RC Has A Moderation Policy

I should really have picked this up long ago – my bad. RC has a Moderation Policy. Or at least, a Comment Policy, which I suppose is pretty much the same thing.


Here it is:

9 Dec 2004: Gavin @ 3:10 pm

Comment policy

1. Comments are moderated. If your comment does not appear immediately, it has been flagged by the moderation filters as potentially problematic. These comments are periodically reviewed, but especially at weekends, evenings and holidays, there may be some delay in approving otherwise non-contentious posts. Please be patient.

2. Questions, clarifications and serious rebuttals and discussions are welcomed.

3. Only comments that are germane to the post will be approved. Comments that contain links to inappropriate, irrelevant or commercial sites may be deleted.

4. As stated in the blog description, discussion of non-scientific subjects is not allowed.

5. No flames, profanity, ad hominen comments, or you said/he said type arguments are allowed. This includes comments that (explicitly or implicitly) impugn the motives of others, or which otherwise seek to personalize matters under discussion.

6. We reserve the right to make spelling corrections, correct text format problems, etc.

7. We use moderation to improve the “signal to noise” in the discussion. For this reason, we may choose to screen out comments that (a) simply repeat points made in previous comments, (b) make claims that we feel have already been validly refuted by us or others on the site, or (c) “muddy the water” by introducing erroneous, specious, or otherwise misleading assertions.

8. We reserve the right to either reject comments that do not meet the above criteria, or in certain cases to edit them in a manner that brings them into accordance with our comments policy (e.g. by simply deleting inflammatory or ad hominem language from an otherwise worthy comment).

9. Given that RealClimate represents a volunteer effort by about 10 different contributors, each of whom are free to participate in queue moderation, the items indicated above only constitute the basic ground rules. We cannot insure uniform application of the various considerations listed above from one individual comment to the next. We expect commenters to understand this.

10. Quick responses to questions that don’t merit a full post will be placed in-line (with credits).

11. All comments are assumed to be released into the public domain. You do not retain copyright. Comments which explicitly assert they retain copyright will be deleted.

12. Comments will close after a month, or earlier if necessary (e.g., if we feel that the comments have grown increasingly off topic, or the numbers of comments has become exceedingly large).

13. Repeat offenders of our comments policy (in particular, individuals demonstrating a pattern of “trolling”) may be barred from future access to the blog.

So what are we to make of this comment policy? Well I suppose it’s their blog, and they can do what they like. However, it would seem to this observer, from the large number of rejected posts that we have seen here, that RC have one rule for supporters, and another for those who dare question the VOG.

For example, regular posters at RC – dhogaza, Ray Ladbury, BPL, Hank Roberts – regularly breach many of the above rules, particularly point 5 (look at any recent thread) with impunity, while people like Jeff Id and Ken (see below) are BANNED!

Jeff Id is an interesting case. RC say that ‘questions, clarifications and serious rebuttals and discussions are welcomed’, but apparently not if you want to ask questions about the Mann corpus, the Steig work, or more recently the Rahmstorf work. Jeff Id, with Ryan O, RomanM, Steve McIntyre and others, has been digging into the Steig work and to be direct, found it wanting. They have tried to post questions at RC, but have been rebuffed. Apparently RC don’t want to discuss this work. Similarly, RC never responds to the many questions that have been raised relating to the Mann work, or more recently the Rahmstorf work.

It seems that the policy of ‘the team’ is simply to stonewall. They go on about the need for ‘peer reviewed’ papers to be the channel for discourse, but very often refuse to comply with the policies of those journals in relation to disclosure of data, processes and methods that would allow independent replication and verification. They berate the press for ‘beating up’ – sensationalising – scientific releases, but readily engage in the release of press releases and statements that are exactly that, overstating the position in the underlying papers. Recent examples of Gavin and Mike going on about this amuse.

Many serious questioners no longer bother to post at RC, leaving the ground to the acolytes who are permitted to post. A recent example at The Air Vent: Jeff Id put up a guest post from Ryan O that addressed perceived shortcomings in the Steig Antarctic paper, and provided an alternative approach that seems to do a much better job, and tell a different story. Jeff Id has been trying to get a discussion going with the RC. TAV “tAV to Real Climate: You Can’t Get There from Here” Post 31.

Jeff Id said: July 7, 2009 at 10:44 am

I wonder if someone would be willing to drop a link in the latest RC thread which is ironically on topic. I’ve tried twice to no avail, apparently my polite and on topic comments don’t even get into moderation for some reason now.

