2011-11-22 00:04:48Updating the comments policy
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.154.102

On other threads there is considerable discussion about what to do about Norman and/or Pirate.  Other discussions about other trolls have also frequently appeared.  IMO, the first thing to do is to update the comments policy.  The current policy does not reflect the policy actually being enforced by moderators.  That is a bad situation, and encourages accusations of unfair moderation and/or inconsistent treatment.  So as a matter of urgency the policy should be updated to reflect the policy we actually wish to enforce.

 

As a springboard to that, the following is my re-edit of the current policy as written to reflect the policy as practised.  For completeness, I have also included some improvement to the html tips at the end.  Clearly this is only intended as a spring board for discussion.  It is my hope, however, that having a edited policy on the floor will get the ball rolling quickly:

 

Comments Policy

The purpose of the discussion threads is to allow notification and correction of errors in the article, and to permit clarrification of related points. We believe the only genuine debate on the science of Global Warming is that which occurs in the scientific literature. So, while debates will occur in the discussion threads, that is not their purpose. To that end:

  • All comments must be on topic. Comments are on topic if they draw attention to possible errors of fact or interpretation in the main article, of if they disuss the immediate implications of the facts discussed in the main article. However, general discussions of Global Warming not explicitly related to the details of the main article are always off topic.

  • Comments should avoid excessive repetition. Discussions which circle back on themselves and involve endless repititions of points already discussed do not help clarrify relevant points. They are merely tiresome to participants, and a barrier to readers of the discussion. If moderators believe you to have been excessively repetitive, they will advise you as such, and any further repitition will be treated as being off topic.

  • Comments should be candid and well supported. Any comment which does not reflect your genuinely held opinion (except where you explicitly indicate that you are playing “devil's advocate”) are not welcome. Further, claims of fact or analysis should in general be backed up by detailed and publicly accessible sources, prefferably from the peer reviewed literature. Persistent disregard of this criterion will result in warnings, with future violations being treated as being off topic.

  • No link or picture only. Any link or picture should be accompanied by text summarizing both the content of the link or picture, and showing how it is relevant to the topic of discussion. Failure to do both of these things will result in the comment being considered off topic.

  • No politics. Rants about politics, religion, faith,  ideology or one world governments will be deleted.  Occasional bogposts on Skeptical Science touch on issues intimately related to politics.  For those posts this rule may be relaxed, but only if that is explicitly stated at the end of the blogpost. 

  • No ad hominem attacks. Attacking other users or anyone holding a different opinion to you is common in debates but gets us no closer to understanding the science. For example, comments containing the words 'religion' and 'conspiracy' tend to get deleted. Comments using labels like 'alarmist' and 'denier' are usually skating on thin ice.
  • No multiple identities.  Posting comments at Skeptical Science should use only one registered screen name.
  • No accusations of deceptionAny accusations of deception, fraud, dishonesty or corruption will be deleted. This applies to both sides. Stick to the science. You may criticize a person's methods but not their motives.

  • No profanity or inflammatory tone. Again, constructive discussion is difficult when overheated rhetoric or profanity is flying around.

  • No ALL CAPS. You can't have a civil, constructive discussion if you're shouting.

  • No cyber stalking. Posting personal details of another user results in your account being banned from Skeptical Science.

  • No copying and pasting from other comments. If you wish to refer to earlier comments, you can hyperlink directly to them. To make this easier, note that with each comment, the date/time is a hyperlink. If you link to this URL, clicking on the link will take you directly to that part of the page.

 

Please note that posting on Skeptical Science is a privilege, not a right. We try to avoid harsh application of the comments policy in the interests of a free flowing discussion, but expect your cooperation in return. If that cooperation is not forthcoming, moderators will resort to a very strict application of the comments policy to your posts, and if persisted with, it will result in the suspension of your posting privileges.

If we all followed these guidelines in any discussion, perhaps the world would be a calmer and more constructive place.

