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March 2, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Calling all scientists and scientist-lovers! Do you like knowing when a comment you're reading on MeFi was written by a Person of Science? Well, have I got a greasemonkey script for you.

So it occured to me last night, when I was supposed to be reading a paper on the idenfification of β-defensin primers in passerine birds but was instead reading MetaFilter, that I really love it when I'm trawling through some science thread on the blue or the green and some actual scientists weigh in to provide a little bit of expert perspective. In order to facilitate this experience, I thought it would be neat if someone made a greasemonkey script that marked scientist contributions in the same way that Plutor's excellent script marks the contributions of librarians.

So, I made one! Well, OK, I popped open the hood on Plutor's librarian script and rejiggered it just a tiny bit so that it would do what I wanted. (I did get his blessing, albeit retrospectively as it were.) It works great, though! Basically I changed all references to librarians to scientists, changed the book to a microscope, and changed jessamyn to me.

That's right, I made myself the curator of the Big List of Scientists (and then went and set a few people who I think are pretty unambiguously scientists as my colleagues in order to test things out a bit) such that anyone who I name my colleague on MetaFilter will be identified to those running this script with a little microscope next to their name. I solemnly swear that I will use my powers solely for good.

So, everyone, if you want to know who's a scientist on MetaFilter, you should go get the script. If you're a scientist (of any rank or stripe, biologist, physicist, sociologist, archaeologist, PhDs, grad students, technicians, anyone who works in the sciences!) and you want people to know about it then you should send me a MeMail and tell me what you do so I can put you on the list. I'm so excited, unicorn farts are pouring out my ears!

Hooray for Greasemonkey, Plutor, and Science!
posted by Scientist to MetaFilter-Related at 7:17 AM (135 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

So great!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 AM on March 2, 2012


I've got a degree in homeopathic medicine!
posted by griphus at 7:31 AM on March 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


HEY NOW I ATTEND THE FORMER HOMEOPATHIC MEDICAL COLLEGE OF PENNSYLVANIA
posted by The White Hat at 7:35 AM on March 2, 2012


Very cool, but you should have called it "SciFi".
posted by Rock Steady at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Homeopathy makes up less than 75% of the curriculum nowadays.
posted by The White Hat at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wanted to keep it super ultra obvious that it was just like the librarian script but for scientists.
posted by Scientist at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2012


Jorus has been tagging scientists in his contacts as colleagues. To be honest however, I prefer his catch-and-release strategy to having all my metafilter contributions flagged as coming from a Person of Science.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:37 AM on March 2, 2012


That's fine! If anyone doesn't want to be on the list, they don't have to be. If you don't want to be on the list, just let me know and I'll make sure that you're not on it. Not trying to force anything on people here.
posted by Scientist at 7:40 AM on March 2, 2012


My only complaint is that the little marker kinda disappears in the professional white background. Do scientists not use professional white backgrounds? What kind of science are you people doing, anyhow???
posted by Grither at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh! That is a totally good point. I will adjust the marker accordingly, later today. I am currently late for class as it is but I'll get on it quicklike, promise.

Keep the comments/concerns/suggestions coming, and keep MeMailing, scientists! I will not abandon you!
posted by Scientist at 7:43 AM on March 2, 2012


As a physical scientist, I am deeply offended that you would dare to associate me with those flaky, stamp-collecting life scientists by displaying a microscope next to my contributions. Not to mention social scientists and so-called political scientists. The horror! Where will it end?!?!

Just kidding. This is neato.
posted by medusa at 7:44 AM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about engineers? Do we count for anything?
posted by backseatpilot at 7:47 AM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Neat idea! Though I kind of hate that the microscope would show up next to my comments about Seinfeld or bad relationship advice. Like, "Get back to science work, slacker!"
posted by supercres at 7:47 AM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


As a dismal scientist, I would like the microscope replaced with a frowny face.

(Just kidding! Thanks for this!)
posted by dismas at 7:50 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Medusa, when y'all find the Higgs boson we'll change the icon. It's OK, we'll wait ...
posted by Quietgal at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2012


Can us former scientists who've forgotten 90% of the science they used to know have a little broken test tube or something?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:53 AM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK, super secret final last comment before going to class: I am pretty much going to be relaxed about whether people think they are scientists or not. I myself am just an undergrad student who happens to be lucky enough to work ten hours a week in someone's lab at university, so I pretty much don't have a lot of ground to stand on as far as who is and is not a scientist. Basically I would say that if you work in the sciences (broad definition of sciences) and participate in some kind of research, then you're pretty much in. Look deep within yourself and ask yourself whether within your chest beats the heart of a scientist true. If yes, Memail me!

Also, I adjusted the microscope so that it's a slightly darker shade of gray. Hopefully that will show up better in more places.
posted by Scientist at 7:53 AM on March 2, 2012


I have a masters degree in making jokes that aren't really that funny but they make you go "HMMMM WAIT, WHAT?" which has to be a science because it sure isnt art.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:06 AM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does it count if I know more about this than you could possibly imagine?
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:10 AM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is so nifty and excellent. Thank you!

Serious question: Do I count? (It's okay if I don't.) I've been a volunteer with a scientific data-gathering organization for...coming up on nine or ten years now, I guess. The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory IDs and tracks (by sight, banding, and telemetry) migrating raptors.

I'm unpublished, obviously, but I read sciencey pubs about migrating raptors for fun. I'm probably not the only citizen-scientist on mefi. Add me to the list if you think this counts, and no bad feelings at all if you think it doesn't.
posted by rtha at 8:27 AM on March 2, 2012


What about the Queen of the Sciences?

Although actually a much trickier question is whether mathematics is a science.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:37 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Citizen-scientists and engineers will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The goal is mainly to identify people who might be able to provide expert information on science-based topics, so I'm going for a pretty wide definition of scientist (also I find that in general it's more helpful to be inclusive than exclusive -- I'd rather be over-broad than over-specific). In your case, rtha, I would say you are definitely One Of Us.
posted by Scientist at 8:37 AM on March 2, 2012


Mathematics is totally a science for the purposes of this list. That is to say, mathematicians who want to self-identify as scientists are welcome to be on the list.
posted by Scientist at 8:44 AM on March 2, 2012


Aw, thanks, Scientist!

