More Comments on Moderation

I have noticed some more comments on moderation at various sites. I will load them as individual comments below. Some interesting issues relating to moderation come out.

JeffID at The Air Vent is finding that he has to censor TCO, a character who has been banned at numerous other sites. The sorts of problems TCO (and his ilk) can create are illustrated in the Climate Audit Banned at Sudbury Airport thread, where it emerged that cuss words used by TCO that were missed by the moderator may have triggered a nanny program banning the site.

Some commentators remark about the different policies adopted on moderation at different blogs. RC in particular simply deletes, or more accurately, fails to approve posts that it wants to reject, without advising the poster. Other sites, like CA and WUWT, allow the post through, but snip the offending part of the post, and explain why. Clearly this is a much more generous approach than the RC approach.

Moderation policies do affect the tone and quality of comments on blogs. As a poster below remarks. “There is simply no comparison between the level of civility and of substantive comment here on Climate Audit and that on Real Climate.”


12 Responses to “More Comments on Moderation”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    From CA – The Gracious Communicator Thread. Post 102

    JohnM: June 2nd, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Re: Steve McIntyre (#71),
    Re: Anthony Watts (#92),
    WARNING: You may want to stock up on snacks before reading…
    As I indicated in my previous comment, I completely agree with your (Steve’s) characterization of how defensive The Team is and, imo, know their results are being legitimately criticized and, hence, seek almost any excuse to disengage from any scientific give-and-take. The purpose is to give as little publicity (and concomitant credence inseparable from it) to anyone that might suggest the debate isn’t over.
    In my experience, they are too often condescending, personal, and deliberately belittling and dismissive of anyone who might credibly undermine what they perceive as their standing in the eyes of their climatology community and, especially, the mainstream media (not to mention the funding stream their being viewed as “the experts” requires). Real Climate’s censorship of legitimate comments is as crude a propaganda technique that one can employ and I think they understand exactly what they are doing.
    In other words, I agree with your characterization of their approach, Steve, but I think a larger issue is being missed: Given what we know are the Team’s SOPs, any interactions we have need to be based on that understanding and appropriate “strategies” developed for presenting the “outside world” the most trenchant arguments for beginning, by the simple act of questioning, to put pressure for a change in behavior of the offending parties (and journals).
    Where I do disagree with you, however, is in assuming their behavior is immovable. I have long participated in “discussions” with the most insulting individuals on a range of topics in, for example, USENET newsgroup forums. While I know the discussion will be futile in changing a particular individual’s mind, I also understand that there are “lurkers” who are watching how the debate unfolds. My posts are for them, not the purveyors of the vitriol and personal attacks. They are persuadable and lurking for the very reason that they have not developed strong views on the matter.
    And even with the most incorrigible of “opponents,” I notice that a strictly neutral, rational statement of where I stand, even immediately following a post/comment made from animus where I still act as if they presented a neutral argument (at least I treat it as such), actually can change the way the other individual responds. You’d be surprised at the change in attitude that often takes place–at least in the tone of the discussion. In a sense, they are being shamed into proper behavior in order to avoid the very contrast the impersonal, neutral, rational response to them would highlight. In fact, they might be downright disturbed by the lack of response to their incivility .
    It’s this reduction in paranoia, if I can use the term, that the conversation (or data, in your case) isn’t being pursued for the purpose of humiliation (not your fault or a rational perception of the way you correspond with them), that I think over the long run can elicit additional cooperation (even if simple begrudging acknowledgment of valid points).
    Heck, if you can invest them in your own research (e.g., suggesting cooperation on a paper with them to “extend” their results rather than to debunk them, asking their opinion on a point you’re considering) might, with time (and depending on the individual–Gavin might be a lost cause ) produce some conciliatory gestures. If they perceive your work as adversarial, they’re bound to treat you as the adversary.
    What I suggest above can be a time-consuming process–if merely in the careful construction of correspondence or remarks. But I think it’s a process that has at least the possibility of bearing some fruit. If not, the outside observer will be presented with the very contrast that will convince them of the validity of your approach–and that is the ultimate goal of any approach one chooses.
    Didn’t mean to be long-winded (though I guess I actually did, since I wrote it all down ), but I tend to err on being comprehensive versus being misunderstood–a fault I impose on others who have to wade through the material.

  2. rcrejects Says:

    WUWT – Gavin Schmidt’s New Climate Picture Book thread. 4 June 2009

    Barry Foster (11:04:30) :

    I recently tried to contribute on realclimate’s web site. I composed a detailed explanation that ‘Warming-worriers’ had only themselves to blame for leading the public perception that by now we would (should) be in a much warmer world than we actually are.

    As their software wouldn’t let my piece pass, Mr Schmidt kindly sent me an email saying that he had read it through and, although he disagreed with it, could see no reason why the software rejected it. So he pasted it onto the site personally.

