Discuss Moderation Policies at Climate Blogs Here #4

Bumping to the top.


14 Responses to “Discuss Moderation Policies at Climate Blogs Here #4”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    A long thread at CA – “The No-Dendro Illusion” has attracted keen interest. There are many references to RC and its moderation policies. Have elected not to copy/paste all of them here. However, the following exchange caught my attention.

    Hot Bother. Posted Aug 4, 2010 at 6:34 AM

    What a bunch of mugs you lot are – all your arguments have been answered and exposed as nonsense on realclimate.org, but you will never go there to discover how wrong you are, will you?

    Gord Richens. Posted Aug 4, 2010 at 6:56 AM

    Thanks. Post a link to this thread over at RC and see if it sticks.

    EJD. Posted Aug 4, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    I go there all the time. I’ve actually tried to post there a half a dozen times, almost all of my posts were never published.

    None of the arguments from CA get answered over there. All you get over there is ad-hominems and hand waving.

    amac78. Posted Aug 4, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    Re: Hot Bother (Aug 4 06:34),

    HotBother, It would be a big help if you could list what you see as the major arguments, and identify the places where they have been answered and/or exposed as nonsense on realclimate.org. You can post links here, or in the comments here; I will add them to that compilation of relevant blog posts. Thanks.

    Bernie. Posted Aug 4, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    Hot Bother: Your comment is withut foundation. I have been to RC. Gavin even responded to some of my comments. You certainly can learn some things though primarily from the posters. However, as you can see by reading carefully through the 561 comments on the Montford post to which the current post is a rebuttal, Gavin has declined to extend the discussion at RC and has not posted follow up comments from a number of substantive and polite commentaters here.

    Scott Basinger. Posted Aug 4, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Hotbother: Gavin uses and abuses editorial power at RC. After watching the shameful, abusive, and unprofessional way that he treated Dr. Roger Pielke Sr when he posted there, I won’t even give them the benefit of my visit to their horrid little blog. They can wallow in their groupthink. Climateaudit is a much better venue – where even people like “Scientist” are engaged in conversation, rather than the textual smackdown you get at RC.

  2. rcrejects Says:

    Keith Kloor has a thread relating to Gavin Schmidt of Real Climate – http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2010/08/04/gavins-perspective/. This follows an earlier interview Keith had with Judith Curry.

    Gavin makes some observations regarding moderation policy which are pertinent to RCR. We post some of these here. Go to Keith’s blog to see the whole discussion.

    Can we do something differently? I don’t know. We can always try and be more understanding of people’s points, but it helps a lot if they are made clearly rather than obliquely. Drive-by postings are not conducive to a nuanced discussion because too much gets said in-between times. We can always improve moderation – we deleted many comments that went too far in criticising posters (including Judy) rather than their arguments, but this is always hard when there is a lot of traffic, and over-moderation gets criticised just as much.


    It’s a convenient argument for some people to claim we don’t tolerate dissent. They don’t even need to try to engage. But it doesn’t stack up if you actually read any of the threads – lot’s of people disagree with us on many issues. Where we draw the line is with comments that turn methodological issues into personal ones, misrepresent us or insist that we or scientific colleagues are frauds, or that just bring up tired old contrarian talking points over and again. We don’t apoligise for that, and I think are threads are more focussed for it. If people don’t like it they don’t need to read.

  3. rcrejects Says:

    Jay Currie offers a view to Gavin: Same thread.

    Post 3: Jay Currie Says: August 4th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Good to see this interview Gavin.

    [edit out point not relevant to us]

    Second point, I understand how difficult it is to moderate a large site with many comments. However, with the exception of the brief period following the climategate letters, there is very little question that your moderation excludes the majority of dissenting voices. Now, I am a huge believer in the “your blog, your rules” school. However, by excluding large numbers of skeptics you have simply undermined the limited credibility RC has enjoyed. Tactically, excluding dissent, is almost always an error. Given how badly damaged the warmist side has been by the climategate revelations, the collapse of the hockey stick, the loss or political will surrounding climate legislation, don’t you think you should revisit your moderation policy?

  4. rcrejects Says:

    Gavin responds to Jay Currie. Extract from his Post 6. Same thread.

    As for moderation, if you get invited to a dinner party, you should feel free to argue with the host, but don’t insult them or the other guests, and don’t start throwing food. Same with the blog. Free-for-all’s preclude any meaningful discussion and there are already plenty of places online where people can vent to their heart’s content. What is needed are more places where reasoned discussion can occur, not less.

  5. rcrejects Says:

    Many comments on RC moderation policies at Keith’s thread. Go there to see/participate in the full discussion.

  6. rcrejects Says:

    TAV thread on Reader Backgrounds has many comments about RC and the other climate sites. Most of the comments about RC are in a vein familiar to us here. One post from Steven Mosher is very pertinent.

