Advanced Knowledge Management Systems for Metabunk?

I was recently browsing through Metabunk and seeing a couple of old threads where it was ambiguous whether or not a certain claim has been debunked with certainty. And at times it was difficult to see on a spot what the current state on a particular matter is. It would be interesting to consider whether in one way or another one could feed a knowledge management system with the threads collected in Metabunk such that one can more systematically browse through different claims, compare them and look at the pieces of evidence that have been collected, and what the latest additions to one particular claim are.

Admittingly, I don't have a specific idea of what the most efficient implementation would be. A wiki would be in my opinion too tedious. But nevertheless, I think it is a good idea to bring this felt "need" forward for possible future consideration.
 
Last edited:

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Well I have been thinking of improving things. Specifically some more visual way of browsing.
 
How much overhead in terms of manpower would your suggestion entail?

Depends pretty much on what one wants to do and whether there are some tools already readily available in this regard. I think it might also not be a good idea to roll out one big update. But instead, incrementally implement such a system. Such that the community gets more accustomed to it and can provide feedback at each increment on what is a useful feature or not.

A first step could simply be to implement mandatory data entry requests for every new thread created about a "claim" before posting. E.g, type of claim, keywords, date of origin, date of publishing, location of publication, etc. As well as hidden entries that contain the thread hyperlink/ID, date of creation, and a flag that could later be manually set in case a claim has been debunked or not.

This would at least be a start towards building a database that can be sorted, filtered, and searched through. Any fancier features can simply be added later on.
 
Last edited:
Don't you think that would discourage people from posting claims here?

Well, admittingly that's the trade-off we have to face here. Not saying my suggestions are perfect. But at least they give an idea of what could be possible and what the challenges are that one faces.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
First remember that this is a voluntary, unpaid effort. A lot of unpaid work is going into this already. Not only unpaid, but in the case of MW, "negative cash flow."

-Keeping that in mind, what I would like is a separate forum where at least some of the more complex threads have a kind of running summary of the issues and the consensus conclusions. A good example would be this thread...

2004 USS Nimitz Tic Tac UFO FLIR footage (FLIR1)​


At this time, people who want to use Metabunk as an information source have to wade through page after page of dense discussion. If they had a summary, or the equivalent of an encyclopedia entry on the subject, I think that more people would return to Metabunk as a readable and informative source. The discussion threads would remain as the detailed background: an honest and open process of discovery behind the encyclopedic article.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Wiki? Yeah, I guess. Although personally I'd like to stay away from that term, which carries a lot of baggage.

Another possible way to go: A post at the beginning of the thread that is updated as needed.

I think this option might be less accessible than a separate forum.

-Thread titles are not entirely clear and "encyclopedic."
-The same issue may be discussed across more than one thread.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
At this time, people who want to use Metabunk as an information source have to wade through page after page of dense discussion. If they had a summary, or the equivalent of an encyclopedia entry on the subject, I think that more people would return to Metabunk as a readable and informative source.

we used to be able to edit our own OPs at any time, and were supposed to do that. if you remember. But i think with the big software update a while back that feature fell off or Mick forgot to add it back on. (or i'm in restricted mode, check one of your old threads and see if you can edit the OP)

Informative threads can be pinned to the forum heads. which only helps if you search through forums of course.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Wiki? Yeah, I guess. Although personally I'd like to stay away from that term, which carries a lot of baggage.
What baggage? My experiences with wikis have been positive.
And it's not a term, it's a type of communication technology. It allows cooperative updates of entries (with tracking of changes), which a webforum isn't as well suited for; creation of new entries from a template; and automatic generation of indexes and overviews from these templated pages. It mitigates the manpower issues.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Wiki? Yeah, I guess. Although personally I'd like to stay away from that term, which carries a lot of baggage.
What baggage? My experiences with wikis have been positive.
I too have had a great many positive experiences with wikis...
and I also think Wolf is correct that "wiki" has baggage...
to many people it's almost interchangeable with "unreliable."
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
And it's not a term, it's a type of communication technology.
It's both. And for a lot of us, who either grew up writing school papers in the age of Wikipedia (or, for us old people, who have kids who did) the term does indeed have a lot of baggage in terms of pronouncements that "Thou shalt not use Wikipedia as a source because anybody can edit it and so it is not reliable." Whether that is a valid critique is beside the point -- it is an impression that lingers in a lot of minds.

Therefore, "if'n I was God*" I might use the technology, if it does what folks want to do easily and inexpensively, but I'd avoid the term. "Metabunkapedia" instead of "MetaBunkWiki," as it were. Just to avid a term that says "unreliable" to some number of folks. But that would be a minor point to be dealt with at the appropriate moment if a wiki was implemented.

