A news commenting platform to fact-check the debates

Fiskkit is a news discussion platform designed to favor facts, logic and civility. By putting public discourse into structured data we can use analytics to enable new insights and tools for readers. Fiskkit has the potential to factcheck all online news in real time, and filter trolling.

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Hi everyone! I'm John, the founder and designer of Fiskkit. Fiskkit was designed from the ground up to build a better discussion online - one that favors facts, logic and civility. (I know. That the opposite of today.) We do that by turning Discussion into Data so we can Do Something. Fiskkit's different because of it's mechanics - sentence level commenting focuses the conversation, and a defined set of tags let you rate a particular point for whether it's True/False, has a specific logical fallacy, is Unsupported or had Biased Working, or even give compliments. By putting multiple critiques of an article into data, the system's powerful statistical engine can show us where an unusual number of people all put the exact same tag on the exact same sentence. At scale, this would theoretically allow Fiskkit to fact-check all online news in near-real time. It's very ambitious, and we're a young unfunded startup, so there's lots to still figure out. I'm looking forward to questions from Product Hunters! Try it out - it's fun! And we think it can help restore our civic discourse to being something more productive and inclusive.
@johngpettus what if the majority of people believe a fact is fiction? As I understand your product, you are crowdsourcing truth. Is that essentially what you are doing?
@lukedeannif Luke - yes, but it's more sophisticated than that sounds at first. Fiskkit uses an advanced Bayesian statistical test of significance to decide if there is sufficient evidence that one of our 12 tags is "valid." Because of the way Fiskkit is designed, that would require an unusually large number of people to recognize the same thing (True, False, Straw Man Argument, Unsupported, Insightful, etc.) in the exact same sentence. As you know, the probability of that happening by accident if they aren't recognizing what's actually in the sentence gets vanishingly small pretty quickly. I appreciate your specific point about - let's face it - mass delusion. It's one of the things we struggled with most when designing the system. Humans are flawed, and they often use a binary like True/False as a proxy for I Agree / I Disagree. As a result, the bar to validate a True or False tag is quite a bit higher than for the other 10 tags. So Fiskkit is actually amazingly good at detecting issues of logic and rhetoric (and compliments) with very little data - sometimes as few as 6 fisks. But you currently need overwhelming numbers to trigger True or False. It's something we'll be looking at a lot more in the future, too. Does that make sense? Since you asked, I'll float one idea we had. To change True and False to "Provable True" and "Provable False" which would require some kind of link to be able to put them on. Thoughts? Thanks for the question!
@johngpettus That makes a lot of sense, I'm glad to hear you are aware of that societal issue haha. I like your idea of Provable True and Provable False a lot. Over time, analysis of your data will help you hone things in as well. I will sound idealistic, but your business is representing the truth, and that is a very big responsibility to society. The truth is not a matter of opinion, the truth exists outside of ourselves and it must be sought after and protected. I'm glad to see you care to preserve it!
@lukedeannif I couldn't agree more. We take it very seriously. We spend a bunch of time reading a lot of the sociological and UX research to try to build the best experience that will give users the conversation they want - one based in facts, logic and civility. But we're also committed to the idea of building a discussion system and not just a fact-checking system. Regular people don't want to fact-check. They want to talk to other smart people in good faith. The facts and logic components are just there to help them do that - as well as hopefully create a social benefit of calling BS on a lot of internet content! : )
Awesome product well done John!
@blaurenceclark Thank Brian! We're really excited about it. Some really cool new features coming down the road, including organizational accounts so we can hear from advocacy groups, brands and campaigns. And eventually... we'll use structured data to build our Troll Filter so users don't need to read through a bunch of personal attacks, racism, Hitler stuff... Our goal is to make talking about important stuff online enjoyable and productive again. Stay tuned!
Impressive start in bringing intellectual honesty in discussions online. On a meta level, I'm curious to know what sort of user base is attracted to the platform...on an aggregate level- are they mostly complimenting, nitpicking, etc.
@chintankarnik Chintan - it varies. But fisking requires caring, so we don't get a lot of the drive-by trolls that infest most online forums. So we attract people with strong feelings, who tend to be more partisan (which is fine). But because details matter on Fiskkit, we also tend to get more educated folks. Our philosophy is that we want the top 10% of the thousand comments on a Yahoo! News article. And we are happy not to have the bottom 90% as they don't add value. Nobody's got time to read more than that anyhow, so why not get the best quality opinions you can? I'm curious if that philosophy appeals to you, or not. Thanks for asking!
@johngpettus John I was curious about what happens when Mystery Science Theater treatment is applied online. I wholeheartedly applaud your effort in raising the signal to noise ratio. Will be following your growth as a startup and reading what the top 10% have to say.
Congrats John! Glad to see this out of beta and looking good!
@apr214 Thanks Alex! I hope Rally's going well too, though as a startup guy, I don't get out much...