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Some Skeptical Science housekeeping

Posted on 24 September 2009 by John Cook

Around a year ago, I began wondering if Skeptical Science was becoming redundant. After all, the avalanche of peer reviewed scientific literature confirming humanity's role in global warming was surely undeniable. Emission trading schemes were just around the corner both in the USA and in my backyard, Australia. Why are we still asking "are we causing global warming?" when the only question to be asked now was "what should we do about it?" Looking back, I laugh at my naivety. Now more than ever, there is a need for the peer reviewed science to be made more accessible to the general public. But this website is also starting to creak under its own weight, so over the last few months, I've done some much needed housekeeping:

  • I've updated the list of skeptic arguments, providing a short summary of what the science says on each argument. However, knowing that when you change a website, there are always people who want it how it was back in the "good ol' days", I've kept the original list with popularity percentages.
  • A link to a printable version of each skeptic argument. Look for the link at the bottom of each argument. Thanks to Will Greene for the suggestion.
  • Paginated comments whenever they exceed 50 comments. This was largely inspired by It's the Sun - once the number of comments went over 400, the page was taking forever to load. More recently, I paginated news/blog comments after the climate lag post hit the 300 comments mark.
  • A 'forgot your password' feature underneath the login form. This was long overdue - people have been emailing me for years having forgotten their username and password. All sorted now.
  • An archive of all past blog posts. Hmm, seeing them all listed on one page, I thought the list would look longer than that!
  • I rarely censor skeptic comments. In fact, sometimes I enjoy the vigorous debate in the comments sections, often being challenged and learning from it. I even even occasionally let through ideological rants that have nothing to do with science (not very often though). But one thing I simply cannot tolerate, as a self-confessed anally retentive webmaster, is white space at the end of comments. I used to manually delete extra line breaks whenever they reared their ugly head but I've finally added some code that automatically removes extra line breaks at the end of comments. I can now rest easy.
  • There's still the feature where you can submit skeptic articles. Please feel free to make use of this feature if you ever bump into a skeptic blog post or article elsewhere. I can't keep up with all the skeptic articles myself!
  • Finally, I've added extra functionality making it easy to link to specific Skeptical Science pages. I still have the Link To Us page that lets you select any skeptic argument and it instantly generates the URL or HTML code allowing you to easily link directly to the page (say, for example, you're discussing that topic on a forum or blog and wish to provide a link directly to the appropriate page. Now that I've written short summary answers to every skeptic argument, the Link To Us page also has an option where it generates the answer to any skeptic argument as well as the URL.

Anyway, if you have any feature you'd like added to the website, please contact me to send your suggestions. In particular, if you like to get involved in climate discussion on other websites and there was some way Skeptical Science might help you (perhaps by making its resources more available or making it easier for you to keep track of blogs you're active on), I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Thanks again for your good work John. I have found many interesting articles through your site. All the improvements are quite welcome.
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  2. Yes, great work John, thank you. A small suggestion. You might watch out for sock puppets if you don't already. I have a gut feeling there may be just one denialist hiding behind several aliases here. But then I have always had a nasty suspicious mind!
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  3. John, I love your site's structure and features for contributors. A nit: The list of arguments in the dropdown lists in one of the steps for submitting skeptic articles don't match the phrasings of the actual posted arguments. That makes it difficult to use one browser window to look at the details of each argument before choosing an argument from the lists in another dropdown window. And there is at least one argument (China) that is in the dropdown lists but not in the posted arguments.
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  4. John, thanks for your excellent web site. You are doing everyone a service with your clear and thoughtful articles.
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