The feathery dinosaur wants you – to please contribute

feathery dinosaur

In case you you don’t know the humor, a few years ago Orac, one of the snarkiest skeptics on the internet, called me a scaly dinosaur. Though I was scared to do so, but I had to correct him – I am a feathery dinosaur. Of course, I don’t think Orac is a paleontologist, but you never know.

I am once again e-begging. We’ve made a massive dent in the fundraising, chopping away about $1,000. If we can get the other $2-3000, it would be great. Continue reading “The feathery dinosaur wants you – to please contribute”

It’s that time of year again – I need to do some e-begging

e-begging

It’s that time of year for the old feathery dinosaur, Skeptical Raptor to do something he hates. It’s the time of year for e-begging. That old dinosaur and I are trying to get enough funds to keep this place running, and running smoothly.

Like I’ve said a hundred times before, I started this website as a hobby. A place where I could write down some thoughts, share them with a few people, and call it a day. The first month of this website, January 2012, I had 100 visitors. And I was ecstatic. It wasn’t ScienceBasedMedicine, but as a hobby, it was great.

My total costs for the website were around $15.00 month on a shared server located in Colorado Springs. The technical people there knew me by my first name, and we would fix issues in about 10 seconds, and then talk about skiing or something.

Expenses

This year, 2017, I’m ranging from 120,000 to 200,000 unique visitors per month, 200,000 to 300,000 total visits, and 2-5 million hits per month. That can’t be done on a shared server, because my website would be demanding all the resources, and other websites on that server, like JanesCatGrooming would fail to load all the time. In fact my web host in Colorado kicked me off their service in February 2015 without any warning.

On my current web host, I pay $350 a month for a dedicated server and bandwidth. Frequently, I exceed the limits of the server because I publish a very popular article, and the website performance goes down. I really need to upgrade soon. I could get it cheaper if I paid for a year of service in advance, but that’s a huge outlay for me.

I also pay another $100 a month for various services that block hacking (very important these days, the Russians probably aren’t happy with my anti-Trump articles), track stats, improve performance, and other things that are critical to a website.

Then, I pay about $150 a month for a technical guru who fixes issues with the website. For example, I had to switch from http to https in one day to maintain Google rankings, who was dropping non-secure websites from rankings. That was a large expense for me, because there was a problem in how I originally set up the website (back in 2012). When I knew nothing about websites.

Revenue

Despite all of the hits and design of the website, along with what appears to be 50 ads, my ad revenue ranges from $80-120 per month. In other words, it does not cover my average $600 a month outlay.

There is an assumption that because I am a “Big Pharma Shill,” I am either wealthy from my past life or receiving huge checks from Big Pharma. Sorry, but neither is correct. Although I cover the costs of this website from my own monies, it is a serious burden for me.

This is why I need to e-beg for cash. I have several goals, beyond monthly fees, depending on the amount of money I receive:

  • I need to start caching this website to improve performance. But I have a major issue in how the website is organized which will require repointing every article to a new URL. This is an expensive and difficult undertaking, which only became a problem in the last few months.
  • I’d like to remove all but a couple of ads to improve performance. Since most of you use ad blockers (according to website data), I get no revenue, and still get performance hits.
  • I’d like to slightly upgrade the server to handle upticks in visits and hits.
  • I’d also like to really improve the performance of the website, which Google identifies as “Poor.” It’ll take a lot of work to get this done, above and beyond what I am paying out now.

I think there a lot of top articles with high Google rankings that counteract the misinformation of the anti-vaccine folks. Many of the HPV vaccine and GMO articles rank in the top 5. The articles on vaccines and law are often the most shared articles on this website.

I like to think that Skeptical Raptor is a resource to the world of scientific skepticism, especially in areas of GMOs and vaccines. I know if this website disappeared, it would be replaced by many of the other websites out there. But there are nearly 1100 articles posted on this website, and a good number of them are valuable tools in arguing with quacks and junk medicine users. For example, I wrote an article 5 years ago about whether bananas can cure cancer – they don’t, in case you were wondering.  That article still gets 50-100 visits a DAY.

e-begging sites

There are two ways to contribute to this website.  First, you can make use of PayPal. If you wish, you can set up PayPal to provide monthly contributions, which are just as helpful. I prefer PayPal, because it doesn’t take out a fee, so if you send $10, I get $10.





