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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

“Bad Astronomy” on the Front Page of Wikipedia Today. Literally.

By Phil Plait

Well, this is very exciting: the Wikipedia entry for my first book, Bad Astronomy, is featured on the front page of Wikipedia today; right now (as I post this) in fact!

I have Susan Gerbic to thank for this. Sheâs a skeptic Iâve known for some time, and is spearheading what she calls âguerrilla skepticismâ: going to Wikipedia pages about skeptic topics and upgrading them. A lot of Wikipedia pages on various topics are out of date or simply a bit limp, so she and her team of volunteers go in and fix them up.

They did this for my book entry, and did an amazing job. The book came out in 2002, and thereâs been a short entry about it on Wikipedia for some time. But her team took it on as a project, expanding it by a factor of five (!), updating links, and so on. Getting it on the front page of Wikipedia was no easy task, and I thank her for it.

Susanâs reasoning behind this is pretty sound. Wikipedia has a very high ranking with Google, and will usually be in the top five links returned for a topic, if not the top one. By cleaning up the pages dealing with topics covered by skepticism, sheâs helping raise the profile of critical thinking in these areas, which is something of which I wholly approve.  She also adds links to skeptic articles in related Wikipedia entries, which helps bring more people around as well.

If this sounds like something youâd be interested in helping with, sheâs always looking for volunteers. You can contact her through her blog, or by friending her on Facebook. The more the merrier, and youâll be helping make the world a more rational place.

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