    106. steven mosher said: April 22, 2010 at 11:07 am


    it had Nothing to do with them being RUDE. ask anybody around about moshpit. Over the past years I’ve been as rude as rude can be. Rudeness was never the issue. I can handle rude. fact. I figure if you dish it you better take it.

    here was the game they played: if you made a stupid comment they would let it through If you made a smart comment or asked a tough question it would not get out of moderation.

    Now, I know this game. I had a philosophy professor who handled every tough question by saying: “lets table that and get back to it later” never to return to the question. The issue wasnt rudeness with them. The issue is that they were using their moderation policy to paint a picture of what skeptics were like. So I tested this. I put in comments with obvious mistakes:
    They passed moderation. I then put in comments with those mistakes removed
    Those questions? those comments? Trash bin. See? I TESTED their moderation policy. I’ve done all sorts of neat little experiments with comments to their site.

    Comment A: Stupid question, passes moderation
    Comment B: smart question, fails moderation.

    later in 2007 when Hansen released the code I told people they owed Gavin a polite thank you. A public thank you.
    I tried to post a public thank you. Two words in my Comment: “Thank You”

    failed moderation. It didnt fail because they were RUDE. rudeness has nothing to do with it. It failed because they are trying to construct an IMAGE of what a skeptic is. It’s the sod type of thinking.

    My experiments around Fenton Communication were most instructive.

  7. rcrejects Says:

    Another post at TAV. Open Thread.

    140. AMac said: April 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Interesting side topic that’s come up a few times in the Reader Background thread: the role played by the pro-AGW-Consensus blog RealClimate in influencing readers’ opinions about AGW.

    A point made by Steven Mosher (#106),

    The issue is that [RealClimate was] using their moderation policy to paint a picture of what skeptics were like. So I tested this. I put in comments with obvious mistakes: They passed moderation.

    I then put in comments with those mistakes removed. Those questions? those comments? Trash bin…

    Comment A: Stupid question, passes moderation
    Comment B: Smart question, fails moderation.

    Here are the results of a cursory scan of the first 199 comments in that thread. I searched for “Real Climate”, “RealClimate”, and “RC”, trying to count each poster no more than once.

    1 – Reading RealClimate had a positive effect.
    0 – Neutral mentions of RealClimate.
    27 – RealClimate helped turn the poster away from the Consensus position.

  8. rcrejects Says:

    Roger Pielke Jr comments on RC moderation policies at Keith Kloor’s “Gavin’s Perspective” thread.

    Post 220: Roger Pielke Jr. Says: August 6th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    [In Part] It is the bizarre tactic of claiming to always be absolutely and infallibly right (and others always wrong or worse), even when faced with obviously (and apparently internally contradictory) untenable positions that gets these guys in trouble. I think that the complaints about RC website moderation has more to do with this behavior than any thing else. To broker no dissent is just not very … scientific.

  9. rcrejects Says:

    Tom Fuller: Same thread.

    Post 223: Tom Fuller Says: August 6th, 2010 at 11:36 am

    [In part]. In the longer term, RC’s moderation tactics and what they represent are in fact just as important as Tiljander, etc. The belief of Gavin and company that they can and should control the dialogue between their crew and the rest of the world has led to a lot of the rancor and confusion regarding this subject. Perhaps it can be addressed another time.

  10. rcrejects Says:

    Keith Kloor offers his view on RC moderation. Same thread.

    Post 241: Keith Kloor Says: August 6th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    [In Part] 2) The role of RC in the climate debate. In the main post, Gavin said (emphasis added):

    “There is a big difference in expectations for mainstream scientists who comment in the blogosphere. Like it or not, there are not very many who do so (and we could discuss why that is). Given the existing polarisation and politicization, this means that any individual voice is likely going to be imbued with more significance and get more attention than it necessarily deserves. In those circumstances, people need to be well prepared, know what it is they want to say, and make sure they say it clearly.”

    I respectfully suggest this is something he might want to consider with respect to how the moderation and some of the hosts (such as Gavin) are perceived in the skeptical/dissenting wing of the climate blogosphere. Fairly or unfairly, everything Gavin says–from what he says to how he says it–is magnified out of proportion.

    As a result, I tend to think that the tone of the main moderators at RC is a contributing factor to the ill will between the opposing sides. Some commenters on this thread have noted the difference between Gavin’s tone here and over at RC. But you know what: I don’t blame him for being baited into snappishness over there; I get baited here all the time and it’s hard for to not respond with a verbal jab, as well. (And yeah, sometimes I can’t help myself.)

    The thing I’ve noticed, though, is that the snappish, snarky tone of moderators at RC comes through all too often, even when they’re not being baited. I think this undermines the communication of the moderators. And here’s the thing, it’s really on the moderator, I believe, to take the high road in these exchanges.

    So given that whatever Gavin says will be “ imbued with more significance and get more attention than it necessarily deserves,” and given that he is one of the public faces of climate science, because of his role at RC, I think it behooves him to consider the manner of his blog-style communication.

