2011-02-11 10:17:55wiki.answers.com A hothouse of Climate Denial
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.222.60
Wiki.answers.com could easily be confused with Wikipedia, both are related through the parent company answers.com which uses Wikipedia article.  

Wiki.answers.com is supposed to be moderated by supervisors for factual subjects, but the Global Warming category is just a junk board of opinions, at least with with regard to the science of Global Warming.  Even worse they seem to be moderated by Climate Deniers. According to one of the senior supervisors the Wiki.answers.com policy is that global warming should be as debatable a topic as Politics or Religion with all points of view allowed. However, even my view isn't allowed! A supervisor there often deletes answers in favour of denial junk science!

There is a supervisor who works in the climate area, and is supportive of evidence based editing but he/she can't get the majority to see sense!  There are a few of us still working on 'regime change', but this might take longer than Egypt at this rate. I was trying the find the address of the CEO Bob Rosenschein of Answers.com and describe their policy on Wikipedia.  

You can guess what happens when science degenerates into public opinion. Look at this mess for global warming.

2011-02-11 10:57:43
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252
Yeah I've commented on a few of the absolute rubbish "answers" there.  It should really be called "denier misinformation.com".  Here's one egregious example.  The problem is that the denier supervisors fill the global warming "answers" with bullsh*t denier myths and then lock them so nobody else can edit them.
2011-02-11 11:05:39How could we combat this?
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
123.211.149.21
Is it worthwhile doing a blog post to expose this? Or is that getting too political for SkS?
2011-02-11 12:27:58I vote "Blog"
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.68.19

Is there really a difference between doing a blog on Wiki.answers.com and a series on Monckton?  I think not.

2011-02-11 15:37:57good question
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233
I don't know, doing a blog post on this would be tough.  At least with Monckton, he recycled the same dozen or so arguments that we could debunk.  With Answers.com, I'm not sure there's a real focus to the misinformation.  Although the two that I've commented on, the denier supervisor was pushing E G Beck's BS CO2 graph and claiming CO2 was at 400 ppm in 1900.  So we could use that as an excuse to debunk Beck (has SkS done that yet?) and highlight the abuses at Answers.com at the same time.
2011-02-11 16:18:03
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
121.220.11.131

You have to luv this one:

'The Earth tilts ever so slightly every year, causing the sun to be at a different angle than normal, thus causing the sun to hit the icebergs.'

I wouldn't touch this mess with a barge pole. What are we debunking? Spaghetti?

2011-02-11 17:07:27Pressure on Answers.com
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.217.214
The goal would be to put pressure on Answers.com and their moderators. I think to cause enough pressure, we'd really have to get blogs from all over talking about this - similar to all the concerted effort to talk Articgate and Schmitt. But I'm not sure all the other bloggers would see this as important enough to warrant getting all huffy about. Their focus is on the MSM at the moment and perhaps that's where we should be focusing our energy too.
2011-02-11 19:36:56
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.197.37

 

Spaghetti? I called it a comic on one BB. However, it is part of Answers.com which provides 'official' serious answers.  This has benefited by having a sybiosis with Wikipedia. I doubt if Jimmy Wales would be happy about their policy mentioned below

I intend to write a short blog on my site, focussing on the wiki.answers.com policy sent to me:

"thanks for writing to the Community Advisor Team here at Answer.com. On the site, we consider Global Warming to be as debatable a topic as Politics or Religion. This is why we allow for multiple viewpoints and opinions. It allows us to remain fair to all, while giving people who are visiting the site opportunities to form their own opinions on various subject matters. 

We encourage you to share your viewpoints even if they are in opposition to what has already been posted.

Regards,

The Community Advisor Team"

and the tactics used to suppress views, for example

  • locking question threads to new answers once a sceptical position has been viewed
  • closing discussion threads to new replies that challenge the sites policy
  • intimidating users by removing their answers then accusing the same user of removing others posts!

To be fair all my posts have not been deleted possibly because no sceptical supervisor has seen them it yet, and I have managed to work through about half a dozen.  However, one particular supervisor viscously censors pro-science posts against the official sites policy.

2011-02-11 20:07:32
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.197.37

dana

I attempted to change that answer a week  or so ago, you can see it in the edits, under the user Andromedean

2011-02-12 05:10:07
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

Oh so you're Andromedean.  Another user (Gringo) knew me from Yahoo Answers and asked me to try to help over at Answers.com.  I've noticed a pattern that the global warming questions tend to be you and Gringo fighting with the NX guy, who overrules you and locks you out, putting his misinformation in the answer in the process.

