A Blog Management Question

In areas where I specialize e.g. proxies, I read comments and can moderate the discussion. The “brand” here has been primarily established through such analyses, leavened with occasional forays into topical matters. But I try to keep policy discussions off the blog and am determined to adhere to this policy.

I repeatedly ask people not to discuss thermodynamics, radiation, convection. It’s not that these aren’t important topics. However, I’m not in a position to moderate discussion. Notwithstanding these requests, bandwidth at this blog is being increasingly monopolized by the ruminations of 4-5 active commenters to carry out energetic but undisciplined discussions of radiation, thermodynamics, convection etc. It’s not that these commenters are not friends of the blog, but their affection for discussing these topics here sometimes becomes smothering.

Personally I don’t read any of these discussions. It’s not that the topics are not important. They are. But I can only do so much at a time and, while I’d like to get to these topics eventually, I haven’t yet. Until then, I don’t have the time or energy to read or moderate these threads. I know how to navigate so as to avoid these discussions, but it’s not as easy for third party readers.

bender and some others have expressed their dissatisfaction with these discussions, as tending to erode the quality of the brand – a view that I’m inclined to share, which is why I’ve discouraged these topics in the first place.

While I’ve discouraged these discussions, I’ve tended to tolerate them, but I think that the recurrence of the issue means that I’ll have to develop some sort of policy.

It is strongly my opinion that lurkers (who make up the large majority of the readership) do not come here to read the views of these 4-5 commenters on thermodynamics, CO2 radiation and that these topics should be proscribed until I or some volunteer (who is not one of the protagonists) is prepared to thread and moderate these topics -and wield a pretty heavy hand in disciplining such discussions.

If I’m wrong about this, please let me know.

228 Comments

  1. SteveSadlov
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    Bender’s critique is more expansive than that. He essentially appears to resent all “opinions” / brainstorming / collaborative real time concept development. I am in an opposing camp. But my caveat would be, for “original” development work done here, certainly, a structured approach (I use the example of Sigma, but there are many others) is needed as is facilitation. I agree to disagree with bender’s narrow view.

  2. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    I don’t mind brainstorming – there have been some good examples of that e,g, the MBH99 confidence interval thread. In such cases, the participants have familiarized themselves with a common text and issues and then can talk.

    The issue is the “brainstorming” about thermodynamics and radiation, where there are no threads, moderation or commitment to analysis of common texts.

  3. Fred Harwood
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

    As a long-time lurker, I regularly read this blog for Steve M’s “brand” of constructive audit of climate sciences. While I enjoy some of the off-brand posts, my reading across many climate topics would be enhanced by a minimum of such posts.

    I congratulate Steve and Ross (and their support staff) for creating and maintaining an exceptional and open source of essential climate information.

  4. Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

    This is a basic dilemma of the open discussion model. You want to have an open discussion without being so open that it degenerates into crackpottery. Unfortunately, we can’t define a bright line. We just know that when, for example, the discussion degenerates into theories that say that the greenhouse effect has nothing to do with radiation, something’s wrong with the direction of the discussion.

    You can make some generalizations, and say that if the theory is personal conjecture that isn’t found in texts or papers, that the burden of proof lies heavily on the proponent. It’s also probably a good bet that if the well-known skeptics haven’t found this theory yet, it’s probably wrong.

    It would help if people were a little more circumspect. If you have a question, put it in the form of a question. But when you simply declare that a negative lapse rate (which can be observed; it’s not a theory) defies thermodynamics, you’re asking for a rebuke.

    A moderator is the only practical answer.

  5. Raven
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    I read your blog because informed people are willing to discuss the science.

    I agree that you must not allow a topic to be discussed unless there is someone who understands the topic that can weed out the complete nonsense. That said, I would like to see your blog expanded to cover topics beyond the proxies studies that you specialize in.

    I think you should view your blog as a modern form of academic journal where the online discussions are part of the peer review process. I realize that many posters do not qualify as ‘peers’ in the traditional sense, however, that does not mean their comments are worthless. I have learned the most when the proponents of a paper or theory are willing to engage in the discussion (the Svalgaard thread is a good example).

  6. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve, it’s your house.

    If it were my house, I would have a room for the children to play in. CENSORED at CA.
    The censored thread. The thread I don’t endorse.

  7. Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    What I’ve seen some blogs do to cut down the chatter is have a chat room separate and apart from the blog. Of course, there’s no archive of what goes on in there, and things just scroll into the bit bucket. I don’t know what’s involved in setting one up, but it just might be a lightning rod for both the crackpot and the frivolous.

  8. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    I agree with SteveSadlov.

    >> a view that I’m inclined to share

    We’re all subject to wishful thinking. I think you’re inclined to share this view not because you intellectually agree that it erodes the brand, but because you emotionally feel uncomfortable with this discussion, for various reasons.

    To define the way I use the term: “erode the brand” means making the product less appealing to a wider audience.

    I would say that there are three other factors which actually do erode the brand:

    1) clique-ish banter and inside discussion
    2) arrogant RC-like put downs of people without substance
    3) personal attacks, ad-homs, etc

    Take for example this recent comment to support my point: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2517#comment-181106

    The ironic thing is that it is bender et al who are most often engaged in these 3 brand eroding practices.

    You list these topics with disdain, but the reality is that people are attracted to discussions of AGW. I think people are coming for the type of reasoned discussion that you now consider as “eroding the brand”. They are turned off by the above 3.

  9. Paul
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    I see some alternatives:

    1) Ignore them as you have in the past… aka, the status quo.

    2) Put up a commenting policy page. In that page make it explicit as to what types of comments are acceptable and what type are not. I think the regulars would police for you, with an initial “Thanks for the comment, but it doesn’t meet the policy (link here). Please review the comment policy and come back”. Then, serious violators could be banned as you see fit.

    3) Create their own thread, but with the caveat that this thread is simply a hosted service of CA and isn’t “officially” part of CA.

    4) Offer to have the offenders create their own blog to discuss their own issues. A link could be provided with the other links… and they could discuss to their heart’s content.

    Personally, I think #2 and #4 are probably the best options.

  10. S. Hales
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

    Please restrict these tangential discussions. The four or so posters all have pet theories that contain misunderstandings yet when these errors are pointed out by someone like a John V. they continue to argue rather than learn. It is disheartening to watch. I think Hans Erren’s post on metacognition applies here as well.

  11. SteveSadlov
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    So there are clearly at least a couple of camps. Allow me to further explain perhaps why this is. I come from a world of rapid R&D. We use a mixture of refereed science, “standard” engineering practices / body of knowledge, and, good old concept development and wild eyed creativity. It’s hard to get the mix just right sometimes.

    But at the end of the day, I must admit being clearly more comfortable with some of the wilder stuff that gets posted here than bender / larry / steve mc/ etc.

    Eroding the brand – that is a supercharged topic. Some high tech firms have actually split their brands into two. One couched for the anarchistic/hacker/startup crowd and another for the WallStreet/Berkshire Hathaway/Fortune 100 crowd. Not saying this is the solution, just saying, that is how it is done by some very big players who are everyday, real world users of science and engineering for making big bucks.

  12. Alan Bates
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Re: #7 Larry

    This sounds a good option. RUTHLESSLY obliterate anything that arises in other threads that is not what you want from the thread (after all, its YOUR site) but have an alternate place for un-moderated comments from those who are interested.

    Personally, I think I would avoid such a thread/chatroom – call it what you want. I struggle enough with understanding the worthwhile stuff you and the core people here produce. I want to understand more.

    Those who are interested can have their fun but make it absolutely clear that you take no responsibility whatsoever for content and still retain the right to kill it if it goes off beam. Or get someone who is prepared to have a bit of fun but knows the rules you want to follow and get them to do a coarse mod job for you to kill the worst excesses. Try it for a month and see if it works.

    Just my 2 bits worth (did I, an Englishman, just type that??)

    Merry Christmas and a worthwhile New Year

    Alan

  13. Gunnar
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    The premise behind this is that the lurkers are fundamentally different than the posters. I think that idea is hard to support. It would seem likely that the lurking audience is similar in makeup to the posting audience. As such, the topics that cause the most posting interest are also the topics which most interest the lurkers.

    What if you removed the most recent comments section? This would seem to satisfy all parties. Lurkers who are interested in the latest blog entry would find what they came for. People who want to discuss more obscure topics can do so in the appropriate thread. Better yet, restrict the most recent comment section to your current preferred threads.

  14. Pat Keating
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    7 Larry
    As a would-be frivolous crackpot, I will accept the terms and conditions of a bit-bucket fate for my contributions…..

  15. trevor
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    It seems to me that the most challenging issue for you is the moderation task. That has two elements. First, keeping discussions on track, snipping ad hominems and other inappropriate behaviour, and the like. Second, ensuring rational, sound, insightful discussion on the topics that you are focussing your attention on.

    The demands of providing both types of moderation have increased to the point where it must be nigh on impossible for you, one guy, to keep on top of it. I have enough trouble just keeping up with a speed read of the posts on each thread, looking for the nuggets and avoiding the ‘less interesting’ posts.

    In fact, I think that you deserve enormous credit for maintaining the principled stance that you do, give how much traffic must have grown since you began blogging.

    Perhaps a solution might be to allocate the first style of moderation to perhaps a half dozen friends of CA who share your values, and who can moderate as you would. That would free you up to do more of what you clearly love doing.

    And as to the issues that you prefer not to devote your attention, would you consider allowing one of your trusted friends/colleagues/associates to take responsibility for each thread on such topics, ensuring that threads stay on-topic, that the subjects are being addressed in a sound and scientific manner, that points made are supported by reference to original sources, that workings are properly calculated, and recorded etc.

    Anyhow, just suggestions. I can say that it is obvious that your audience very much appreciates the contribution that you have made in establishing and maintaining CA. It provides a very important perspective on the key issues.

  16. Donavon
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Thank you Steve McIntyre for your efforts here. I enjoy trying to understand global climate effects.

    Please delete the self indulged.

  17. Another Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    Some times the discussions get too esoteric for me and sometimes I wish my feeble questions got more attention, but by and in large you must be doing something right because I wander in to see what is going on several times most days.

    But it comes down to “your blog, your rules” to paraphrase an admin thing.

    Take a Marketing approach — track the numbers as you establish and enforce rules. If what do hurts, don’t do that anymore.

    Parenthetically, it sounds like a group needs some assistance in establishing a blog of their own, linked here from time to time.

  18. Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    Paul 9, Regardless of what else, I think #2 is a good idea. A written policy, accessible from the main page, would at least instruct people on what is out of bounds. A mission statement wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

    If it makes anyone feel any better, pet theories have a way of coming out of the internet to everywhere. Over at Lubos’ blog, not only does he spend a lot of time arguing the “alternatives” to string theory, but every once in a while somebody waltzes in with a “proof” that relativity is wrong, and we can travel at warp 10.

    Such is the internet.

  19. Jon
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    Notwithstanding these requests, bandwidth at this blog is being increasingly monopolized by the ruminations of 4-5 active commenters to carry out energetic but undisciplined discussions of radiation, thermodynamics, convection etc.

    Maybe we can just get to it and discuss the 1970s era Ramanathan articles?

    I don’t mind the discussion, I just wish people would be more rigorous in their sourcing for information. Or post more detailed write ups of their ideas elsewhere for reference.

    Second, I hate it when posts are deleted entirely; its better to just wipe out the contents of the post so that references to comment numbers are maintained.

  20. Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    Here’s the dilemma: the people who think they’re qualified to moderate are the problem. The people most qualified to moderate don’t see themselves as qualified to moderate. I know who I’d nominate, but the selection process involves making some judgments.

  21. John M
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Since your paying the bills and you’ve given a lot of energy to this blog, if you’re sensitive about your brand, by all means restrict these discussions. Anything you do to accommodate these types of discussions (setting up a chat area, having “no holds barred” threads, etc.) would take effort on your part, and could still be used by the intellectually vacuous to attempt to negate your credibility.

    Might I suggest that you (and others) politely direct such posters to more free-swinging forums, like UKweatherworld? Hans attempted just such a thing here. With luck, this could be something that your readers might get in the habit of doing themselves. If the arguing gets a bit tedious and repetitive on one of the Unthreaded threads, I’d be willing to step in and say, “hey, guys, take it to xyz, as per Steve Mc’s guidelines.” The world’s not perfect, of course, and I’m sure some might not like it, but if a sort of “consensus” formed and a lot of folks agreed a discussion ought to go elsewhere, I would hope participants would have the good taste to take the discussions to an alternative site. Perhaps a link on the left of the page to make something like this easy to find?

    And happy holidays one and all.

  22. Bob Meyer
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    As someone who is primarily a lurker but with an occasional post when the topic rolled into subjects like feedback where I have some experience, I would probably prefer a restricted blog where only Steve and his choice of posters could comment directly. Anyone else would have his comment reviewed by Steve, or one the the other approved posters, before it is allowed to be seen.

    The topics should also be restricted to proxy validation which is Steve’s primary interest. Since it is Steve’s blog, of course he can start any topic he wants.

    My main reason for this is that I have found it impossible to follow a subject when posts are deleted and all of the reference numbers get bollixed up. Perhaps Heraclitus would like a constantly changing blog text but it drives me nuts.

    Secondarily, too many posts are irrelevant and snarky and I would rather not deal with them. Worse, some of the more interesting commenters expend mental calories replying to those posts.

    On the other hand, I really enjoy the “sneaked by Steve” thermo posts because I find that subject interesting. If someone with the required expertise were to set up such a blog I can assure him of at least one lurker.

  23. Paddy L
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    This is off the subject. However, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  24. Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

    Steve M, perhaps your auditblog option could help. These are in the blogspace which ClimateAudit generously made available some months ago and which several of us use.

    The process would be:

    1. Set up an auditblog for each of the topics (thermo, radiation, etc) with open comments (no moderator). Let the topic enthusiasts post there.

    2. Put links to these special auditblogs on your sidebar.

    3. When thermo, etc sneaks into a CA thread, snip it with a message to please go to the relevant auditblog.

  25. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    RE 11. We were separated at birth.

    When I taught writing we called it freewriting. One rule, don’t stop.
    In high tech I call it brainstorming. One rule, don’t say no to any idea.

    Forget it he’s rollin

    In the end, you go back and edit and sort and evaluate.