For the record, I know very little more than jack shit about songbirds, gulls, and shorebirds.
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on March 2, 2012


That's OK rtha, the script isn't intended to identify anybody's specialty or anything like that. It's not meant to be some big powerful tool to show who Knows What They Are Talking About, it's just a fun little thing that lets people know "Hey, that person is a scientist"! The stakes here are pretty low.
posted by Scientist at 9:06 AM on March 2, 2012


This is awesome! I will throw my hat into the ring as an ecology grad student.
posted by pemberkins at 9:08 AM on March 2, 2012


Maybe we need a little bird silhouette to signal birders, like rtha, that know more about birds and birding than ornithologists.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:09 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


My thoughts on this thing go like so...

It's great when people say things like "I did my PhD on that very thing, and here's what we found...." I hope people wion't stop doing that, because that's the really useful and interesting part.

I'm not necessarily that interested that you are "a scientist" if the topic is say bird flu and you are a particle physicist chiming in. Interesting case in point, there was a post some time back about What would happen if you put your hand in the Large Hadron Collider. Now I love the video but people's guesses are all over the park, and when I dug into it the reason became clear. They're all physicists of some kind, but only one is close to being a particle physicist. As per my comments in that thread, he's the one that knows the numbers offhand and gives what seems to be most convincing and likely-to-ne correct answer. So there even "I'm a physicist" is not something to be taken as indicating: "Behold, here is the truth!"

Which brings me to why especially for science it feels somewhat off to privilege being-a-scientist. Because one of the things that's great about science is it's not (at least ideally) based on proof-by-appeal-to-authority.

In other words, I don't care if you are a Prof of physics at Caltech or a schoolkid in Brazil. Explain your reasoning, show me your evidence, give me the citations, let me go dig into the sources if I want to.

If you do that, you won't need to tell me if you are a scientist or not.
posted by philipy at 9:10 AM on March 2, 2012 [19 favorites]


Pemberkins, I added you to the list! But it would be better if people MeMailed me instead of or in addition to identifying themselves in this thread, as I will be less likely to miss the shout out.

Phillipy, I hear you, but I feel like it's fairly unlikely that people are going to install my script and then take all comments from anybody with a microscope next to their name as the Word of God (or Word of Science) or whatever. And if they do then more fools them, really. The script is definitely not made with that in mind, it's really more just for fun and maybe a way of nudging people to maybe open someone's user profile or shoot them a MeMail and see whether they might actually be an expert on the specific topic at hand.

The script itself cannot tell you whether someone is an expert, but it can maybe tell you, for some but not all people, that somebody *just might* be one and prompt you to inquire further. I feel like most MeFites are naturally skeptical enough, and have good enough critical-thinking skills, that it's unlikely that many people will attach undue authority to the little microscope icon.

Anyway, the whole thing is pretty opt-in and inevitably most MeFi users will not be using it so I doubt if it's going to have a major impact on the character of discussion in many threads. It might be cool though if it can help spark some conversation/discussion between scientists or between scientists and the public that would not otherwise have happened! That would be a super-nice outcome in my opinion.
posted by Scientist at 9:20 AM on March 2, 2012


Your message title "You are a scientist!" made me think of the song from LazyTown: "You are a pirate!". Also, that would make a great parody song.
posted by demiurge at 9:25 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I now want to get a job as a science librarian so I can have both icons.
yes, I'm extrinsically motivated, why do you ask?
posted by donnagirl at 9:36 AM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


If we tagged everyone who was a pirate (at least by this definition...)

Well, let's just say I wouldn't want to be in charge of that list.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:50 AM on March 2, 2012


Well, the experiment is off to a roaring start. MeMails have been coming in and I'm starting to build up a list of colleagues. Now I am wondering, although it seems rather self-centered, if this thread is something that could maybe get sidebarred so that we can get as many people to check in as possible? The usefulness of this script is pretty closely tied to the number of people who know about it, after all. I would totally bow to community (and modly) opinions on the matter and I'm not trying to blow my own horn, I'm just excited about finding all the scientists and would like for as many of them as possible to check in and make themselves known. Thoughts?
posted by Scientist at 9:59 AM on March 2, 2012


I have a Master of Science degree! in computer science
posted by Zed at 10:21 AM on March 2, 2012


Did you consider Unicode 1F4A3 bomb with a burning fuse (but it doesn't show in my font.)
posted by bukvich at 10:22 AM on March 2, 2012


Homeopathy makes up less than 75% of the curriculum nowadays.

Actually it makes up only 10-60 of the curriculum, but it has a powerful influence nevertheless -- not really sure how!
posted by en forme de poire at 10:23 AM on March 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


Now I am wondering, although it seems rather self-centered, if this thread is something that could maybe get sidebarred so that we can get as many people to check in as possible?

What the heck, done!
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also 1f4a5 is a collision symbol but it could pass as an explosion and it also does not show up in my fonts.
posted by bukvich at 10:40 AM on March 2, 2012


There are several unicode symbols which could work, even divided into disciplines: ⚘ ⚗ ⚙ ☤. My favourite is ⚛, though the life science people might prefer ☣.
posted by bonehead at 10:45 AM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I used Plutor's method of inputting an image in Data URI format. I wanted to stick to his methods since he knew much more about what he was doing, plus unicode doesn't display for everyone anyway whereas Data URI at least works in pretty much all relatively modern browsers. (Some older versions of Internet Explorer excluded, mainly.) I actually didn't know about Data URI until I was playing with the script. It's a pretty cool thing, images input straight into the page, encoded as inline text.
posted by Scientist at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2012


Also: thanks a bundle, cortex!
posted by Scientist at 10:58 AM on March 2, 2012


My favourite is ⚛, though the life science people might prefer ☣.

