GSoW - Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia
Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia is not a funny fake organisation for comedy purposes but a serious organisation of so-called "skeptics" to influence and manipulate Wikipedia articles in a systematic way. The group was founded by Susan Gerbic, an American pseudo skeptical activist.
As the name indicates, GSoW is part of an international network of materialistic fanatics who - after their own understanding - try to edit and re-write articles in Wikipedia to ensure that Wikipedia is reflecting their personal world-view and ideology. This group is strongly connected to the German group of pseudo-skeptics GWUP, which also invites pharma lobbyists to advertise for Monsanto as the propagate on their own website.
The following section is based on the article "Susan Gerbic"" from Wikipedia, read on 3.8.18, and is licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported (short version). In the Wikipedia a list of authors is available on this page. Text adaptations and changes are possible and in part became necessary because the presentation in Wikipedia did not serve information but the distribution of certain opinions and/or the content was incomplete, tendentious or distorted.
Susan Marie Gerbic (born August 8, 1962) and Mark Edward proposed "Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia" (GSoW) as a Skepticamp presentation, choosing that title to describe "skeptical" activism that is "more underground, more grass-root, more mole-like". The idea for organized effort came from Tim Farley after Gerbic's attempts to use typical WikiProjects where she found them either dormant or not user-friendly for new editors. She then started communicating and training others on Facebook and by email.
Her efforts to influence Wikipedia grew after presentations at SkeptiCalcon and a Sunday paper presentation at The Amaz!ng Meeting and she created a blog on the subject. She stated that the formal beginning of GSoW is May 2010. Gerbic is often asked about her Wikipedia contributions and edits: "I discovered that there are people in our community that have been looking for a way to become more involved but need more structure, support, and training." When people ask how they can help the skeptical movement, Gerbic is quick to suggest that they, too, learn to edit Wikipedia: "We rewrite Wikipedia, and proof the pages, we remove citations that are not noteworthy, we add citations, we do just about everything in Wikipedia to improve content."
Gerbic promotes the approach of identifying skepticism-related articles that are in need of improvement. Articles are improved by the addition of references from popular writing, podcast, and other citations: "It's just lots and lots of research. Because we are a team of friends we can share resources and work reviews. It is often necessary to interview notable persons to improve the citations and resources." She used the example of psychic Sylvia Browne's Wikipedia page during the Amaz!ng Meeting lecture, suggesting that people looking for information might prefer Wikipedia as a neutral, virus free, user friendly site. She calls this the Goldilocks effect.
Gerbic spends much of her Wikipedia-related time helping new editors learn to perform basic tasks in Wikipedia. New editors to the GSoW users group are encouraged to identify notable references and add them to various related pages. Gerbic calls such edits "backwards editing", which is the reverse of the more typical process where one subject is enhanced from multiple references.
Gerbic states that the "We Got your Wiki Back Project!" is a popular GSoW sub-project. She relates that the project's goal is to improve the Wikipedia pages for all skeptical spokespeople: "When they are in the media's eye, we know that their Wikipedia page views are going to spike." "When people are looking for information, we want to make sure they are getting great information," says Gerbic on the Data Skeptic podcast.
In July 2018, magazine Wired reported, "the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project has more than 120 volunteer editors from around the world, each of whom Gerbic has recruited and trained herself. They're collectively responsible for some of the site's most heavily trafficked articles on topics like scientology, UFOs, and vaccines."
As of 8/2018, the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project had written or fully rewritten over 600 Wikipedia pages, which had collectively received over 30 million views.
World Wikipedia project
The World Wikipedia project began in August 2012 after Gerbic was unable to find non-English editing groups to do what she had done with the English project. Gerbic began forming teams and training non-English editors. Beginning with the "Lets Start with Jerry" project, all teams were asked to translate the English “Jerry Andrus” Wikipedia page into as many languages as possible. Arabic, Dutch, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Portuguese articles were completed under her guidance.
- ”Homeopathy, Conspiracies and Glyphosate: The Recipe for SkepKon 2018” https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/the_skepkon_report_with_susan_gerbic#footer
- AV media; TAM 9 Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpUd9uwVjqA ; Susan Gerbic; Access date: August 29, 2015; Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20160309052222/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpUd9uwVjqA ; Archive date: March 9, 2016
- http://www.prismpodcast.com/the-prism-podcast-episode-11 ; Episode 11; Luchtefeld, Jason, Ritchey, Grant: The Prism Podcast; The Prism, December 15, 2013 ; https://web.archive.org/web/20150903024652/http://www.prismpodcast.com/the-prism-podcast-episode-11 ; Archivedate: September 3, 2015; Accessdate August 29, 2015
- Gerbic, Susan: Wikapediatrician Susan Gerbic discusses her Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project; http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/wikapediatrician_susan_gerbic_discusses_her_guerrilla_skepticism_on_wikiped ; Skeptical Inquirer by Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, March 8, 2015; https://web.archive.org/web/20150830023844/http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/wikapediatrician_susan_gerbic_discusses_her_guerrilla_skepticism_on_wikiped ; Archivedate August 30, 2015 Accessdate January 13, 2015
- AV media: Guttormson, Joel: Meet the Amazing TAMers: Susan Gerbic; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdV2WD2P3dE ; Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science; November 5, 2013; Access date: August 29, 2015; Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20160307082521/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdV2WD2P3dE ; Archive date: March 7, 2016
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUCwKG1n9zc ; Skeptically Challenged 2014/06/19; Balch, Ross: Skeptically Challenged, June 19, 2014, Access date: August 29, 2015; Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20160309230832/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUCwKG1n9zc ; Archive date: March 9, 2016
- Polich, Kyle: Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia with Susan Gerbic; http://dataskeptic.com/epnotes/ep012.php ; Data Skeptic, Access date: August 29, 2015; Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20151023233738/http://dataskeptic.com/epnotes/ep012.php ; Archive date: October 23, 2015
- Episode #92 http://theesp.eu/podcast_archive/episode_92.html ; Website: theesp.eu; Publisher: The European Skeptics Podcast; Accessdate: 6 October 2017; Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20171006175842/http://theesp.eu/podcast_archive/episode_92.html ; Archive date: 6 October 2017
- https://www.wired.com/story/guerrilla-wikipedia-editors-who-combat-conspiracy-theories/ ; The 'Guerrilla' Wikipedia Editors Who Combat Conspiracy Theories; Matsakis, Louise; July 25, 2018; Website: wired.com; Publisher: Wired magazine; Access-date: July 25, 2018
- Hale, Mike: The enthusiastic life of a happy skeptic https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2018/08/23/the-enthusiastic-life-of-a-happy-skeptic/ ; Website: Voices of Monterey Bay, Accessdate: 29 August 2018 ; Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20180829023341/https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2018/08/23/the-enthusiastic-life-of-a-happy-skeptic/ ; Archive date: 29 August 2018