RC is notorious for deleting, or more accurately, not approving comments for their blog. A key characteristic of their moderation policy is that nobody knows that they have done this, except the unfortunate poster, who knows only because his/her carefully crafted post doesn’t make it to the thread. RC never explain why they elect to refuse approval (or almost never anyhow – there have been a few comments by Gavin that discuss moderation). However, it becomes evident after seeing the many rejected posts that they are very intolerant of dissenting views, or even reasonable questions. This approach leads to the impression that they are trying to maintain a rose-coloured view of their work, and are unwilling to respond to reasonable questions. It also results in a flavour of the ‘choir’ talking amongst themselves.
They would surely be better to allow a wider range of dissenting views, and to address points raised politely. Of course, as Gavin often comments, it can be frustrating having to deal with the same or similar points time and time again. But that is the nature of blogs. The audience tends to come and go, and newcomers can’t be expected to be full bottle on the entire content of previous discussion. That is why a good FAQ section makes sense. Still, it is their blog….
Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit does moderate. But generally he will leave the post up, and snip part (or sometimes all) of the comment. As well, he usually explains why he has snipped. Most commonly the snips relate to violations of blog policy, or OT material. Steve does welcome dissenting questions and discussion. The tone of the blog is much more of an adult conversation than occurs on other blogs.
Looking at a number of blogs, it becomes evident that the tone of comments can differ from blog to blog for reasons that may not be all that evident. For example, Jennifer Marohasy’s blog seems to attract a regular crowd of people of disparate views who apparently enjoy abusing each other. CA, on the other hand, has managed to maintain a generally civil tone. Other blogs in the Climate area seem to delight in abusing visitors who hold different views than the proprietor of the blog, with the result that those blogs become a sort of living room (or bar) for like-minded fellows who encourage each other in their prejudices.
To this observer, visitors to CA from the ‘other side’ are welcomed, and treated with respect. However, it is noted that few of them stay for long, and it is interesting to ask why. One view is that they find that they cannot mount effective responses to the questions raised. Another view that has been expressed is that they are not treated politely, though this claim doesn’t really hold up in this writer’s view.
I think that CA moderates after the event. That it, posters can put their posts up, and any ‘snippable’ material is dealt with after the event when the moderator (usually Steve) gets an opportunity to review the posts. Given the fact that he has other involvements and is not at his computer 24 hours, this can result in posts remaining up until he has a chance to review them. While this may occasionally cause problems, it seems that most posters at CA respect the tone of the blog, and generally comply with expected standards.
It is interesting to note the approaches to moderation adopted by newer blogs. Some state in their opening posts that they will exercise a very open moderation policy, only policing for bad language or other statements that would be unacceptable at a dinner table, say. It soon becomes evident though that in nearly every case that I am aware of, a tighter moderation policy becomes necessary. As indicated above, it seems clear that the type of moderation policy adopted has a significant impact on the audience attracted, and the tone of blog.
There is probably much more to say about this issue, and we will probably develop these ideas as we progress. We may even try to draw some conclusions about our first six months as a blog, and what we have learned about moderation at RC and other sites.