More on Moderation

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.

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4 Responses to “More on Moderation”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    It seems that RC even bans some dissident posters. Or at least that is what some who have posted there say. For example, JeffId says so at The Air Vent – Hockey Stick CPS Revisited – Part 1 thread, post 15:

    Jeff Id said: June 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    #14 “The first thing that I learned in my statistics class was that a random sample was required.”

    That’s how I got banned from RC, by pointing out that you can’t choose your data according to what you want to find in your data. After that I came back to the air vent thinking why would they ban a comment like that.

    My conclusion was the same as yours: “is beyond laughable.”

    It truly is beyond, IMO it’s intentional – and a bit insane that it goes through peer review by people who are alleged to be PhD’s. They must have collectively skipped climatology stats class in favor of climatology finger painting that semester.

  2. rcrejects Says:

    Here is an example of a post from Jennifer Marohasy’s blog – In defence of Heaven and Earth – Pt 2 thread.

    Comment from: janama. June 20th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    “Luke – there’s no point posting at Deltoid – if they disagree with you, they ban you. Pathetic.”

    why don’t you take your rude arrogance back to Deltoid from whence you came, you are creating a bad odour on this site and I’m about to stop coming here because I can’t stand the smell!

    No, it didn’t make sense to me either, but it illustrated one of my points in the post above.

  3. rcrejects Says:

    Lucia has a whole thread on moderation relating particularly to TCO, a notorious blogger who has turned up (for a while at least) at all sorts of sites. I have seen him at The Volokh Conspiracy, Climate Audit, The Air Vent, Tamino’s Open Mind and I think that he used to post at RC too. An interesting bloke, TCO.

    The thread is here: http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/has-someone-we-know-been-banned/

    TCO purports to be a skeptic who is frustrated that those on ‘his’ side don’t do a good enough job in making their case. From this position, he can be (and is very often) harshly critical of the skeptics. I note that he is almost never critical of the ‘warmers’ and I think that it is that, more than anything else, that has led me to think that he is actually a warmer adopting a pose.

  4. rcrejects Says:

    In a post at The Air Vent, John F Pittman relates that he was ‘booted’ from RC. From the Historic Hockey Stick – Pt 2 Shock and Recovery. Post 9

    John F. Pittman said: June 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    #8 Jeff,

    If this is repeat or an incorrect assumption of the math presented, please ignore.

    In several posts you have shown that you can extract several different signals (up, down, wiggles, etc.). I wonder if you took the 10,000 sample with the two known signals as in figure 5 above, used the method selected by Mann for the proxies, and you show that yours did include “a screening regression (that) requires independent cross-validation to guard against the selection of false predictors”, couldn’t the rejected proxies be used “to back calculate the result and find the true signal prior to the CPS weighting”?
    If it does recover the signal and it should, would that not show definitely that Mann’s approach is a circular argument? In other words it works when you know the answer, it cannot be used to determine the answer.

    I got into an argument at RC that got me booted (go figure) arguing that the way IPCC approached temperature was wrong because it was a circular argument. They tried using the low frquency signal processing example to show that it could be done. The part not answered was that I and several persons tried to make is that in the signal processing argument, the signal was known, not unknown as the present case is. Their claim that it is known is true only for the modern period, and assumptions have to be made in order to extrapolate to the past. So I am curious, as to the back calculation. My thought is that if it works, and you redo Mann 08, you will get noise except for the infilled and divergence truncated versions. If true, it should be possible to show that the divergence problem was correctly expressed by Loehle. http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2405

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