26 October 2009

An Inconvenient Comment

Something like "An Inconvenient Comment" blog was long overdue. Its mission statement looks pretty good:
This forum was created to provide a clearing house for all the reasonable and respectful commentary out there that's been drafted and submitted to online climate blogs such as Real Climate and Climate Progress, only to be removed or pulled from moderation in contradiction to the blogs' stated comments guidelines, or due to what AIC and the commenter believe are unreasonable and one-sided restrictions for an open forum.

AIC respects any blogger's right to moderate the discussions on their forum however they see fit, but is troubled by the descrepancy between some climate blogs' claims of openness and even-handedness, and the reality of their moderation practices.

While this forum is open as a place for people discuss questionable moderation practices and perhaps vent (in a constructive and respectful manner) a little, it was created with two primary goals:

1) To provide a more open and diverse extension of ongoing discussions at climate blogs where people have had difficulties in having their comments published. While this forum requests that initial comments on a mirrored post are copies of comments that were rejected at the source, responses to and discussions arising from those rejected comments are encouraged. This forum is not intended as an echo chamber; people of all viewpoints on any issues are very welcome to join the discussions in a respectful manner.

2) To encourage those who may have given up on contributing (or attempting to contribute) to discussions at blogs that rarely or never publish their comments to begin again, in hopes that what comments do go through contribute to a better discussion on those forums.

It can be a real sting when one spends time drafting polite and relevant commentary only to have disappear into a black hole because it doesn't support a specific scientific or policy perspective.

By providing a fallback outlet for such speech, this forum hopes to provide a directly related space for those unheard voices, and to encourage more meaningful discussion between differing viewpoints.

8 comments:

Wildlifer5 said...

And the proof they actually made such a post, will be?

SBVOR said...

-1-Wildlifer5,

On those blogs where the comment is immediately posted only to be deleted later, the poster can save and present a screen shot of the comment.

Brad DeLong got busted in this manner right here.

On blogs where comments are moderated before being published, one can similarly document the submission of the comment and the censorship through moderation.

It’s tedious, but it can be effective.

Of course, those of us, such as myself, who are familiar -- through personal experience -- with the censorship game will require a lower level of proof that the censorship continues.

An Inconvenient Comment said...

@Wildlifer5,

If the need arises, people could begin documenting things as SBVOR describes.

I'm still trying to foresee and work out the kinks, but I'm of the honest opinion that the honor system should work well enough for the forum.

The comment moderation issue is real, and I imagine there's no shortage of real cases that would create the need for any false claims.

Much more importantly, if one believes they have something useful to say regarding a blog post, I would think essentially everyone would much rather have it published on a widely read blog than on something unknown like AIC. I just don't see why anyone would come there first.

What do you see as the motivation for someone posting a comment they falsely claim was rejected? Is there any real payoff for the person doing it?


(Thanks very much for the plug, Dr. Pielke!)

Wildlifer5 said...

I think comments are being "moderated" on all sides. Soem are even too cowardly to allow comments at all. The question is whether or not a comment policy is being violated and who is interpreting and how thry are interpreting that policy.

An Inconvenient Comment said...

Wildlifer5,

"The question is whether or not a comment policy is being violated and who is interpreting and how thry are interpreting that policy."

I think that AIC could serve as a useful forum to publicly discuss specific instances of this.

Regarding your first comment in this thread, I will grant you that one motivation for people to post comments to AIC without them having been rejected occurred to me, and I've received a couple of incredibly generous and helpful emails from others that suggested more plausible cases along with other advice (thanks especially to Mr. A.M. - it seems a spam filter blocked my reply email to you). So, thank you, as well, for your heads up.

I don't believe any issues here are insurmountable, but it's going to take some thought and a little work. For now, I think AIC's comment policy and system as whole can be considered "under construction", but I have confidence everything can be worked out with some on-the-fly improvement.

I believe the comment moderation on these sites is a real and widely acknowledged issue, and I think that AIC, in whatever its eventual form, could serve a useful purpose addressing it, so I'm hopeful that, with others help, the forum can eventually settle down into a smooth and stable format.

Any constructive input from anyone on how to improve things is very much appreciated. There's a contact email on the site, and I'll be posting an open thread for suggestions sometime within the next week.

SBVOR said...

1) All unmoderated internet forums quickly degrade into nothing of any use to anybody. Ergo, moderation is necessary and productive. But, too many sites use moderation primarily as a means of suppressing “inconvenient” opinions and evidence.

2) A well constructed site dedicated to exposing those sites which use moderation primarily to serve a political agenda would provide a tremendous service in the public interest.

In that regard, I can immediately see two key elements of a well constructed site:

A) The ability to search for all examples related to a particular site.

B) The ability to segregate between suppressing opinion and suppressing evidence (the latter being FAR more egregious).

3) Regarding the moderation at this site.

I think the moderation at this site is nothing short of exemplary.

As I have said before, I’m pretty sure Roger and I disagree more than we agree.

I suspect Roger may take pretty strong exception to some of my comments.

But:

A) I take care to substantiate my points.

B) Roger publishes my comments whether he may agree with them or not.

I have considerable experience with internet forums. I think Roger is more reasonable, more balanced and more effective in his moderation than ANY site I have EVER encountered ANYWHERE!

Wildlifer5 said...

I've also seen cases where a poster continuously spams a thread with a claim or asserion and also continuously fails to respond to comments and or criticism of the posts and in doing so falls under the moderators eye and has subsequent posts "moderated" and removed.
Is there going to be an investigation into the alleged "slighted" poster's history in the thread and/or blog site?

SBVOR said...

At Joe Romm’s Climate Progress, even highly respectful and highly relevant (but enormously “inconvenient”) questions regarding data taken directly from peer reviewed science are rejected by the moderator.

Click here for the “before” screen shot -- as my respectful question (#8) awaited moderation.

Click here for the “after” screen shot -- documenting that my question was not tolerated.

My question is gone and a new #8 comment has replaced it.

The rejected question -- links included -- appears below:

---> Beginning of rejected question <---

Dr. Romm,

What are your observations concerning the ongoing, uninterrupted 10,000 year cooling trend at both the Greenland ice sheet and Vostok, Antarctic?

Click here and here for the citation links and more details.

---> End of rejected question <---

The so-called “Progressive” ideology can ONLY survive in an absolute intellectual vacuum!

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