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Skeptical Science housekeeping: iPhone app, comments and translations

Posted on 13 February 2010 by John Cook

As there are many moving pieces at Skeptical Science at the moment, here is a quick post on latest developments. Shine Technologies have been keeping an eye on all the feedback so far and very promptly uploaded Version 1.0.1 of the Skeptical Science iPhone app on the iTunes app store yesterday. The main difference is now the app runs on older versions of the iPhone operating system (firmware 3.0). Please continue to post suggestions on how the app can be more effective, either on the iPhone app thread or by email. And just as important, be sure to post ratings and/or reviews in iTunes!

I've clarified the wording on our Comments Policy. Most comments are deleted because they accuse the opposition of deception. This applies to both sides - I've deleted many comments attacking both scientists and skeptics (and some targeted at myself). The discussion on this website is usually very constructive and educational but sometimes people do get a little excited. I suggest taking a deep breath then direct your attention towards a person's methods, not their motives.

I am regularly accused of deleting opposing points of views. A cursory reading of any discussion thread will show skeptic viewpoints are freely expressed on this website. In fact, I find the varying perspectives are quite useful and instructive, often making me aware of a different way of looking at things. Comments are deleted not based on their scientific content but whether the comment is constructive or destructive.

I also added another section to the Comments Policy - a few brief tips on posting HTML links or images. If you're posting a link to another website, I strongly recommend you make it an active link for several reasons. Firstly, it makes it easier for readers to follow the link. Secondly, it enables you to use descriptive words for the link rather than a URL. Lastly, long URLs can break the web design which makes me very unhappy. In fact, this last reason is enough as far as I'm concerned!

I have added some extra functionality that lets you update your user account details. To get there, click on your username in the left margin - this takes you to your profile page. Then click on Update Profile. One of these days, I'll add URL as an extra field so whenever you post a comment, your username will link to your own website.

Lastly, there have been a number of translations added to the website. A big thanks to all the translators who have generously donated their time in an effort to communicate the science to as many people as possible. A number of arguments have now been translated into Finnish, Spanish, Danish, German and Icelandic (with a few other languages still in development). If anyone is interested in helping with translating, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. The recent comment on my profile is not mine. I am not in the pro pollution camp, I am much more in the beyond alarmist maybe even the doomsayer camp. I am not a scientist and acknowledge I might be wrong, in fact I hope I am wrong. Your house your rules. However, I see getting rid of the bile as a good thing. I don't recall that you have ever deleted a comment of mine, but they are often ignored. An observation not a complaint, you do have a day job. I regularly read your posts and find them very informative.
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  2. Thanks for directing me to the html code for posting active links. I wouldn't have bothered to learn that if you didn't point the way.
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  3. Tony O, the 'Recent Comments' section at the bottom of the profile page looks like it may just be the most recent comment posted to any discussion on the site. Thus, not intended to have anything to do with you. It IS a bit odd that the only things on 'our' profile pages are an esentially random comment, a link to add a new skeptic article, and a link to update the profile... so absolutely no information about the user on their profile page. Maybe the username and address could be displayed, or the 'profile' page somehow merged with the 'update profile' page.
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  4. Actually, that "Recent Comments" thing on the Profile page is odd. Those clearly aren't our own recent comments, and they're not the most recent comments posted by anyone (you can see that list by clicking "RSS Comments" under the "Search" window at the top left). I guess they're a sample of someone's recent comments from an unknown part of the site, where "recent" means an arbitrarily long period of time. :-)
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  5. Actually, any plans to make this for the Pre? Given I'm about to buy one (I much prefer its interface to that of the iPhone), I'm a totally disinterested party. ;)
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  6. 1) The large table in "Global warming is good" is cropped on one side. I can move the table over to the left, but then I can't see text on the left. One way to solve this would be to change orientation of text window when I tilt my iTouch sideways. 2) Is there a way to increase text size more then just to fill the frame. Resize-able text would be nice. Overall a great app to have at hand.
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  7. This is really a bit inconvenient to have no information about the user, no link to their profile page. Is it also possible that the email address or website could be displayed like a signature? Like this. Steve Zuc. from Pdfok
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