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Climate Hustle

Skeptical Science Firefox Add-on: Send and receive climate info while you browse

Posted on 28 October 2010 by John Cook

In February, the wizards at Shine Technologies broke new ground when they created the Skeptical Science iPhone app. Now they continue to go where no climate software has gone before, creating a Skeptical Science Firefox Add-on. The Add-on has two major features. Firstly, it lets you submit climate links to our database as you browse the web. Secondly (and this is the cool part), if you visit a webpage that has already been submitted (by you or someone else), the Add-on displays any skeptic arguments on that page, a short rebuttal from Skeptical Science and the URL of the full Skeptical Science rebuttal. Click here to download the SkS Firefox Add-on. If you don't use the Firefox browser, I suggest you switch to Firefox (take it from me, it runs rings around Internet Explorer).

Here's how it works. Go to the Skeptical Science Firefox Add-on page and click the Add to Firefox button. Once the Add-on is installed, you'll see two tiny icons appear at the top of the Firefox Browser: a View Report icon  and a Create Report icon . If you want to submit a climate webpage, click the Create Report icon. The following window pops up:

The Article Title is prefilled (this is not always 100% accurate so occasionally you may need to edit it). Select the type of article (eg - blog, mainstream media, peer-review, etc) and the article's bias (proAGW, skeptic or neutral). Then select any skeptic arguments addressed in the article. To find the argument, start typing any word in the "Select an argument" box and this automatically narrows down the list of arguments to those that match your search. Click on an argument, hit Send Report and voila, the webpage has been added to the Skeptical Science database.

You can add more than one skeptic argument if the webpage addresses multiple arguments (some skeptic blog posts do like to be prolific). Once you've submitted an argument, you'll notice the 'View Report' icon changes. If you submitted a proAGW link, it will look something like this . Skeptic links have a red icon while neutral links feature both colours . The number represents the number of skeptic arguments submitted for that page. If you click on the View Report icon, another window pops up:

The View Report window lists all skeptic arguments that have been submitted for this page. If you click on any of the arguments, the window expands to show more information to the right. It displays a paragraph rebuttal to the skeptic argument plus the URL to the full Skeptical Science rebuttal. This can be handy if you wish to post a comment on the webpage (although I don't recommend copying and pasting the paragraph rebuttal verbatim - it's always better to write comments in your own words).

So download the SkS Firefox Add-on and let us know what you think. Feedback and suggestions are very welcome. And as you browse around, please do submit any climate links you encounter. All climate links (once checked by the moderators) get added to the Daily Climate Links email so you will be helping others in the Skeptical Science community keep up to date on the latest climate news, blogs and research. They're also added to the Global Warming Links page which is a growing and useful resource.

Thanks to the boffins at Shine Technologies who put the plugin together: Mark and Adam, who together generate the ideas and passion to make the software work to support the science, and Michael & Cameron who had the job of turning this idea into reality (not to mention dealing with my many requests & suggestions). I have to mention (as I'm sure some of you are wondering) that Shine Tech created this plugin, the iPhone app and Android app for free, with no funding, simply because the owners are passionate about climate. Their generosity is inspiring and I hope has a significant impact in helping the public understand climate better.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 28:

  1. Sweet, John! I look forward to using this!

    The Yooper
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    Response: I look forward to you sending climate links to the database :-)
  2. Sweet! Added on, and I intend to make some use of it.

    I love Firefox, but switched to Chrome several months ago. I still keep Firefox around - mostly because of its incredible add-ons - but a Chrome extension would not go amiss. No idea if it's in the cards or not, though. I trust Shine Technologies' judgement here.
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  3. Sounds intriguing - but my browser of preference has been Opera, since before the days of Firefox. Not as well known, perhaps, but with the best browser security record, and lots of good features.

    Perhaps someone could do us an Opera widget for this?
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  4. Slight niggle (actually a big one).

    I searched for CO2, then clicked on the first subject.
    The side window popped up with the skeptic argument, I clicked on the SkS link and the page appeared in the tiny side window!

    pretty much undreadable unless you like side scrolling a lot.

    Would be better if it created a tab in Firefox and displayed the page in a full size window.
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    Response: Okay, I've worked out what you mean and I hacked a solution (although Shine are working on a more robust solution for the next version of the Plugin). Thanks for the report.
  5. Actually tried the same thing again and no side window appeared at all!??!

    I think you need a quick fix and release a new version (1.1).
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  6. Great add-on. Already installed.

    I wonder if there's some policy about submitting articles in other languages?
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    Response: Hmm, hadn't really thought about it. I suppose a language drop down could be a future feature if there's much call for it.
  7. Awesome! This might actually make me consider Firefox....I'm a Chrome die-hard. Maybe it could be my backup browser (for when CSS issues come up) and I could uninstall IE, that would make me happy.

    Shine Tech sounds like a great company. Will there be app updates when the beginner-intermediate-advanced rebuttals are complete?
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    Response: When the beginner/intermediate/advanced idea was first suggested to me, the first thing I did was ask Shine whether it was feasible to include it in the iPhone app (and my not-so-secret hope, an iPad app). They said yes - I don't know when it would happen, keeping in mind Shine are doing this all for free and thus have limited resources to devote to the iPhone app.
  8. I used Opera for my browser in lieu of IE...until Firefox 3 came out. Made the jump without regret. Still use Opera on my cellphone, but has limited commenting functionality there for SkS.

    With my Internet access being down for now (just moved to a different house and work has yet to have the 3rd party vendor implement the change), I'm reduced to phone browsing and various hotspots (not many in this rural area).

