Blog commenting policy

by Judith Curry

It’s time for a discussion on blog commenting policy and moderation.

I receive a lot of emails from readers, complaining about the dreck in the comments, saying they don’t read the comments or post comments because there are too many comments, the tone of the comments, commenters bickering with one another, and pointless irrelevant comments.

Now some of the comments are excellent; provocative and/or informative, and this is what makes the blog worthwhile for me and for others.

I have resisted much moderation since I want to allow the full range of perspectives here on the climate change issue.  I think my good will in this regard is well established, and it is time for some heavier moderation.

I also think that the nesting makes it too easy to  submit short, flip comments and to bicker.  I have changed the nesting many times in the past, i now have reduced it to one level.  David Springer informs me that this has messed up the threading on all previous threads.  I am inclined to eliminate nesting all together, so if you are responding to someone, you would need to mention their name and the time of their comment.  Lets try this method on this thread (i.e. no one push the reply button) and see how it works.

Your thoughts on this and blog policies in general?

335 responses to “Blog commenting policy

  1. What is the cool part of moderation, is that YOU have to read it first to decide to delete or let it be posted.

  2. This change is long overdue. I support a no-nesting policy. The bickering and infantile commentary must go. I have learned a great deal from this blog and recommend it to others. I do not want to be embarrassed and I certainly don’t want JC to be embarrassed either.

  3. Dr. Curry,
    Like many, I come here to learn and remain on the sidelines as I follow the “discussion.” I really appreciate what you do here, and have learned a great deal.
    That said, this engineer finds the SNR (signal to noise ratio) to be poor. With each interesting thing you start a new post with, the usual (few) regulars invariably steer into the same ditch, and the usual (non-added value) back-and-forth ensues.
    I think if there were a way to limit the number of comments by an individual on a given post, the quality would improve. Of course, we may end up with a new crop of sock puppets.

    • I tried limiting number of comments per poster, but that didn’t work. wordpress.com does tell me the top ten posters per last 1000 comments, so if someone is excessive, i put them into moderation. Suggestions on what constitutes ‘excessive’? I am loath to do this for people participating productively in technical discussions tho

  4. You could close comments after 2-3 days. I am worried about the mental health of those still writing incessantly after that amount of time.

  5. I am for the policy change. One can always go to another blog such as http://ContextEarth.com which allows charts and images to be uploaded and maintains nesting. The key is to keep the discussion going somewhere — as free discussion in a marketplace of ideas allows the science to self-correct.

  6. Nesting sucks….when there are lots of comments – but comment numbers are very handy in it’s absence.

    As for the generally low quality of the comments – a perfect storm of little moderation and a topic that attracts cranks, clowns and conspiracy theorists who make up no small part of the ‘skeptics’.

    Moderate away and this blog might be barely readable – though be prepared for the wailing and gnashing of teeth about ‘RC moderation’ !!

  7. The other advantage of this change in policy (I am in favor) is that when I return to a thread after a day or two, it is easy to find and read more recent comments.

    I do appreciate that this blog gets participation from a wide spectrum of or views re CAGW, and much is learned in the arguments when people present their facts and interpretations. Nothing is gained when it is mostly trash talking.

  8. Inevitably, the same old crew makes the same old comments regardless of the original posting. I stopped following the comments a while ago.

  9. FWIW, flatly against eliminating nesting function. I like the nesting very much as it’s the closest thing to actual conversation. WUWT has no nesting for example, and the general effect is a kind of ongoing scroll of isolated opinions which I find rather dull. I read WUWT for it’s posts and tend to not bother reading the comments and rarely comment myself for this reason.

    I think the strength and appeal of Climate Etc. lies partly in the sense of community that exists here. In some manner, I feel almost a kind of friendship, or kinship with many of the denizens. I don’t believe this will survive if nesting is eliminated.

    You’re never going to keep 100 percent of your readers happy Judith. The Internet’s a messy place, with all kinds of competing voices, interests, and personalities. I see that as a good thing. You can always suspend people for a brief period whom you deem to be “over the line” if you really think you have to (although I’d use that power very sparingly).

    • Agree with pokerguy. I like the nesting because you can skip over an uninteresting comment and all it’s retorts.

    • Pokerguy is on the mark. At least with nesting, one can scroll down to the next original comment when you tire of a string. Without nesting, it would be difficult to find the good comments.

    • David Springer

      pokerguy is right on the money – comment threads with hundreds of comments are unmanageable without nesting

      the problem is actually with wordpress though – its nesting is primitive

      nested comments should be collapsed to the first level so that people can expand them if they are interested in followups – this makes it super-easy to scan through them as you only see the first line of the top level comments along with number of replies to it and if intrigues you can expand to see more

      there also needs to be an ignore function so if there’s someone whom you don’t want to read no matter what you click on their name and all comments from that person are hidden from your view

    • Ted Carmichael

      +1. Yes, the lack of nesting is my least-favorite thing about WUWT. No conversations really happen over there. It is hard to keep track of newer comments with nesting, but it is worth the trade-off, IMO. In fact, I would suggest increasing the range of nesting … perhaps four or five levels. I am occasionally frustrated in attempts to reply to a post, and find that the nesting max has already been reached.

    • I agree that although there are issues with nesting it makes it easier to avoid threads that have degenerated into blather so I favor keeping some level of nestings

  10. I entered my response here, inserting it directly under your comment suggesting this change, although many earlier comments appear below it. I did it as a demonstration that people prepared to understand and game the system will still have an advantage.

    Unless you’re prepared to actually perform editing, which will take up a great deal of your time, scientists with valuable comments to offer and little understanding of the system will be at a disadvantage relative to those with less knowledge but greater ability to game the system. Sort of like Climategate, I suppose.

    Like Gödel’s Theorem, some problems are simply insoluble.

  11. I agree with poker guy:
    “FWIW, flatly against eliminating nesting function. I like the nesting very much as it’s the closest thing to actual conversation. WUWT has no nesting for example, and the general effect is a kind of ongoing scroll of isolated opinions which I find rather dull. I read WUWT for it’s posts and tend to not bother reading the comments and rarely comment myself for this reason.”

    Nesting helps me address specific people who are specifically addressing me.

  12. Good.

    In addition to mentioning name and time of comment, pasting the words that are being commented on is good comment etiquette.

  13. here is a proposed compromise i received via email. Keep current single level of threading. This means that if you post something as a reply, no one will be able to reply to you. So if you have a substantive comment, don’t post it as a reply.

    • Dr. Curry ==> This is a good idea — but it fails in practice. It takes minutes to figure out how to get one’s reply in the right place to be a reply to a comment with no reply button but still in the right thread…if one is quick enough, it appears in sequence directly following a no-reply comment. (as demonstrated a hundred times daily in the comments threads). It does make it harder, and only the most tenacious commenters do it — and these are the ones you’d probably like to QUIT DOING IT.

      I suspect that you have maybe two or three dozen troublesome commenters at most 90% of the problem is caused by 24 commenters. An intern as moderator for a couple of weeks, to send inappropriate comments back for “correction” against a set of already existing rules — careful to use boiler plate text (so no one takes anything personally) — might just re-train your worst offenders and calm the Wild West-style streets here at Climate Etc.

    • It may be workable, but means that there can be only one child comment threaded, per parent post. I don’t know if this is a true limitation of WordPress or not, but if so, it’s not fit for purpose. I don’t want to be critical, but the present structure makes long discussion threads resulting from an original parent post impossible. One of the best things about the internet is that it’s hyperlinked, leading off in all sorts of directions and so should discussion facilities as well.

      If you want to see how it should be done (and has been done for decades), look at the newsgroups / usenet, where the structure is essentially endlessly threaded and where a newsreader like Thunderbird can collapse or expand individual threads from a display point of view. It can also be set up to filter or search posts using a variety of criteria. Usenet had all this stuff back in 1990, even if it was text only back then :-)…

      Chris

    • Reading that again, apologies for being so direct. I used to read CA first, but his blog has a good community feel, where opinions of all shades are tolerated. Peer pressure makes it self regulating mainly, so no need for greater control. The trick is to preserve that, while making it more flexible ?.

      I did mention usenet and you could start a new group, but it’s not ing=herently web based, needs a newsreader and is still probably a little geeky for some. The best web based equivalent of usenet at present is probably Yahoo groups. There are thousands of groups on every conceiveable subject and it takes only an hour or so to set up a new group. While all posts are globally readable, membership can optionally be open or membership only. They can be moderated as well and the post structure is threaded with various user tabs for control of viewing / posting. People can also be blocked by the moderator / creator of the group. I’m not saying you should convert to that, but it might be worth looking at…

      Chris

  14. My original hope was to have comment numbers, (like the old collide-a-scape), but that doesn’t work in wordpress.com unfortunately

    Slashdot.org has a very powerful comment system, and AFAIK the software is free, although you should probably expect to spend a lot of somebody’s effort setting it up and maintaining it.

    Sophisticated users will still have an advantage, though.

  15. Judith, I never miss your entries. It often seems that the comments are off topic, not additive a usual group who picks up where the left off on previous posts. I support trying nesting, as I now usually skip the comments. I hope it works, and I would be all for more moderation for off topic comments.

  16. Maybe I’m too conscientious, but I feel an obligation to know everything that has been said before I post a comment, to avoid mindlessly repeating what someone else has said. But reading everything takes so much time that I only rarely feel I can afford it.

  17. Judith
    I’d ask what your goal is for maintaining this blog.

    I was under the impression that the goal was to have a site where people could read posts and exchange views (rationale) on those posts. I thought the goal was to increase the knowledge and perspective of readers by letting them read these posts and then to read through meaningful comments to articles. The exchange of differing views in response to the posted articles is one of the key attributes that has made this blog so successful.
    Imo, it would be unfortunate to change the policy of posting comments as it will reduce the ability of the reader to follow the train of logic between comments. It is through reading these exchanges that readers discern which posters views/opinions stand up to analysis from other informed readers vs. those similar to the Sky Dragons.
    I agree that additional effort needs to be expended to reduce the meaningless comments. Please do not throw out the baby with the bathwater by changing the comment policy. Perhaps enlist volunteers to police the blogs and delete valueless comments a couple of times a day as al alternative. Over deletion would not be a significant harm to readers. When in doubt, cut it out!

  18. I stopped following comments early on because (a) the nesting made it a mess (b) there is lots of bickering. Nevertheless, I do read comment threads more than just once in a while. Nesting is good, to a level. I believe there should be no nesting more than two/three levels.

    Many commenters are trolls because they don’t have the consideration or the ability to turn a comment stream back on to the thread topic and withdraw gracefully, and not because they intend to be trolls. David Appell in the previous thread is an example.

  19. This means that if you post something as a reply, no one will be able to reply to you. So if you have a substantive comment, don’t post it as a reply.

    Those who know how (and are prepared to violate the spirit of the commenting policy) will still be able to. See my comment above.

  20. I prefer nesting, and doing away with nesting in order to reduce the amount of bickering, insults and general rudeness will not work.

    Some post the same manifestos no matter what the topic, which unfortunately cause some like me to respond and help derail the thread and though I don’t post very many insults, I do go for the snark drawer more than necessary.

    It is nice that some climate scientists post here now and then but eventually they leave, how to get them to post more often, maybe not heavy moderation but at least enforcement of the rules and civility would help.

  21. Frankly, I like the nesting (precisely because it is easier to respond to a single comment.) Then again, I deplore the lack of civility of so many comments on so many blogs.

    Actually, this is one of the more civil blogs I read but that’s not saying much.

    Further, this is a topic I want to learn about but I (and I am sure most of those who comment) am not qualified to ask coherent questions (or offer meaningful comments) about climate change.

    Thus, I spend less time in the comments section than other of your readers.

  22. I said, previously, that this is the best blog on CAGW. Therefore, so far as I am concerned, what is best for you Judith, is best for the rest of us. Judith, you own the blog, you do a h**l of a lot of work, so you decide, and I hope everyone else, agrees.

    That said, I have been participating on this sort of forum for 20+ years, and have seen just about all there is to see. If people cannot learn who to read, and who to ignore, I feel sorry for you. You will get very frustrated indeed. Yes, many of us have hobby horses we like to ride as often as possible. Mine is that you cannot measure CS. WHUT has CSALT. FOMD knows which buttons to push to get skeptics all excited, loves to push them, and, I am sure, enjoys the inevitable result. And so on.

    There is an awful lot of wonderful stuff on CS, and I, for one, am quite prepared to sift through what I consider to be chaff, to get to the kernels; no matter what our hostess decides.

    So, my message is, whatever is best for our hostess, is best for the rest of us. Judith’s opinion is all that matters.

  23. Also, what about turning off comments for a particular thread after one week (or some other specified period)

    • Do it.

    • One week is a bit short. I am sometimes almost a month behind due to family matters taking priority.

    • On a blog for a different topic, a claim was made that I knew to be wrong. But to support a refuting comment required several days which I was too busy to afford at that time. They closed comments in a week, so my refutation was never offered. You should consider such time limits carefully as to the impact on comment quality from busy people.

    • Ted Carmichael

      This is probably a good idea. I’ve found there is little use in responding to comments after a few days or so, as most people have already moved on and won’t see them. This depends on the number of new posts too, to a large extent.

  24. I like nesting because it captures the tree structure of complex issues. Without it there is no context for each comment. It is virtually impossible to see the issues without nesting.

  25. Hi, I almost never comment here but I do try to read the comments. I vote for losing the nesting. It will encourage comment readership. Those long nested (and sometimes pointless) threads really make it hard to get to the next ‘real’ comment.
    Thanks for a great blog Dr Curry!
    Henry

    • On the contrary, nesting let’s you scroll past lengthy discussions that do not interest you. Without nesting you have to read at least the start of every comment to rule out those that are of no interest.

    • David L. Hagen

      Like David, I prefer nesting to skip past those lost in the gutter, and see if there is more substantive material.

    • Agree with the Davids, I just quickly scroll through interminable sub-threads involving “the usual suspects,” then check for the next prime comment of interest.

      One issue: I love kim’s oneliners, and like to post quips myself. Some options will eliminate those snappy comments. Of course, that might be the cost of having a more focussed, less-repetitive and unwieldy, blog.

  26. > My original hope was to have comment numbers, (like the old collide-a-scape), but that doesn’t work in wordpress.com unfortunately

    Look how Wotts circumvented that problem, Judy:

    http://wottsupwiththatblog.wordpress.com/

    Commenters can’t reply a nested comment, only him, which I believe is fair since it’s his blog. Looks better than an Auditor’s Voice of God. We have posting headers and the comment appears in RSS readers.

    ***

    Oh, and please bear in mind that if you choose to remove nesting, your changes will apply to your old threads. Might be a bane or a boon. Mileage varies.

  27. Here’s an idea: the Freakonomics blog (http://freakonomics.com/author/freakonomics/) has a Like/Dislike voting feature. Too many dislikes and the comment gets hidden. This community policing tells the more exuberant commentors when they stray over the line of decorum — sort of like a seal of (dis)approval. It works with nesting so acceptable comments don’t get trashed with the offending ones. There might be some danger in reinforcing group-think, but moderators probably can control this. I don’t know the technical details, but it might be worth investigating.

    • Are you sure? This would enable a form of censorship. Too much of that elsewhere.

    • Hidden comments are available with a click. But using the criterion of a strong majority (80% perhaps) of thumbs-down once a threshold of total votes is reached would send a message to the trolls and overly snarky — which is the point of reasonable moderation, right?

  28. Those who can’t seem to summon the wherewithal to skip comments and commenters they do no like, or deem “rude” or “offensive:”

    It’s precisely the commenters I dislike the most who often force me to do the most painful thinking, to examine and reexamine my own thoughts and ideas, and even very occasionally lead me to change my mind just a little.

    All these pious pleas for more “civil discourse” are making me a little ill.

  29. The skeptics are spoiled rotten, and they’ve run to mommy.

    A week is too long to make much difference. Somewhere in the comments on Greg Goodman’s article he actually comments the thread had run its course. My hunch would be around day 3 or 4 of his thread is when he called it.