  26. Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    @Larry– The real problem is moderating is time consuming. Moderating after letting posts appear is extremely difficult because interlaced conversation gets screwed up. Moderating first as at Real Climate leads to non-vibrant discussions.

    @Bob Meyer — The problem with the thermo posts is 8/10 of them are crackpotish theories that simply use thermodynamics as a cover. For some reason, people who would never claim they’d solved the Navier Stokes or Botlzman equations like to make flyby diagnoses of violations of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    As to the general idea of setting up another blog: It probably won’t solve the problem. The people who visit want an audience. They think if they post here, someone will read their theory. They know it won’t be read at a small specialist blog. And anyway, who wants to run the blog to discuss violations of the 2nd law of thermo?!

    I say add “violates the 2nd law” to you spam filter, or maybe figure out a way to budget comments by certain visitors after some number of violations. (I’m pondering how this might be done, not asking SteveM to figure it out.)

  27. Tony Edwards
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 4:18 PM | Permalink

    Steve, as a long time lurker and occasional poster, I very much enjoy the unthreaded threads. Sometimes I even understand what is going on. The threads with topic, some I enjoy and follow, others, I really aren’t into. But unthreaded is always fun.
    It is, of course, your site and your rules, but please keep the realistic ideas circulating.

  28. Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    11, 25, brainstorming is a method of solving a problem, not of proposing a wild haired idea. One who proposes a wild idea in a brainstorming session runs the risk of 1. getting spitwadded to death, or 2. having to make the crackpot idea work. This keeps a lid on how wild engineering ideas get. In this situation, you don’t have those constraints, and anything goes, and all you have to do is assert, and never have to live with any consequences. Thus the problem.

  29. John A
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Why not setup a bulletin board and insist that those topics are discussed there?

    John

  30. Nicholas
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

    As much as I enjoy reading comments, I think it’s probably best to err on the side of deleting/moving/snipping too many comments than too few. Comments off-topic for a given thread can be moved/deleted at will. There is an unthreaded thread, after all.

    I don’t think you can be accused of censorship if you simply enforce that comments follow the topic of a thread. All views on a topic can be welcome, but we all know that as soon as one person goes off on their pet subject there will be a bunch of relies and suddenly the SNR drops dramatically. So I think we will forgive you if you are strict.

  31. John F. Pittman
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

    Steve, as much as I enjoy these thermo discussions, I agree that if it is taking up too much bandwidth, boot it.

    I agree with #27, there is seldom a subject on your blog that I don’t find something interesting to read, even those I don’t know anything about the subject. But, not only do I come for the intersting discussions, but I also enjoy your comments (an appeal to authority I know, but I hope, understandable).
    I also agree with #26. I have had to do thermo, and try to avoid it. Unfortunately, I am a chemical engineer running three boilers. For simple air/fuel/water systems, it is complicated; and the data has to be taken rigourously; or it is often worse than useless…it leads to the wrong answer.

    Wish there was a way to easily separate the wheat from the chaff…

  32. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    I also skip all the “Unthreaded” threads, and find it annoying when the comments there fill up the “Recent Comments” list, making it harder for me to keep up with the main threads on the site. I’d endorse any mechanism to more clearly separate them from the main threads, whether that’s just a more self-explanatory thread title and a separate “Recent Comments” list, or a full-blown move to a separate blog.

  33. Another Larry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Phew!

    I just read through the most recent “unthreaded” (I think it was), looking for one of my own questions that I want to ask again somewhere else (didn’t find it, dunno where I left it) and boy howdy do I understand the problem a little better.

    Prune at will. Enhance your spam filters. Require registration to post. What ever you want to do to preserve the ‘sphere, I’m for it.

  34. Bob Meyer
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    lucia says:
    December 21st, 2007 at 4:15 pm:

    “The problem with the thermo posts is 8/10 of them are crackpotish theories that simply use thermodynamics as a cover.”

    That may well be true and that’s why I wanted a competently moderated blog on the subject. I don’t want you any of the physicists on this site spending their time dealing with the crackpottery.

  35. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    My view for what it is worth is the following:

    1. I find Steve M’s instincts to snip posts reasonable and that would include those of mine that get snipped (primarily for being too far off topic and not for discussing forbidden subjects).
    2. I believe that Steve M’s quandary is that as the blog grows in sheer numbers of posts it becomes more difficult for him to personally maintain his brand by snipping.
    3. This is Steve M’s blog and he should alone decide what his brand will be.
    4. What appeals most to me at CA are Steve M’s introductions of topics that are mostly climate science related. As far as I am concerned that is the Steve M brand. What detracts from that brand are posts in those introduced threads that get off topic.
    5. The second most appealing aspect of CA are the contributions from posters other than Steve M who make points on subject matters introduced by way of their own technical abilities – even down to my own humble expositions in Excel (hopefully to be in R at some future time before I expire).
    6. Thirdly I do admit to enjoying the personal touch that is exposed from such varied sources as Steve M’s recounting of face to face meeting with climate scientists to an apt YouTube entry by Steve Mosher.

    So what’s a man to do? I have no pat answers. I personally judge that allowing too much of the off topic or poster selected topic discussions will, in turn, allow those venues to dominant the more serious discussions that take more concerted and less off the top-of-the-head responses. For the serious reader and poster here, separating the threads into the serious and branded, and lets say, the less serious and less branded, would allow one to zero in on their preferences.

    I suspect that a strictly adhered to Steve M brand would have less posts from me and particularly in regards to OT policy views, but, hey, I know from years of experience that I learn more from listening/reading than talking/posting.

  36. LadyGray
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    My openion:

    Discussions, such as thermodynamics, have a way of drawing in the fervently ignorant. These are people who seen a movie that has weather in it, or had a class where the word thermodynamics has been mentioned. They would really like to be part of an intelligent discussion, but have absolutely no background to warrant it. The other people in the forum don’t want to squelch the enthusiasm, so they gently try to lead that person to a more logical way of thinking. The whole discussion then revolves around trying to explain simple concepts to someone who really can’t understand them.

    Better to have stringent rules and strong moderators, with some alternate way (away from the actual discussion) to teach the basics. Chat rooms, which don’t record missteps, are an excellent way to allow a few people who are very patient to guide the young ones. Keep discussions on track, or don’t start them at all.

  37. bender
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    Steve Sadlov the view you attribute to me in #1 is not mine. IMO brainstorming is absolutely necessary for open science and even open audit. What some engage in here is NOT brainstorming. It is marketing and publicizing the same half-cooked, mostly-dismissed, never-connected-to-the-literature-in-the-first-place junkstorm over and over. As I said before I fundamentally disagree with snippety-snip. And in my case it is an idle threat, as I have no editorial power whatsoever. But it is a useful threat to warn some lazy dog when it’s time to pick up his game. I do not want Steve M to waste one second moderating junk. Let the junk happen in a playroom where fist-time visitors don’t see it up front. Let it happen as an unfettered “free-for-all”. Just keep it compartmentalized where it doesn’t harm the CA brand. Also, keep “unthreaded” for things that one hopes will eventually become threaded. Don’t kill it and don’t let it go to ruin.

    The problem is that what you call “brainstorming” other people could call “misinformation”. IMO that’s a real problem that Steve M should distance himself from. POV like A.L., who freely admits to being an agenda parasite. When you liken yourself to a mushroom that can’t be regulated … yuck … no thanks. That ain’t science. That ain’t audit. That ugly.

  38. UK John
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    As a lurker and very occasional poster, it really doesn’t matter. Just the biggest distraction of all time.

    Half the world has not enough to eat every day, and us and the UN just sit and watch. No! it doesn’t really matter.

    I have been to Sierra Leone and watched parents carry their dead children up the street in sacks, I felt hopeless, angry, ashamed.

    We offer them nothing, we have so much we could give. What do we debate, something that doesn’t even exist!

    As far as I am concerned the environmentalists, IPCC, etc can go to Hell, I have already been there!

  39. Christopher
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    Create threads for thermodynamics, radiation, convection each. State in the header that these are unmoderated and “off-brand”. Add a link to these sandbox threads to your categories. Done. I think that would help the SNR.

  40. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:45 PM | Permalink

    I agree with keeping the threads and discussion narrower. I look forward to Steve’s frequent revelations. With too many topics not related to auditing, Steve’s production is cut down.

  41. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    keep “unthreaded” for things that one hopes will eventually become threaded.

    That was really the objective: so that people could make suggestions for threads rather then engage in a free-for-all.

    As to whether “lurkers” are different than posters – some definitely are. I talked to several of the biggest names in paleo-oceanography at AGU and a couple of them were regular CA readers. They were not here for the thermo discussions.

  42. Susann
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    My 2c: I think Steve has to decide what he wants for this blog. If he wants it to be a true audit blog focused on the issues he’s interested in working on, he has to — perhaps — moderate comments and topics. It will take a few ruthless deletions and reminders, but after a short time, it will get through to those of us who tend to wander into off-topic areas. If he wants to develop a community of like-minded audit-minded people who discuss climate science in all its glory, then he can be less restrictive and perhaps assign people to moderate topics he is not personally interested in discussing, like thermo, policy, etc. I’m sure Steve has his own ideas about who would be trustworthy on certain subjects.

    I have enjoyed participating on this blog and on the topics I have participated in (mostly unthreaded lol) but would be just as happy to read a more restrictive blog focused primarily on audit, with less off-topic posts and threads, and less snark, etc. and less wacky theories (sorry guys but my eyes glaze over when I read some posts) :) . I am here to learn and I take this seriously as I know others do. However, it can easily become a fun place and community where we lose track of topic parameters. :) I’m guilty of that misdemeanor. It’s sad when Steve has to police the place up as I’m sure it takes quite a lot of time.

    I think keeping the brand “pure” is valuable from an academic / policy perspective, so I’d advocate for a more restrictive policy on posting. But I would also like to see a blog where other topics are discussed more freely because this is like candy to me. Thing is, people like this place the people and atmosphere and want to hang out, and probably would be reluctant to go elsewhere. Head says more restrictive; heart says free-for-all.

  43. An Inquirer
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Please do whatever you need to do to keep your sanity and reserve sufficient time for your highly value-added analysis. I would favor a separate blog site for those who detract from your brand — but how to keep your blog pure without a huge commitment of your time? I wonder if there is an electronic process that could serve you? If certain posters commit repeated violations, it would be nice to put their “e-mail addresses” on a list, and when they try to post again, their post would be rejected along with a reply that they are invited to post on an alternate blog. Speaking of alternate blogs, I would love to see one where lay people could ask questions without spoiling the scientific discourse at CA.

  44. Bill Gilbert
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

    I have been a lurker here for over two years and this is my first post. This is my primary site for unbiased, free thinking, idea generation. (I really miss the comment section of “Climate Science” for the same reason). I personnally read “Unthreaded” almost every day just to make sure I don’t miss the Thermo discussions. I haven’t found any other place where this topic is being discussed and I think Climate Science (the discipline) is suffering for it’s seemingly superficial understanding of it. I am also constantly amazed at what I am learning about other areas of science just by tuning in to this site. I understand you wanting to keep things under control (keeping up with all the comments is certainly a chore for me) but as you sift through these various recommendations you are getting from everybody, keep people like me in mind.

  45. erikg
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

    I am another lurker who appreciates the current model. I have learned significantly from some of the wilder theories, by watching the careful deconstruction of them. It probably feels like wasted space to many, but it is a valuable learning mechanism for me.

  46. TonyN
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

    I think that the CA brand should be the over-riding consideration. It’s been solidly built over a number of years on the achievements of Steve M with the assistance of the CA community but all this could unravel very quickly.

    The style of the blog, particularly in unthreaded, has changed so much drecently that I think that Steve and Bender’s fears are justified.

    As a lurker I have found unthreaded immensely useful in the past, particularly the odd references and links to topics outside CA’s normal range that I might have missed otherwise. Now I seldom look there. But imposing too rigid a structure on the blog could squeeze out much of the serendipity that makes the place lively and interesting.

    CA has been built around the personality and skills of one person. I just don’t see how he can be expected to keep form control on an unruly blog this size and do much else. On the other hand, who would want a soulless blog run by a committee like RC?

    Assisting – or encouraging – the minority who are causing the problem to start their own blog elsewhere would seem to be a reasonable solution. I’m not disparaging their views, but they just don’t seem to fit the CA style and I would hate to see it change or be degraded.

    And re #8, let’s hear more from welikerocks!

  47. snrjon
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:21 PM | Permalink

    I am a lurker and very occasional poster. I realise that this is Steve’s site and he should feel free to brutally boot the off-brand comments and block the serial offenders, who are really acting like leeches on the good reputation this site has established.

  48. SteveSadlov
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    RE: #28 – You would violate the first rule of brainstorming (or you would allow violation of it if you were facilitating). I won’t tell you what the first rule is, you can go learn on your own.

    RE: #37 – Bender, thanks for the clarification. Sorry, I mistunderstood your position. I now understand it and largely agree. To build on your idea, I’ve seen various “smoky back room” set ups on certain blogs / forums. That would be ideal here.

  49. SteveSadlov
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    RE: #38 – That is powerful. Thanks for the much needed dose of harsh reality. Not much more need be said. Very Lomborgian, very correct.

  50. Bill Derryberry
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

    Thank you Steve,
    I have been reading CA for some time and have posted a very few times. I most enjoy the directed threads but often read the unthreaded. I find them confusing at times but that is probably because I do not follow them all the time. I like the recent coment notes. I look at CA daily and think that the work being done here is very important, I would hate to see the blog change very much. Personally Steve I don’t know how you do what yo
    u dou do on a daily basis.

    Do what you have to snip as you will but just don’t go away
    Thanks again.

    Bill

  51. Barclay E. MacDonald
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:32 PM | Permalink

    I too feel these matters are important and interesting issues, but I agree with Steve M. and Bender. The blog should stay focused on its strengths.

  52. mccall
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

    Branding starts with careful positioning, but can happen faster with good naming. If you want this to be a “Climate Proxy Audit” blog, you should name/rename it such. You’ve achieved your desired result, physics (including therm’s) background people like me spend less time here as you’ve evolved to less acceptance of technical discussions consistent with that aspect of a “Climate Audit” interpretation. That is as it should be…

    You own the blog and manage its content, including discussions initially considered outside your own recognized expertise, i.e. strip bark series methods/proxies. You are to be congratulated for what you have accomplished, but management of even the more narrowly defined “Climate Proxy Audit” (or under any more narrow name brand) will eventually wear you down too. We’re lucky that you have tolerated the wider interpretation/discussions of Climate Audit as long as you have… Thank you.