My second method is through GoFundMe. Some people are more comfortable with the anonymity and popularity of GoFundMe, and it’s a perfectly fine way to do it. However, GoFundMe does take a small portion as a fee for the service.

 

Your generous donations can keep this website going for another year. Please help if you can. And like I said above, if I can get enough donations, I can eliminate all but 2 low bandwidth ads, which will make me happier. And make the reader happier.

I really hate e-begging, but I need to do it to keep this website running. Please help out if you can.

 

The One with the website update – cleanup and advertising

website under construction

Over the past few months, we’ve made several changes to the feathery dinosaur’s website, and I’ve gotten little feedback other than a Tweet from a “fan” who complained that he didn’t like it. Of course, he didn’t explain why, so all the Skeptical Raptor could do is take his claw and scratch his head.

Here’s what we’ve done over the past three months:

  1. Speeded up the website. Load times seem to be near instantaneous, though, and as an Apple fan, it breaks my heart, it’s sometimes slow with Safari.
  2. Removed about 50% of the advertising. It slowed down the website and some of it was obtrusive. And despite our best efforts some of the advertising ended up being in contradiction to what we write here.
  3. Changed a lot of formatting things to make this easier to read. One of the Raptor’s fanboys helped out a lot in getting the font and font size just right.

But all of this leads to other issues. We’re still trying to improve the design of the website to make it visually appealing AND fast. But we need feedback from you, the loyal and casual readers, to adjust what we’ve done. The website must be a tool to share good writing on topics that interest you. If it’s visually unappealing, or takes forever to load, you won’t read it. So please comment below. And because the internet works on negativity, please drop a note if all is fine.

Another consequence of changes is ads. We’ve lost about 50% of the ad revenue because of the reduction in number of ads. Because of the high readership and popularity, this website is expensive to run. We can’t go to a website hosting service and get their cheapest plan. No, we need to get dedicated servers and a ton of other technical tools to run it efficiently. We laugh when we see adverts on TV that make it so easy to start a website for your business – it is not that easy.

website velociraptor
Photo of the Skeptical Raptor when he hears Donald Trump saying vaccines cause autism. They don’t.

 

Begging is annoying. But we need contributions to survive. We don’t need gold bars shipped in from Big Pharma, but we do need contributions of any level to continue providing content for the foreseeable future. To be honest, without your contributions, we were considering shutting down this website last year. It’s no longer a cute hobby – it’s a almost full time business. And those Big Pharma and Big Agra shill checks keep bouncing. They have no honor.

So click on either of the links below, GoFundMe or PayPal, to contribute to this website. Please. We really need the help to keep going.

Finally, one issue that troubles us. We used to get 40-50 comments on blog posts, now we get a handful, sometimes none at all. Please comment (see what we did there) on why this might be happening. I’m beginning to miss the good old days when anti-vaxxers trolled the articles. Like our favorite alcoholic, drug addict.

And please comment here. Tell us how we’re doing – don’t be rude, be constructive. We need the feedback.



Please help me out by sharing this article. Also, please comment below, whether it's positive or negative. Of course, if you find spelling errors, tell me!

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2016 review – the feathery dinosaur’s take on an interesting year

2016 review

This blog and website is just short of five years old. It started in January 2012 to a grand total of 100 readers that month. I have no clue who those 100 readers were or how they found this website, but I wonder if any of those 100 are still reading this blog. And a tradition I started in 2012 (which is nearly the Jurassic age in internet terms) we the annual review of my top posts for the year – and it is time for the 2016 review.

And like any 2016 review, it’s time to list out the top 13 most read articles for 2016 on this website. Each article was viewed over 100,000 times, an amazing number if you follow how well blogs do on the internet. In fact, the top 13 made up over 50% of the article views for the year.

One huge caveat – I’ve published over 180 articles on this website this year. But some of the top 13 are articles published in 2014 and 2015. It makes me happy (and you always want to keep carnivorous dinosaurs happy) to realize that older articles are being read in huge numbers even 2 years later. Many of these articles are at the top or nearly at the top of Google search rankings. Just Google “banana cancer” – my article is at #1. And it is shared all the time by people who read the nonsense that ripe bananas cure cancer.