I'd go with h-bar myself, but I was one of those heretical life sciences people who had the audacity to believe that antibody on-rates where governed by the Einstein Stokes equation (rather than existential angst) so your mileage may vary.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:01 AM on March 2, 2012


I'm ok with ħ, as long as it changes to π on March 14th.
posted by bonehead at 11:08 AM on March 2, 2012


I work in computational biology, I'm going back for a PhD starting next year (knock wood), and I have a Science Leg.
posted by gurple at 11:15 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always was a sucker for science legs (also you're clearly a scientist). I put you in, gurple!
posted by Scientist at 11:18 AM on March 2, 2012


OK, this is odd. Not everybody who I am marking as a colleague is showing up with the little microscope next to their name. Specifically, the people who I added late last night when I was testing the script do have the icon, but the people I have added today do not seem to have it. Is this the case for anyone else running the script?
posted by Scientist at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2012


Scratch that... the two people who I added from home before I left for school today have the icon, but nobody who I have added later today from my laptop has it.
posted by Scientist at 11:30 AM on March 2, 2012


"So there even 'I'm a physicist' is not something to be taken as indicating: 'Behold, here is the truth!'"

I think this is a legitimate problem, actually.

There's no doubt that having some science background of any kind provides a certain level of competence that people with little or no science lack. However, I feel certain that both the general public and scientists themselves vastly overestimate this.

And those are two separate-but-related problems.

On the scientist side, it's more a problem of people having engineer's disease but, thankfully, it's not a universal ailment. It really varies widely. I do think that, in general, physicists are more like engineers in this respect than those in other disciplines; but, even so, there's far more variation between individuals than there is between disciplines. It really comes down to how carefully an individual scientist is both self-aware of the limits of their competency and how carefully they communicate those limitations to others who aren't in a position to evaluate it themselves.

Because, the thing is, if you are or are around working scientists and grad students, it quickly becomes very apparent that even between subdisciplines there is very little shared competence. Young scientists figure this out quickly. Myself, I know physics best in this respect, particularly astronomy, and so the one example that always comes to my mind is general relativity. I mean, the funny thing with it is that even within astrophysics, it's really only a subset of physicists who have any working competency at it. Physicists as a group? Not at all. (I'm not a physicist, but have some in my background, and more specifically to this point, have known a bunch of them.)

Which brings me to the general public side. Because for whatever reason (I blame the sorry state of science education for the general population), non-scientists still have this crazy idea that a "Scientist" is a general purpose expert in "All Things Scientific". Although I admit that it's exaggerated, a really good example of this is how scientists are portrayed in all our narrative fiction, particularly television and film. Dr. Scientist will somehow simultaneously be an expert at molecular biology, astrophysics, computer science, and materials science. Or whatever. It's silly.

A really, really good and really, really sad example of this as it impacts public policy is global warming. Well, also, evolution. There are countless books and articles taking minority, and often crank, positions on these topics that are written by credentialed scientists who are, of course, not credentialed in the relevant field. Nevertheless, they carry great weight with the public. (As an aside, for almost thirty years now I've had a policy of not reading a popular book treatment of a scientific topic unless it's written by a scientist with expertise in that particular area. The few exceptions to this are books like McPhee's Annals of the Former World which are painstakingly researched in consultation with top scientists in the relevant field.)

So, this is why I am not that enthusiastic about this. I appreciate the impulse. And I'd like to think that most of the people who'd use such a script are either scientists themselves (and therefore more likely to evaluate an individual's competency on the subject independently of merely accepting the authority of the self-awarded "I'm a scientist!" icon), or are otherwise careful enough to do so. But I'm not sure that will be the case and, honestly, the one group of people with the greatest incentive to utilize this would be those least able to evaluate the claim of expertise the icon represents, anyway.

Because while let's assume that the majority of mefite scientists or those who otherwise have enough scientific expertise to self-award this (I'm reluctant to do so, speaking for myself) will be careful enough not to succumb to engineer's disease and speak with no more actual authority than anyone else, there will be some. And, perhaps, one might wonder if it won't be exactly those with that type of inclination who will be most likely to list themselves thusly.

So, well, no offense intended mefite-known-as-Scientist, but I'm not entirely sure that this won't, on balance, do more harm than good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


As an astronomer, I resent the fact that the representative instrument is 1) pointed the wrong way 2) much too small 3) mounted all wrong.

I would much prefer if someone could turn this into an icon.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:55 AM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


The mitigating factor, here, I think, Ivan, is that you have to install the greasemonkey script to see the icon. I think most people who bother to install the script will have a fuller appreciation of what it does and doesn't mean to be a self-identified "scientist" than the MeFe population at large.
posted by gurple at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2012


MeFi, even.
posted by gurple at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2012


And you already mentioned this, yourself. So I'll just let myself out, now.
posted by gurple at 11:57 AM on March 2, 2012


Scratch that... the two people who I added from home before I left for school today have the icon, but nobody who I have added later today from my laptop has it.

Looks like the code avoids refreshing more often than once a day to spare the MeFi servers. In Firefox, if you go into about:config and look up 'greasemonkey' you can see the stored data and right-click on it and reset it and then you should see the results of your updates.
posted by Zed at 11:57 AM on March 2, 2012


FYI, Jorus is the bizarro-me
posted by Jofus at 11:58 AM on March 2, 2012


It's a cool idea, but I agree with Ivan and philipy that the "scientist/non-scientist" dichotomy is not super helpful, and may in fact be harmful. For example, I could be considered a music scientist of sorts, but I know fuckall about much else. I had general concerns about this idea when it came up before, too.
posted by speicus at 12:02 PM on March 2, 2012


OK, Plutor kindly informed me that the script doesn't update in realtime in order to avoid hammering the crap out of Metafilter's servers. There can be a lag of up to 24 hours. So I'll just calm back down about that. On preview: Zed has it.

Ivan Fyororovich, I totally understand where you're coming from. The problems you are talking about are very real and show up in many parts of society. I disagree that this is likely to be a significant effect in this specific case though, and here's why: only a very small percentage of MeFites are going to be using this script. I mean, probably less than half of the people reading this site (including lurkers, now) are even going to notice that it exists, even with the sidebar post that Cortex kindly put up. Few of the people who do notice it are going to be running Greasemonkey or will have the wherewithal to figure out how to install it; that's just computers for you. And of the people running Greasemonkey, not all of them are going to bother running this script. And of those running the script, few will probably consider the Scientist! icon to be a mark of universal authority.

To a casual lurker, nothing will noticeably change -- the icon only shows up if you are running the script, and few people who will be casually swinging by a year hence will even know that it exists. The few people who do bother running the script are probably not doing so because they want to know whose ideas they should be accepting unquestioningly at face value; they will be mostly scientists and people who think science is cool, or maybe a few people who think science is uncool, and those sorts of people will hopefully be more likely to have some understanding of the limitations of any one scientist's authority. I think that the intersection of the population of people who are likely to run this script and the people who are likely to attribute false authority to the little microscope icon is probably going to be very small indeed.