    His comment, on whichever day he made it, was probably already overdue. And I think he would know as he stayed very active in the comments on his article.

  30. If you click on the Date and Time of a comment, you can copy and paste the link which does include the number and people can see what you are referencing.
    http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/03/blog-commenting-policy/#comment-420798
    This is especially useful if you refer to something far up in the thread or in a different posting.
    I like the comment about going to the bottom to see most recent comments. The recent comments, listed in the right margin, only does 10 and that does stay visible very long.
    You Wrote: Lets try this method on this thread (i.e. no one push the reply button) and see how it works. And then you were the first to push Reply. That is OK, you are allowed.
    I have mixed thoughts.
    I sometimes use FIND to locate comments from some of my favorite denizens, especially “curryja”
    Jim Cripwell said: If people cannot learn who to read, and who to ignore, I feel sorry for you. You will get very frustrated indeed. I have trouble reading too much, but I like Jim’s comment.
    I always read Climate Etc first and other blogs sometimes. I know that if there is something really good on another blog, someone here will have a link to it. This saves me a lot of time.
    There are good and bad things about any nesting level you pick.
    Whatever is best for you is best for me.
    I almost posted this comment as a reply to your comment and caught myself just before I posted it.

    • Ted Carmichael

      Heh. I do this too, search for particular names. “curryja” is my most common search term, as that is most likely where interesting conversations are happening.

    • Ted, I also most often search for “curryja” – but due to the threading, this can result in entries being located in an order unrelated to the time of posting, which can be very confusing.

      Perhaps the “reply” function could be reserved for Judith only? Very often, her opinion on a comment is the only one I read anyway ;)

  31. Nesting supports discussion between participants. By that it leads often to discussion that has little if any connection to the original post.

    If you wish to switch to a site based on posts and comments on those posts, getting rid of nesting may be the solution. If discussions are considered important even when they have little connection to the original post the nesting is perhaps needed. Thus it’s quite possible and even likely that this site would be very different without nesting – for better or worse.

    The number of comments that add nothing substantial to the discussion is so large that following the site without the help of some tools is too cumbersome. I can make ordered lists of comments with my own software making it easy to check comments written by authors not known to be of little interest (and skipping the uninteresting regulars without any waste of time). Without such a tool I would probably not follow the discussions for long.

    Concerning numbering of comments I can believe that WordPress.com does not support that, but the software distributed by WordPress.org does with available plugins. An own site using WordPress software would allow also previewing comments. On the other hand there’s certainly extra effort in maintaining an own site using WordPress software.

    One more reason for getting rid of nesting is the malfunctioning of WordPress when comments are deleted.

  32. Judy, As a reader, I would definitely prefer that comments unrelated to the thread at hand be deleted. It’s not a matter of “censorship” but of editorial policy, recognizing the interest of readers who outnumber commenters. I have a blog policy against people trying to prove or disprove CAGW in a few paragraphs and delete many such comments in the interest of readers who are uninterested in hackneyed arguments unrelated to the thread. I don’t administer this policy rigorously, but I do use it from time to time. You might consider such a policy.

    • Seconded.

      By this time I also think you have every right to remove any posts that are not of interest to you personally, even if the authors were to argue they were on topic. I’d be more interested to read the result of such a policy and I expect there’d be others. After the initial complaints it could work!

      One thing I don’t agree with is reducing the nesting to one level only – because (and only because) it affects the presentation of every previous thread. I don’t think this is fair to those have contributed expecting something else and there’s a corresponding loss of readability.

      Best wishes with the next stage of what is already a unique experiment and contribution to the climate debate.

    • I do not know your blog, Steve, but your colleague Mr.Watts seems to have established the policy of deleting comments criticizing the non-existent GHE, while pro-GHE comments may stay and are always welcome and on topic. You do not suggest Judith introduced such a policy, don’t you?

  33. Hi Prof. Curry…

    Having thought about it for a while, and read the comments already posted, I have some thoughts beyond immediate implications:

    First, as many have pointed out, flattening the comment nesting will destroy the existing tree structures of older threads. So it might be worthwhile to archive the older threads into a separate area (e.g. …/archive/) with nesting on and commenting off. That way, older conversations would still be halfway intelligible.

    Then, go ahead and turn off responding to comments, and implement a draconian moderating policy towards those who game the system to drop their comments in the wrong place.

    I don’t know whether WordPress allows it, but some way of automating the creation of a link to comment(s) being responded to might make things easier for subject experts who aren’t prepared to quickly link to and/or blockquote the comment they’re responding to.

    Most importantly (IMO), as long as you’re doing heavy moderation, you could yourself respond to comments providing links to replying comments you find particularly worthy. That way, casual readers seeing a comment would also see links underneath it to replies you find particularly cogent.

    Finally, I’ll point out that this is one of the preeminent blogs on the climate issue, with a great number of casual readers interested in “what people think”, and there’ll always be people trying to manipulate their impressions with their comments here. Many of them will be quite sophisticated in how to game the system.

  34. I really don’t like to read comments on previous comments – nesting encourages that but has the advantage of me being able to bypass those replies if I should wish. I would like to see (blog most likely does not support) an expandable/collapsable nesting function so I can see only original comments. My $0.02.

  35. While I do like nesting, it does make it easier to post flippant remarks or short one liners. Whereas with no nesting, you have to be more thoughtful in your response.

    Your free ice cream, and I appreciate the privilege of posting, so whatever you want I will work with.

    • But some one liners are priceless and insightful, e.g. Kim and Beth Cooper (BTS). It’s true the interaction between commenters on this blog can grow tedious, but this is not Climate Audit nor The Blackboard. I think this site very clearly reflects the various controversies in climate science, and I for one will be reluctant to see it change.

  36. I skip over derogatory personal comments, but not the commenter.
    I read this blog for facts, information and support of opinions. Links to supporting papers are quite helpful in this. I feel obligated to consider alternate conclusions. Replies often reference “the rest of the story”.

  37. I never miss a post, and often go back and reread select ones. However I generally skip the comments due to the S/N ratio. Which is unfortunate because there are some good comments. Maybe you need an open thread for AdHom and another for NonSequiter.

    But I like threading when the weeds are filtered out.

  38. If the problem is nesting then deleting makes the problem worse, “snipping” maintains the nesting without the noise. So a simple, if such a thing is possible with WordPress, macro that snips and sends the unwanted comment to blog hell or something like a boar hole solves the nesting/unwanted problem.

    What would be fun is including a comment test like “is Climate Sensitivity” greater than 3.0 C?. Then you could send them to the warmista hole :)

  39. Political Junkie

    It will be interesting to see whether all the serial abusers who treat this excellent blog as their personal sandbox will show up to comment on blog policy.

  40. No nesting, for sure. It is very hard to follow stuff; if you come back after a few hours, it’s impossible to tell who has answered what.

  41. As a reader (and very occasional commenter) I am immensely impressed with the job Dr. Curry is doing to keep this very “high-level” blog going with the depth and pace it has. And having a physics and computer-simulation background I am readily able to recognize some of the “agendas” certain commenters are routinely pushing. Of the two dozen or so “regulars”, it appears that some are sincere and highly-knowledgeable, while others are quite the reverse.

    While the bickering and boiler-plate stuff is annoying to us readers and wastes time and space, it nevertheless provides revealing — if fuzzy — insights into the motivations and worldviews of (particularly) the dyed-in-the-wool CAGW promoters and flacks. The latter are presumably driven mostly by convictions, whether their own or those of their presumed backers. Sometimes it seems that trolls are being systematically inserted to try to dilute the substance of this blog. (A compliment to the presumed influence it has).

    Perhaps Steve McIntyre’s thoughts (above) represent a good compromise to subdue the bickers (and backers) while preserving some worthwhile cut-and-thrust.

  42. Wow, no agreement on nesting. I am with Pokerguy, Pekka and others who like the nesting for discussion purposes. I would like to see it kept. Closing off comments after a few days would be fine, but I don’t see it making much difference. One level of nesting is better than none.

  43. Thanks for increasing the moderation. I hope you can spare the time for it. I was surprised at your take on nesting. Your opinion seems to be widely shared. I like nesting because it simplifies skipping threads that aren’t going anywhere and following those that are.

  44. It would be nice if WordPress incorporated a reader’s option to display in either mode, nested or by posting date. I like nested when there is are thoughtful responses separated by hours or days, but I dislike nesting when I have to scan the comments to find newer replies. A display select button would allow the best of both methods.

  45. First, many thanks for what is often/usually the most edifying and instructive blog on this topic.

    Second – your blog, your rules. You owe yourself that, and we – as your beneficiaries – owe you that courtesy. Do what’s best for you.

    Third – I’d hate to see you waste your time on heavy moderation. Your voice is too valuable to be muted by moderation.

    Fourth – my preference: very limited or no nesting. When there is a thread, I’d like to follow it, but too many times the threads take on a life of their own.

    Fifth – ignore #3 and #4 if they conflict with #2.

  46. Occasionally, I reply to my own comment. This happens when I have a list of references (pro/con) to my original comment. I try to make subordinate replies succinct, with a link to the supporting material. It is helpful if others reply to the subordinate, either with further support or with a link to contrary work that I should consider.

    Without the ability to nest, I will have to find another method. It would be “blockier”, and more difficult to follow.

  47. It is obvious that many people have very strong views in an area that covers politics, science and the future direction of humanity.
    I rather like the threaded structure, but I can see why it allows bickering.
    Perhaps it might be an idea for the denizens to suggest ‘Blockbuster’ threads that will allow people to vent their spleens and individual insights in a contained setting?
    I suggest;
    What is the difference between transient and equilibrium sensitivity and how do you know?
    When does AGW cease to be beneficial for humanity and become cAGW?
    Which paleoclimatic proxies appear to be reliable and unreliable?
    What is the most cost effective way to reduce or slow AGW in the future?

  48. Given the large number of comments and replies, it looks like Dr Curry could use help from one or two volunteer moderators to snip offensive comments and delete off-topic ones. I’m not volunteering, tho’.

  49. “I have resisted much moderation since I want to allow the full range of perspectives here on the climate change issue. I think my good will in this regard is well established, and it is time for some heavier moderation.”

    Yes, yes, and yes.

  50. Keep the nesting. The noisemakers are easily identifiable by their over-contributing and are skippable by the reader, or Dr. Curry can just delete their spam, if she judges it to be that.

    Andrew

  51. I find your blogging hugely instructive and informative. I find the comments often make me stop reading them very quickly, as a result of the many commenters who are no more than trolls- and that’s a shame, as there a some excellent people commenting here as well.

    Hence, I welcome this move.

  52. What’s to comment? We can all see where the Western civilization is headed–e.g., a recent Australian oil discovery could make that nation energy independent. Good thing, right? Exciting? A cause for cheer?

    Might not cheaper energy help, as Greg Ray (Newcastle Herald) wonders, “rejuvenate Australian industry and help win jobs back from Third World sweatshops?” Ray also wonders if Australia is, “smart enough to let itself benefit from anything of the sort?”

    “As it is,” Ray says, “we have enough coal to last for centuries at present rates of demand for thermal power generation, but we export much more than we use ourselves and force our own power stations to pay world prices.
    That’s made our power prices insanely high and helped drive industry offshore. The same thing seems about to happen with gas. We are being told that we have almost unthinkably massive reserves of natural and coal seam gas, but again, almost all the development plans are pure export.”

  53. Although nesting appeals to me as an original proposition, I find in practice I prefer not to have it. But the only reason probably is that nesting makes it harder to review only the most-recent comments, and I don’t know how big an issue that is for others.

    (In case it matters, I’m a regular visitor but mostly just a lurker.)

  54. With nesting, you can scroll down to the next thread when the current thread degenerates. I may miss something good but avoid much aggravation.

  55. I appreciate the multi level nesting you have had in the past.

  56. Judith, hard problems do not have easy solutions. My suggestion would be to do what is easiest for you, since you bear the brunt of the work burden. We are merely your (sometimes rather discourteous) guests.

  57. Yes, the nesting is trite and boring and repetitive.
    One could make up a game here. —
    Take comments from a few months back; perhaps twenty five of them from ten commentators. Then do a match game and see who could match the most correctly. Some commentators may come to realize just how often they same the same thing.
    I am one who is hear to learn and comments rarely, and one thing I have learned is to avoid is the selfish barrage of comments in the blog room from a few who do not have the courtesy to realize this is not a personal little debate between two people.
    As the saying goes ‘Take it outsiide’

  58. Often the posts interest me. I want to see how arguments develop: Nesting helps. I would like to receive email notifications, in those subjects, without having to comment. Is that possible?
    ……
    Several commenters offer techniques which I would want to use, e.g., clicking on ‘date/time.’ Is there a ‘How to’ resource?
    Thank you, Judith, for your contribution.
    John Moore

  59. My view is to keep some sort of nesting, and agree that it can become the basis of a conversation on an interesting point. If the point doesn’t interest me or it the usual suspects have started up, I move on to the next commentator – easy to do by scrolling down past the nest of posts.

    I do agree that some moderation of off topic nonsense is in order, but the problem is as soon as you start moderating people can accuse you of bias against those views. OTH there is plenty of noise going both ways so it might be a charge that would be hard to make stick.

  60. Judith

    I would second what St. Mc has suggested,

    You only need to judiciously ‘snip’, not delete a few comments
    and humans will figure out what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.
    subhumans and players to be named later will never get it, more on them later.

    So, occasionally all you need to do is make an example of someoneeone does .

    You leave their comment in place. You make an inline comment (Voice of god) that this kind of comment is out of line and folks will fall in line.
    If someone steps over the line, you leave the comment in place but “snip”
    the offending bits. In the end your commenters want to impress you.
    They really do, even your critics want to impress you. At some point
    with sub human serial offenders you’ll have to put them in moderation. But to do this effectively you have to leave some of the trail of evidence there for all to see.

    Next and more effective than punishment is reward.

    Let me add an anecdote that I’ve relayed too many times.
    Long ago on Slate’s “The best of the Fray” the editor would go through
    comments and highlight the best comments. in other words, she would select the best comments and write a review of them. So in addition to your week in review you would do a post highlighting and commenting on the best comments/discussions of the past week

    Boys being boys, and A students being A students, you will find that commenters will strive to be recognized for making good comments. They will face a choice: say something that Judith may take notice of and put in the spotlight Or trash obama. Since the later is easy and folks here value their time I’ll wager they try to do the former.

    So heavy on the carrot and light on the stick. technology (nesting/no nesting) won’t control folks behavior that needs “channelling”

    • Such carrot-generation is more time-consuming than the stick though. An example of where idealised classroom worlds may not translate into blog nirvana, because of the number of competing voices. (My mother has some good stories of over-crowded classrooms in the East End of London immediately after the War and blitz. Not an easy control problem for a young Kiwi lass. This environment is harder. But my Mum and I’m sure Judy would agree with the principle.)

    • Richard.

      The carrot assumes you are reading comments for applying the stick.
      No additional time there.

      as you read you pick the top two comments/ discussions.

      You write a post called “best of the week”

      You copy and past the comment. Give a link

      and write a paragraph about why you selected the comments.

      it takes an hour.

      Judith could also do this

      Every week run a contest: Post is called “Best of the week” commenters
      then have to suggest what they think was the best of week and why.
      no self voting. That outsources the job, because in addition to wanting to impress Judith, commenters want to impress others. blog commenting is a competitive sport.

      Someday, I think somebody should compile the Best of Kim.

    • Steve

      Good comment

    • Someday, I think somebody should compile the Best of Kim.

      Absolutely. Agree with all of this in fact, if the host finds she can. (I’d like to think I was being a bit Mosheresque in the challenge, to tease some of these things out more.) There’s a lot of scope for crowdsourcing as long (and I think this has long been accepted on Climate Audit) the asymmetry via-a-vis the host is a given

    • I agree entirely with Mosher here. I was going to write an additional post suggesting much the same.