HTML Tips:

HTML Hyperlinks
When posting a URL, it's better to make it an active link for several reasons. Firstly because it makes it easier for readers to follow the link. Secondly, it enables you to use descriptive words for the link rather than a URL. Lastly, and most importantly, long URLs can break the Skeptical Science web design which makes me very unhappy. To post a hyperlink, use the following code:

<a href="http://url"> Description of page you're linking to</a>

Posting Images
You can use HTML code to post an image (eg - a graph). The image needs to be hosted online (you can upload images at  tinypic.com). The HTML code is:

<img src="http://image_url">

IMPORTANT: The image must be no wider than 500 pixels. If the image is wider than this, use the width element to resize it to 500 pixels. Eg:

<a href="url of image source or image"><img width="500" src="url of image"></a>

Other HTML Tags

 Bold: <b>Whatever text you want bold here

</b>Italic: <i>Whatever text you want italic here</i>

Underline:     <u>Whatever text you want to underline here</u> Superscript:  <sup>Whatever text you want in superscript</sup>

Subscript:  <sub> Whatever text you want in subscript</sub> 



If the above doesn't work, follow this advice.

2011-11-22 01:21:09Off topic
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.179.209

"of topic" should be "off topic" in all instances in the comments policy

 

The "No politics" rule might need to be restated to take into account that SkS sometimes has posts with political content (like climate myths from politicians) and in those cases it would be difficult to stick to "no politics" by the very nature of the post.

2011-11-22 05:03:14
KR

k-ryan@comcast...
216.185.0.2

Should images be 500 as per Tom's rewrite, or retain the current 450 pixel max width?

I agree with BaerbelW on the "No politics" issue - there might have to be some flagging of inherently political OP's indicating that reasonable political discussions (i.e., no ideology rants) are relevant.

WRT repetition: I think it would be quite helpful (although more work for the moderator) if a repeated argument moderation contained a link back to where that argument had been hashed out before with that commentator.

---

As I believe I've said before, I think a "Bit Bucket" or other "Black Hole" (as per RealClimate) location for placing deleted comments would be helpful - with the moderation comment(s) on why each ended up there.

Is there a need for an "Open Thread" every once in a while? Tamino puts these up from time to time, and that might provide a forum for finding out what memes are running amok at the moment.

2011-11-22 05:24:47@ KR
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Should images be 500 as per Tom's rewrite, or retain the current 450 pixel max width?

For blog posts, up to 570 is fine; for comments, 500 is safe but it could be up to 570 (not sure); for moderator and response boxes, 475 is the limit.

I agree with BaerbelW on the "No politics" issue - there might have to be some flagging of inherently political OP's indicating that reasonable political discussions (i.e., no ideology rants) are relevant.

Agreed.  Note that this is just explicitly laying out a policy already followed.  Some threads, via the content of the OP, are given more latitude than others.  Until someone ruins it for everyone by taking things too far...

WRT repetition: I think it would be quite helpful (although more work for the moderator) if a repeated argument moderation contained a link back to where that argument had been hashed out before with that commentator.

Where achievable, agreed.  But I'm not wading through the 2nd Law or Waste Heat threads to find a specific example of something that is obviously PRATT.

As I believe I've said before, I think a "Bit Bucket" or other "Black Hole" (as per RealClimate) location for placing deleted comments would be helpful - with the moderation comment(s) on why each ended up there.

In the spirit of transparency, agreed.  But the onus is on John, again, to do the heavy lifting/programming.

Is there a need for an "Open Thread" every once in a while? Tamino puts these up from time to time, and that might provide a forum for finding out what memes are running amok at the moment.

I floated a trial balloon on this in the blog posts section a while back.  The consensus, what there was, amounted to relative indifference.  Apologies if I am mis-relaying anything here.

2011-11-22 05:25:33@ Baerbel
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Good points, all.

2011-11-22 05:31:04@ Tom
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Thanks for taking the initiative on this.  It's been on my "want to do" list for some time now; given the latest developments with repetitive trolling (Norman) and sock-puppetry (apiratelooksat50) it more properly should be on the "need to do" list.

