2010-08-14 00:39:33Pete Ridley


OK, any suggestions about how to handle this guy?


My immediate concern is comments like this one:

Doug (Bostrom), John was also interested in your comment on Realclimate’s “The Economist does not disappoint” thread (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/04/the-economist-does-not-disappoint/) on 13th April @ 10:39 and proposes to make use of it. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.


He's done this before (deliberately noting things that SkS commenters have written elsewhere, a mild form of cyberstalking).  I don't think this is something we want to encourage ...

He's also trying to tie the site into knots by including in every single comment a reference to previous comments of his which were deleted, and by re-posting deleted materials with slight modifications to see what he can get away with.

 I distrust my own ability to moderate this guy and would appreciate any guidance or suggestions from others, both on the specific issue of "noting peoples' comments elsewhere" and on the more general issue of his passive-aggressive disruption of the site.

2010-08-14 01:47:16
Peter Hogarth


I have noticed that Pete Ridley has not "bitten" on my comments in the same way he has with those of others, (though it may be just co-incidence).  Perhaps this is because I have no history of blogging anywhere else, and if he does a search he will have some doubt about who he is dealing with.  My suggestion for now (with the general stuff) is to point him at the general NOAA state of the climate article, perhaps point to the author list, and invite comments.  When I did this there was no response and he jumped threads, but again this may be wishful thinking. 

2010-08-14 05:06:29Maintain course


Ned, I don't see a problem w/how you're handling Pete.

My feeling is that if we continue to moderate him using John's policy and are careful (I'm not 100% reliable on that) to maintain a calm demeanor in our responses he'll be starved for fuel and eventually go away or become better calibrated.

As far as stalking goes, I've chosen to use my name everywhere I post. I've said some immoderate things in the past w/a general trend toward being more useful; whatever trail of crumbs I've left is my responsibility but of course if Pete goes beyond simply dredging up past remarks and on to something worse that's a different matter.

W/regard to moderation in general, I use every opportunity I can to follow the comments policy if a gift such as the word "fraud" is volunteered by folks like Pete.  I actually believe this policy should extend to citations; if a comment relies on a cite from a location such as "ClimateFraud" in a perfect world it would be deleted, w/a suggestion that the commenter find a better source. JC, any thoughts on that?

2010-08-14 15:25:12Linking to climate frauds
John Cook

I must confess, when things are extremely busy as they are now, I only keep half an eye on the comments threads so I only half noticed some reference to a comment deleted because it linked to a questionable website. I'm not sure that quite fits the "accusation of deception" policy though - that's a bit of a harsh interpretation of that rule. If the comment contains an accusation of deception, uses the word 'conspiracy' or 'fraud', delete to your heart's content. But just linking to a dodgy website, well, unless it's a "link only comment", there's no policy about which websites you can link to.
2010-08-14 16:11:22Linking to dodgy sites continued


Heh, we have a minor philosophical disagreement, John!

I think you hold yourself and SkS to a higher standard, something you could fairly expect to be reciprocated. More, the site exists in the interest of gluing back together the shards of intellectual integrity destroyed elsewhere, specifically by parties peddling conspiracy theories and wildly inaccurate and unsubstantiated claims about climate science.

Inadvertently providing space for skeptics to propagate disinformation is asymmetric from the perspective of fairness and directly counterproductive in term of the SkS mission.  As well it results in thread inflation and reduction of signal to noise ratio because there's an nearly infinite supply of rubbish available for citation, requiring endless repetition to rebut.

I (harumph) think that explicitly setting the expectation that citations of external links may not steer people to sites making claims such as that "weather forecasting has not improved and is useless for planning purposes" or that climate science is part of a vast conspiracy is perfectly reasonable. WUWT is fringe permissible, anything worse is not.

Using the  the specific case of Pete Ridley and the satellite sensor data misinterpretation as an example, I think it's reasonable to excise links or URLs pointing  to ClimateFraud  and simply ask him for a citation from a better source, one not grounded in ideology or the premise of climate science being a fraud. If he can't find a source that's up to snuff, too bad, his information is not sufficiently reliable.

It's also perfectly reasonable for you to ignore this unsolicited advice. :- )

2010-08-14 16:27:10One other thought

Another satellite matter that came up today was the link to a long-discredited leap of faith on Watts' site asserting that the UAH-RSS data diverged from surface instrumentation in a way that discredited the validity of surface observations. The difference between this case and Ridley's rubbish about Great Lakes temperature observations is that there was actually a valid problem w/the satellite data analysis and in fact Watts pointed out to Roy Spencer some peculiarities about satellite observations, leading to an improvement. Even a broken clock is right twice a day; this was not a case of simply accusing scientists of committing fraud so it passes the bar of permissibility.
2010-08-14 17:07:10Issue - add another comments policy on linking to certain websites
John Cook


It strikes me the issue here is whether we should add another rule to the Comments Policy - something to the effect of "no linking to websites where the primary point of the site is accusations of deception" or something to that effect. Or maybe more specific, like "no linking to webpages which contain accusations of deception"?

Welcome thoughts on whether such a rule should be added.

2010-08-15 03:49:59Additional mod policy


I think (of course, heh!) such a policy addition would be a good thing, consistent w/SkS' science and fact oriented mission and allowing moderators the opportunity to stop the degeneration of a thread in its tracks.

There -is- a need to deal w/conspiratorial viewpoints as they are considered skeptic arguments by some. But we can apply the same standard of evaluation to supporting materials for such viewpoints thus avoiding helping to spread myths. 


Yesterday when pondering how to deal w/Miekol's strange history of climate change research I found two threads appropriate  to political rants, "Global warming is money motivated" and "It's an anti-capitalist political myth." I thought of diverting Miekol to one of those, either of which was appropriate to the conspiracy he'd delineated. If such discussion is appropriately located, we can then apply the entirely reasonable policy that citations should be based on competently adjudged facts, not wild-eyed but unsupported accusations of fraud and the like, while still acknowledging those arguments. The rebuttals for these topics can describe how no factual basis exists to support the notion of fraud, malfeasance etc. and it is then up to skeptics to provide -reliable- information legitimately superseding the rebuttal argument, information of the same general quality we expect in science-related arguments.

I seriously doubt any minds will be change on such threads but they would give viewers a chance to evaluate the merit of conspiracy arguments while at the same time stopping such blather from polluting other threads. An exemplary safety-valve, one might say.

2010-08-18 09:56:40


I don't have any particular view on the policy question.  On the one hand I loathe even visiting sites like "climatechangefraud.com" and would prefer to boycott them entirely.  On the other, there might be times when someone genuinely comes here with questions after visiting such a site and I'd hate to have the discussion derailed because they linked back to that site.

I guess I'd say that if the person's comment is on-topic and sincere, and doesn't violate any of the other terms of the comments policy, don't get too hung up about what other sites they may link to. But the presence of a link to "climatechangefraud.com" would probably make me scrutinize a person's words more closely than I would otherwise....