  11. rcrejects Says:

    Gavin Schmidt responds to Keith’s Post 241. Same thread.

    Gavin Says: August 7th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    #279 Jim R.

    I recently wrote a paper on exactly the topic you are asking about, and that goes into how pale0-climate data/modeling have been used, and how they can be made more useful still (Schmidt, 2010).

    #241 Keith
    I have no problem with the fact that comments I make generate more interest than they merit. Such is life. However, I am a scientist, not a diplomat. Answering genuine questions is a lot of fun and I enjoy it from whomever, regardless of their political perspective (cf. the conversation with GaryM above). However, if someone is wrong in some premise or fact, I do not refrain from saying so.

    Being wrong is a curable, but it is not dealt with by always pretending that ‘it raises interesting questions’ or that the person has ‘a novel perspective’. People post wrong information on RC all the time – some out of ignorance, some out of malice, some just because they want to play games. Only the first group are worth any of our time. However indulging the others in a high traffic blog leads to comment thread gridlock on every single posting – same issues, same nonsense, same people – each and every time. That is very boring to read regardless of the points they are trying to make. But some of the wrongness that people keep trying to insist on is funny, some is hopelessly incoherent, and some is so off the wall that it is worth pointing out. I have my own style in dealing with this, which people may or may not like. So be it.

    But I think you are confusing a number of things. The hostility some people have against climate science (and by extension) climate scientists, has nothing to do with RC, or me, or Mike Mann. It is very much a political posture (read anything by Delingpole for instance). The way in which any perceived misstep (whether stemming from an out-of-context quote, a blatant misrepresentation, or naivety) suddenly becomes ‘a story’ is all about that larger issue, and very little to do with the specific instance. The idea that climate science is somehow uniquely rancorous because of my attitude towards comments on a blog just doesn’t stand up to the briefest examination. The same dynamics occur on blogs about the anti-vaccine crowd, or evolution, or in discussions about GM foods, etc. Complaining about the tone on RC is another one of those proxy arguments – a handy stick with which to bash scientists you disagree with. If people have genuine issues with anything I’ve said, or comments that go too far, they can email us, and we will remove anything offensive (but we rarely get such specific complaints). And contrary to popular opinion we do moderate overheated or tedious comments from supporters of the mainstream as well – they just don’t run to CA to complain about it.

    Internet dynamics are very different to those in real life as we are all aware, but one of the biggest mistakes we make is conflating these episodic blog-storms with anything that is actually important. They reveal far more about the incestuousness of a small group than they illuminate about the topic they purport to be talking about. As a journalist, you know more than most that you need to look beyond the surface to see the substance. Good luck with that.

  12. MikeN Says:

    You know what would be cool. An applet of some sort, so people could just save their posts while commenting. That is probably too difficult, but maybe letting people delete their own posts if they do get posted. So they can just crosspost before the moderation queue plays out.

  13. trevor Says:

    Judith Curry says it as it is at http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2010/08/judith_curry_on_antarctic_ice_climategate_and_skep.html:

    “Q. Do you think those kinds of sites are helpful in trying to build public confidence in climate scientists?

    A. That’s a tough one. Real Climate, I think they’ve damaged their brand. They started out doing something that people liked, but they’ve been too partisan in a scientific way. Their moderation hasn’t been good. There was a lot of rudeness toward me on one thread that was actually encouraged by the moderators. I don’t think that has served them well.”

  14. rcrejects Says:

    We’ve been pretty quiet lately. Rather than copying comments at other sites regarding RC moderation policies, we have been hoping that rejected posters put their posts up here.

    That is not to say that RC moderation policies don’t continue to be characterised quite clearly, often in quite a few places. A recent example is at Keith Kloor’s Collide-A-Scape site on the Judith Curry thread where there is an exchange between Gavin (of RC) and Tom Fuller. Gavin is responding to comments upthread from Judith.

    Post 38: Gavin Says: October 24th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Oh please. No-one has tried to ‘intimidate’ you and I challenge you to find any such instance at RC. I and others have pointed out multiple times where you have made assertions that were not true and thrown accusations of malfeasance around with no evidence or specifics that anyone could track down or rebut. Defining this as ‘intimidation’ does extreme violence to the dictionary definition.

    Your insistence that factual challenges to your comments are ‘intimidation’ are exactly what I was referring to above with the Jon Stewart quote. If you think that because people don’t see eye to eye with you and say so, that you are being ‘intimidated’, you are going to fall into the ‘epistemic closure’ so recently decried in a much wider context.
    This is not hilarious, just sad.

    Post 39: Tom Fuller Says: October 24th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    What is equal parts hilarious and sad is to hear pieties coming from the blogmaster at a site that routinely practices censorship, intimidation and the fine art of sliming by proxy, letting your pet commenters serve as attack dogs while preserving your own plausible deniability. ‘Why, I never said any such thing! I just passed through the comments of idiots while censoring comments that I disagree with…’

    You’r a real saint, Gavin.


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