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2012 SkS Weekly Digest #2

Posted on 16 January 2012 by John Hartz

Issue of the Week

Using a scale of one to ten, with ten being "very user-friendly" and one being "barely user-friendly", please rate how user-friendly the SkS website is. What could be  done to make the website more user-friendly from your perspective? 

SkS Highlights 

"Katharine Hayhoe's labour of love inspires a torrent of hate"  by John Cook is this past week's "must read post." The SkS author team stands in solidarity with Katherine Hayhoe and other scientists who have been targeted by the extreme elements of the Climate Denial Spin Machine.

Toon of the Week 

Toon 2012-02

The Week in Review

A complete listing of the articles posted on SkS during the past week.

  • Puget Sound, Under Threat From Ocean Acidification, Put on "Waters of Concern" List by Dana
  • Katharine Hayhoe's labour of love inspires a torrent of hate by John Cook
  • Arctic methane outgassing on the E Siberian Shelf part 1 - the background by John Mason
  • Gillett et al. Estimate Human and Natural Global Warming by Dana
  • U.S. 2011: The Wet Get Wetter, the Dry Get Drier by Tom Smerling
  • Climate and Sea Level: An Emerging Hockey Stick by Rog Honeycutt
  • Climate Change Denial and the Media - Banishment of Science Reality by Brian Purdue
  • Just Science app shows climate change is happening in pictures anyone can understand by Norenstein
  • Lean and Rind Estimate Human and Natural Global Warming by Dana & KR
  • New research from last week 1/2012 by Ari Jokimäki
  • 2011 Year in Review (part 2) by Mark R
  • Coming Soon

    A list of articles that are in the SkS pipeline. Most of these articles, but not necessarily all, will be posted during the week.

    • Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data (Dana)
    • New research from last week 2/2012 (Ari Jokimäki)
    • David Whitehouse Wins Wager with James Annan Thanks to Lady Luck (Dana)
    • Arctic methane outgassing on the E Siberian Shelf part 2 - Interview with Dr Shakhova (John Mason)
    • A Comprehensive Review of the Causes of Global Warming (Dana)
    • Greenhouse Effect Basics: Warm Earth, Cold Atmosphere (Tom Curtis)
    • The Year After McLean - A Review of 2011 Global Temperatures (Dana)
    • Glaciers have retreated worldwide (MarkR)
    • RW Wood and the Greenhouse Effect (Eli Rabbett)

    SkS in the News

    Zachary Shahan at PlanetSave re-posted Dana's Lean and Rind Estimate Human and Natural Global Warming with the following introduction:

    "The folks over at Skeptical Science recently put together a great summary post of a Lean and Rind paper on human and natural factors influencing global warming. The obvious conclusion was that humans are driving global warming. In particular, there’s no way solar activity, volcanic activity, and the El Niño Southern Oscillation are causing the warming. The first chart below says it all. But, for those who want more than a chart, I’m just going to repost the whole piece (click to enlarge any of the images or charts). Thanks to Skeptical Science for the great work they do on this front!"

    Bloomberg also referenced John Cook's post on Braganza's research on the human fingerprint in the seasons.

    SkS Spotlights

    The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

    What began as a collaboration between students and faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969 is now an alliance of more than 250,000 citizens and scientists. UCS members are people from all walks of life: parents and businesspeople, biologists and physicists, teachers and students. Our achievements over the decades show that thoughtful action based on the best available science can help safeguard our future and the future of our planet.

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    Comments 1 to 21:

    1. Not to be "picky," but perhaps a more appropriate term about the middles of the 2nd paragraph would be "solidarity." Feel free to omit/delete this remark from "publishing."
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      Moderator Response: [JH] Typo fixed. Thank you.
    2. Also in the second paragraph "torrent of hate" sounds like John Cook generated it. After reading the post, it is clear he didn't.
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      Moderator Response: [JH] Fixed. Thanks.
    3. @#1[JH]... You're quite welcome. As you (and others) may note, I, too, possess the fat-finger-feature! :D
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    4. I have been a fan of and the excellent postings all along. I give the site a 10. Thanks to all the participants and especially John Cook and Dana.
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    5. I depend a great deal on SKS for information when conversing with the skeptics. My fastest way of finding the posts that I am interested in is to do a search in google outside of the web page. Is there a faster way inside the web page I don't know of. Or can a search or list based on key words be brought inside the web page?
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    6. rockytom - thanks very much. renewable guy - there's a Search bar towards the top left of the page.
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    7. I realize this would be a big undertaking, but a comments system that allowed you to subscribe to threads and be notified (via email or a message on the homepage) of new responses would be great. Speaking of comments, here's a fairly significant bug: Skeptical Science Opera glitch - comment text doesn't wrap
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    8. Rating: about 8/9 Suggestions: Make the Monckton Myths, Christy Crocks etc section more formal in layout (looks a bit childish at present). It should have a title, such as: Prominent Mis-Informers. Move the OA not Ok, Interactive ... (needs checking as it appears broken!), Prudent Path and Lessons ... to their own separate section – they are not myths or crocks etc. Add a list of threads currently being discussed on this site. Have provision for visitors to suggest a new thread (the number of times something is suggested will indicate how important it is to the public at large). Have provision under the Comments tab for having a list all personal comments made by the person logged on and include references to their name so that replies are easy to see. At present, there are so many topics each week, remembering what one has said is a bit daunting. Then finding the comments and searching for replies is all a bit much. I now tend to comment and leave it at that. If people reply then I often don’t get round to finding out. It goes without saying that these should be in date order with latest at the top, and have a limit to one month, say. If possible, have an automatic email notification of replies posted. Overall, this would require a discipline regarding posting replies, such as: 'name'@X being required. Perhaps even having provision for replying to the actual post in situ, as some sites do (tabbed in to mark a reply), which would make the argument easy to follow (and drive John Cook mad, I suspect). Have links to all other prominent sites dealing with the topic of climate change. I suggest that this should even include WUWT. It would tell visitors that this site is sufficiently confident of the veracity of what it posts that it doesn't fear what other sites say. Have it near the myths section and the visitor will know that they can always return to see what the grown ups say. Leave a comment not yet submitted in a draft folder if the writer goes off somewhere else on the site in order to check something instead of just wiping the comment clean and lost to all (said with feeling!) Over and above all that, I am extremely grateful for all the hard work that is put into making this site as excellent as it is, thanks!
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    9. Definately a 10.
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    10. 9/10, absolutely my best source of links to give to non scientists. re. funglestrumpet's suggestions: i agree on some reorganisation of the the little boxes - cute but a bit mystifying, i thought they were all stuff on various 'skeptics'. oh wow i just tried the 'oa not ok' a whole resource on ocean acidification! catchy but unintelligible acronym, and on such an important subject. maybe make it more obvious? tamino has a rolling strip of latest comments, which is quite useful for those of us who want to chatter but not so much for the casual reader. practical but not very useful. the 'suggestions for articles from readers' idea relies on the volunteer writers being willing to have their subject matter determined for them - not practical. on the idea of recording all previous posts by a commentator linked to by clicking their name, that's what you get on a message board like those at the wonderful bbc. it makes it very easy to organise one's conversations, and to identify trolls, but i'm sure it must take up loads of server space. the independant farms all its comments out to a separate company, and i dare say pays handsomely to do so. probably not practical. links - so many links in the texts, not really adding anything by having a general list. one problem i do have is the site loads funny - it takes pages a minute to settle into their proper shape. probably my ancient computer's fault and being at the end of the line in a village slows everything down. i do really appreciate the lack of ads, third party cookies, facebook and all that guff, which slow my loading time on other sites even more. keep up the good work!
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      [DB] "the 'suggestions for articles from readers' idea relies on the volunteer writers being willing to have their subject matter determined for them - not practical."

      The suggesting person could also then nominate a subject area expert [i.e., someone other than me  ;-) ] who could then be contacted for article submission.  Or one could volunteer a suggestion and then write the article themself [how I got my start].