  53. mccall
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    Oh and the poster who believes that JohnV is the last word on therm’s, is incapable of knowing the difference.

  54. Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    I come for climate science. Heat transfer and fluid flow is a hobby of mine. I like the thermo stuff.

    I have been able to glean enough here for a number of blog posts on the subject. Clouds. Water vapor. Cosmic rays. etc.

    Sadly, stats is one of my weak points (I can find my way around a Gaussian curve for simple stuff and that is about it). So I like having the other stuff around.

  55. Mike Davis
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    I would prefer that you limit it as you see fit. I appreciate the Solar but probably could have found a site for that. It is your site and I will say thank you for the information I have found here.

  56. Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    The fundamental problem here is that it is all connected. Take tree cores:

    CO2 in the atmosphere. Temperature. Rainfall. Lapse rate. Solar output. Cosmic rays. Cell biology. Nutrient availability. etc.

    It is impossible to narrow it down without losing the audit.

    It is like studying humans. Limit it to chemistry? Physics? Psychology? Group dynamics? Agriculture? Biology? Evolution? IQ? Warfare? Political systems? Climate change? History?

    You can focus on any one of those, but if you leave the others out entirely mistakes will be made. Complicated systems require multi-subject analysis.

    Then you have varied people with varied interests each coming in with their own understanding and point of view. There is always topic drift in open forums. It is the nature of the beast.

    As long as we stick to rational discourse and avoid flame wars I’m down with drift. Esp on open thread, my preference would be to have nothing off topic on open thread except knuckle dragging insults (the more subtle variety – Mosher is that you? – I find amusing).

  57. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    #52. It’s not that I think that the thermo discussions are unimportant or outside the theoretical compass of this particular blog.

    I recognize that there’s a demand for discussion of these topics.

    My beef is that the 4-5 proponents are not carrying out the discussion in the text-critical way that I would and, despite my pleas to them in the matter, resist these requests in favor of an exposition of their own theories. Without a careful and structured review of the literature and seeing how the theories developed, how can anyone tell whether Gunnar or Nasif or jae are re-inventing the wheel, inventing a non-wheel, developing a square wheel? Whether they are fighting with real targets, straw men or phantasms? I can’t, so I conserve my limited energy by ignoring these posts, although I find the people pleasant and engaging and like having them around in other respects.

    I didn’t do my own work by randomly presenting my own proxy reconstruction, but by becoming sufficiently expert in Team reconstructions. If people think that models are wrong, fine: show where they’re wrong, rather than post snippets here which, however insightful, cannot be distinguished from noise. Again, I’m not saying that they may not be insightful; it’s just that I have no way of knowing.

    Jon in #19 writes:

    Maybe we can just get to it and discuss the 1970s era Ramanathan articles? I don’t mind the discussion, I just wish people would be more rigorous in their sourcing for information. Or post more detailed write ups of their ideas elsewhere for reference.

    If I could clone myself, I’d start discussions with Ramanathan – actually I was interested in this topic before I got involved with Mann and may be able to locate some old notes on the topic. If I can locate some, I’ll see what I can do. Otherwise the trouble is that it may be a major investment of energy to do this and I’ve got far too many balls in the air as it is.

    I’d like to claw Unthreaded back from the thermo guys and maybe this would do the trick.

  58. drhealy
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

    Steve:

    I’ve been following your site from near the beginning because you do so well at keeping to your area of expertise in auditing the statistical and mathmatical aspects of the works of so many climate scientists, and “holding their hands to the fire” when necessary. Please stick to the areas that you feel most comfortable with and avoid any distractions. Your efforts are far too valuable to be dissipated into other areas that might diminish your focus. If other posters feel that they wish to expand the discussion, encourage them to create their own blogs and expand the discussion. If the blogs are of sufficient quality, you can always link to them.

    Please, please keep up your excellent work.

  59. bender
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 9:15 PM | Permalink

    #57 Segregate the repeat offenders and the occasional offenders (including myself more than once) in a smoky back room off in the corner. Call it what it is – “The Skeptic Tank”.

    #38 I have been thinking recently that someone should start a “Skeptics for Peace/Justice/Equality” group, in part to refocus people’s good intentions, but also to show that climate skeptics are not people-haters or planet-haters.

  60. Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    A hide button visible to the moderator that permanently hides posts without deleting them would seem useful. Each post is surrounded by a div tag, so the visibility property could be invoked to remove the message from the view. This also solves the snip/delete problem that creates irregularities in message numbering. I’m happy to collaborate/help/do it. Also, any sql generated comment lists (recent) could be modified to leave out hidden messages.

    If that answer isn’t good enough, then you might consider adding bristle cone pines to your proxy data.

    Steve: A hide button would be great. I’ll email you about this.

    • AK
      Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

      Re: #60

      That (a hide button) was going to be my suggestion as well. I would further suggest that it be able to hide some or all of the text rather than the whole post. Another thing, if the readers had the option to “unhide” all the hidden text in a thread, they could tune in on the extraneous stuff without it confusing newcomers and wasting time for those who want to concentrate on the topic.

      I’m a regular lurker with only a few posts under my belt, and generally skip discussions here of the thermodynamics.

  61. Jim
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 9:37 PM | Permalink

    Steve

    The reason this blog works is that it has a central focus, e.g.
    doing meticulous statistical audits on climate science research
    and underlying data. Another reason it works is that
    the results are often easily accessible, e.g. “The rain
    in Maine falls …”. Further, anyone competent in statistics
    and its application can easily see technical flaws in
    existing work, e.g. you don’t need too much in the way of
    advanced training to start doing something useful. The
    central focus makes the occasional tangents (e.g. sociology
    of science) more interesting since they occur as part
    of a big picture.

    Discussions on thermo/fluid behavior. Well, this is one
    of the more complicated topics in physics and engineering.
    This is the land of very complicated partial differential
    equations that get solved by numerical simulations. The
    level of expertise required before one can say anything
    useful is very extreme. Thats why the issue of water vapor
    being a positive/negative feedback is still rattling around.
    If Lindzen wanted to comment, you might make an exception,
    but terminating the thermo discussions would improve your
    blog.

    You have a couple of thermo crackpots who feed off each other.
    Let them go feed somewhere else. Don’t provide a space, it
    is a waste of your time and bandwidth and the discussion is
    dross. Regard your time as a valuable resource, and assume
    the lurkers want you spending that time doing something that
    enhances the central theme of the blog.

  62. BarryW
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

    Re #24

    I think auditblogs.com is the answer. If people want to do “thermo” or anything else you don’t want to cover let them take it over there. Maybe you need to close down the unthreaded thread for awhile and be ruthless about deleting posts that violate the rules, including blocking those who refuse to comply. You could even insert a like to the other blog instead of just snipping for awhile just so people get the hint. Some of the regular posters obviously have enough time that they could moderate a blog over there on their favorite subjects. I still find some of the posts interesting but the more rigorous the discussions are the better the rep of this blog (and I think that’s why some of those posters are here because they think it adds both more eyes and gravitas to their posts than if they posted elsewhere)

  63. Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

    I’m doing some work on nuclear fusion which is outside the mainstream.

    I have two blogs. One high traffic (relatively) and one low. The low traffic one is science oriented and somewhat “deep”. The other is for the general reader ( I also do politics there and other stuff ).

    The poo slingers and other assorted malcontents prefer to do their slinging on the high traffic place. I get very little of that where the traffic is low. BTW moderation is loose to non-existent at both places. I think that agenda driven folks prefer the attention. Science driven people have no problem with low traffic (I include among those doubters and questioners).

    If you want to “clean up” the place limit your postings here to technical topics. And don’t try to make it too easy for laymen to understand. Keep a second blog with looser standards and more general explanations for the public.

  64. SteveSadlov
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

    RE: #63 – Hear, here!

  65. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 11:45 PM | Permalink

    One must be cautious and humble in offering advice to a prominent achiever who has built up a most successful blog through style, knowledge and relevance.

    My initial interest was raised because of the quality and variety of Steve’s introduction of new topics and the realisation that this was a somewhat dispassionate audit site and not a place for political grandstanding. The destruction of silly science through logical presentation of the best known science was the drawcard.

    Post were (mostly) well-written, but with enough humour and irreverence to maintain interest.

    I would not recommend these factors be changed, if I was asked.

    In many fields of endeavour there is a place for the anomalous comment; indeed sometimes the anomalous leads to the most important contribution. The Eureka statement. It follows that I would not dismissively filter the odd strange statement for the same reason that mathematical filters of number series should not reject outliers before looking for the reason for them – time and resources permitting.

    Since time and resources appear to be a growing problem, I have only one suggestion (because, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). Based on a property rights incentive philosophy, why not ask all future offenders fingered by Steve to contribute $50 to the tip jar each time or depart the site forever? It is his site. I suspect that would cut down the work load and make posters think harder.

  66. Peter
    Posted Dec 21, 2007 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

    Yes, purge and link to some other forum. Don’t waste your time being an editor. You are right that because the discussions that worry you are not anchored to some particular paper, they are much harder to follow, much less focussed, and of far lower value to the general reader. The thermo people may have an illusion that they are reaching a wide audience through CA, but its doubtful they are. Unthreaded is mostly unreadable, in contrast to the paper oriented threads. You notice that RC and Roger Pielke have the same problem. RP has solved it by not allowing comments. RC purges heavily and publishes less often.

    Another solution might be a rigorous registration process.

    If your comments section were to consist of real name posts by people you registered, instead of automatic registration under pseudonyms by anyone, the number of posters would probably be in the tens, but the site would be equally valuable to lay readers. It would also move a little closer to the publication and letters of a paper academic journal. This is probably the best solution. Then accept proper formal article submissions by anyone – but get someone else to scrutinize them for acceptability.

    Your model should probably be halfway between a paper journal and a seminar with a broadcast link. You have open discussion among a certain group, just that everyone can listen. You do need to be careful to allow membership by ‘the opposition’, and should automatically make anyone a member whose paper is scrutinized. You could try it as an experiment for a month and see. Or, you could try placing non-member comments in a different area as a halfway step? The thing is at the moment you’re becoming a hybrid of a paper journal and a usenet forum. You want the other half the hybrid to be a seminar instead.

    Some form of pruning, yes, definitely.

  67. Clayton B.
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

    I disagree that the discussions should be canned. Two heads are better than one and driving people away form this site is definitely a bad thing.

    A bulletin board seems the best way to handle these “conversations” – I think John A recommended this. New users – I wish I could think of a clever name to call them – could be limited to one post per day until they reach a new status. You could always demote users, too. If something worthy of a larger audience is discussed (the hurricane thing comes to mind) – then make it an article.

    As for moderation – let someone(s) else help you do it. You just need a well-defined set of rules. There are a few topics that would be better served on a discussion board.

    Disadvantage: This would require a more rigorous registration.

    Wish you luck.

  68. Dean G
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

    Long time lurker (three years), first time poster.

    Unthreaded is becoming unreadable, and frankly monotonously boring. There are certain posters that I no longer read, so these discussions don’t annoy me as much as they used to. It does give the whole site a bad image. I personally think these topics should be barred. If people want to write essays they should do it on their own blogs.

    Lurk on.

  69. TAC
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:53 AM | Permalink

    Steve; As usual, I agree with what you’ve written. In order to protect CA’s focus — the “brand” (ugh!) — perhaps the time has come to limit the scope of CA; some topics belong elsewhere.

    At the same time, it is sad to think that CA must change, or grow up into something different, something less welcoming. CA has offered an open market for ideas — those chaotic, crazy, often wrong, at times paranoid, yet vital things that make life interesting. I love the forum it provides.

    Yet, the part I like most is the auditing of statistical methods and data — the part where you are most actively engaged — and where CA is simply richer and better than anything else out there. In these areas the climate science community is desperately in need of help, and CA can, does, and will make a difference. I’m not sure the same can be said about discussions of thermodynamics and CO2 radiation (I really don’t know).

    In any case, I, for one, have learned an immense amount about climate science — and science in general — by lurking (and occasionally posting) here.

    CA is a wonderful place, a veritable university of wisdom on climate statistics and data. With respect to other topics, perhaps CA can best serve as a model for all blogs dedicated to the search for rational explanations of the world we inhabit.

  70. Mike H.
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 2:46 AM | Permalink

    Start a climate ring, set up a link section towards the top of the blog that has the discipline, link and below that the current subject of that ring member. Continue to chose the subject and continue to regulate the comments of your blog but instead of transferring them to unthreaded, transfer them to the discipline link and replace the body of the comment with the link itself. If after evaluation this is too unwieldy then transfer this comment to the bit bucket.

  71. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 3:56 AM | Permalink

    In this day and age of the blogosphere, reader comments are often used against the site owner as being representative of the site owner’s opinion. The wilder and more extreme the comments, the louder the claims of endorsement. I think that Steve is right to be concerned about off topic discussions.

    As one of the lurkers I come here for Steve’s analysis as well as the informed on topic discussions that usually follow. Since moderation is so time consuming, and off topic conversations do detract from the brand, I support proscription of certain topics. Moderation is a chore and it would be nicer for all involved if adherence to proscribed topics was voluntarily followed so Steve can spend more time staying on topic to his blog’s brand. (Excellent work here, btw, Steve. Very illuminating.)

    Besides, I have a hard enough following Steve’s analysis (It’s way outside my field), nevermind trying to make heads or tails out of divergent opinions in off topic discussions. ;)

  72. Stephen Richards
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:57 AM | Permalink

    Steve Mc

    Some weeks ago I suggested you might shut down the unthreaded again because it had become dominated by some very esoteric arguments about policy etc. I support totally any decision you choose to make on your blog. It’s yours to manage how you wish. I would add that sometimes a little diversion can be beneficial.
    The french thing is interesting because here in france the co² line dominates every aspect of the media. After each weather forecast on TF1 you get a lecture on saving the planet by changing light bulbs, turning down heaters etc. That there may be a frenchman who disagrees is very interesting but still boring :)

  73. Jim Melton
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

    RE:#70 – Mike H

    “..Start a climate ring..”

    As a long time lurker I agree. The thermo discussions are “interesting” if not well structured.