    • +1 fer proposing a feed back loop Steven Mosher
      and fer yr ‘the best of kim’ suggestion. Would need
      ter be in context, I’d say.
      bts

  61. I have been a daily lurker here almost from day one but I rarely comment.
    I have learned a lot here and appreciate Judith’s willingness to devote her time to this blog.
    I think it would help if we all think about what would make Judith’s job easier here and likely most of us are doing so.
    I always try to remember she can pull the plug whenever she wants.

  62. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    pokerguy speaks plainly and well:

    “FWIW, flatly against eliminating nesting function. I like the nesting very much as it’s the closest thing to actual conversation …”

    “WUWT has no nesting for example, and the general effect is a kind of ongoing scroll of isolated opinions which I find rather dull …”

    “I think the strength and appeal of Climate Etc. lies partly in the sense of community that exists here. … I don’t believe this will survive if nesting is eliminated.”

    “The Internet’s a messy place, with all kinds of competing voices, interests, and personalities. I see that as a good thing.  …”

    Pokerguy, you and I may disagree in scientific matters, but in regard to an agent of respectful discourse, please let me publicly appreciate your fine post as Climate Etc‘s equivalent of an opinion by Judge Learned Hand!

    Thank you, pokerguy!

    Remark In regard to nesting levels, to paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy  … “Three-level nesting yields the worst quality of public discourse … except for every other nesting-level that has ever been tried.”

    Another remark In regard to flip comments, bickering, cherry-picking, slogan-shouting, personal abuse (etc. etc. etc.), the cause of democracy is well-served when these practices expose the shallow roots of denialist ideologies.

    A final remark Best wishes for a Happy Holiday season are extended to *all* Climate Etc readers without exception!

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • David Springer

      In this rare instance I agree with you. You’re still an insufferable troll the rest of the time so don’t let it go to your head. :-)

  63. - if there is a comment…
    —– and if, someone has something relevant to add to the comment…
    ——— and if, someone has a poignant observation about what is added…
    ——— then, nesting provides a sensible means of organization…
    —– but, if abuse of nesting is seen to outweigh its usefulness…
    – then, maybe it’s time to ENDIT.

  64. Way off topic, but UAH is in for November – 0.19 C. Absolutely no sign that the pause has ceased, and more evidence that the global surface temperatures may be decreasing.

    •  

      “The next few days, highs may be colder in Las Vegas than Buffalo. Highs in San Diego will on par with those in Detroit.” ~Jonathan Erdman (meteorologist, The Weather Channel)

  65. It looks like the only thing everyone can agree on that would improve the Comments section is for JC to put more time into moderating it :) As Garrett Hardin wrote in “The Tragedy of the Commons” (1968), “An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution.” He goes on to argue that some problems (including his focus, “the population problem”) have no technical solutions. He was probably wrong about population, but perhaps right about blog comments: technical changes about nesting &c are unlikely to improve matters. It’s a matter of JC (or somebody else) investing the time to make things better.

    • Judging by a job ad out now for a role at Georgia Tech, Dr Curry may soon have the time on her hands to spare.

  66. I would have only one sort of moderation. Namely, if someone is abusive, boot their post. After repeated offenses, boot them.

    Prediction: Any complaint volume or intensity in response to change in moderation policy will over time achieve equivalence to every other change in moderation policy. There is no cheese in this tunnel.

  67. It’s probably not available as a WordPress feature, but I like nesting IF the replies are collapsed beneath the original comment, perhaps showing the most recent reply ( date and author ). This same nesting would apply to the replies inside the reply as well.

    In lieu of that, more than one level of nesting is overwhelming to me.

    { Original comment }
    [ 2 replies - most recent 03-DEC-13 from JoeQPublic ]

  68. Judith,

    when your blog was first started it seemed an excellent possibilty to open a dialogue between the sides of the debate. I rarely commented, and stopped altogether a while ago. My reasons follow, reposted from this thread at Wotts.
    http://wottsupwiththatblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/judith-curry-and-the-ocean-heat-content/
    Apologies that this is so negative, but I wanted to reproduce the whole comment to avoid dishonesty. I genuinely don’t understand why you run the blog the way you do, either above or below the line, and I think many others are equally mystified. I hope you prove me wrong.

    Judith’s is a pretty unpleasant place. I used to comment there occasionally but was eventually repelled by the level of discourse, going as far as homophobic abuse (not aimed at me). Intellectually, it’s living proof of the accuracy of Lewandowsky’s analysis of climate denial, and provides little or no insight into climate science.

    IMHO it’s a mistake to think of Judith or her blog as being about the science (1), and therefore pointless to engage there on the facts. Her platform has, however provided her ample opportunities to denigrate colleagues and engage politically (2)(3) and I think that’s a more meaningful context to understand the content of her blog..

    Quotes from Curry recently:

    (1)“Without having done the arithmetic, I figured that the actual temperature increase when averaged over the global ocean is probably pretty small.”

    (2)“Yes, Trenberth has since been educated on the topic of the 2nd law of thermodynamics”

    (3) “I have a fairly lengthy op-ed that has been published in The Australian.”

    • hit and run.

      why dont you email Judith a guest post slagging her. I’ll bet she publishes it.

    • Judith should set up something like the Borehole and send all Judith bashing comments there. That would discourage the several Judith haters who come here primarily to poke her in the eye.

    • Single level nesting seems a good idea.

      Word limit might help.

      But as verytallguy illustrates, the underlying issue is that you, Judy, have become an apostate. You are questioning, and providing a forum in which to question, the recieved truths of AGW. And because that edifice is built on scientific sand, your efforts have had and are having significant effects.

      Viewed from the perspective of the established Church over at Real Climate your efforts are more an annoyance than a threat; but to the low information zealots at SkS and its ilk you are a heretic undermining the one true faith.

      Zealotry on either side destroys the possibility of discussion. Just as you were obliged to silence the sky dragons it is probably time to warn and then ban people who believe that 97% is true or science, that mainline sceptics are oil funded, or that certainty has been achieved as to CO2′s “control knob” function.

      I agree with Steve carrots and sticks – snip, delete, ban, praise, quote, discuss – people will get the message.

    • Yeah, lay off Judith. Arse-kissing only here please!

    • Scott Basinger

      This is an excellent example of a post that should be snipped and Voice of God inline comments placed commenting that this is off-topic for this thread, ie: Off Topic (bold) – snip -

    • Not wishing to sully the tone too much, but, reading “verytallguy,” I was reminded of Satchmo singing “Cut off my legs, and call me Shorty!”

      [This is a snippable comment.]

    • A blog like this is not just about discussing the detail, validity or not of any particular aspect of the science, but also to raise awareness of the subject of climate science in general. I don’t know if stats are available for the number of unique ip addresses accessing this blog, but I bet there are far more people who just lurk and read the stuff here than those who post.

      Irrespective of who is right or wrong, more public awareness of the issues is needed to allow people to weigh up the arguments for themselves and thus prevent policy makers from slipping agenda biased legislation under the rugs…

      Chris

  69. Judith Curry,

    For me at least, the changing of the thread seems to change my focus and hence my comments.

    Possibly changing the thread more often will alleviate the bickering portion of the comments.

  70. OT, But does this:
    http://eas.gatech.edu/employment
    …mean you are moving on.

  71. I second what what both Steves suggested.
    I also like nesting, keep it.

  72. Nesting is a great idea when done technically completetly: it allows (at least in principle) to collapse all “descendants” of a comment. I don’t know if wordpress offers that option. If not, maybe you could suggest it to them.

  73. I have noticed that as a general rule, and there are plenty of exceptions, people who use their real names tend to have more worthwhile stuff to contribute in the comments section of almost any blog.

    I have never understood the rationale of hiding behind a pseudonym to make comments.

    May I suggest you – if it is at all possible – allow two parallel sets of comments. One with the pseudonyms, which will contain most of the “Yah boo sucks to you” type of comments. However, the main one would be for those who their real names. Neither set of comments would be censored.

    I am sure you will find the Brian Jones of the world have a lot more interesting stuff to say than the ‘Barnaclebreaths’.

    • Which Peter Miller are you? The one who ate paste in my second grade art class or the one who I met in college organic chemistry class?

    • Peter, this came up some time ago at WUWT in an article Willis wrote. The reason I use a pseudonym is because I want to divorce my posts and views from my public image (insofar as I have one). My interest in climate change is completely irrelevant to my profession and I don’t want the two interests confused or conflicted. It’s not that I am ashamed of the views for being un-PC – I have commented on fora associated with my profession on the subject frequently, I just don’t want casual searches for my real name to bring up climate related material.

      I do appreciate that some do hide behind pseudonyms and that is unfortunate, but I think my use of it here is quite legitimate.

    • Agnostic, I 100% agree. That is what I was trying to say above, but I have to admit that your post was slightly more clear than mine. I am a scientist working for a large corporation. My company has public positions on climate change and we stand to profit a great deal selling technology that some are pushing as solutions to the problem. I would never want anyone to think I am speaking for my employer or that my views are in conflict with my commitment to the corporation.

      Now if my name were common it wouldn’t matter, but my real name is unique and a quick internet search would connect me to my company.

    • Dennis

      I take your point and there may be no easy solution, but perhaps having Judith, or the moderators, giving you prior permission to use a pseudonym, might be a solution.

      A colleague of mine used to get paid a lot for designing climate computer models for some worthy Australian research organisation. In vino veritas, he used to describe these models as being “complete crap”.

      So there is an ethics question here. I wonder how many more there are working in the Global Warming Industry, who know what they are doing is “complete crap”.

      ‘Coming out’ may be an unpleasant experience, and sometimes a surprise to your friends, but in the end it is best for everyone.

      As for me, I am a geologist operating in the private sector. As such, I rarely meet anyone who believes rising carbon dioxide levels will cause Thermageddon. However, in the government, and quasi-government, sectors, there are usually employment considerations if you utter even the mildest sceptic viewpoint.

      However, my point still stands: those who use their own names usually (stress the word ‘usually’, which also means there are obvious exceptions) make a more positive contribution in their comments, than those who use a pseudonym.

  74. Nesting might actually help keep the bickering corralled where it belongs instead of scattered throughout the blog. For demonstration purposes, I could say–e.g., “verytallguy you’re such an ass.” A comment like that might seem provocative if it appeared here and there throughout a blog instead of completely justified when juxtaposed with some idiot comment that inspired the response.

  75. “All you need is…”

    Sorry, just dreaming here.
    1. A just needs to have the effect of deporting the comment text to a ‘lost’ thread, but also becoming a link to it – anyone can then follow it if they like, but it takes no space, just indicates the nesting structure for reference;
    2. Replies to the comment reside in the lost thread in their correct relative location/nesting level, but with a stub in the original thread.
    Result of this – structure remains intact, content exported, editorial policy enforced by exile rather than execution.

    Come to think of it, an expand/reduce subtree button would have much the same effect.

    Some WordPress plug-in does this? Some engineer able to write one?

    Stuart B, appreciative reader, vanishingly rare writer, CY above.

    • David Springer

      sab | December 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply

      “Some WordPress plug-in does this?”

      No.

      “Some engineer able to write one?”

      Yes. Me.

      I’m considering it. After 14 years of doing nothing remunerative I need to think about things I can somehow monetize. On the other hand another couple months of doing nothing productive won’t kill me either.

    • David, thx for noticing:
      I think the real problem is WordPress’ ‘interaction model’ is laughably crude. Should be able to visually move the msgs around, both as a reader and as a mod.
      Stuart B

  76. I cannot imagine how anyone finds the time to moderate a forum with multiple posts and hundreds of comments. It seems to me the easiest would be to limit people to 200-word comments, with 3 to 4 per post (if you can’t get your point across in three tries, you aren’t thinking it through). Nothing focuses the mind like a limit.
    I’d also suggest limiting technical threads to only certain commenters (and yeah, I’m well aware I won’t be one of ‘em). I enjoy reading the back and forth on technical threads. Political ones we kind of expect to see run off the rails.
    There are people who seem to have nothing to do but comment here all day (and night!) Nothing wrong with a daily Open Thread for them to practice their hobby.

  77. My ignorance above, angle brackets!!!
    Should have read:
    1. A “snip” just needs…
    2. Replies to the “snipped” comment…

    Apologies

  78. Consider not allowing comments at all. There is very little to be gleaned from the sheer amount of dross from both sides here. If it were possible to stop comments from fanatics ie those unwilling to concede even the slightest point in the debate then it might be a decent blog. Removing any comment with silly words – such as “denier”, “conspiracy”, “communist”, “socialist” etc would be good. These types are not interested in debate; they are trying to shout down the opposition like hecklers at speakers corner. Many people on here should just be banned outright as blatant trolls.

  79. I generally think of a blog as the virtual home of the person who created it. You don’t tell them how to run their house, and you show proper respect for having been invited. That is why I can’t see the point of griping about the moderation policy of someone’s blog.

    You set the rules. If you like them, they stay. If you don’t, you change them. If anyone else knew how to run a blog that appealed so much to all sides of the climate debate, I suspect they would have started it by now. This blog is one of the most interesting and entertaining around with respect to the climate debate.

    Science, politics, debate at all levels, and an openness to all but the most abusive commenters. What’s not to like? Nesting and structure are secondary, they can always be changed, or changed back.

  80. This is a positive example: http://climateofsophistry.com/. Comments appear in the chronological order, no reply button. Readers coming back after a while can easily find the new comments.

    Another one: http://www.principia-scientific.org/. Comments appear in the chronological order, no reply button, comments are numbered, a quote button is available.

    • The question is which is more important, seeing the latest comments without regard for the issues they address or seeing the comments clustered by issue? I prefer the latter because I am interested in issues. Others may differ.

    • David, let’s say, since your last visit 10 new comments appeared where reply button was used. So, they are scattered throughout the thread. You have to go through the whole stuff again to find them. Let’s say you did not write a comment, so you could not subscribe. Do you find it good? And even if you subscribed, you would get the new comments in the chronological oder, by the way.

    • David Springer

      Your browser “find on this page” feature can help with a number of things. I use it regularly to search my own name to see if anyone replied to me and other times I use it to search for strategic keywords or another commenter’s name. Once in a while I use to search for the date. For instance if I wanted to see what’s new since yesterday I could search for today’s date. Granted it’s crude. WordPress’ comment management is uber crude. It’s not really good from the admin’s POV (I managed a wordpress blog for some years and made some strategic mods to the source code to make moderation easier) but it’s really bad for the subscriber.

      For nesting to work well comment threads have to be collapsible and come up initially collapsed. A one line preview of top level comments should always appear along with the number of replies. Lots of blogs do this right. Yahoo finance comments on individual stocks comes to mind. Or in the classic cases Usenet and CompuServe (yeah I’ve been doing this for over 25 years now).

      There should also be a function that would, in the first comment line of a collapsed thread, highlight the number of replies if there were any new ones since your last visit and if a top-level thread is new highlight the whole preview line. Makes it easy to scroll/scan to see if anything was added where you might be interested.

      The last critical item is what might be aptly called a “Troll Zapper”. If there’s a commenter you just don’t want to see for one reason or another then you can click on their name and an option list comes up with an option to zap them so you never see any of their comments again. Trolls hate that feature.

      Lastly, a ‘complain’ button that sends a complaint to a list that only blog admins can read. It copies an offensive post recording vital information about complainant and complainer. This makes it easy for moderator(s) to determine when to ban someone for cause.

      There’s lot of additional stuff that’s useful for subscribers in commenting and most of them have been mentioned in this thread but in my experience those I mentioned above are all it takes and should make a dramatic difference here.

      One last comment. Someone mentioned volunteer moderators. In the old days we called them sysops. I’ve always had some volunteer sysops on social networks I designed or managed but managing the sysops can get to be a chore as they get to infighting amongst themselves, into cliques of subscribers, and so forth so I’m a little ambivalent about how well that works out for all concerned. I’d say it’s worth a try in any case.

  81. Fellow Denizens: Paraphrasing one or more of our Founders:
    Liberty requires self-discipline.

    • Membership Application

      To join Climate Etc. today and to appear on our select member list simply provide us with a short biography (approx. 100 words) which may be submitted anytime prior to your next comment. Thank you.