We also need to add a 1-user-name-per-person limit, as some sock-puppetry has been going on (apirate, Eric the Red, Ken Lambert, etc).

I am still in favor of a timeout function, but that's yet another PITA for John.  I have figured out a path to move off-topic comments to different, more on-topic threads, but it is fairly cumbersome (and has the failing of not leaving a placeholder stub in its wake for transparency).  I'm sure John could figure out a much cleaner and more elegant solution (but one involving more programming for him).

2011-11-22 09:15:34
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

BTW, you need to test this, but I think you might be able to avoid making people fit images to be 450 by including the following in your CSS (this should work in all modern browsers... it doesn't work in IE 8, but only under weird situations with floats that I don't think will come into play, but as with anything in browser/HTML layout, it needs to be tested and it's not foolproof):

 

.comment img {
   max-width: 450px;

}

Note that the .comment selector is necessary or else it will apply to other images on the page where you perhaps don't want the restriction (like the banner image).

 

[Edit -- syntax corrected to say 450px, not 450]

2011-11-22 11:29:31
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.154.102

With regards to the 500 pixel width for image, I habitually post my images with the 500 width, and am not aware of any problems.  The reason for adjusting the width in my draft was so that I did not have to re-edit the html code every time I cut and pasted ;)

 

I have always liked the bit bucket idea, however, I regard it as a seperate issue.  We can change the comments policy without instituting a bit bucket, and then initiate that later.

 

I agree that the No Politics and No Ad hominem sections probably need rewording, but these are subtle points which I did not feel I could vary from the original without considerable discussion.  IN particular, we need to sort out whether the "denier" term is acceptable ettiquette on this site.  We also need to determine whether the occasional politics related post is best handled by specific mention in the comments policy, or by a moderator box at the end of the article specifying the special rules applying to that thread.  These really need to be worked out between John (as owner) and DB (as main moderator).  I have no preference on the issue.

 

My main concern in this issue is that the anti-trolling policy as practised and as stated in the comment policy are in conflict, which  I believe my ammendments resolve.  I also hope the ammended html code will end some of the difficulties new posters have in posting pics. 

2011-11-22 21:13:46
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
92.234.36.64

I, personally, think that copying and pasting a statement or assertion from someone that I want to reply to, makes it much easier to follow a discussion and show what exactly is being discussed. I usually link to the actual comment with a hyperlink on the commenter's name. Is that not going to be allowed anymore ?

2011-11-22 21:44:50
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.154.102

JMurphy, the copy and paste rule is a copy and paste of the current comments policy.  Therefore it should result in no change.

2011-11-23 01:10:18My 2 cents
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Need to add a "no littering/no hijacking" rule to eliminate bloggers like Camburn, Norman, etc.

2011-11-23 05:49:42
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

FYI on image widths, a width of 500 is fine for a commenter's image, but will probably break the page if the image is included in a moderator's box within a comment.  Images larger than 500 will break the page no matter what.

The primary impact of "breaking the page" will be that the banner image at the top will get messed up... the Skeptical Science leaf and logo at the left will start to repeat to the right of the pengins.  Other than that I think the page renders okay, just with a wider central column.

That said, the banner problem could be fixed by using a different image (one that is wider than the normally defined page and so includes "unbroken ice" to the right of the penguins, along with the appropriate HTML/CSS to make it render properly for different page widths.

Of course, that still presumes modern browsers and large monitor sizes for every viewer.  The whole point of a centered, well-defined and narrow page width such as the one used by SkS is to be certain that the page behaves will in all browsers for all monitor sizes.