    For me CA has so much that RC doesn’t in terms of censorship and integrity, It would be a shame to dilute what Steve has esp. when it gets dipped into for Very Important Discussions by people of influence.

    Perhaps an Audit ring with terms that posters should agree to before posting where Climate Audit could be the overall brand. Keep the brand name with the modertor, then each ring member could change the style but not the purpose of the blog.

  74. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:45 AM | Permalink

    re:46
    I am (we: my husband and I) are here.

    I don’t know exactly what to say. It’s SteveM’s call, and I understand the position he is in and agree with just about every POV either way (the rainbow of humanity)(except maybe the comments on “crackpots” -do you guys know that thermo stuff has been debated for many many years; my father in law calls it “The Mystery Debate” and he’s well into his 60’s and that’s what they called it when he was in school- he’s an engineer-West Point-grad= one smart cookie)

    We agree the most with Mr.Sadlov’s feelings and like the comments made around and near this re:46. 38 is well said! I feel that too.

    Anyway welikerocks likes Unthreaded. (to the naysayers: no body is making you read that section are they?)

    I think the participants here do a good job of flagging unruly or un-okay (whatever that is) discussions. I don’t consider Unthreaded as representative of CA as a whole, and I believe any reasonable person wouldn’t either. Most blogs or message boards have a section just like it. Its normal!

    SteveM shouldn’t have to worry about all this though and whatever he decides Welikerocks would still read/tip the hat/enjoy/respect/participate when appropriate/ even if Unthreaded were gone. We were reading and respecting CA before ever ever commenting- and commented before Unthreaded ever existed.

    A disclaimer for Unthreaded would take care of some of the concern. Maybe just open it to comments on Friday and close it on Monday. Keep it closed to comments most of the week or just a few hours a day. People then can think,regroup and form their comments/links/references/questions/replies/research/free thoughts/news/jokes or points more carefully.

    Thing about Unthreaded and the people who tend to gather there is the underlying respect for CA and SteveM that is certainly there ALWAYS. Also they sincerely are interested in the things they are looking at or speaking about. So if you feel anybody goes “crackpot” on you; you should remember that this is something we all have in common isn’t it?

  75. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 6:15 AM | Permalink

    and one more thing, this article came to mind:
    Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2006…

    quote:
    “”America loves its solitary geniuses—its Einsteins, its Edisons, its Jobses—but those lonely dreamers may have to learn to play with others. Car companies are running open design contests. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

    Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

    The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you. “”

  76. Charles Cole-USA-Maine
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

    lurker 1 year, first post

    Frustrated with AGW literature,media, IPCC, A. Gore, J. Hansen et.al., I found CA via internet searching and thought I found gold.

    CA is not the mother load but very important imho.

    Science is a rigorous thinking process whether through “simple” classification, theory development, mathematical development or finding solutions to complex mathematical expressions that represent physical processes.

    Climate science seems to use mathematical statistics as a (if not “the”) major tool. The major, repeat major, contribution of Steve and Ross was to show that climate scientists do not always use statistics appropriately. And further, claims made in the guise of science have little statistical significance, perhaps none. Steve said that he has worked through the linear algebra of the Mann statistical method and found that there is no new mathematical statistics there. He should write that up and submit it to a mathematics journal.

    Statistics is a rigourous mathematical discipline. Has any scientist or mathematician even demonstrated that the multitude of climate characteristics can be accurately described as a collection of independant identically distributed varibles? Many mathematical proofs in statistics start with this assumption.

    The single most important scientific idea made clear at CA is this: correlation is not causality.

    In other words, statistics does not describe the underlying physical process. Is not climate the summation of physical processes?

    So finally to the point here: thermodynamics or not. Imho, Steve needs to spend his time auditing the application of statistics of climate scientists, keeping them honest so to speak (at least reporting the successes and failures to those willing to listen). So although my personal interest is the hard sciences of thermodynamics and quantum processes, I vote for kicking thermo out in favor of Steve using his time to credit those who use statistics well and discredit those who do not. This is very important on going work: keeping up with statistically empty claims.

    Thank you Steve, Anthony and others who materially contribute to better understanding of the practice of climate science. I do not believe there is such a thing as climate science. I believe in mathematical physics and in the few who understand quantum processes, who say that there is not a single physical process known that can not be described by quantum physics as applied today. I will look elsewhere for thermo etc. but I will always read the CA blog as well. You would need a Richard Feynman quality moderator for a thermo thread.

    cc

  77. RomanM
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

    Most of this has already been said but since we seem to all be sharing our perspectives, I will add mine.

    At the moment due to my day job, I can’t dig in to everything which appears on the blog. Generally, I try to stay current with all the main threads – these are focused by the author of the thread (usually Steve Mc) who provides the direction and the clues to the resources needed to reasonably discuss the topic. IMO these are very worthwhile and fruitful and justify the time I spend on this blog.

    Unthreaded is necessary as a place for bringing new issues to the blog when they appear and for providing a forum for some discussion of these new issues. The problem is that it appears to have become a place with high traffic in ongoing and sometimes repetitious discussions of one or two areas which are not of interest to many others. Unfortunately, this makes unthreaded pretty much useless for the other purposes since going through 500 or 1000 messages every few days is not time that I wish to waste. Whether or not Steve wishes to provide a venue for these topics is up to him – I won’t miss them if they disappear and I probably will spend little time reading them if they get moved elsewhere.

    I agree that thermodynamics (which I know very little about, but I am willing to learn) is an important topic however it needs to be presented and moderated by someone who has the capability of doing so.

    Away from the snow – off to Mexico for a week – eat your hearts out. :D

  78. Patrick M.
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 7:21 AM | Permalink

    I’m not a blog expert, but is it possible to have certain threads be labeled “panel discussions” where only certain posts/posters are allowed and other threads labeled “open discussions” where it’s open to all? I know you already do unthreaded but that’s not the same as an open thread that has a specific topic. Then you could specify in your policy statement that the “panel discussions” are for deeper level analysis of a topic, (perhaps even invite outsiders into the panel – they may be more willing if they know it’s a highly controlled discussion), and that “open discussions” are for free form, brain storming, far ranging discussion of topics.

    Your “brand” may even get a boost if people know that you have a big upcoming “panel discussion” of X coming up with experts A, B, and C. Then you could even have a parallel “open discussion” of the panel discussion, where if the experts from the panel so choose they can join the fray.

    Just my $0.02

  79. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

    The phenomena you see here with blog management issues, to
    go off topic, is an illustration of the Dunbar number. Essentially, when a human group grows beyond a certain
    number more and more time has to be spent on social regulation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number

    http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2005/10/dunbar_group_co.html

  80. Douglas Foss
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

    I understand from my friends in corporate HR departments that there are computer programs using algorithms that “read” applicant essays and employee comments at a level indistinguishable from human readers. Perhaps you could access such programs to sort comments before they are posted (sorting could be on a wholesale basis or merely on an interdiction basis). Depending on content, of topic comments would be consigned by algorithm to some alternative category. Coupled with specific passes for frequent contributors to post where desired (subject to change as warranted), such an approach would preserve contributors’ offerings yet save you considerable effort. You would have as many categories as you desire with automatic sorting to each. I’d be delighted to run down details/options if you think this might serve your interests.

  81. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2005/03/dunbar_altruist.html

    one last post. altruistic punishment

    If you watch what happens when threads get unruly is that people try to discipline others with
    gentle reminders or subtle kicks under the table or finally throwing the troll card. But there
    is no cost for the punisher and no cost for the violator so you don’t really have an effective
    system of self regulation.

    there might be an interesting way to program such a system for blogs… thinking

  82. kim
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:01 AM | Permalink

    Nice blog, lifewithalaacrity.com, and I thank you for the links, sm, but your Dunbar link is to the Volunteer Arms public house.
    ===============================================

  83. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    thx kim. humber on humberside

  84. Kristen Byrnes
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    Include it in a “romper room” thread and put Steven Mosher in charge. :)

  85. Andy
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    My $0.02 – follow your instincts, Steve, as this is what made CA successful in the first place.

    I have to admit that I’ve read through many threads over the 2-ish years I’ve been a regular reader and been disappointed at the lack of self-control on the part of commenters who know they’re out of bounds but continue OT or banned-topic discussions anyway.

    What may be a good idea (borrowed from the Team’s sport no less) is a CA penalty box, where commenters who repeatedly or flagrantly disregard the rules in a thread get blocked from posting more comments to the thread or to even to CA for a period of time. There would still be some blog management overhead, but it wouldn’t be nearly as intensive as moderating the individual posts.

  86. _Jim
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    mosh:

    when threads get unruly … there might be an interesting way to program such a system for blogs… thinking

    Fines; adding to your Quatloo-based posting system as dsecribed in unthreaded 28 (see same for details) and assessed by an assembled jury panel of peers.

    MAYBE we could call them ‘Carbon Credits’ instead Quatloos …

  87. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    86,

    I’ve been a regular reader and been disappointed at the lack of self-control on the part of commenters who know they’re out of bounds but continue OT or banned-topic discussions anyway.

    The problem with these topics isn’t that they are bad topics; the problem is that they tend to, in conjunction with a certain lack of discipline, lead off to pointless and unproductive personal theories. As I said on another thread, I’d love to have a good discussion on remedies and alternative energy, but we all know that that would attract the cold fusion and abiotic oil crowds, among others. It’s well and good to think outside of the box; it’s not so good to venture into science fiction (allusions to quatloos notwithstanding).

  88. Pat Keating
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    88 Larry

    we all know that that would attract the cold fusion and abiotic oil crowds

    I share your view of cold fusion, but I would remind you that the other topic originated from a very highly respected physicist and has experimental support. Of course it is OT, but I have to briefly protest putting them both in the same box.

  89. scp
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

    As a long-time mostly-lurker here, the recent noisiness has reduced my time spent reading. I used to read every comment on every new thread and keep up with recent comments too. With a job and a family, that’s not possible any more, so ironically, more comments means I’m spending less time here. I assume part of the increase comes from your recent weblog awards publicity.

    I like Lucia’s idea about giving people a comment budget. To expand on that, moderating could simply be assigning relevance scores to comments. Off topic gets a high score, on topic gets a low score. When a commenter exhausts his quota, that’s it. No new comments until the quota gets refreshed. Maybe that would encourage people to self police.

    I guess the blogging software probably doesn’t support anything like that though. : -(

  90. gary gulrud
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    Steve: My interest in your ‘branded’ discussions follows from their import for the
    epistemology of science, or, e.g., the same reason I’m interested in Koutsoyiannis’s
    thoughts which are more targeted to that interest.
    I read them for insight into the proper use of statistics to characterize data, and proper/inproper inference.
    I do not appreciate trolling by interlopers looking for a forum in which to build their self esteem.

  91. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    89, Whether abiotic oil is right or wrong is beside the point. The point is that it’s at this point too speculative to play any part in useful discussions. As a theory, it’s going to have to wander the desert for many more years before it (if ever) gains enough traction to be a useful part of any solutions. For that matter, shale oil is something that we’ve almost known how to do for decades, but at this particular point, we still don’t have a tested process that we can point to, and say that’s an alternative source. This as opposed to, for example, tar sands, which they’re doing now, and Fischer-Tropsch, which the Nazis and South Africans have already done.

    This is the technological counterpart to the distinction that, I think, Steve is trying to make wrt research; the difference between pie-in-the-sky stuff, and something that’s grounded in current research.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that we won’t be doing things in 50 years that no one is talking about now; we may, for example, be generating power from thorium. We just have a very poor track record for predicting the technologies that ultimately win out. Even seen the futurists’ predictions from 1900 that showed dirigible ports in our cities in 1960?

  92. Jonathan Schafer
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    I hate the use of the term “brand”. I suppose for better or worse, that your reputation, at least on the outside world, is shaped in part by the comments here. That is unfortunate. Your reputation should be based solely on what you say, not what others say. It does degrade it to some degree. I just hate that people look at things like that.

    I think like any other blog post, people who come here want to participate, because they want to be involved and feel part of the community. If participation is limited, it is likely that some chunk of these people will leave, and not just become “lurkers”.

    That said, here are a couple of options, assuming WordPress has the capability(s).

    One solution would be to be able to flag a member who posts off topic, and all of that person’s posts automatically disappear (without affecting numbering) for a specified time. Call it being put in the penalty box. After being put in the penalty box x times, maybe they get permanently banned. This could be done for discussing topics you’ve specifically asked not to, for bad behavior, or for hijacking a thread with off topic content.

    Rather than have two blogs like one poster suggested, you could have moderated and unmoderated blog entries. The moderated entries would limit open posting to specified users. All other postings would go into a moderated queue. You could set up one or more moderators to review posts to the moderated blog entries. Other threads could be open to a more generalized discussion of a topic.

    #38, I agree whole-heartedly.

    Everyone have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

  93. Mike B
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Every discussion group I’ve ever been a part of has had this problem. Politics, sports, whatever. Must be part of online human nature.

    The solutions that have worked have mostly been suggested by others. For instance an unarchived chat room cuts down on much of the unwieldy post volume. Registration with a user agreement to adhere to certain guidelines subject to temporary or partial banishment is also useful (if you don’t like the guidlines, post somewhere else. It becomes the user’s choice, not yours).

    On thing that would be helpful if you choose a minimalist approach would be to somehow “disconnect” the unthreaded section from the “recent post activity” at the right side of the page. I’m in the camp of doing my best to avoid unthreaded, because the discussion there is usually dominated by a few, and their interests are different from mine. It would also make it easier to do what Lucia did recently, going out of her way to find a defunct but appropriate thread to post some new analysis on one of Schwartz’s papers.

  94. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    RE 85. The romper room would look like this:

    Good to see you back again Kristen!

  95. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    I like Jonathan’s (93) suggestion for moderated and unmoderated threads. Designated moderated threads accept only input from specific commenters.

    A good thermodynamic discussion is indispensable to an overall understanding of climate, and it would be a shame to lose it entirely. As long as it is limited to a particular thread with its own disclaimer, so no one who is uninterested in it will waste their time, it should pose no problem to the brand.

    Alternatively, the thermo discussion could be a separate page reachable only by a link on the sidebar. That way it would not take up space on the main page.

  96. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    95, ok. Better the romper room look like that than unthreaded.

