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.

 

Internet woo – the feathery dinosaur needs your help

Internet woo

Yesterday, we mentioned how much this website has grown. We’re now getting several million hits and visits per month, which has meant that we need new enclosures (servers and web design) for the raptor. Feeding on all that internet woo and pseudoscience has contributed to this massive growth.

There is advertising on this site that pays some of the monthly costs, but with more and more people using Ad Blockers, a good 80% of the hits don’t result in views of the ads. So, the hungry, feathery internet woo attacking dinosaur can’t be fed properly.

Basically, we need to invest in the overhead to make this website work for a long time. For example, we need to do some basic website re-design, like modernize some of the code and improve the look and feel. We still haven’t been able to get a good front page that allows people to see the best articles.

W also have to improve the server. Last month, we were running at 500% of the allowed 4 cores (processors) for my website. I need to move to 10 cores ASAP. This site is supposed to run on 4GB of RAM, but last month I was running at 8-10. Those might sound like nothing for your MacBook Pro (well 10 cores is kind of massive), but the feathery dinosaur is trying to share the server with someone who might have a small internet storefront for Etsy or eBay.

The raptor may be mean to internet woo pushers, but he (or she, not sure how to check, or even if I should) is sympathetic to neighbors.

Internet woo

The internet host starts throttling back this website to keep others on the server running at full speed.  What this means is a bad experience for you the reader. There are thousands of inbound links to this website from numerous authors across the world who also attack internet woo and junk science. The raptor would like to keep those lines always working, 24/7.

We joke that we get money from Big Pharma to run these websites. We actually don’t. We do it for fun, for education, for good science. We all know that sites like this (not being modest, just factual) help all of us win the good fight against lies, misinformation and ignorance.

The raptor is appreciative of the authors, like Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, who takes time out of her incredibly busy day to write important articles about laws and vaccines. She doesn’t do it for profit, she does it to inform. And people know to visit here for the latest information from her, and the raptor needs to make certain that readers have an efficient and stress-free experience on this website. And to make sure that the links that all of you share from Professor Reiss’ articles make it out to the public.

So please contribute to the GoFundMe campaign for the feathery dinosaur. He thanks you all, because your help is appreciated. And he really needs more space to grow. There is just so much internet woo to consume.

Website contribution – the feathery dinosaur needs your help

website contribution

It’s time to update everyone about my website. I’m going to brag a little, something I rarely do. But to keep this place going, I need to ask for a website contribution or two or three.

And the calm (not so much) Skeptical Raptor is going to beg for your help. The  peaceful (not so much) Skeptical Raptor really does need your help.

The good and the bad news

 

During 2016, almost 8 months, this website has had over 2 million visitors and nearly 7 million pages read. As websites go, that places your humble (or not so much) Skeptical Raptor in the top 0.025% of websites worldwide.

This website, according to Alexa, ranks in the 250,000 range, which would be bad if you were trying to get into the World Cup for Soccer. But since there are just over 1 billion websites, the self-depracating Skeptical Raptor (not so much) would actually be in the World Cup of websites.

As a comparison, the fine people over at Science Based Medicine rank about 40,000. Not that the unassertive (not so much) Skeptical Raptor is jealous (ok, just a bit), they have had like a 10 year head start on me. The irascible Orac ranks about 35,000. SkepticalScience, which is my favorite website for real information about climate change (and you really should have it on your list of websites to watch), ranks around 97,000.

Annoyingly, Natural News, one of the biggest pieces of horse manure on the planet, ranks at 8500. People are fools.

In case you were wondering, Google ranks #1. I do not think that their ranking is endangered by the subdued (not so much) Skeptical Raptor.

The bad news is that I had 2 million visitors and 7 million pages read and rank in the top 0.025% of websites. So the modest (not so much) Skeptical Raptor can no longer rely upon cheap servers from popular  web hosts and a couple of plug-ins to survive.

I have had to double the size of my dedicated servers twice over the past few months. A couple of weeks ago, my website was down more than up, because of a few issues, including not enough server power. And I need almost a full time person to fix issues.

