see a few on the pages below, and I think you will agree with me that it really brings the page alive. 

I want to quickly mention that I've tried to give a shout-out to the person(s) responsible for working on the page.  Usually there is one strong lead person.  But GSoW is a team, many people contribute to this effort.  People find photos and citations,  proofread and all kinds of other support functions.  And the audio team is working to clean up the audio, get the correct licensing, uploading and turning it into the correct format and adding it to the page.  In some cases you will find we have added closed-captioning to the audio.  I also have photo people who do their photoshop magic on images before we add them to the Wikipedia page.  There is a lot going on behind the curtain.

If any of this interests you, please consider joining our team.  We need people with all kinds of skills.  We do train and mentor.  Training does take a bit of a commitment, so approach us when you have some time to learn.  

Write to us at

And see below to catch up on what we have been doing in the media.  Also where you can meet us in person.     


Freedom from Religion Foundation (Chris and Bill)
Before &  After

Phil Plait - This page has been evolving since I started GSoW, it keeps getting improvements.  With the 14 citations that Nathan Miller has added I think we are done for awhile.  Before & After 

Alan Melikdjanian - Like Plait above, Melikdjanian's page was previously mentioned in a past blog as receiving a makeover.  This is Captain Disillusion, but all you cool cats already knew that.  Editor Kyle Hamar has managed to expand it even further. Before & After

Arthur T. Benjamin  -  Was on our to-do list because of an interview he had done with the Meet the Skeptic's podcast - Sean Whitcomb was given this as a backwards edit and kept going.  He has done a terrific job with this re-write. - Before & After 

Pamela Gay - Received a brand new page courtesy of senior editor Nathan Miller.  Nathan has been focusing on astronomy because of the release of Cosmos in March, we feel that once that is released the world will become more interested in science and the people associated with it. We need to have something for all those readers to find when they are searching.  In order to encourage outreach Nathan managed to get Gay's page featured on the front page of WP for 8 hours as a Did You Know? feature.  This gave Gay's page an additional 1,000 readers.

Burzynski Clinic' s Wikipedia page continues to be updated in English.  Now our German team has completed a rewrite of the English page.  

Edwina Rogers's page received a make-over from editor Tad Callin (who came to GSoW after reading a tweet from Phil Plait) Before & After 

Todd Robbins also received a mini-makeover by Christine Daley who heard of us from the Skepticality Podcast.  Before & After

Kylie Sturgess - one of the first to participate in our new Voice Intro Project.  She has a few updates and check out the new feature.  Really awesome isn't it?

I Sold my Soul on Ebay -  book by Hemant Mehta just got a makeover as well.  We are about to launch Mehta's personal page and felt that the book's page had to be in great shape as well.  Notice that the before only has 3 citations, hardly understand why this page existed on Wikipedia at all.  Before & After

Peter Mogyoros completed a quick makeover on Hungarian scientist Szilveszter E. Vizi. Before & After

Adam Rutherford - Richard did an amazing job with this rewrite I think you will find.  Before & After

Susan Haack's page was expanded from 9 citations to 12 by new editor Michael Bigelow who has just about finished GSoW training. There was a time that I was worried that Michael had disappeared from GSoW, I wrote to him and he said he has been busy reading her book. Before & After

Seth Shostak received some additional citations and improvements from Christine Daley, since these updates I have found several more citations, so expect to see Shostak's name back on this list.  Before & After 

Jerry Coyne also received a nice page remake from newish editor Kyle Hamar. Coyne came to my attention when he wrote about GSoW over the Sheldrake drama. Still I didn't look at his WP page until a month ago when I was going through old episodes of the Point of Inquiry podcast looking for backwards edits I use for training people. I looked at his page and asked Kyle, can you find anything else for this page, I think it looks a bit lean. Oh my gosh, Kyle could have written two WP pages for him. Before & After

Paul Offit was another rewrite from Kyle Hamar. Just like with Coyne, the Offit rewrite came because I assigned a backwards edit to Kyle, the page started with 17 citations, and Kyle has expanded it to 22. Before & After

Mark Edward received some small updates as well as audio.

James Underdown had audio added as well.

Maryam Namazie got a lot of attention from the Dutch powerhouse Leon Korteweg.  He and Ryan Harding re-wrote the English page (from 6 citations to 22) and then Leon and editor Rik Delaet translated that to create the Dutch page. English Before & After  -  Dutch  And this is a perfect example of how the World Wikipedia team works. 

