Submissions/Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 1039
Title of the submission
Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Vera de Kok
E-mail address
Contact me
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia is loosely associated with the Independent Investigations Group in that it found its inception with members of that group.
Personal homepage or blog

Recently, Jimmy Wales spoke out against a petition to "allow for true scientific discourse" on holistic healing, stating that "What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn't." In this petition, the people who were defending the scientific consensus on Wikipedia were called "self-appointed “skeptics” who serve as de facto censors for Wikipedia".[1] Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia, GSoW for short, is a group that is proud to call themselves skeptics and has been operating to counter the influences of pseudoscience since 2011.

Susan Gerbic founded GSoW on Facebook and a blog. Within the group, there is a special focus on training new members, and taking the time to prepare the launch of new articles to avoid frustrating deletions. I came across her project when I nominated a number of photo's for deletion. Starting a Deletion Request usually isn't the start of a collaboration, but we have worked together for the past two years now.

Susan was able to found this group because of her affiliation with the Independent Investigation Group, a California-based group focused on investigating fringe science, paranormal and extraordinary claims from a rational, scientific viewpoint, and disseminating factual information about such inquiries to the public. This group in itself is part of a larger skepticism movement.

There are parallels between the skepticism movement and the goal of the Wikipedia projects to write an encyclopedia that's based on verifiable evidence and has a neutral point of view.

Because there is a more enclosed and hierarchical structure withing GSoW than there is within the Wikipedia community at large, group dynamic is different. These differences can be seen member retention and influx of new members. There are currently 11 languages in which local groups have been set up. Though the group originated and still largely operates outside of the various groups sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation, it is not outside of its influences: when news outlets started reporting on the gender gap issues within Wikipedia, Susan encouraged members to write about female scientists. On the other hand, there is a larger chance of group conformity. In any case the group makes for an interesting case study.

WikiCulture & Community
Length of session
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

  1. Nederlandse Leeuw (talk) 22:18, 31 March 2014 (UTC) – Interesting![reply]
  2. Looking forward to seeing the live stream of this talk.Sgerbic (talk) 00:11, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Also looking forward to the livestream of this lecture if it is selected. Nmillerche (talk) 00:37, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Yes, live stream please. Khamar (talk) 01:12, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Jane023 (talk) 08:33, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Dustinlull (talk) 12:20, 1 April 2014 (UTC) Yes![reply]
  7. Local to me, so I am definitely inetrested. JzG (talk) 12:25, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Mapep (talk) 20:03, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Jan-Bart
  10. SarahStierch (talk) 18:46, 12 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Djembayz (talk) 11:50, 18 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Mike Peel (talk) 15:11, 24 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Adam Cuerden (talk) 12:11, 27 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  14. interested in the interaction with brian josephson Slowking4 (talk) 00:59, 1 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Smirkybec (talk) 18:20, 7 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Really interesting! I hope it gets approved.--Micru (talk) 17:36, 10 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  17. MB-one (talk) 11:02, 13 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Michael Steinkellner (talk) 08:49, 30 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  19. Add your username here.