Like chron jobs. I had runaway chron jobs. Dammit Jim, I’m a Big Pharma Shill not a computer engineer.

please-give

Asking for any website contribution

Thus, I need to beg for donations. My support for Hillary Clinton, who has been bullying Big Pharma to the point that their stock prices have crashed, has dried up all of my Shill Checks™. I’ve read rumors that Big Pharma CEOs are now eating Ramen noodles they’re so destitute.

But I really need some help. I don’t need someone to donate $1000 (but, you know, if you want, I’m OK with it). But I do need help to keep this place running. I’m not a billionaire like the incomprehensible Orac, who has a staff of minions who fix his computers and troll Mike Adams at the same time.

Your donations go to a good cause. I employ a group of starving grad students who love fixing chron jobs. And $10 gets them like a week of Ramen noodles.

In all seriousness, my “hobby” has gotten out of hand. It’s becoming a monster. So anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.

Skeptical Raptor website housekeeping – 5

Skeptical Raptor website

I haven’t updated information about the Skeptical Raptor website in a long while, so I thought I’d take the time on this Memorial Day weekend, when readership is low, to do some housekeeping, catching up, and philosophizing about science.

Specifically, I want to make some changes to the commenting system of this website, talk about contact information, get some ideas on directions to proceed, and then, beg for money, cause this place is expensive. So let’s get going.

Continue reading “Skeptical Raptor website housekeeping – 5”

Skeptical Raptor website housekeeping – 4

Skeptical Raptor website

I want to continue to thank all of you who clicked on the PayPal link on the left, and contributed to the running of the Skeptical Raptor website. This may not be the most personal way to say thanks, I just didn’t want random emails ending up in your PayPal inbox.

And if you’ve got an extra gold bar or two, please click on the PayPal button on the left. I could use a few.

This article is all about:

Improving search engine results

 

No, this is not going to be a how-to guide on how to improve search engine results, something called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I am not an expert. But I’m implementing several things to improve the standing, which should make sure that my information about vaccines continues to eclipse the lies and misinformation of the anti-vaccination crowd.

A few days ago, I noticed a comment from a regular reader why articles from the Skeptical Raptor website don’t show up in Google news results. And since I get those results, I wondered too, so I did some testing.

Apparently, many of my articles do hit Google news reports, but there’s a big problem – Google news results don’t curate the articles, so widely read junk science articles about vaccines, for example Age of Autism, get a higher ranking. This is sad.

On the other hand, results for Google searches of science and medicine are mostly curated to weed out the bad science websites. Thus, if you Google “hpv vaccine myths,” this blog’s article on HPV vaccine myths is #2. Right behind a website in Australia. I’m ok with being #2 behind an Australian pro-vaccine, anti-cancer website.

The first hit with false information about the HPV vaccine, from the ironically named group called VaxTruth, ranks about #50. They should be lower, but I think the curation process at Google is still evolving.

The Skeptical Raptor website has had nearly 4,000,000 total views, so the costs for what was once just my hobby is increasing. I’ve been working to keep load speeds as high as possible, I’ve now maxed out the specs for my servers, which now cost just below $1000 a month.  I remember back in the old days (2012), I paid $15 a month.

Every time I see a GoDaddy commercial on TV for web hosting, I think to myself “sure that works, except when you become a success.”

At any rate, I’m begging for contributions, if you can afford it, to keep this place running. Once again, my shill masters at Big Evolution, Big Agra, Big Pharma, and Big Sugar keep refusing to pay me, even after I’ve sent them several bills. Now I have to hire attorneys to get the money.

To contribute, there’s a button on the left for PayPal. Or you can just ship gold bars, I take those too.

Again, thanks for all of your support, whether monetarily or just by reading an article or two. And for those of you who are getting pinged by all the updates here, sorry. It’s for the long-term good. I hope.

And Happy Holidays for those of you who celebrate something in December. No, that’s not a war on Xmas. I’m searching for shill funding from Big Christmas.

 

Skeptical Raptor website housekeeping – 3

Skeptical Raptor website

I want to continue to thank all of you who clicked on the PayPal link on the left, and contributed to the running of this website. This may not be the most personal way to say thanks, I just didn’t want random emails ending up in your PayPal inbox.