Oh well. Its their blog. But it seems to this observer that their persistent failure to observe accepted standards and requirements, failure to engage, failure to disclose etc serves only to reduce their credibility in the public eye. The acolytes continue to flock along. But they are not the RC target audience. The target audience are those undecided, in the middle ground, trying to weigh up where the truth lies in the claims and counter claims from both sides of the intensely polarised debate between the RC/AGW and sceptic sides. RC, like Al Gore and James Hansen, is happy to make extravagant statements, but entirely refuses to engage in discussion or debate. How they hope to prevail by adopting this attitude is beyond understanding. If they really have a strong case, surely they can wipe the floor with the sceptics.

In closing, we will address the experience of Ken at RC. This is a rare example of their moderation policy leading to a banning being played out in the public eye. See what you think. From the current post at RC “‘Unscientific America’: A Review” thread.

Post 127. Ken says: 9 July 2009 at 10:30 AM

It seems that the National Academy of Sciences was right to reject Sagan. While you might feel that it is good to have a “scientist” communicating with the public, the National Academy of Sciences should be a body for elite scientists, not elite Johnny Carson Show guests.

[edit – sorry, I won’t permit this thread to be hijacked as a forum for dubious attacks against Sagan. And spare us the egregious and, in my view, rather disingenuous straw man that anyone is arguing Sagan should have been elected to the academy for his work as a science communicator. Nobody is arguing that. As I pointed out earlier in this thread to a like-minded commenter, I’d happily match Sagan’s contribution to our modern understanding of long-term Earth System evolution (in particular, his work on the “Faint Young Sun Paradox”) against the scientific accomplishments of any number of other scientists who have been elected to the academy. Feel free to take this elsewhere. But consider the matter now closed here at RealClimate. -mike]

Post 128. Ken says: 9 July 2009 at 10:51 AM

Hey Mike, you said my claims against Sagan were “dubious”. Did you understand the actual physics? Did you consult a physicist? If not, how did you decide on the degree of merit?

You obviously have Sagan as your idol, and childishly want to censor criticism about him regardless of whether or not it is correct.

If Sagan actually was seriously wrong about things he pontificated to the general public about, that does not have relevance on whether he was a good ambassador for science?

[Response: I suppose if I was in an argumentative mood, I’d point out that my having advanced degrees in physics probably qualifies me to evaluate the merit of your criticisms. Now, I’ve let you have your say above, ok? Lets get back to a more productive discussion on this thread. -mike]

133. Ken says: 9 July 2009 at 12:33 PM

\Sagan did some excellent work in planetary science, stellar evolution and several other areas. He also produced some very good students, who really did love the man. It really says a lot about a man when even his grad students won’t say anything bad about him.\

Ray, I actually listed specific things that Sagan had said that were seriously wrong, but Mike keeps editing them out, and then pretending that I am just ranting without actually knowing what I am talking about. That is pretty sleazy of him.

Obviously I’m not exactly counting on this post making it through censorship either.

[Response: Not sure how many times I have to repeat myself. This will not be a forum for debating whether or not Carl Sagan ever made a mistake or got something wrong. In “Demon-Haunted World” he actually enumerates for his readers a long list of mistakes he’d made in his career, and how he learned from them. Now, if you want to go on an anti-Sagan tirade, then do it on your own site. I’ll even let you post a link to it here. Beyond that, let me once again state that I consider the topic closed on this thread. So, yes, any further comments from you in this vein will not be posted. Feel free to complain elsewhere about how mean we are here. -mike]

Post. 138 Ken says: 9 July 2009 at 1:13 PM

Hey Mike, maybe you should have just posted my original post without doctoring or editing, even though you disagreed with me.

It is strange that you do not understand the concept of allowing differeng views, and worse yet that you are such a sleaze as to delete key material and then debate me while acting as if I made no specific claims. While you can legally do what you want on your own website, it clearly is unfair to actually have a debate with someone without posting that person’s actual responses.

Pretty creepy.

[Response: You were warned multiple times. There was no ‘doctoring’ of anything you posted, and to imply that to our readers is simply dishonest. What I did do was to delete material (as indicated for our readers by the ‘edit’ note) that was defamatory of a highly respected and loved scientist who is sadly no longer here to defend himself. On top of that, I even offered you an opportunity to provide your views off site, where they would be linked to. You chose not to take me up on that offer, and instead come back with an ad hom. By my assessment, you’ve now violated essentially every one of our comment policies multiple times. You have now earned the rare honor of permanent ban from the site. -mike]

What do you reckon?


4 Responses to “RC Has A Moderation Policy”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    FWIW, I am not really suggesting that RC was wrong to ban Ken. He did persist with an OT subject when asked not to.

    What is surprising is that RC allowed this ‘conversation’ to take place in the public space at all. Usually Ken would just not have his posts put up. I suppose that is because it is Mike Mann moderating this thread, not Gavin. I can’t imagine that Gavin would have allowed Ken to say what he did.

