Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mormonism on Wikipedia

Mormonism is a topic that I have discussed here before.  I suggested that pages about the LDS are well-written but with little criticism.  I also stated that I think they are carefully monitored by the LDS and I believe that Mormons understand marketing and the We Got Your Wiki Back! project probably better than skeptics.  With over 200K hits a month for the 3 search terms (polygamy, Mormon & Joseph Smith) these pages need to be in excellent shape.  Even more importantly because according to the LDS church historian I quoted, the Mormons are losing membership mainly because of all the information about the church on the Internet.

Interesting.  People are leaving the church because they are learning about it.  I wonder if it is also true that numbers of new members are down because potential newbies are researching the church beforehand?

I have not edited LDS Wikipedia pages, nor do I advocate the average person to do so.  The pages that exist today are carefully watched and maintained.  Everything must be discussed on the Talk page before making the change, otherwise your edit will be reverted.  This is the way it is on many high-profile pages (astrology, homeopathy and others).  All the sides of the discussion have worked for years(?) gaining agreement on the presentation.  I'm sure there have been edit wars over single sentences, maybe over single words. 

Tonight I've found this article published by Meridian Magazine (a LDS publication) that discusses the problems with the Mormon presence on Wikipedia.  The author, Larry Barkdull is very informed about how Wikipedia works, he is also aware of search optimization importance.  Barkdull explains that the LDS is not well-represented in some places.  He details some of the edits that need to be fixed (all are out of my expertize) and advocates that Mormons should venture over to Wikipedia and politely but persistently become involved in improving Wikipedia for all the pages concerning Mormonism.

Where have I heard this before?

It seems I have a lot more in common with Mormonism that I would have thought.

Equally important is to be educated on the subject being edited. Acquiring a thorough knowledge of the available sources is the key to success on Wikipedia. Editors’ own opinions should not remain in Wikipedia articles, but cited facts will stand a much better chance of remaining. One should not remove citations, even if they appear disagreeable to the editor, unless the source used is obviously in violation of Wikipedia policy. An editor who consistently behaves in a civil manner toward others, and patiently works to achieve consensus with those editors with whom he or she may disagree, will build a solid reputation within the Wikipedia community. Over time, misrepresentations about our faith can be corrected.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Penny4NASA & Neil deGrasse Tyson

Thanks to editor Nathan Miller, the Neil deGrasse Tyson Wikipedia page now has two paragraphs mentioning the Penny4NASA project. 

I know you're all wondering, how much of an impact can that have?  If we consult our handy-dandy traffic page we discover that November saw 115,967 hits to Tyson's page.  That's a lot of potential traffic being sent to the Penny4NASA website. 

When Cosmos is released, and all the media coverage that will proceed it, I'm hoping that the 115K number will look miniscule in comparison.   

Nathan has also spent considerable time researching whether Penny4NASA has enough notoriety to warrant their own Wikipedia page.  He discovered that they don't, yet.   Hopefully all that work won't go to waste, he has the beginnings of the page written and waiting.  Lets help make that happen.  The Penny4NASA webpage has many ideas for our community to become involved in the project and pressure Congress to add a half-penny to NASA's budget. 

Remember I need hundreds of new editors to the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project.  If you can help, I will train.  Contact me at