Tag Archives: rbutr

There are times you should not use DoNotLink

DoNotLink Nonsense IconI think it is a good time to remind everyone of the proper context for using different tools to avoid algorithmically boosting bad content. This is important for all skeptics, because the very act of linking to something you are debunking can make it more visible on platforms like Facebook and Google.

One of several tools for this purpose is DoNotLink. There was a minor kerfuffle last week in which the Food Babe website unsuccessfully attempted to block incoming links using DoNotLink. That raised the potential that skeptic reliance on that service might have disadvantages.

I’ve also noticed that in addition to many people on social media who’ve adopted DoNotLink, some bloggers are also using it for links within their posts. Frankly, this is overkill and I don’t recommend it. There’s already a standard HTML feature for handling this on web pages – it is called NOFOLLOW. In this post I’ll compare the two and offer advice on when to use each.

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RBUTR supports more browsers, adds a universal linking toolbar

RBUTR logo

Some exciting new additions to RBUTR have been announced in the last few weeks. The folks on the team behind this skeptic favorite have been busy!

RBUTR is an excellent skeptic tool that I’ve written about here before. It is a service that links web pages to other articles which rebut them (hence the name). Skeptics could do well to both evangelize the tool to the general public, and to populate it with links to good skeptical content.

RBUTR works via a browser add-in: a small piece of software that adds new functionality to your web browser. When you navigate to a new web page, the add-in looks up whether there are any rebuttals to that article or content and gives a visual indication at the top of the browser window.

One limitation of browser plugins is each one is usually only compatible with one browser. Since its launch, RBUTR has only been available for Google’s Chrome browser, which limited the product’s reach. Statistics on browser usage vary widely, but Chrome’s market penetration varies somewhere between 15% and 40% depending on whose numbers you believe. But whichever set of numbers are correct, the majority of Internet users are using other browsers.

Now the RBUTR team have made several new additions that significantly widen its reach – two additional browsers and more.

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Morning Toolbox – October 18, 2012 – Newsweek ditches paper, Stormtroopers not to blame

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

I’ve got a small toolbox for you today.

Newspapers and magazines continue to have trouble: Newsweek announced it is ending its print edition as of early next year. Craig Silverman is curating reactions to this using Spundge.

Virtual Skeptics panelist Bob Blaskiewicz has an article on the JREF blog about using RBUTR as an educational tool in the classroom.

Not all skeptical tools succeed. An attempt to rate web site credibility called NewsCred was launched in 2008. The company had to pivot to a different business, providing licensed news feeds to other sites. I guess that went well, because now they’ve bought a competitor.

Just for fun, did you know that Google has had photos inside many public buildings and businesses integrated into Google Maps for some time? This month they decided to join in themselves and post detailed views of their North Carolina data center. If you virtually wander around in there you can find many Easter eggs including a rick roll and a stormtrooper.

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

Content Roundup for September 2012

September finally gave us some time to breathe after the twin excitement of TAM in July and Dragon*Con Skeptrack in August.

It also saw the issuance of my third patent: U.S. Patent #8,266,700 titled “Secure web application development environment“. It belongs to Hewlett Packard, so I don’t get anything from it other than an interesting footnote for my resume.

An unfortunate milestone this month was the return of David Mabus to bothering people using email and Twitter. (He had been posting on YouTube, forums and blogs for a couple of months). That was the reason I posted a how-to on reporting threatening emails this month.

So if you missed any of that, here’s a way to catch up. Below are links to the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the material I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

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Content Roundup for August 2012 – Dragon*Con

August didn’t offer much time to recover from The Amazing Meeting before we had to jump right into Dragon*Con. Phew, who has time to read blogs?

Here’s a way to catch up. Below are links to the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the material I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects.

Read on to see what you might have missed… Continue reading

Content Roundup for July 2012: TAM was AWESOME

July was all about The Amazing Meeting, both prep work and posts which related to the convention.

There were a couple of non-TAM highlights for me this month too. One was I discovered that back in March, IBM received a second patent in my name (US #8,141,157) on work I did for a subsidiary of theirs over a decade ago.

But the biggest one was the creation of a Wikipedia biography page for me by Susan Gerbic. Thank you so much, Susan, it looks great!

If you missed TAM, or if you were there and wanted more info from one of my presentations, here’s a way to catch up. Below are links to the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the material I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

I’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects. This ties in with both the workshop and plenary presentation I gave at TAM.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

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Finding targets for skeptical analysis via RBUTR

One of the interesting side-effects of the anti-misinformation tools I wrote about on Sunday may be better availability of metrics about what misinformation is actually making the rounds.  That could be very useful for skeptics.

I often wonder whether skeptics are staying focused on the right topics. Skeptics are reactive. We often find ourselves responding to news articles, social media trends and other ephemera needing critical analysis. While this is necessary, there is always the danger that we might be distracted from other topics needing us. Those neglected topics could affect equally as many people but are not getting media attention. This is why I often talk about the long tail and focusing on a niche, because the more skeptics who do that, the better overall topic coverage we can get.

I was reminded of this while listening to this week’s Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, in which host Steven Novella pointed out that although the pseudoscience of neuromuscular dentistry has existed for half a century, there is “very little written about it, skeptically.” I’ve also seen evidence of this when responding to earnest requests for information on the James Randi Educational Foundation’s forum.  Requests occasionally arrive there for a skeptical analysis on some product that has been around for quite some time, and yet nothing appropriately critical about it can be found online.

Let me give you a quick example of how information generated by one of those new tools might help us see whether the focus problem exists and solve it at the same time.

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