You're not the first to raise these concerns, mind you. Philipy brought up similar ones a little earlier. Is there anything that you think could be done to mitigate your concerns?
posted by Scientist at 12:03 PM on March 2, 2012


If the success of your idea relies on people not adopting it, perhaps your idea needs work.
posted by speicus at 12:06 PM on March 2, 2012


So, I initially thought I was going to lik this idea. The thought of being able to scan through a science thread and having the comments from other scientists be easily identifiable was attractive. However, the more I thought about it, the more I think this is dangerous for a community that's pretty divided about things as innocuous as Favorites. Wasn't there already a conversation about this happening with the Staff tags for mods, and how they should only exist in Metatalk because that's where they're most commonly speaking with their Mod Voices? The thought being that they should still be free to participate on the Blue and the Green as civilians, and not have to be mods all the time.

I think the danger here is that these kinds of identifiers artificially skew the discussion by marginalizing the thoughts/opinions of people without the special symbol. There are already some users that are well-known authorities on various subjects who get paged when these topics are brought up (jessamyn, languagehat, and physicsmatt come easily to mind). And these people are a large part of what makes this site so incredible. But they aren't the end-all, be-all opinions on all things library/language/physics, and I think they'd be the first to admit that. It's possible for insightful comments to come from people who aren't experts in their fields, and I worry they will be discouraged from contributing because "Gosh, I'm not an expert and I don't have a tag, so maybe I should just keep my thoughts to myself." Maybe this is just revealing my own hang-ups, but I feel that way myself sometimes in science threads, and I'm a 4th year grad student!

The scientist (har) in me is also uncomfortable with the thought of removing any degree of critical thinking and analysis from the conversation. Just like scanning for comments with high Favorite counts is crutch for quickly pulling signal out of the noise in some threads, it's a dangerous habit to get into. I seem to remember a Greasemonkey script that culled low-favorite comments from a thread was proposed and rejected here. This feels similar. And I also think it's unnecessary! When people want to comment on things that fall within their realm of expertise, it's usually clear whether they know what they're talking about. And if it's not clear, usually someone else in the community is knowledgeable enough to call them out on it.

On preview, I'm with Ivan Fyodorovich on this. Scientist, I think this is a nice idea, and I'm glad you're enthusiastic about it, but I think this will have (unintended!) negative consequences for the community.
posted by Osrinith at 12:06 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The success of my idea relies on its users being a highly self-selecting group who are unusually aware of the subtleties of MetaFilter and its attendant accessories. If I could make it a universal thing that was forced on everyone who used the site whether they knew the first thing about MeFi or not or indeed had ever even heard of this place before, I wouldn't. It's OK that only a relative few interested parties use it. I'm not trying to make major changes to the site, just trying to add a little value to it for those who think this sort of thing would be nice.

I do think it is a nice thing. The Librarian script doesn't hurt anyone, does it? But it's nice to know when a long, detailed comment about something library-related was written by someone who actually works in the field. I find it provides a little bit *more* context to the comment, rather than making me ignore the rest of the content of the comment and simply accept on faith that This is How it Is in Libraries.

I understand (and agree with!) the anti-authoritarian impulse that runs so strong here, it is in fact one of the reasons that I love this community so dearly. However, I really don't think that having a little opt-in thing where people can see who around them works in the sciences is going to cause a lot of harm. If people really seem to hate it then I suppose I can make it go away, but so far I'm not really getting that. A few people are worried about it, and that's valid and I respect that, but there's a lot of positive repsonse as well. Still though, if the mods came by and told me to tear it down or something, then I would. I'm not going to go to the barricades over this, I just thought it would be a fun little thing that people would like. I still think that, by and large.

Still, I am open to ideas for how this can be mitigated. Would it help if I put a disclaimer on the script's homepage at userscripts.org that made it clear that the people who were identified by the script came from a lot of different backgrounds and had a lot of different types and degrees of expertise, and that the script was basically Just For Fun rather than to suggest that the comments of these people should automatically be given additional weight? Perhaps then people would be less likely to misinterpret the microscope icon as indicating some kind of topical expertise.
posted by Scientist at 12:17 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


To those folks complaining that this will do more harm than good? Just don't install the script. Zim-zam-zoom, problem disappeared!

* - Not a MetaFilterologist, so I might be wrong.
posted by Grither at 12:28 PM on March 2, 2012


I suppose you could make it so that only people who are on the list, themselves, see the icon. That would mitigate the harms discussed above, reduce the utility, and make it feel rather creepily secret-societyish.
posted by gurple at 12:29 PM on March 2, 2012


Couldn't you put people's areas in brackets or something, so it would show up as:
User name {icon} [AREA]
then you could safely disregard physicists talking about botany or whatever
posted by Pyry at 12:32 PM on March 2, 2012


I'm really not seeing where the harm is. I've installed the script and I plan to use it, not so much to look for opinions to respect, but users to better understand. My plan is to whenever I see someone with a microscope, look at the person's profile, and see what discipline they are and keep that in mind while I look at future contributions.

I love how many scientists Metafilter collects, I'd like to know who they are. The only people I see in this thread who have mentioned wanting to accept 'scientist' contributions uncritically seem to be those least likely to do so.

I'm not the least bit worried.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:39 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Back off man, I'm a scientist!
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:39 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's fine and I like this idea. I think being clear that it's a self-selected group of folks is all you need to do. You can be clear on the script's page that this does not imply any topical expertise [as the librarian image just marks who I know who works in a library or is in library school or who even has worked in a library in the past]. I suggest we revisit the "is there actual harm?" topic when people have gotten a chance to use it and see how it goes and if it has utility or not. I suspect it will be entirely non-problematic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:50 PM on March 2, 2012


Yeah, I didn't and don't want to be very critical at all because this is really a pretty marginal thing. And insofar as it's merely "identify scientists because I like scientists (or am one)" that's totally great.

"I understand (and agree with!) the anti-authoritarian impulse that runs so strong here..."

