Wednesday, 9 September 2009

An Internet Treasure Chest

Sometimes the Internet just happens to turn up a glut of delights all in one go, and I just felt like writing an entirely pointless blog post with no purpose other than to put the very best gems here for you to enjoy.

First, we have Richard Dawkins reading out his hate mail. Absolutely hilarious!

Then somebody named "Spikydog" fixed the news . . . Apparently the BNP is to appear on Question Time! Click here, and click the image again, for a larger picture. It's not just the article that's worth a read. Very clever!

Then we have another genius who built an Escher painting with Lego. His blog shows us not only the picture, but how he did it. Perhaps I shouldn't have put all those trains away . . .

On a personally delighted note, people like Crispian Jago have been messing with my stats lately over the Back Knight. Then I came across a mention in the Bad Science forum (I am tempted to join just to ask PAHayes why he doesn't like it!), which then led me on to Ben Goldacre's approach to moderating an online community:

No illegal activity, no libel, this goes without saying, don't be stupid, if you see any, tell a moderator.

Try to be combative, intelligent, and rude, but remember these four things:

# personal anecdotes about your MMR tragedy will be deleted for your own safety;

# childish personal attacks are only permitted when they are funny;

# I may delete people and posts arbitrarily and entirely at random;

# and if your post is more than one thousand words long then you are officially a loser*.

If you see any spam please don't reply, it'll get deleted soon enough. I delete spam in a hurry by looking quickly at what looks like a spam post. If you reply to spam posts, then firstly, its harder for me to spot, but secondly, more ridiculously, if you reply to a spam post, you keep it high up the list of posts, and by keeping it up there you also make it propagate and get onto the list of forum posts on the blog. Apart from anything else this isnt a very good advertisement for the forums, because everyone will think we're discussing viagra and Britney's porn home videos. So seriously, do not reply to spam posts, really seriously, or I might get bad tempered, and delete your login in a fit of childish powerwielding.

. . .

You are responsible for what you post, you are almost certainly traceable.

No pathetic "oooh I think my friend on the forum was libelling me when they called me a knob after I called them a knob too" private messages please.

No, we won't apply all of this to the Galaxy Zoo Forum - but having moderated it myself for 2 years I roared with laughter at all of these and could well remember each of my own experiences with the same types of behaviour! Thanks Ben Goldacre - by the way I must finish reading and review his book soon, but my doctor parents have stolen it and can't stop laughing either.

And finally, we recently had an absolutely charming announcement from Bill Keel on the Forum:
Yesterday, during the final day of DragonCon 2009 in Atlanta, the last panel discussion in its space programming track dealt with citizen science. Pamela Gay (of Astronomy Cast and the GZ Education team) and I were scheduled to share the presentation. Midway through the session, I was talking about online citizen projects in astronomy. About the time I got to describing Galaxy Zoo, she took the laptop (which was projecting on a big screen) and started doing something. With my back to the screen, it took me a few minutes to realize that, right there in front of a whole room full of people, and behind my back, she was... classifying.

Haven't tried classifying galaxies? Give it a try and picture this on a big screen in front of an audience . . . it must have been a real hit!

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