Skepchick Quickies 1.8


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. And topical too. Why, it’s almost as if someone timed it so that the Wikipedia article would show up in Quickies on the same day as this comic. :D

  2. Is it normal procedure on online dating sites to go to the trouble of messaging people about why you aren’t interested in them? At least Friendly Atheist’s friend knows what she’s missing out on now. And judging by condescending jerkwad’s profile, FA’s friend would be missing out on life as a domestic slave in some sort of medieval fantasy world. Maybe this guy is from Middle-Earth?

    Regardless, while he’s visiting our world he should consider getting a job as a comedian, because that stuff he said about “ruining Christmas” made me laugh out loud.

  3. A good example of Wikipedia activity: Pat Hingle died recently. Since then, his Wikipedia page has been updated over 50 times. About half a dozen of those were the addition of information, mostly by unregistered users. The rest were formatting and typo corrections, mostly by registered users.

    I happened to notice this one because his death was first reported by a local news station. By the time I checked Wikipedia, the page had already been updated. It was interesting to see the insiders swoop in and perform formatting corrections as new information was added. Someone would add a new paragraph and there’d be a flurry of edits, then a few hours of inactivity, followed by another paragraph, and so on. It reminded me of the robot mice in “There Will Come Soft Rains”.

  4. There’s an article about katori shinto ryu (the martial art I practice) which I keep an eye on. In the last few decades, there have been some offshoots from this style, and followers of those keep changing stuff or gratuitously inserting the name of their teacher(s) into the article. So I keep deleting it whenever it’s uncalled for.

    Other than that, I don’t contribute to wikipedia, so I also haven’t bothered to register myself.

  5. I attempted to write an article about Wikipedia users a couple years back and holy CRAP those people are insane. After a few feeler messages to a handful of users to find out what they do and why they do it, I had administrators calling for my banishment from the site because they were afraid I was somehow going to expose them as freaks. Yeah, good move guys.

    The behind the scene stuff was REALLY intense. They had their own lingo, their own social network, you had folks who’s main objective on the site was to “boost morale”of the other posters… and a continent group whose main objective was to end all the stupid morale boosting (seriously). Editors would get into full blown shouting matches behind the scenes over an edit and call in other users to go through “arbitration” with them.

    In steps little ole me to find out more about the whole thing and the suspicion levels just skyrocketed. It was seriously frightening, the level of commitment and SECRECY some of these people had toward the site. Oh, and their worship of Jimmy Jimbo Wales bordered on downright freaky.

  6. Buncha grammar nazis.

    Do you know that English grammar was first codified because publishers wanted to make wads of cash by selling lots of different volumes of grammar rules? Each book had different rules. So really, grammar evolving over time has just been a matter of a popularity contest. My linguistics prof practically cackled as he told us this- I think he liked causing grammar nazi anguish.

    And currently, using “less” for “fewer” is an incredibly common usage taken from everyday speech. So we’re both right. And I promise to be a kind ruler when the grammar revolution comes. ;)

  7. It’s a slippery slope, you know. It starts with “gateway” grammatical errors like “less” for “fewer” and, next thing you know, you’re mixing “their” with “they’re”. Before long, it’s “irregardless” this and “impactful” that. After that, you start TXTing and lose your last link to civilized society. Didn’t you see the After School Special, “A Few Choice Words”?

  8. @Steve: I’m more of a pro-lolcats and anti-talking-like-Dubya grammar revolutionary. So “impactful” and “irregardless” will be banned when I am supreme ruler.

  9. @FFFearlesss: I was quite fearful of what you describe when I first started editing Wikipedia. I half expected every edit I made to be quickly reverted with snide comments. However, to my surprise and delight this has not occurred.

    I’ve recently written two biographies from scratch, one of skeptic Robert A. Baker and another of a jazz pianist. No flak from the “in crowd”, in fact my Robert Baker bio was featured on the Wikipedia main page last month in the “Did You Know?” box.

    I think the key is to pick your battlegrounds carefully. I look for lesser-known articles in which to contribute, or a person who deserves a bio but doesn’t have one yet.

    I always look in the History and Discussion (“talk page”) of an article before contributing to it. If I see a huge history or major controversies brewing there already, I steer elsewhere. If the talk page is blank or contains only templates (boxes full of generic info), chances are you can make major contributions to the article with little interference. So far, I’ve never had anything reverted or contested.

    I encourage skeptics to get involved in Wikipedia to help ‘skeptify’ relevant articles and to document the scientific skepticism movement. I wrote a long Skeptools blog post on this last month with some details and tips.

    I’m currently working on a bio for Richard Saunders that I hope to post soon.

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