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2012 SkS Weekly Digest #1

Posted on 9 January 2012 by John Hartz

Issue of the Week

The SkS author team is evaluating whether or not to make changes to  the current Comments Policy. From your perspecive, how would you rate the current policy and its application by SkS moderators? What changes do you believe should be made to either the policy and/or its application?

SkS Highlights

SkS's most prolific author, Dana, posted two articles. The first, A Big Picture Look at Global Warming, provides lines of evidence showing that the planet is not only warming, but it's also warming at a rapid rate. Dana's second article, Skepticism About Lower Atmosphere Temperature Data, is a correction to an op-ed by James Taylor of the Heartland Institute that wwas recently posted on the Forbes magazine website. As one would expect, the guest post by Peter Gleick, The 2011 Climate B.S.* of the Year Awards, generated a good bit of commentary.

Toon of the Week

2012 Toon of the Week #1


The Week in Review

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

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. 

  • 2011 Year in Review (Part 2) (MarkR)
  • New research from last week 1/2012 (Ari Jokimäki)
  • Lean and Rind Estimate Man-Made and Natural Global Warming (Dana)
  • U.S. 2011: The Wet Get Wetter, the Dry Get Dryer (Tom Smerling)
  • Climate Change Denial and the Media - Banishment of Science Reality (Brian Purdue)
  • A Comprehensive Review of the Causes of Global Warming (Dana)
  • Arctic Methane Outgassing on the East Siberian Shelf: Part 1 - the Background (John Mason)
  • Glaciers have retreated worldwide (MarkR)
  • RW Wood and the Greenhouse Effect (Eli Rabbett)

SkS in the News

Dana's article Skepticism is a Two Way Street was published by TreeHugger.

SkS Spotlights

Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. It features original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news.

Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. It is funded in part by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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Comments 51 to 67 out of 67:

  1. I note that chirhophoros recent post has been deleted for moderation complaints, as had a previous comment. In light of the requested discussion of the comments policy above, I believe his comments where on topic on this thread, and that deleting comments critical of the comments policy or its administration on this thread is counterproductive to the aim of gathering a proper range of feedback. I understand that moderators are rightly cautious against the possibility that the aim of legitimate discussion of the comments policy may be used as an excuse for straightforward trolling. Never-the-less I believe it would be better if chirhophoros posts where restored. Regardless of the moderators decision, I should note that chirhophoros' examples where noted, and that several moderators have expressed a desire for more impartial administration of the comments policy in private conversation, thereby correcting any slippage from the normally very high standards of SkS moderation. chirhophoros and other readers should certainly not read into the enforcement of the comments policy on this thread any idea that his criticisms have simply been swept under the carpet. They have not been.
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  2. I'ld like to thank Daniel Bailey (moderator) for restoring chirhophoros' original post. I certainly understand his concern about the use of the discussion of moderation policy as an excuse for trolling. I also understand why he thinks chirhophoros's original post went to far. Never-the-less, his consideration in the interests of discussion on this thread is appreciated.
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  3. Thank you Tom Curtis. I am actually a regular visitor and have been so for some years. I used to post frequently under another name but have not contributed a comment for well over a year (I think). The moderation policy at SkS has been a source of concern to me for a long time. My last contribution to SkS under my former nom de plume comprised an expression of concern about moderation standards (as best as I recall). I decided to write under another name as an experiment. The null hypothesis comprised: SkS would willingly accept a criticism made in good faith in response to a specific invitation to discuss the moderation policy. Following deletion of my comment, I responded to the effect that SkS had confirmed my hypothesis (or strictly speaking, strongly undermined the null hypothesis). As of today, I think the null hypothesis is decidedly strengthened. I'm pleased with the outcome. I should add that I have no huge personal stake in the matter. I don't get a major buzz out of seeing my comments on a blog. These days, I contribute very rarely to any blog because of sheer lack of time. The actual science on SkS is often very thought provoking and challenging - hence, I do check it out at least a couple of times a week if not more. I see myself as a "lukewarmer" and thus quite interested in all aspects of the science. Unfortunately, you run the risk of "preaching to the choir" if you don't maintain a consistently high standard of moderation. My comments were made in good faith - I really don't have the time or inclination to "troll." With best wishes to all for 2012 chirhophorus (formerly chris1204 and chriscanaris)
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  4. PS And than you Daniel Bailey. CC
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  5. You're very welcome, Chris. My pleasure.
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  6. On the general issue of 'moderation bias' raised by he of the various 'ch' names... I've seen instances which looked like overly generous and overly strict application of the comments policy to both 'sides' of the debate. With multiple moderators you are going to have multiple tolerance levels and inevitably some inconsistent results. That said, I'd agree that the best policy is to err against the 'status quo' of the website. This is a site for debunking 'skeptic' myths... thus, a suspicion of anti-skeptic bias is inevitable. The best way to counter that (to the small degree possible) is to allow skeptics somewhat wider latitude and those who agree with the consensus less. My general impression is that this was the case a couple of years ago, but that the balance has gradually shifted the other way as more and more 'skeptics' have stopped by to 'contribute' to the site. However, it would also be nice if there were some way to inform people why their posts were removed. I've had some disappear that I have no idea what the reason was. For instance, I recall responding to a 'skeptic' post suggesting that 'whether you call it recent cooling or a pause in warming since 1998 the consensus is still wrong' with a two sentence reply saying that 'most people call it continued warming'... the response was removed, but the original post with the 'no warming since 1998' myth remained unchallenged and I don't know what I did 'wrong'.
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  7. I have had my opinions about moderation informed by spending a few days on WUWT - it particular on the issue of Michaels testimony to Congress (raised here, "answered" on WUWT). I found the following: I wasn't moderated (with one caveat - 2 of my replies were eaten by the server - I take the moderator at his/her word that this was a server malfunction) - I did raise some tough points, and was answered (not to my satisfaction, but I wasn't ignored either). Dana1981 WAS moderated right before my eyes (whole post snipped due to something he said on Deltoid (according to Anthony at WUWT)). I don't particular care for the blog wars (even as I contributed in some small way). I heard quite a bit about folks who were moderated on this site. I like the moderator response for those comments that are partly snipped - transparency. I would like to see a comments/bulk where comments with no redeeming value are diverted to. So when someone claims "I was banned/deleted from SkS" - we can find their comment in Comments/bulk and show them WHY they were removed from the adult conversation. I don't see any other way to own the high ground (SkS can certainly claim it). Transparency is incredibly important when people are feeling like they were inappropriately deleted or banned. Most posters, even the trolls, are not aware of how unsupportable their posts are. Being able to point out that they are posting unsupportable claims on a science post will give SkS defenders a valuable tool, and continue to educate the curious about the differences between a science blog and a denier site.
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  8. Argh! Look I may not have all the facts, and I certainly don't have the decision making power but I can tell you this - the moral high ground goes to honesty and transparency. It appears that a climate myth posting about antarctic ice was extensively revised today in response to an error. Good for SkS! But was it handled transparently? Is there a note that says "On 1/19/2012 we extensively revised this article upon learning it referenced an incorrect quote. We apologize to Mr. (Dr.?) Michaels and to our readers for the error." Thats it - that is the difference between "blog wars" over minutia and a site that is beyond reproach and is simply the go-to site for climate science. Apologies is this is happening and I have somehow missed it.
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  9. actually thoughtful @58, we are aware of the lack of an explanatory advisement of the modification. That is only due to the fact that discussion as to the best wording is still ongoing, not because we wish to do anything in secret. As you can understand, we thought it better to correct the incorrect quote immediately rather than delay correction until we had nailed down every nuance. As it happens, I particularly liked your wording, and have recommended it to others in more direct control of the situation. Thankyou for your suggestion and for your various comments on this issue (and on moderation policy in general) which are greatly appreciated.