    • Or, put another way: No freedom without responsibility :-)…

      Chris

  82. Even though Steve Mc has stepped on my lines a few times, I appreciate the tight ship that he runs. The sort of tedious foolishness displayed in a recent thread, by the likes of Appel and little Joshie and those reacting to them, will never be seen on CA.

    I used to take part in the troll induced foolishness here, but have saved my self a lot of time and enhanced my self-respect by largely refraining from reading and reacting to most comments from the usual suspects. We all know who the clowns are. Why don’t you all give Judith a break and exercise a little self-restraint.

    • David L. Hagen

      +1

    • -1

      Though I agree that it is utterly pointless to engage DA. There will be a lot of agreement there on both sides. The guy has close to zero reading comprehension.

    • -1

      Having just recently read about David Appell in Andrew Montford’s “Hockey Stick Illusion”, I found his recent skirmishes here to be fascinating. Of course, I’m sure they could get old and tedious.

    • I see a couple more anonymous characters who I will have to add to my list of “clowns to ignore” :)
      -2 (one for each of you)

  83. Maybe nesting could be retained, but made to work better.

    Currently, if I do not wish to follow a particular sub-thread or contributor I still have to scroll down past it to find the end. Other sites (some newspapers come to mind) have the nesting at least partially hidden, and revealed by conscious choice. Sorry, I don’t know what software they use.

    I generally appreciate your moderation policy, but wouldn’t necessarily want mass deletions to start occurring. Perhaps you might achieve your desired ends by having a moderator give bickering a lower ‘nesting-threshold’ than technical comments?

  84. Any way to vote Thumbs Up/Down
    Is there a way to add thumbs up/down, and have a script to count downs, and put into moderation?
    ie to give feed back that the riff rarf is not welcome.

  85. The reply-to-a-specific-comment option should remain, but the comments should be displayed in time-order not tree-order, unless there could be an option for the reader to decide on personal order preferences.

    There should be a restriction on the number of comments one person can make, somewhere between one comment per day on the whole blog and one comment per day per blog post.

    The up-down thumbs should be for relevance to the discussion, not agreement with the content, for flagging trolls, bickering, and ad-homs. The ones so flagged should be the ones that are moderated.

    • On the positive side, some commenters are special and should have special advantages. Like kim. Kim makes my day.

    • Diag, your comment restriction would rule out dialogue. Much is tedious, but some is of value, I wouldn’t want to see it excluded by fiat (or even GM).

    • So you think that leaving the # of comments restriction free would be a Triumph?

  86. Get rid of nesting. The back and forth it promotes is mostly noise. Just my opinion. I admit to being a little addicted to it, but it would be easier to let stuff go if it wasn’t constantly obvious when somebody has replied to you directly with x amount of snark.

  87. Does WordPress offer an “ignore” function? That might be handy. It’s the constant bickering that is so dull. I’ve been guilty of it myself many many times. Can be fun to do, but is really quite boring for everyone else.

    FWIW, I think your problem stems from the popularity of your blog. The even more popular WUWT uses the no-nesting approach, as does Bishop Hill. Works brilliantly on Bishop Hill, where there are fewer comments. Doesn’t work that well on WUWT. I get bored of wading through all the “I agree” comments trying to find the interesting ones. So I rarely read the WUWT comments.

    Nesting on CA works well – but it is tightly moderated for relevance and tone. That must be time-consuming on a high-volume blog.

  88. Judith

    Realize you have asked for constructive comments – but I agree with Jim Cripwell that it’s your blog, so you set the rules and it’s working just fine as is.

    The nesting facilitates exchanges of viewpoints on one specific topic, which is good, but often these become too lengthy and repetitive.

    Limiting the number of comments per blogger does not seem like a good answer.

    Also cutting out “short and witty” comments is not a good idea IMO, because while it might raise the level of serious discussion, it would definitely cut out some of the humor along the line. And we all need a good laugh from time to time.

    You’ve got a good thing going here, Judith, so follow the old adage – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    Max

  89. I continue here on the ideas of my earlier comment.

    This site is different from most blogs by being perhaps more a free discussion forum than a blog where everything should be closely linked to original posts. One factor in that is the rather low-key participation of Judith in most discussion. She’s not trying to tell what’s the right way of thinking and to take the last word.

    We have here also weekend “posts” that are not posts at all or have only very briefly stated content.

    For that kind of site I would prefer at least three levels of nesting.

    It may well be, however, that this approach is not productive any more. Most of the comments are repetition of earlier ones or empty rhetoric. Perhaps Judith wishes to switch to a more regular blog limited subjects introduced in the posts. That’s probably the only way of going efficiently forward, but the present unique strengths of this site might be lost in that. If that’s the direction she wishes to take, then no nesting may help.

    • Pekka, your comments have been on target. It seems that consideration of changes in form go hand-in-hand with consideration of change purpose. However, I would not venture to guess or suggest which might be leading and which might be following. Things evolve.

  90. P.S. Over at Bishop Hill, a couple of things have been introduced to cut down on irrelevant or bickering comments:

    - There’s an “Unthreaded” section, where anyone can chat about stuff that isn’t relevant to any recent post. It’s one of my favouretest places on the interwebs.

    - There’s a “Discussions” area, where people can make their own posts and bicker all they like.

    Occasionally the Bishop will show up in comments, swinging his crosier, and shouting “take it to Discussions!” or “take it to Unthreaded!”

    It works quite well.

  91. Judith, you are now the proud proprietor of the most fascinating blog in all of the climate debate. It is so because of the breadth of relevant topics you post, from sociology to deep science. For me, my time reading blogs is somewhat limited and I have to prioritize. Climate Etc. is first, then Climate Audit, WUWT, Lucia, and finally JoNova. I find I don’t miss much with that roster.
    I find your current format perfectly fine. The way I view your blog is imagining you giving a plenary lecture, which is then followed by a wine and cheese discussion with all of the participants. Nesting allows little groups of like minded (or not) individuals to carry on the discussion. Some groups will be louder or more interesting than others and the your guests are free to choose whatever group they choose to dialog. Like your blog, people will naturally migrate to groups that interest them and ignore others. For example I will always read your comments, as well as Mosher, Steve M, Lacis, the chief, Jim C, Gary, and many others, but I avoid Josh, Willard. and FOMD. My advice, don’t change a winning formula and censorship should be a last resort.

  92. R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

    Judith,

    It’s great that you are open to seeking our opinion about nesting/not nesting and general blog rules. Your openess, among other things, is what makes CE so enjoyable.

    I think having 1-layer of nesting does make sense, in that often times there are topic-relevant subtreads going on, and allowing nesting makes it easy to get to those and easy to follow them.

    I would suggest that you tighten down strongly on moderating the posts in general for off-topic, ad homs, political, and other commenatary. At the same time, by giving a weekly “Open Thead” you can give a relief valve to those who are wanting to (for the ump-teenth time) give us their political or social commentary.

    • Agreed, we can without most of what you list: “I would suggest that you tighten down strongly on moderating the posts in general for off-topic, ad homs, political, and other commentary.”

      There is a problem with omitting “political”, however. The U.N., IPCC and UNFCCC have adopted “Climate Science” as an enabler for policies, after Ravetz. This adoption has been closely followed by national governments. This makes aspects of “Climate Science” inherently political.

      The basic problem with “political” is that it identifies CO2 as the anthropogenic driver of a catastrophe to be addressed by political policy. CO2 is produced by combustion of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels provide 70-80% of our energy (NASA). Political control of energy to avoid “catastrophe” justifies taxes and allocation. Control engenders favoritism, cronyism, control of production and the population.

      Since the U.N., IPCC, UNFCCC and national governments do not address alternative causes or consequences, we do well to identify them in context.

    • “Climate Etc. provides a forum for climate researchers, academics and technical experts from other fields, citizen scientists, and the interested public to engage in a discussion on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface.”

      A discussion of climate science, in its present form, cannot exclude politics. The politics/policy debate is what transforms the debate from an academic exercise with a couple hundred participants, to a global debate involving millions.

      Take away the policy goals of the consensus, and how many are going to want to debate ECS, paleo and GCMs, let alone the sociology of it all?

      Without politics, which is how free societies decide policy, WUWT, Climate Etc., Climate Audit, Real Climate and the rest become low traffic academic sites.

  93. I’m thankful to you and all other academics that devotes time to present their science to the public in this form. It provides a platform for less tenured scientists to advance their understandings as well.
    In an ideal world you would have infininite of time to moderate the comments and I woudl love if you had he time to “collapse” all inappropriate comments with a suited label (offensive language, bad science, repeating himself, off topic.). Then I could decide what to expand and read of the moderated stuff.
    But in real life your time is better spent doing other things so let the threads moderate themself and just ban the really bad stuff.

  94. I like the nesting; I would actually prefer deeper nesting. The reasons have already been stated well by others.

    Have you considered a “time out” policy for denizens who you feel are misbehaving? Can this be easily accomplished in WordPress? The idea would be to suspend people from commenting for some predefined period, say a week.

  95. Political Junkie

    I second the notion that the Bishop’s “take it to the unthreaded” approach helps to keep the blog on topic without having to resort to heavy handed censoring.

  96. I think it matters depending on topic of blog post. So, “Open thread weekend” is quite different than “The stadium wave”.

    When come to site, generally I first look at “Recent comments” and
    any new blog entry.
    I am mainly interested is whats new. What I consider news what people
    posting are saying and what Judith is saying.
    When I post anything I am interesting in understanding something.
    I like reply to question, because process answering is helpful to understand.
    So, “Recent comments” is “news” of whose who post here.
    And by making post a feel more involved- I am interested
    in any response to my post.
    Or visit to get news, and become more involved if I make
    any comments.
    I will make comment on many blogs, but I don’t like making comments
    on many blogs because it’s scattered all over the place. Or if make some comment on a new blog, I will go back to blog to check the status of
    the conversation. So if I make any comments, I prefer one place rather
    than many. But if just looking at news, I prefer a wide selection.

    So, in summary there are many different types of dialogue- and Climate Etc
    has a few “types”, it could fewer “types”, it could have more “types”
    and one could have different rules for different types.
    So on something like “The stadium wave” one delete anything which unwanted chatter or off topic. And “Open thread weekend” tend to encourage different topics.
    And basically I like arguments, and dislike the bickering.

  97. Nesting and threading of comments is in principle a good idea, and on low traffic blogs it works well. But given the level of traffic here it is essentially hopeless: if you come back to a thread it is almost impossible to work out what is new in a reasonable time. This is one of the two reasons I almost never read the comments here, the other being the quite extraordinary level of bickering.

    An interesting technique used at Climate Audit is the CA assistant: this takes a threaded discussion and flattens it for those who prefer all the new comments at the end; it also colour codes comments according to age, which is extremely helpful in fiding new stuff. I almost always read CA in flattened mode, but very occasionally I go for the threaded view to work out the structure of a discussion.

    In terms of reducing bickering, full scale moderation is astonishingly hard work, and without a sizable team of volunteer moderators completely infeasible, At the moment we have the worst of both worlds: a site that theoretically claims to be moderated (at least on certain posts) but quite simply isn’t. So many sensible people just stay well away.

    What could be done automatically? Personally I think you shouldn’t rule out a posting frequency limit (say 3 comments per post every 24 hours?) combined with the creation of equivalents to the excellent discussion threads (with no limts) and/or unthreaded at Bishop Hill. That would cut out most of the bickering immediately, with little effect on most other commenters.

    But in the end it’s your blog and you should do what you think is right.

    • “But given the level of traffic here it is essentially hopeless: if you come back to a thread it is almost impossible to work out what is new in a reasonable time.”
      I guess depends your computer, but control + F and typing a search word- your name or other key word- searches a thread.
      But otherwise, it is problem

  98. I think the answer is probably simple. To increase the number of comments, thread them, and email each commenter that somebody has replied to their comment, the way disqus does, just to keep stirring the pot.

    If people you are looking for comments that are threaded around the blog post, a single thread is preferrable.

    • I don’t agree. Without nesting if, for example, I say something about the Earthshine project and the failure of climate alarmists and their GCMs to appreciate the variability and effect of the Earth’s albedo — more specifically, the reflectivity of clouds — if I simply ignore the overt and veiled ad hom attacks in a challenge and respond with cogent facts, who in the end can most easily be seen by any objective observer to have really won the argument, on both scientific and moral grounds?

  99. Schrodinger's Cat

    Sometimes, regardless of the subject being debated, the same group of commenters end up discussing a specific point that seems to have nothing to do with the subject. That could be reduced. Perhaps a separate thread could be created for their private discussion so that they do not hijack the main subject.

  100. Judith seems to have found a topic on which Peter Lang seem to have no opinion! Is this a first? 142 comments and nothing yet!

  101. I have never really seen the point to Dr. Curry putting more of her valuable time into more moderation of Climate Etc. than less; indeed, some may say this would be natural for one of the more immoderate of Climate Etc.’s denizens, however I sincerely would rather see Dr. Curry’s ideas about issues than not see the necessarily invisible outcomes of the time our host has spent weeding out junk. (I think some of my posts have been moderated over the years, but frankly I seldom read what I’ve posted.. or think so much about it before posting, that I’d notice if a post were removed. I think some posts about me may have been moderated, but again, I read comments indifferently and skip over the vast majority, so again would not really notice one way or the other.)

    I’ve always found Dr. Curry’s moderation the best of the blog moderation, given that I don’t much notice or care it’s there.

    This is said by someone who substantively disagrees with Dr. Curry on the vast majority of her views regarding climate science; I’d rather hear more about Dr. Curry’s views regarding climate science, than miss out on those views because she’s been busy waging war against dreck in the comments.

    So, to see how the new format works out on a more controversial and substantive climate topic, I introduce http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=3 and seek commentary on:

    Abrupt Climate Change

    Inevitable Surprises

    Committee on Abrupt Climate Change

    Ocean Studies Board

    Polar Research Board

    Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

    Division on Earth and Life Studies

    National Research Council

    • Bart, you are right about the excessive burden that moderation creates. But then you send us to look at a book excerpt in which you focus on abrupt climate changes and have elaborate directions of what to do with them. I think you have gone overboard with that because in historic time there have been only two such abrupt changes. The first one was Arctic warming that started at the turn of the twentieth century. Just look at my book and read my paper about it – that is all you need to do. The second one was caused by the super El Nino of 1998. It is also in my book. That El Nino brought much warm water across that caused a step warming. In three years this raised global temperature by a third of a degree and then stopped. The temperature stayed high which was a surprise and created a seven year warm platform called the twenty-first century high. Normal ENSO oscillations resumed with the 2008 La Nina but the mean temperature stayed at the level of the twenty-first century high. That was a surprise because I had expected it to go down again but it did not. That tells me that somehow a new equilibrium temperature point for ENSO has been established. How this is possible requires research but despite hundreds of millions of dollars that the global warming movement has for climate research none of it goes to anything that does not promise temperature increase.

      And, oh, I forgot, this is about commenting policy. One thing that I find a huge distraction is the automatic “Enter your comment here…” message that pops up and covers up what I am typing. Probably the work of the same guys who screwed up the Obamacare web site. Eliminating that would be a huge improvement.

  102. I read the comments thru a bit of Python code that prunes the branches at any comment by the dozen people on my list. It reduces the volume considerably, the wear on my scroll wheel and my stress level. It is the people that cause the problem for me not the nesting.

  103. Change would be a big mistake. If it works don’t fix it.

  104. pjb253 | December 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |

    Depending on how you coded it and your view of the salvage value of the parts of branches not by those on your list, this change could either be a boon for you, or a nightmare as the branches become disconnected.

    But then, I expect your filter means you won’t see this comment, to address which it is, or whether you’ll subsequently be changing the code.

  105. I agree with those who wish to keep the nesting – it allows you to skip entire sections of useless, pointless bickering (eg. look at any of the sequences with Joshua Little Tree)

    I also have a rule of thumb here: if the the number of posted comments exceeds about 150, I know we have entire sections of useless, pointless bickering so I scroll past the common offenders

    • I second your thoughts about the all-too-predictable common offenders. One would think that point, counterpoint and final word would be enough, but it seems that having a life beyond blog commenting is by no means a common trait.