2011-11-24 04:50:50
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

FYI, I tested this on Firefox on the SkS comments page itself using Firebug, and it worked fine.  It's as easy as adding

.comment img { max-width: 450px; }

to either the style sheet or to the page (within a tag).</p> <p><br />It does need to be tested on other browsers, but as proof of concept it works.  It will automatically prevent anyone from ever adding images to a comment > 450 (it could be upped to 500, if desired)... if they try, it will just shrink the image down to a width of 450.</p>

2011-12-14 13:03:33Just want to bump discussion of the moderation policy.
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.212.189

I consider it an urgent matter to have the stated moderation policy agree with the moderation policy as practised, which is not currently the case.  I have ammended the suggested moderation policy in line with comments above.  Most substantially, this has included adding a section prohibiting multiple identities, and expanding the "No Politics" section to allow for exceptions in particular posts.

IMO we still need to resolve whether the use of the term denier is acceptable in regular comments, and also whether to restrict image widths to 450 pixels in comments even though they do not break the page (because they do break the page in moderators boxes).

 

Can I ask for further suggestions, and that we set a deadline to change the state moderation policy to the agreed position withing two weeks to avoid any ongoing inconsistency between the stated policy and practise.

2011-12-14 16:21:56
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Thanks for your efforts in spearheading this, Tom.

"IMO we still need to resolve whether the use of the term denier is acceptable in regular comments"

I have gone to using the phrase fake-skeptic myself.  Says the same thing, very explicitly, but without the cumbersome baggage/connotations the fake-skeptics have fought to attach to "denier".

"and also whether to restrict image widths to 450 pixels in comments even though they do not break the page (because they do break the page in moderators boxes)."

Up to 500 pixels wide is fine for comments; 475 pixels is the max width for moderation boxes.  When I set up the last revision to the page (to the posting tips section) I specifically set up the sample tag for 450 pixels width to keep posting errors to a minimum.  So if you're posting a large width image, the first instance of the image URL in the following is for the full-sized image and the second is for the smaller-sized image (if using for websites that don't allow you to use the image width tag [like Neven's]), with the width limitor being paramount at SkS:

<a href="Description of page you're linking to (original, full-sized image URL here)"><img width="450" src="Description of page you're linking to (smaller, thumbnailed size image URL for other websites here)"></a>

2011-12-14 16:22:35Denier
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.137.86

I think that the term "denier" should still be acceptable but not encouraged in regular comments. As long as the word is used elsewhere it won't really make much sense to prohibit its usage in comments. We can still strive to avoid it in our own articles of course.

2011-12-17 02:36:45Banning serial bloggers
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

On the one hand, I very much admire all of the time and effort that SkS authors such as Sphaerica put into rebutting serial bloggers like RW1 on the comment threads to Sks articles.

On the other hand, I do not believe that rebutting serial bloggers like RW1 is necessarily the highest and best use of thjeir time and energy.

The SkS Comment Policy ought to be revised to make it easier for Moderators to ban serial bloggers like RW1 whose only purpose is to clog up comment threads with pseudo-science garbage.

2011-12-17 03:32:39Banning has to be a final step
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
76.30.158.238

I don't particularly enjoy the endless ramblings of our 'serial repeaters,' but banning - or even public talk of banning on an open thread - has to be reserved for something egregious. Anyone who engages a serial denier makes a conscious choice to do so; I have hesitated many times before replying to something that I just can't let stand unchallenged. DNFTT is cute, but doesn't really convey any content.

Between snipping, redirecting to another thread and deleting, many thread-jackers can be dealt with.  However, I do think a deletion often needs a brief explanation: is there a way to capture the deletion text so that a comment number is shown with something like 'comment # xxx by joe denier deleted for 'use of all caps' or whatever the reason given?  Of course, that means the generic 'trolling' needs to be more specific.

Save the ban for multiple identities, repeated CP violations and outright offensive behavior.

2011-12-17 06:12:01
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
24.213.18.68

Re:  Banning

Don't forget, there is a Triple Warning System in place: except for egregious offenses, recidivists get multiple warnings, including a Final Warning, to change their errant behavioral ways.

