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Embassy of Time

A social media experiment for a post-Snopes, post-conspiracy era?

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I honestly had no idea where to put this, as it isn't technically a game. If someone knows a better forum, let me know, ok?

Anyways, I am still talking to the private investors / business angels I have mentioned before. The first project didn't pan out, but it got the ball rolling on a lot of neat ideas that they like, too, and I may end up getting some meager funds to do research on. One of these ideas is a bit out there, but I CANNOT get it out of my head!

We live in a world where science denial (climate change, evolution, etc.) thrives, where conspiracies run rampant (just dipped my toes in, OMFG, QAnon...), and where truth and fake news are seen as equal verdicts on almost anything. I am an old fan of Snopes, but it looks like Snopes is just being crushed by everything from social media to the fear industry. We may need something new. This is where the idea that is currently being WIP labeled as "Snopes2" comes in. It's also something I desperately need some kind of input on, because dear lord am I out of my depths here!

The basic premise is basically "show, don't tell". Imagine a website or app or 'game' or the like, where you can post a claim. "Gnomes run the TSA", "This home remedy cures male baldness", "atoms consist of electrons and quarks", anything. Then, anyone can post content, i.e. other claims, to back up those claims. The gist of it is, any claim is rated based on the rating of claims supporting it, and until some claim comes up that is hard to refute, any claim lacking that will be rated pretty low. Claims hard to refute include something anyone can reproduce or observe (good for scientific claims), extensive photo evidence that is hard to prove as fake, 'believable' witness testimony, predictions based on a claim that have yet to come true (allowing anyone to judge if/when it does), and so on.

We're thinking about designing this into a very simple system and doing a 'manual test', the details of which are not clear yet, except that it will be an active discussion, not an automated process. If the discussion can sand off all troublesome issues, a more (but not fully) automated test can follow, etc. I guess, basically a 'playtest'.

It's a bit of an aimless clich'e, but.... any ideas or suggestions?? As far as I can see, this is kind of gamification (I know, but I love the concept) of the scientific process, journalistic / police investigation procedures, and all kinds of proof checking rolled up into one. It looks HUGE right now, but I get the weird feeling it isn't. I'm just looking at it from a still very small PoV.

Any and all input greatly appreciated!

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3 hours ago, Embassy of Time said:

it looks like Snopes is just being crushed by everything from social media to the fear industry.

Can you expand on that? If the Wikipedia entry isn't fake news, Snopes is very much alive. At the bottom is a list of other such sites, which you should check out if you're entering that arena.

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3 hours ago, Tom Sloper said:

Can you expand on that? If the Wikipedia entry isn't fake news, Snopes is very much alive. At the bottom is a list of other such sites, which you should check out if you're entering that arena.

Oh, it's alive and kicking (in spite of some nasty lawsuit I am a bit vague on), but the flood of fake this and fake that seems to be more than it can handle. Fact checking sites seem to struggle with the load that is mounting these days. Conspiracies and denial of (insert nearly anything) seem to need more than just fact checkers, many of which are simply called biased or, sigh, fake as an excuse to ignore them. Not that anything can completely eradicate baseless yelling, but this angle just seems interesting to me...

I'll check the list, thank you! Never occurred to me to Wiki Snopes, for some reason... I'm off my game, me thinks........

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Right. The Information Age has evolved into the Misinformation Age. A lot more Snopeses is a good thing, especially if they cross-confirm independently. Misinformation as a tool of war and intrigue and general dirty tricks is here to stay. 

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5 hours ago, Tom Sloper said:

Right. The Information Age has evolved into the Misinformation Age. A lot more Snopeses is a good thing, especially if they cross-confirm independently.

That spurs a random thought... Maybe we should not make 'a website', but a software platform for crossconfirmation. Like Wikipedia is actually a wiki, and multiple independent wikis can cross-reference? Hmmm...... I guess that doesn't eactly make it any EASIER, but....

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The problem is you can't really remove all bias and be trusted. There's newsguard which is ok, and there's also another site that writes articles from both a conservative and liberal viewpoint and highlights the differences for readers so they can make their own informed decision. Can't remember the name right now.

 

There's tons if inconsistencies in checkers like Snopes and politifact that are well documented. https://www.politifactbias.com

 

 

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A purple alien with six legs just landed on my desk and offered me the secret to eternal life and happiness. Feel free to send someone by to fact check that but if you don't just assume it's true because you know you can trust me.

It seems to me that the best point to address the issue isn't in examining the information published but in examining the publishers of information. I think what is needed is a number of organizations that do what credit analysts do. Examine various publishing companies and news organizations and analyze what they do, how they do it, how they present their material and produce a score of reliability that helps people judge what level of faith they are inclined to invest in this company. If possible, do this on the level of individual reporters or authors. If something like this already exists, then it has to become more well known, possibly with publishers using their rating up front as a way to market the quality of their publication.

Also, I think it'd be worthwhile if it were possible to track authentic changes and updates to articles. And have an ability where if you find someone referencing a portion of an article somewhere, you could conveniently search for sources that have published the article and see where any edits and alterations have been made that change the perspective of what was written about.

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3 hours ago, kseh said:

It seems to me that the best point to address the issue isn't in examining the information published but in examining the publishers of information.

Good point.

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6 hours ago, kseh said:

It seems to me that the best point to address the issue isn't in examining the information published but in examining the publishers of information. 

Disagree. Who publishes the information should be irrelevant. In fact, that’s a logical fallacy “ad hominem”. 

We can certainly be more skeptical of known peddlers of nonsense (homeopaths, psychics, infowars, etc), but a claim should be verifiable independently of who makes it. 

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On 6/6/2019 at 3:16 PM, conq said:

The problem is you can't really remove all bias and be trusted.

True, and that's the hurdle I'm trying to figure out at the moment. The basic premise is that instead of doing like Snopes and going Yes, No or Maybe, the site allows members to attach arguments and, if possible, concrete evidence. So a claim like "spinach gives you rectal cancer" would have claims added like comments, and each claim can argue a point and present evidence in the form of external research, news articles, etc., to back up the claims. So the challenge for the originall claim is to be backed up by as many AND as concretely proven claims as possible. The issue is, what the H passes for "concrete evidence" these days....

23 hours ago, kseh said:

A purple alien with six legs just landed on my desk and offered me the secret to eternal life and happiness. Feel free to send someone by to fact check that but if you don't just assume it's true because you know you can trust me.

It seems to me that the best point to address the issue isn't in examining the information published but in examining the publishers of information.

The idea of source reputation has been raised, yes. This goes for site members as well as external sources (NY Times vs. NY Post, for example. Or the tinfoilhat hobo on the corner). But the metrics for what constitutes a trusted source is not only insanely hard to say (right now), it's also kinda subjective..? So I'm open for ideas. Wiiiide open....

16 hours ago, ChaosEngine said:

 

Disagree. Who publishes the information should be irrelevant. In fact, that’s a logical fallacy “ad hominem”. 

We can certainly be more skeptical of known peddlers of nonsense (homeopaths, psychics, infowars, etc), but a claim should be verifiable independently of who makes it. 

 The best claim is one that is reproducable. "Mixing X and Y can cause stinky smoke" is fairly reproducable, while "continents break apart and move based on tectonic motion" requires a few steps. But some things do not have (entirely) reproducable options, meaning there will be a need for evaluating the credit of photos, video, audio recordings and, especially, personal and anecdotal accounts. It ain't easy being clean... Again, suggestions are greatly welcome!

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