Please take a moment and read some of the top 13. Please share the article when you’ve read it – it helps bring in new readers and improves the Google ranking.

Continue reading “2016 review – the feathery dinosaur’s take on an interesting year”

Please donate to the Skeptical Raptor website

The feathered dino asks you to donate

He knows. That feathery, cranky, snarky dinosaur is once again asking for funding for this website, and it’s annoying while being uncomfortable for the carnivorous one. But we’re just a tad short of the goals of $3000 to support the website through 2017. Please donate if you can.

Here’s what the web experts have already done with the website with your generous donations:

  1. Last summer, we had constant issues with service from our web host. The problem wasn’t them, but us. We had too many people reading this damn blog, and the server just couldn’t handle it. With your donations, we’ve upgraded to a more powerful server, but we want to go one step higher to have the capacity for further growth of this website in 2017.
  2. Our website used a 2014 framework, which in internet years is like a 1,000 years old. We’ve moved to a more modern looking website, which was paid for by your generous donations.
  3. We’ve removed some of more annoying advertising, though we’re taking a risk. The worst advertising actually pays the best, so we’re counting on funding from you, the loyal reader, to cut our reliance on the worst of the advertising.
  4. We’ve even removed some of the advertising at the bottom of each article, which had some weird stuff like “alien babies.” Or similar.

The dinosaur thinks we provide great content here. It may not be to everyone’s liking, especially if you’re one of those anti-vaccine types, but we try to make it useful for anyone in a discussion that wanders off to the anti-science side.

Some of our articles widely read and shared. Articles on GMOs and vaccines are often shared several thousand times on Facebook and Twitter. Any time Dorit Rubinstein Reiss writes one of her thoughtful and informative articles about legal issues regarding vaccines, they always have significant readership. And commenting.

We really want to continue providing outstanding articles for 2017. But we need your help, especially if we need to reduce reliance on advertising.

Please donate via GoFundMe in the link below. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

 

Quid pro quo loving Skeptical Raptor looking for a deal

quid pro quo

The Skeptical Raptor loves a few things – chomping on Andrew Wakefield’s nonsense, making fun of those who deny science, and laugh hysterically at the utter ignorance of Donald Trump. Since some of these topics are interrelated – see the Trump-Wakefield bromance – so they’re like 2 for 1 deals. But the feathery dinosaur loves one more thing, the old quid pro quo.

For those who aren’t lawyers or know Latin, it is a phrase that means “something for something,” or “this for that.” No, this dinosaur had to look it up, as Latin, outside of a few scientific terms and TV lawyer, is not in his basic vocabulary. So, the old dinosaur wants to do a quid prop quo with its fans.

Basically, we want to rip out the advertisements at the bottom of the page. You know, the click bait ones like “101 secrets to youth” or “Big secret – this product will cure cancer” or “Celebrities are drinking this coffee, and why you should too.” We all hate these ads, though they are amusing – sadly, they’re lucrative. Lots of people click on them, even those of use who probably shouldn’t.

What we would like to do is remove those ads at the bottom of the page. They clog up the space between the bottom of the article. Also, lots of people can’t find the comments section because of all those ads.

On one side of the quid pro quo will be removal of those annoying ads. On the other side of it, we need to make up for the revenue to continue to maintain and build this website. And to provide excellent content without annoying ads.

We continue to upgrade the server and website using the original funding we got from all of you readers. Our server is a quad-core, 4GB memory. Generally, this website no longer times out, but the new design use a lot of memory resources. We would like to upgrade to a 16GB RAM to really make the server hum, but it’s a significant investment.

quid pro quo

Like NPR (for those in the USA), fundraising is a part of keeping this not-for-profit running with lots of content. We still have a guy (every website has a guy) who is helping us smooth out the problems with this new design. We’re not sure it’s exactly what we want, so we may change again.

Servers, web design, and fixing security issues absorb a lot of the cost of running this website – most of it comes out of the ancient dinosaur’s pockets. If he had pockets, they would come from them.

I know a lot of you of contributed a couple of months ago. We don’t need a lot, just enough to carry us through at least part of the year. While eliminating some of the obnoxious advertising. So if you have an extra dollar, euro, pound, shekel, ruble or yen, we would appreciate your assistance.