2011-12-17 06:19:22
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.239.222

I tend to agree with John H, I know you guys think you're doing a great job endlessly debating with these nutcases, but their intention is to clog up the threads. We do need some kind of special policy in place to handle these climastrology freaks. 

2011-12-17 07:49:31Repeated posting of same/similar comments
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.193.110.78

Could something be added to strongly discourage repeated posting of the same (or very similar) comments in different threads? Especially if those same comments have been replied to with more than enough information elsewhere?

Repeated posting of the same comments is pretty close to spamming. As it's possible to link from one comment to another, folks like RW1 could be forced to just put in links saying something like "comment xyz in post 123 applies here as well". That would make it almost impossible for them to derail more than one thread.

2011-12-17 08:04:24
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.17.239

Actually, my previous comment comes across poorly. I appreciate the effort put in to countering the idiocy of the climastrologists, but does debating with them endlessly create enlightenment or confusion to the average reader? I think the latter.

2011-12-17 11:24:14
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.212.189

For what it is worth, I think it is worthwhile having denier's debating on SkS both because it gives us a heads up on the latest denier memes, and because they pick away at nuances not covered in the main post.  Their rebuttal in comments then provides a furthur education for interested readers.  In away it sets up one of John Cook's favoured communication methods with a denier meme being sandwiched by science in the form of the same article, and by the response.

 

At the same time, constant repetition of the same denier meme is undesirable.  Hence the second point in the proposed ammendments to the comment policy.  I believe that with a combination of that point and the requirement to be on topic should provide the means to combat argumentum ad tedium.  It may, however, be desirable to add a specific requirement that posters should simply link to previous discussions that exhaustively examine an issue they wish to raise, with a brief statement as to why it is relevant to the current post.  I believe that as the proposed comments policy stands, moderators would be within their rights to demand that posters do exactly that.  However, I would be interested in hearing if people think a more explicit injunction woudl be usefull.

2011-12-17 11:40:11
KR

k-ryan@comcast...
69.138.165.234

Tom Curtis - I think that your second point should be sufficient, if enforced. If a standard part of the Comments Policy, then serial repeaters can be clubbed...

2011-12-17 13:49:05
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

"then serial repeaters can be clubbed..."

...like baby seals, perhaps? 

 

(why the boos?  Just a joke!)

2012-01-02 01:49:25
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.145.36

I've been hanging of on this, knowing that key people, especially John Cook have been very busy recently, what with the AGU meeting, and Christmas and all.  However it is not January 2nd which is 41 days after I first presented a revised moderation policy.  There is currently a distinct difference between the moderation policy as written and as practised by moderators.  Any such dissonance can only result in a perception of unfairness in those moderated under the de facto rules, and in onlookers.  Therefore, I believe this is a matter of urgency.

Could we impliment a new policy as soon as possible.  From the discussion above I believe the revised policy as it currently stands meets our needs, and hence could be implimented within the week with John Cook's approval.  If we impliment it, we can always review and revise again in a month or so if it is felt further modification is needed.

2012-01-04 14:09:40Just updated the proposed revised comments policy
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.145.36

as per the new thread initiated by John Cook.

2012-01-04 14:19:43Comments on Tom's changes
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
121.223.98.11

Tom, apologies its taken me so long to get to this. I'll make these changes ASAP but I do have a few comments about some of the suggested text:

"We believe the only genuine debate on the science of Global Warming is that which occurs in the scientific literature. So, while debates will occur in the discussion threads, that is not their purpose."

Are we saying we're not allowing debate on the science of global warming in our discussion threads? That's a very slippery slope and seems a bit draconian to me.

Any comment which does not reflect your genuinely held opinion (except where you explicitly indicate that you are playing “devil's advocate”) are not welcome. Further, claims of fact or analysis should in general be backed up by detailed and publicly accessible sources, prefferably from the peer reviewed literature. 

This is another slippery slope. How do you determine a poster's genuinely held opinion. Are you going to moderate all statements that are made without a referenced source? Will you apply this as rigorously to comments whose statements you agree with?