The funny thing is, I'm the opposite of anti-authoritarian in this context. To me, the whole point is that it's useful to rely upon authority...but that you have to be certain that a supposed authority really is an authority. It's the latter part that gives me pause. My observation is that people are not very good at doing this. It's almost like (again, this is my observation) that 95% of the population falls into one of two groups: either they uncritically accept claims of authority, or they just pretty much reject and are suspicious of authority entirely. Both seem to me to be, er, suboptimal.

So, if anyone is ever going to use this script as a means of identifying authoritative competency, the utility of that will have be in direct proportion with whether they see that as a starting point and not an ending point of doing so.

Again, I feel bad about being critical. I guess if I could offer any possible constructive criticism, it's that maybe the script should come with a warning or something that it's more for "identifying scientists for the sake of identifying scientists" much more than it has anything to do with a badge of implied competency? Some people would be insulted at the need for such a warning, but then you can't please everyone.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:50 PM on March 2, 2012


then you could safely disregard physicists talking about botany or whatever

What if a dog groomer wanted to talk about botany, or a longshoreman? Would you automatically disregard them because they didn't even have the scientist badge?

I'm glad Phillipy clearly enunciated the problematic aspects of this idea, but this regarding and disregarding other's contributions to the site nicely illustrates the hazards of perceived authority.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 12:51 PM on March 2, 2012


Just out of curiosity, how many of you have the librarian script installed? How many of you then feel unqualified to comment in threads about libraries? I'm guessing not too many. How many of you see a book Icon and worry, oh man, someone might think this person is a research librarian when they are actually a public librarian? If cortex made a musician script, which he or someone else totally should, will you worry that only people with quarter-note icons will be seen to be the only useful contributors to a post about Caspar babypants?

Please. Us people who are not scientists are not therefore idiots. We appreciate your work, but we don't think you're all that special. We aren't going to think that having a microscope next to your name makes you some kind of charlatan oracle. I promise. It's fine. We're perfectly capable of determining whether or not someone is full of shit or just speaking in a lay field to them or actually has expertise. Y'all aren't the only ones with critical thinking faculties. We promise not to treat you like golden gods if you promise to get over yourselves.

On the other hand, in those Ask threads about enzymes or gene splicing or whatever else that I don't at all understand but love reading, it would be totally great to see all these microscopes swarming around and saying incomprehensible things to each other and then nodding sagely. That would be awesome and hilarious. You know it would be fantastic. It'll be fine.
posted by Errant at 12:54 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the little microscope so much. I'd love a little button with that tiny 'scope on it that I could pin to my jacket and wear around everywhere.
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2012


So I went in and put this disclaimer on the download page for the script:

"Please understand that the intent of this script is not to impart additional authority to the statements of scientists on MetaFilter, but simply to help identify scientists and provide additional context and background for user commentary. Bear in mind that no scientist is an expert in all areas of science or even of their field, and that the people who are identified as scientists by this script range from citizen-scientists and undergraduate students all the way through tenured professors with their own research labs. Bear in mind also that the list includes people in most all branches of science, working in academia, industry, for the government, and anywhere else you can imagine. Use this script, if anything, as a starting point for learning more about users rather than an endpoint. The idea is to create some fun and to help facilitate discussion and connections between users, not to privilege the statements of some MeFites over others."

How's that? Happier? Did I miss anything important, or make any new problems?
posted by Scientist at 1:08 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if a dog groomer wanted to talk about botany, or a longshoreman? Would you automatically disregard them because they didn't even have the scientist badge?

Well, I would have put "mentally note that they have no special claim to authority in this area", but "disregard" was pithier. Also, it really depends on what specifically they're talking about. For example, if we're discussing special relativity, then anyone could be self-educated to the point of talking about it competently, but if we're talking about the faster-than-light nutrino experiment, then probably I wouldn't trust anyone other than a practicing experimental physicist with experience in the type of setups used in the experiment.
posted by Pyry at 1:09 PM on March 2, 2012


If you look in the source code of the script there's a credit for the place where I got the microscope icon. It comes in different sizes, too! It was Creative Commons licensed, by the way. I tried to do my homework in terms of not stepping on other people's work and crediting where credit was due.
posted by Scientist at 1:09 PM on March 2, 2012


I am a mathematician, which is kind of like science.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:34 PM on March 2, 2012


The icon should be a little picture of Peter Venkman.
posted by The World Famous at 1:39 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mathematicians count if they want to count. Do you want me to add you in, madcaptenor?
posted by Scientist at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2012


If a mathematician didn't want to count, it'd be a pretty weird profession to have chosen.
posted by gman at 1:51 PM on March 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


I like this, since I often quote people when I reply to them, and it's important to know when I am quoting SCIENCE!
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:53 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I work in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, so it's like I'm a scientist...only my lab requirements are much cheaper. (Not as cheap as they used to be, when all a mathematician needed was pencils and chalk, mind you, because computers and Mathematica don't come free.)
posted by leahwrenn at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


In general, my experience of mefite scientists is that those who identify themselves in threads about their specialties tend to avoid making "This is how it is amen and shut up" statements. They're way more likely to be all "Weeeellllll....the latest experiments/papers I'm familiar with - and this area is not my exact specialty - seem to indicate that it's possible that blahblahblah..." Those of us who don't know what we don't know about a subject are more likely to make boneheaded statements about it!
posted by rtha at 2:02 PM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Any love for those of us that want to be scientists and regularly experiment on ourselves?
posted by Samizdata at 2:16 PM on March 2, 2012


and regularly experiment on ourselves?

Maybe we can have another script for mad scientists. A lightning bolt icon, maybe?
posted by Zed at 2:18 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The White Hat: "Homeopathy makes up less than 75% of the curriculum nowadays."

Actually, today, it only makes up 0.00000000001% of the curriculum.

Unfortunately, that means it's more powerful than ever.
posted by schmod at 2:21 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Er. Just realized somebody beat me to it. Kindly disregard above joke.
posted by schmod at 2:21 PM on March 2, 2012


Mathematicians count if they want to count. Do you want me to add you in, madcaptenor?

Yes, add me.

If a mathematician didn't want to count, it'd be a pretty weird profession to have chosen.

A lot of mathematicians don't count. But my training is in combinatorics, which is just a fancy word for counting.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about us scienticians?
posted by Demogorgon at 3:49 PM on March 2, 2012


What about us scienticians?

