Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guidelines for Comments

(Updated 12/9/09)

Comment Policy

This forum has an unrestricted posting system at the moment, but the following types of comments may be deleted after review:
  1. Comments on a thread for rejected comments that were not initially deleted or rejected at the source in question and are not in response to a discussion that's arisen in response to such a comment
  2. Off-topic comments
  3. Abusive or offensive comments
  4. Spam (of course)

Aside from the hard rules above, the tone we're shooting for here is one of thoughtfulness, substantiveness, and a due amount of respect.  Comments will not be judged on the stance they take on any issue, and the fact a comment on this forum has not been deleted in no way means it reflects the administrator's own opinions.

I'm hoping that this will be enough to keep this place running smoothly enough and working towards the goals stated in "About this Blog".


To the first visitor to submit a comment to one of the off-site-related posts:

With apologies, thanks for your visit, and I hope you stick around.  I very much appreciated your honesty, and hope everyone holds to the same level in the future here, but if you're going to open a discussion in a thread for rejected comments, please don't open it up with "I'm not even going to try to post this at..." ;-)

(Anyone with thoughts on how to improve the comments policy is encouraged to share them in the comments here.  Cheers!)


  1. I'll take this as a meta-thread where discussion of THIS blog is allowable. :-)

    Two points:

    1) Might not the mere existence of this blog act as an incentive for good (or better) behavior on the part of the blogs in question? If so, there may not be a lot in the way of content here...though it would still be playing an important role.

    2) Why not add Climate Audit and Watts Up to the "blogs covered." I know neither of them have the same reputation for slicing up comments, but if they ever did, well this place could handle those just as well.

    Good luck with this project.

  2. Hi IM,

    Re: 1) That's definitely an unstated goal for AIC. Unstated because I haven't wanted to indulge in delusions of grandeur or influence quite yet... :)

    Re: 2) I feel like, especially starting out, there are going to be enough empty threads here that it won't help to start mirroring threads of sites of which I'm aware of no issues of the same kinds the others here are known have. But if someone has a complaint that a comment they posted on one of those sites rejected in contradiction to their (in AIC judgment) fair comment policies, then they're very welcome to contact this forum by email, we can see about making post, and see where things go.


  3. Admin,

    I suggest you add Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog to your list.

    On two occasions, on two different days, I submitted the same response to this comment.

    On both occasions, Roger declined to publish the (fully substantiated) comment found below:

    -12-Sharon F sez:

    “I could never say that CO2 will ‘never’ result in anything catastrophic.”

    Yes, as one scientist to another, “never” is a strong word -- even in the context of casual discussion. Let’s just say that there is nothing in the historical record (which I have seen) to suggest anything to the contrary.

    Examine the evidence and find that:

    1) Human contributions will never add enough CO2 to come even remotely close to historic levels of CO2. We would run out of hydrocarbons to burn long before we ever came close.

    2) Historically, 8,000ppm (give or take) did not cause a climate catastrophe.

    3) The last time the planet was as cold as it has been for the last 5 million years was during the Ordovician Ice Age (460 million years ago). At that time, CO2 was about 4,500ppm (give or take).

    4) So, when the IPCC suggests a worst case scenario of less than 800ppm by 2100, I can’t get too excited.

    5) It is (MAYBE) theoretically possible that volcanoes could reverse a 600 million year trend and add enough CO2 to create a risk (at least in the eyes of OSHA) to human health. But, even OSHA says anything under 5,000ppm is safe.

    And, does anybody really expect volcanoes to reverse their 600 million year trend?

  4. Hi SBVOR,

    This is a tough call for me, as I'm still trying to figure out what level of editorial control I take over posting here (not that there's been much traffic to worry about! ;) ). I'm certainly not going to make a permanent addition of RPJ's blog, when he runs one of the most civil and open forums regarding climate change on the net. I think you've agreed with this statment in the past.

    As a regular reader of Dr. Pielke Jr.'s blog myself, I've seen his repeated publishing of your comments as well. With no disrespect intended, I feel like they often, as perhaps with your rejected comment here, may be fairly off-topic, which is the number #2-listed reason above for a comment not being published here. If I were to speculate, which I shouldn't but will, if your comment was intentionally rejected, this would seem the most likely reason to me.

    On the other hand, your comment was in continuation of a discussion, however progressively straying from the topic it was becoming, so for that alone, perhaps this forum should create a special entry for the discussion/comment?

