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Author Topic: [Community Proposal] Credibility Rating: A grading system for the media  (Read 1143 times)
LightRider (OP)
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April 06, 2013, 08:46:47 AM
 #1

I've suggested this to the The Bitcoin Foundation, but I think it might be an overwhelming task for them to do on their own, so I wanted to tell the community about it. For too long, we, the bitcoin community, have suffered at the hands of an ill informed, uninterested, dispassionate and sometimes outright malicious media scrutinization. In particular, the underlying technical mechanisms, implementation details, overall architecture, differentiation between bitcoin and attendant services, as well as the major implications, both small and enormous, either elude the journalists who choose to write about it, or are deeply misunderstood or worse blatantly lied about. And while the media is not entirely filled with members fitting all of those negative attributes I listed earlier, and in fact there are many excellent journalists who are active participants here, the one thing they are all generally is unaccountable. We should probably look into changing that.

I propose a grading system, to be applied to major bitcoin media articles and other pieces, such that we the community and with time, the The Bitcoin Foundation, can publish and maintain to give meaningful feedback about those things which the media has gotten wrong (or even note it when they get it right). For too long, the fourth estate has gotten away with the worst misinformation, slander and libel about every subject in history, and this has served humanity very poorly. If we are to use bitcoin to benefit society, let's start with helping those who have the highest responsibility, informing the public.

Now I recognize that no amount of bad reporting could ever really fundamentally harm or damage the bitcoin network. I've never seen a CPU cry about a bad review or a piece of software sulk about poor mischaracterization. But this is not about defending the honor of or eliminating fud about the bitcoin software itself, or even the people participating in its community. It is about helping the uninformed public have a better understanding about the possibilities enabled by this project, and the very real and technical reasons why those possibilities exist. And while the media may continue to be unresponsive and unaccountable, we can at least construct an edifice of correction and education, a mirror that shows them for what they really are. And I suspect that the better of their number will appreciate and accept the help.

In general, I recommend a systematic grading system rooted in technical fluency and articulation. Broadly speaking, if the article mentions a technical fact or detail and attempts to explain it, it should be subject to technical scrutiny and correction. If they conflate the bitcoin project with a third party service, such conflation must be pointed out and explained. If there is a statement of fact that is demonstrably false, then it should be noted and examples or explanations provided.

One thing we should avoid doing is grading the piece on those details or mechanics that it does not mention or discuss. It would be unfair to assess information not provided. Of course, if the point of the article is to explain bitcoin, and major important points are not discussed, then this would be something to bring up. But most jounalism is not interested in the technical fundamentals, and will likely not dive too deep into them.

The grading levels would be what you expect. While I personally detest the current educational system's gamification of the education process, it is general knowledge to the western world what these grades mean, at least loosely.

A - Representing an accurate portrayal of bitcoin mechanics, clear distinction between the bitcoin software, network and associated third party services, understanding of the implications of the emergent bitcoin economy, recognizing that while it may be used for some unappealing purposes, so is every currency and generally refrain from editorializing on how its value may increase or decrease in a specific time frame. Most importantly, it should not advocate investing in the system, or at least provide sufficient warning that bitcoin is an experiment and is not guaranteed to be valuable at any particular point in time. (We must be honest with ourselves here.)

B - Representing a largely accurate portrayal and explanation of bitcoin. There may be misuse of technical terms, or some incorrect descriptions of how certain processes take place. No specific differentiation between bitcoin and other services, but no direct conflation. Statements about hacks, ddos events or thefts must indicate specific events and clearly articulate that they did not effect the entirety of the bitcoin network. Any statements about the price of bitcoin should come with the explicit date, and should avoid loaded terms such as crash or bubble.

C - Representing a good faith effort to describe bitcoin mechanics. Suffers from flawed understanding and explanation of technical details and processes. Directly conflates bitcoin with other services. Represents hacks and attacks on bitcoin services as attacks on bitcoin itself. Makes misguided or uninformed value judgments as to the ethical and legal implications of cryptocurrencies in general or bitcoin specifically. Is clearly enthusiastic about either encouraging or discouraging investment/adoption of bitcoin without clearly indicating the risks or rewards for doing so.

F - Representing a severely flawed or complete misrepresentation of bitcoin software and its community. Asserts completely inaccurate statements of fact that are anathema to the way bitcoin operates (either positively or negatively). Is outright dismissive, hostile, malicious or otherwise expresses nothing but opinion in the guise of explanation or information. Obviously, editorializing is not subject to objective evaluation, but statements of fact that are clearly meant to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt are subject to correction.

This is just a general proposal with the most basic outline. And it should go without saying that this should be criteria in addition to the basic tenets of actual journalism. (If the author has a stake in bitcoin, it should be noted, etc.) I realize that this is not a very useful or actionable basis for the real technical and journalistic evaluation that can and should be done on the many articles coming out. And more importantly, there are many people who are tirelessly defending bitcoin in the comments and feedback of articles everywhere. But for every 1 well informed and helpful voice, there are hundreds of ill informed individuals that will only rely on the information provided to them by the media. With an organized effort and the resources of the The Bitcoin Foundation, we can start to adjust that ratio in the right direction. Thank you for your time and attention.