    Naturally, my piece was derided by a mouth-foaming mob, so I countered their arguments. However, this time my reference to ‘warming-worriers’ was edited out and I was told in no uncertain terms to “cut out the abuse”.

    I sent Mr Schmidt an email explaining that he had originally personally passed the comment as okay as he had read it! But more than that, he constantly allows “Deniers” with all its connotations as acceptable. I drew the conclusion that realclimate is an odd place, with odd perceptions, and run by an odd person.

  3. rcrejects Says:

    Barry Foster’s comment at WUWT attracted a comment from C O Toogood. Same thread. 4 June

    C.O.Toogood (14:27:19) :

    @ Barry Foster: “But more than that, he constantly allows “Deniers” with all its connotations as acceptable. I drew the conclusion that realclimate is an odd place, with odd perceptions, and run by an odd person.”

    RealClimate censors posts. It will accept only a certain amount of contrary opinions and generally when Dr Schmidt and the others can pitch in. It also seems to be engaged in mutual masturbation?

    It advertises itself as part of The Guardian Environment network yet at least the Guardian refrains from crass censorship.

    The front cover of Dr Schmidt’s book is only relevant in so far as these so called scientists will do anything to gain publicity for ideas that are so bereft of value that if their ideas were not affecting our lives they would be ignored.

  4. rcrejects Says:

    From RC Groundhog Day 2 thread. Post 176

    Doug Mackie Says: 9 June 2009 at 5:13 PM

    Every so often over the last 2.5 years or so I have tried to post here (as I did yesterday). Now, I’m not saying the posts are always top quality. But I do my bit.

    Some of my research is CC oriented (ocean pH time series) and I write debunking articles in local media so call it hubris but I think I have something to contribute. But darn it, I think with maybe one or two exceptions my posts have never made it. After the first few attempts I mostly gave up trying.

    But every now and then I feel I really have something to contribute. The posts preview OK and all but never show up. Is there something I should know? Do I have bad breath? Is my fly undone?

  5. rcrejects Says:

    A response to Doug Mackie. RC Groundhog Day 2 thread. Post 178

    Dirk Hartog Says: 9 June 2009 at 5:42 PM

    Re 176, Doug Mackie “The posts preview OK and all but never show up.”

    I agree with Doug. Moderation is important, but so is feedback if your post doesn’t make it. E.g., some time ago I posted something that was relevant and scientifically useful on the subject of sub-snow temperature measurements. The post actually appeared briefly (not just “waiting for moderation”), but was then deleted, presumably because the “handle” I chose was “Back off man, I’m a scientist” – which was an attempt at humor.

    If I may be so bold, I suggest that the moderators have a series of buttons they can click to give feedback when deleting a post. E.g.,

    – Off topic
    – Repeats long-rebutted argument, adding nothing new
    – Contains obviously false information
    – Ad hominem attack
    – Posting under a different name from same IP
    – Stupid choice of name

  6. rcrejects Says:

    The Air Vent – Tired and Wrong Again thread. Post 42

    MikeN said: June 9, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    With cut RC posts, I posted one on ‘Science vs advocacy’ about confirmation bias, saying that if the hockey stick paper had come up with a different result showing that the current temperatures are cooler than in the past, then scientists would have found the math errors. Instead because they liked the results, they didn’t check as hard. Of course this didn’t make it.

    I am curious if the hockey stick results could be reproduced, like Ryan did with the Antarctic warming, to produce different shapes?

  7. rcrejects Says:

    From CA – The Gracious Communicator thread. Post 145

    Gerald Machnee: June 9th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Re: clivere (#143),
    “but it is also worth trying to figure out why Eric made the post in the first place and what he was trying to achieve in constructing it the way he did.”

    They were only showing that they responded to criticism. Then they ended it “before” too many questions got to the point. I say “before” because they deleted postings even though they will not admit it.

    “It appears to me that your moderation policy tends to sometimes silence those who have legitimate doubts.
    [Response: No. What we dissalow is the incessant cut-and-paste drive-buys of trolls, and those whose doubts are anything but ‘legitimate’ and whose analyses are anything but ‘rational’. -mike]”

    This is a real joke. The last time I attempted posting, I was not even criticizing. I expect it was automatic. Spelling needs checking as well.

  8. rcrejects Says:

    Over at The Air Vent, a relatively new blog, host JeffID is learning about the need for moderation – at the gentle hands of TCO, a familiar character from CA, RC, Open Mind.

    The Air Vent – Mannian Science thread. Post 11

    Jeff Id said: June 10, 2009 at 7:27 pm
    TCO’s comments are naturally going into the Cialis bucket, WordPress seems to sort them better than me. I’m deciding whether I should let them out. It’s the same old rubbish and I don’t want him to take over this blog again.