I would be happy to make the changes minus the bit about debate and the "Candid Comments" bullet point but what do others think?

2012-01-04 15:15:12
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.145.36

John, no need for apologies.  I know how busy you have been.

 

With regard to debates, the purpose of including that comment was the fact that debates have a life of their own and will not necessarilly stay on topic in any given thread.  If we are concieved as a debate site, then some of our comment policies are highly restricive and arbitrary.  Hence I do not understand this as a debate site, ie, a site designed to foster debate.  On the other hand, I did not want to indicate debates are unwelcome here, just that they are secondary to the primary purpose of the site.  Perhaps this would be conveyed better if the text where changed to read, 

"while debates are welcome on the discussion thread, that is not their purpose"

Would the introduction so modified be acceptable to you?

Of course, it is your site, and it did arise from your experience in debates, so you may want it to be used to foster debate.  However, if that is the case, I believe the moderation policy is then too restrictive for that purpose, and in particular the requirement to be on topic as adminstered seems to be more a tool to shut down debate rather than an appropriate tool to keep comments in line with the primary purpose of the site.

 

With regard to candid comments, I believe that point is necessary to respond to a certain form of trolling, such as is probably being practised currently by Mace.  While your point about detecting genuine opinions has some validity, I beleive this is best handled by internal proceedures, such as a rule that posters be moderated on this ground only with the concurrence of a certain number of moderators (ie, after the case has been discussed in the forum and agreement is reached that the poster is not being candid), and possibly only after an email warning allowing them to respond and argue their case.

Likewise with the requirement that claims of fact be well supported.  An informal rule that posters only be moderated on this ground after they repeatedly ignore challenges by other posters to back up their claims, and after they are given a warning that it is a requirement that they do so from the comments policy.  If after this they continue to make controversial factual claims with no support, I believe it would be entirely appropriate to moderate them.  However, we can only legitimately do so on those grounds if that behaviour is prohibited in the comments policy.  Indeed, as written, I believe the proposed policy reflects that principle, with comments only being treated as "off topic" only after persistent violations, and only after warnings are ignored.

 

My points reflect a philosophy that for the sake of fairness, the comments policy itself should always be stricter than its enforcement.  It is if the reverse occurs, if the enforcement is stricter than the policy as is currently the case that questions of unfairness arise.  On this philosophy, the comment policy should enforce all behaviour which is considered undesirable - by you as it is your site, or by the group if you choose to defer to them - but that enforcement of the policy should be as light as possible, only being used to prevent persistent violations of the policy.

2012-01-07 08:14:31Citations please!
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Perhaps this matter has already been addressed, but the revised policy statment should mandate that appropriate citations be provided for all graphics included in a post.

2012-01-07 15:16:09
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.145.36

John Hartz, the requirement to provide that comments be "candid and well supported".  As noted above, John Cook disagrees with this requirement.  I also would disagree if it is to be rigouressly enforced (which would be unnecessarily onerous) or enforced only against "skeptics/deniers".  We have drifted dangerously in both directions on occasion.  It has been a standard response to ask deniers for sources, even when the source is well known, or the informatin not particularly controversial.  For instance, apiratelooksat50 was recently challenged to provide sources for well known wikipedia graphics, which I have previously posted without challenge. 

IMO, as comentors, we should only demand sources when there is good reason to think the information is in error, or when we know the information to be obscure and think our readership would benefit from knowing the source.  Moderators should demand sources only when comentors consistently decline or ignore reasonable requests for sources.  Further, IMO, this is a comments policy that serves a usefull purpose, but should be lightly enforced.

Currently it is not part of the official comments policy, but is enforced, sometimes very strictly.  This is a contradiction which we should resolve urgently.  Given that John Cook has expressed a view against this policy, I think it should not be enforced until such time that John Cook agrees, or accepts a consensus that it should be part of the comments policy.  However, I welcome additional discussion of the merits of the provision and whether the comment policy should include it.  In particular, as you obviously support the provision, do you think it should be a stand alone provision, or included as currently in the proposed revisions above?  Further, if you do think it should stand alone, do you think we should also have a requirement for candour, or not?

