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I think it goes without saying that I'm new here (I already read the FAQ, and FAQ: Welcome to New Users).

Currently I'm interested in collecting hard evidence on Internet Privacy; how it is under surveillance today; what pros and cons are of letting this be gradually applied over time, and only stopped when bigger steps are taken; who (or which companies) are in favour/pushing this to happen; and more.

I'm motivated to do this because I have experienced that many of my friends and people I have seen on the Internet seem to ignore this issue. With the small amount of research I've done, I'm already convinced that the majority would be against this if awareness was spread properly. In order to do this I think there's a need to collect hard facts on how this affects/will affect the individual citizen. Also just to see if it turns out that there's no real issue.

I was pointed here when asking about this on MetaSO, but I'm not entirely sure my entire purpose fits under the nature of this site. Note that I'm not interested in speculating/predicting the future. I'm only interested in facts, and then leave it up to people to form their own opinion.

Any suggestions of how I should go about this?

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First, I am not a moderator or other official represntative, but after hanging around a while I would offer the following answer:

No, I would say that posting on the Skeptics site will not, in general, enable you to collect research into current trends of internet privacy and regulation. It is not a general research or Q&A site.

However, if during your own research you encounter interesting claims made by others that seem so odd or unusual as to ignite your own sense of skepticism, then return here and post (with one or more links) these claims you are skeptical about, in the form of a question and some of the regulars here will surely be curious enough to research and reply with a rational, well documented answer.

This answer is not intended to be unfriendly or arrogant to newcomers. It reflects months of observation on how this community operates.

Here, there is a standard for questions that must be met. Questions must be clear, and include a notable claim [including a link and/or quote] that someone is skeptical about. Questions that do not meet the standard are mercilessly closed until they are suitably revised or withdrawn/deleted. Questions that meet the standards usually receive answers, and sometimes amazingly detailed and well researched answers. But general discussion questions and ill-posed questions are closed as off-topic clutter.

Further information about how this site operates can be found in FAQ: Welcome to New Users

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    Without knowing more about the site than seeing a few popular questions, the FAQ and the welcome post, this seems to be a very accurate answer. But I have to ask, which factors do you think matter in terms of making a claim "notable". Does amount of people claiming it matter? Is one person I heard on the street near a SOPA-protest enough ("When I was young we protested against nuclear wars and wars, now the young people protest to be able to illegally download free stuff")? Should the claim be from a professional context (journalist, writer, researcher, lawyer etc.)? Anything else? – Aske B. Oct 8 '12 at 7:51
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    I'm guessing a link where people here can read or listen to the quote themselves is more preferable. But what I'm asking is which factors makes a notable claim? Judging from How notable does a claim need to be? and Is cycling worse for the environment than driving to work if you need to take a shower? it also has a lot to do with how unusual (interesting to skeptics) the claim is. – Aske B. Oct 8 '12 at 8:19
  • @AskeB. Yes. You are engaging a community of individuals who do this voluntarily. So, the topic has to be interesting to some of them and within someone's capacity to answer. – Paul Oct 8 '12 at 23:01
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If you are careful about it maybe. First you would have to have demonstrable claims about something you were trying to research, those claims would have to be falsifiable and have potential for sufficient evidence that an answer actually answers the question and doesn't provide more conjecture.

After that you would have to ask those questions so they don't have an apparent agenda attached to them, specifically stating you have an agenda here makes that pretty much impossible. This only matters in cases where the agenda you have runs counter to the prevailing opinions/beliefs of the community.

  • I don't understand the second part of your answer. I'm not allowed to have an agenda behind the question? And then you say that "[t]his only matters in cases where the agenda you have runs counter to the prevailing opinions/beliefs of the community". To my understanding, you're saying that I can only have an agenda behind the question if it is of opposite belief than the "prevailing opinions". Why is this important? And why is it a problem if I don't include the "agenda" in the questions themselves? I understand that I should provide common beliefs that this community should give critique to. – Aske B. Oct 3 '12 at 18:33
  • many users dislike the concept of trying to push an agenda with a question, especially when the issue has a political side. This isn't uniformly applied though, for example questions and answers that have a tone bashing homeopathic remedies are often applauded. If your questions are perceived as pushing for answers saying the internet should be the "wild west" or that the internet should be controlled and regulated. one of those positions is going to bring a lot more flak and make your goal more difficult than the other side or a more neutral approach. – Ryathal Oct 3 '12 at 18:52
  • Well, I'm interested in the neutral approach. E.g. The first thing I want to know if there's any problem beyond sacrificing your privacy when laws, that makes it legal to survey all activity of all individuals, pass (so, clarification of consequences to the individual). While I already have a belief of what the correct answer is, I would still like these beliefs to be verified and proved/disproved. Would this still be inappropriate? - Even when I'm entirely prepared to have my theories/observations/beliefs disproved - and don't colour the questions with my theories? – Aske B. Oct 3 '12 at 19:06
  • I would try asking a question, you obviously are interested enough to make it work, and if it doesn't you only had one question closed (maybe deleted but probably not) and then there is something concrete that can be improved into a working foundation for future questions. – Ryathal Oct 3 '12 at 20:19
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    Uhm, the "agenda" thingie is a bit different IMHO. Point is, some people come to the site only interested in promoting their point of view, so they sometimes have unacceptable behaviour (such as rigging questions towards an answer, asking and answering a question, using faulty logic on purpose, etc). All we ask is that people keep an open mind and accept what is pointed at by the evidence. Strong opinions, weakly held - not the opposite. – Sklivvz Oct 3 '12 at 20:38
  • @Sklivvz Okay, that was also what I understood from "Scientific Skepticism" in the introduction topic. I'm not here to promote my beliefs, I'm here to challenge some of them, and then maybe later reference the outcome as a presentation to challenge their beliefs as well. And as far as I understand by this discussion, that is okay, as long as I form actual questions that don't attract discussions and that can be verified as well as falsified, right? – Aske B. Oct 4 '12 at 12:36

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