It's hard to decide if this is worth addressing.  Answers.com gets some pretty major traffic (ranked #50 in the USA by Alexa).  I might draft up a quick blog post this weekend, and then we can decide if it's worth publishing.

2011-02-12 06:33:45
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

Found a page with details of share ownership:

http://ir.answers.com/ownership.cfm

(click on the view + buiton by Rosenscheins line, then click on the statement of ownership link, this gives info about Rosenchein)
Although also found this, looks like they are selling it off. or trying to:

http://financial.businessinsider.com/siliconalleymedia.clusterstock/news/read?GUID=17044562

Redpoint:

http://www.redpoint.com/portfolio/energy-and-environment/

2011-02-12 06:56:27
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.223.228

Hi Dana, I guessed it was you, then checked your profile

RUClimate is attempting to help us as well, he is a supervisor there, so you may wish to get his Email. Your welcome to my Email  perseus at gofast.co.uk  (assume you have Gringos)

RUclimate has just reverted one of my answers which kept getting deleted by a senior supervisor.  It is unclear if this was overzealousness on the senior supervisors part or a sign of an endemic problem there. I have worked through about 6 of the questions, but RU thinks I should stay out of trouble for a few days until we get some replies from other supervisors.

The Ville

Thanks for that information 

2011-02-12 11:05:06blog post
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252
I guess I'll hold up on drafting up a blog post for now.  Keep us appraised of what's going on with the site, and if the deniers continue to fill the answers with misinformation, I'd be happy to write up a blog post about it.  I was thinking of the title "Wrong Answers dot com".
2011-02-12 20:53:42
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
134.225.187.80

How many of us have academic e-mail addresses?

Sure, it's an appeal to authority, but it might help someone to pay attention. Reading some of the answers on there suggests that the editors have never really looked at climate science but just eaten the stupidity fed to them by WUWT.

2011-03-06 21:07:51
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.223.22

I have written an article on my own site about Wikianswers and their attitude to climate change questions. 

In the meantime we wrote again to the supervisors, including many of these points, but their policy remains the same.

 

 

2011-03-07 03:33:02
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I would have to suggest that doing a tough, hard-hitting blog post could be very effective in this matter.

My background is business and I can tell you, if we could pull together a post that strongly questioned the validity of their business model by pointing to their terrible reputation on the climate change issue, that will be very concerning to them.

We always say, bad press travels further and faster than good press.  Create bad press for them and their CEO will definitely stand up and listen, and if he is worth his salt, will take action.  Honestly, having a bad reputation on one topic will affect how people view what people read on all issues there.

I would also say that this is an important site.  Answers.com is one of the biggest sites on the internet.  People quite often write google queries as questions and they pop up at the top of the search.  So, I would venture to guess this is a primary source for the general population's information on climate change.

Answers.com's business model is everything they have.  That's it.  That's all they are.  Hit them on that point.  Hit it hard.  Point out the worst of the worst that is getting posted as "fact."  

I can almost guarantee you this will rattle the cage over there.

Ah this is even BETTER!  I just looked it up.  They're public.  That means bad press can hurt them even more!  Anything that affects their share price will have a big affect on the inside.

My suggestion would be to create a collaborative effort across several blogs.  Rope in Tamino, RC, Peter Sinclair, etc.  Make this hurt in a big way.  Make them address this.

I promise.  This will work.

2011-03-07 03:44:41
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I might add, their stock price is close to a two year high. It probably wouldn't take much to knock off half of that value.

Heck, let's see if we can't get some high profile guys in on this.  John Abraham's rapid response group, maybe.  Reposts on Treehugger.  Pull out all the stops.

2011-03-07 04:39:33
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.54.120

Rob,

Sounds very promising.

2011-03-07 05:16:04
perseus

owlsmoor@googlemail...
78.143.223.26

Remember that the CEO is selling the business (see the Ville's post above) so there may be new management in charge soon. 

2011-03-07 05:43:55
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Perseus...  That's all the more reason to do it! Jeez, it's almost like a perfect storm. The Ville's article is accusing Answers.com of breach of fiduciary duties, so that puts them on the ropes as it is. 

My sense is a strongly worded post on this topic could have a lot of influence on whether they address the problem.

