November 20, 2014 Leave a comment
DoNotLink.com is an excellent tool for all skeptics to have in their toolkit. I’ve written about it before. I noticed recently that it has added some new features over the last few months. I thought it would be worth calling them to your attention.
The problem this tool solves is sort of an online skeptic variation of the Streisand Effect. When you critique a bad idea that has been posted on the web, you often start by linking to it. The link allows your readers to understand what you are debunking. In addition to allowing your readers to see the source, the link itself will become input to various algorithms such as Google PageRank, Facebook’s news feed algorithm and Twitter trends. But these algorithms share a crucial limitation – they all treat any reference to content as positive. (It is illustrative that there is a “Like” button on Facebook, but no “Dislike” button.) To these algorithms, there’s nowhere to go but up.
And so skeptical links literally send mixed signals out on the web. While you are telling all the humans, “This content is bad!” your hyperlink is telling all the robots “This content is good!”
DoNotLink.com solves that problem for social media, by providing a way to link to something while disabling the algorithms’ ability to measure it. The link still works, the site still can get visitors and can still count a hit and show visitors some ads and so on. The site is in no way damaged by this way of linking! But the algorithms can no longer add that hyperlink to the site’s popularity score.
That makes it very valuable to skeptics. So lets look at the new features, which make it even better.