Your support keeps this website going with some of the best content around. I think this website has some of the best legal information regarding vaccines on the internet from Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. I know pro- and anti-vaccine people come here for information. Both Professor Reiss and the feathery dinosaur receive no compensation from anyone. We all do it to bring honest and well sourced information about all sorts of scientific knowledge.

Those cheap executives at Big Pharma don’t support this website, verbose dinosaurs or Professor Reiss. And even if they did, none of us would accept it, because this website has a mission – using scientific integrity to squash myths on the internet.

Please, contribute anything you can by clicking on either link below for the crowdsourcing website, GoFundMe.

 

 

Website construction poll – how are we doing?

website construction polling

Skeptical Raptor 4.0 has been out in the wild for almost a month, and we’re not sure what we think about it. For example, most of you didn’t know that clicking on the bright red Skeptical Raptor logo brings you to the home page, where you can search for almost any article. We wanted to throw in a couple of website construction polls to find out what you all are thinking, maybe to help decide which direction to go next.

The current website is really a beta, with issues popping up all the time (like the date of the article is no longer at the top, but now at the bottom – we know that’s an issue that needs to be fixed).

(Throw any additional observations and suggestions down in the comments.)

We hope you notice a few things about the new website. First, we’ve cut out almost all of the embedded ads (those within the body of the articles), because the fundraising model means we can operate the website without relying on ads (though we kept a few along one side). If continued fundraising remains healthy enough to support this website, we will remove more of the ads.

Second, the new design should be faster, and allow for quicker navigation between articles.

Third, there is a new landing page which lists the most recent articles and the 5-6 most popular articles published on this website.

Fundraising

We’re still trying to raise money for the feathery dinosaur to improve the website (such as fixing the date issue, something that’s harder than we originally thought). Because of some really odd hacking attempts, a lot of what we budgeted for website improvement was put into plugging any potential security flaws.

Again, if you’ve got a few spare dollars, please click on the links below. We can use the help in removing more ads, upgrading the website even further, and giving this place a long future of providing content about everything from vaccines and the law to GMO myths.

Please contribute. We can use the help.

 

Andrew Wakefield birthday gift – support the Skeptical Raptor

Andrew Wakefield birthday gift

Yesterday, 3rd of September, was birthday of one of the most vile frauds known to this planet. Using a term we just learned, benevolent trolling, we’re asking the loyal readers of the Skeptical Raptor to consider giving an Andrew Wakefield birthday gift to the snarky dinosaur so that he might enhance this website to make it even more snarkalicious.

This website has made it one of its missions to constantly attack the vain ignorance of Wakefield and his sycophants. Consider this – if you Google “Andrew Wakefield fraud,” the number two Google hit is yours truly.

Andrew Wakefield birthday gift

Actually, we were surprised by that. And we are very proud that our regular features discussing Wakefield, his lame fraudumentary, Vaxxed, and many other aspects of this cunning fraud, are so popular on the internet.

But to keep this website going, especially in light of the millions of page views we get each month, please take a moment and contribute whatever you can to keep this place running. We’re getting pretty close to the goal of $1500, which will help upgrade the server, coding and landing page.

In fact, we’ have already become the upgrade process for the server, and the transition will continue over the next week or two. Issues with 404 errors have nearly dropped to 0, since implementing the changes. We do have much more to do.

Give to the Andrew Wakefield birthday gift fund. What is that you ask? It is the promise that the feathery dinosaur will continue to troll the fraudmeister as many times as we can. In fact, sometime next week, we’re going to have an “Andrew Wakefield, cunning fraud” page that will contain all of the myth busting that has been written here about Wakefield.

One more thing – the Skeptical Raptor just growled into my ear that he’s a little ticked off that he’s number two on the Google hit parade for Andrew Wakefield. Number 2 is actually pretty damn fine.

But please help out if you can. We’re almost there. Just click on the links below, and you can donate to the site. Thanks everyone!

Thaumaturgy – the colorful and feathery dinosaur finds it delicious

thaumaturgy

Thaumaturgy, there’s a word for you. It’s magic or a miracle, used by many to explain events or observations that strain the ability of science to explain it.