The last thing that CEO wants right now is news of ANY kind to come out about their company. It's really hard to sell a company. Answers is not a huge company by any means. Only about $20MM in revenues and likely not a lot of room for revenue growth (that I can see at least). He's going to have a very short list of potential acquirers in a market climate that's not so conducive for acquisitions.

My guess is the CEO knows about this issue but he's got his hands full selling the company and doesn't want to deal with it. What we want to do is make this issue a priority FOR him.

2011-03-07 06:20:54my experience
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

As I noted in comments above, I've had the same experience as perseus.  I wouldn't mind writing a blog post on the subject, which would incorporate some of what perseus said (unless he wants to do it).  I think it would be a good opportunity to also discuss the recent Schmidt and Lacis papers on the greenhouse effect and the CO2 contribution to the greenhouse forcing.  I referenced those papers in trying to get one of the answers changed that perseus mentioned in his post, but the supervisor who locked the answer has ignored me.

So I think we could do a post that's half science and half critical of the Answers.com 'business model', as Rob put it (the way their site is run, such that Supervisors can abuse the system and lock false information into answers, and the fact that global warming is treated the same as politics and religion).

We should definitely get John's approval before moving ahead on this though.  And we'd have to see if any other bloggers are interested in posting on the subject.

2011-03-07 06:37:44
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

My suggestion would be to pick out the most egregious errors that have been accepted and locked down as "answers" and highlight that as a fundamental problem with their business model.  And then back that up with real science in keeping with SkS form.

Title it something like, A Travesty of Answers.

A title like that would pull on the climategate rhetoric and turn it back on the deniers.

2011-03-07 06:56:36
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Reading a little further on this.  They've already entered into an agreement for a purchase of Answers with Summit Partners. That's where the investigation comes in. So, they're not out looking for acquirers as I alluded to before.

But that said, these guys are still likely in a sensitive position trying to close this deal by the end of the second quarter 2011.  It looks like they run their financials on a calendar year so that means end of June. Their stock price is hovering around the transaction price for the deal ($10.50/share).

So, I still think a bit of bad press is going to get them to sit up and pay attention to what's going on with their climate change answers.

2011-03-07 07:36:57title
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

For the title I was thinking "Wrong Answers dot com".  I drafted up a quick blog post so you can see what I had in mind.

2011-03-07 07:54:55
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Dana...  I'm not sure this is strong enough to get their attention.  I like the background on it.  I like pointing out that most of their growth is coming from wikianswers.  But I really think going through and making a serious smack down of specific "answers" found on their site would shake them up.

Find single sentences that are just absurdly wrong (440ppm CO2 in the 1800's) and hammer it with the real science.  Then end it with the lead, like "Another Wrong Answer."  Or "another answer travesty."  (I really think tagging them with Trenberth's travesty line will wake them us as well.)

Smack them with 4 or 5 of these and close with saying that due to their business model there is a train wreck of bad information being distributed.

2011-03-07 08:01:03
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Here's a good one:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_global_warming_cause_global_warming

They say that global temperatures have risen 11 degrees in the past 10,000 years and only 1 in the past century.  No scale or units, and better yet: mixing core data with global data.  Gee, how does that fit in with what we've been posting about lately?

"The issue becomes one of a tipping point. The earth we know is in a warming cycle which began thousands of years ago. We also know that almost all of the warming has occurred more then 500 years ago. This current warming cycle has seen a total warming of 11 degrees over the past 10,000 years. We know that almost all of this warming occurred before man started using fuel other then wood. Less then 1 degree of the total warming has happened since the end of the mini ice age in 1850. "

Oh, this too:

"The ice mass in the south pole is increasing and with it the albedo issues."

So, Antarctica is gaining ice?  Sea ice perhaps, though not at any large rate, certainly at a slower rate than the Arctic is losing it.  Land ice is decreasing too, though that raises no albedo concerns as long as ice area is more or less the same (is there any appreciable change in ice extent at the south pole?  I have heard of none).

Rubbish answer, started out fine then went down the drain.

2011-03-07 08:05:22Global warming ended ("temporarily") in 1998:
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_global_warming_a_global_problem

2011-03-07 08:07:06A "scientist" gives a two sentence answer...
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

...that we don't have any clue because of a lack of evidence either way:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/The_great_global_warming_swindles_opinion_on_global_warming

Didn't even answer the question too.

2011-03-07 08:12:06
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Here too:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_global_warming_and_how_does_styrofoam_contribute_to_global_warming

"Global warming is the proposition put forward by some climate scientists."

