Call us optimists, but we’re expecting tonight’s much-anticipated vice presidential debate to be littered with sound bites on energy and the environment. After all, Sarah Palin, who “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America,” will be making her national debut against debate heavyweight Joe Biden.

Ameritocracy

But politicians are known for saying almost anything, so how do you discern the truth from the talking point? Does Alaska really produce 20 percent of America’s domestic energy supply? (Palin was a tad off … it’s only 3.5 percent.)

We recommend checking out Ameritocracy.com for a dose of FactCheck.org meets Wikipedia.

How it works: Users submit citable quotes from the news with the option to add a response that supports, challenges, or adds context to the quote (citation needed!). Readers then rate each quote on a scale of one to five for accuracy (“Is this verifiable?”) and for relevancy (“Does this matter?”). Ameritocracy also makes a distinction between fact-based claims (examines accuracy) versus opinion-based claims (examines credibility).

Ameritocracy How-to

You can even grab a widget for your blog that tracks the community reaction to a specific quote such as this statement by Sen. Obama on the now moot gas-tax holiday proposal:

But how well does the system work? It’s still in beta, so it’s TBD. However, the site is self-policed by community members, and all users, sources, and those quoted rack up reputation scores.

As for tonight’s veep debate, Ameritocracy will be pulling the questions and quotes from the candidates’ answers live onto the current debate site. Which means if you sign up for a free account, you — like Grist — can get a jump-start reading, responding, and rating the status quote.