Bitcoin combines money, the wrongest thing in the world, with software, the easiest thing in the world to get wrong.
Visit www.thevenusproject.com and www.theZeitgeistMovement.com.
Chet
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April 06, 2013, 09:03:38 AM
 #2

Why should bitcoin community care what the media says?
I find some of their stupid stuff very entertaining, let em go.
djalexr
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April 06, 2013, 09:08:08 AM
 #3

i think that's a great idea...

one question though...would this rating be applied to a whole media organistion, or particular journalists/guests? For example, one article by the UK Guardian gave a pretty basic but overall fairly balanced overview of the bitcoin price situation, but on the same day another journalist at the same organisation came out with some absolutely terribly researched bile (about it being the harlem shake of currency)


Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/apr/03/bitcoin-reaches-record-high-currency

vs.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/bitcoin-currency-bubble-crash-not-rocking-financial-markets


or... one of Bloomberg's own journalists wrote what seemed to be a well researched article article about bitcoin (but with what the bitcoin community would certainly perceive to be some questionable conclusions!)... but the organisation has perhaps redeemed themselves slightly by airing a good interview a bit later (though the presenter herself seemed pretty clueless!)

Bloomberg:

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-04/sorry-libertarians-history-shows-bitcoin-isn-t-the-future.html)

vs.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdVVECKKSXo)

Definitely an interesting concept and I would be happy to help with the grading system as I seem to be spending most of my working day trawling through the bitcoin media!

It seems to me though that this rating would vary from article to article produced by a particular organization. Perhaps people should be encouraged to set up a poll for each media article they introduce to the community, and the community would then be able to collectively decide which rating each article was worth. The overall organization rating could then be determined as a function of the ratings the articles it has produced received from the community.

moni3z
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April 06, 2013, 09:09:27 AM
 #4

None of the for-profit media has any credibility anymore this is kind of a waste of time. Nobody will read our article reviews, they just see the headlines about the latest Bitcoin slash piece for 10 seconds and turn it off to watch netflix.

LightRider (OP)
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April 06, 2013, 09:19:41 AM
 #5

i think that's a great idea...

one question though...would this rating be applied to a whole media organistion, or particular journalists/guests? For example, one article by the UK Guardian gave a pretty basic but overall fairly balanced overview of the bitcoin price situation, but on the same day another journalist at the same organisation came out with some absolutely terribly researched bile (about it being the harlem shake of currency)


Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/apr/03/bitcoin-reaches-record-high-currency

vs.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/bitcoin-currency-bubble-crash-not-rocking-financial-markets


or... one of Bloomberg's own journalists wrote what seemed to be a well researched article article about bitcoin (but with what the bitcoin community would certainly perceive to be some questionable conclusions!)... but the organisation has perhaps redeemed themselves slightly by airing a good interview a bit later (though the presenter herself seemed pretty clueless!)

Bloomberg:

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-04/sorry-libertarians-history-shows-bitcoin-isn-t-the-future.html)

vs.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdVVECKKSXo)

Definitely an interesting concept and I would be happy to help with the grading system as I seem to be spending most of my working day trawling through the bitcoin media!

It seems to me though that this rating would vary from article to article produced by a particular organization. Perhaps people should be encouraged to set up a poll for each media article they introduce to the community, and the community would then be able to collectively decide which rating each article was worth. The overall organization rating could then be determined as a function of the ratings the articles it has produced received from the community.


My proposal is per article/media piece. It would be unhelpful to judge a large organization entirely on one piece of work. And we can keep track of the list of grades any particular outlet has to point out their record overall. Also, this shouldn't really be about popularity or polling, but a technical and journalistic evaluation of the piece. Unfortunately, that does take time, effort and research, all of which are precious and valuable, and it would be good to have people dedicated to that process. That's why ultimately I thought the foundation would be interested. And again, this is just something I'm proposing. I'm not qualified or even have the time to do this work myself. Thanks for your question and your support! If you and others can make something like this happen, I think it would be awesome!

Bitcoin combines money, the wrongest thing in the world, with software, the easiest thing in the world to get wrong.
Visit www.thevenusproject.com and www.theZeitgeistMovement.com.
LightRider (OP)
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April 06, 2013, 09:25:12 AM
 #6

None of the for-profit media has any credibility anymore

While I agree with you, they still have some credibility with their audience, and that is something that we might be able to put a dent in, on this particular subject anyway.

Bitcoin combines money, the wrongest thing in the world, with software, the easiest thing in the world to get wrong.
Visit www.thevenusproject.com and www.theZeitgeistMovement.com.
LightRider (OP)
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April 06, 2013, 10:17:38 PM
 #7

Why should bitcoin community care what the media says?
I find some of their stupid stuff very entertaining, let em go.

If we want the community to be larger and better informed, then caring might help.

Bitcoin combines money, the wrongest thing in the world, with software, the easiest thing in the world to get wrong.
Visit www.thevenusproject.com and www.theZeitgeistMovement.com.
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April 07, 2013, 01:11:54 AM
 #8

This sounds aggressively missionary. Like, this would be slander against slander. Both are slander. I hate that the media screws up, but if the bitcoin community starts telling the public that the media is lying then they're gonna have to pick a side, and they won't pick your side.

Unless you're doing this for the community (so that we know which outlets know their chops)...

Sorry, you're just gonna have to deal with it. Mass media is a mind-dumbing process. Don't fight it.

Besides, this will easily turn into a "if you're pro-bitcoin you get a good grade, and if you're anti-bitcoin you get a bad grade". Especially if you leave it up to the community. People will automatically flag anti-bitcoin articles as bad articles even if they got all their facts right.
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April 07, 2013, 04:59:14 AM
 #9

Why should bitcoin community care what the media says?
I find some of their stupid stuff very entertaining, let em go.

I tend to agree. People get scared of shit they don't understand and bitcoin takes a little bit of reading and research to wrap your brain around.

Every article that resorts to name calling or defamation just offers me more time to invest at lower rates. Smart people will figure out that Bitcoin is going up for a reason and is only going to thrive as governments and banksters everywhere fuck over the masses through currency rape.

Let them be scared, let them share their fear with others who are afraid of doing a little homework to understand something new, smart people are figuring out very quickly and those who have the brain power to process and understand a great opportunity deserve to reap rewards while morons and coward run bank to their banks to get raped again.

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