  97. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    96, the question was never whether a good thermo discussion has value. The question always was how to you make sure that it’s a good discussion, and not the thermo equivalent of a truther’s site.

  98. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    Mike B. I used google to find the appropriage Schwartz thread! :)
    I’m having problems pinging with my blog– otherwise, you would have seen a trackback instead of my comment.

    Once the holidays are over, I plan to ramp my blog will be ramping up a bit. I plan to have some free-for-all threads, and in some cases, respond to some of the endless discussions in unthreaded there. There is a series of comments between bender and me over on unthreaded that actually warrants a long post, but it’s difficult to shove that properly in unthreaded. (Plus, I’m doing laundry now, and will be having family gatherings tonight &etc. )

    If people do go off topic, feel free to send them to: rank exploits.

    I am reading comments, I’m letting it be a free for all, and will post motivations for the blog etc. after the holidays. For now, all I’ll say is I actually want the free-for-all to some extent because I would like to learn and comment on the more intelligent repeated questions skeptics have. That said, I’ll also be writing plugins to control stuff, and I think they will have features SteveM will like too. (I’m reading some suggestions here. I was already planning to write one to keep the comment numbers intact. I’m going to add the feature to automatically change text to something like: moved to unthreaded. I’m pretty good at coming up with decent features provided I think about ‘the problem’ for at least a month before coding. So… right now I’m thinking.)

  99. Duane Johnson
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    As a regular lurker, I have been frustrated by the unwieldiness of the Unthreaded “thread”, where I confine myself to reading posts where I recognize names of the originators who have a reputation for making worthwhile contributions. When the length of the current unthreaded exceeds 300 or so, I don’t even bother with that. My suggestion would be:

    Create a new thread, called “Suggested Topics” where an expository case can be made for a new thread subject. Discussion of issues associated with the suggestion would not be permitted under this thread. Steve or his designee would be free to create the thread (or not) as he sees fit.

    Convert the current Unthreaded to a daily open thread, with prior days accessible to readers by date for a defined period of time (such as ten days or so) and subsequently dumped. Monitoring could be minimal, and confined largely to snipping egregious attacks and similar bad behavior. I believe the transient nature of the thread would discourage its use by those wishing to use it to expound their own pet theories. Of course, they would still have the right to make a case for a separate thread under the “Suggested Topics” thread. The header to the thread should contain appropriate disclaimers related to CA purposes and objectives.

    I would hope that these measures would help preserve the CA “brand”, without placing an undue burden on site management.

  100. Gary Moran
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    I’m aware that my posts in the recent unthreaded probably helped to spark this thing off; however I also think it’s worth saying that the response from some posters along the lines of: it’s thermo crack pot time again, actually inflamed the issue; given I was looking for clarification in response to issues already raised in the thread, that could have been quickly answered (assuming you’ve done the rounds on this a few times and know the answers), without unduly raising the noise level. Also, given that Eli Rabett, Atmoz, and some supporting the radiative model in the thread are getting some basic things wrong, then there appears to be some need to understand the issue; albeit without straying into private theory territory.

  101. Wet Head
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    I think some sort of experts only section should be considered too. Very frustrating to see an expert visitor get ganged up on by 20 different posters, many with dubious knowledge and motives.

  102. Kristen Byrnes
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    Steven Mosher # 95
    My, my Steven, you really need modernization.
    Romper room would look more like this:

  103. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    102, this is true. However. 1. You have the problem of credentialing the experts, and 2. sometimes the experts are in fact experts, but they have such poor communication skills that no one outside of their very narrow field of expertise can make any sense of what they say. The ideal way for communication-challenged experts to interact is with a panel where there’s someone there who can follow what the expert is saying, and translate it into more general language.

  104. Wet Head
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    Larry, Good points. However, I think Steve Mc has the knowledge to narrow down the participants on some topics.

  105. Bill Drissel
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Steve:
    Thank you for the invaluable work you do.

    All:
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Peace to men of good will.

    I’m a lurker who visits CA for the auditing. I’m a mathematically inclined engineer and programmer – at home with ordinary least squares but at sea over the exotic variations on the theme … ok with simple radio filters – puzzled by filters that can extract .01C/year from data that has 10C daily noise and 30C yearly noise.

    I’m especially mystified by proxies. How do you know something is a proxy? Well, it correlates well with our guess about the behavior of the quantity we hope it stands for. That’s ok but if we take “good” proxies and put them into our measurement sets , there’s some kind of circular effect that only confirms our original notions. I’m grateful for any guidance I get on this subject.

    Perhaps, I wouldn’t be interested in Climate Science any more than I’m interested in storm guessing or earthquake prediction but I believe in our time, there are forces that would have us shivering in the dark if we don’t pay attention.

    I’m not as bothered as some by off-topic comments. I can skip over them. If you feel the reputation of CA is affected, I think banishment to “Unthreaded” is appropriate. Persistant or abusive kooks should be banned in my view.

    Warmest regards,
    Bill Drissel
    Grand Prairie, TX, USA

  106. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    RE 103. yes, what you fail to realize is that the character in my video has the nickname MAC.
    Can you spot juckes? Ray P-humbert? Dr Mann?

    I am the TS Eliot of youtube. Challenge me not young pup!

    How goes the college hunt? PS, my kids still thank me for your web page as it helped them
    with the AIT nonsense they get in school. They won’t listen to me, but would rather listen
    to someone their own age. Kudos again.

  107. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    I’m with 38. I am also with the hands-on work of Anthony Watts. I used to be a happy lurker up until John A retired and the Unthreaded posts became totally out of hand. I have trouble keeping up at the best of times but most is now beyond me and severe boredom has set in. Where I was once looking-in everyday now it can be once a week.
    My main purpose is not trying to discuss science I can’t follow but biting the heels of the like of Monbiot or Roberts. I am prepared to have a go at any ignorant journo.
    If they want to clog bandwidth, I think it might be an idea to start their own blog and have at it.
    A.

  108. Roger Ayotte
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I’ve been a lurker for some time. I appreciate your efforts here, and I am amazed at the volume of work you post.

    I would like to add my small voice in support of your desire to keep the ‘brand’ here at CA. The alternate discussions just shows you the keen interest in topics related to the intersection of climate, science, politics, economics, and sociology!

    Roger Ayotte

  109. tpguydk(Terry)
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    Couple things: Once a blog gets big, it’s like herding cats to get the posters to behave. You’re obviously not a Crazy Cat Lady, so don’t try or it’ll really make you crazy. Like it or not you’ve created a community of people from all walks of life and political ideologies who all have a healthy skepticism that grows stronger every day. Instead, give them their own space (like you did with the Solar thread, which I see is still going strong) to play in so they don’t scratch up the rest of the furniture. They could probably do that with the audit blog feature here. Lucia was also nice enough to put up space for those discussions. Another thing is that sometimes it’s hard to follow discussions because of how WordPress sets up the comment threads. If there’s a way to nest the threads then that might help.

    There are people who I, as a semi-lurker because much of this is still a tad over my head, do look for (Bender, Steve Mosher, TCO, Jean S) , and I find that they are lost in the noise.

    Just my thoughts—back to the lurking and catching up.

  110. Erik Ramberg
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    I think it is safe to say that fundamental thermodynamics is pretty well established by now and that part time bloggers are not going to find cracks in that field of science. In terms of climate modeling the uncertainties are dominated by non-linear feedbacks. It seems discussions about the connections between ocean radiative transfers and cloud cover are topical to the field. But historically the topic of this blog has been to ‘audit’ historical temperature reconstructions – for which it has done a pretty damn good job finding inconsistencies, etc. It is my personal opinion that spending a lot of time worrying about .1 degree statistical errors is silly when you have a 5-10 degree signal in the Arctic, but that is just my opinion.

  111. Bob KC
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    Re. #106

    OT

    Hey fellow lurker, Bill. How’re things over at Eclipse these days?

  112. Walt
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    Random Lurker here.
    You’re on the money. I read your stuff most of the time, and will occasionally read some of the “offtopic” material. I don’t have the best solution for the blog, sorry.

    The only thing I would like is to occasionally read a “Okay, now what?” kind of interpretation of some of these proxy discussions. It probably can’t come from you, Steve, because what I’m looking for is a bigger picture explanation of some of the points made here. Bigger picture explanations would most likely involve assumptions that you’re not willing to endorse (as there’s no final proof) but for those just peeking at the fringes here it might help. As evidence is collected on the MWP, I’m told by others how little the MWP is “overrated” as far as the AGW debate is concerned. I suspect if you felt this way, the site wouldn’t exist. An occasional reminder as to _why_ you’re here might help refocus those fractured commenters.

  113. Sandon Flowers
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Another random lurker here. This is the first time I have felt the need to comment, and it is precisely because I come here to read you, and the issues that you are address. The commentary of others is an added bonus, but the off topic prattling is just so much chaff. Oh, so much chaff.

    As Steve Mosher says, “It’s your house.” I will support whatever decision you make, including amputation, if you think it’s needed. Let them start their own thermodynamic co2 radiation convection ad nauseum blog. I might even read it. But I will still come here to read you, and the issues you address.

    Clearly, the debate is not over. In fact, not all of the evidence is in. And some of it seems to have been misplaced, or, at least, misrepresented. Thank you for all of your efforts so far.

  114. kim
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    ER, if you understood why the 0.1 degree error is important, you’d understand why the 5-10 degree signal fools you.
    ======================

  115. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I think the main problem the blog has now is… it’s too popular, and as a consequence, there are far too many comments. I have been a regular reader for two years, but these days I find it hard to find anything of significant interest in the comments.

    Another problem is that doing science is difficult. Doing statistics is relatively easy, not so much in technical terms, but because a good knowledge of the field, access to the data, and some computer programming is all you need to do some really good work. That’s how you could succeed in making some thorough, detailed, and valid criticisms of the reconstruction papers. But other areas of climate science require a lot more work, and often some very specific knowledge about physics. I have a Ph.D. in physics, but would never claim any expertise in most areas of climate science. That’s why I never make very technical comments. Having practiced science, however, allows me to comment on methodology. For example, I couldn’t find specific flaws in GCM’s, but it’s easy to find flaws in the way GCM’s are used to come to some conclusions. I’ve sat on grant committees where you have hundreds of applications to read, many of them outside your own field of expertise, so you have to develop a critical eye.

    Having said that, I find that it’s almost impossible to have a good scientific discussion here outside the field of proxy reconstruction. Many posters seem to believe that they can come up with their own pet theory that disproves the whole of climate science in a couple of lines. Good for them! But I do respect the work of climate scientists, even though I have no respect for the attitude of some of them. You have been kind enough to bring some of my comments to the attention of the readers (principally about interesting papers I had found), but the discussions that ensued were unfortunately not very enlightening, and quickly drifted into totally different areas (e.g. the Scafetta and West thread). Furthermore, I do not have the time or the energy to go into the details of the papers like you do.

    There is no solution to your problem. Doing science on a blog simply has its limitations. I suppose you’ll have to live with them. You could certainly ask some of the more frequent posters to refrain themselves, and put an end to some of the endless discussions. Anyway, what you’ve accomplished so far is remarkable, so I’m sure you’ll find a way.

  116. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    Walt, here is the big picture.

    1. Why Does IPCC AR4 chapter 6 exist, if the proxies are not important to the whole AGW argument? Ch6 exists because the proxies are the only hope to prove that current warming is “unprecedented” since the MWP or the mid-Holocene thermal optimum, or earlier. And the reality is that the team is being forced to admit daily that the uncertainty on these proxiese is larger and larger than they ever were willing to say. They have been in total denial about the true uncertianty on these issues since day 1, and have been using this to advance their agenda.

    2. This is troubling because this very same attitude is exhibited in their exposition of the GCMs and EBMs – which are the fundamental casual link between GHGs and warming. If their claims about CWP vs MWP were exaggerated (and they were), then what’s to say their claims about the precision and accuracy of the GCMs is not over-rated? Every month there’s a new revelation that the models are slightly less precise than advertised.

    3. Same problems with the land-surface temperature record. UHI is neglected (i.e. treated in an unsatisfactory, superficial way); the surface trend is overestimated. Mind you it’s not enough to rule out AGW. Glaciers are melting in non-urban areas, so UHI does not explain everything. Is it CO2? Soot? Point is: everywhere you look (1-3), there’s a warm bias.

    4. So, on those three points – proxies, GCMs, surface instrumental record – there are strong biases overestimating current warmth. So what, then is the TRUE sensitivity of temperature to CO2? And how CERTAIN are we that that estimate is close to reality? Does a CO2 doubling get you 3±1C or 1±3C? That you can not get these guys to report a standard error on these estimates should be very troubling to policy makers, who are being asked to act on a “precautionary principle” without any idea how wrong the “consensus” might be.

    The small picture regarding (1) is that no one has yet produced a satisfactory estimate of the uncertainty on the proxies. The divergence problem is serious and the young dendros (Wilson, Wilmking et al.) have just started working on the problem. It will be a while yet before they figure out if this is sign of a “new forcing” (Briffa hypothesis) or, what’s more likely, proxy model failure. The latter would make the error bars on the MWP explode, making it unlikely we will ever be able to say (based on tree-rings) if 1998-2005 temperatures surpassed the MWP. Other proxies would then receive increased attention.

  117. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    RE 117. CS Peirce. Abduction.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Peirce

    “A surprising fact, C, is observed.
    But if a proposition, A, were true, C would be a matter of course.
    Hence, there is a reason to suspect that A is true.”

    If the MWP were true, C is not suprising. If AGW were true, C is not surprising.

    The reason for getting rid of the MWP.

  118. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    118, I think they bit off a little more than they could chew when they had the chutzpah to try to disappear the MWP. People will accept refining of science a lot more readily that revising of history.

  119. Jonathan Schafer
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Thought of another option, but again, I don’t know if WordPress has this feature. If not, you might want to consider whether another blog software may become a better fit.

    I have seen software which allows individuals to “ignore” posts by specified users. For example, if I wanted to ignore posts from “Jimbo” (ficticious user), I could click a link and I would no longer see “Jimbo’s” posts. This would allow others who see “Jimbo’s” posts and respond if they wished, while others could ignore them completely.

    Now, that doesn’t help your “Brand” per se, but it does make it more manageable for those who want to skip over the posts of certain users. I believe http://www.wunderground.com uses software like this. Not sure if it’s commercial, open source, or in house developed.

