That doesn't sound so hard to me. I've personally worked on several different kinds of projects with people that I've met through internet sites (it's a millenial thing- you old folks wouldn't understand :P). And after reading forums for a while, I start to get a feel for who is worth paying attention to and who I can safely ignore. You even have that special medal image to give you special recognition on this forum! I honestly think the only reason that nobody does "serious" science outside of academia is cultural inertia. We've internalized the idea that the only people outside academia who write science articles are cranks, and therefore the only people who do that tend to actually be
cranks, which justifies our belief in ignoring those people.