Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Increasing Awesomeness & The Nature of Time

Just today, Sam pointed out that it’s been just over a year since we started doing Afternoon Inquisitions. His question:

Where does the time go?

So feel free to answer that, or even better, answer my follow-up:

What new features can we introduce to Skepchick to increase the total amount of awesome? Show your work.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. I still want the forum back. I like fora. I also like milk. But I’m not going to suggest any Skepchick features involving milk. Make the comment threads forumier and I’ll be happy.

  2. Q1-Time goes to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, where it is the base ingredient of lovely meal, like Chicken Fried Time, Time on a Stick, and Time a la Mode, to trnas-dimentional hyperspace beings.

    Q2-More “Get to know your Skepchick.” Serious questions (How did you become a skeptic?), silly questions (What prosteltyser of woo would you like to see anal probed?), and questions that don’t make any sense (Saturday at 4:30p times Monday at noon equals?).

    While I respect the privacy of the Skepchicks, and thank them all for their mastery of Awesome Fu, I think that this, along with a glimpse of what some of them really look like would establish a personal connection.

    More Contests could be fun. The rewards don’t have to be anything of real take-it-to-the-bank value, but something, even as little as writing a guest blog entry (approved by the Skepchicks, of course) Themes can vary, as we all have various talents.

    A theme song! Every awesome awesomeness needs a themesong-even if its a parody of a pop song. I’m working on one for a podcast I’m listening to.

  3. Time goes into the past, duh. It’s like a nigh-infinite roll of toilet paper, forever getting sucked down the endless toilet flow of space-time.

  4. has a nifty community blog section that I find kind of nifty — they’ll occasionaly feature a community blog entry on the front page. And feministe regularly has “guest bloggers” that blog daily for a week.

    I kind of like the idea of having regular commenters able to submit their own posts (the suggestion to make it a “prize” of a contest is a good one).

    I agree: More “Get to know your Skepchick.”!

  5. I was just thinking about this. I stumbled upon a bit over a year ago. As far as I can tell, it was the result of a link to Elyse’s Some Fathers’ Day Skepticism. After that, I just sort of stuck around.

    As far as new features, how about a regular celebrity guest post? Say, once a month or something.

  6. @Steve: “As far as new features, how about a regular celebrity guest post? Say, once a month or something.”

    Surely we can claim Rebecca as a celebrity by now?

  7. I believe the phrase is “into a cocked hat.”

    Which doesn’t make any sense to me, since a hat can’t really be cocked unless it’s on someone’s head, can it? And then you’re not getting anything into it without doing some serious damage to the hat or the skull. Unless you’re talking about something entirely intangible, like time, which can go into the hat purely figuratively, which then knocks my criticism into the aforementioned hat. I’ve had no food and too much coffee and I should probably just shut up now.

  8. For me, time stopped somewhere in the mid-1990’s, at least as far as my choice in clothing and music goes.
    As for new stuff on Skepchick, I’m in the camp that would love to see a new ‘something of the week’ award, with the prize of being able to post an article or entry.

  9. Interesting to hear you guys suggest guest posts…we did a few of these and I’d love to see us do more.

    In fact, it seems like most of the suggestions thus far involve doing more of what’s already working. Interesting!

  10. 1. Time doesn’t go anywhere. We do.

    2. More skepchick podcasts might be cool – maybe a short (5 min) rundown/highlight of the interesting posts and discussion of the week, and you could announce the comment of the week winner, thereby adding further prestige to this already awesome prize.

  11. Some instructional videos might be fun.
    “How to bend a spoon”
    “Homeopathic Tang for fun and profit”
    “Faith-healing your clock radio”
    “Quick and easy Turin shrouds”
    That sort of thing.

  12. @Bjornar: Yeah, the forum. Honestly? Never gonna happen again. I have enough annoyance over the SGU forum, that I simply can’t handle another forum.


    @marilove makes a good point about Feministing’s community blog. I’ll look into the logistics of doing something similar here. There’s also Neatorama’s Upcoming Queue to consider in terms of user-submitted essays.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  13. For Q1, Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

    For Q2, I would like to see more actual reasoned arguments for why particular things are not true. Rather than taking for granted that everyone who reads a post already knows why [insert nonsense here] is nonsense, it would be good to see something along the lines of an argument that might actually be persuasive to someone who hasn’t really thought about it, or even to someone who has thought about it and is leaning towards believing [insert same nonsense here] is true.