*Obscure reference to a forgotten movie musical deftly and seamlessly inserted.
 

econ41

Senior Member
It's both. And for a lot of us, who either grew up writing school papers in the age of Wikipedia (or, for us old people, who have kids who did)
Errr... "OLD people have "kids"??? "who have GRANDKIDS who do"?

(The "41" in econ41 is a clue.)
 

Mechanik

Active Member
One idea that come to mind is something similar to search engine optimization for websites. It involves meta tagging your data into categories to automatically create sorts and filters on the results list. This is used on many internal corporate websites and in content managment systems to make it easier to find specific documents, threads, and records.

The trick is that you have to create the list(s) of tags in discrete data fields before running the indexer. They can be slowly changing dimensions so you don’t need to determine the field content in advanced but you do have to restrict data entry to avoid putting junk in a field. For example, one field is Claim>yes/no (does this thread profess a specific claim), another is a Debunked flag (yes/no), maybe Specific Claim, Metabunk Category, and ...?

Some of these tools are open source. I used one called Bright-something (it was a commercial implementation of an open source product) for a project once. It might be possible to parse existing threads for some of this data, but I think you’d have to add mandatory field entry for each new thread created. No idea how you would integrate into XenFora. Maybe a new MetaSearch tab?
 

Mechanik

Active Member
I forgot to mention that the results are similar to what you get if you go to Amazon.com and type in "conspiracy" without quotes, in the search bar. You get a long list of filters down the left side of the PC screen, many of them generated automatically based on the search results..
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
The irony is that you seem to think a web forum is better in that regard.
What I think was not the point. (Available evidence tends to indicate to me that plenty of people believe everything they read on a forum, including many that do not approach within several light years of this one in terms of being worthy of belief! :oops:)

But there was a pretty big "wiki(pedia) ="unreliable and you'll get an F if you use it as a source" push when my kids were writing papers in school. I take no position as to whether that was/is justified, I merely note that it happened. It is my sense that this has poisoned the well for the word/prefix "wiki" for some number of folks and, 'twere it my decision, and if there was to be a wiki used to make accessing stuff from this forum easier, I'd probably not use the term "wiki" in the name since it does not cost extra to use a more neutral name. Since, as far as I know, there are not yet any plans to do a wiki, and its not in any sense up to me what to call it if it WAS implemented, that's probably more than enough from me on the topic! I'm off to look at more blurry dots in the distance that prove aliens are amongst us...
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Whether that is a valid critique is beside the point -- it is an impression that lingers in a lot of minds.
Let's debunk that, shall we?
Article:
The British public trusts Wikipedia more than they do the country's newsrooms, according to a new poll by research firm Yougov. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they trusted Wikipedia pages to tell the truth "a great deal," or "a fair amount"—more than can be said for journalists at the Times or the Guardian, and also slightly above BBC News.

Since we'd be using the wiki as a summary of and an index into the forum, similar to how wikipedia is intended to be used, I think we can live with that.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Article:
We do not expect you to trust us
It is in the nature of an open collaboration and work-in-progress like Wikipedia that quality may vary over time, and from article to article. While some articles are of the highest quality of scholarship, others are admittedly complete rubbish. Also, since Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time, articles may be prone to errors, including vandalism, so Wikipedia is not a reliable source. So please do not use Wikipedia to make critical decisions. This encyclopedia is especially useful for improving familiarity with a subject and its jargon, and for learning search terms with which to further explore a subject beyond Wikipedia. Helpful external links are also provided to assist you in learning more.
 

econ41

Senior Member
There are (at least) three issues implicit in these discussions:

1) What I think was the OP intent - provide more convenient means of accessing the material on Metabunk;

2) The issues of "standard" or "quality". How far to "we" go in setting some standard of quality; AND

3) Setting aside the credibility of the label "Wiki" - do we intend a "Wiki" process of having an editable main article for each topic?

I think a desirable goal would be to have a process whereby we index, therefore can locate, what is the "best" explanation of a topic.

So I also think that "we" need to decide the scope of what could be practical and to discuss the advantages, disadvantages and challenges it presents.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Let's debunk that, shall we?
Article:
The British public trusts Wikipedia more than they do the country's newsrooms, according to a new poll by research firm Yougov. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they trusted Wikipedia pages to tell the truth "a great deal," or "a fair amount"—more than can be said for journalists at the Times or the Guardian, and also slightly above BBC News.

Since we'd be using the wiki as a summary of and an index into the forum, similar to how wikipedia is intended to be used, I think we can live with that.
IMO, this is not a productive area of discussion. Can we please close it out?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Helpful external links are also provided to assist you in learning more.
Article:
Researchers and academics contend that while Wikipedia may not be used as a 100 percent accurate source for final papers, it is a valuable jumping off point for research that can lead to many possibilities if approached critically.