Just because one cannot explain something, does not mean that we have to default to magic or thaumaturgy. In fact, I am convinced that everything in our natural universe can be explained with enough time, reasoning and data. The only mysteries are those that will be understood in the future.

Sometimes, cancer patients will not respond to treatment. Suddenly, their symptoms lesson, and the cancer will go into remission. It’s not a miracle from prayer or magical crystals. There is an explanation, based on real science, that just needs to be uncovered. Maybe the cancer had a delayed response to chemotherapy. Maybe the individuals immune system randomly “learned” how to attack the cancer because of a mutation in the cancer. Maybe the patient started drinking beer, and their favorite beer had one key component that just happened to have an effect on that patient’s unique cancer.

Please, no one go out into the world and say “the Skeptical Raptor claims that beer cures cancer.” Please don’t. The dinosaur will have to go in hiding along with the reptilians that control governments all over the world.

Once again, the feathery dinosaur is here asking for help to grow and maintain this website. The Skeptical Raptor does not make a profit on this site, but has, in reality, lost thousands of dollars trying to keep it running.

The other day, we received an email from someone that why don’t we just use one of those website hosts, like GoDaddy (advertised heavily in the USA), which charge like $10 a month. Those type of hosts provide space to several websites on one server, generally called a shared server.  If one website starts using too much power, by becoming too large, then the host demands that you move to a more powerful server.

That’s what happened to this website. We were using this very nice host who had great customer service. But, in early 2015, we went from 1000 hits a day to 20,000 hits a day. The host service was unhappy and shut me down, and it took over a month to move to a new server. And the cost to us was measured in several thousand dollars.

This website’s Facebook page was packed with comments about whether links would come back. Whether we’d come back. There are a lot of articles here that are linked to many other articles across the internet.

We consider this website to be a resource, not a profit-oriented enterprise. It will be here for as long as this dinosaur is alive with at least a few neurons working.

But we need your help to make this website more efficient along with having some headroom to grow. Over the past five years, the page views on Skeptical Raptor has grown over 50% a year, with no sign of plateauing.

We really need your help, and anything you can dig out of your pocket (even lint, though attached to a $5 bill would be better) will go towards making certain that we maintain our Google ranking for vaccine and GMO articles.

Please join the effort to modernize this website and make it accessible to everyone all the time. Click on any link below, and help out if you can.

The feathery dinosaur thanks you.

 

 

 



Cult science – the raptor enjoys hunting down pseudoscience

Skeptical Raptor checking out cult science

The Skeptical Raptor hates begging. He’d rather just get his meals from ripping apart the ignorance of pseudoscience. Before the advent of crowd-funding, like GoFundMe, we probably would have shut this website down, because the cost to run it is so high. We do feel as this website serves a function in the community as a resource to fight cult science, like anti-vaccination and anti-GMO pseudoscience.

Every day, we check who links to an article here. We are always surprised when a legal article about vaccination, from Professor Dorit Reiss, gets a link from an Italian website. Maybe some Italian law student is looking for a way to figure out how to figure out a ruling of the Italian court system. Maybe an Italian parent heard a rumor about how Americans do things with vaccines, and gets clarification.

This website is here to provide evidence and arguments to reject cult science and bad pseudoscience. That’s all.

We need to raise funds to improve the experience. We get too many 404 errors when the servers get overloaded. The front page, though much better than it was just two years ago, needs to be modernized. The website needs to be speedier and more efficient, something outside of the skills of one 65 million year old dinosaur. And that’s only marginally a metaphor.

Amazingly, we’ve raised about ⅙ of the funds that should be sufficient to get most of the things done. We need to move to a more powerful server. We need to clean up code. And we need to redesign the pages (probably the hardest thing to do).

The feathery dinosaur doesn’t want to beg, but we can’t run this place alone. If you’ve found this place at all useful, throw a few shekels this way. Bars of gold are also acceptable.

We’re not threatening shut down of Skeptical Raptor. We’d plot along as best we can. But it’s important to keep some of the articles here in the #1 hit parade of Google Hits for vaccines and other subjects. If you want to debunk “bananas cure cancer,” go ahead and google it. An article here is usually number 1 or 2 on Google hits.

Please contribute whatever you can.