    Assuming this project continues forward, these kinds of early decisions are precedent-setting in a way, so I want to make sure they're made right.

    I'm going to think about it for a night, and in the meantime, if you have any thoughts, they're very appreciated.

    Given your history of mutual tolerance and respect with Dr. Pielke on his blog, and assuming this is the first comment of yours he hasn't posted, have you explicitly asked him, either in the top of an attempted comment or through email whether and why your comment was intentionally rejected?


  5. AIC,

    Your comment is well reasoned and I defer to your judgement. I submit the following:

    1) Inclusion in your list need not represent a generalized indictment of common practice. Even the most reasonable of moderators -- Dr. Pielke Jr. being among the very best -- err from time to time (at least in the eyes of some).

    Inclusion in your list can -- at best -- offer the opportunity for the moderator to reconsider a possible error and become an even better moderator.

    2) I do not believe my comment was “off topic” for two reasons:

    A) It was, as you note, “in continuation of a discussion”.

    B) It was, in my view, quite relevant to the very title of the original post:
    “Is Environmentalism a Religion?”

    Again, how you proceed is, obviously, your call.

  6. AIC sez:

    “Given your history of mutual tolerance and respect with Dr. Pielke on his blog, and assuming this is the first comment of yours he hasn't posted, have you explicitly asked him, either in the top of an attempted comment or through email whether and why your comment was intentionally rejected?”

    1) I think Dr. Pielke has answered that question as best as he intends to -- at least for now.

    2) I would say any suggestion that the respect is “mutual” has been rejected by Dr. Pielke.

    Dr. Pielke may -- at least up to now -- show tolerance. But, I’m not really feeling the “respect”. Honestly, tolerance is all I ask for.

    Despite his outburst, I still -- with some reservation -- respect him. And, I still respectfully await resolution in the one area where I am beginning to -- ever so slightly -- question the extent of my respect.

    3) I suspect my latest reply to Dr. Pielke may not be published, so I will offer it up to you:

    --- beginning of my latest comment offered to Dr. Pielke --

    “-23-Dr. Pielke sez:

    ‘you are free to expose my censoring of your work on your own blog (in fact I encourage you to do so, it would be very good for people to see the comments that I reject)’

    Respectfully, I granted your wish.

    Now, will you note that I did so (by publishing this comment)?

    P.S.) I had no intention of disrupting your blog. I invited you to reply at my blog. You declined in favor of disrupting your own blog.”

    --- end of comment offered to Dr. Pielke --

  7. Hi SBVOR,

    I’m sorry for the delay in both publishing your responses and responding myself. I have time-management issues regarding this forum that are reflected in my response below:

    Regarding indictments of other bloggers, that’s not my primary concern here. Rather, my main priorities are developing a system here that’s manageable given my time constraints, and creating a forum that provides some usability to visitors.

    I’ve already decided to drop regular mirroring of Climate Progress, due to Joe Romm’s prolific daily postings, and to transition to an on-request policy for his site (this will be addressed in a new post on this site, hopefully published by the time you read this response). Adding other prolific posters such as Dr Pielke Jr. or Steve McIntyre or Anthony Watts or anyone else to regular mirroring who have no widely acknowledged issues with their comment moderation would just contribute to the same problem for this forum I’ve realized: too many empty mirroring posts with no demand for them.

    While I think I have a fairly good, if crude, system for putting up mirroring rejected-comment posts quickly, they do take time, and regularly including other blogs with no widely acknowledged issues just doesn’t make sense to me in a time-management sense.

    Complimentary to that aspect is, while I’ve put up a “recent comments” gadget in the sidebar, empty, pointless posts for blogs that have no real issues would seem to me to detract from the useful-content density of this forum.

    Perhaps if people find a need for this forum as it is, in the future it can be moved to a provider that will allow for a more complex design, with automatically generated posts, and with a less chronological, more content-based interface, but for the time being, acknowledging Blogger.com’s limitations as I understand them, this seems to be the reasonable way for me to approach things.


    Regarding the rest:

    Please don’t take this in a disrespectful sense, as it’s not meant so, but your interaction here has confirmed to me what some generous anonymous advisers have communicated to me in the last couple weeks: I will have to take a more editorial stance than I’d hoped to. I still believe that the guidelines I set forth in the "Guidelines for Comments" post (this post):

    [Comments that will not be be published will be:]

    1) Comments on a thread for rejected comments that were not initially deleted or rejected at the source in question and are not in response to a discussion that's arisen in response to such a comment

    2) Off-topic comments

    3) Abusive comments

    4) Spam (of course)

    are sufficient fundamentals for the moderation of this forum, but now I have to state (and I will update this “Guidelines” post once I’ve responded here) that I, as the administrator of this forum, will have to use to my own discretion, more than I’d expected, to decide whether submitted comments meet those stated benchmarks.

