Link to the Wiki

The Science-Based Medicine Wiki is a work in progress and currently is beta.

January 1, 2015

While SfSBM has many goals for 2015, a major goal is to make the Wiki a going concern. The conversion of the Quackwatch is finished and now we want to make the Wiki the premier source for information on pseudo-medicine on the web.

The content was generously donated by Dr. Barrett and we hope it will become a definitive resource for SBM, especially when links to the SBM blog are incorporated.

For that we need editors and writers.

Here are the ground rules

Those of you who helped with the conversion are in. Feel free to edit.

If you are interested in editing the wiki, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject ‘wiki edit’ asking for editing privileges. It may take a day or two for me set up an account.

This is key: the final arbitrator on content and style are the Board members and officers of SfSBM because we have final responsibility. I would anticipate a light hand, but as the groundless Tobinik lawsuit against SfSBM and SBM demonstrates, we have to be vigilant even against baseless legal actions.

Second key: do not alter the page structure, ie move pages around, without checking with Crislip (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) first. I need to keep an overall sense of the organization of the Wiki in my head.

Third key: no snark. The Wiki is supposed to be reference source. Conclusions are fine as long as they are supported by the literature.

Fourth key: even a little bit helps. Adding a reference or cleaning up a paragraph. No submission is too small. Really. The sum of multiple small acts is often more valuable than one large gesture.  For example, when I have 10 minutes, I will log on, chose 'random page' and fix a few typos.

Fifth key: if you are a CAM proponent who gets the idea that they will vandalize the wiki promoting your particular brand of pseudo-medicine, remember all your work can be erased with the click of a button. Lots of work for you, a minor inconvenience for me.

Sixth and last: If you are uncertain as to what Science-Based Medicine is about, see our Mission Statement.

It is not difficult task, just enormous and a wee bit tedious. The perfect task to occupy those otherwise empty minutes of the day. 15 minutes a day summed over time can result in a remarkable amount of work being accomplished.

Quackwatch to Wiki Conversion- SFSBM Project 1

Overview and Instructions

What is it

Dr. Stephen Barrett has kindly donated the content of Quackwatch to serve as the foundation for what will become the definitive wiki devoted to science-based medicine.

What Needs to be Done

Currently we need to convert the HTML of Quackwatch into Wikimedia mark up and the result cleaned up.

What are examples of the work that is needed

External and internal links need to be correct and text formatting so it is consistent.

What Should NOT be Done

One thing.

  1. NO NEW CONTENT. I know it will be tempting to add new material, but that will be second wiki project. For now we need a simple conversion. One step at a time.

For the time being, editors will have the ability to create, read and edit pages. We do not want the pages moved. Organization of the wiki will be done AFTER all the conversion.

Then, and only then, after the conversion is done and the pages organized will new content be added to the wiki. Believe me. I have spent time in the enormous number of web pages in the Quackwatch empire. Until we know what we have and organize it, adding content will be a waste of time.

What is in it for me

Besides making the world a better place? Anyone who edits 85 pages will get a years subscription to the society. And if we ever meet, a hearty handshake and a beer.

How do I get involved?

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with “Wiki Conversion” in the subject head and request an account. Click the link in the prior sentence to make it easy.

I will have to give you editing permissions on the wiki and what with work and everything, it may be a couple days before you get a reply.

To create you account I will need:

  • your name
  • the user name you want to use
  • the password you want to use. If no password is given, you will be sent a random temporary password by email
  • your email address
  • Some background as to why you want to participate would be nice, but is not mandatory

that is it.

What is Wikimedia mark up and how do I use it

Wikimedia is underlying software that runs the wiki. Wikimedia uses simple rules to control formatting, i.e. markup. There are examples below. I have been working at the conversion for several months and most of the needed work is simple but tedious, something to do while multi-tasking that does not require full attention NBA games or the Winter Olympics come to mind. Fortunately Dr. Barrett is a fastidious writer so there are rarely language issues.

Once the page is converted as a rule there are usually a few issues that need fixing.

  • Removing leading spaces on paragraphs
  • Changing bold (in wiki markup it is three single apostrophes :’’’) to section headings (in wiki markup it is three or more equal signs: ===). Section headings automatically generate a table of contents on each page. I often cut and paste the wikimedia into BBEdit and do a search replace all rapidly fix this issue.
  • Fix links.
    *Internal links are made by surrounding the word in double square brackets: [[link]]. This also creates a new page if it does not exist.
  • If the words do not match the page title to be linked to, the format is: [[Android (operating system)|Android]]
  • Or link to a website: [ Wikipedia]
  • Footnotes all need to be checked and formatted
  • Early in the conversion I left Dr. Barrett’s name at the top of the entry. It needs to be removed.
  • we want to remove the term Quack. For now the go to term is pseudo-medicine. It nicely parallels pseudo-science and is less inflammatory. We want the tone of the site to be mostly neutral.

Almost all the needed syntax can be found at and there is tutorial at

Examining a page and the underlying syntax that I have converted may make it clear.

There are lots of pages that have been converted that need cleaning up.

Important: wikimedia does NOT save unless you use the save button. Use it often or lose all your work.

Also important: use the discussion page of the main page for questions and answers and check that page first so everyone is up to date on issues.  Please do not email me.  That way everyone gets the same answers to the questions that will arise.  I realize, belatedly, that there are going to be bumps in organizing and communicating a multi-editor project.

As a note: We are going to be very protective of the content. Being involved with the conversion does not mean necessarily mean you will be allowed to add content. Those who want to add content in the future will have to be vetted for what I think are obvious reasons if you have any experience with WIki’s. We will also, for example, also need administrators who are not me. There is always a initial enthusiasm for projects such as this which fades for many. The best way to be vetted is to do a lot of grunt work.

Instructions for Quackwatch Conversion

  • Log on to the wiki :

  • In a separate window or tab (easier in windows) open Quackwatch.

  • Choose a page to convert.

  • In your browser (and each browser is different, you may have to google correct technique) choose view as source code. I usually have the wiki open in Chrome and Quackwatch open in Seamonkey ( On a Mac command-U gives the page as source code

  • make a new page on the wiki by choosing edit, and then typing in the title within double square brackets [[title of page]]

  • Important: sometimes the page exists under different names. I often search the wiki using the first dozen words of the article to make sure it doesn’t already exist.

  • save the page then click on the (now red) link to go to that page for editing

  • in another tab or window, go to

  • cut and paste the html (the source code )into the window and get the mediawiki code out.

  • cut and paste the media wiki code into the edit window of the wiki page you are entering and save the page. Edit the page as needed and save it. If you can, add a short note in the summary as to what was done.

  • click on discussion and cut and paste the entire html into the discussion window with Original HTML. DO NOT ALTER added at the summary field box.

    • Save the page. Part of the goal is to save the original html in the discussion, part of curating the history of Quackwatch/SBM.
  • Important: wikimedia does NOT save unless you use the save button. Use it often.

There is more than just Quackwatch, there is all the affiliated sites to be converted:
* NCAHF * Allergy Watch * Autism Watch * Acupuncture Watch * Bioethics Watch * Cancer Treatment Watch * Casewatch * Chelation Watch * Chirobase * Credential Watch * Dental Watch * Device Watch * Diet Scam Watch * Homeowatch * Infomercial Watch * Insurance Reform Watch * Internet Health Pilot * Mental Health Watch * MLM Watch * Naturowatch * NCCAM Watch * Nutriwatch * Pharmwatch