2012-01-09 04:00:52
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Tom Curtis:

I would add a new bullet to address graphics which parallels the exisitng No link or picutre only bullet.

  • No naked graphics - Any graphic should be accompanied by text explaining how it is relevant to the topic of discussion. In addition, The source of each graphic shall be documented. Failure to comply may result in the comment being considered off topic.

The above should apply to everyone, not just deniers.

 

2012-01-09 10:02:27
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.145.36

John Hartz:

 

"No link or picture only. Any link or picture should be accompanied by text summarizing both the content of the link or picture, and showing how it is relevant to the topic of discussion. Failure to do both of these things will result in the comment being considered off topic."


2012-01-09 15:28:26
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Tom Curtis,

I do not believe that a "graphic" is a "picture." Do you?  

2012-01-10 14:03:55
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
76.30.158.238

Requiring text summarizing the content of a graphic seems over the top. 

 

Requiring explanatory context for a link makes sense, as it might eliminate (or stimulate) the need to follow the link.  But graphics are almost always in context on their own - if they are not, they are not worth the time to summarize.

2012-01-10 14:54:00
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Agreed with muoncounter, with the stipulation that the paternity/source of the graphic or picture needs to be also given, ideally as a url or link.

2012-01-10 15:14:57
Tom Dayton

tdayton@acm...
98.207.104.254

The current policy portion regarding copy-paste of other comments is not what we practice, nor what we should practice. That portion should be reworded to something like:

  • Only limited copying and pasting from other comments. If you wish to refer to earlier comments, you can hyperlink directly to them. To make this easier, note that with each comment, the date/time is a hyperlink. If you link to this URL, clicking on the link will take you directly to that part of the page. That is good practice even when the comment you are referring to is immediately above yours. But if the comment you are referring to is very far above yours, or you are referring to a short, specific portion of that comment, then it is acceptable to copy and paste that short snippet that is directly relevant to your comment.

 

2012-01-11 04:01:42
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

muoncounter:

You state; "But graphics are almost always in context on their own - if they are not, they are not worth the time to summarize."

Your statement may be true for climate science geeks, but it is not true for the average reader.

2012-01-11 04:06:56My pet peeve re graphics
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

When I see a a multi-line graphic or multi-bar embedded in a comment or in an OP that does not include a "key", I see red!

From my perspective, failure to incluide a key to a multi-line or multi-bar graphic is totally unprofessional and insulting to the reader. 

2012-01-15 12:43:23Who is the average reader?
muoncounter
Dan Friedman
dfriedman3@comcast...
76.30.158.238

John Hartz,

Do you really think there are folks reading this blog who are not able to get the basic information about a graphic from context? Perhaps true of the 'average person,' but that is not the 'average reader' here. 

 

As far as 'insulting' is concerned, don't you think that's a little strong?

2012-01-15 14:13:00
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.158.82

John Hartz, I am not sure that there is an issue here.  It is, IMO, a mistake to try and regulate every little thing in the comments policy.  Rather, the comments policy should be broad enough to give the moderators the discretion they need to keep discussion on topic, non-abusive, non-ideological and without trolling.  Again, IMO, the provision above does that sufficiently.  Moderators can certainly moderate graphics under the no link or picture without discussion rule without seeming arbitrary.  I believe anybody who complained about their doing so would look unreasonable.

Further, I do not believe moderators should step in on the graphics issue unless somebody requests clarification and the original poster does not comply, or the original poster has a history of posting obscure graphics without explanation. 

That being said, I do not feel strongly on this, and am happy to modify the provision to read "No link, picture or graphic" as appropriate.  I am holding of doing a new draft, however, until somebody provides a summary of what they think the take home message should be from the public discussion you instituted (which appears to have run its course). 