  106. I’m not clear on what you are trying to do, Judith. Do you want this to be a sort of Facebook or Twitter of science in general, or do you wish to stick to climate science. If the latter, you could sharpen the focus on particular aspects by looking more closely at what the IPCC is doing. For example, the main permanent output of the IPCC is the models. There are around 20 of them, so why not dissect each one in turn, exploring its strengths and weaknesses. Is anyone doing that already? If not, they should be. The modellers must not be unaccountable. What you need, Judith, in my humble opinion, is an expert on current climate modelling who could lead such an endeavor. No. not Hansen or any of his team, although I give him marks for trying. One of the things we need to know: Why have 20 models when one good one will do?

  107. Judith,

    I really hope this works. I’d love to see Climate Etc. return to the excellent standard of comments it used to have a couple of years ago. I’d also love to see more respectful commenting and reduce the snide remarks and pejorative comments (yes, me too).

    I am inclined to eliminate nesting all together, so if you are responding to someone, you would need to mention their name and the time of their comment. Lets try this method on this thread (i.e. no one push the reply button) and see how it works.

    I strongly support no nesting. BraveNewClimate began with nesting and then changed to no nesting. Although some people were’t keen to try it, once it had been running for a while, all agreed it was far better. Have a look at the comments on this thread for example (bit of self promotion): http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/

    One of the best advantages of no nesting is that all posts are in time order. So you can read the whole thread and the various debates that are running make sense. It is near impossible with nesting.

    Also, you can come back after a break and read from where you left off. You don’t have to go searching through all the branches to see what has been added in the few branches you may be interested in following.

    It would be great if there was a way to hide the content of commenters who you are not interested in reading. Just the name and date would show and all the rest would be collapsed. You can expand it if you want to read it. That was an excellent feature on a parliamentary web site run by Senator Steve Fielding.

  108. Walt Allensworth

    A vote for full nesting here.

    It’s hard to follow, otherwise.
    I don’t think eliminating the nesting feature will discourage the snarky repartee.
    It will just make the snarky repartee harder to follow.

    Love the blog Dr. Curry, and of course please do whatever you think you have to do to keep the ship upright.

    -walt

  109. Firstly, the blog is great, Dr. Curry, and I enjoy reading it. Some folk have made good suggestions for improvement, but I suspect that some of these would require a lot of time and effort on your part, and I guess you don’t want to recruit moderators to help you. I’ve mixed feelings about nesting. It does facilitate more of a dialogue than stand-alone comments, but the downside is that a lot of commenters can’t resist taking every opportunity to repeat the same old mantras. Having a long experience of web forums, I have little confidence that appealing to people who post here to act more sensibly would be of any value.

  110. Please moderate, please snip. Snip out all taunts, everything off topic, and comments that are too general. I notice that even this thread has numerous off topic comments. Count me as someone who wishes there were reasonable discussions at this site, but who is unwilling to join the tiresome fray between the same few folks. I notice one comment here refers to “winning the argument.” I would suggest that the problem lies there, winning is not a reasonable goal for blog commenting.

  111. First of all, thanks Judy for all of your effort here hosting a great blog.

    I like the comments and I like nesting, but as I read through them, I sometimes wonder, don’t you people have jobs??? Who is paying these prolific commentators. I’ll see a post go up at noon and by the time I’m home from work we’re up to 100s of comments with more than 50% blather by a few select people. Fortunately it is easy to recognize the people with nothing to say (on both sides of the issue) and I can roll right by. It’s especially nice when someone has a long name and always has lots of bold blue links and smiley faces to let me know I should keep rolling, nothing to see here.

    I like Steve Mc idea for snipping, I like Mosher’s idea of a list of excellent comments. Here is my great idea. Charge people to make comments.. a few cents for the first one, double the price for the next one, give away free ones to excellent contributors, raise the price on trolls. I don’t know how you would make it work, but it’s a hundred dollar idea.

    • I’ve suggested on a few blogs to put a deposit on comment submissions. They could be waived to contribute to the blog or put in a pool where a winner could be chosen by a lottery or even votes. There are a lot of possibilities.

    • Steven Mosher

      One upon a time I invented a virtual currency for making comments. I suppose someday I’ll write it up as a wordpress plugin

    • @ Steven Mosher | December 4, 2013 at 1:03 am |

      Nobody cares Mosher !

  112. I have had the ‘pleasure’ of posting guest essay’s at both Dot Earth (on the NY Times site) and at Watts Up With That. The experiences as “moderator” (I was actually reading and replying, where appropriate, to all comers) was entirely different.

    Dot Earth basically has a no moderation moderation policy. There are Verified Commenters whose comments go directly online in 60 seconds and there are the others, whose comments must be moderastor approved. Andrew Revkin, the host, is also the moderator, but it seems that he at times just hits the “publish all” button. (There are some auto-filters, I believe, for profanity etc, prior to moderation). The quality of the moderation depends on the amount of time the host has to put in that day. He does nothing to thwart personal attacks, off-topics, rank name-calling, shrill and snarky comments, and some are absolutely from obvious crazies (reporting them to the Comment Police gets these types removed — egregious violators are also removed, but boy, they have to really step over the line. ). Rife with edgers from both extremes ==> chanting their approved talking points, attacking any who dare stray from the party line, etc. Heavy going to be an author there. They do allow one level of nesting, and it is very visually effective, you know where the thread starts (unlike Climate Etc, where I often get lost trying to reply in the right place).

    At WUWT, while I again stepped on toes, the attacks were nearly pleasant, much more civil. Out of 200 comments, there was only one example of rank name calling. Moderation is done seriously there, not only by A Watts, but by at least one other full time volunteer. There are a dozen or so banned commenters — many of you have probably seen them banned elsewhere as well. A much more controlled scene. They do NOT thread comments — if one wishes to reply to someone, one must use “Reply to DocMartyn December 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm ==>” or some such. Much less squabbling and sniping. (Except at the author!)

    Personally, I like the chatter that goes on at Climate Etc., though I seldom participate here. It can get tiresome, but if kept light, it is OK.

    For Dr. Curry, I suggest one level threading/reply ==> BUT, I also suggest getting an intern to help raise the level of commenting and cut out some of the carping and sniping. Just a few weeks of I_M_So_Smart getting his/her comments sent back with a auto-message “All comments must remain civil — please correct and resubmit.” would clean things up here, maybe. (The intern must of course, pass all suitable comments into the existing line up for Dr. Curry’s viewing and approval.).

    For Revkin ==> He seriously needs one of his Science Communications students, or a whole team of them, to clean up the jungle underbrush at his site — send out some serious warnings to serial offenders, cut back on the cut-and-paste advocates, enforce the NY Times policies, and the like.
    Same rules for the interns, they just do the preliminary clean-up, passing the probably OK on to Revkin, who likes to reply when appropriate.

  113. I originally disliked nesting a lot. I have changed my opinion. I feel it creates a small forum for back and forth within a post that allows the rest of the readers to ignore it and continue the main conversation.

    That said, part of your ‘problem’ is popularity. There is no sane way for either blogger or reader to deal with a 600-comment thread. That has turned me into a drive-by commenter who takes one shot a contributing and who then waits for the next post.

    Another part is the ongoing feud between about 8 commenters here. As someone who has participated in comment feuds in other venues, this has been a lesson to me. I find the feuds distracting and a waste of space.

    I don’t think there is a real fix that you can implement,Judith. I doubt if a call for better behaviour will produce a more moderate discourse. I highly doubt if you have time to moderate it yourself. One thing you might try is asking someone to moderate the comments on your behalf.

    Good luck with whatever decisions you make.

  114. Dr. Curry,
    I share the POV of others who feel that commenters should restrict their comments to the specific subject of your thread. I no longer have the patience or interest in scanning the comments to see if there are any that are relevant to the subject matter that you present in the opening to the thread.

    I also follow Steve M’s blog and recognize the discipline that his moderation policy is effective. I also recognize that you have now established a large, vocal following that may make it difficult to invoke Steve’s moderation style, i.e., I realize that this blog probably consumes more of your time currently than you expected. Therefore, I suggest that you consider enlisting one or two individuals to assist you with the moderation task. This seems to be working for Anthony Watts.

  115. curryja,

    Freedom of speech is not necessarily a bad thing.

    If there are side effects – snark, one-liners, and all the rest, so be it.

    One level of nesting would be nice, on the off chance that somebody might actually be seeking an answer. The ability to reply is worthwhile, in my opinion. Restricting comments may be counterproductive to the advancement of knowledge.

    If, for example, Newton was intrigued by an apple falling at a particular time, who can say that a latter day Newton may not be triggered by an apparently inconsequential off thread comment?

    Scientific breakthroughs, like inventions, rarely occur by design.

    Why restrict opportunity by enforcing mediocre conformity?

    On the other hand, your blog, your rules.

    Do what you have to do.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

  116. While this is Judith’s blog, commenting policy is surely the prerogative of all people who comment on this site. If you don’t believe that what you have to say is going to add value to a discussion then to simply remain silent must be of inestimable value to the many people who seek to learn about climate.

  117. I think it would be interesting if a post were followed with some specific commenting instructions. For example, first, ask people to answer a specific question in their comment, maybe require that they give an example, or something like that. Then make sure that they satisfy requirement number one before replying to anyone else’s idea. In other words you would need to contribute your own idea and open yourself to criticism before you earn the right to criticize others. Of course this would require keeping nesting.

  118. It is hard to limit what people write. It is easier for people to limit what they read. What one person wants to read is what some other person does not want to read. Climate Etc is the best climate Blog. You can change it to be more like one that is not as good, but WHY!

  119. As a regular lurker here and a sometime would be but probably not very successful commenter, nesting is very handy tool to ensure follow on comments can be related to the original comment.
    It’s also a mess in trying to find the sequence of comments in time and relevance to other comments on the blog.
    I would suggest that the first and original comment from which the following nested comments flow, should be very clearly distinguished and marked so that they can be first, easily identified and secondly, can be found easily for any reader searching for a relevant commentary sequence and can be easily placed in the time sequence of the whole thread.
    Then it becomes a much faster scan down the comments for a reader because the prime comments, the first ones of a nest of comments are fewer in number, are easily identified for those commenters one likes to follow and those one wants to avoid or those whose usual contribution is generally always irrelevant.

    • Dr Curry, perhaps I could suggest that you have a look at JoNova’s climate blog design with it’s numbered prime posts, the first posts in the nested sequence and the following numbering of the related and nested posts.

      As in my above post, the prime post needs to be delineated either by a change in font or size so that a quick scan down the post sequences leads to a quick identification of the prime posts in each of the nested post groupings

    • thx i’ll take a look

  120. I have no idea how many polls there have been on blog comments but I found the following result interesting in August 2011. This was a general question for news sites:

    If a news site lets you post comments, photos and videos about stories, how likely would you be to visit?

    The answer: 63% were no more likely to visit, 13% of those less likely to do so. I wonder how many in effect take the same attitude to Climate Etc, because of noise in the comments.

  121. Whatever you decide, I thank you, Professor Curry, fer yer
    e-salon which I considerexemplifies the best of the West’s
    open society values… tho’ some of us sometimes are more
    wild-west. (

    Yr tolerance and the opportunities you’ve opened up fer
    experts and non- experts ter rub shoulders is deeply
    appreciated by a mere serf.

  122. The real problem with the responses is seriousness of purpose.. There are guys here who look at it as a social occasion, showing off their knowledge and exchanging ad hom opinions of each other. A couple of years ago I had a paper out on Arctic warming. Judy unearthed a few more on that and had a blog about the climate in the Arctic. I was highly interested in the reaction to my paper when nine hundred comments came in, but had a hard time finding any about mine. Eventually I did find two that were superficial and showed no understanding of what I had said. And that was it. To me it tells that these people simply don’t take the science seriously. I don’t know who they are – grad students, post-docs or technicians. Is this the influence of gen X or gen Y? I am here to learn and from time to time I do find something worth while. But unfortunately such responses are often buried under an avalanche of seeming non-sequiturs that only their buddies understand. I don’t think it has anything to do with nesting which I think is a positive thing. If they create a nest they are abusing it. Just cut it out until they learn that decorum is more important than bickering.

  123. Having now read some of the comments on this thread, I am now less strongly in favour of removing the nesting. The change to no nesting worked well on BraveNewClimate but it was supported by very active moderation (near full time). Off topic comments were removed. The moderator frequently deleted comments, and often it seemed biased. The explanations for the reason by some of the moderators uses were often incendiary. The Conversation and Skeptical Science also often delete comments and the reasons seem to be that they do not support the political or ideological agenda of the blog owners. I think, as soon as the blog owner starts deleting comments there will be suggestions of the reason being that the reason is partisan. I think Judith’s softly softly way of encouraging people to be courteous and respectful of others is about the best way to handle it – and when necessary putting a repeat offender on moderation.

  124. I’ve always liked how Slashdot handles comments and nesting. The ability to diminish individual comments based upon ‘ratings’ helps with trash comment problems while making more prominent ‘better’ comments.

    People post because they want to be heard. An auto deleting or diminishing feature (based on rating threshold) means that they’ll have to make a better post or they’ll be pretty much ignored.

    Example:
    http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/12/03/1919230/rf-safe-stop-shuts-down-car-engines-with-radio-pulse

  125. For those with issues with the comment nesting, perhaps this can be setup for Climate Etc – http://climateaudit.org/ca-assistant/

    It allows you to re-order comments by date, hide old comments etc.

    • this could work, SM does use wordpress.com

    • Re: (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),

      I activated ca-assistant for Climate Etc. One interesting change seems to be that the subthreads are now ordered so that their relative position is determined by the most recent comment in the subthread. Thus this comment should jump to be lowest in my browser when I click Post Comment.

      The first line should be the link to the post I reply to, but that doesn’t seem to be working based on what I see now, but lets test, what happens of that.

    • As I expected, ordering of comments works, link to the earlier comment not.

  126. I like the nesting, at least one level, for the dialogue you can have. It also allows me to skip past handbag fights I don’t want to wade through. So I would not take the nesting out.

    I would think moderation is a time consumer to you. I doubt you really have the time to do the moderating necessary at the level suggested by others here (though there were some good suggestions, particularly giving more carrot and less stick to encourage more thoughtful comments). Personally, I would find moderating a tedious and unrewarding chore.

    I have less to comment here lately. I read every new post and skim through the comments daily. I look for certain commenters and read those threads. I guess I comment less now because I don’t think I have much to add at this point. I sometimes get peeved at some comments and get drawn in, but for the most part I have come to the conclusion I am not technically astute enough to make substantive comments on climate science. But I enjoy reading and learning from others I have come to find very knowledgable.

    Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that a great many commenters have very little will to consider changing their thinking just a little bit. Certain commenters seem to know everything. They stand rigidly and steadfast to their beliefs with very little room for compromise. I see in them very little middle ground and a lot of extreme points of view. There does not appear to be any mental growth… any consideration for opposing views. Few look for common ground to build on. Extremists will not be persuaded to look at any issue from two, three, four… different sides from their own. So I am finding it pointless to engage. Those who do simply do it for arguments sake. It does clog up the commenting threads, however, I am not suggesting those who in engage in those types of discussions be banned or heavily moderated, neither is very appealing to someone who espouses to open and free dialogue. In a microcosm, this ‘denial/alarmist’ dichotomy represents the void that apparently cannot be bridged between opposing views of climate science and the policy decisions affected by it. Blah blah blah… just rambling now.

    I don’t know how it could be done without a lot of policing, but if those who do enjoy bickering over the same old stuff on every thread, or for those who post the same old OT comments time and again with no real regard or apparent awareness of their own monotony, maybe their could be some sort of eternal open thread that allows for it. If one of these comments or threads shows up, it just gets sent to the eternal open thread. Heh, I can see in practice this would not really work, but it was just a thought.