"It should be pointed out that CO2 nows makes up 0.037% of our atmosphere compared to 0.03% in Greenland several hundreds of years ago. We do not know historical levels world wide from 100 years ago. "

"There is much evidence that the planet has indeed warmed over the past 6000 years. It appears that it has risen 11 degrees C. Since man has been using fossil fuel, it has risen about 0.2 to 0.5 degrees C. with most of that before WW2 and a max temp in 1998. "

"Anthropic Global Warming is the idea that the planet is warming due to the 0.007% concentration change, in our atmosphere, that is being blamed on man. This is a highly political issue and based in far less science. Far fewer climate experts believe in this theory, although no one is discounting this as not being possible. Stating that it may be a possibility is taken by many to express agreement. "

"Man produces 0.28% of all Green House gases. This is a undisputed fact. Over 1/2 of this is produced in the making of power for our homes for heat and cooling. Again, an undisputed fact."

 

 

Ugghh......

2011-03-07 08:15:54And then there were six:
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_global_warming_and_what_are_you_doing_on_earth_to_influence_global_warming

"the hoax is AGW which is man made global warming. that does not exist. man is too insignificant to take effect on a planet our size. the earth has been here longer than we have and global warming has taken place before we could have breathed and made CO2, cut down trees, or driven a car with the windows rolled down. so obviously we are not the cause."

You guys are serious when you say there are moderators?

2011-03-07 08:35:39
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

*Sobs* It's absolutely terrible, I cannot find a single scientifically sound answer, after reading the answers to the first 15 questions under the "Global Warming" category.  Perhaps the most common statement is "It has been going on for 6000 years and there was an 11˚[C] increase."

Actually, I'm sorry, I spoke too soon.  This one is reasonable:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_in_global_warming_and_global_jihad

This answerer appears to be somewhat informed but the answer insufficiently represents what the mainstream scientific position on AGW is.  It is one of the better ones on the site though.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_global_warming_and_what_do_we_have_to_do_to_reduce_global_warming

(Sorry for not consolidating the posts and taking up space like that)

If I could make a suggestion, perhaps a section for rebuttal against the supervisors' comments?  This would get to the point more directly, that their moderation system is being taken advantage of.  Pointing out erroneous answers doesn't demonstrate corruption (though I wonder about phrasing it so strongly - how much do you guys want to wake the Climate Gate zombie?), at best it establishes that there is oversight.  It doesn't show the intent behind it though.

2011-03-07 09:26:35revised
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Thanks for the examples, Alex.  I revised the post and broke it up into two sections, one on supervisor abuse, and one on purely stupid answers which have simply never been corrected because of the sheer volume of Q&A on the site (Alex's examples).  I also edited the answer on one of Alex's examples (the "what are you doing" one).

2011-03-07 10:17:22
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Thanks Dana, though I noticed something that may be an issue: the questions that I gave were not necessarily high in popularity.  The ones in perseus' link are arranged in order of decreasing popularity, and some are answered rather well, such as the first, second, fourth, and eighth (which isn't really "answered" but comprised of various viewpoints - no answer is locked in, it seems).  Some are rather atrocious though, either biased toward "skepticism" or just factually wrong no matter what the viewpoint.

That popularity subject may come up as a rebuttal, and it wouldn't be a bad point.  However, that doesn't say much to current activity in answering - how are new questions dealt with?  I'll take a look.

Also, my point about the Supervisors was to maybe include comments within the discussion threads by supervisors.  Example:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Discuss:What_is_global_warming

2011-03-07 10:26:34
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

To follow up with my comment on the popularity above, one thing to also consider in opposition to that is that people will unlikely go through all of the categories and subcategories to get to a subject they can just search directly for.

This topic though is not something that needs to be addressed in the article.  It should be noted for when discussion of the post begins, since it may come up.  Volume-wise too, the point still stands.

Anyways....

It seems as though the Supervisor "N2146X" is having the last word in a lot of questions.  This is from questions that appear in a simple search.

It's also very difficult to tell how newer questions are dealt with by Supervisors since they come in so rapidly.

2011-03-07 10:51:48Have posted about this on Planet 3.0 google group
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.229.6

Have brought this up to the Planet 3.0 group which has many other climate blogs as members. I also changed Dana's blog post to "Embargoed" so they could all view the post. Will let you know if there's any interest.

2011-03-07 11:08:42
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

This could be really interesting. Hope this gets reported.

