Susan Gerbic spend her career photographing newborns at a department store in Salinas, California, only 100 miles south of San Francisco. Today, the retired 55 -year-old has dedicated her life to something entirely different: Wikipedia.
As a member of the skeptical motion, Gerbic is committed to promoting critical thinking, scientific investigation, and empirical evidence–particularly when it comes to fringe notions. In 2010, she started a Wikipedia project to “improve skeptical content” on the crowdsourced encyclopedia, by writing new articles about topics like people who claim to have supernatural abilities and improving existing ones about groups like those who believe the Earth is flat.
Today, the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project has more than 120 volunteer editors all over 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.
Over the past several years, companies like YouTube, Google, and Facebook have turned to Wikipedia to help fight the spread of misinformation and conspiracy hypothesis on their own platforms. While the crowdsourced encyclopedia isn’t totally immune from being manipulated, it’s proven to be a largely reliable resource for accurate information. GSoW often debunks the same harmful conspiracy theories tech platforms struggle to combat, meaning it stands to play an important role in that battle.