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  10. This is a very interesting discussion on moderation, transparency, and the like. I have to say I consider increased transparency the correct action, both here and elsewhere. That said - I wonder if various skeptic blogs will extend their moderation to including a "Bore Hole" for deleted/edited comments? Or updates? Or links indicating when a current posting contradicts a previous one (an issue at WUWT, compare this and the later post, for example, to call the kettle black). Will they live up to the standards they call out for SkS? Or are those blogs holding others to standards they are not willing to adhere to?
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  11. Tom Curtis - thank you. I had spent the previous two days on WUWT - I think I was losing perspective. Like many, I routinely direct confused posters in other venues to SkS - it would be a shame if the site became sullied over these issues - but I have been around enough to realize that emotion matters more than science for many (humans, not just skeptics). In fact, it probably matters more for those who have legitimate doubt and certainly those who have decided against the science - they have self-selected away from the science, leaving them only emotion and endless rationalization. One could say well just leave them to their delusions, but I think one reason this site exists is to document that we DO know what is happening, and to be a resource for those legitimately interested in learning - thus the drive to be beyond reproach. I realize I am amongst like minded people, and I hope I am viewed as prodding us to be our best, and not a gadfly. KR - It is very likely that SkS will set the standard in moderation as it already sets the standard for debating the science. I do think SkS has a ways to go before the claim of complete transparency can be made, but I can also envision that happening, and I think it will be a huge win - and perhaps put a stop to the seeming endless "SkS - you mean that Soros funded site that deletes comments and modifies posts" and on and on and on and on - anything to avoid talking about the science.
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  12. actually thoughtful, first thanks. Second, "Soros funded" we wish.
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  13. KR - on the issue of whether sites will hold themselves to the standards they "set" for SkS - I can answer that the site called Wattsupwiththat (WUWT) will - Here is what WUWT says about SkS (the only site WUWT holds out for special treatment): "(unreliable) due to (1) deletion, extension and amending of user comments, and (2) undated post-publication revisions of article contents after significant user commenting." Other than my post at 58 I know nothing about (2). But I can tell you that yesterday, on WUWT moderator amending my comments (by deleting harmless links to SkS) - I say harmless because it didn't involve any controversy, just answering another posters claims with an appeal to the facts (handily categorized here at SkS). I then responded by asking the moderator to allow a debate on the science to occur. Deleting request to allow science on WUWT I don't know what "extension" means -but the moderators did comment (inside my post) - which might be what extension means. So yes, a double standard is now documented. I doubt there is much surprise. I implore SkS to give us a site that is above this type of tit-for-tat - transparency, transparency, transparency! Beyond the borehole type concept KR mentions, I think serious consideration needs to be given to an archive for update/erroneous articles - this could have all kind of labeling that marks it as old/out of circulation/errant/wrong etc. - but transparency means you can see how things looked. And yes - our mistakes will be there for the world to see - even after we fix them. And any serious, credible person will put SkS up another 2 or 3 notches in respect for having the balls to do it. I note that *doing it right* always takes more effort than doing the minimum acceptable. I hereby offer some of my time to help in the *do it right* effort. As always, I sincerely appreciate all the behind the scenes work, and benefit from the end results.
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  14. actually thoughtful @63, you must remember that SkS started simply as a personal resource of a science (student? graduate?) involved in the AGW debate. John Cook, when he started SkS, was not the media savvy communication savy person he is today, but only wanted a resource for himself, which he decided to post publicly as an after thought. Consequently, in the early days he made some mistakes (such as that involving the quote on the Antarctic Ice thread). Another mistake has been not logging the dates of updates, which led accidentally to an even more embarrassing mistake in which an article was updated, and then later a moderator made an inline comment on a post made before the update, that assumed the article at the time of posting was the current article. We have certainly learnt from those mistakes. We have no intent to deceive in any way, so the mistakes are genuine; and we genuinely wish to not repeat them. Consequently, you will now note an indication of the last update time on each article where relevant. There has been ongoing discussion of other reforms, including a permanent publicly accessible change log, and a borehole. There are, however, technical issues that need resolving. Do, for example prior comments get moved with the old article to the change log? Further, these changes require rewriting code (apparently), and above all time. SkS is run by a very small group of volunteers working part time. Most of the volunteers have very time consuming day jobs, and family (and other commitments). Further, their available time is divided between administrative duties on SkS, producing new articles, researching to keep up with the science (where that is not part of their day job), and answering questions, and rebutting denier comments in the comments section. Given the available time, the output of some of the volunteers is extraordinary. Here I have particularly in mind Dan Nuccitelli whose production rate of new articles is phenomenal, Daniel Bailey whose work as a moderator is very time consuming, and of a very high standard, and John Hartz, who is phenomenal as a news hound for new research, or AGW related articles in the mass media or blogosphere (in addition to producing these excellent weekly digests). I know others do great work behind the scenes on technical aspects, but as I know nothing about the technicalities I cannot give them proper credit. So, while some of your suggestions re transparency are very good, and have been suggested in internal discussion, they have not been implemented, or have not been implemented yet due to a lack of resources. However, until George Soros decides to open up his purse strings, or we get more volunteers, we will do the best we can; and certainly appreciate your continued suggestions. (I should not, I also am a volunteer in a small way. Consequently my responses to you on this issue have not been officially endorsed, and reflect my own view of the situation. I believe, however, that my view fairly represents the situation.)
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  15. actually thoughtful - Yes, as Tom Curtis points out SkS is run by volunteers. Unlike Michaels and Knappenberger, who get direct funding from their fossil fuel customers :)
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  16. Tom Curtis I echo my gratitude to all the people you mentioned by name, and I will also point out that your contributions to the comment threads have been fantastic - I really enjoy what you have to say, and how you say it, and you have certainly earned the trust and respect your contributions receive. And I repeat my offer to contribute time ($$ not being a possibility).
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  17. I must say that over the last week and a half, comments on other threads have been vastly more measured in tone - keep it up :-) CC
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