  127. Judith – Many thanks for your excellent blog. It has been a major contributor to the public debate about climate science. I agree with many commenters here that it’s your blog, do what’s best for you. But since you asked for our opinions, mine are:

    1. No-nesting works slightly better than nesting. Both have their disadvantages, but nesting does seem to encourage bickering. IMHO there has been some deterioration in comment quality over time on ClimateEtc, thanks to the bickering.
    2. There’s not much advantage in closing comments after a week. The only people still looking will be those expecting a follow-up comment, and there’s nowhere else for it.
    3. Encourage people to use their proper names. It makes them more accountable, and less likely to post silly, snide or time-wasting comments. I know you can’t enforce it, but if most people do then it makes it a bit easier to work out who to ignore.
    4. Encourage commenters replying to an earlier comment to give the earlier commenter’s full name and to quote the relevant bit of their comment. They can also provide a link to the earlier comment – see http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/03/blog-commenting-policy/#comment-420826 [In long no-nesting comment threads, I find 'replies' to my comments by searching for my full name - there are a lot of 'Mike's. Maybe I miss some, but is it really that important, after all it's your blog not mine.]
    5. Pre-moderation is much too time-consuming. I don’t see it as a viable option. Post-moderation is necessary for removing offensive comments etc. Anthony Watts sin-bins or bans serial offenders, and used properly (which I’m sure he does) that is a good approach.

  128. I like the nested comments. 2 or 3 levels seem good.

    Some possibilities:

    1. Create a rolling open comments post. Create one on Tuesday. Name it Open Comments 120313. Create another on Friday named Open Comments 120613. On the next Tuesday, delete completely 120313 and create 121013. And so on. No need to even keep them around.

    2. Make a list of rules. For example: Thou shalt not trash Obama. If someone trashes Obama once they get a warning. If they do it again, they are banned for life. Frankly, if I were making the rules, the first would be “Thou shalt not trash the hostess.” I don’t understand why people come here to complain about what is posted, how it is analyzed, etc. These people shouldn’t even read the blog, much less comment on it.

    At least this approach is easy on your time and it gets easier as time goes on.

    3. Define a topic for the other posts and ask that people stay on topic or else go to the open comments post. Of course, you like to post topics on the science, policy (which involves directly politics), the sociology of climate change, the psychology, etc. The science and “meta-topics” all together on one blog do tend to invite a wide variety of responses and interests.

    • Jim2
      “Thou shalt not trash the Hostess”
      Amen to that!
      If all they want to do is just trash talk the hostess, the owner of this blog, what the hell are they doing on this blog?
      I admire Judith’s forbearance in allowing those same trash talkers to keep posting.
      We are all only guests of the blog owner and are only here at her pleasure so it behoove all of the guests here to maintain a good level of respect for our hostess, the blog owner, in this case Dr Curry.
      If you are not prepared to offer that respect, get the hell out of here.

      Or in the more direct Australian rural lingo, if those same trash talkers were invited into Judith’s house at the level of respect shown here, they would just as likely piss in the corner of her lounge.

    • A small point, but I always use YYMMDD format, as it keeps things in chronological order. Not too important if you delete things weekly, of course.

  129. Yoram Bauman @ December 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    It looks like the only thing everyone can agree on that would improve the Comments section is for JC to put more time into moderating it :)

    I strongly disagree that more time spent moderating deleting, snip;ping comments and arguing with those who think their comment should not have been snipped or whatever, would be a valuable use of JC’s time. And I suspect if JC had to do this she would soon get sick of it and move to other interests.

    So, I think the one thing most people agree on is that JC should do whatever she wants to do.

  130. David L. Hagen @ December 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Any way to vote Thumbs Up/Down

    The Conversation</i<' had that and got rid of it. It became totally political. The votes showed the number of positive in a blue box and the number of negative in a red box. The positives were for comments the 'progressives' liked and the red for the comments the rationalists liked.

  131. I noticed the comments were a little better back in the ‘day’:

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/22/hiding-the-decline/#comments

    Maybe now there is only rift-raft left (like me) ready to jump ship when the first Ice Free Arctic occurs.

    I’m in favor of Steve Mc s ON TOPIC ONLY idea!

  132. The problem/s are not due to the system, at the moment, but due to a handful of individuals, who tend to bicker, monopolize threads, overlengthen them and display aggressive ignorance (“show me evidence”). Get rid of them.

  133. Brandon Shollenberger

    I’ll post my thoughts on this subject in a bit, but in the meantime, I just want to highlight something from the post:

    Lets try this method on this thread (i.e. no one push the reply button) and see how it works.

  134. Chief Hydrologist

    Moderate dreck!!! Unfunny one line snarks. Rants repeated once too often. Anything that detracts from ‘the vibe’.

    Get it done by a low level employee. Rud was offering financial incentives? Add a donations button?

  135. @ Brandon comments 421066#, “Lets try this method on this thread (i.e. no one push the reply button) and see how it works”

    Nah, way too boring :)

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I find a lack of nesting makes conversations unappealing on busy sites. I just thought it was funny our host suggested nobody use the Reply feature, yet tons of people did. Heck, our host herself used it within an hour of suggesting nobody do so.

    • David Springer

      What? Who? Ban them!

      Oh wait…

  136. capt, just click on the date to pick up the comment @ your url:

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/03/blog-commenting-policy/#comment-421069

    It’s quicker than typing it out.

  137. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to comment, and I concur with those above who also thank you for the time, effort and tolerance that you have shown in running this blog.

    In the end, it comes down to how much time you want, or are able, to spend on moderation. If you had a team of volunteer moderators who could help, the existing nesting system with more moderation would work OK. If not, the incentives for childish foodfights, and endlessly repetitive battles between the usual suspects (like a bad marriage, as I have said previously) will continue to operate.

    At Steve McIntyre’s, nesting works OK because the volume of comments is much lower and Steve is able to weed out the ad homs and irrelevant comments without spending all day monitoring the blog. And he does allow Kim and a couple of other wits to contribute from time to time.

    Failing that – and I think it would be a waste of your valuable time to spend all day doing this – getting rid of nesting deters many of the drive-bys except for a few tragics who have nothing else to do with their lives but peer at the screen and engage in cyber-wars. They are certainly targets for automatic moderation, IMO. We all know who they are. Anthony Watts puts them in the sin-bin for a specified period, and it seems to work.

    As others have said, it is very tedious to come to a new thread and find that there are already 200+ comments, when you know that at least 100 of them are food fights between the usual suspects. And revisiting long threads the next day is a nightmare. There may be good stuff in there somewhere, but finding it takes time that you will never get back.

    I agree with the suggestion of having separate threads where people can make off-topic comments and have food fights if they wish to. One site I follow starts a new Open Thread every time the number of comments reaches a certain point, and it is an automated function. Off topic comments and food fights in other threads are deleted, ruthlessly. It works quite well.

    I suggest finding technical and structural solutions as far as possible, to avoid you having to become a full-time unpaid blog monitor, which would be wasteful, and pretty boring for you as well!

    Finally, I note how well almost everyone behaved on the Stadium Wave thread. Just goes to show that there are plenty of people here who prefer to have a sensible discussion rather than emulating the social cripple in mother’s basement.

  138. Judith, I appreciate your effort and your sight greatly, I believe everyone who visits any of these blog sites must appreciate the effort that the owners put in simply to operate and post let alone the additional effort if they require heavy moderation. We should all be mindful of that when we post.
    Now sorry quite off topic but something most will find particularly interesting :-
    http://notrickszone.com/2013/12/03/german-scientists-show-climate-driven-by-natural-cycles-global-temperature-to-drop-to-1870-levels-by-2100/

  139. If numbering is not allowed, I would like no nesting, but people can respond to comments by name and time. With no nesting all the comments will be in chronological order, so finding a name and time is just scrolling up. This also automatically puts the newest comments at the bottom, not interspersed among threads. So, while I liked multiple levels (4 for example when we used to have that), this has the advantage that new comments are at the bottom, and name and time is also as good as numbers.
    So a comment might start with
    Re: Michael 8:37 am, …
    and it would be easy to find, but a bit difficult to return to what I was reading unless I also noted its time before going away from it. It can be handled with two tabs open, but I guess no solution is perfect. If we could be trained how to put the link to the thing we respond to in our message, that may also help, but is perhaps not going to catch on.

  140. I agree that there is a problem with irrelevant comments or off topic comments and also petty exchanges and constant expositions of pet theories that are off topic. I’m not sure about the cure for this, but removing nesting might help. It’s worth a try. Another cure would be to put people who use name calling on the moderation list and keep them there for a time. The job of effective moderation is very time consuming and perhaps students could be enlisted to help. It would be great real world training for them.

  141. dunbars number

  142. Moderation is a wonderful time-saver. JC’s messages are too important to be diluted by personal and irrelevant attacks.

  143. Arno Arrak | December 3, 2013 at 10:28 pm |

    It’s fairly easy.

    1. Copy to your copy/paste buffer the first line of the comment you wish to reply to, by highlighting with your mouse and hitting Ctrl-C.
    2. Go to the bottom of the page using the scroll bar.
    3. Paste to the comment text box using Ctrl-V
    4. Hit Enter twice.
    5. Re-read the original comment.
    6. Think deeply.
    7. Open notepad and compose a first draft of your planned response.
    8. Open a separate browser session and thoroughly research what you plan to say, to confirm it contains some shred of truth.
    9. Copy links to your sources into your notepad.
    10. Check your sources to see if they’re qualified and can back up their claims with data. Never use yourself as a reference.
    11. Check the data.
    12. Do your own math to see if it agrees with the conclusions.
    13. Rethink your reply.
    14. Amend your draft.
    15. Repeat until you have something worthwhile to say, and can prove it with facts and reason.
    16. Copy and paste that from Notepad to your comment.
    17. Click “Post Comment”.

    Which I’m sure will improve the quality of your comments.

  144. curryja | December 3, 2013 at 9:25 am |

    It’s simple defense against automated spammers to close comments after some suitable period.

    If active discourse is ongoing in an older post, it’s no doubt worth a sequel; if a sequel is not viable, there’s always Week in Review, with links to the old thread.

  145. Considering the noise in the last thread, finding Springer’s link to Josh Willis pencil whipping the data alone made it a worthwhile endeavor. I see no problem. Some days there is not much going on. But whenever to topic is very interesting there is quite a lot of intelligent response.

  146. I am a regular reader and occasional commentator.

    Some very good comments are made, but are increasingly lost in the noise.
    So I support heavier moderation, but I think nesting is useful. One of the values of blogging is that it promotes *debate*. Without a way to reply to individual posts that would be lost.

  147. Prof Curry,
    Higher levels of moderation is much welcome and long overdue, although it might be undue burden on those who moderate. The SNR is trending lower and lower over time due to a dozen or so comment-abusers from all sides of the argument. It has been quite difficult for sometime to find the good comments from the sea of bad ones. Some are obvious trolls repeating the same arguments over and over in every thread no matter what the thread is about. They would clearly like to drive the average reader away by increasing the noise levels.

    here are my 2 cents worth:
    1, You own the blog and do all the work — so your rules rule! complainers should be ready to do the bulk of the work.
    2. 2 levels of nesting is useful to track replies to specific comments. Otherwise it is harder to figure out which comment is in reply to which other comment in a visual way.
    3. All comments not related to the specific topic of the post should be mercilessly deleted with a note saying, deleted due to off-topic. For example if the topic is cyclone frequency/severity, the usual hockey-stick fights and Jim Hanson man-crush spam should be deleted.
    4. The usual suspects should be put on notice when they start their usual fights and flood the post with their regular spam (Jim Hanson spam is a prime example. not the only one). They could be warned to move their comments to an off-topic open thread or unthreaded section like someone was pointing out earlier.
    6. If the usual suspects repeatedly abuse the comments section, they should be allowed to post comments ONLY in the off-topic or open threads, for a few weeks, before they are allowed to return to the regular posting comments section.
    7. Hopefully all these can be done in an automated way
    8. All of these things will probably reduce the # of comments (from what seems like full-time professional commenters) and also some amount of traffic in the short term. But in the long run this will improve the SNR significantly and much more meaningful traffic will likely ensue.

    And thank you for your efforts in keeping your patience in tact with ever increasing noise levels and educating some of us who arent in the field. I dont know how you do this patiently, in addition to running a science department. I would have given up a long time ago, if I were in your place. Kudos to you!!

  148. Brandon Shollenberger

    I don’t see nesting as being a problem. Nesting does have its problems, but so does a lack of it. Neither approach is inherently better. Determining which is better between the two approaches requires deciding what one wants to do.

    A lack of nesting makes the comments section one-dimensional. Everything happens within a single “pipe.” If you want to participate, you have to join in with everyone else. Making yourself heard requires distinguishing yourself from everyone else. If you want to make a reference to something previously said, you have to try to get people to look back within that single pipe. With a small number of people, that’s not too bad. With a lot, it’s a nightmare.

    There will always be a practical limit as to how many people can participate in a single discussion at one time. A non-nested comments section will reach that limit far faster than a nested comments section. The reason is nesting allows the comments section to be two-dimensional. That means multiple conversations can be held without conflicting with one another. That increases the number of potential participants by a large amount (roughly exponentially).

    Some people have suggested nesting allows for an increase in non-productive communication. This is unquestionably true. However, the reason is not tied directly to the issue of nesting. Instead, it’s tied to the issue of conversations. The more conversations you allow, the more non-productive communication you allow. Tautology aside, it is far easier to keep one conversation “on track” than it is many conversations.

    Removing nesting will definitely decrease non-productive communication. However, it will do so by decreasing all forms of communication. The question is whether or not filtering out one is worth the price of filtering out both. That’s a matter of personal preference, and I can’t make a decision for anyone else on it.

    What I can say is there are many other options. If you want to remove non-productive communication, you can use moderation and casual interaction to do so. If you want to encourage productive communication, you can use other approaches (Mosher provides some interesting ideas). None of these approaches are tied to nesting. You can use them regardless of whether you remove or keep nesting. Their value won’t change.

    This issue can be seen in terms of data analysis. Removing nesting just filters out data. It does so in a somewhat arbitrary way. Not only does it not have a clear effect, the non-randomness it introduces is fairly unpredictable. However, it does reduce the amount of data to a more manageable amount, and as such, it may allow for “analysis” to be possible where it wouldn’t be otherwise. You just have to decide whether the non-random subset removing nesting produces is more useful than the full, messier population.

    I feel like that was rambly so I’ll give a simple statement of my views: Removing nesting is a terrible idea. This site attracts far too many people who have valuable contributions to restrict conversation to a single thread. The entire idea of a “salon” requires us allow disjoint conversations.

    The best solution would be to increase moderation presence. Let people talk to each other as much as they like, but make it clear what forms of communication are allowed. Do that, and it won’t matter how much nesting is or is not allowed; people will keep in line.

    Of course, an increased moderation presence will require more effort. As before, I suggest our host find help. If she doesn’t want to risk giving “power” away (which I wouldn’t), the help can simply flag comments for her. That is, volunteers can draw her attention to potential problems, and she will make the decisions. That would allow her to maintain a strong moderation presence without having to examine each comment individually.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Thanks Faustino.

      Out of curiosity, did you see my follow-up comment? I think the idea in it provides a pretty good compromise between the two systems. It keeps the potential for discussions while not requiring people uninterested in those discussions see them. I think it is not unreasonable to require a person who is interested in a topic click on a button to see a discussion of that topic. To make things better, I think it’d be easy enough to have one button display all nested comments in case someone wanted to change the entire page.

      I think it’d be a great improvement, and I don’t see any downsides to it. Do you?

    • > Removing nesting will definitely decrease non-productive communication. However, it will do so by decreasing all forms of communication.

      See for yourself:

      http://rankexploits.com/musings/2013/bet-on-november-uah-anomalies/

    • Matthew R Marler

      Brandon Schollenberger: I don’t see nesting as being a problem. Nesting does have its problems, but so does a lack of it. Neither approach is inherently better. Determining which is better between the two approaches requires deciding what one wants to do.

      fwiw, I agree with that.

