I’m really excited to announce the release of one of the most exciting pieces of technology we have developed as part of rbutr – a platform independent toolbar which can be called up on any website.
This is really significant. Not only does it allow anyone to immediately query whether a page has been rebutted or not, regardless of what device they are on, or whether the plugin is installed or not, but it also allows people to share ‘bad information’ in a way which encourages critical analysis, and doesn’t confer search engine or social media benefits.
Let’s explain what all that means!
How Does it Work?
Any webpage can be seen within the rbutr toolbar by simply putting “rbutr.com/” in front of the URL of the page. So for example, if you are looking at “Google.com”, you go up to the Address Bar, and put the cursor at the beginning of the address and add “rbutr.com/”, giving you the new address of “rbutr.com/Google.com”. When you press enter , the page will reload and show the rbutr toolbar at the top of the page, conveying any information that we have on the page.
Now that you have your new address, which is technically: “http://rbutr.com/http://google.com” you can share that link with people on Social Media, via email, or on your website, and everyone who visits it will see that page under the rbutr toolbar.
You will also find that if you try to navigate within the webpage – click on links on the page, or use search boxes etc – the rbutr toolbar will close. There is no way to make the toolbar stay there, it will only stick around as long as you continue to click within it (clicking the arrows, or using the toolbar’s address bar). Otherwise, the toolbar will need to be called up each time by adding rbutr.com/ to the beginning of the URL.
Why Use the rbutr Toolbar?
Ever tweeted a link to a page just because the page was batshit crazy? Guess what, you just helped spread the batshit crazy.
Not only were you sending people to their website, but more importantly you provided inbound links and social media recognition. These metrics get used by companies like Google to figure out which websites to show when people search for related keywords. Facebook and Twitter use the number of times something is linked to as a way of recommending content, and the website itself can gain positive reputation on the basis of having thousands of shares, making it seem more credible. This is all bad if your objective is to make sure people don’t fall for misinformation.
To combat this, tools like DoNotLink have been created to allow people to safely link to misinformation without passing over any search or social value to that website. Tim Farley has written about this extensively and has done a fantastic job. The rbutr frame takes this concept to the next level…
Firstly, linking to a page within the rbutr toolbar framework confers no social or search advantage to the page being linked to. You aren’t actually linking to the original page, but a sort of copy of it.
Secondly, the rbutr toolbar at the top of the page instantly informs the visitor that the page has been disputed elsewhere on the internet. “rbutr has X responses to this page” it says in bold letters, clearly conveying that the content on this page should be approached cautiously, with critically reflection.
Thirdly, naturally, the visitors are able to easily click through to the response(s) mentioned and see those examples of how to critically analyse the content they had just viewed. Providing them with exposure to not only the wider perspective offered by those authors, but also the practice of how to critically dissect an argument – an incredibly important skill lacking on the internet.
Finally, the content you are linking to is still clearly visible in the URL itself, and in the page Title, so the target of the link is still obvious. This is useful so people can see whether they are interested in the content or not, unlike a lot of link-shorteners which don’t clearly display what it is that you are linking to.
With all of these elements coming together, the rbutr iFrame is a valuable tool which we hope everyone will keep in mind when trying to identify nonsense on the internet, and when inviting critical reflection on that nonsense over social media!
The easiest way to understand all of this is to just click on these links, and play with the frame:
The first example there has a long series of responses, so you can use the frame to follow the whole discussion, forwards and backwards if you wished just by using the arrows at either end of the frame. The second example has 5 responses to it, so you can either click the arrow and go directly to the top voted response, or you can click on the +5 down arrow to see the list of responses right there on the screen. Or, you can click on the sentence next to that and load up the “one-to-many” page in the rbutr website which shows the relationship between the claim page and all of the responses.