Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia
(GSoW)

Improving accuracy, one article at a time.

We train... we mentor. Join us!

  • The mission of the Guerrilla Skepticism editing team is to improve science and skeptical content on Wikipedia in all languages possible.

  • We do this by writing or improving skepticism and science-related articles, as well as the biographical articles of notable people involved in science and skepticism. 

  • We add valid material and citations, and remove unsourced claims from paranormal and pseudo-scientific related articles. Why? Because evidence is cool. 

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WHO ARE THE GSoW

  • They are people just like you. Most are busy people raising families, teaching classes, working full-time, caring for their parents. We are professionals, PhD’s, students, government employees, librarians, retired, military, scientists, police and more.

We have no tests to pass. Just show a willingness to join us. All training happens on Google documents, Facebook and Wikipedia, so obviously you need to have access to the Internet.

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Training Information

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"When life around you is confusing and stressful sometimes the only control you have is to organize your sock drawer or rewrite a Wikipedia page." Susan Gerbic 

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STEPS TO START TRAINING

  • Contact Susan Gerbic. abouttimeboard@gmail.com
  • Create a Wikipedia account.

  • Friend Susan on Facebook.

  • A 2 hour pretraining exercise will be sent to you

    • Finish within a week to make Susan happy!

  • If you like what you see the main training begins!

    • The self-paced training takes about 2 to 4 months. ​More detailed information is here.

  • No experience editing Wikipedia is best!​

GSoW prides itself in training people who are not typical computer people. When completed many people say that they never expected to be able to edit Wikipedia, but now they can.

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YOU NEED TO HAVE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT?

  • Do I really need to have a Facebook account?
    • Yes, we have tried many other ways of communicating, email and a forum. Nothing beats Facebook. You do not have to use Facebook for anything but our Secret Cabal, turn off all other notifications and you do not need a public profile. Several GSoW rarely use Facebook other than for GSoW. Most find the experience working in the Facebook Secret Cabal to be a surprisingly positive one.

Once training is completed you will be joining an elite group of individuals that are dedicated to following Wikipedia’s rules, and improving science and scientific skepticism articles in order to educate millions. There is no more important skeptical project that exists today than GSoW.

The most common training question answered: How much time do I need for training?

HMMM...this is very difficult to answer. As difficult to answer as how long is a piece of string? But here are some generalities:

  • Training is about 20-hours of videos to watch, there are articles to read, but nothing taxing.

  • All assignments will range in "difficulty" from very straight forward to somewhat confusing upon first read, depending upon your background and how comfortable you are with previous lessons. Don't hesitate to ask lots of questions! Once you get going you will find things easier and easier.

  • The final project is to rewrite a badly written Wikipedia page. You get to choose what page that is from a list of about 20 choices. That can take you a month or only a few days. It depends on you.

  • All the assignments leading up to this point will be ones that prepare you for the rewrite. If you are the type of person that starts and keeps up the tasks, reading, videos over a few weeks, doing it often so you don't forget what you learned, then you will probably finish training in 2-3 months. Some people do it a little at a time, they don't always remember what they learned so they have to go back to the older assignments. The people who are most successful in GSoW are the ones the move through training in under 3 months. I've had people tell me that going through training is like taking a fun social science class at the Junior College level.

  • We ask that you finish training within 4 months. If something happens to make that difficult, please just let us know. If you are about to take a trip around the world for 2-months, then start your training when you are back home and ready to start.

  • All training is self-paced. All lessons are given to you on the day you join, so you can move through them without waiting for someone to give you the next lesson.

  • All lessons are on a Google Doc, so you do need Internet the entire time you are training.

  • You are assigned a personal trainer, (usually Susan) who is there to help you every step of the way. That person you will usually communicate with you via Facebook messenger.

  • You are placed in the Secret Cabal on your first day. There is a community of people waiting to help you when you need them.

  • We are located all over the world so usually it isn't a problem getting a response when you post a question.

  • We expect you to also offer help, motivation and an extra pair of eyes when asked to review.

  • Even a brand new person can help on their first day.

Okay...now I am trained. How much time is required?

AGAIN, how long is a piece of string?

That is up to you. I don't know why you would go to all the trouble to finish training and not get to work. Our goal is to change/improve/write all pages concerning scientific skepticism, science and the paranormal in all languages possible, keep vandalism off pages, and help train and motivate other GSoW. Also, we reach out and help normal Wikipedia editors when needed and more. There is more work to be done than ever. It's like learning a new language, then never using it. Why bother? You put in as much time as you can, anything you do to help is great. Some people spend hours a week, maybe 20-30 on GSoW. Some people come in and proofread a page every couple weeks. Others spend most of their time on the Cabal answering questions and just being friendly and help motivate. Some patrol Wikipedia for vandalism. I have some editors that put in 15-minutes a day during their lunch hour making some small edit. Some GSoW are able to put in a lot of time for a few months a year, then they disappear for months, then they come back. It just depends on you.

What page/topics can I work on?

THAT is up to you.

  • We want you to enjoy your time with GSoW, so we want you to work on pages you enjoy.

  • Rarely do we assign anything after training. Once you are trained, then it is up to you.

  • The group has from time to time focused on a specific topic and spend about 6-months just focusing on it. We did all things associated with Cosmos. Another time we did all things vaccine, and the latest was skeptic books. It's fun to join in, but you don't have to.

