2010-08-14 22:14:29Firefox plugin
John Cook


The Skeptical Science firefox plugin is the brainchild of Adam Kierce at Shine Technologies (going under the username AdamK). The idea was a plugin for Firefox users so that as they browsed around skeptic blog posts and online articles, the plugin would highlight which skeptic arguments the article used and provided resources to rebut the skeptic arguments. Suffice to say when Adam suggested the idea, my brain nearly exploded at the possibilities.

A beta version has been completed and is being tested at the moment by various beta-testers. The beta version so far just lets you submit skeptic articles to our database (the whole providing resources feature is planned to be added in later versions). If you'd like to have a look at the plugin and be a beta tester, email me at john@skepticalscience.com and I'll send you the zipped file. Then to install, go through these steps:

To install....( Firefox 3.6 and above please! )

  1. Download the zip file to your desktop
  2. Unzip the content of the zip file to a desired directory (or desktop)
  3. Open Firefox, then in Firefox, click file > open file
  4. Locate the src directory and click on the skep.xpi
  5. Follow the prompts and restart your browser
  6. You will now find the Skeptical Science icon just left of Firefox’s URL bar
  7. Click the Skeptical Science Icon to open the plugin popup
  8. You need to login with your Skeptical Science login to get it to work – look for the login link in the plugin popup
Feedback from beta-testers is very welcome - please help us make the plugin as effective as possible.
2010-08-15 18:48:12Interested
Robert Way

John, you can send me the .zip file and ill give it a try
2010-08-15 23:06:08Plugin sent
John Cook

Just emailed it. If you have any feedback, please post it here. I'll let Adam at Shine know about this thread which I'd like to keep as a central repository of feedback on the plugin. Thanks!
2010-08-20 20:09:55My quick feedback


So… this is the reporting part, right? At the moment it’s not quite clear to me what happens after you tag an article, and what the wider system will be, but having said that I do have some initial feedback.


I've divided it into stuff which I think is actually not working well at the moment ('issues') and a couple of things that would be nice ('features').


Mechanism issues:


I think it's important to distinguish between ‘Blog’ and  ‘blog on mainstream media site’ because I think these have quite different significances. (In the UK, one could perhaps make PCC complaints about newspaper blogs, for example.)


You should be able to select multiple arguments at once, and report them as a unified step. While many articles have a main theme, most will bounce from argument to argument.


User interface issues:


For  ‘type’ selection, in my browser it displays ‘Mainstream M…’ and Peer Review St…’ which is not very useful. Either shorter categories, or longer display boxes!


If I move out of Firefox the box disappears – it would be better if it was persistent once you’d summoned it, until you’d submitted.


Blue/white colouring in argument list is just confusing and doesn’t add any readability to my eye.


Selecting an argument – it’s not clear when you’ve selected one. For example, if I search and get 2 results, (for ‘IPCC consensus’ as an example) then I can highlight one in yellow – this is selected. But it’s not very clear because the other one could be blue or white – as a user, I’m confused. It would be preferable to have a checkbox toggle next to arguments, for example.


When you click report sent, there needs to be some more obvious feedback to the user. The window should close.


I don’t like the icon that appears in the taskbar – it’s too big :-)


Feature requests:


It would be good for the plugin to automatically grab the article title.


It would be good, if the intention is to display this information for people visiting the page next who have the plugin, to be able to associate particular skeptic science material next to specific points in the article where the fallacious argument is made. Bit of a longer term one, this, perhaps.


But, amazing stuff. My brain = similarly alive with possibility.