    The Yooper
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  9. I think this is great ... but have a problem. After installing (Firefox 3.6.12 in Ubuntu 10.10), my firefox tab freeze for extended period and it all becomes unusable. Disabling the add-on, all works fine again. :(
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  10. I have the same experience as fredb. I use Firefox 3.6.11 on Windows XP. Are there blocking calls in the code...?

    Seems like a very cool thing!
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  11. A very nifty tool. I'm not sure I'll find a way of using it (until playing with it, I'd forgotten how narrow Skeptical Science's remit is) but it seems very well done - although I did get a freeze when trying to close some tabs that Firefox created when I tried to close Report windows. I didn't think of the obvious - just click anywhere except on the Report window. (Firefox 3.6.11, Windows XP.)

    Some more nitpicks.

    1) One of the arguments has a misspelled 'exaggerate' (only one g).

    2) Three choices are offered for categorizing submissions: 'Skeptical', 'Neutral' and 'ProAGW'. I can guess what the first means (Skeptical Science uses 'skeptic' to mean 'denialist') and the second is probably meant to be half way between the first and third choices but what does the third mean? Does 'ProAGW' have an established meaning here at Skeptical Science? To an outsider, it's an unfortunate term because it is a valid description of the attitudes of various groups on both extremes of the 'debate', both denialist and alarmist. I suspect that it is supposed to mean 'More or less convinced by the "consensus" position as presented by the IPCC'. Unless the term is well-established here (in which case, ho hum), wouldn't something like 'consensus' or 'AGW is real' be less confusing?
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  12. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus/

    Have you seen this image from information is beautiful? Although obviously nowhere near as comprehensive as your website, it still might be quite useful I feel?

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  13. Oops - sorry - didn't put in a link to the original...

    link to "information is beautiful" page
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  14. Oops - sorry - didn't put in a link to the original...

    link to "information is beautiful" page
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  15. I'm having a problem submitting a report. If I select an argument it turns yellow just as it should but if I then select view report no argument is listed.

    Also I can't select multiple arguments. If I select another one it goes yellow but the first deselects back to it's original colour.

    Any Ideas if it is something I'm doing wrong, a problem with my setup or a problem with this plugin?

    The site I'm trying to submit can be found here;
    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/the-pinocchio-syndrome/
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    Response: You submit each argument one at a time, not simultaneously. So select an argment, it turns yellow, hit the 'Send Report' button. At that point, the article is added to our database - you'll notice the 'Send Report' window will change. The text box for the Article Title and dropdowns for Type/Bias disappear. Now you can only add extra arguments. To do this, go through the same process - select an argument, hit Send Report.
  16. Same trouble as Lazarus (Firefox 3.6.12 on Mac OX X 10.5.8). Are we supposed to submit a separate report for each argument?
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  17. I noticed that the front page already had several annotations with arguments that haven't got a reply yet (but of course, with closely related arguments that have).

    Wasn't there a big list of arguments somewhere, including all the ones that don't have replies here as well as those which do? I can't seem to find it any longer.
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    Moderator Response: Probably you are thinking of the Links page. Look in the horizontal blue bar at the top of this page. "Links" is near the right end.
  18. I've installed the Skeptical Science 1.0 add-on, then closed and restarted my Firefox v3.6.12 a couple of times, but I don't see the View Report icon or Create Report icon anywhere. Might some other add-on be interfering?
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  19. You really need to add a link to this from your Home page like yopu have done for the iPhone App. I have just reinstalled it after updating my PC and it took me a while to remember it was for Firefox and find it.
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  20. Sorry, but I have just noticed a problem with this addon. When I first installed it, Firefox started playing up, I had recently upgraded my video driver and thought maybe that was the cause - which is one of the reasons that I decided to update my PC as mentioned in my last post.

    The problem I was having was that my mouse pointer, when over a link, would flicker and change back to an arrow from a hand. Having just installed this addon it started happening again until I disabled it - now all is fine again. Does Shine Tech know of this issue?
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  21. Re: my report on 2 November 2010

    I found that the trouble is with my Zone Alarm Toolbar extension. When I disable that, the two SkS icons appear.
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  22. Nice tool! :)

    Suggestion for improvement: make it easier to input multiple arguments. A particular annoyance I'm experiencing is that after input of one argument, the list resets to the top, which means labourious scrolling down to where I was (with the entire list of 450-odd arguments, this becomes increasingly tedious; no fun -- the tool needs to be FUN to encourage use!)

    Possible solutions: 1) when a single argument is submitted, store current list index so as to avoid resetting to the beginning every time 2) allow multiple argument submission with (Windoze) standard Ctrl+click
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  23. Another comment: there's an odd 'argument' listed that I don't think should be there, text begins "OK! First of all I hope my observation won't be deemed friv..." (search the list for 'OK!' and you'll find it).
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  24. And another strange 'argument' - URL to http://columbia.edu/blahblah ...
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  25. uff, I got a small problem: using Debian Iceweasel does not accept this feature ... any solution??

    Jörg
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  26. Ive found this a REALLY USEFUL APP but since Ive started using Windows8 it doesn't accept my log-in. Ive tried logging in on Sks but the app (sorry add-on) asks me to log in again, i do so but nothing happens. Anyone else having this problem?
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  27. I'm having trouble signing in with the Firefox add-on. I type my username and password, click "log in" but nothing happens... Same thing happens with version 12 and 19 of the Firefox. Any suggestions?

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  28. Just installed the FireFox add-on, but I have the same problem as Alexandre: I can't log in. When I click the Log In button nothing happens.

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