Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Sidewiki in the service of skepticism

When I first heard of Google Sidewiki I was intrigued by the possibility of underhand comment sneakery, but also about how an organisation could find out if it had been Sidewikied (without actually having to download the Sidewiki toolbar themselves). I don't have an answer for that, but since I wrote my Posterous blog post "Thoughts on Google's Sidewiki" I've downloaded the toolbar and have been having some (mildy) mischievous fun ever since.

Rumour has it that Carter Ruck blocked some Sidewiki comments possibly relating to #Trafigura though I've no idea if this is true, or how they'd be able to do that but that post has some further information, and their website appears to be free of Sidewiki comments (although my Sidewiki button is 'active' meaning that they don't seem to have blocked the possibility of comments).

Mildly interestingly, Trafigura's homepage http://www.trafigura.com sometimes resolves to http://www.trafigura.com/#gLoozNOvbHDk which has zero Sidewiki comments and sometimes resolves to something with a different ending, that does have comments, eg http://www.trafigura.com/#e796zBz0BtTE - I'm not sure what to make of that.

I've not been commenting on the political stuff, just on sites of woo, and have kept my comments short and sweet in most cases (for some I've only added a link) so as to be super careful to prevent coming across as rude or worse.

But I have been commenting. And I've particularly enjoyed randomly coming across the secret sidewikis of other skeptic types, which prompted me to tweet that I thought of sidewiki as a little like geocaching a message, that may or may not be seen.

It's possible for people who've not downloaded the toolbar to see sidewikied comments if given an appropriate link, and apparently the comments show up in one's Google profile (I've not filled in enough information to warrant a profile but I'm not troubled by this and like the pretence of being 'under the radar').

Here's one I wrote earlier, about sugar pills and bad advice.

I've written a few more - mostly just posting a link to sense on a website where sense is currently absent - but I'm a little surprised that the skeptics haven't made more of the opportunity to add graffiti to another organisation's website than they have, although perhaps not everyone is as childish as me ;-) I'm imagining a 'Sidewiki map' created by a network of skeptics who map any instance of woo they come across, to a more skeptical page.

--- Edited for sense ;) ---

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Postscript: just before I copied and pasted this from notepad into Blogger I visited Twitter only to see that #Trafigura is back in the news again - I wonder if there will be any sidewiking going on too. When I started writing this blogpost I hadn't considered linking the Trafigura hashtag, but in light of latest news I have.

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

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