You guys are okay. But sciencologists are out; they're too close to Scientologists for comfort.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:19 PM on March 2, 2012


I like the Coldplay song....
posted by tzikeh at 4:33 PM on March 2, 2012


I'm a marine science grad student, but don't add me to the script until I get past this Imposter Syndrome.

What if there was another script for people to identify as non-scientists? Would that balance things?

Cool script idea btw, props to you.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:34 PM on March 2, 2012


I'm also concerned about this idea of setting a subset of people apart and calling them 'scientists' and treating them differently. I have a PhD and many years of post-doctoral research behind me, but I'm no longer employed as a scientist. Does that put me on a list or not? And how would I know what lists I'm on and how to get off them? I don't like this at all.
posted by nowonmai at 4:45 PM on March 2, 2012


I am currently studying for a PhD in regulatory biology, specifically microbiology/immunology concerning parasitic protozoans. I love apicomplexans. And all of you, too.
posted by ltracey at 4:50 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've got an FU in misanthropy.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:14 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd like to be added as a Geographer, thank you.
posted by schyler523 at 5:50 PM on March 2, 2012


Er. Just realized somebody beat me to it. Kindly disregard above joke.

You can still publish it in a more specialized Filter.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:12 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am not a scientist. But I do have Luxuriant Flowing Hair (tm). Is there an auxiliary?
posted by Diablevert at 7:24 PM on March 2, 2012


madcapemptor, schyler523, and ltracey: I added you to the list. ltracey, you are way more scientist than I am and my name is "Scientist". I will totally put you in if you want me to. nowonmai, I can't tell if you are joking or not so please clarify whether you want to be listed or not. Future people, please use Memail instead of this thread as I will be less likely to overlook you that way.

I love you all, scientists or no! Thank you to everybody who has Memailed me and everyone (mods especially!) for supporting this little project!
posted by Scientist at 10:11 PM on March 2, 2012


I mean "oceanjesse, you are way more scientist than I am etc etc". This is why I like Memail better for this, it's much easier to keep people straight.
posted by Scientist at 10:13 PM on March 2, 2012


I adjusted the disclaimer on the script's page to use more positive, helpful language instead of negative grumpy language. It now reads as follows:
This script is mostly for fun, people! The definition of scientist here is pretty darn broad, and anyone who works in or has worked in some kind of scientific research, or who has a degree in a scientific field or is seriously studying for one, is welcome to Memail me (my username is "Scientist") and get on the List of Scientists. Both natural and social scientists are totally valid scientists here, and it doesn't matter where you're at in your career or your education as long as you are working in your field, have worked in your field, or have serious aspirations of doing so. Citizen-scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are considered on a case-by-case basis, but will generally be considered scientists if they want to identify as such.

Bear in mind that the script makes no distinction between any of the many and varied types of scientist who are out there in the world, and that it would be very silly of you to consider anybody an automatic authority on whatever they happen to be talking about just because they have a little microscope icon next to their name. The script is meant to help facilitate that "Hey! This person is a scientist!" moment that comes up in threads from time to time when people enthuse about their field or stop by a thread to provide a little expert perspective, but is by no means an authoritative directory of who to believe on any given topic. I would love it if it helps people form connections, between scientists or between scientists and non-scientists, and maybe provides a little fun context to the occasional comment. We love you all, scientists or not!
I hope that's OK with everyone, because I like it and I'm inclined to leave it this way so if you're still unhappy I guess you'll just have to, like, adjust your perspective or something. ;-)
posted by Scientist at 10:34 PM on March 2, 2012


I don't want to be on the list. If I'm leaving a comment where my expertise is relevant, I say that right in the comment. I don't feel comfortable being labelled anywhere else.
posted by shelleycat at 1:01 AM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


A lot of mathematicians don't count. But my training is in combinatorics, which is just a fancy word for counting.

Yeah, fuck counting. I like space.

The paperwork says I'm a mathematician, but I self-identify as a Marxist poet of the post-metaformalist school...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:37 AM on March 3, 2012


I'm with shelleycat on this one. If I'm leaving a comment where it matters that I'm a physicist, I'll tell you. If I'm leaving one where you might mistakenly think it matters (e.g. physics but not my personal area of expertise) I'll tell you that, too. But when I'm running off at the mouth about anything else? I'd prefer to be able to be relaxed about my wording and exactness.

What I'm honestly more worried about is that sometimes folk state things pretty blandly that are completely wrong; I have a suspicion none of these people are actually scientists at all (we're very trained to qualify every statement!), but they might simply be *other* kinds of scientists (especially if you take a very broad definition of scientist) commenting out of their sphere of knowledge. Your disclaimer should help, except that sometimes people are good at making it sound like they know what they're talking about when they really, really don't. An extra little symbol giving them some cred would be Not Good, I think. Although mostly I'm apathetic.
posted by nat at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have no great objection to this if people want to do it, which they clearly do, but it's interesting to me mostly on the level that knowing if you're a Tolkien fan is interesting to me. (i.e. "Oh look, a kindred spirit!")

Also, and bearing in mind that not all of us even use Greasemonkey, and that this site gets a lot of visits from people that aren't Mefi members, if you want to communicate the fact that you really do know what you're talking about, it'll still be important to do that explicitly in your actual post.
posted by philipy at 6:50 AM on March 3, 2012


Philipy, it is exactly like that. This thing is not meant to convey authority, it is meant to be interesting and fun, in the same sense that knowing if somebody is a Tolkien fan might be interesting and fun. IAAS, IANYS, etc.
posted by Scientist at 7:35 AM on March 3, 2012


I'd vote for a complete overhaul of the contact system, replacing the "relationship details" with tags.

I know it's a big pony but I like it enough to mention it from time to time.
posted by bru at 8:59 AM on March 3, 2012


You know, this is probably very Web 1.0 of me and all but I've never really cottoned to tags. They take a finite-if-imperfect search space and turn it into an infinite search space where the searcher has to play a guessing game with all the taggers and try to figure out what they wanted to tag the topic with. That's why this post, for instance, is tagged "greasemonkey, greasemonkeyscript, greasemonkeyscripts". They're all different search terms and if I'd only put one then people searching for the singular wouldn't have been able to find this if I'd only used the plural, you know? They're great for a quick-and-dirty better-than-nothing indexing system I guess, but they're not ideal in all situations.
posted by Scientist at 9:04 AM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Totally off topic, I know. I've just needed to get that off my chest for a few years now.
posted by Scientist at 9:05 AM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone give me a screencap of what this is supposed to look like when it works? I successfully enabled it in Chrome (Ubuntu 11.10), but I'm not seeing anything, after restarting the browser and refreshing the page.

