2011-07-13 04:33:59Can I make a suggestion or more ...
Tom Curtis


Actually, two of them are linked.


The key idea is that commentors should be restricted in how many comments they can make a day.  Initially the number should be very low, say three per day.  That way knew commentors can get their feet wet, but people trying to push an agenda will be restricted in their ability to do so.  It should also put an end to stream of consciousness posting, where a commenter will make a series of short, poorly thought out comments in response to a previous comment, with no logical structure or coherent argument.  I have noted some commenters do this regularly, often repeating the same point several times.


The subsidiary idea is that posters should have a rating, displayed with their name on their comments.  A higher rating should be rewarded with extending commenting rights, ie, a larger post limit.  Commenters should increase their rating based on the number of posts they make with thoughtful, well backed up points and clear logical structure.  They should lose rating points for violation of the comments policy.  It is very important in such a system that rating not be based on agreement with any opinion, even on AGW.  A person who argues for a negative climate sensitivity should be as capable of getting a high rating as anyone else, provided their comments are coherent, thoughtful, polite and well evidenced.  (Not saying a person with that position could do that, just that if they do they should gain a high rating.)


Such a system should result in comments being dominated by usefull, thought provoking and informative comment.  It would also severely restrict the ability of some of our resident deniers from clogging up threads with, quite frankly, verbal trash.


Implimenting such a system would probably result in further charges of censorship, which I have no problem with.  But we can defeat the perception that we are trying to hide from criticism by to supplementary methods.

The first supplementary sugestion, is that we should to invite some high quality deniers (Leonard Weinstein and Fernidan Engelbeen come to mind) to participate in the discussions.  There are in fact a (very) few deniers who can discuss rationally and whose ideas are not simply blunders of the first order.  Inviting them, and having them debate here with a high rating would give the lie to the idea that we are hiding from criticism.  Further, because they are in fact rational in intention, they do rebut nonsense from other deniers; and having them do so would do wonders for clearing away some of the rubbish arguments we constantly face.


On the down side, these few "rational" deniers are very intelligent, and very well informed so we would have to be on our mettle.  There arguments can be refuted, but not casually dismissed.  Further, because they cannot be casually dismissed, we may not want to give them the profile.


The second supplemental suggestion is hiving of an explicit Skeptical Science debate site where our resident trolls can actually go and debate.  That would help clear the threads on the main site, but might also draw of traffic.  It is a potentially two edged sword.


As you can see, I am not sure that the two supplemental ideas are good ones, though I do think they are worth considering.  The first two ideas, on the other hand, I think would substantially improve the quality of comments by thining out trolling posts in short order.


Just an idea... 

2011-07-13 05:45:23
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Tom, if you think inviting those two individuals is a good idea, then go ahead.

That being said, our resident skeptics du jour such as Camburn, Eric The Red and Norman will under no circumstances mend their ways.  They have an agenda to accomplish and a narrative to dissemble that they will not deviate from.

2011-07-13 10:10:21
Tom Curtis


I agree about our resident skeptics.  But I think they would fiind it much harder to do that on three posts per day.

2011-07-13 10:52:53
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

What is needed, and others have suggested it before (including John, I believe), is a moderation queue where repeat offenders can be tagged so that the SkS system will flag them for moderation review before they hit the threads.

That would go a long way to ease the workload by focusing on the recidivists primarily.  And keep others from wasting time replying to trolling or inflammatory comments...because they will never see those comments.

2011-07-14 05:11:19
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley

I think it is a bit harsh to call Ferdinand Engelbeen a denier, he has been a beacon of relative sanity on "skeptic" sites like WUWT; I have had several email discussions with him and he seems to me to be a good egg,

2011-07-25 16:28:29
Glenn Tamblyn


A rating for negative behaviour yes, but trying to rate how positive a contribution is is way to fraught and subjective. We don't want to discourage newbies and novices.

I have also suggested before that the deleted comments thread should be available on the general site, minus the email addresses. This would let defaulter see why they were pinged, and also other lurkers. It would also impose an obligation on moderators to justify actions.Perhaps a stub in the main thread that just says 'deleted' and a link to the deleted queue. It would let lurkers for example see whether someone is being blocked frequently or whether they are just crying crocodile tears.

Re a moderation queue, some sites moderate all comments. Is the workload of checking everything going up, but possibly being able to process these in batches worth it? Also, would slowing down the pace of the blogging help to moderate behaviour.

2011-07-25 20:32:15Glenn
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Just my impression (and therefore but an opinion of dubious merit), but the vast amount of complaints about moderation come from a very few select individuals.  And those individuals will never be satisfied with any level of moderation whatsoever.  Trying to placate them is appeasement (and a case of the tail wagging the dog).

Given that, my belief is that the current form of moderation is working precisely because we are enforcing the Comments Policy as written (witness, for example, the dropoff in comments from Ken Lambert once he was given a final warning for his vile personal attacks he is prone to make).

Revisions to moderation that include better transparency would be good, such as making the Deleted Comments bin viewable to the public, not capping it's contents at a set number, having valid reasons given for the deletion, etc.  We currently have an honor system for those making comments.  However, by posting comments, participants implicitly agree to adhere to the Comments Policy or they will force moderation of each and every comment they make.  I suspect a more formal system of "strikes" is still needed to further keep the "bad apples" in line, but again we are talking about the very few that cause all of the problems again.

2011-07-25 20:49:48
Rob Painting

I agree with you Yooper, there's definitely been a drop off in deliberate "skeptic" trolling of late, which I put down to better enforcement of the rules. Could just be coincidence of course.

Not sure I agree with making the deleted comments visible. Often there is a long history involved which won't be obvious in some of the deletions. Like ETR making repeated unsubstantiated, and false, assertions. It may look polite but it's just trolling.  

2011-07-28 09:02:36Above all else...
John Hartz
John Hartz

remember the KISS principle and, "If it's not broke, why fix it?"

Seriously, the SkS author team does not need yet another demand on their time by taking on a rating system suggested by Tom Curtis.