User:Modest Genius

This user has pending changes reviewer rights on the English Wikipedia.
This user has rollback rights on the English Wikipedia.
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Hello and welcome to Modest Genius's user page. Please use my talk page for any comments you wish to leave me.

Biographical details[edit]

I used to have my full name on here, but people started getting this as the top hit when they googled my name. You can easily find it in the article history if you're interested. I currently live in the UK and am 40 years old (using the {{age}} template).

I have a PhD in astrochemistry and work as part of the editorial staff of Science, one of the world's top scientific journals. I completed my PhD at the University of Nottingham, where I was subsequently a postdoctoral researcher. After that I worked at the Royal Astronomical Society, on their journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS). I have also held visiting positions at the Southern African Large Telescope and European Southern Observatory. As a professional astronomer, I conducted research into the interstellar medium, primarily using observational optical and infrared astronomy; I continue to conduct astronomical research in my spare time. These days I work in scientific publishing as a journal editor. I therefore declare a potential conflict of interest on all those topics.

Hobbies and interests[edit]

I have a professional interest in physics and astronomy, and have always been interested in history, particularly English history from the Heptarchy onwards, and European history between classical antiquity and the Napoleonic wars. I'm also interested in politics, and am a keen reader of newspapers and other news sources, particularly The Guardian.

Wikipedia interests[edit]

I've been editing Wikipedia since summer 2005, when I got annoyed by finding minor mistakes in my favourite online reference and just had to fix them. I signed up for an account in November 2005. To begin with, I mostly just fixed mistakes in pages I was looking at anyway, and didn't go out of my way to add anything. Over the years I've become more involved in the running of the place, particularly the Main Page, and done some content creation.

I can mostly be found hanging around Talk:Main Page, WP:ERRORS, WP:In the news/Candidates and their associated pages. Related to this, I sometimes contribute to writing or improving articles which appear on the In the News section. I'm also a member of WikiProject Astronomy, often contributing to areas raised at WT:AST and WT:ASTRO. I tend to have a slow burning 'project' article, usually on a topic in astronomy, though I rarely have enough real-life time to move these along very quickly. I have rollback and reviewer user rights, though I don't tend to use either of them very often.


In general, I am averse to anyone using my work for commercial gain without permission. I'm not a fan of Wikipedia's licenses allowing this, although if I want to contribute here I don't have much choice. However, I am a great fan of releasing content to others to use, so long as they don't make money from my time and effort. Similarly, I don't like anyone claiming someone else's work as their own or without proper attribution, and try not to do so myself.

In order to allow others to make use of content they created, and to reduce the problems created with multiple licences, I hereby release any edit I mark as 'minor' into the public domain.


  • The "Barnstar of Fighting USA Electioncruft" (talk) 22:50, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
The Tireless Contributor Barnstar
For being diligent in spotting our poor spelling and grammar on the main page I award you this barnstar. Keep up the awesome work! :) Master of Puppets Call me MoP! :D 09:42, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
The In The News Barnstar
For your seemingly never-ending and always useful efforts at WP:ITN/C and WP:ERRORS. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 02:10, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
The Original Barnstar
This barnstar is awarded to everyone who - whatever their opinion - contributed to the discussion about Wikipedia and SOPA. Thank you for being a part of the discussion. Presented by the Wikimedia Foundation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Philippe (WMF) (talkcontribs) 20:26, 21 January 2012‎
The Minor barnstar
I made this change with haste unbecoming of the edit's importance. Thank you for fixing it. This barnstar recognises the importance of wiki-gnoming and of users, like you, who have at one point courteously and quietly fixed the edits of people in far too much of a rush. Happy editing! AGK [•] 22:26, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
The Main Page Barnstar
Awarded to Modest Genius for becoming only the fourth editor to make 1,000 edits to WP:ERRORS. With many thanks for all the hard work you do in trying to keep the main page error-free. BencherliteTalk 10:13, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
The Editor's Barnstar
Re. your assistance, thanks very much for digging out that page for me, it's much appreciated. I'd been searching for ages and had nearly given up. Cheers! ——SN54129 16:22, 6 November 2019 (UTC)


This is a list of some of the articles I've worked on which have been been promoted to GA or FA (when/if that ever happens), recognised with a slot in ITN or DYK, or that I originally created. On top of these, there are a whole load of ITN blurbs, OTD items etc. that I've either proposed or improved; I've limited this list to articles I've contributed substantial content to.

Wow that's a much shorter list than I thought it would be. Either I've forgotten some of them, or I don't write much content...

I've also reviewed a few articles for Good Article status:


Images I have uploaded (either locally or to Commons):