      I suspect that you can’t satisfy everyone on this issue. I think it would be better to have nesting to 4 deep instead of 2 deep, but I have read tedious abuses in all formats, so I don’t think that the format is the problem. For example, non-sequiturs (or perceived non-sequiturs) are as tedious no matter what the format. Same with personal insults. And good links are welcome, again independent of the nesting convention.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Brandon Schollenberger: The best solution would be to increase moderation presence.

      Prof Curry puts up an excellent selection of posts to read, with judicious selections from longer pieces that we can link to. I would hate to see a “solution” that took away some of the time that she dedicates to making this a good place to come to each day.

      One day I likened this to sandlot football. You don’t have to play, but if you decide to, you have to expect some of the players to cuss and cheat execrably, and you can expect to eat dirt, mud and grass. To some degree, you just have to decide to put up with some stuff. The sandlot is not the problem.

      I really like Prof Curry’s work in providing this site. As I wrote, a “solution” that takes too much of her time would not lead to improvement. I expect that, at the end of reading all these comments, she will make a judicious decision that some people exploit and others of us find admirable.

  149. I know I shouldn’t … tsk!

    Things fall apart. A Nest.

    A nest has fallen to the ground.
    Though so cunningly made it could not withstand
    The sudden Spring storm that brought it down
    From its niche in a tall pine.
    See how meticulously its maker has woven
    Each separate blade of grass in and out,
    Each blade brought in by air and stitched
    Together with cobweb by the small beak,
    The nest then shaped by the bird’s round breast
    And inlaid with its feathered down. Already
    Ants are investigating the broken
    Eggshells scattered on the ground.

  150. Brandon Shollenberger

    I have a compromise I wonder if our hostess would approve of. It’s related to what several other people have suggested: It’d be nice if we could have nesting with the ability to “hide” threads we aren’t interested in.

    The idea is simple. Each non-nested comment would display like normal. Every nested comment would be “hidden.” They’d only show up if one clicked on a button to “expand” the conversation they’re within. The effect is nested conversations would only be displayed if a user wanted to see them. People could have as in-depth of conversations they wanted within a given thread, and it wouldn’t affect the rest of the page.

    My idea isn’t to do anything complicated. Threads wouldn’t be hidden based on who participated in them, what ratings were given to them or who was viewing them. They’d be hidden by default. You’d see nested conversations if, and only if, you wanted to see those particular conversations. The idea is simple enough, and I’d be willing to write the code for it.

    Do you guys think you’d be happy with such a compromise? What about you, Judith?

    • It would be a good idea if it were possible.

      But what I really liked on another web site – Senator Steve Fielding’s web site in Australia – was you could select to close all the comments by a particular author. When closed, only the line with the authors namem dae and time is displayed. You can click on it to expand it to read it if you want to. You can click to expand or close any comment and select to close or expand all comments by that author. The authors you set to ‘close all’ are closed on new posts unless you ‘expand all’ for that thread, or for all threads.

    • all this would be great, my challenge is to work within constraints of wordpress.com. I anyone knows how to do all this better on wordpress.com pls let me know!

    • Judith, I think Revkin has something like this. Or perhaps did at one time. It’s been a while since I’ve been there and I know a major change was made at one point. As I recall, only a certain amount of replies are (or were) visible, and you have to click to see the rest. As I said, that might have changed.

      Anyway, you might want to check with him…

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Hey Judith Curry. What I described is definitely possible with wordpress.com. I can check around to see if there’s a convenient plug-in for it, but if not, I can write one myself. It shouldn’t take much effort. I believe implementing it takes only a dozen lines of code or so.

      I need to get some sleep though. I’ll post again later today.

    • David Springer

      I checked and it appears judithcurry.com is pointing to free hosting at wordpress.com so she can’t upload plugins or modify core code. I looked at doing something on the browser side. It’s messy, difficult for user to install, and prone to breakage with browser and/or wordpress upgrades. The way to do it right is a plug-in. Thoughts?

    • David Springer

      The domain judithcurry.com is registered with godaddy.com.

      Godaddy has not bad hosting options for wordpress where you can add plug-ins. Looks like climate etc can get away with economy @ $6.99/mo.

      http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/wordpress-hosting.aspx?gclid=CJaS4eLwlrsCFSho7AodN10ANg&isc=gooh500b&ef_id=Up9J3gAAAfF7Qjjg:20131204152726:s

      http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/wordpress-hosting.aspx?gclid=CJaS4eLwlrsCFSho7AodN10ANg&isc=gooh500b&ef_id=Up9J3gAAAfF7Qjjg:20131204152726:s

    • David Springer

      http://wordpress.org/plugins/jquery-expandable-comments/

      Here’s an item the doctor ordered!

    • David Springer

      Mosher,

      What looked of interest on the 33 link

      Greg’s Comment Numbering already mentioned.

      Disqus looked like way too much departure from current format and won’t be backwards compatible with existing comments.

      Intense Debates has some nice features but I think might also be too much departure.

      It seems to me a few strategic plugins that add numbering, collapse, and a the moral equivalent of a kill-file would do the trick. There’s at least example code for the first two on wordpress svn plugin repository and I’m sure I can whip up a plugin for the latter if I can’t find one.

      Judith I believe needs to bite the bullet and use godaddy wordpress hosting which costs about the same per month as a six-pack of premium beer and a small learning curve to use their wordpress configuration wizard.

    • The “quote” feature is useful, as is the edit feature that allows modification for a limited period of time (say 90 seconds).

    • David Springer

      Joshua there’s a stand-along plugin which does just comment editing for a limited period of time. There’s also a comment preview plugin I’ve used in the past. I think these are in the bells & whistles rather than mission-critical category. There are thousands of plugins of varying quality. The more you have the more overhead there is in maintenance and more likely something you’ll find broken now or in the future so there’s a compelling reason to stay as close to WordPress stock feature set as practical. Collapse/expand (to hide the dreck temporarily), numbering for finding new comments since last feature, and a the equivalent of a black-list of words/phrases each reader of comments can manage himself so you can block comments by name of author or keyword in the text.

    • Spinger -

      I think these are in the bells & whistles rather than mission-critical category.

      I don’t find any of this “mission-critical.” These are blog comments, for god’s sake.

      I fail to understand why people need some button to expand/contract a thread.. If I don’t want to read someone’s comments or a sub-thread, I just don’t click on their comment in the recent comments list or scroll past their comments in the thread. Or I start to read someone’s comment and then just move on if I find it uninteresting. That all seems much easier to me than bothering with expand/contract buttons.

      I have found that the ability to edit posts after they’ve been posted to be more useful than “preview” buttons (that I forget to use, often). I also find that using a “quote” button makes it much easier to clarify what you’re responding to – as opposed to using the “blockquote” tags.

      Most of this discussion reminds me of Schlimmbesserung.

    • David Springer

      If you don’t appreciate collapsible nested comments you’ve probably never spent a lot of time using them. In a list of 300 comments it’s a phuck of a lot of scrolling to get through all of them. My mouse wheel weareth out. If they are collapsed with only one or a few lines of the top level comments showing there’s just a short list to scroll through. If each is marked with number of replies collapsed beneath it that’s even better because you can quickly see the popular sub-threads. If the reply number is highlighted that means there are new replies underneath since your last visit.

      If you goal is trolling and wasting everyone’s time including your own you probably won’t care for what I’m suggesting.

  151. Thank you for providing this forum, Dr Curry.
    Your work inspires me to do better.
    I will follow whatever rules you select for this blog.
    Again, thank you.

  152. Hi Prof. i understand your point of view. i am fine with that. the only thing i can come up with allowing replies and little moderation is that its easier to follow and allows us not see from a vacuum. i would not worry about it. just let it be and it may be for the best, contra-intuitively.

  153. Brandon Shollenberger

    I noticed some discussion of the idea of closing comments sections after a set period of time. If I may offer my opinion, I think this is a terrible idea for moderation purposes.

    If people have an idea to discuss, I think we should encourage them to discuss it. I can’t see the benefit in requiring them discuss it within a particular timeframe. If a person is away from this blog for a week or so, does that mean they shouldn’t get to discuss a topic? What about people who have a lengthy discussion long after most other people have lost interested in the topic? If people in an exchange average one comment a day, the exchange could last a long while. Should they be penalized because they don’t post many times within any given day?

    I don’t think so. In regards to moderation purposes, I think all posts should be left open indefinitely. I can’t see the harm in allowing people to post comments on a page indefinitely.

    That said, I don’t think comment sections need to be left open indefinitely. lucia at The Blackboard closes topics after they become inactive for a certain period of time. She does that because it reduces bandwidth consumption on her server. That’s a good reason, and I have no problem with it.

    If you want to close comment sections for practical reasons regarding resources, I support the decision. If you want to because you hope it’ll reduce wasted space, I’m afraid I don’t think it’ll have any benefit.

  154. Is it possible in WordPress to have a user option to collapse and/or expand nested comments (ie like the Guardian comments section)

    a feature like that would seem to accommodate most peoples wishes.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      It is. I’ve suggested out hostess use that upthread, and I’ve even suggested I’d be willing to write the code for it if necessary.

      The biggest trick is just making sure whatever code one writes is compatible with the themes/plug-ins being used. Otherwise, I think it should be pretty simple. In fact, I think Google can turn up some examples.

  155. I have read through many of the comments, and I feel one aspect is missing from the discussion. The responsibility for the success of CE lies not with our hostess, but with us denizens. Any changes should ensure that Judith does less work, rather than more.

    Let me go back to USENET, where the organizers made it completely clear that they set up the groups, but the groups policed themselves. On rec.crafts.textiles.needlework (RCTN), at it’s height, we had 200 messages per day; no moderation, no nesting, text only. When you operate with that sort of traffic, you learn very quickly how to behave.

    Whatever changes are made to CE, I hope our hostess has an easier time, and we denizens learn now to behave properly, whatever “properly” means. That way, CE will live and prosper.

  156. I haven’t commented on this blog before. I have tried to read it but have always found the comments section rather incoherent due to the reply nesting. It may seem a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t appear to work in practice. Maybe because new comments are being added at all levels the comment section becomes unstructured and chaotic. . I find I just skip towards the end looking for something more interesting and then give up.
    By contrast, Anthony Watt’s site, with no nesting, is quite readable. There are of course many silly comments there also, but it seems somewhat easier to ignore those and concentrate on the informative ones.
    So I think removing the reply facility would be a good idea. Did you get the impression I was leading up to that?

  157. First, Dr. Curry, I agree with many others that this is the best blog out there regarding the climate debate. I read it daily, comment occasionally, and find it to be highly educational, not only for the posts, but also for much of the commentary given the freedom you allow for all points of view. Unfortunately, along with that freedom comes more than a little noise more often than one would hope. Given the politicization and polarization surrounding this topic, I don’t think the noise can be completely eliminated. Even in your call for more civil discourse in this post, there are a couple on both sides of this debate who chose to throw out a jibe or two in their comments on this thread.
    I tend to agree with the view that it is your blog and you should administer it in the way that best suits your interests and available time, but do think that there is an overall net benefit to nesting vs. not nesting as it allows for more of a conversation. If Brandon Shollenberger’s approach can be implemented, that may make the site more appealing to many.
    Regardless, I will continue to read it daily as I find the posts to be interesting and informative as well as the comments.
    If more people would follow your lead, we might actually acheive the kind of debate that would lead to sensible policy decisions.

  158. “I am inclined to eliminate nesting all together”

    An excellent idea.

  159. I’ve always admired this CE commenting guideline:

    “Make the points YOU want to make.”

    In the past WUWT used to be devilishly plagued with protracted, juvenile, pointless exchanges driven solely by 2 self-appointed thought-policing agents who would actively hunt and maliciously harass. This was frequent, protracted harassment that went on for years. (It may still be ongoing — I don’t pay attention anymore, so I don’t know.) I have a suggestion for people like that: Jail time. I mean that seriously. Moderating them or even banning them isn’t enough. Relentless targeted harassment need not be tolerated in person and it also need not be tolerated online.

    The level of harassment at CE is much lower now than it used to be, but there are still a few commentators I would not hesitate to immediately ban were I moderating this blog. I ran online forums for years in a professional setting. I ran a cleansed — one could even say sanitized — environment. I assure you that’s efficiently feasible and here’s a tip: It only takes 1 or 2 bad apples to ruin the barrel. Nasty behavior is contagious & infectious. Deal promptly with the worst 1 or 2 individuals and 80% of the problem immediately goes away.

    One can note from the comments at WUWT that even sensible parties become corrupted from exposure to protracted abuse. The bar of conduct gets universally lowered. It would take some pretty heavy-handed moderation to bring that back under control as the whole population of commentators is justifiably irritated. It becomes necessary to be extremely assertive & aggressive just to shout over the devilish (stealth political activity not very effectively camouflaged as authority) thought-policing assertions that 2+2=5.

    According to the CE policy that I admire (“Make the points YOU want to make.”) they can say “2+2=5″ but they can’t hunt and protractedly harass (for years no less) others for daring to say 2+2=4.

    Were I moderating CE there is one extremely rude commentator who I would firmly hold to this:

    “Make the points YOU want to make.”

    I would make sure that individual was not allowed to stalk and hunt. It’s darkly negative and creepy to stalk and hunt. I would force the individual to either positively initiate enlightenment of others or leave CE altogether. This is not a hunting ground. I would make clear that the denizens are not a herd of prey for creepy stalkers who actively seek out opinions & facts they don’t like — to rudely p*ss on, never ever initiating anything constructive & positive themselves. Comments should aim to advance discussion rather than indecently drown it in urine.

  160. Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

    For me, the new commenting policy, is ok. I am using this blog as a way to advertize my essay “Refuting IPCC’s claims on climate change”:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4r_7eooq1u2VHpYemRBV3FQRjA
    with the aim of finding a scientific critic and/or discussion.
    But in two months, as far as I have checked, only one person has read that essay and he did not comment anything.
    So I will insist in it some weeks more and then I will move to some other skeptic’s blogs.

    • Can you give me the source of your Fig 4. ?

    • Antonio ==> You online paper gives no contact information — no email, no phone, no snail mail, no academic affiliation….no nothing. How do you expect to receive feedback?

      Most published papers have an author to contact — since you are sole author, that would be you.

      May I suggest adding this information to your paper, then when people look at it and wish to comment, maybe a comment that they would rather make to you privately, they could do so.

      I would comment if you provided contact info.

    • Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

      Hi Kip Hansen, this document:
      https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4r_7eooq1u2VHpYemRBV3FQRjA
      is not a peer reviewed published paper. I had an issue with peer reviewing, as I am just a physicist with no academic affiliation.
      May be in a future, Judith Curry or any other academic, could sponsor an improved version of this paper for publishing it in the usual way, but in the mean time, I am happy enough if someone like yourself, Kip, spends some time in reading it.
      About your query, I cannot provide you with a scientific peer reviewed source of my figure 4, because I got it from a similar figure downloaded from the internet and modified according to IPCC’s figures 11.25 and 12.5: I wanted to show the stochasticity in figure 11.25 (plus these updated observations in black) and place them into the long term projections as in fig 12.5 (but only spanning until the year 2100).
      By the way, these 4 RCP scenarios, is a textualization of figure:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_forcing_agents_CO2_equivalent_concentration.png
      From this figure, figure 12.5 and the linear equation N = N(T), anyone can understand (even IPCC’s leading authors of these chapters) that they have created a fictitious science based on values not confirmed by observation, (as that “observation” will require hundreds [may be thousands] of years).

    • Reply to Antonio ==> I will not discuss or comment on your paper here in public.

      If you wish to discuss it, and have my comments, please email me as kip at my domain i4.net.

  161. What I have always liked about this blog is the choice of subjects which approaches climate and climate change from more perspectives than any other blog that I am aware of. The lead material always is carefully thought out presented, which reflects a great deal of effort invested by Dr. Curry. It should lead to hearty discussions by those with something useful to say. So, it is painful for me to see the discussion boards degenerate into trivial soap operas and snarkfests as they so often do, which repels a number of would-be thoughtful commenters. Although I understand that enforcing etiquette and topicality adds to the work of running the blog, I think that doing so is necessary to keep the already considerable investment from going to waste.

