FactMyth.com is a free to use educational tool to promote learning via technology. It’s an encyclopedia / fact-check hybrid. It’s like dirty jobs, as our authors are truth seekers, not “experts”. It’s looking at human experience and the world around us by debating just the most interesting parts. It’s community driven, but internally moderated (to avoid the site getting hijacked by ideology and emotion). It’s an epic novel of life-hacks written and refined in real time. It’s a website. The goal is to explain things in the simplest funniest way, without ever sacrificing truth for brevity. The goal is to get your input and scribe the truth for the next generation of internet searchers.
It works sort of like this:
We state a factoid as an argument, then our researchers resolve the argument as “fact” or “myth” depending on their findings. These findings are challenged by our audience and are keep up-to-date and accurate overtime by our audience and editors. Or in more detail:
- Our authors take a factoid (AKA commonly held belief) and research it (Factoids are submitted by our users, or found by our authors).
- Our authors write up a definitive page explaining why a given factoid is true or untrue (Fact or Myth).
- Then our users get’s to comment and tell us why they agree or disagree with us (users can rate things “fact” or “myth” in the comments section).
- If we find that the community has provided solid evidence for or against our findings those findings will be included in the article. Any changes to the article will be notated. In the spirit of respecting some academic tradition, opinions on the topic will be notated and found a separate section of the page than conclusions and research.
- Once the site falls into a groove, and people start using it, we will be giving users a chance to submit their own Fact / Myth pages and even become authors. If things go really well we will be offering paid writing opportunities to readers who prove their salt.
Thus, we plan to create a collaborative platform that is part familiar fact-busters and part familiar X-ipedia, and it all runs on the familiar WordPress platform. The concept being that while not everyone has a college degree or knows how to contribute to Wikipedia, everyone knows how to comment on a WordPress blog.
More on How FactMyth Works
FactMyth.com takes commonly held beliefs (factoids) and fact-checks them to see if they are actually facts or myths. We categorize these factoids under encyclopedia-like pages based on subjects related to a given factoid.
Our goal is, with the help of readers like you, to find truth in all subjects and to present knowledge freely to the world in a fun, relevant, and exciting way.
What FactMyth.com Isn’t
FactMyth.com is not a place to fact-check current political talking points (ex. “X” politician said this) or opinions (ex. “X” is wrong and “Y” is right). We also veer away from extremely emotional subjects and conspiracy theories.
There are other great sites are out there which deal with these sorts of things, we stick to beliefs which are rooted in reality and thus can be categorized as fact or myth.
As a rule of thumb, a specific factoid can certainly elicit an emotional response and debate, but the claim itself should be potentially quantifiable using reason and logic.
Can Everything be Categorized as Fact or Myth?
The world is rarely black and white, instead most ideas exist in a grey area between black and white. One might think of it as all common beliefs being a mix of truths, half-truth, and lies. One may even use truths to mislead a person or use half-truths and lies to point a person in the right direction.
With all of the above in mind, in our experience any statement can be rated as true or untrue (or for our purposes “fact” or myth”.)
Consider this, if a statement is undoubtably true than it is a fact, if a statement contains any un-true aspect then it is a myth. Thus lies and half truths are myths and only truths are facts.
If a truth is misleading that will be discussed on the given factoid page. As revealing as the truth behind any statement is, it is the explanation, discussion, and research that gives a finding value.
What do You Mean By Factoid?
When we say we rate “factoids” as fact myth we are referring to The Oxford English Dictionary definition of factoid as “1. A brief or trivial item of news or information” and “1.1 an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact”. We include this to mean any commonly held belief, be it true or un-true. For the purposes of the site the way the factoid statement is presented should be contemplated to make it more general (as to address one issue in one place rather than many) and to avoid misleading factoids.
How Does FactMyth.com Address Accuracy?
When one of our authors researches a factoid they do their best to refine the phrasing of the factoid they are researching. This helps us to avoid confusing, misleading, or repetitive content. They also do their best to check a number of resources in the research process. Authors should cite resources as they attempt to explain the truth behind a given factoid.
This whole process is similar for readers who contribute to the site (anyone can contribute, but content is moderated by our authors). Readers can offer their opinions, research, and citations by commenting on and/or rating any given factoid.
Authors will also regularly check existing factoids to better refine the content on the site. If a factoid rated fact is proved a myth by our readers or authors, or if a myth is proved a fact the factoid will be updated to reflect the process it has gone through.
We invite experts in any subject to join in. The site is only as strong as it’s authors and users.
How Do You Avoid Incorrect Information?
Inevitably there will be incorrect information on the site. But, overtime information should become more and more correct as people contribute. One benefit of FactMyth.com over other resources like Wikipedia.org is that while FactMyth.com uses crowdsourcing to gather information and input, actual factoid pages are moderated by our authors. This helps avoid situations where popular opinions or powerful entities with wiggly words might trump truth.
On FactMyth.com the goal is to have truth trump popular opinion while popular or powerful opinions while be noted and discussed on a given page.
What are the Rules for Citations?
Although we encourage the use of proper citation people can cite any resource they wish, or when commenting simply not cite anything at all.
We encourage people to cite resources that are easily confirmed with a basic internet connection. While it is relevant to cite academic and written works that are available to limited audiences, the goal of the site is to present information in a way that is easy to access, understand, and verify.
Information should always be presented in the most true way possible, sources do not have to meet any sort of academic guidelines. You can cite anything from Wikipedia.org to a supermarket tabloid, but consider that “weaker” citations will be associated with the information presented.
It’s ok to cite more than one article for a specific datapoint. One could cite that they got the information from Wikipedia.org and the source that Wikipedia got their information from.
At the end of the day we are concerned with truth and in the meeting of some previously set standard.
How Does FactMyth.com Address Relevance?
For a research tool like FactMyth.com to be relevant it must not only be accurate, but it must be up-to-date as well. Things change and sometimes facts change to. For example the factoid “It is illegal to sing happy birthday in a public setting without paying royalties” used to be true, but as of September 2015 the factoid is better said as “It used to be illegal to sing happy birthday in a public setting without paying royalties“.
Our authors and editors regularly check factoids to make sure they are still accurate, you can see the last time a factoid was updated on the factoid itself. You can also check the comments for the latest crowd-sourced research and opinions.
How Does FactMyth.com Address Being Comprehensive?
Overtime contributions from authors and readers should result in a comprehensive look at all the world’s subjects (the sort of thing you would expect from an encyclopedia). This is an ideal that we will strive toward overtime. We are confident that we can achieve our goals due to the system of categorization we are using (which we have based on existing categorization used by sites like Google and Wikipedia.)
Keep it Simple
Factoids should always be presented and explained in the most simple and easily understandable way possible. By keeping things simple it’s easier for readers to learn and to fact-check factoids themselves. It will also help increase the speed at which FactMyth.com can grow.
When taking on “everything” it can be tempting to be highbrow, overly academic, or otherwise alienating to a mass audience. The goal of this site is to accurately find and convey knowledge to as wide range of a world-wide audience is possible. That means doing your best to “explain it like your talking to a 5th grader” and being aware of your own innate biases.
Consider contributing to other factoids in a given subject and helping to spread the truth rather than focusing on adding more content to a given factoid.