Over the past few hours, I’ve undertaken what I thought was going to be a small update to the articles on this website, but it ended up being much much more.

Earlier today, I found out someone couldn’t find a particular article written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a frequent contributor here on vaccines, law, and a few other issues. These articles are complex and enlightening, and they are shared a lot over the internet. Because they are so useful.

To improve search results, I decided to slightly redesign my website to include her as a separate author. Google likes this. I like it. The world is in order.

Unfortunately, two things happened:

  1. Prior to May 2015, I was rather haphazard in how posts were written, and how I categorized Dorit’s articles. I had to take a few steps, like create her as an author on this website, then I thought I could just do a mass convert of her articles to her authorship. Nope, didn’t work that way. I had to do them one by one.
  2. By doing this one by one, I discovered a large number of SEO (search engine optimization) issues (I was really haphazard about that up until recently), image problems, and a whole bunch of stuff. I then re-edited all of her articles–which appears to be more than 50 of them.
  3. Stylistically, I changed how this articles appeared on the website. I tried to break down longer articles into sections with headers. I fixed image scaling, and removed excess images which cause all kinds of problems. It’s amusing to look at an article from about 12 months ago, compared to now. I was such an amateur. I had to convert all of Dorit’s old articles into the new style, which was fun.

All of this was a good thing. I have been wanting to clean up the SEO on my articles, but with nearly 900 posts over the past 4 years, that was not something I really wanted to do. So I’ve done 2-3 a week, when I felt like it. But now I fixed all of Dorit’s so that should help out in searches for her articles.

Because of the readership, the Skeptical Raptor website has had nearly 4,000,000 total views, there are more and more challenges to making the website professional looking. While still not appearing to be owned by Big Pharma. I know someone is going to miss the humor there.

Again, thanks for all of your support, whether monetarily or just by reading an article or two. And for those of you who are getting pinged by all the updates here, sorry. It’s for the long-term good. I hope.

 

Skeptical Raptor website housekeeping – 2

Skeptical Raptor website

More Skeptical Raptor website housekeeping

The very first thing I want to say is thank you to the whole bunch of you who clicked on the PayPal link on the left, and contributed to the running of this website. This may not be the most personal way to say thanks, I just didn’t want random emails ending up in your PayPal inbox.

I was trying to run this website all by myself, but I think I fell to the Dunning-Kruger curse and thought I could become an HTML5/PHP/Javascript expert by spending a few hours on Google. Yes, the irony was profound. I suddenly figured out that learning computer code is about as hard as learning epidemiology.

So, I hired someone to clean up the code, which caused lousy performance. My pages were loading in like 30 seconds, which 15 years ago would have been amazing. My IT guy (he’s a guy and he’s in IT, so there we go) had to look over like 15000 lines of code. He found the problem in like the 14,000th line, which is just my luck. Not that it matters but putting a “;” in the wrong place can be the death of a website.

So, it appears that pages now load in 1-5 seconds. Thanks IT guy.

He has some more code to clean up (I was sloppy). And we’ve got a boatload of re-directs to fix. He also removed a dangling piece of code that sometimes redirected the main page to a MySpace page. Of course, that begs the question of “who uses MySpace anymore?”

We’ll see if these fixes are actually permanent. I think an anti-vaccination shill has haunted my website.

With these fixes, I’m actually back to having fun writing here. The page loading problems made writing a 2000 word article tedious. Page loads cost me hours of writing time, and I was seriously ready to give up.

In some other news, Big Pharma still hasn’t sent me Shill Payments™ yet. If anyone knows who to speak to at Big Agra, Big Pharma, and Big Evolution, please tell me. I fell as though they’re using me.

So, if you have a chance, look at the left column, and you can contribute to running and maintenance of this blog with a simple PayPal click. Anything helps. I promise to remove it once the Shill Payments™ gold bars are shipped.

Please, no one who has contributed should do it again. Unless, of course, you received your Shill Payments™ gold bars. Then help out a fellow shill.

I feel like I just did one of those NPR contribution drives. “If we raise $10,000 in the next 30 minutes, Big Pharma will match the contribution.”