Methodology of uCheck: An Explanation of How our Platform Works

uCheck is a platform used for collectively verify and fact-check the news. You just need to copy and paste the URL of an article on uCheck to know if other fact-checkers are verifying its contents, or to start a conversation about it.

uCheck is based on information sharing and voting. Keep reading to know about the key functionalities and uses of uCheck with the detailed information.

1. uCheck Basics

You can’t fact-check opinions (opinions might be wrong, but they are not facts. Do not mark opinions as ‘incorrect’, you might lose points)Always read the links you share or vote. (It’s what this is all about)Write concrete short comments together with your sources (or let them speak for you: commenting is optional)

Fact-checkers are the registered users that can open verifications on any piece of information they find online and can vote the accuracy of that content by adding context information in the form of links. Other contributors can join the verification process and sum their vote to the links offered by others, or add additional information.

Verifications in uCheck are user-generated and user-moderated. The only necessary requirement to make any content suitable to open a verification in our platform is that there should be a link to a piece of online news.

Verifications are the deliberative space through which the uCheck community decide upon the validity of a claim, data or other type of content. Each user contributes to the verification with the number of reputation points he/she has at the moment of voting.  A verification will be closed when one of the available options reaches 5000 points.

There are different ways to participate to a verification. Remind that by downloading the browser extension you will be able to start these actions directly from the news websites.

2. The verification

Dimensions of verification:

There are 2 levels for verifications:

‘Hoax/Not Hoax’, when it’s debated of a given article, as a whole, is fake news.‘Verifications (False / Warning / True)’, are focused on text extracts from an article (which can contain claims, data, etc.)

Optionally, you can add a short comment to explain your contribution.

Types of Action:

You can perform 3 main types of actions:

Ask other fact-checkers:
Ask other users to verify an article or an extract. You can do this copying and pasting the article URL in the top search bar on uCheck, or directly from the original websites via the browser extension.
Report something wrong or false:
Start a verification on an article or on an extract. You will be asked wat is wrong in the article (‘hoax / not hoax’ OR ‘something in the text’), and to provide a link that justifies your point. This can take many forms: a fact-checking piece, a link to a database, etcetera. You can report something false by copying and pasting the article URL in the top search bar on uCheck, or directly from the original websites via the browser extension, clicking on ‘report hoax‘, or selecting a piece of text from a webpage, right-clicking, and selecting ‘open on uCheck‘.

Optionally, you can add a short comment to explain your contribution.

Vote on existing verifications:
You can do this by adding new links to confirm a point of view, or clicking on the links offered by other fact-checkers. Voting works on the two levels specified above and following the same rules of reporting.

Optionally, you can add a short comment to explain your contribution.

Following the system that many fact-checking organizations have implemented, closed verifications ends up turning the thermometer either red if in fact it is a hoax or green if it is actually safe content. Differently, when the report intends to determine if content in an article is correct, users are given three options to choose from: red, yellow or green. Red implies the disputed facts are false or completely incorrect. Green implies the disputed facts are actually completely true and correct. Yellow is the trickiest category since it includes all sorts of content that are neither entirely false nor true. That includes satire, misleading content, out of context remarks, insufficient information or uncheckable content. The purpose of the yellow vote is therefore to warn the reader that the piece of information being verified is not clearly true or false, but that attention is due when reading it. The context information provided by other fact-checkers in the form of links will hopefully help the reader to interpret of the information.

NB - Sometimes you will find a fake news that has not been fact-checked. If you can, add a link to support the reason why that news cannot be true. If it’s not possible, there are 2 ways in which you can add a meaningful link nonetheless.

For legal reasons, many fake news websites have a disclaimer sometimes on their webpage that states that the news are satirical. That is a good proof that the news is not realYou can look into a database of fake news/satire website. Here you can find the one that is connected to uCheck and that we update regularly drawing from the great work of other fact-checkers. If the website is in that list then that is a good link to be added in your report.

3. Reputation Points   

uCheck operates with a point system in which each user's vote is weighted according to a reputation scheme. Anyone can join almost immediately and start participating. Newly registered users can increase their initial score by verifying their identity through social media. Over time if the regular user engages in lawful and good-quality participation, she/he will obtain more points and will be able to further influence the result of a verification.

Actions that make you gain points:

Signing up: 10 pointsCreating an avatar: 20 pointsLinking your Facebook or Twitter account: 50 pointsLinking your LinkedIn account: 100 pointsOpening a verification: 1 pointContributing to a verification: 1 pointThe verification you opened gets resolved: 4 pointsWinning a verification*: 25 pointsWinning a Hoax verification**: 50 points

*A verification gets resolved with the result you voted for

**A Hoax verification gets resolved with the result you voted for

Actions that make you lose points:

Losing a verification* [the reason we do this is to control trolls & random voting. It is important to check your sources before voting in a verification]: -15 pointsLosing a Hoax verification: -25 pointsAny disruptive behavior, this means:Offensive language & hate speechAdding material unrelated to the verificationSpamming

In the above cases, a moderator will get in touch and explain the reasons behind the removal.

*A verification gets resolved with a different result opposite from the one you voted for (e.g. green for a red and vice versa)

Simultaneously, professional fact-checkers who work in organizations recognized by the International Fact-Checking Network are entitled to a special account.

Reputation points serve many purposes the most important of which is the ability to influence the resolution of a verification.

4. Resolution

Verifications get resolved when one result (either ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘warning’ for verifications, ‘hoax’ or ‘not hoax’ for hoax verifications) reach up to 5000 points and none of the other results are above 3500.

If a result gets to 5000 points while one or more of the others are above 3500, the verification goes under review by our editorial team.

Verifications that have been resolved will be visible in the webapp and directly on other websites by anyone who has downloaded the browser extension.

NB. uCheck is still under development. If you have any feedback, suggestion or query please drop us a line at talkwith@prece.pt and we would be happy to help.

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