For the record, the next draft will exclude the provisions John Cook has a problem with unless somebody has persuaded him otherwise in the meantime.

2012-01-24 08:17:13
KR

k-ryan@comcast...
216.185.0.2

Given the most recent bit with Dana69 (http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=133&p=3#72549), does the Comments Policy require a note on plagiarism?

2012-01-24 08:59:41
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
24.213.18.68

KR, I think that the person making the post takes ownership for the content, good or bad.  But that also puts the onus on them to both support assertions with citations to sources and to properly attribute material quoted, with source citations as well.

Outright plagiarism, such as Dana69 has been demonstrated to be guilty of, should be cause for at least a "time out" on posting privileges.

2012-02-20 22:25:02
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

Can I suggest we have a clause that explicitly disallows gish gallops?

2012-02-20 22:54:27
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

It seems to me that as well as rethinking the comments policy we need to think about how to write articles in such a way that they either don't encourage bad behaviour not covered by the comments policy, or how to write them in such a way that ood behaviour can be enforced by the comments policy.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but the mishmash of monckton misrepresentations is a good example of an article that will (in hindsight) be difficult to moderate as any of the individual misrepresentations are on-topic, it is easy for an avalance of sub-discussions on individual topics to start, and as the article is centred on the Abraham-Monckton conflict, it encourages partisan behaviour and discussion of motives etc.  Discussing each misrepresentation on a separate thread and then summarising at the end would (in hindsight) be a better approach.

However, formulating those guidelines won't be easy either, but if we are to move to an objective comments policy, we will need to write our articles with that comments policy in mind.

2012-02-21 01:07:22
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

The comments policy should also prevent pedantry used to irritate, for instance Ken Lambert';s recent post

http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=1245&p=2#74943

which is technically correct and on-topic, but essentially content free and looks to me either idiotically pedantic (the difference between "the" and "an") or purely desgned to irritate scaddenup.

How should this be dealt with, either under the current scheme or the proposed one?  IT shouldn't be left as it just encourages the tone of the discussion to descend to Ken's level.

2012-02-21 06:33:46
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
139.222.14.107

I don't see why the comments policy cannot say that comments will be deleted if posters refuse to tcomply with a request made by the moderation team, especially requests to provide specific information required to clarify the posters position on a particular issue.

This would leave the comments made by the moderators on the thread to provide the paper trail of why the subsequent post was deleted, and also prevent trolling by forcing the troll to unambiguously state his/her position, which is the last thing a troll normally wishes to do (c.f. Camburns recent posts on the MWP thread).

2012-02-21 23:44:03
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley
gcc@cmp.uea.ac...
88.108.208.125
regarding my point about the need to write posts in such a way that the comments policy can be more easily applied, see this comment by CBDunkerson.  I deleted his earlier post because it contained a speculative accusation of dishonesty.  However I do also see his point about the article to which he was responding.  I stand by my earlier decision to delete his post, but the decision was not straightforward. 
The last paragraph highlighting the need for feedback to be given to the poster is also very relevant. 
 
 
CBDunkerson at 23:11 PM on 21 February 2012

Denialgate - Internal Heartland Documents Expose Climate Denial Funding Network
A post I made on this topic has disappeared. The only reasoning I can think of for this is an interpretation of the comments policy prohibition on 'accusations of dishonesty' to include even suggesting the possibility of dishonesty.

However, if that standard is to be applied then we need to delete the top level article as well... given its statements about Heartland 'alleging' and 'claiming' that the strategy memo is a fake. Or do those not constitute accusations of possible dishonesty on Heartland's part? Not to mention citing Heartland's clear accusations of dishonesty on the part of the unnamed (at that time) source.

Maybe this will also be removed for 'arguing with moderators', but an inherent problem with the SkS setup is that there is no explanation when messages are removed and no approved way to challenge the logic. Removing my post was not an unreasonable interpretation of the comments policy, but I'd argue it goes too far in that, if applied consistently, it would bar alot of previously accepted discussion... and actual SkS title articles.