    I get that the site is mostly about a community of like-minded people, but it could also be more of a resource for a wider audience. As it is, I don’t think there are many cases where I could point someone to a skepchick post so they could learn why some false idea is actually false.

    I would like to see more content that would actually be challenging to someone who believes some kind of nonsense.

    I am a Hedge

  14. @Im a Hedge: Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.

    Love Groucho Marx.

    As to where does the time go, no idea, I’m gonna agree with @infinitemonkey: and say it ends up at Milliway’s.

    For the second question, I’ll just fifth the suggestions for more meet the skepchicks and celebrity posts as I don’t see myself contributing blogs anytime soon.

  15. Let’s have people put down what sort of excuses we think the nutballs will start using when the world doesn’t end in December 2012.

    Name names.. find out who’s screaming loudest about it and put them at the top of the list. Then have at it.

    And I’ll also add my ass to the celebrity posts bandwagon

  16. Okay, my humble, afraid to-speak-up Canadian-ness has to step aside for the moment. I feel the need to offer up some respectful, and helpful (I hope) criticism.

    The Afternoon Inquisitions might do well to find a way to either a) collect more ideas from without or b) not having so many of them. At times, it seems like they may be a little starved for content, because what used to be AI’s about skepticism, woo, alternative health, politics etc….are more often than not, being about completely irrelevant topics.


    That said, there’s been quite a few AI’s that ask nothing at all. I mean that: nothing at all.

    I like the COTW winner coming up with an AI, and perhaps there could a way (or ways) to get more commenter/community input in the AI’s …t’would be fun and engaging. Having to come up with 5-7 AI’s a week is a pretty daunting task, and you’re bound to run out of ideas. It’s been a heroic run, but eventually one has to run out of steam or else find a new source of coal (and someone to shovel in said coal).

    You guys know I love you and all that, but the AI’s are getting a little silly and irrelevant. Maybe 3-times a week might be a better frequency.

    I seriously do love the AI idea, but the sheer volume is starting to cause them to collapse under their own weight and success.

    Again: Love.

    Again: Afraid to speak up.

    Again-again: Don’t you hate pants?

  17. I n-th the “get to know your skepchick” and guest posts ideas.

    Also, elaborating on I am a Hedge’s idea: what about a “Skepchick wiki” where the sum of all skepchick knowledge can be stored?

  18. Get to know your skepchick – +1
    Guest Posts – +1

    Others –

    Occasionally bringing some of the Skepchick Teen posts up to the main page.

    Tagging blogs in the blogroll with some indication of where their main focus is – some are obvious, but grouping blogs that mainly deal with, say, might help newcomers to skepticism narrow things down.

  19. @Rebecca: YESS! I love the community blog over there better than sometimes. The fact that they feature interesting/important community blogs on the front page is also awesome.

  20. @Some Canadian Skeptic: I see those AI’s as a break from the seriousness, and more of an open thread. A fun way to communicate and get to know other users. We don’t ALWAYS have to keep to skeptic-related topics, and I think the AI is a good time to get off topic.

    I also get the feeling that AI wasn’t created to always bring serious discussions. I mean, sometimes we just gotta talk about boobs, amiright?

  21. @marilove: I agree that levity is good, but there were several in a row like this, this, this, and this. I do agree with SCS that it seemed for a little while like AI was dying.

    My suggestion for open threads would be to just treat them that way instead of trying to wedge it into an AI that is digressive and meaningless.

    To make myself clear: I wouldn’t be giving feedback unless I liked coming here and wanted to see the site stay awesome. So also “PLEASEDON’THURTMEI’MVERYFRAGILEANDICRYEASILY!!!!”

  22. Oh dear, another quiet Canadian chiming in; c’est moi.

    I think the “Get to Know Your Skepchick” bit is great.

    I’m afraid to speak up and say I agree with @Some Canadian Skeptic, but I do. Am … will, er….

    Two to three AIs per week would, I think, be ideal.

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