Thanks!
posted by Buckt at 10:06 AM on March 3, 2012


Should look like this. You'll see a teeny grey microscope next to self-proclaimed scientists. Do scripts work the same in Chrome as in Greasemonkey/Firefox scenarios? I don't actually know how those work....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:34 AM on March 3, 2012


Here is a larger, full-resolution capture where you can see it in action on the blue. It's even got four different scientists in it!
posted by Scientist at 10:43 AM on March 3, 2012


I should mention that the script can take up to 24 hours to update its list, though if you just installed it I think it should grab the most current list the first time it runs at least.

Also it's worth noting that Chrome has only partial support for Greasemonkey userscripts, as Google decided they wanted to invent and implement a slightly different standard from the one that Greasemonkey had been using for years, for whatever reason. There is apparently a "Tamper Money" extension for Chrome that improves Greasemonkey compatibility, though I've never tried it. Mostly, though, Greasemonkey is a Firefox thing.

Finally, I should mention that some of the MetaFilter userscripts are a little flaky from time to time, though the Librarian script that this one is based on has always been pretty solid for me. As I write this, my MeFi Navigator script is not functioning, though it was working fine last night.
posted by Scientist at 10:52 AM on March 3, 2012


I have no problems if you want to do this by the way. If people discount what I'm saying because I don't have a little microscope then tough luck to them. Everyone else do what you want, just don't label me in any way I'm not already labelling myself (which I do just fine when I care).
posted by shelleycat at 1:22 PM on March 3, 2012


It's totally opt-in! I am going to go through the thread and make myself a list of people who don't want to ever be on the list, so that I can make sure they don't get accidentally added at some point (unless they change their minds and ask to be put on). And if anyone wants to be taken off at some later date, I promise I'll do that too.
posted by Scientist at 1:27 PM on March 3, 2012


If you are on Chrome, install TamperMonkey and then install this script from the TamperMonkey options. I can verify it works on Windows at least.
posted by geoff. at 2:42 PM on March 3, 2012


Yes! I love this.
posted by two lights above the sea at 3:09 PM on March 3, 2012


Agree with shelleycat. Count me out; count this utterance as my vote of dissent.

I just finished reading Disciplined Minds. I highly recommend it for all who are scientifically trained.
posted by polymodus at 4:09 PM on March 3, 2012


I am, but won't be joining in either. I think this represents a misguided appeal to authority, and it's something I'm not comfortable doing.

If I can't express myself clearly enough to be compelling, I don't want to rely on someone's mental construct of 'scientist' to make my point for me.
posted by yellowcandy at 8:38 PM on March 3, 2012


If you've read my comments where I've tried to explain my intentions for this project, and you still think that what I'm doing is creating a misguided appeal to authority, well, I don't really know what to say, man. Good luck, I guess. I will certainly leave you off the list as you've expressed your desires quite clearly, and no hard feelings there. Really and truly though, I just wanted to make something nice and fun for the community to have (those who wanted it) and it was in no way my intent to try and privilege the comments of some members over those of others.
posted by Scientist at 9:47 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Misguided appeal to authority"? Even though Scientist has said explicitly that this is not that?

Personally, I'm using it like "Oh hey, there's another scientist! Hi!" If I knew anything about greasemonkey (I suppose I could take this as an impetus to learn), I'd code up a script with a teeny bird for the other birders on this site so we could be all "Hey! Whatcha lookin' at?"

If a tiny microscope is an appeal to authority, then so are words when someone says "I have a PhD in this subject and yaddayadda."

I seriously doubt that anyone who installs this script is going to march into a thread about some subject that's not their specialty and rely on the icon to announce that they are an Expert in This.
posted by rtha at 7:08 AM on March 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like I said before, I personally don't have any great objection and can see the fun side of it.

If I actually used Greasemonkey I might even be tempted.

However.... let's not kid ourselves that as human beings we are ever that good at separating the merits of an argument from the labels that we've applied to the person making it, or the level of affinity we feel with them.

Arguably that is even somewhat of a necessity as we have a finite amount of time and energy, and a glut of things that we could look at and ponder over.

Some food for thought in this paper, Peer-review practices of psychological journals: The fate of published articles, submitted again.

Abstract...

...As test materials we selected 12 already published research articles by investigators from prestigious and highly productive American psychology departments, one article from each of 12 highly regarded and widely read American psychology journals with high rejection rates (80%) and nonblind refereeing practices.

With fictitious names and institutions substituted for the original ones (e.g., Tri-Valley Center for Human Potential), the altered manuscripts were formally resubmitted to the journals that had originally refereed and published them 18 to 32 months earlier. Of the sample of 38 editors and reviewers, only three (8%) detected the resubmissions. This result allowed nine of the 12 articles to continue through the review process to receive an actual evaluation: eight of the nine were rejected. Sixteen of the 18 referees (89%) recommended against publication and the editors concurred. The grounds for rejection were in many cases described as “serious methodological flaws.

posted by philipy at 7:31 AM on March 4, 2012


Rtha, I don't know jack about scripting (well, I took some programming classes back in the 90's in high school) but it was still exceedingly easy to edit this one. Plutor did a good job of laying out the code for his librarian contributions script in a humane way and of commenting it well. If you wanted to make a birder script and you have a decent text editor (notepad++ is perfectly good on Windows, and free) then you could just download the script (either his or mine) and open it with that text editor and I bet you'd figure out what to do.

Basically you need to change references to scientists/librarians to birders, change the my/jessamyn's user name to the name of the person who would be curating the list, and change that person's usernumber to the usernumber of that of the curator.

Then you need to find a little 16x16 icon of a bird, google "xxx to Data URI converter" where xxx is the file format of the original icon, and paste the resulting string of mostly-gobbledygook into the place in the script where there is a similar pile of gobbledygook.