  120. Physicist
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

    I skip over the thermo discussions, for the reason Steve stated, namely(my paraphrasing), that if one wants to have a serious discussion one must look at a published paper and find some equation(s) that are incorrect, or a numerical scheme where some non-conservation of entropy makes a difference in the final answer. Handwaving without reference to equations when these equations are well-known and studied is just not worth my time to read and impossible to argue with. The result is that the unthreaded topics become painful to follow, and interesting things are likely to be missed. I think these discussions can most profitably be engaged in elsewhere.

    As a slight aside, for readers with the background and interest, there is a simple discussion of the underlying physics related to entropy, atmosphere and CO2 see the online graduate level course by given in 2006 (Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences 12-301) by Kerry Emanuel and others at MIT. There are useful pdf files for free download

    http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Earth–Atmospheric–and-Planetary-Sciences/12-301Fall-2006/LectureNotes/index.htm

    The parts most related to thermo are section 6. I would be shocked to find fundamental errors in any of the equations therein.

  121. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    Re blog software: we are locked into WordPress as far as I’m concerned. I appreciate various bright ideas but as I mentioned before, unless they come with a recipe, there’s not much that I can do about it without having to spend time that I don’t have on blogging software. With all the computer experts, surely someone can describe how to carry out an implementation in WordPRess as well as suggesting the bright idea.

  122. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    RE 121.. There are a few things in the plug in bin that might be checked out.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sezwho/

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-thread-comment/

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/hide-or-show-comments/

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/text-filter-suite/

    ARRR mates talk like a pirate.

  123. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    IMO the solution of relegating OT discussions to Unthreaded works fine. I just ignore them too.

  124. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    I have lots of server space for test setups. I’m happy to provide whatever technical help I can.

  125. Bob Koss
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    Here’s a chart of unthreaded #27 showing the number of comments for each thread participant ordered by the number of comments made.

    I also checked #25 and #26 and the distribution pattern is about the same. The top 10% of the participants in each thread contributed more than 50% of the comments. The pace of unthreaded comments has doubled to 120 per day since the end of #25.
    Total participants in #25 was 131 for 804 comments. In #26 it was 104 for 756 comments. Interestingly, four out of the top six commenters in all three threads are the same. With another three in the top 10% of each thread.

  126. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    126, it would be interesting to see how close that comes to the 80/20 rule.

  127. Rick Ballard
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Larry,

    Visual rough count gets to 72.3% for the top 28 commenters.

    Steve Mc,

    Best use of time suggests that the problem be delegated and proposed solutions reviewed, tried and applied or discarded expeditiously. Quick trials of solutions won’t hurt the brand – Coke didn’t lose much with the New Coke trials. Just don’t leave an Edsel on the market long enough to do damage.

  128. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    RE 127.. If the other threads go stale or are less active then the drive to socialize
    will tend to herd people into unthreaded.. and when two or three thermos hit the same thread
    you have a thermofest.. it gets worst because then other folks come in to make snarky comments
    ( not me, larry)

  129. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    Of all the suggestions, I think #60 by David Prince is the best. The “hide button” is the simplest and possibly most effective solution. It would give certain posts second-class status and preserve the integrity of the discussions.

    The second best suggestion is Jonathon Schafer’s in #120. The NYTimes used to have this “ignore” function on its political forums. It was particularly useful in discussions such as those dealing with Arab-Israeli relations where comments could get really nasty. It was also useful for blocking the general run of foul-mouthed nitwits.

    The “hide button” is the best option, since it wouldn’t change Steve’s oversight duties much. And it would restore the efficacy of the numbering system. I wonder if David Prince ever got back to Steve Mc on that.

  130. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    looks like an inverse of Zipfs law

  131. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    Actually it’s not an inverse of Zipfs. It is Zipfs. Consider each commemter as a word.

    Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipf's_law

  132. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    How does thermofest happen? Recall the paper cited last week: “Unskilled and Unaware of It”. (Who read it?) The distribution shown in #126 is exactly what you would expect when wrong-headed trolls refuse to recognize, admit, and correct their errors. I bet you will find similar distributions in past threads wherever folks like Bloom and Lee used to comment.

  133. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    Also note that the number of participants approached the dunbar number.

  134. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:22 PM | Permalink

    re 133. Also, there was the fun we all had trying to get to the number 1000…

  135. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    Disagree strongly with ‘hiding commenters’ option #130. (1) I want to see what the junk comments are saying. (2) Not everything that person X says is wrong or uninteresting. Some of the repeat offenders are quite likeable. Solution: make the space available for junktalk, just don’t let it appear on the sidebar.

    It’s the first-time vistors, guests, and passers-by that I’m concerned about, not me. The problem is they judge the whole blog and the community who posts here by what’s in unthreaded. It’s always at the top of the heap, so it makes the blog look more raunchy than it really is.

    IMO the question now is not what to do, but what will we call this “junk heap”? And where do we place it? I like “The Skeptic Tank”. And I would hide it bottom right under the google ads in “Meta” underneath “wordpress.org”.

  136. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    #135 Yes, and when the cat’s away (at AGU) the trolls will play …

  137. Bob Koss
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    29 people is 20%. The top 29 amounted to 814/1083 = 75% of the comments. Number 29 had 10 comments. 57 people made one comment and 23 made two.

  138. Reid
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

    Climate Audit has become more scientific and less of a cheerleader chatterblog over time. That’s what Steve M. tried to do and it has been accomplished. I definitely correlate a rise in Climate Audit comment quality with a reduction in the number of my comments.

    Thanks Steve from a habitual lurker.

  139. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

    What strikes me right now is this. Some folks spend a lot of time and bandwith making funnies and talking about the “thermo guys” when they could have enlightened a few “thermo guys” or pointed out mistakes or helped the “thermo guys” understand “more better” with “math” and “smart” ideas to ponder (apparently you “non thermo” people know something about this subject?) or a good link to read or something with that same time and bandwith instead. Or just skip it! You don’t need buttons to ignore or to be tolerant of people.

    Correction: My father in law called thermo debates “the Mystery Hour” not the Mystery debate. Still fits. LOL

    One thing I like about SteveMc is that he is really a kind man. He answered my email before I ever posted here when I had things to say and questions to ask, and was subjected to Gavin on RC and wanted to comment on a blog about this whole issue.

    thanks SteveM

    I must say this topic is really interesting to read- -Anthropology of the Internet 101
    Love the graphs
    I love the graphs!

  140. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    Mosh is not just funny. He cuts. He wastes *zero* bandwidth, he is so sharp.

  141. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    #141 I agree. AND, I don’t mind anybody’s imput, as much as I don’t mind anybody else’s input. Mind is the master power. There really isn’t a problem unless somebody decides there is. Much like this darn AGW theory I must say. But on this blog, its Steve’s imput that matters most of all. I keep that in perspective all on my own.

  142. bender
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    There’s a problem.

  143. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    I like the Skeptic Tank Idea, hidden on the right somewheres. Or maybe a Pub, or the lounge
    or the sweat lodge.. na.. skeptic tank is good.

  144. Larry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    Is the skeptic tank a place where people go voluntarily to throw darts at a picture of Gore, or is it a purgatory where bad CO2 thermos go to vent their crackpottery?

  145. Terry
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

    Do we really need 145 comments on this?

    Oops. I just made it 146.

  146. Marcel van Wijk
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    Long-time lurker (Netherlands) here.. finally I have found the urge to post a comment, since Steve appealed to the lurkers :). Although I find the “Unthreaded” threads always a pleasure to read, precisely because it covers subjects *not* discussed by Steve, I do believe that a blog owner is entitled to the right to control the topic(s) of discussion. So I will readily accept any measures taken by Steve to that end, even if that means I’ll have to look for other places to find discussion about issues like policy or thermodynamics, to name two popular topics. I would keep reading Climate Audit all the same. Steve’s doing a great job, and I’ll keep supporting him by contributing to the number of pageviews. :)

  147. SteveSadlov
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

    I’ll be a bit blunt. There are certain taboo topics that I keep picking at. Some of these include – deep CO2 history (and, what are the “spec limits” for atmospheric CO2 to prevent problems) vis a vis what happened during the Permian, jae’s interesting observations regarding arid and humid places in the subtropical band, questions about how the Hadley Cells really behave (especially the role of Horse Latitudes Highs and how they really behave), and, interactions between the Earth and the rest of the Universe beyond simple incident photonic spectra of solar origin. I am sure many consider me a crack pot, oh well. I leave those of you who think that with an image I saw in a Munro Associates slide deck – it showed two US 10 cent coins enclosed in a red circle with a red slash through them. Well, I’ll be taking a bit of a vacation from CA for a while so all the uptight and rigid folks who resent my posts will be rid of me for the next several weeks. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  148. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

    re 148.. I liked jae’s observation, I just have trouble wiring it into an argument

  149. Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Don’t restrict it to “experts”, they may have knowledge but don’t always use it wisely. Don’t restrict the “lurkers” they use little bandwith really.
    Best way is to restrict by “subject”. If off topic a warning then a fine to the tip jar. Unthreaded needs some editing by senior bloggers who can just give advice and ask nicely without the power to restrict, self policing. A “mosh” would be enough to pull most people into line.

    Merry christmas and a good new year to all from New Zealand.

  150. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    re 150.. Hi to our NZ friends! merry christmas.

  151. Robert Pangilinan
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    I like the moderation style and the threading of posts in Slashdot.
    I also like the moderation into insightful, informative, etc.

    Merry Christmas!

  152. Pat Keating
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

    126
    I think it’s time to do the Koss chart for this thread….

  153. Dan White
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

    Steven Mosher – is that the same geologist I saw on the National Geographic channel last week doing some kind of wizardry to some old rocks?

  154. Andrey Levin
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:02 PM | Permalink

    Whatever Steve will decide will be fine.
    I would suggest to make an experiment, the easiest to make and fully reversible. I suspect the results will be surprising to pessimists.

    One more thing not suggested yet. Multiple repetition on different threads is much bigger sin than off-topic post or two.

    Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all!

  155. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Dec 22, 2007 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

    Well, I’m one of the long-time posters here so I suppose I should weigh in. There are a lot of quite good suggestions here, IMO, and they should give Steve some food for thought. Personally I tend to side with the give the kids a sandbox school of thought. Now up until a couple months ago I was in the read-every-comment school, but lately both time and post volume considerations have made that impossible. So I only occasionally read all the unthreaded posts. Actually they’re usually quite civilized compared to the general run of unmonitored blog post, so anyone who actually is experienced in the internet ethnos should be favorably impressed that worst posts on CA are as good as the best on most blogs.

    But like most regulars here it’s Steve’s head posts which are the main draw and the responses from a handful or two of high quality regulars make the important threads quite a treat.

  156. mccall
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 12:46 AM | Permalink

    You should have quit after you posted,
    “I think it is safe to say that fundamental thermodynamics is pretty well established by now and that part time bloggers are not going to find cracks in that field of science.”

    Unfortunately, you failed to take your own advise when you posted,
    “It is my personal opinion that spending a lot of time worrying about .1 degree statistical errors is silly when you have a 5-10 degree signal in the Arctic”

    Please note that with those two temperature references in that one sentence, you gave a typical example of an COMPLETE misunderstanding of “fundamental thermodynamics” common to catastrophic AGW alarmism.

  157. mccall
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 1:02 AM | Permalink

    Oops — strike 157! I just became part of the problem!

  158. Robert Wood
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I am one of those lurkers. I understand your position. You are correct. But these other issues need to be discussed in a public forum. Maybe a separate site?

    Oh, yes, and while we’re at it, how about the magnetic relationship with the Sun? Apparently it dumps the equivelant of a volcano every two hours into the earth, when activity blasts us.

    So, a separate site is required for all these things. How about it folks?

  159. Robert Wood
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:24 AM | Permalink

    OK I’ve now read a few other comments (not all 160 of them). Here’s my take.

    [soap box on]
    Why this site is so important is that it is a public forum for discussion of scientific issues concerning “global warming”. This site concentrates on certain areas, and not others. Steve is doing the right thing here as he recognizes cannot moderate in areas he has no expertize.

    It is essential that scientific debate be allowed to continue, not shut down by government scientists who produce the results required by theirbureaucratic political pay-masters. The great scientists of the 19th century were not government employees.

    Let she who casts the first stone set up another site.
    [/soap box on]

  160. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:51 AM | Permalink

    Re #90 scp

    Pity about saying goodbye to the family.

  161. Peter Thompson
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:40 AM | Permalink

    Steve Mc,

    From a fellow Canuck, freezing in eastern Canuckistan, thank you for this blog. The links, the separation of subjects, etc. are excellent. The cold, hard math brought me here, and has kept me here. The unthreaded quickly became pornography, fun for a few minutes but ultimately empty. It is your blog, do whatever you must to maintain the primacy of the audit function.

    I have no IT solutions to offer any better than those you have already received. From a reader’s perspective, keep the analysis of academic work focused, harsh when required, and laud that which is laudable.

  162. Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 6:35 AM | Permalink

    A lot of craziness on thermo (and other topics) could be eliminated by giving explanations. Simple clear explanations.

    Instead of saying “you don’t understand this” and “you lack education in that” why not give a clear simple explanation? It would clarify your thoughts and educate the ignorant or mistaken. Yes. It takes more effort than “you don’t understand…”, however isn’t it a more objective/scientific way to make your point?

    Sadly I have been adding to the thermo madness this morning. However, I am hoping my expositions were simple and clear enough to correct errors and eliminate further discussion of the topics covered.

    If it was done that way Steve M would have much less to do.

    So my advice would be – if you can’t give a clear simple explanation there is no need to prove your “superiority” with what has become so typical on that thread. One good explanation is worth 40 comments of poo slinging. That would reduce the thread by 95% (assuming questions and new topics account for some of the thread).

    Too much alpha male chest pounding. No enough science. The “I know something you don’t” method of discourse should be left where it belongs. In kindergarten. Teach. If you can’t teach – keep silent.

  163. kim
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    I like ‘The Volunteer Arms’ as a name for the free-for-all thread.
    =======================================

  164. max
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    As a lurker , I agree with 164, when it gets like that, its like reading RC, all puffy chested and full of P&V..
    Kind of funny a thread about OT and Thermo gets loaded with statistical analysis about OT and thermo,for the most part its right on track then.:)..