    11. DB - yes its a good idea in theory, and already happens on a casual basis via comments and links flagged up in the comments, but i was thinking of endless timewasting requests by some readers trying to skew the 'public opinion'. i was also a little unsettled by that recent thing in the u.s. from the republican geezer asking for suggestions from the public of which scientific grants to axe - the wisdom of the masses is easy to manipulate, especially online.
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    12. *The onsite search engine is atrocious - I will start searching from outside, like renewable guy. (you have to get the term exactly right or you get the dread zero results) *Moderation is a little bit shaded towards confirmation bias (friendly posts/posters are given more latitude) *It would be refreshing to find SOME issue where the doubter/denyers/skeptics got it right and to highlight that in a post (if this exists - again watch for confirmation bias) *Or, variation on the above - pull out the reservations in each paper that COULD support the denier point of view - let the readers decide - sure and little green men COULD be on the moon - not very likely! All of the above does not prevent SkS being the most approachable science information source in the history of the world!
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    13. Onsite search engine is only good for certain queries. Some pithy comments about the opposite team sneak through but I think it's been improving of late. 9/10 for user-friendliness. Given that SkS has quite a strong community, are there any plans to implement community functions ie. off-topic forums, meet and greets etc?
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    14. Ease of use is about an 8. Primary difficulty is finding things. In addition to suggestions above about improved search, reshuffling various 'special features' to be more visible/organized, and/or adding an e-mail notification system... it might be worthwhile to have a link for users to see their own posts so that they can check if there has been any follow up. While this is technically possible now, it requires pre-knowledge of the URL structure and a sufficient degree of OCD to track down one's user number through trial and error (and yes, I'm user #1534 :]). Most regulars use the 'Comments' link to try to keep track of conversations, but that means at least skimming everything which gets discussed here... being able to go directly to the few conversations you've commented on to check for updates would be much easier.
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    15. No way to search comment threads (just the original posts), which is frustrating when I know someone has written something relevant, and I want to refer to it. The search capability is, while sometimes helpful, rather crude. I, too, go to the great Googley when I need to find something.
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    16. Further thoughts I am of the opinion that many of the mis-information brigade will face sanction as the full effects of climate change become obvious to the wider public and they can see just how much danger these persons/organisations have placed them and their families in. As an aid to any possible future criminal proceedings or private prosecutions this site could have a section where instances of disseminating falsehoods were itemised together with the science current at the time of the offence by way of evidence. On top of that, this site could take it upon itself to write to the miscreants pointing out the error of their ways and requesting a retraction (of identical prominence) together with recording any continued failings after the issuance of such notice. These mis-informers should be offered the opportunity to record a paragraph outlining the fundamental basis for their position, citing any relevant peer-reviewed papers in support. I imagine such a record would be of value to any seeking to prosecute either via the criminal legal system or via private prosecution in civil courts. If nothing else, it should give pause to certain individuals who seem to think that their name, reputation or title will protect them from any charge of deliberately endangering life by hindering the political processes necessary to enact legislation essential to combating climate change. Having a title, say, and/or a deep seated psychological need to be the centre of attention would need psychiatric evidence in support if advanced as a defence. Just to be clear, I see this covering not only individuals, but organisations such as media organs and scientific journals whose peer-review process can be shown to be suspect. Any known funding issues should be listed. That should allow the dragnet to catch the fossil fuel industry executives, which should wipe the smile of their collective faces. Heaven knows, as things stand, they must be laughing all the way to the bank. In short, we should go up a gear, if only for the sake of our families.
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    17. Survey response: 10. Definitely a 10. Never have I been had access to the kind of information (articles, etc.) links, and discussion that this website provides. Will continue passing SkS site address on to as many people, especially bloggers, as I can. Truly grateful to all who contribute.
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    18. In response to the comments about site searching, Google has a very useful feature for searching specific sites. Just type 'site:' together with the url, a space, and then the search term or phrase. For example: site: spectral radiance To show the power of the mighty Google, just enter this string and check the top result! site: search comment threads :-)
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    19. Really good site. I find it very useful for talking points. If I could fix anything, today would be to update the "Coming Soon" section on the front page, as many have already been published. (Though I imagine keeping everything updated is probably the hardest/most boring part of the gig.) As to the little link boxes on the top-left? I never even looked at them, until someone posted here about the difficulties with them. And "OA not OK"? That really has to go. The only meaning for "OA" that I had previously heard of, was "Overeaters Anonymous." Yes, a 12-Step Group. My favorite thing that you do, is not the website, exactly. It is the emails. I rarely read most of the updates I get from other websites and organizations. But I check at least half of the ones you send, and click through to many of them. And I have never been disappointed. The only reason I don't read more, is that I get well over a hundred emails a day, and I just can't get to everything. Thank you!
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    20. More user friendly? 1. WYSIWYG for comments. 2. For newbies (or those of us who don't look there very often). The boxes at the top left indicating various series should be split into 2 clear groups. The science group. The myth group.
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    21. Unsurprisingly, I have made an error in calling *this* page, the front page on my comment above, #19. As I had said, I don't use the website so much, as look at the articles linked in the emails. Now that I have looked around a bit, I see that this is a Weekly Digest page. I blame the newest version of Internet Explorer, because it seems to have removed the bar at the top of the browser alerting the viewer to the title of the page! I am going to go look at the site again, this time in Firefox, and see what changes. Meanwhile, I have now looked at the actual front page, and I believe that if I had seen it as my first experience of this website, I would have been overwhelmed. Just too much going on, for the front page of a website. The link to click if one is new to the site is useful, but it would not make a good front page. I'll go look at it in the other browser, and think about what I think could make it better. (By the way, I worked as a graphic designer and publishing editor for an NGO for a couple decades.)
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