    The Air Vent – Mannian Science thread. Post 16

    Jeff Id said: June 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    #15, I thought that was PC. Hmm, maybe I don’t have it in me
    TCO is cussing away at the cialis bucket. We’re all stupid and he’s a genius.
    Being cut from a discussion is crap, I hate it more than anyone but TCO you have to cut the swearing, stop repeating the same thing over and over and we all would appreciate it if you used your mind to figure out what is happening rather than your mouth (fingers).
    I’ve never been forced to cut anyone like this…… WordPress spam filter is doing its job.

  9. rcrejects Says:

    Climate Audit also had some problems with TCO, as emerged when Steve McIntyre found that CA had been blocked when he sought to check in at Sudbury Airport. Another aspect of moderation – dealing with Carlin 7 words.

    CA – Banned at Sudbury Airport thread. Post 213

    MrPete: June 9th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Sorry I have not been able to check in.

    I cleaned up a number of TCO’s f***’s yesterday in the history… there were dozens. S**t is almost hopeless (18 pages!) [Steve: go to the admin comments page, and use the search tool…]
    I don’t know if it helps, but at least the archive is now “cleaner” for observant web spiders.
    What a world we live in.

    Same thread, Post 214

    Steve McIntyre: June 9th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Re: MrPete (#212),

    Pete, thanks for clarifying that. I was confident that I didn’t see any f*** when I used the administrator search but the Google cache evidence trumped my memory. I’m relieved that my memory hasn’t evaporated totally. I cleaned up some more s*** and it;s now down a lot. I guess I should have been more ruthless in deleting but, at the time, the recipients invariably equated such enforcement of civility with realclimate censorship.

    Same Thread, Post 215

    Steve McIntyre: June 9th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Re: MrPete (#212),

    PEte, I cleaned up the s*** comments. I mostly deleted rather than snipped as it was a lot faster. It was interesting that the worst offenders were generally critics of the site (though not always).

  10. rcrejects Says:

    CA – Revisiting Detroit Lakes thread. Post 55

    PhilH: June 9th, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Jack: I have no idea how often or how long you have been tuning in here or whether you are aware of the long history, from the very beginning, of contemptuous disdain for McIntyre which has emanated from that portion of the climate science community politically wedded to the concept of alarmist AGW.

    I have been reading this site daily for four or five years and it has been an eye-opener for this non-scientist lawyer to see the treatment routinely visited upon him by these people; people who are supposedly objective scientific practitioners. There is a vast list of this kind of stuff: ad hominem attacks, insults, lies, misquotes, misrepresentations, refusal to make data available, etc. You name it. One has to understand this history in order to understand why and where Steve occasionally is coming from. If you are not familiar with this history, you are bound to see it inappropriately.

    However, I find it hard to believe that you are not fully aware of the fact that if you had made the kind of adversarial posts you are making here on Real Climate, you would have been instantly beheaded. There is simply no comparison between the level of civility and of substantive comment here on Climate Audit and that on Real Climate.

  11. rcrejects Says:

    CA – Detroit Lakes Revisited thread. Post 63

    rephelan: June 9th, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    OK, for anyone who missed it. Steve M. owes Anthony Watts BIG-TIME… and snipped his comment at #7 for violating blog policy… Does RC, Tamino, or William Connolly have that sort of integity? And you’ll note that Anthony had the good grace to apologize and not get huffy.

  12. rcrejects Says:

    RC even snips loyal accolyte Ike Solem when he (according to them) steps out of line.

    RC – Winds of Change Thread. Post 80

    Ike Solem Says: 15 June 2009 at 11:38 AM

    “Please stick to demonstrable facts related to the science” – yes, that’s what I’m asking realclimate to do on the coal carbon capture issue. Considering the kind of comments that do get through, I’m pretty astonished that several of my posts on Chu’s decisions have been blocked – far worse language is typically let through, such as RodB’s “anal itchiness” comments.

    Quite frankly, the scientific support for coal carbon capture is non-existent – so why on Earth is realclimate defending it? That’s what I can’t figure out.

    Personally, I don’t like being called a “crusader” – do you like being referred to as a “climate crusader”? The only thing I’m after is accurate scientific information from media and government institutions, period – you can be insulting and call it a “crusade” if you like, but facts are facts, and there is such a thing as “independent scientific review” – and “conflict of interest”.

    It really is no different than cold fusion, or the “iron will allow algae to capture carbon” notions – scientifically unsupported gibberish.

    [Response: Accusations of fraud, misconduct and corruption are not acceptable here when discussing the science, nor is it acceptable in discussing CCS. I have no particular opinion on FutureGen or other CCS efforts (of which there are many on the table), but to dismiss Chu’s mention of the potential as being dishonest is out of order. Stick to the science – with cites and discussions of the technology – but this is not the place to discuss your opinions about the integrity of anyone involved. – gavin]

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