Thanks to everyone who contributed comments on my post about Wikipedia. The case histories were especially interesting. Rather than add my own I thought I'd make a new post, by way of general reflection.
One line of thought - probably the dominant one - is that keeping the articles clean is too much of a struggle, given how determined is the sceptic opposition. Wikipedia is a lost cause; it will always reflect critical mainstream thinking. But that doesn't matter because there are plenty of other sources where interested people can go to find out about psi-research.
Another view - less popular, apparently, but persuasively argued - is that we should get stuck in and do something about it:
Wikipedia appeals to the entire cross section of humanity, from the elite to the Great Unwashed. The elites are going to believe what their fellow elites tell them to believe, but the average curious schoolkid may initially take what they see in a Wiki article at face value, and move on.
Getting a full picture of any paranormal related topic takes a heluva lot of digging. Pseudo-sceptics can be intimidating and convincing. Maybe I'm being pollyanna-ish here, but a civil, concerted campaign to counter-balance sceptic attempts at repressing the open discussion of spirituality is the right thing to do.
I have to say, this is my way of thinking too. I disagree with the expressions of disdain about Wikipedia - I think it's an extraordinary resource. And yes, I do use it all the time, mostly to get an instant take on people and situations in world affairs, stuff that would be impossible to get quickly from anywhere else. Of course I double check when required, but in the ten years or so that I've been using it I can't ever recall coming unstuck - which in my line of work could easily happen. And I'm always astonished by the effort and commitment that contributors put into it - and hugely grateful for it.
If that's my experience as a professional person, then I guess it will be others' as well. Its not an accident that Wikipedia comes up near the top of searches - it's because so many people find it useful. So I'm not convinced that someone who decides to consult Wikipedia on a psi-related topic - on a whim, perhaps, or having come across some article or controversy in a newspaper - will recognise the sceptical barracking for what it is. On the contrary, it will shape their view. And this is surely something we can't be indifferent about.
It's true there are a lot of other good sources (and thanks to the commenter who kindly included this blog). But I don't agree that such people will easily find their way there, or that they would necessarily make any sense of what they found. That's why something like Wikipedia is needed - for beginners as opposed to intermediate level and advanced.
If I'm right about this, there are two options (actually I'm sure there are more, but this is something to be going on with).
One is to take the battle to the sceptics on their own terms. It's not as though their pages are immune to hostile tweaking. It won't be pretty, and we'd have to accept that we will never actually win, but we could get enough of a leverage at least to improve the quality of the psi pages for the benefit of newcomers.
Another option might be to create an independent portal with entry-level, Wikipedia-type articles on psi topics. I've long thought that something like this would be a good idea. It would essentially duplicate the material that already exists, and perhaps expand it, but without the heckling. Critical opinions and studies should be referenced, of course, and ideally the full range of sceptic alternatives should be represented - just as they are in any decent parapsychological paper. But sceptics would not be able to interfere without actually hacking into the site.
Whether to do one or the other - or both, or neither - touches on a much larger issue, whether we want to be in the business of advocacy. My impression is, there's less appetite for that on our side than there is among our opponents. For sceptics, influencing opinion is what it's all about. Wikimandering is just the sort of thing that their organisations are there to do. It's a fundamentalist thing: evangelising comes naturally to them.
We're more about generating ideas, studies and experiments than in 'spreading the word'. We're receptive to people who come to us, but we don't go looking for people to convert, minds to change. We don't have an equivalent of CSICOP/CSI. And looking around, I can't see any research organisation wanting to get behind an initiative like this. But like the reader whose comment I quoted, I'm starting to think it's the right thing to do. If we don't stand up for what we believe in, then why would anyone else believe it?
To the commenter who kindly offered her services as an editor, but asked if this was all just talk, I'd answer - thanks, that's appreciated; and, quite possibly but not necessarily. A lot depends on whether there's someone out there who is able and willing to undertake this sort of project. I don't have the skills myself. It needs to be a very particular sort of person - someone who thoroughly understands websites and Wikipedia, who is determined and patient, can manage a team of editors, and in is it for the long haul. All as a labour of love. It certainly shouldn't be undertaken lightly, or it could do more harm than good. So let's not rush into anything.
But I can contribute, and act as a communications hub in the first instance. So as far as getting the ball rolling goes, if anyone wants to get in touch to kick around ideas, then please do.