2011-03-07 11:12:36
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Dana...  I like the update better but I still have some criticisms.  I think it's too broad.  It's like you're trying to scoop up too much into one article.  It sort of weaves a tangled web, and that seems to make it soft (IMO).

Opening is perfect:  This is an important source of information on the internet.

I would drop most of the other parts and totally body slam them on the outrageous stupidity of the answers that are getting posted. If you can make that case really effectively that is going to make them stand up and listen. And I'd use citations to papers to back it up rather than links to other articles.  The sheer number of citations used on SkS was what really swayed me when I first started reading about climate issues.

Then I'd go back and make the case that Answer's business model is allowing this tripe to get locked down by climate deniers.

I think this is going to be really good. You've got the right skills for writing this, Dana. Take off the gloves and just pound on their weak point. Leave off everything else.

The title still needs to hit harder as well.  You need a title that is going to grab them by the neck and shake them up a bit before they even read the first words.

Think of it almost like one of Peter Sinclair's videos. You kind of want to pull on people's base level instincts. Drag them into the article with the sense they're witnessing a car wreck or a street fight. 

This is not a real suggestion but if the title were to say something on the lines of this: "Exposing Denier Troll Gatekeepers at Answers.com." If you had a similar title everyone would read it.  Everyone.

 

2011-03-07 12:29:36If the post is too long...
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.229.6

... consider splitting it into several posts, where each post has a clear take-home point. I don't know if we want to go as far as "Answers.com Week" but a few posts is one possible approach.

2011-03-07 15:33:49
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

I dunno Rob, I kind of like the post as it is.  You've got the specific example with the Supervisor abuse and discussion of peer-reviewed studies.  Then you've got the examples of really stupid answers just because nobody who knows anything about climate science has gotten around to answering them, but some ignoramus has.  It exposes the many different flaws in Answers.com operations in one post.  I don't really think it requires multiple posts - that seems like overkill. 

I don't want to put any incendiary words in the title like 'denier' or 'troll'.  I think the title is pretty punchy.  What's worse for Answers.com than being called WrongAnswers.com?  If they give wrong answers, nobody would want to visit their site.

2011-03-07 15:51:32
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

No problem. Not trying to micromanage. My personal sense is if they aren't hit square in the face it's probably going to go unnoticed. These are very busy guys with a lot of tough issues on their plates on any given day. If you want to wake up a CEO you're going to have to make a noise bigger than all the other noises on his daily agenda.

2011-03-07 15:54:38
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Also, I wasn't trying to suggest that you use incendiary language. I was trying to use that as an example of the level of impact that the title should have.

2011-03-07 16:47:54notice
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Really I think the only way they'll notice is maybe if we can get a few other bloggers on board.  I think even if we give them a good punch in the mouth, SkS probably doesn't have a large enough reach on our own for them to notice.  Hopefully John will get some responses from the other bloggers.

2011-03-07 20:57:17
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.211.150

"What's worse for Answers.com than being called WrongAnswers.com?"

Getting site page views from Wonkyanswers?.

Q: "How does global warming cause global warming"

A. By warming the globe.

Nice post Dana. I know what they are doing is incredibly damaging, but the stoopid is sooo funny!.

2011-03-08 03:29:16
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Dana... Obviously this is your piece and you'll run it how you feel it works for you.  I'm just trying to get you to push the envelope a bit and get the piece to be more punchy.  You've got a punchy bit in there with the list of answers but you saved it for the end so it loses a lot of the impact.  Even if you just moved the examples up to the second paragraph you'd have a much stronger piece IMO.

2011-03-08 03:34:18
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

One other point.  I just noticed that you're really missing one very basic element of good journalistic writing. The very first sentence should always encapsulate the gist of the whole article.

Sorry I'm pushing on you but I think this article has the potential to have a large impact in the whole climate battle. 

2011-03-08 04:32:58
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.112.134

I generally agree with Rob's comments and exhortations for this article.

2011-03-08 05:04:21reorg
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

I can certainly reorganize it to put the stooopid examples up front, and put more info in the first sentence.

2011-03-08 15:56:44revised
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Okay, I did another revision, mainly reorganized it to put the stupid stuff up front.

2011-03-08 17:15:35
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.82.199

Looks good Dana. Don't know where to put this (thumbs up), so I'll do so here.

2011-03-09 03:18:44
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I think it reads much better now.  Thanks for putting up with my pressure.  :-)

2011-03-09 03:56:50thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

No problem Rob H.  I'm always open to feedback and constructive criticism.