  • About half of the editors work on more than one page at a time.

  • A lot of the time you will finish up a page and the work you did on it will lead you to work on another.

  • We find that our editors fall in love with the page they are working on, they really find they enjoy what they are learning.

  • We have all kinds of editor styles. One person really likes working on pages concerning Australia (because they live there). Another does mainly astronomy pages. One likes to find out what speakers will be at a conference she is attending and work on all the speakers pages. Another person likes to pick pages that she knows nothing about. Another person likes cryptozoology, another medical woo. Another person discovered that ghost belief is a thing so does all things ghostly.  All needs work.

How about languages other than English?

YEP, that is very important also.

All of them. Every language!

  • Training is mostly done in English, but we try to focus you on pages that will be relevant to your language. If you write in Spanish, then maybe the chupacabra would be a great page for you. Or maybe a scientist from Mexico?

  • There is no end of work that needs to be done in all languages.

  • Once you are finished training, then you have a lot more choices than an English only editor. You can translate from your language into English OR translate from English into your language. 

  • Or you can write or rewrite a page in English or your language.

  • Maybe you just want to work on finding more people to train in that other language?

  • We have been translating the beginning lessons into Czech, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German.  People will still need some English skills as most conversations in the Cabal are in English.

  • We want to welcome people to GSoW who may not have the best English and we will try to communicate with such things as Google translate. 

  • No one in GSoW will ever belittle anyone's lack of English skills.  We are a friendly group.

Do I need to be a good speller or great at grammar?

NOPE, that is why we have a team. Everything is usually looked over by someone else before it is live. No one will tease or embarrass you. You will probably discover over time that your spelling and grammar will improve. Many of our team are not native English speakers, so they struggle at times. No one cares.

I’m not an expert on anything, and do not have a degree, is that a problem?

NOPE, In fact a lot of the time you will be working on pages you know nothing about. We aren’t working on pages about a complicated math formula, we are writing about the mathematician who discovered the formula. We really encourage the non-experts eyes on an article we are writing, the editor is “too-close” and can’t see the problems. We are writing Wikipedia pages for the average reader (High-School level) so if it is written confusing to you, then it probably is confusing to others. We need fresh eyes to read the work, just to make sure it makes sense to a non-expert.

I’m an experienced Wikipedia editor, can I join GSoW and skip the training?

NOPE, we have found that experienced editors have a very different experience with a team like ours. With very few exceptions we have found that they do not fit in well. We are not “just” editors, we have a different mind-set and focus than a normal editor. We are much more social, use Facebook to discuss, train and motivate. We follow all the rules of Wikipedia, and love normal Wikipedia editors, but we approach things as a team. If you would still like to join us, please do so, but you will not be skipping lessons, and you will still have to proceed through training like someone who has never edited before.

Why don’t you like normal Wikipedia editors? 

AH, this is not true at all. We love them. I have often said that without them Wikipedia would turn into Conservapedia in months. GSoW must interact with regular editors frequently and we do our best to maintain a professional relationship with other editors. We often contribute on WikiProject Skepticism (and others) and enjoy and learn from experienced, non-GSoW editors all the time. The goal of GSoW is to find, train and motivate NEW people. We don’t want to turn current editors into GSoW.

I want to write a Wikipedia page for my friend. Can I do that?

THAT'S nice. Is your friend notable enough to have a Wikipedia page? That is something you learn starting in GSoW training and later as you become a more experienced editor. Notability is a very big deal. We can’t publish something that will just get deleted, too much work goes into it. Your friend might very well be notable. We need to have a long conversation about that first. It is possible to work on your friend’s page, but you must announce your conflict of interest (COI) in public on that talk page. Also, we are going to be strict about watching for any flattery or “peacock words”. If it gets past the GSoW team, then it should be okay for the rest of Wikipedia. But we need to see.

I have a friend that wants to do GSoW training, but he/she does not speak English well

We have been translating the beginning lessons into Czech, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German.  Your friend will still need some English skills as training and most conversations in the cabal happen in English. We want to welcome your friend to GSoW and we will try our best and use a lot of Google translating, if necessary. If they are willing to be patient with us, then we will be patient with them.  No one in GSoW will ever belittle your friend’s lack of English skills. Of course they are welcome. We are a friendly group.

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Can I make money being GSoW

Nope sorry. We can’t take payment of any kind.

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I donate to Wikipedia; do you get any of that money?

Nope! We are all just volunteers in a sea of volunteer editors. Please continue to donate to Wikipedia. Of course, you can also donate to us. But we would rather you become GSoW.

What do you do with the money we donate to GSoW? 

The money goes to About Time, our main organization, where money goes to many projects we run. Regarding GSoW, donations go to helping pay expenses for our editors to go to conferences and to pay expenses related to speaking to smaller skeptic groups. We find that when our editors attend skeptic conferences, they come back with more motivation and a long list of things to do. It is a big treat for them, and a win for the work we do. When I (or possibly others) get a chance, I travel to smaller conferences or SkeptiCamps in places that see few out-of-towners. People who live farther away from the big conferences make great GSoW editors.  Money really helps us get to these locations. See the touring page here on this website to book a talk. Usually I write a Skeptical Inquirer article about the visit and have a video of the lecture. These articles, photos and video promote the local group. Everyone wins! 

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