2011-12-10 07:39:22Restricting moderation comments to comments policy issues
John Cook


I don't want to single out instances but in this case, sorry, but am going to single out an instance just to post a reminder thread on this issue. We have to be careful what we use the moderation box for, the main purpose as expressed on the http://www.skepticalscience.com/thread.php?t=137&r=12#mce_temp_url# being:

  • Responses are primarily for administrative purposes - redirect comments to more relevant pages, admonishments about repeated policy violations

So take this recent example:

tmac57 at 02:28 AM on 10 December, 2011

The thing that stands out most starkly to me,is that deniers will mercilessly mock and nitpick Al Gore,despite the fact that he got most of his facts right,but never ever,ever,ever,examine criticize,or retract obvious mistakes and contradictions that come from their spokespersons.How can they reconcile such gross hypocrisy? 

Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Because most deniers are ideologues. Their ideology blinds them to reality.]

This response would have been better as a user comment, not a moderator response. I'm not freaking out about it or anything, it's not the end of the world, but there does tend to be a bit of drift where moderators sometimes use the megaphone of the moderator response to post a more prominent response. But when a moderator posts a response in the Moderation green box, they speak for SkS. So generally it should be restricted to admin/comments policy stuff with the exception of the OP author directly responding to comments directed towards the author.

2011-12-10 08:05:35comment
Robert Way


I think we have to treat very lightly regarding these things.

2011-12-14 08:22:20Robert Way
John Hartz
John Hartz

What kind of "treats" do you have in mind? [The Devil made me do it?]

2011-12-14 08:30:15My reaction
John Hartz
John Hartz

Are there any SkS moderators who disagree with what I said in the example cited by John Cook?  

I chose to post this comment as a Moderator because:

a) I believe it accurately represents SkS consensus; and,

b) the answer would not get overlooked further down in the comment thread.

If I have offended anyone: Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!  


2011-12-14 08:52:49
Rob Painting

John H - no problem with what you wrote, but it is preferable that it was made as a general comment, rather than using the podium of the moderator. We want that to come across as neutral as possible.

And yes, many of these people are either lying douchebags, or blinded by ideology. Preaching to the choir my friend!  

2011-12-14 12:08:16Noone disagrees with what you said in your moderator response, John
John Cook


Saying 'most deniers are idealogues' is almost a tautology - I imagine all SkSers agree with it. But whether the statement is true or not isn't the issue - the issue is the appropriate use of the moderator function. It should be restricted to website admin issues. If you wish to engage other commenters in discussion, it's better to post as a comment from yourself. I know it's tempting to use the moderator response box as a megaphone but it risks undermining the intended neutral tone of the website.

But I will also stress that noone needs to freak out about this issue, feel too guilty or criticise other SkSers too vigorously. We're all on the same team and I understand the passion and the motives behind the moderation, and appreciate the efforts that go into maintaining the high quality of discussion threads. The moderating that happens at SkS is exemplary and a big part of what makes SkS such a high quality site. I only bring this up for future reference, so that we keep an eye on ourselves and be careful to use moderation in such a way that when it is used, it has maximum effectiveness.