Casaubon's Book

On the Comments Problem

So I’ve been offline a lot the last few weeks – as you know we had 10 kids in our house for a couple of days the week before Thanksgiving, and I was out of town until yesterday. While a few posts have gone up, I’ve spent absolutely no time on anything other than absolute necessities online.

So it was something of a shock to me to find in my comments thread a bunch of accusations that I’d been removing comments.due to my disagreement with them. This frankly pissed me off, since I absolutely do not censor or remove comments routinely – or generally at all. Despite a general tendency of people to demand I remove trolls and enact more censorship, I hate that stuff, and I generally believe that most people when treated like adults will act that way, and when jerks are ignored, they’ll go away. I’ve been blogging on controversial subjects since 2005, and I’ve always managed to handle things this way. I can count in the fingers of a single hand the number of posts that I’ve had to remove over all the years I’ve been blogging, most of them overtly racist and involving ad-hominem attacks on other persons. So getting comments that say I’m prohibiting obscenity or deleting posts due to disagreement was something of a surprise.

My assumption was that the comments in question had disappeared due to an excess of links. At both of my blogs, posts with more than two links will get you either directed into the spam filter or often, just disappeared. Over the years I’ve had plenty of dear friends ask how they offended me with a comment, because it didn’t appear, and I’ve had to just ask them to repost with fewer links. Generally it all gets resolved by email, and it is just one of those things that I can’t do anything about at Science Blogs – hopefully an expected transfer to a new platform will fix that.

In writing my response, however, I saw my own comment disappear, and was inclined to follow it. It turns out that for reasons obscure to me (I’ve enquired of the techincal folk here), a lot of comments are being sent to spam – and some may have wandered away entirely, I couldn’t tell. I usually free up a few spam comments a week that shouldn’t have been there – there are more than a hundred right now, which I am laboriously liberating (it will probably take a while due to the stupid system here which means each one must be done individually). So if you have comments that have gone missing, they will appear again over the next few days as long as they went to spam, not somewhere else.

Most people have instinctively attributed this to a new comment policy in which I delete anything I disagree with. There are at least as many comments I do agree with in my spam filter right now, but perhaps people are less inclined to take their non-appearance personally in that case. Rest assured, I am far too lazy to ever take up a heavy-handed moderation policy, and I loathe censorship. I am merely subject to a crappy technical system. The system is an equal-opportunity deleter – it has removed several of my responses to comments as well, and seems to not care anymore whether there are links in them.

Apologies for the inconvenience – trust me, it is more inconvenient to me than you ;-), particularly since I’m supposed to be spending this week working on my book, not spending hours on my spam filter (book due next Monday).

As long as we are discussing comments, let us review the comment policy, because I did have to close comments on the Informal Economy Thread. This is a first-time thing for me – I’ve never had to do this before, never had a thread get this out of hand with personal attacks, bigotry and general stupidity, and I’m not best pleased about it. Part of the problem is on my end – I’ve had too little time to attend to it, and let it go too long. I should have intervened earlier, but was away from my desk. Still, I expect better of y’all as well (y’all know who you are).

The rules are simple:

1. No ad hominem attacks on your fellow posters. You can say whatever you want about me, any time you want – I’m a public figure and I can take it. Simply commenting on a blog, however, should not open you up to personal attack. Critique the idea, not the person.

2. No racist or other major “ist” crap – that doesn’t mean you have to be PC, and I don’t care whether you swear, but when you use the word “Nazi” it better be in a historical context and if you are a bigoted jerk, your comments will get removed.

3. No threats – period. That will get you banned.

4. This last is more of a suggestion – but it is really important. Try and be civil. The internet doesn’t bring out the best in most of us – it is way too easy to get pissy and mean. Try and imagine you are talking to these other people, and type accordingly. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, think hard about whether you are writing it. One of the things I value so much is the self-regulating nature of this blog – I’ve been so proud over the years that I don’t have to moderate comments, don’t have a lot of trolls and don’t have a constant problem of signal-to-noise ratio, nor do I have to use draconian measures. Make me proud, folks – you can fight all you want without the nastiness charactistic of so many other blogs.

One of the things I value most in my life is the number of friends I’ve made by arguing with them. Often in life and on the internet, I’ve started out in conflict with someone, and in a good public argument, have developed a relationship. Some of my favorite friendships started out with a good fight. That is only possible when you attribute decent motives to other people who disagree with you, and when you don’t make it personal. I’m really proud of the fact that over the last almost-7 years of blogging and some two thousand posts, I’ve proved that it is feasible to be civil even on the internet, that I’ve had people ask “why is everyone so nice over here?” I don’t see that changing, and I trust you all don’t either.