  162. Matthew R Marler

    Personally I prefer nesting.

    What really helps is to quote exactly the person and comment that you are writing about, in my opinion.

    There are some people whose comments I almost always skip. I expect every reader automatically tunes someone out.

  163. I read through the comments before commenting, and thought Paul Vaughn’s were particularly to the point.

    I think you do need a comprehensive policy, to minimize the amount of whinging from comment abusers when you are forced to crack down on them.

    However, it’s pretty clear it’s the same small group of characters who regularly engage in abuse, and most of them are self-aware of what they are doing… So perhaps, in practice, it wouldn’t be that much work.

    I like the suggestion of collapsing threads, but being able toggle between threaded and flat (by date posted) views would be helpful too.

  164. Try putting this on your Terms Of Site Use page. It’s standard issue and used on many sites.

    Before submitting the comment, you agree:

    a. To accept full responsibility for the comment that you submit.
    b. To use this function only for lawful purposes, which includes but not limited to “cyber-stalking” other individuals.
    c. Not to post defamatory, abusive, offensive, racist, sexist, threatening, vulgar, obscene, hateful or otherwise inappropriate comments, or to post comments which will constitute a criminal offense or give rise to civil liability.
    d. Not to post or make available any material which is protected by copyright, trademark or other proprietary right without the express permission of the owner of the copyright, trademark or any other proprietary right.
    e. To evaluate for yourself the accuracy of any opinion, advice or other content.
    f. Not to use shadow proxies to hide your IP address in order to “cyber-stalk” or “threaten” other commentators.

  165. Like many others, I prefer unnested threads. Pete Holzmann has a Firefox add-on (“CA Assistant”) which converts WordPress nested threads to unnested. I recommend it.

    If readers are reasonably well-behaved, moderating after the fact generally works best.

    Editorially, it takes far more time to snip than to zamboni. My practice is frequently to snip the first comment in a foodfight or diversion and to zamboni the rest. Otherwise it takes too much time. It also depends on volume. A few years ago, CA used to get much more comment volume than presently and I agree that it’s harder to do this when volumes are higher.

    The constant re-iteration of off-topic hackneyed arguments on unrelated threads (typically by the same commenters) is also a disservice to commenters who stay on topic, but whose comments get swamped by the din or overlooked because of the volume of OT comments. Such OT comments are not fair to Judy but unless Judy asks people not to do so, they will continue.

    My two cents, as someone with lots of experience.

    • I activated CA Assistant, but it doesn’t seem to work well enough without some tweaking. I noticed that the script contains site-specific definitions, but it wasn’t immediately obvious, how they should be defined.

      For some reason I had problems also on CA.

      One problem on both sites is that I cannot modify or even see any settings, only an totally black area.

    • Editorially, it takes far more time to snip than to zamboni.

      And it matters what takes up time for the host, especially in the high-volume situation. (Earlier I said ‘snip more’ meaning both modes of deletion but Steve’s distinction is important.) Whatever policy is adopted it must be sustainable.

      Well, ideally it should be sustainable. Climate Etc has been valuable the old way, in my estimation. That value doesn’t go away with a change of policy now. (A reason it’s a pity to lose old nesting in past threads. That seems to me one of dumbest things about WordPress, that it insists in backdating a change of policy in this area. Does anyone know of a solution for this?)

  166. My feet are firmly planted on the less (and preferably no) nesting is best side for several reasons – not the least of which is that it requires the user to do a little work if s/he wants comments to be read.

    We are guests in Judith’s “salon”; as such, IMHO, we should each do our best to act like responsible grown-ups rather than creating additional work (i.e. moderation) for our hostess. While I agree that none of us should have to contend with the perpetual outpourings of the “drecksters” (and/or their “enablers”), I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Judith to “police” them.

    I appreciate the views of those who believe that nesting facilitates the flow of discussion. However, another option one could use – particularly if the discussion veers off-topic for the post – would be to take it to one’s own blog and invite interested others to follow. In this day and age, it’s really easy to set-up a blog of one’s own (particularly at WordPress).

    To those who have suggested/requested additional comment management features – and/or volunteered to write plugin code – please bear in mind that (for reasons perhaps best known only to themselves) the WordPress.com platform offers very little flexibility in comment features.

    I’m inclined to suspect that this lack of flexibility makes maintenance and updating of templates easier for them. As I cannot imagine that they have not received many, many requests for more comment features and flexibility.

    Even with WordPress Enterprise (which I suspect costs an arm and a leg):

    Plugins [...] are only applicable to self-hosted blogs and web sites using the WordPress.org software. Plugins are not permitted here at WordPress.com for various security reasons. [emphasis added -hro]

    Source: http://en.support.wordpress.com/?s=wordpress.com+enterprise

    To the best of my (admittedly limited) programming knowledge – any usable “plugin” e.g. the CA Assistant, which only works with Firefox, would probably also be “browser dependent”. There are so many flavours of browsers out there; and I suspect far more visitors here who choose to silently lurk and learn than there are those of us who are more vocal! That being the case, I doubt that there is any one-size-fits-all plugin that could overcome these limitations.

    I have one additional “beef”. The mileage of others may vary, but my eyes tend to glaze over when I see what appears to be a wall of text in a single paragraph – with no “white space” separating different but related points/thoughts.

    This, however, is a “problem” that is easily solved by hitting the [Enter] key twice between paragraphs. Believe me, this will make it far easier for others not to miss any important point(s) you might be making :-)

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I feel like a moron. I decided to write a plugin to allow collapsible comments, and I tested it on a WordPress installation, and it worked fine. Then I opened a WordPress.com blog, and I realized what you say here – you have to self-host if you want to use plugins. I’m going to go hang my head in shame now.

      The only good thing about it is it was as easy as I thought. At least I didn’t waste too much time.

  167. There are a half-dozen or so muck stirrers with OCD whom I’d like to see banned. Between them and those drawn into the melee, they account for a large proportion of the comments, which are always about the same old same old and lower the tone and usefulness of the blog.

    One level of reply is enough, IMO.

  168. My view is reply levels is a very good thing. It allows people to identify useless bickering and move on to the next lower level of reply. The only other alternative is to reply to a reply at the current reply level, mixing up replies to replies and removing the ability to move on from uninteresting stuff.

    The extreme form of limiting levels is to have “0″, which is only the original post. No comments at all. I’ve heard the argument before that bickering detracts from someone’s ability to appreciate a blog, but I don’t understand it. If you don’t like the comments, don’t read them.

    If you don’t like reading beyond a reply level “X”, don’t read them.

  169. Steve Fitzpatrick

    Hi Judy,
    “Your thoughts on this and blog policies in general?”

    As you are aware, comments at your blog are too often dominated by a handful (certainly less than 10-15) of very prolific commenters… most of whom have absolutely nothing of substance to say.. only politics. Political arguments have no possibility of progress; better to eliminate them from your blog. If you could limit comments to no more frequent than X minutes apart (with X being more than 20), that would be a start.

    Un-threaded comments, along with an explicit requirement that the commenter specify to whom he/she is responding, would be a lot easier to read and follow than the nested comment structure you have been using… and best of all, it would also be much easier to skip over all the dreck from the uber-frequent commenters… of which there is a huge amount.

    The ideal would be to limit each commenter to not more than X comments per thread (with X being a relatively small number), but that may be impossible.

    Anyway, I am happy that you are addressing this subject; your blog can only become a better forum for exchange of ideas if you apply a measure on control on the ‘most zealous’.

    • “Un-threaded comments, along with an explicit requirement that the commenter specify to whom he/she is responding, would be a lot easier to read and follow than the nested comment structure you have been using… and best of all, it would also be much easier to skip over all the dreck from the uber-frequent commenters… of which there is a huge amount.”

      How do you figure this? If you can’t identify the back and forth you don’t care for by leveling, the alternative is to go through all the comments, instead of skipping a main post. In fact, I think MORE levels would solve the problem of allowing someone to ignore an exchange they are not interested in.

  170. Observing the flow of comments here & in your previous topics:
    0. Your blog attracts a particularly wide range of reasonable comments from all sides of the CAGW issue, as well as the usual extremists;
    1. I have said before that real progress in this, as in other hard and heartfelt debates, will depend on the recognition by the reasonable that they do not hold a monopoly of that quality, ie that (y)our opponents will include those who (a) are open to persuasion, and (b) may have something of value to say;
    2. What appears to have happened in this thread is a discussion whiere opinions have cut across the usual dividing lines. Perhaps I am mistaken, but has there been an occasional outbreak here of actual agreement between habitual and substantive opponents, at least on the way in which their differences are best pursued?
    3. I would like to reflect to participants what has happened here, which I think is important beyond this thread:
    4. The tacit admission that, because you deeply disagree with someone on a really important issue, so deeply that it is difficult to even communicate productively – does NOT mean they are a monster, a lunatic or a cretin, and so much so that you cannot have a rational discussion about other matters (eg blog posting policy and techniques);
    5. There are reasonable people on both, or all, sides of the fence who share at least a common wish to fix things so that (a) broadly technical issues do not get in the way of the main discussion, and (b) the founder and host, who is overwhelmingly appreciated and admired for doing so, is enabled to manage her blog effectively and as a true reflection of her ownership.

    If anyone wants to progress from the terrible stalemate of trench warfare in the climate debate, build it from discussions like this one, because talks about talks, or here talks about talking, are always the first step.

    Stuart B

  171. It is almost impossible to fine-tune, or even broadly adjust a process where the operators of the process desire two completely different process interfaces. Making an adjustment to satisfy one group usually makes things worse for the other group. Trying to improve the process interface then becomes a political decision about which set of users’ desires to throw under the bus – drive off-site in other words – and live with a smaller set of more satisfied operators.

    Therefore…

    As I see it Judy has to make a very basic decision about what kind of blog she wants to be hosting. Does Judy want the sort of blog where her readers can actually interact with one another as well as herself? [vertical and horizontal interaction] Well then, nested comments are the answer.

    Or, does Judy want the sort of blog where interaction is strictly vertical and no interaction is wanted or encouraged horizontally between blog readers? Then no nested comments – easy.

    Or, or, does Judy want no interaction with her readers at all, strictly top-down? Then no comments at all.

    Being a “yes-and” kind of guy what I would suggest to Judy is to do BOTH. Simply have two blogs with identical content but with different commenting policies – copying and cross posting a blog article is not hard on WordPress. Call one “Climate Etc.” and the other “Climate Etc. Etc.” People will very quickly sort themselves out by tribe into the Threaded Tribe and the Sans-Thread Tribe and everyone will be much more satisfied.

    Once you get the two different tribes self-sorted onto their respective tribal islands, it is then possible to fine tune the commenting processes. A mirrored blog strategy will likely cause Judy fewer headaches and take up less of her valuable time than trying to moderate all of our little spats. The scroll-wheel works great for me.

    It would be fascinated to find out what really changes and who winds up on what island and who really causes the most problems.

    Lets also hope that the people at Automatic get off their butts and devise an improved threaded comment interface as Dave Springer suggested near the top – long overdue.

    W^3

    • I do so luv interactions, its the agora, its feed back loops,
      it pertains ter the western tradition of critical debate and
      human inter action.

      Judith’s blog, (unique ?) is the modern …salon (French)…
      Benjamin Franklin luved it, )and special interest-clubs-
      clubs (Scottish) of the Enlightenment only more democratic.
      “Let there be light ”

      H/t Bernard Cohen et ‘al.’ That ain’t ‘al’ Gore. ‘
      jest-a-serf.

  172. Brandon Shollenberger | December 5, 2013 at 12:42 am wrote:

    [...] I decided to write a plugin to allow collapsible comments, and I tested it on a WordPress installation, and it worked fine. Then I opened a WordPress.com blog, and I realized what you say here – you have to self-host if you want to use plugins. [...]

    Brandon, sorry I hadn’t posted my comment sooner. This might have spared you (and possibly others who might have gone madly off in the same direction) the trouble – and the shame ;-) In my heart of hearts [not to mention what I've learned from my experiences in "customizing" my own blog] , I knew I was right about plugins on WordPress.com.

    But I also knew I’d be challenged if I didn’t provide a link to a source, and I just didn’t have the time to find it earlier, so I had decided to hold my fire, so to speak!

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      It’s alright, though I wouldn’t have challenged you if you had posted this without a reference. I knew there were things you couldn’t do unless you self-host. I just hadn’t realized the limitations were that severe.

      That’s the worst part. I should have known to at least check before saying it’d be easy.

    • OK, Brandon [December 5, 2013 at 3:07 a.m. ... no link because it's getting late, and I'm getting lazy!]

      So that’s twice you’ve hit the “Reply” button! I mention this only because now I’m doing a test.

      Your comment was presented to me (via my WordPress options top-bar) with the option to “reply” which I’m using.

      But in theory, WP should not have presented me with this option; so I’m curious to see where this comment might land!

    • David Springer

      I pointed out the need for self-hosting earlier.

      David Springer | December 4, 2013 at 10:20 am |

      I checked and it appears judithcurry.com is pointing to free hosting at wordpress.com so she can’t upload plugins or modify core code. I looked at doing something on the browser side. It’s messy, difficult for user to install, and prone to breakage with browser and/or wordpress upgrades. The way to do it right is a plug-in. Thoughts?

    • The “hack” is to not do comments in a Plugin, where WP.com can prevent admin priviledges, but thru a Theme. Building a template page with
      A. Judith’s simple-formatted article, then
      B. elaborate discussion logic all contained in post.php aux wp-mysql table.(maybe shortcodes)

      I’d say remarks for audience would do well in a wiki format: I’ve seen this recently used in a coursera MOOC to great effect: https://research.stepic.org/

      There’s certainly Wiki bootstraps out there to which the main article could simply be added to the top.

  173. OK, in the interest of this thread, I will cop to OCD. The nesting is an OCD enabler. Be done with it.

  174. No nesting is the way to go. WUWT has no nesting and it lends itself to more technical discussion and less fanatical activist blovation

  175. Dr. Curry ==> Are you going to sum up and share thoughts or decisions?

  176. Daniel Hannan writes in his blog at The Telegraph …

    Judging blogs by their comment threads


    [ ... ] in recent weeks, I’ve noticed several writers pointing at comment threads. The brilliant Ed West, formerly of this parish, Tweeted in a tone of resigned sorrow that, unfairly or not, a blog was bound to be judged by its comments. Robert Shrimsley, once a Telegraph correspondent, now at the FT, recently became very agitated because one of my comment threads had become infested by a handful of the anti-Semitic losers who trawl the web from their mother’s basements. If I didn’t respond, he suggested, it was because their opinions didn’t bother me.

    [ ... ]
    Of all the people who read this blog – and I’m sure the same is true of the Guardian – no more than one per cent have ever posted a comment, and probably no more than 0.005 per cent comment with any frequency. Of those who do comment, most are polite, and a fair number carry out the invaluable role of drawing errors to my attention. But, of course, it’s not these that leap out at the observer. No more than eight or nine prolific posters can, in effect, set the tone below the line.
    .
    Other regular commenters here have no doubt learned, as I have, not to read these remarks. In a remarkably short time, you become so used to skipping over them that you no longer register their presence. I do, though, try to read other comments, even if I don’t often have time to reply. Interaction with readers has greatly improved the quality of journalism, punishing laziness, identifying inaccuracies, exposing poor arguments. Thank Heaven for that.

    Separately, a comment preview feature would be appreciated.

  177. I confess I’ve started bickering elsewhere because there has been so much bickering here that nobody says anything anymore. And this applies: “90% of the bickering is half mental”. Thanks to Yogi Berra for his guidance in tortured logic. No nesting would be my preference since it makes people think a few seconds more before posting.

  178. People will bicker, it is what makes them people, and suppressing discourse is never positive. Leave the comments alone, nesting actually allows one to skip the bickering so the entire point seems missed by you.

    Many on this and all other blogs come with assumptions, even you, and those assumptions are often simplistic and wrong. It takes more than one nested comment to find the missing issue/assumption and fix it. Really bad idea you have here.

  179. Change nothing about the nesting. This is the coolest blog in the world. It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.

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