The Skeptic Exchange

December 12, 2009

Do you have a question that requires a science-based viewpoint?  Or are you knowledgeable about certain areas of interest to skeptics, and you’re looking for a place to dispense your wisdom?

Or both???

Well, The Skeptic Exchange might be just the place you’ve been looking for.

I first heard about it on Skeptically Speaking, the Canadian radio show hosted by Desiree Schell.  At the beginning of Episode 36 (which was, by the way, an excellent episode with Martin Bridgstock and Kylie Sturgess), Richard Stelling was on the Speaking Up segment to promote The Skeptic Exchange.

Richard and the Bristol Skeptics have created The Skeptic Exchange to be a place where anyone can ask questions, anyone can answer questions, and those who post the best answers get voted up by the community and subsequently earn a reputation on the site.  According to their FAQ, a user’s reputation is

a (very) rough measurement of how much the Skeptic Exchange community trusts you. Reputation is never given, it is earned by convincing other users that you know what you’re talking about.

In other words, it’s a self-correcting community: those who are knowledgeable and competent are displayed as such on the site; those who spout drivel are also displayed as such.  The users then know who to trust and who to ignore.

More from their FAQ on what they’ll cover:

The Skeptic Exchange is designed to help answer question on a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:

  • pseudoscience
  • the supernatural
  • faith healing
  • ghosts and orbs
  • alternative medicine
  • urban legends
  • critical thinking

No question is too trivial or too “newbie”.

The Exchange launched less than two months ago, so it’s still growing, but I recommend that anyone with questions and/or answers head over there and become a part of this growing community.

Even better, if you get in now, from now until Christmas, Skeptic Exchange will be giving away FREE copies of The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas (compiled by Ariane Sherine) to the first 5 users over 1000 reputation.  Even Richard himself only has a reputation of 119 as of this writing, so there’s still time to get in, make a difference, and see if you can score a free book!

To me, this seems like the perfect way to get the free-flowing ideas of a forum, with the reputation system to promote the best contributors, all in a skeptical, science-based series of topics.  I encourage you to go check it out.  I’m going to go answer a question or two right now!

For more information, read Bristol Skeptics’ writeup of their Skeptic Exchange at their blog, or just head straight to the site itself: http://exchange.bristolskeptics.co.uk/

..Rob T. has a reputation that precedes him — unfortunately!


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