2010-12-26 18:12:44The Moderator.Poster Conundrum And Threads that take on a life of their own.
Glenn Tamblyn


I was just looking at the thread 'Is it safe to double atmospheric CO2...'.

Some observations, and these come from someone who isn't a moderator - unfortunately that requires a consistant time availability I don't have.

Ken Lambert came in with a comment about sceptics don't have to come up with alternative theories as long as they are offering criticisms of AGW theory - this point is valid. He then offered 3 points that are very dubious criticisms. Several people jumped on this Anne-Marie, caerbannog - he beat me to it.

After several commments Daniel comes in with a significant comment as moderator that to my mind somewhat crosses the line between commentary and moderation.

What are the ground rules for distinguishing moderation from commentary? How do we handle an example such as this with Ken Lambert where his basic point is on-post but the examples he cites start leading us off-post? CaerBannog's comments were highly appropriate to the validity of the examples but took us off-post from the core subject.

Also, a general observation. A reasonable proportion of the comments were from Forum members! Over time a pattern like that will become obvious to the sceptics and the lurkers. Should we, in the name of openness, identify forum members when they commment?

Similarly, what are the ground rules for differentiating between a moderators comment and a general comment by someone who happens to be a moderator.

Perhaps a general rule, with some code behind it 

Moderators comments, as moderators, are always ONLY about moderation - is it on topic, how much. Is it rude, libelous, Ad Hom etc.

If a moderator makes a general commment about subject matter they are identified as a moderator.

If the original Poster comments they are identified as the poster.

And perhaps more problematic, if a member of the forum commments, they are identified as an 'author'

This is open, honest, all that, yadduh yadduh yadduh. However, it shows how much comment is 'internally generated'. What is the best balance.?

2010-12-27 02:20:12Some more guidance on this is welcome
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

By the time I noticed what KL was doing it was too late to directly intervene.  Much of what he was posting was recycled talking points from his usual cadre of hangups - all of which he has been corrected on before.

So, how should this be handled?  I certainly don't know.  It was clear in the thread in question something needed to be done more strongly than just engaging in commenting.  Otherwise the thread would become hijacked, like has occurred several times lately on threads by certain visitors.

I am reluctant to engage those who have proven they aren't here to learn or positively contribute to the dialogue and discussions underweigh (because I feel it's a waste of my time, other than correcting egregious errors).  And KL has certainly earned that distinction in my mind.


If I was out of line with how I handled that situation, please let me know.


2010-12-27 08:24:17Moderate some users before their comments get posted?


I know that we've discussed this before, but I still think that some posters like KL who repeatedly hijack comment threads and keep on posting the same often debunked statements should be moderated before their posts show up in the comments. This would a) keep a meaningful discussion going and b) avoid having to delete follow-on comments later. What the moderators currently do is "react", moderating certain posters would give them the means to "act".

All we need is a list of "repeat-offenders" and the means to put them on moderation (sorry John, this might mean more coding work for you). They could even be given fair warning that they are at risk of getting moderated - I know, that they might call this being censored but, so what? This is John's website and he can make the rules (and many other blogs have been moderating comments for a long time to good effect, like ClimateProgress and RealClimate).


2010-12-27 08:50:08Moderating comments beforehand
John Cook

Well, as for the coding issue, I'm going to have to program this feature anyway. In 2011, I'm planning a series of guest posts from climate scientists and when those happen, I plan to have pre-moderation set up. Seeing as I have to program the feature anyway, might as well have it for all blogs. But I think ALL comments should be pre-moderated. Picking on just a select few opens us up to much criticism which would be a great distraction.
2010-12-27 12:10:50
Rob Painting
John, I disagree. I think we should target those who repeat the same debunked crap over and over again. Their whole purpose to is tie the threads up in knots, not rational discussion . We should not enable them. Maybe a 3 strikes and you're on pre-moderation rule?. 
2010-12-27 18:57:56

Or, posters who show via the quality of their comments that they understand the comments policy in full "earn" the right to post without going through moderation. So,"on paper" everybody starts out as being moderated but the regulars who play by the rules will quickly not need to be moderated. This will then also help to keep the workload low for moderators who have to approve comments. And, what about the already existing groups of authors and moderators? Will they be able to post without moderation to keep things easy to manage?
2010-12-29 08:53:24
Glenn Tamblyn


An additional feature, if is doesn't already exist, is a tool for the moderators to move offending comments to the appropriate thread leaving a stub behind on the original thread. So they haven't been moderated out completely, but going off post can be strongly enforced.

WRT repeated posts of debunked issues - they may not accept the debunking, thats debate. However, repeated posting of something without even referencing that counter arguments have been made to them is the real crime.

And another useful feature, and this is an issue with all blogs, is not just a list of the most recent comments but also the most recently commented-on posts. With a busy site, this list can quickly grow. So if you are commenting on an old and perhaps rather stale thread, a response on that thread may quickly get pushed far down the list of 'recent comments' by all the activity on the busier threads. A list of which threads have had activity is more concise.