  165. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    M. Simon, if we were to “keep silent”, how would we advertise the need for a teacher? You’re more than welcome to take the lead on Thermo 101.

  166. Larry
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    Instead of saying “you don’t understand this” and “you lack education in that” why not give a clear simple explanation?

    Because sometimes the answer involves more than a paragraph or two. If people refuse to accept the basics, you can’t explain the correct answer without including several years of college courses in the answer.

    Explain in two sentences or less where the universe came from, and why it couldn’t have been created by the flying spaghetti monster:

    http://www.venganza.org/

  167. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    #168 I’m glad Larry took the time to say this (and this). I’ve said it once already. You don’t need to be a master chef to smell when something’s badly wrong with a recipe.

    I refuse to comment on posts like this. So, go ahead, M. Simon. This is your chance. Let’s watch you correct the incorrigible.

  168. Larry
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    169, for the record, I’ll try to answer what I think the question is in that last link. Let’s see where that leads:

    In a nutshell, the reason why the greenhouse effect doesn’t cause localized heating of humid areas, is that the heat is teleported both vertically and horizontally. If there’s a lot of heat in an area with lots of liquid water, you get a lot of vaporization. That does two things; it cools the immediate area, and it allows the vapor molecules to convect both up and away. Once they are somewhere else, they can cause greenhouse heating of the upper atmosphere. They also will eventually condense, releasing a lot of heat in the process. They then rain back down to earth, where they rejoin the rest of their fellow molecules.

    In other words, the absorption of heat causing evaporation is a localized phenomenon, the rest of the cycle is teleconnected to somewhere else. Is that so difficult?

  169. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    I am struggling with the “convective-radiative” explanation for the greenhouse effect

    It’s just too crazy and complicated

    There’s nothing here to latch onto. Nothing to correct. It’s just obstinance, laziness, and – because it goes on and on like this – denial. (Or perhaps just unhealthy skepticism.)

    So what time does “Remedial Thermo for the Incorrigible” start?

  170. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    jae, I personally think that examining convective-radiative models is an excellent thing to do. IF I could clone myself, it’s something that I would spend time at. It’s intriguing that the Wiener-Hopf equations have a connetion to this problem. It is, as you say, “complicated”, but they are not crazy because they are complicated.

    So when you say something like:

    “It’s just too crazy and complicated”

    that’s just the sort of statement that I’m trying to get rid of on this board. For some reason, the thermo stuff seems to generate far more comments of this nature than the proxy stuff.

    I attach much of the blame to the failure of IPCC to provide a clear and comprehensive exposition of the thermo issues as they apply to AGW.

    I think that you’re worrying about sensible problems, but you can raise your game by familiarizing yourself with whatever literature is relevant.

  171. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    ‘crazy & complicated’ was rocks

  172. Robert Dennis
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    I’d like to offer a different view.

    I think CA’s “branding” is more related to the quality of Steve McIntyre’s posts than to the quality of the comments. The fact is, many people consider this a “skeptic” website. Even JEG has a post somewhere referring to Steve as a “global warming skeptic.” That’s what I thought when I first ventured here.

    When I started reading the blog, I was baffled. This was certainly no conventional “skeptic” website. It wasn’t until I read Ross McKitrick’s paper, “What the Hockey Stick Debate is All About” that I began to get it. And as I read more and more, I began to get it more and more.

    My point is, people who really read the blog will understand that the author attracts a readership that doesn’t always stay “on the reservation.” This will not detract from their respect for the blog, especially because many comments are from really smart people who contribute immensely to CA’s quality. By contrast, there are others who will dismiss this blog regardless of how the comments are moderated.

    So, save yourself the management headaches and let the thermo guys have their out-of-bounds fun. I doubt it really harms the blog’s reputation much, if at all. At most, CA needs a disclaimer somewhere near the top emphasizing what Steve McIntyre mostly does and that he is not responsible for the views of those who comment.

    Just the thoughts of a (very very) lay Climate Audit reader.

  173. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    I think we need a thread modelled after this.

  174. max
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Instead of saying “you don’t understand this” and “you lack education in that” why not give a clear simple explanation?

    Because for the most part, those types of responses are used by adversarial posters who don’t know the answer either..Its easy to proclaim someone as ignorant rather than admit you don’t have an answer. That type of response rears its head in every internet discussion(read argument).

  175. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    #175 True in general. Not so in this case. When Judith Curry states that CA thermo is mostly in “la-la land” it’s because she doesn’t have time to staighten all the dents out of what is basically a train wreck. It’s NOT because she doesn’t have an answer.

    Steve: bender, I think that much blame attaches to IPCC for not providing a clear exposition of these important issues so that interested parties don’t have to forage around for explanations.

  176. Larry
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    174, don’t tempt me…

  177. max
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    I think we need a thread modeled after this.

    Which might stop this:

  178. chuck c
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    A blog isn’t really the right vehicle for a free-for-all discussion of issues the primary blog author isn’t that interested in himself. A message board (as John A. suggested somewhere above) would be a nearly perfect vehicle. An ideal solution would be a climate message board with long-running threads for the radiation, second law, etc. type of stuff that is closely linked to content of the blog itself in other threads. The message board could be moderated only for tone (no trolling, no ad hominems, but any theory goes (and is subject to critical analysis)). I moderate a message board myself (not related to climate) and would be willing to help out if needed.

    I want to say, though, that I enjoy almost everything in the unthreaded section where I often lurk. Some of the (clearly off-topic) links to articles are eye-opening. I hope much of that could continue somewhere. I’d especially miss Steve Sadlov’s comments on “weather, not climate”, and lots of the discussion of ocean circulation and itss role in global temperature. Solar forcing is also very interesting. Don’t know if Steve sees those as OT, but I’d guess he does.

  179. Phil.
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #163

    A lot of craziness on thermo (and other topics) could be eliminated by giving explanations. Simple clear explanations.

    Sometimes the explanations aren’t that simple, a lot of the craziness could be eliminated by reading some books on the subjects e.g. Curry or Wayne, in such matters a good diagram is worth a 1000 words but that’s not so easy to do on a blog.

    Steve: The img button on posts allows you to post diagrams.

  180. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I understand your desire to keep the level of discussion high in order to preserve the brand. No one expects you to be an expert on every area. I, for one, would like to see as many topics discussed here as possible. You sometimes allow others to post a thread, Anthony Watts and Gerald Browning. They have done an excellent job. Why not deputize a few others to moderate threads outside your areas of expertise?

    I am certain there are a number of qualified people who come here regularly who would be honored to take on the role. I would nominate bender, Judith Curry, Pat Frank, UC and Willis E. Perhaps there are others who would like to nominate themselves.

    My idea is that people can go to Unthreaded and propose a thread on a particular paper, whether it is recent or a few years old. If we can get one of the deputies to agree to moderate a thread on the paper, then it is a go. What do you think?

  181. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    If you wanted to broaden your readership even more, you might deputize a few qualified people who do not regularly post here. I’m thinking of Petr Chylek, Stephen Schwartz and Roy Spencer. They have all published very interesting papers this year.

  182. Keith Herbert
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    My lurker two cents worth. People come here to read what you have to say. That is the bottom line. For that reason, commenters with interesting content participate: bender, Judith and all (and of course Mosher’s jokes and links). If you recall, when you posted Loehle’s paper many commenters said wait and see what Steve says as you were away. Readers want your take on what they read here.
    So if you are not going to moderate the thermos, it probably shouldn’t be here at all. Unless you can find someone of equal attraction to take it over. For instance Anthony can moderate the temperature record stuff as he has a good following, but he also has his own site. That is what should probably happen with the thermo stuff, help someone get established as with Anthony and let them take it over. Then you can post on the stuff that is relevant to you from their site.
    I understand it is not your responsibility to find a home for the thermos, but if you don’t, they will probably continue to sleep on your couch.

  183. Susann
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    Not that I had planned on moderating a forum in my spare time or that I think I am the one to do this, but if people are interested in a free-for all discussion board, I created a forum at ezboard called Climate Inquiry . If people are open to it, it could be a climate change discussion free-for-all where nothing but flaming and libel will be deleted, so I don’t see it as requiring a lot of time. Nothing will ultimately be off topic on the appropriate thread, of course. I’d ask for volunteers to modertate threads of their interest and expertise. Right now, the board is free (trial membership) but if there is any real interest, I’ll spring for a few months for the heck of it. If there is no interest, I’ll let the forum lapse. Depending on what Steve McIntyre ultimately decides about this blog, it might deflect some of the debate over issues that do not interest Steve and be a place where people who read CA might divert to discuss off-topic issues. You have to register to post but you can read without registering. Again, I have no interest in stealing anyone’s thunder but if Steve wants CA to focus on audit issues that interest him, and keep his brand pure, the bulletin board might be a place where people who want to discuss policy or thermo or non-standard climate science papers and theories could go. Just a thought. It took 15 minutes to set up, needs tinkering as to topics etc. but it’s there if there is any interest.

  184. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    RE 183 Some apt observations. If you look at the discussions led by the level headed ( steveMc, Dr. B,
    ryan, david smith, leif, UC ) you’ll see that things progress and there’s not much horse play ( well some
    regression from regressions is regularly required) If a thread goes untended, weeds happen. Entropy. spitball fights.
    (weak substitute teachers won’t cut it. Not with that trouble maker larry around.) Personally, I’d like
    Dr. Curry to step up and host an intro thermo thread.

    I know some guys here see her as being on the “other side”. STUFFIT. Buy her book, work through it a chapter
    a week. Convince her to come and answer questions–on occasion. Don’t vex her. That’s my job.

  185. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    Mosh,

    I think you could moderate as well. I’m sorry I left you off the list.

    You are able to vex and make it fun. Others can vex her as long as they are dealing with the science.

    My main point is that I don’t think Steve M. should be looking for just one person. Steve M is an incredibly hard worker who puts out a ton of stuff but the demand for quality evaluations of these papers is high. He needs a posse of deputies. Of course, the quality of the writing will go down… that is to be expected. But the more threads, the faster we can all learn.

  186. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

    RE 184. no flaming and no libel?????.. can we singe and insinuate?

  187. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    re: 172 yes that was me, in Unthreaded. And I posted a link with a huge list of papers. Many of the titles on that list had everything to do with what we were talking about and why I said what I said. It was not an off the cuff generalization IF you read through the titles. And sorry,crazy didn’t mean “insane” it means ‘all over the place” like a crazy quilt: thermo,models,UHI studies,Surface Records, even “What does Min and Max temperature mean in climotology” those subjects are in those titles on that list and you should look. (and that’s just one month of one journal-so it is complicated) Regular folks don’t know exactly because of the IPCC and Al Gore.

  188. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    And for the record my exact words were: “it’s just too crazy complicated” NOT “too crazy and complicated”

  189. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    RE 186.. stop right there. I did my dooty at the front of the classroom. long ago and far
    away.

  190. UK John
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    We should leave it to Steve and his cohorts, he does the audit, he does the practical science. He keeps a level head, in spite of the idiots he has to deal with.

    We should all go off and annoy RC or any of the other so called scientists, environmentalists, and politicians, they deserve annoying!

    These people only want power, to tell us what to do, and they are getting away with it! The world has gone completely mad, but it always was! no change!

  191. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

    re:188 Sorry “and that’s just one month of one journal” should be “one year of one journal”

    191 UK John, Boy I am with you!

  192. Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    Go take a look at how British Columbia’s own slightly pink The Tyee sets it up.

    Two tabs: best comments, All comments

    I’ve got friends over there and if you are interested I can find out how they do it. Basically the readers get to vote.

  193. Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    bender,

    I’m no Master of Thermo – although I was considered a thermo whiz at Nuke Power School. I do get the basics and I can explain them clearly. I have no problem with questions or even misunderstandings. What I object to is responses of the “you don’t understand…” nature. What I would like to see is more of “It works this way… and here is why” in simple English. I think it can be done if you put yourself in the mind of the questioner or the person with the misunderstanding and figure out where they went wrong.

    My simplest answer to the “Tornado in a junk yard” folks re: the 2nd law is “Tornado in a magnet factory”.

    I think such analogies if well thought out can go a long way towards explaining the basic concepts.

    Or take radiation balance – the 200 K object does radiate. The 300 K object does radiate. It is the net flow of that radiation that matters. And if the 200K object goes to 210K it will change the net flow. I could even do the math on that one – assuming flat infinite parallel plates – not exact for spherical shells but it covers the concept. Simple stuff.

  194. Susann
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    #187 — singeing is good. A good singe now and then keeps one modest. :) Actually, it would be best for Steve M to set up such a messageboard and let others moderate — it’s his “brand” that draws people. I just set that one up to show how easy it is to do. It literally takes a couple dozen minutes. If Steve were to create a messageboard for free-for-all climate discussion, people who clutter up CA (like me :) ) who want to discuss OT or who can’t offer much in the way of insight into the stats or science might wander over to it and leave this blog to the serious audit business. He could let others moderate it, and keep an arm’s length relationship to it.

  195. Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

    bender #168,

    That is not too hard.

    In the lower atmosphere the “heat pipe” predominates, at the edge of the atmosphere radiation dominates. The heat pipe carries the energy to the area where radiation dominates. Then throw in a bit about adiabatic temperature change in the heat pipe due to the fact that pressure decreases with altitude. Another sentence about clouds forming due to adiabatic cooling.

    I’ll let the math whizzes put numbers to all that. Which is where the real disputes begin.

    I did see a nice bit on a thread here about a 1 deg C rise (caused by a 4 w/m sq forcing) would increase water vapor in the atmosphere by 10%. That 10% increase would require 7 w/m sq energy input for evaporation . Thus on evaporation rqmts alone water vapor feedback would be negative even assuming that CO2 + water vapor combined to give a 4 w/m sq forcing from radiation. I wish I had thought of that. Simple direct. Easy to understand. Easy to compute. No partial differentials required. A minimally qualified layman could get it. Brilliant.

    Getting the details right is hard (measurements required). But we should be able to get 80% explanations from observation (1 deg C rise causes a 10% increase in water vapor – evaporation costs xxx joules/kg) and algebra.

    Let me keep going back to this: there are people with all levels of understanding visiting this place ever since the 1998 thing came out. They need to be satisfied just as much as those with deeper understanding. It will unclog the comments. If that is what Steve wants (making the science accessible to other than experts). Make the science accessible to the layman and the expert. The thirst is there. Can we provide the cool drink of water? I think we can if we try. I still think that it might be a good idea to separate the laymen from the experts in some way.