Then you install it for yourself by opening it in a greasemonkey-enhanced Firefox browser, put some people in as your colleagues, and check to make sure that it's working. If it is, then hooray! You make yourself an account on userscripts.org, upload your script, put in an appropriate description (note that Plutor used a Simplified BSD license for his script, and I think it's probably polite to use the same one for any variants) and get thee to MetaTalk.

It's actually pretty simple to do!
posted by Scientist at 10:04 AM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, I didn't put a "If it's not working..." option on my little recipe there because for me it worked great the first time out the gate. I had to adjust the microscope icon's appearance a little until it looked right but that's all.
posted by Scientist at 10:08 AM on March 4, 2012


Awesome! If this cold allows me the use of more brain function today than it did yesterday, I'll play with it. Thanks!
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on March 4, 2012


I seriously doubt that anyone who installs this script is going to march into a thread about some subject that's not their specialty and rely on the icon to announce that they are an Expert in This.

No they're not. But at least some people reading the thread are going to see the icon and make assumptions about the expertise of the person making the comment. I don't want anyone doing that to me unless I explicitly lay out what my expertise is in a specific situation (something I'm not slow to do when I think it matters). When I'm writing about stuff I know about I'm careful about what I say and try not to overstep the bounds of what I can give evidence for, even if it doesn't always look like it with my sometimes less-than-coherent writing. I don't want to have to do that with everything else I write here too, I'm far too lazy. And much as I love science and talk about it incessantly in my real life, I don't go around wearing a badge saying 'I'm a biochemist' there either.

I have no problems at all with the intent behind this. I just think you're all being naive if you think it will actually work that way for everyone (see philipy's comment above for an example). Scientist don't like being taken out of context or misunderstood. We like to hedge our statements because we know there is no 'truth', just more or less evidence leading us towards (hopefully) less wrong ideas. We care about our message, even if we're not always great at articulating what that message is. So I'm not surprised that a handful of us want to opt out.

I don't see this as a problem, I'm not upset and I doubt anyone else is either. I don't really care at all as long as it's not my problem, which is isn't since I had the option to not be involved *shrug*.
posted by shelleycat at 10:28 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's not about intent. I get that the plan isn't to create something that marks out certain users as more authoritative.

But I think that, regardless of intent, this is what will happen. I'd venture that most MeFi and AskMeFi users don't read MeTa (and by extension, this conversation). They won't understand the intent, they'll just see the effect. Without the context, I think many users will just assume that the microscope represents more than it does.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2012


But at least some people reading the thread are going to see the icon and make assumptions about the expertise of the person making the comment

...If they've installed this script. And if they've installed this script, they've likely been in this thread and/or read what Scientist wrote on userscripts, where you have to go to find and download it.

It's not like the little icon is visible to every random person who reads metafilter. It isn't.
posted by rtha at 10:57 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think the core thing to keep in mind here is that this, like the librarian script or the narwhal/unicorn posting buttons or any other greasemonkey tweak, is a seriously self-selecting, explicitly opt-in sort of thing. No casual reader is going trip across it and be confused, because you have to (a) know it even exists and (b) choose to use it for it even to be visible.

If something like this were proposed as a built-in feature for the site, we'd say no, because in that sort of situation some of these concerns would be really front-and-center. It's the reason we've said no to a number of feature requests that we otherwise understand the motivation for: what Metafilter presents to the casual member by default is pretty important stuff to think about.

So doing a silly thing via greasemonkey instead, so that only those folks who feel like running with it ever even know about it, is a pretty good compromise.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I thought it was clear but I think maybe it isn't: if someone is not running the script (meaning, they saw this thread, installed greasemonkey, and then installed the script at userscripts.org) then they will not see the microscope icon. It is not a new feature that will be visible site-wide. When I mark someone as my colleague, it only identifies them as a scientist to those people who have installed and are running the "metafilter mark scientist contributions" script over at userscripts.org. This, inevitably, will not include most lurkers and casual users of this site (who likely won't know that the script even exists, and who of course make up the vast bulk of the MetaFilter community) or anybody who knows about it but just didn't want to run it for whatever reason. And that's OK! It's not something that has to be running for everyone, because it's not something that matters to discourse on MetaFilter. It's just a little "Hi! I'm a Scientist!" thing that people can participate in if they want to.
posted by Scientist at 11:09 AM on March 4, 2012


Note also that you don't have to run the script to be visible to those who do run it. You just have to be marked as my colleague. If you don't run the script but you are marked as my colleague, then you will not see the icons but people who do run the script *will* see them. Being on the list and being able to see the icons are two fairly separate things.
posted by Scientist at 11:19 AM on March 4, 2012


I am appalled that there is such a greasemonkey script that would allow the post buttons to be displayed as a narwhal and a unicorn. This is a very serious site, and GOD HELP US if some random lurker accidentally installs greasemonkey in firefox and then also accidentally installs the narwal/unicorn posting buttons script and thinks that those buttons are a representation of Metafilter. I mean, what would they think of us? Would they take any of us seriously!? I don't want to be represented by a unicorn. I would like to opt-out of the unicorn posting buttons!

Ahem.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:47 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Without the context, I think many users will just assume that the microscope represents more than it does.

The context is very explicitly stated on the page where you install the script. It is literally impossible to be in a position where you will see this microscope and you will not know what it means or have read the disclaimer that Scientist has so helpfully provided. If you choose to misinterpret it from that point forward, that is very explicitly a wetware problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:52 AM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep. Got it. I'll own the misunderstanding here. As long as it's an opt-in thing to view the icons, it's cool.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2012


Cool, got it working on Chrome in Ubuntu using Tempermonkey. Thanks jessamyn, Scientist, and geoff.!
posted by Buckt at 1:38 PM on March 4, 2012


Now I have it working in Chrome using Tempermonkey on a Mac :)
posted by Cygnet at 10:35 AM on March 7, 2012


That is to say, mathematicians who want to self-identify as scientists are welcome to be on the list.

Agreed, Scientist. Perhaps that will even encourage more mathematicians to come out of the closet.

/Not mathist.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:20 AM on March 9, 2012


This is great. As a mathematician I never get asked whether or not I want to be called a scientist. Ahem...

No, thank you.

That felt great.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:48 PM on March 10, 2012


I guess you can list me. I'm a logician.
posted by ErWenn at 8:38 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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