    Just goes to show that moderation is an interesting topic.

  2. rcrejects Says:

    A discussion at CA where posters give accounts of trying to post questions at RC (Let me know if these posts are actually posted at RC).

    Climate Audit – “Rahmstorf Rejects IPCC Procedure” thread.

    Post 147. Charlie: July 11th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Re: Nick Stokes (#146), Perhaps he will have at least learned the characteristics of his smoothing methods. Perhaps he will realize that centering the model and the data on a single year is poor practice.
    Over on realclimate, Rahmstorf has justified leaving the caption as “smoothed over 15 years” by saying that describing a filter by its half power width is an accepted practice.

    My direct question of “what is the half power width of your M=15 filter?” was submitted over 12 hours ago, but is stuck in the realclimate.org moderation black hole.

    Post 155. Hu McCulloch: July 12th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    RE Charlie #147, I also tried asking Rahmstorf a) what the precise weights are for his M = 15 filter, and b) what half-power period he computes for it, on RC this morning at 8:16. No response so far.

    Post 156. Charlie: July 12th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Re: Hu McCulloch (#155), I’ve tried twice in the last 24 hours. Neither of my comments or questions related to the half power width of his M=15 filter have made it past the realclimate moderation filter.

    Stefan Rahmstorf’s inline comments to #407 and #395 of http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/06/a-warning-from-copenhagen/#more-690 appear to have been made before your post #37 in this thread which showed that the half power width of a 29 point triangular filter is about 47 years.

    I suspect that he is, or at least up through July 9th, was unaware of the half power bandwidth of his M=15 data smoothing process, since he is justifying the updated Copenhagen Synthesis figure 3 caption of “smooothed over 15 years” by saying that it is common to describe filters by their half power.

    It is a shame that the heavy moderation of realclimate.org prevents a discussion of what should be basic, non-controversial topics such as the half power width of a filter.

    160. Hu McCulloch: July 12th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    RE Nick Stokes #158,

    “Re: Hu McCulloch (#155), the numbers are slightly data dependent. Jean S has given the numbers for Hadcrut3 here (comment #15535).Thanks. But has Rahmstorf ever confirmed Jean S’s values?”

    It strikes me as odd that my question (and Charlie’s) to RC hasn’t gone through yet. I can see that it might take some time to answer it, or maybe Rahmstorf just won’t ever get around to answering it, but why should there be a delay posting the question itself?

  3. rcrejects Says:

    A followup from Hu McCulloch at the CA Rahmstorf thread:

    Post 163. Hu McCulloch: July 13th, 2009 at 5:42 am

    RE Jean S #162,
    For what it’s worth, here’s what I tried to post on RC yesterday morning:

    “Hu McCulloch says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    12 July 2009 at 7:15 AM
    Stefan Rahmstorf writes, (#[407 — corr.]),

    It is quite common to characterise filters by their half-power width (as is indeed very familiar for Gaussian filters), since this is more informative about their response than citing the number of points involved in the calculation. -stefan]
    My understanding is that your M=15 filter is approximately triangular, with 29 non-zero weights. I get a half-power width of 47 years for such a triangular filter. See http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=6533#comment-348732.

    What actual weights does your M = 15 filter use, and what is its actual half-power width?

    – Hu McCulloch
    Economics Dept.
    Ohio State Univ. ”

    There haven’t been any posts there since Saturday morning. Perhaps the “Real Climate Science” is settled?

    I should have mentioned that my 47 years is years per cycle. Frequency can be measured either in cycles per time unit or radians per time unit. Is there anyone who measures period in time units per radian rather than time units per cycle? This would be shorter by a factor of 2*pi. The IPCC was describing its 13-weight filter in terms of years per cycle, not years per radian.

  4. rcrejects Says:

    Hu’s still not getting up at RC.

    Post 170. Hu McCulloch: July 14th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    RE John S, #169,
    Thanks, but what half-amplitude and half-power periods do you get for the weights Jean S computed with M = 11 (21 points) and M = 15 (29 points)? I haven’t tried plotting response functions with Jean S’s numbers yet.

    Of course the interesting thing will be to see what Rahmstorf himself says the half-power period is, given his statement quoted above in #163 that this is the best measure of effective width.

    Personally, I think half-amplitude width would be more useful in the present context (if not in electrical engineering), but still that will be surprisingly long, about 34 years. IPCC4 stresses the amplitude response of their 13-point filter, and only mentions the half-power width as an aside.

    When I just checked, there still had been no posts on the RC Copenhagen thread since Saturday morning. The masthead does warn, “Update: we are having some performance issues and some functionality may be disabled.”. However, the subsequent threads have had no problem with recent comments getting through. Perhaps it is Rahmstorf’s functionality that is disabled??

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