Tag Archives: wot

Content Roundup: January 2012

January is time for year-end wrap-ups and I was responsible for a few, but it was also a time to re-learn lessons that we’ve learned before. One of my blog posts pointed this out in regards to Wikipedia traffic, and over on Twitter I again relearned the power of cultivating the attention of folks like Phil Plait (aka @BadAstronomer) whose retweets have great power and reach.

As for those year-end wrap-ups, aside from the one I wrote here at skeptools, I also did a year-end news review on Skepticality (which is becoming an annual tradition) and a summary of obituaries at JREF’s blog. Beyond that there there was plenty of activity on Twitter and elsewhere keeping me running.

If you were busy too and missed some of the action during the month, here’s a way to catch up. This is the monthly roundup – links to all 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.

Read on to see what you might have missed!

Continue reading

Content Roundup: December 2011

December wasn’t as busy as the previous two months, at least online. My day job and holiday preparations took up most of my time, as I am sure is true for many others. But I still got some interesting things posted, and did some housecleaning in the blog here with a new graphical theme and toolbars at the top.  Meanwhile there were several interesting references and conversations on other blogs that related to the projects here.

If you were busy too and missed some of the action during the month, here’s a way to catch up.  This is the monthly roundup – links to all 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.

Read on to see what you missed!

Continue reading

Content Roundup: November 2011

November started out with an idea and ended with a cancer quack, and it continues the high activity from October. I’m continuing to post once or twice weekly at JREF’s blog, and there is lots going on over on Twitter including Delta Airlines running anti-vaccine videos, Power Balance going bankrupt, Kevin Trudeau losing an expensive appeal, and the ongoing Burzynski Clinic saga. So if you missed some of the action during November, here’s a way to catch up.

This is the monthly roundup – links to all the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the stuff I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

Read on to see what you missed!

Continue reading

Incentivizing online activism – a proposal

An idea popped into my head this afternoon. Readers who are enthusiastic users of services like Foursquare or Untappd will get it immediately, but the rest of you might need some explanation first.

Typical game elements from two gamified web sitesFor some time now I’ve been writing about things skeptics can do online to advance the cause of skeptical outreach. Of course blogging and podcasting are obvious avenues, but lately I’ve focused on crowd-sourced projects such as editing Wikipedia skeptically or rating sites in Web of Trust.

I think these projects could have a broader appeal (and perhaps a broader effect) in part because they lend themselves to small, incremental investments of time and effort. Blogs and podcasts generally require a substantial commitment of time, something not all skeptics are able or willing to do. But making skeptical edits to Wikipedia (for example) can be done in very small slices that can easily fit into an otherwise busy schedule. You can spend as much or as little time on it as you see fit, and it all still counts.

But therein lies a problem. For their huge investment of time, bloggers and podcasters get ample recognition for their work.  We all know their names, as they have thousands of readers or listeners.

But how do we provide some recognition or incentive for skeptics to devote little slices of their time to these crowdsourced projects? These tiny incremental efforts normally go unnoticed. Read on for my proposal.

Continue reading

How is The WOT Project doing after six weeks?

Back in March I blogged about Web of Trust and how it could be a powerful tool for skepticism. Web of Trust is a crowdsourced web site safety rating system, that can warn unsuspecting internet users (and now, everyone on Facebook) when they are about to visit a site that contains scams, malware or other potential danger. I suggested that by rating sites selling products based on superstition or pseudoscience, skeptics could turn WOT into a tool for skeptical outreach. Indeed, many skeptic targets such as PowerBalance already sport negative WOT ratings.

In June Canadian skeptic Erik Davis launched a site called The WOT Project. His focus is the opposite side of the equation: protecting the WOT ratings of skeptic sites. Each week the WOT Project posts a list of skeptic sites and encourages participating skeptics to give them a good rating in WOT. The sixth such set was published on Monday.

Since WOT has an API, the ratings can be measured over time. Since my two most recent blog posts were about measuring skeptic outreach on Wikipedia, I thought it would be appropriate to do this for WOT as well. So let’s see how well has WOT Project done in their efforts to protect skeptic web sites on WOT.

Continue reading

Web of Trust even more crucial to skeptics with Facebook integration

Back in March I wrote about how important Web of Trust could be for skeptical outreach. A few recent developments have made it even more useful, and in fact have even made it urgent that skeptics be involved in Web of Trust in a big way.

You can read about what Web of Trust actually does at the original post, but suffice it to say is it is a browser-based gadget that warns you when you are about to visit a dodgy or malicious web site. Since skeptics are fundamentally all about warning people about misinformation anyway, it is right up our alley.

These new developments are all about reach. We are always looking for better ways to reach more people, and in my post I pointed out that Web of Trust had millions of users. Well, it gets better. Read on to find out how much better.

Continue reading

Web of Trust is a useful tool for skeptics

It’s frustrating being a skeptic. We do our best to explain why homeopathy or Power Balance wristbands or MMS are (at best) a waste of money or (at worst) a dangerous fraud. And yet people still buy these products every day. You just want to slap them sometimes.

What we need is a tireless skeptical robot, that would catch people right as they were about to buy one of these products and give them a good solid “dope slap” to the back of the head. That would be awesome.

Of course, the robot idea has the same flaw as our outreach efforts: how do you get a robot to everyone who needs it? The marketers of these products are everywhere and have lots of money to spend. We don’t have a budget, and robots are kind of expensive.

But suppose these imaginary skeptical robots had other purposes too? Then folks might seek them out on their own, and we wouldn’t have to pay for their development.

Well, at least for when people buy products via a web site, the appropriate robot already exists. It is called Web of Trust, and (like The Mad Skeptic, who scooped me on this) I think skeptics should be promoting it and helping create its crowdsourced ratings.

In this post I’ll show you how we can use it and I’ll give you a look at what WOT’s ratings of skeptic and believer web sites look like already.

Continue reading