Morning Toolbox – November 8, 2012 – Post election catch-up

Morning Toolbox is a (nearly) daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

Have to do some catch up today due to several missed toolboxes. (Things have been busy at my day job).

Simon Perry has updated the Fishbarrel plugin for Chrome.  This is a great skeptic tool for reporting online quackery. This fixes some bugs and adds support for some new forms, and it is now easily downloadable from the Chrome store. You should uninstall your existing copy first.

Read on for more tools and ideas for skeptics working online…

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FishBarrel now supports US FDA complaints

Last month I reported on the pain being felt by alternative medicine practitioners in the UK as a result of the activism of Nightingale Collaboration. Part of that effort was streamlined via a piece of software created by Simon Perry called Fishbarrel. This tool modifies Google’s free Chrome web browser to provide simple ways to highlight dubious claims, comment on them, and automatically gather them into a properly formatted government complaint. I blogged about Fishbarrel back when it was released.

Initially Fishbarrel only supported agencies in the UK, and Simon has gradually added support for other countries. I’m pleased to relay the news that the Fishbarrel software can now be used by skeptics in the United States to file complaints with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

Read on for more details and some tips.

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Greasing the wheels of skeptical activism: FishBarrel

Update April 22: Possibility of a U.S. version, we need feedback on which forms to target. See bottom of post.

The reason this blog has “software tools” in its title is because I wanted to focus on how skeptics can use software in general (and the web in particular) to further the aims of skepticism. Logo of UK's Advertising Standards AuthorityOften I’ve discussed general purpose tools that can be adapted to the needs of skepticism, such as Wikipedia or Web of Trust.

Increasingly skeptics are building their own purpose-built web sites or software that are particularly adapted to their needs. My own site What’s the Harm is one very simple example, it is intended as a resource you can give to believers who ask the titular question. A more complex example is Andy Lewis‘ widget the Quackometer, which measures whether a particular URL or persona is engaged in quackery. Joel Birch‘s WordPress plug-in Nofollowr is another example.

This week a new one called Fish Barrel was released, that I would really like to highlight in this post. More details after the jump…

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