Mining Knowledge from the Internet
We created the Disinformation Resistance Community so citizens could actively participate in cleaning up the Internet. The Internet has become polluted principally by widespread and well-funded disinformation campaigns. The major polluters comprise powerful people, organizations, and governments, often with plenty of resources and always with an agenda. Most of the Internet rewards effective influencers with plenty of attention and social media reinforcement. Even well-intentioned honest readers will forward bogus articles because they find them interesting or topical. Promoters of “Internet literacy” education hope that we can teach everyone to sniff out deceit and misinformation. That seems unlikely, if not dangerously naive.
We approach the problem differently, viewing the Internet as a vast unassessed sphere of information and claims. If we want to inhabit that sphere and avoid toxic effects of pollution, we need a collective effort to assess that content. Which of it should be Trusted, and which of it should be Distrusted? Our hope is that this community can make rapid progress on moving important content from its Unassessed status, disposing of the Distrusted and promoting the Trusted.
We find the metaphor of mining apt for this situation. The Earth presents a vast area of potentially valuable resources, but we must choose where to look and adopt effective techniques for assaying what we dig up. The same applies to our search for trustworthy information. We expect Trusted members, who risk their own reputations and commit to honesty and civility, to mine and assess knowledge. Collectively, we want to sort important information into Trusted vs Distrusted, where possible. While news and social media are flooded with Distrusted content, we hope that our members can avoid consuming that toxic content. We want our members to mine and endorse Trusted information, especially when the community finds the specifics important.
So our members mine for Trusted Articles, Nuggets and Gems, and they can refine these into Pearls and Jewels. When members find well supported trustworthy Articles on the Internet, they can Endorse them as Trusted so all community members can also trust them. When members discover a valid statement or a bogus claim, they can identify a corresponding Fact or Sham. Those in turn give rise to a Nugget that justifies the Fact and refutes the Sham. Members can use these Trusted Nuggets to justify other claims or challenges. Each Nugget makes a Claim and essentially represents one elementary unit of knowledge. Each unit of knowledge answers a related question.
When our members read important Articles, they often recognize that the Articles provide valued answers to questions that many people might have. In these circumstances, the members can elucidate those questions and endorse the source Article as a Trusted source for answering those questions. Members do this by creating Gems. Each Gem lists a set of questions and cites a Trusted Article that answers those questions. This allows other members to search for Trusted answers to questions. We rely on human intelligence and natural language to create and process that information.
When it seems important, a member can refine and polish a Gem so that it provides trusted Facts as answers to all questions. In that case, each question cites a specific Nugget whose Claim answers the question. We call these refined, polished objects Jewels.
We also encourage our members to author Trusted articles themselves. The author Endorses the self-published Article as Trusted, affirming that the writer has satisfied the Checklist for Endorsement. We label these publications Pearls, because they represent honest, civil, and Trusted units of human knowledge. We expect many journalists and researchers to publish Pearls. We do not allow general blog posts, but we encourage publishing Pearls.