    Thankfully, Dr. Pielke has preempted the need for this forum to address his blog by creating a “Rejected Comments” thread where people, such as yourself, who have had comments rejected from his posts on his forum can publish them. Thanks to that, I feel I don’t have to editorially address issues of the on-or-off-topicness of your comment in question, nor levels of respect in either direction, on this forum.

    I can’t state this strongly enough: I in no way attribute Dr. Pielke’s rejected-comment thread’s existence this remote, proto-forum’s existence. That said, I think it’s a very respectable choice by Dr. Pielke to provide this that thread, and if RealClimate and Climate Progress followed suit, this forum would be more than happy to fade into nonexistence (even more nonexistence than it has at the moment :) )…

  8. AIC,

    Since you seem to take umbrage with my “interaction here”, rest assured that I won’t bother offering any further contributions to your site.

    Good Luck,
    P.S.) I deleted my previous comment only because, in the salutation, I transposed AIC into IAC.

  9. Hi SBVOR,

    I'm sorry you got the impression you did, and it's probably my fault. "Your interaction here" may have been a bad turn of phrase. What I meant to say was something that might have been better phrased as "this specific" ("instance" or "issue" or "case") "you raised here".

    Your conduct here has been nothing but respectful; but, as I meant to say more clearly than I may have, in this case, I would not have created a special post for the Pielke story and your comment, due to my interpretation of the comment guidelines as the they stand, had RPJ not preempted the need for it with an on-site rejected comments thread.

    I hope you come by at least once more, to catch this response, and I'll make it clear, there was no offense taken by anything you said here, and you're always welcome, if you care to come by; the decision whether or not to take more editorial control on this forum than I'd planned to was one that I would have been forced to make given many potential early comments submitted here, and there's only one choice I could have made in any of those potential instances.

    So, it wasn't that your comment was in any way extraordinarily offensive or anything along those lines; it was an inevitable decision that yours happened to instigate by it's early nature more than anything else.


  10. Your aspiration to maintain a neutral stance for your blog is certainly a worthy objective. However, I think that you will find it difficult to appear to be neutral even if you assiduously maintain a neutral stance in fact.

    The reason that I say this is that I am sure that you will get many more rejected comments from sites such as Real Climate and Open Mind than you will from sites such as Climate Audit, Watts Up With That, The Air Vent, Roger Pielke Jr, Lucia and similar sites.

    Why will you get many more rejected comments from Real Climate and Open Mind? The answer lies in the way that they exercise their moderation policy. Both sites simply elect not to put up posts that do not conform with the 'house view' of the site.

    Before continuing, an interesting aside from Steven Mosher today at CA "Core Count in Phil Tansactions" thread, post 20, where he argues that blogs like RC "only let the LUNATICS from the anti AGW side post, thus creating a false impression of the skeptics."

    In rejecting posts from contributors, RC and Open Mind do not explain their reasons for rejecting the post, nor even disclose that they have rejected a post. It only comes to light when a poster checks and finds that his post has not been put up.

    This policy is in stark contrast to the moderation policies followed by CA, WUWT and the other sites mentioned above. These sites do exercise their moderation rights, but do so in a way that is clear and transparent. Usually it is clear that a "snip" has been made, and the reasons for it are explained. Usually snips are made for Off Topic comments, or impolite language.

    Anyhow, the outcome from your viewpoint is sure to be that you will get many more posts from disenchanted posters who have had their contributions rejected at RC and TOM simply because there are obviously a lot more such rejected posts.

    Over time, I think that you will find when the rejected posts for RC and TOM comprise perhaps 90% of your traffic, you will find it hard to maintain the appearance of neutrality.

    Anyhow, good luck with it.


  11. AIC,

    1) Thank you for the clarification. Clearly, I misunderstood your meaning.

    2) If you’re interested, I documented (at Roger’s blog) a recent act of censorship at ClimateProgress (in this thread).

    I suppose one could make the “off-topic” argument. I would not agree, primarily because:

    A) I would argue that challenging the overarching predicate of any given topic is never “off-topic”.

    B) The “off-topic” argument is extremely subjective and very much prone to abuse for the sake of censorship.

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