If the idea is to build an index into the metabunk forum, reliability is a non-issue if the wiki enforces a policy that all discussion has to take place on the forum: all information in the wiki needs to be sourced to the forum, or it's out.

A wiki isn't a lawless place: it has contributors and moderators just like a forum (and would hopefully be set up to share the forum's user database), and Mediawiki also has a highly efficient way to track and (if necessary) approve new content, and to track and roll back any changes to any page.
 

econ41

Senior Member
A wiki isn't a lawless place: it has contributors and moderators just like a forum (and would hopefully be set up to share the forum's user database), and Mediawiki also has a highly efficient way to track and (if necessary) approve new content, and to track and roll back any changes to any page.
There is big "elephant in the room" which is about quality. Who "approves new content"? To what standards? And the implied assumption that an explanation can be "correct" OR "final" or "dispositive of the issue". That is not the way for scientific issues.

Hence: "What is the goal?"
Is it simply to facilitate access to what is already here and anything that may be added BUT accepting the quality is what it already is.
OR is the goal also to somehow either lift the standard (not lkely) OR lift the effective standard by making it easier to access the better qualily. If so who and how assesses "better quality"?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Who "approves new content"?
Typically, a group of trusted members would have the right to approve edits from untrusted sources. (It may not be necessary to do this at all if we require editors to be registered with the metabunk forum and have their first forum post approved.)
To what standards?
The standard I suggested was, "all information in the wiki needs to be sourced to the forum, or it's out."
And the implied assumption that an explanation can be "correct" OR "final" or "dispositive of the issue".
That's your assumption. However, threads on metabunk are tagged "debunked" or "explained" even now with no problem.

If so who and how assesses "better quality"?
The editors do that collaboratively.

The Posting Guidelines provide a good starting point for a page template:
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I think it's ridiculous to suggest you want to let conspiracy theorists or other debunkers (ie the public) edit OPs.

and what does that have to do with making content easier to find?
 
I think it's ridiculous to suggest you want to let conspiracy theorists or other debunkers (ie the public) edit OPs.

and what does that have to do with making content easier to find?

Well, you can always condition access to "editing" rights to senior-level users to prevent complete arbitrariness.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
we used to be able to edit our own OPs at any

I think it's ridiculous to suggest you want to let conspiracy theorists or other debunkers (ie the public) edit OPs.
But some time ago, they could, if they started the topic?
Have you ever had bad experiences with that?

We're (well, I am) currently discussing wikis, and apart from spam bots, my experiences with letting anyone edit are good. That's why I suggested sharing the user database, and allowing anyone who has free posting rights on the forum to edit there as well. Typically, that means that you need to get your "welcome" post approved at least, and a forum ban would also cut off your wiki access.

Making a wiki index for forum content using templates means you can tag content and make automatic overview pages for tags; it also means you can catch up on important points of long threads (or multi-thread discussions like the Navy videos) more easily and hopefully avoid repetition.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
I've often thought a 'Snopes-like' version of metabunk would be nice. The wiki I'm not sure about, but something that could provide a summary and links to the more in-detail discussions.

Interestingly, wikipedia has a page about "the reliability of wikipedia":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia

Iirc, it kind of agrees with my impression: that many years ago wikipedia's reliability was viewed as a bit of a joke and the idea of students using it was a big no-no, but that it's much better now.

(To my mind, wikipedia is an excellent place to start. Perhaps a metabunk wiki's philosophy would be something like that.)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
But some time ago, they could, if they started the topic?
Have you ever had bad experiences with that?
only the person who started the thread (and moderators) could.

yes, sometimes people would go back and change the OP to the point where the discussion following no longer made sense. But that was rare.

It wasnt meant for edits really, but to ADD updated information. You will see this many times on Mick's threads, at the end of the OPs he will add a summary of the thread discussion and conclusions.

see this example https://www.metabunk.org/threads/id...sheets-heat-exchanger-fins.11012/#post-235476

or

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/debunked-the-wtc-9-11-angle-cut-column-not-thermite-cut-later.9469/
 

Mythic Suns

New Member
From what I've read this might be a big IF but IF you guys go ahead with the wiki idea then what will the site be called, MetaWiki or MetabunkWiki? My vote is on the latter simply because it gives anyone who sees the name a more clearer idea of what to expect on the site whilst the former kind of sounds like a wiki filled with generally meta articles rather than a site that shows articles relating to debunking discussions.
 

FatPhil

Active Member
Well I have been thinking of improving things. Specifically some more visual way of browsing.

Wouldn't just the ability to tag threads with the a few useful keywords regarding how concluded matters be simpler? Give tagging permissions only to members who can be trusted to evaluate the level and direction of consensus.
 
Top