Elizabeth Pisani's page was saved from deletion by another new editor Jay Young.  This page had 2 flags on it, notability and lack of citations.  I'm looking back at Jay's training thread on our forum and see that this was almost his first project with GSoW, he learned quickly.  At the time of this writing I see that we could not find a image, we tried many sources and Jay even contacted the TED people, but we didn't find one.  Before & After 

Emery Emery also received a brand new page.  This was another of Jay Young's creations, and now that I'm writing this blog I see we really handed him a lot of work. When you look at these pages it might not look like a lot of work, but really it is.  When we approached Emery and asked for audio, I realized that I really didn't know what the time limits were.  We were given a few examples that were all cookie cutter type examples.  Emery broke those rules as you will see when you review his page.  Quite refreshing.

Annie Laurie Gaylor - This was rewritten months ago by Chris Peterson but it slipped by getting mentioned in the blog.  Before & After 

Archie Cochrane - You might remember was mentioned last year as it was translated into Dutch.  But now editor Peter Trussell (who is still in training) rewrote the page in English.  Before & After 

John Allen Paulos - Rewrite work by Coen de Bruijn who is not completely finished with training yet. Coen will be joining the Dutch editing team when he is done. I should mention that this is another backwards edit from the Meet The Skeptic's podcast. Because I'm limited to English, I train in English. As the teams grow bigger, eventually we will be able to accommodate training non-English editors. Before & After

Ray Hyman - Now has a page in Dutch thanks to Rian van Lierop and Leon Korteweg

Bill Nye the Science Guy - Before the Nye vs Ham debate, GSoW took a look at the Bill Nye page which appeared to be in good shape. The Bill Nye the Science Guy page (yes it is a completely different page) had some citation issues. Jay Young took a look at it and gave it a quick makeover. Just in time too. GSoW believes that we need to have WP pages in great shape in order to make sure we have them ready for when the public becomes interested. Before & After

The following graphs are quite interesting.  The first one shows the spike on the Bill Nye page on Feb 5th the day of the debate.  

 This graph shows the spike for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry page on Feb 5th. The only mention of CSI on the Bill Nye page was a hyperlink under a photo.

Here are the results for the Bill Nye the Science Guy's page on Feb 5th.

Eugenie Scott seems to be always on this update list. We have translated her page into several languages the last year. I thought we were done with her English page. But newish editor Christine Daley went in and added even more. Current Page

Scientific American Magazine - Just received a rewrite in Portuguese, I think calling the page a re-write is being generous,  probably should just say Filipe Russo created the page brand new. I'm amazed that these pages were allowed to exist on Wikipedia.  Great work Filipe.  Before & After 

Jan Zaanen - This person knows what quantum actually means and probably can explain it too. This awesome re-write courtesy of Coen de Bruijn. Before & After

Atheist Manifesto - or maybe I should say Atheïstisch manifest has been newly created in Dutch by our prolific Leon Korteweg and Vera. 

Sanal Edamaruku was finished just in time to make this blog.  Thank you Lei Pinter and Christine Daley for such great improvements. Before & After

Lastly I was able to squeak in a photo on the Neil deGrasse Tyson page that I noticed on Facebook. The photographer was our very own Richard Saunders.  


Skepticality Podcast 

Our first Russian podcast -  Общество скептиков

Skeptical Connections Podcast 

Skeptic Zone Podcast - Richard Saunders and I discuss GSoW and my cancer treatments.


Where you can find us next... I will be speaking at QED in Manchester, England in April.  And of course you can find me hanging out at TAM in July in Las Vegas and SkeptiCal in Berkeley, CA in May.  

Our German team leader Michael  will be speaking at SkepKon in Germany in May. 

I think that is all we have scheduled at the moment.


  1. Thanks for your great effort...your makeovers are well-done.

  2. You are doing a wonderful job. Something you might want to look in to. There is a bit of an edit war going on at the page covering one of Australia's more notorious UFO encounters where someone is trying to add a more skeptical perspective but is getting pushback from the believers.

    Here is a link to the edit history, the believer calls themselves VUFORS.

    1. Thank you Graham. This page is already on our radar but I've been waiting for the dust to settle a bit. There has been a lot of reporting from the skeptic community on this case, I've heard it mentioned on the Skeptic Zone and of course Skeptoid lately.

      Thanks for mentioning it, I need to probably send someone over to see what is happening and if we might step in and make sure it is progressing correctly.

    2. Actually the most interesting aspect of this could be seen on Jimbo Wales Talkpage in the form of the entry entitled "I am sad to say Mr Wales but this is not acceptable behaviour/bullies"

      Here is a link to the item as it first appeared:

  3. Great work. FYI - Neil deGrauss Tyson should be spelled deGrasse

  4. Thanks Melz. Corrected it. I've spelled it wrong so many times that it looks correct to me.

  5. Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

    Hương Lâm chuyên cung cấp bán máy photocopy và dịch vụ cho thuê máy photocopy giá rẻ, uy tín TP.HCM với dòng máy photocopy toshiba và dòng máy photocopy ricoh uy tín, giá rẻ.