Rbutr – being intellectually robust on the internet
Shane Greenup has designed something which looks brilliant, and will help the internet become more intellectually robust in the future, I hope. It is a browser add-on called rbutr. Here is what he has to say about it:
rbutr is a community driven system which maps links between webpages where the content of one page is a critical response to the other. The content may be directly arguing against the original content, or generally presenting contradictory evidence.
Users of our browser plugins are alerted when they visit a rebutted page, and they can easily access any of the critical responses we have in our system. Anyone unable to install the plugin (mobile device users for example) are able to check for responses to webpages by adding rbutr.com/ to the beginning of that page’s URL.
One of the basic premises which lies behind the rbutr project is the belief that if you are accessing information, then you have the right to know if someone has critiqued that information. If someone else has taken the time to respond, criticise or argue against the content you are accessing, then that response is potentially incredibly important to what you have just read, watched or heard. You have the right to know about it. – the right to know
Our objectives with this technology is to help ensure people are never trapped with just one information source on a subject that they care about. Br providing access to critical responses to that source we can ensure misinformation is corrected, scams are exposed, bias is called out, context is provided and everyone has access to the full story.
Our long term hope is to promote critical thinking in future generations by demonstrating to them that every claim can be critically analysed, and by making that process a regular daily occurrence in their lives.
rbutr improves your browser
Install rbutr and it will sit in the corner of your browser, out of the way, waiting for you to browse your way on to one of the thousands of websites in our system which have been linked to rebuttals. When you visit one of these rebutted pages – whether you got there by a friends recommendation, a google search, or any other way – rbutr will pop a small alert up on the page for a few seconds to let you know, and indicate how many rebuttals are connected to the rebutted page with a small number on the rbutr icon.
Click on the rbutr icon and you will see the list of rebuttals drop down. Any webpage can be rebutted, even the rebutting pages can be counter-rebutted.
This means that you can follow multi-step discussions across several websites, several authors and a range of view points on the one subject very easily.
When rbutr indicates that there is a rebuttal to a page, it only means that someone, somewhere else on the internet has argued against the information present on the page you are looking at, and that someone has submitted that connection to rbutr. rbutr makes no claims about the validity of the rebuttal, or of the rebutted page – our purpose is to make it easy to access more, contrary information so that you can inform yourself fully about whatever subject you are already reading about.
rbutr is not the internet police. We aren’t trying to pick and choose who is right and who is wrong. Nor do we want to tell you what to think. Our goals are simple: to present the best information available on contentious subjects in a way that is immune to the trappings of bias. The rest is up to you.
rbutr is a community effort
Are you interested in a subject? Consider subscribing to that subject and get alerted whenever requests are made for rebuttals to pages in that area – maybe you know of rebuttals, or could write one yourself in your own blog, or on a forum somewhere, which you could then submit to rbutr.
The community also votes on the rebuttals. Vote up any rebuttal which is a well constructed counter-argument to the page it is rebutting (regardless of whether you agree with the conclusions or not!), and vote down any rebuttals which are off topic or completely fail to address the subject matter of the rebutted page. This way we can identify the best rebuttals available on the internet, and push down the irrelevant articles and poorly argued rebuttals.
It is incredibly tempting to vote down rebuttals which you disagree with, but try to avoid doing it. It is far better to help the people you disagree with present their strongest argument possible, and then rebut that! No one wins when we all argue against straw man versions of each others arguments.
Here is an article entitled “Why rbutr must share misinformation“.
I’ve installed it and so should you! Watch this video: it is awesome and shows the extensive capabilities of this great add-on.