    Dual posts on some topics?

    Let me add that given the accuracy of the numbers we have to work with, 80% explanations should be adequate to know if we are even in the right ball park with the more complicated explanations.

    Once you abdicate the 80% explanation Al Gore owns Congress.

  196. Larry
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    Simon – please explain the heat pipe to jae. Then maybe he’ll stop going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about why the desert is hotter than the tropics.

  197. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    re: 196

    M. Simon, I like your thoughts here. Part of Steve M’s brand is that he discusses particular journal articles. If we had particular article to read and discuss, it would fit nicely here on a thread with a good moderator.

    If this is too basic for a journal article, perhaps a chapter from a textbook.

    I still think Steve needs to deputize a small posse to take on moderating threads on papers that he does not have time for.

    M. Simon, if you are volunteering for such a role. I suggest you email your resume to Steve and let him know what areas you feel competent to moderate. Perhaps he will take you up on it.

  198. Wansbeck
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

    Dear Mr. McIntyre,

    THE most important thing is that YOU enjoy running this site else no site.
    As for ‘brand’ one of the most important attractions of this site is your ability to stick to facts and leave opinions to others. The sad fact is that even though you have remained completely objective there are still many who claim that you have taken sides. I am concerned that attempts to control may be construed as censorship by your deriders. It would be much better if a separate area could be found for these discussions. I would not like to see your posters dispersed across the virtual ether as there are people here whose views I have learned to trust over the past few years which is a very difficult thing for the lay person in climate science.
    However, it seems that action is inevitable; just look at the number of Thermo posts on this thread. (Thermo is important stuff but it must be kept in its place, perhaps initial Thermo discussions/disagreements could take place elsewhere and then conclusions/agreements brought back here).

    Alternatively is asking for a bit of self discipline out of the question? It should be obvious to some posters that they are causing you stress.

  199. jae
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

    Larry: I already agreed to terminate the discussion three hours before your stupid rant.

  200. trevor
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    Re #197: Hey Larry, errata alert – you got two “and”s in a row there!

  201. Jeff A
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    I haven’t read through all these, so if someone else suggested this, please forgive.

    You might consider adding a forum where people can start their own threads, and assign a few trustworthy folks to moderate it (to keep out the trolls and spam). That way you don’t end up with morasses like The Unthreadeds which don’t have any clear direction.

  202. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    #198 – the issue isn’t just the time involved in moderating the threads. It’s really a little different.

    In the proxy discussions, the blog is cutting edge simply because I know the material very well, have spent a lot of time learning the nuances of the proxies and over the past while, the audience has become pretty knowledgeable as well. So when a new proxy paper comes out, we can put it into perspective at warp speed. From the most recent AGU, I know that a number of very senior people in paleoclimate are regular readers (and very complimentary). I’m not trying to write introductory material and, for new readers, it’s like coming into the middle of a discussion – and there are disadvantages to this, but also advantages.

    By contrast, the thermo discussions, however well-intentioned, are hardly cutting edge. There are never any references to the literature. Whenever these discussions become dominant, as they sometimes do, it changes the face of the blog away from being focused and professional to just another usenet forum.

    The thermo questions and issues are important and there’s obviously a demand for such topics. IT’s the sort of thing that people want to understand. IPCC’s failure to provide such an exposition is reprehensible.

    The thermo topics are within the potential compass of the blog. It’s not that I’m uninterested in the topics; I am. I’ve said that such topics should be dealt within threads, rather than hijacking Unthreaded or other threads. Ideally, the people interested in the topic would submit interesting threads. As it is, I’m dissatisfied with the combination of volume and tone that these topics generate here and with the impact on the face of the blog.

    In #19, Jon asked: why not get to Ramanathan? If I focused on these topics, I think that I could write dozens of interesting posts on these issues. I’ve urged the thermo protagonists to immerse themselves in the literature and discuss it. People have seen how I like posts to look. IF something’s interesting, I’ll post a thread. I’d like it if more people submitted thread-quality material. Beause the thermo demand seems unabated, I’ll probably re-visit Ramanathan and such myself, even though it means putting down other things that I’d like to finish. That’s more in keeping with the approach of the blog than trying to run a Thermo 101 thread, regardless of moderator. If I could clone myself, I would.

  203. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    #202. I guess that, at a minimum, Unthreaded needs to be divided into two: a) suggestions for threads, articles that people noticed, … the original purpose. None of which need be debated. b) a private lair for discussions that may not interest me, but which interest other readers.

  204. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2007 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

    #204 Sounds good to me.
    Thanks to M. Simon for your explanations.
    Thanks to lucia for opening her blog up to thermo.
    Thanks to Susann for opening a new blog where free-for-all singing and insinuation can happen.
    Thanks to all for the great feedback.
    Thanks to jae for precipitating these advances.

    NO THANKS TO IPCC for abrogating their responsiblity to explain where they got their numbers from. This is all their fault, as suggested in #203. (Can we agree on that, rocks?)

    I think this thread is a wrap?

  205. Bob Koss
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 12:21 AM | Permalink

    Being curious as to how the activity has increased since the site was started, I tallied up the comments for posts that were initiated during November of each of the past three years.

    The comments have tripled year over year, and participation increased from roughly 160 to 239 to 686 individuals. I say roughly since there are occasional name alterations and robot comments included, though between them they amount to less than 1%.

  206. Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

    wow that’s unprecedented :-D

  207. welikerocks
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    #205 yep agreed. Read the last paragraph of my #74 because I was already to this point way up there, and always have been. ;)

  208. Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    A quick comment on what I think may be the issue that is concerning Jae re water greenhouse forcing in the tropics (where there is a lot of water vapor) vs the polar regions (where there is a much smaller amount of water vapor). You need to consider the spectral distribution of water vapor and CO2 absorption in the infrared. CO2 has about the same concentrations in both the polar regions and the tropics, but the increasing CO2 (by itself, forget the water vapor feedback for the moment) has a stronger warming effect in the polar regions, since there is less interference especially of the CO2 bands around 16 microns from water vapor. In the tropics, there is much greater overlap of the water vapor bands with the CO2 bands. now when you add water vapor feedback into the mix, the polar amplification of the warming is even more striking relative to the increased warming in the tropics. In the tropics, the water vapor window (around 9-12 microns) is pretty much closed up, owing to water vapor molecules sticking together in dimers (two molecules), this water vapor window is pretty much closed up, and adding more water vapor is going to cause little change to the radiation fluxes. In the polar region, this water vapor window is wide open. Further, there is another window that opens up at very low temps (low water vapor), out beyond 20 microns, the so-called water vapor window. If you add more water vapor, especially the dirty window starts to fill in, so in terms of a change in the radiative flux, it is quite large. It is basically this spectral radiation issue, combined with water vapor feedback, that is amplifying the warming in the Arctic (yes there are other things going on in both poles, so this is obviously not the whole story in what is determining the temperatures in the two polar regions). This dirty window effect also has an important impact in the radiative transfer of the upper troposphere/stratosphere, where water vapor content is also low.

    Re the IPCC, the whole issue of the gaseous radiative forcing was discussed extensively in the first assessment report. So the thing to do is look at the first assessment report as a starting point. Each IPCC assessment focuses mostly the progress since the previous assessment report, so things that are relatively settled get little attention in subsequent reports.

    My intent is not to start a discussion on this topic on this thread, but to help illuminate what may be a way forward on some of these thermo topics. I am happy to put some references out there to read on these topics. But CA definitely needs to lose the “violating the 2nd law” stuff. I have a little bit of extra time over the xmas break, but generally not too much time for this. In terms of others to entrain, Gerry North is excellent when it comes to thermo, he might provide another reading list if asked also. The other person in our field with deep thermo expertise is Kerry Emanuel (zero chance of getting him here). Steve Schwarz certainly knows the radiative transfer, as does Petr Chylek. Ramanathan does too (zero chance of getting here), Chylek would probably be best bet for entraining a radiative transfer person in these discussions. Also, there is a blog “head in the clouds”, i think this is run by a grad student at U. Colorado, it might be possible to entrain him into this.

  209. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 8:44 AM | Permalink

    #171 Steve McIntyre: I attach much of the blame to the failure of IPCC to provide a clear and comprehensive exposition of the thermo issues as they apply to AGW.

    #209 Judith Curry: My intent is not to start a discussion on this topic on this thread, but to help illuminate what may be a way forward on some of these thermo topics. I am happy to put some references out there to read on these topics. But CA definitely needs to lose the “violating the 2nd law” stuff.

    Dr. Curry, forgive me if I am asking a redundant question, one which you have already responded to in other threads, but do you have an opinion or perspective to offer concerning SteveM’s belief that the IPCC report lacks a clear and comphrehensive exposition of the thermodynamic issues?

    Moreover, such an exposition does not appear to be currently extent in the AGW literature–one that is “better” than Ramanathan from the 1970s.

    If this is indeed the case, that no exposition currently exists which meets SteveM’s criteria, how could such an exposition be produced? Who would produce it? Who would peer review this paper, and how would the review process be managed?

  210. steven mosher
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    RE: thanks Dr. Curry. So I take it that Bender and I failed utterly in our unsubtle attempts
    to wrangle you into hosting a thread. Dagnabit, we will have to live with your guest appearences.

    cheers and have a happy festivus:

  211. beng
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    Maybe some simple rules like limiting Unthreaded comments to 2 a day per poster, and no off-topic posts on other the threads.

  212. jae
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    209: Thank you, Dr. Curry. You may have answered my question. Didn’t know about the dirty window.

  213. kim
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    Am I correct, JC, in understanding that water vapor is a more positive feedback at the poles than the tropics, and that this point is entirely separate from cloudiness?
    ===================================

  214. Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    #136 re my 130:

    We don’t disagree, bender. I wasn’t very clear, but I was assuming there would be some way to read the “second class” posts. An interesting possibility is a “read button” by the message (that still retains its number and the poster’s name) that’s been eliminated by the “hide button” to free up page space and keep discussions on topic. After a post is flushed to the Skeptic Tank, such a button would allow readers to retrieve it. Whether there is software that can do this, I don’t know.

    Your idea for a separate header for “junktalk” below “Meta” for posts that are restricted from the sidebar would also work, although I doubt it would get much traffic. But then, that’s the point, isn’t it?

  215. pochas
    Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    #204 Steve McIntyre:

    Perhaps “Thread Nominations” could get its own box above “Recent Comments”.

  216. Posted Dec 24, 2007 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas to all and especially to our gracious host for putting up with us all.

    The Maker Bless You and Keep You,

    Simon

  217. Andrey Levin
    Posted Dec 25, 2007 at 3:42 AM | Permalink

    Steve McI dream (how to deal with rulebreakers):

    ‘Everrry boody to the graaave! God excuse me…’

  218. Jeremy Ayrton
    Posted Dec 27, 2007 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre –
    first, please accept my Season’s greetings to you and yours, and my best wishes for 2008 to you all.

    You say

    It is strongly my opinion that lurkers (who make up the large majority of the readership) do not come here to read the views of these 4-5 commenters on thermodynamics, CO2 radiation and that these topics should be proscribed

    I would like to agree with you, but I suspect that a Newspaper Editor would LOL or even ROFL at the thought that crackpot ideas don’t help circulatiuon figures.

    But why speculate? Simply announce that the four or five offending posters are to be banned for oooh, let’s say a month, and see how many vistis CA gets for that period.

    Publish the results, i.e number of visits before the ban and at the end.

    FWIW, my money would be on a reduction.

    But would that matter?

  219. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    Each comment on the blog has an overall #. One way of being able to move and delete comments without creating hugely onerous administration would be if the overall number was shown in the blog thread on the top right as opposed to a thread list. If anyone knows whether this is possible in WordPress AND how to do it, let me know and I’ll try.

  220. Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Re #220

    Trial

  221. Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Re #221

    OK Steve here’s how it works, click on the number of the post you want to refer to, copy the url that shows up, click on the quicktag called link which will include the url between braces, then give it a name (I chose the apparent number), then close by clicking on the quicktag again (now should be /link).
    Now the number should show as a link to the original post and never change, note once you hit the quicktag nothing you type thereafter will show in ‘preview’.

    Steve: I know that. That wasn’t the question.

  222. Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    Steve, in your comment template add this:

    <?php comment_ID() ?> This will print the actual comment number. (You’ll see where the comment_ID() bit appears in the permalink. Just put this near there.

    This will screw up all the old comment references in previous threads, but I’m not sure that matters any more.

  223. pochas
    Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

    Phil #222:

    You need to include rel = “nofollow” in the tag so that following text will show up in preview. The tag above looks like this with [ substituted for "less that" and ] substituted for “greater than.”

    [a href="http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2524#comment-187963" rel="nofollow"]Phil #222[/a]

  224. Peter D. Tillman
    Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    222,223 Phil, Lucia

    Gee, I hope this works, as the disappearing #’s sure are a pain, especially for one (like me) who generally reads these things later, after the Reaper has been thru… :-)

    Phil, Lucia, whoever– is there an easy way to get a listing of earlier “Recent Comments” (the RH sidebar)? I’m constantly losing track of recent posts, with the volume of new posts so large now…

    BTW, Lucia, you should change the link under your name here — it leads to a blank page & worthless (to me) redirect.

    TIA & Cheers — Pete Tillman

  225. Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Re #224

    Cool, it doesn’t bother me much because I know it works but it’s disconcerting the first time.

  226. Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Pete– Thanks. I’ve changed the link. I didn’t catch that.

    On the recent comments, SteveM doesn’t list recent posts, so that makes them difficult to find if others haven’t commented.
    @Pochas– I don’t think the “rel=Nofollow” is required on preview.

    WordPress shoves in the nofollows automatically. Steve keeps them off author links. and comment thread links.

  227. Peter D. Tillman
    Posted Jan 2, 2008 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    #225, 227 “Recent comments” (2nd try)

    Lucia — what I meant was, is there an easy way to get to an earlier page of the “Recent Comments” sidebar (at top right)?

    Steve — is this something easy in WordPress?

    TIA, PT

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  1. [...] some history, see SteveMc’s 2007 post banning discussion of thermodynamics. When you read that thread you will see that I suggested people come to my blog to discuss thermo [...]

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