Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Wikipedia gets something of a bad rap. It's user-created and user-edited, and pretty much anyone can just go on there and make a change to any article. So some think this means it's generally unreliable.

But in fact the most popular articles are generally very reliable. This is because of a number of reasons. Firstly there's an extensive set of policies in place to ensure the content meets a certain level. You can't simply write what you believe to be true, it actually needs to be backed up with references from reliable sources. Secondly there are "many eyes" looking over most articles, and so inaccuracies or biases are quickly spotted and removed.

But it's far from perfect. Especially in the more fringe topics there's frequently not enough interest to actually get enough eyes on the page for the system to work. So things often end up with a rather peculiar bias, based on whoever decided to adopt a particular page.

A bunch of people trying to improve this is the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia movement, run by Susan Gerbic.
Besides simply fixing things that are wrong, the GSW folk also try to improve the quality of pages about skepticism, so they edit pages about people like Phil Plait, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Somewhat similarly there's a project with Wikipedia itself, the WikiProject Skepticism,
If you are interested in debunking, you might consider spending a bit more time helping to fix Wikipedia, and less simply arguing with believers in bunk. There's a magnifying effect from Wikipedia. If you edit something there, then it's going to be seen by vastly more people than something buried on the fifth page of a rambling thread.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
I've taken it upon myself to make a few minor changes. One of them was something that you pointed out in a post regarding the 1993 WTC bombing.


Original Article:
Revised Article

 

Leifer

Senior Member.
How much content do you "edit* " on Wiki, Mick ?
Do your edits need to be maintained ?
I'm not sure how it works.

*add, suggest, correct, supercede, etc.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I hardly ever edit Wikipedia any more. I made perhaps five edits this year. Right now I prefer to devote my online time to Metabunk and social media.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
People do sometime lump Metabunk in with Snopes in a kind of blanket ignoring of of contradictory evidence. But of course Snopes is nothing at all to do with me.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
People do sometime lump Metabunk in with Snopes in a kind of blanket ignoring of of contradictory evidence. But of course Snopes is nothing at all to do with me.

I know :)

They brush aside ANY debunking website, Wiki, Snopes, this one.....it is very sad.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I know :)

They brush aside ANY debunking website, Wiki, Snopes, this one.....it is very sad.

It's getting to the stage now where the true believers will dismiss any source at all. Not just web sites, they will also dismiss books, scientific papers, scientists, officials, pilots, documentaries.

Wikipedia is still very important though, as it's the first place that many more neutral people go to look things up (or they get sent there by Google).
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
It's getting to the stage now where the true believers will dismiss any source at all. Not just web sites, they will also dismiss books, scientific papers, scientists, officials, pilots, documentaries.

Wikipedia is still very important though, as it's the first place that many more neutral people go to look things up (or they get sent there by Google).
I think this helps the fence sitters. The more 'out there' the true believers are in terms of dismissing reasonable evidence the more likely they are to dismiss the CT.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
It's getting to the stage now where the true believers will dismiss any source at all. Not just web sites, they will also dismiss books, scientific papers, scientists, officials, pilots, documentaries.

Wikipedia is still very important though, as it's the first place that many more neutral people go to look things up (or they get sent there by Google).

Yes, if they do not see it with their own eyes, or "do their own research" they discount it. I do agree about Wikipedia, judging from the revolving door of members of most chemtrail group, there are a lot of fence sitters too.
 

tadaaa

Senior Member
I posted earlier this year re Wikipedia (I do think it is an excellent resource btw and is prob in my top 5 sites I visit)

my brother has a page dedicated to him (he is a well known chess player), it had his place of birth incorrect - wrong country (I only noticed a year or so ago)

I had never edited a page before - but decided to correct it (sort of for fun)

and changed it to his correct place of birth - it was promptly changed back!!!!! lol

anyway, it is not the biggest issue in my life so left it
 

Elfenlied

Member
Some nice material to debunk: the harassment survey published by the WMF a week ago, about harassment experienced or observed on wikipedia and 16 other wiki projects:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Harassment_survey_2015
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harassment_Survey_2015_-_Results_Report.pdf

Of the respondents who were asked if they personally experienced harassment on wikipedia or because of their work on wikipedia, 38% said yes, 16% were unsure, 47% said no. The "yes" and "unsure" group were asked which forms of harassment (a list of 10) they had experienced. And the results were surprising... (page 17)

According to the report: No less than 61% were the victim of revenge porn, 63% were hacked, and 67% were outed (their real life identity revealed). If you calculate the absolute numbers based on the 1215 number of respondents mentioned, you get 740, 760 and 810. Of the ten options on the list, revenge porn was the one that fewest people selected btw, meaning that all ten forms were selected by a majority of people who answered the question.

The results have been questioned by some, for example on Wikipediocracy: http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7329
Defended by others, like Gorillawarfare, admin and member of ArbCom.

In the survey, people had to select the number of times they experienced each type of harassment using a slider. Sliders that weren't touched were seen as skipped questions, and the first two days of the survey people couldn't proceed until they answered all of them. After complaints it was changed so they could skip the types they hadn't encountered.

If you look at the raw data of the survey, page 6: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_Harassment_Survey_2015_-_Public_raw_data.pdf
It lists for each option the minimum value (0.00), maximum value (100.00), the average value, the standard deviation, and the number of responses, which correspond to the percentages given in the report. But nothing there suggests that it is anything else than what it seems: namely an overview of ALL the answers given. NOT a subset of the answers with value 1 or greater. And if you calculate the maximum standard deviation for distributions in range 1 to 100 with the listed averages, you find that in two cases the listed sdev is larger than the calculated one, meaning that the values can NOT all be within that range, in other words, they have to include zero values.

It was mentioned on the talk page of the survey on Friday morning, it was also mentioned on Jimbo's talk page. (a day earlier another explanation was offered which proved not correct) No answer from the WMF so far. They submitted an announcement of the report to the Signpost a week ago, but the planned Feb 3 edition is delayed so it will be some more days before it receives a larger audience.

Can't wait! :D
 

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