Apologies for the stupid comment problems, best hopes for having them resolved really, really soon.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 DEE
    November 28, 2011

    If more people would use the delete key instead of pushing enter things would be more civil…I probably delete 20 comments for every one I actually post. Just the typing of a response is often enough for me and I don’t need to share it in cyberworld. Mama said if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all! Not a bad rule. We often feel we are “friends” with the people whose blogs we frequent but as much as I’d like to live next door to you you aren’t a personal friend and I need to keep that it mind. That said I am probably a Sharon junkie…got DH reading all your books now…..

  2. #2 Stephen B.
    November 28, 2011

    I’m 16 years into this Internet thing now and it still takes a lot of work and discipline to use correctly. DEE is onto something there.

    I’ve learned about so many things, found so many resources, and in general, had my life so enriched by the Internet, it’s now hard to imagine what life over these years would have been like without it.

    On the other hand, I seem to have had either an email malware program or a breach of my email account password send out bogus emails twice since last week, blasting out embarrassing spam to a whole slew of personal and professional contacts, (one of them being Sharon!)

    It’s definitely a love/hate relationship with this Internet for sure!

  3. #3 Amy W
    November 28, 2011

    Good luck getting the problem resolved. Reinstating the comments one by one is going to take some time!

  4. #4 Daniel R
    November 28, 2011

    Sharon -

    thanks for the reminder that we’re all responsible – not just for ourselves, but for the maintenance of our commons.

    daniel

  5. #5 Nicole
    November 28, 2011

    I completely agree with Dee. AS I keep reminding myself lately, you don’t have to attend every fight you are invited to.

    I can’t say if some of my comments have gotten lost in the ether or if I decided not to send them.

  6. #6 Eric
    November 28, 2011

    Sharon – sorry to hear that the technology that you’re “working” with doesn’t help you out.

    I just read the invective in said thread and am alarmed by how horribly it went!

    I love reading your posts and the comments from others who are so willing to share their perspective, opinions and lessons learned.

    Are some people so disaffected by things that they’re looking for any excuse to lash out? If so – maybe the breakdown is closer than many of us fear to acknowledge…

    Eric

  7. #7 Neil Craig
    November 29, 2011

    Sharon my initial complaint was not that you censor but that having said you did remove ad homs and obscenities here http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2011/10/speculation_and_world_food_pri.php you didn’t and allowed a thread to develop in which no attempt was made by anybody but I to debate on facts. At the end of that my last comment was deleted while the ad hommer’s wasn’t, which I, I think not unreasonably, assumed deliberate.

    I have no interest in initiating any rudenes towards you or indeed anybody who does not initiate such behaviour (the reason why I actually agree with having a moderation poicy)and hope you can manage the same.

  8. #8 Sharon Astyk
    November 29, 2011

    Neil, I have a life – a rather busy one. I tend to trust my readers to behave – in this case, I should have been more involved, but it probably will happen again because the reality is that I don’t spend all day every day in front of the computer.

    Sharon

  9. #9 Greenpa
    November 29, 2011

    well, you scared me, so I went to check my own blog’s spam folder. Gotta tell ya; for all the problems people report with Blogger- it’s been good to me, and the spam folder only has really truly spam in it. Whew.

  10. #10 Mal Adapted
    November 29, 2011

    Mama said if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all!

    Lincoln said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Plato said something like “A wise man speaks when he as something to say, a fool when he has to say something.” So Mama would probably add to the rule above:

    If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything.

  11. #11 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    “no attempt was made by anybody but I to debate on facts”

    The problem being that you decide that your proclamations are facts by fiat. Then preclude any counterfacts as being some nazi communist baby killing conspiracy.

    You haven’t ONCE proposed any facts.

  12. #12 NC
    November 30, 2011

    Wow anybody having looked at the thread in question can see that I repeatedly pointed to the facts and indeed repeatedly invited anybody to dispute the fact that it is possible to produce far more energy than the human race produces for aeons through nuclear power and that nobody felt able to dispute it factually in any way.

    You declined that challenge preferring ad homs and obscenity.

    Your current post, of course, still fails to produce anything factual.

    I am obviously not in a position to “preclude” you posting facts, only you can do that.

  13. #13 dean
    November 30, 2011

    neil, the only thing you demonstrated is that you continue to use the “eco-nazi” or simple “nazi” to describe those with whom you disagree.

    sticking to facts? stating that the current president is taking in ever higher taxes when the current tax rate is the lowest since the 1950s isn’t a fact, is a repetition of a line of bunk.

  14. #14 Wow
    November 30, 2011

    “I repeatedly pointed to the facts ”

    Nope. You made a lot of claims, but nothing factual.

  15. #15 Jason
    November 30, 2011

    Neil, You are absolutely right. Nuclear power is an unlimited source of energy. It has no chance of catastrophic failure. It is not vulnerable to acts of war. Best of all it doesn’t produce waste that remains incredibly toxic for thousands of years.

  16. #16 Neil CVraig
    December 1, 2011

    Jason I think nuclear reactors would be vulnerable to acts of war since I know of nothing which is invulbnerable to that. I could quibble over your use of “unlimited” (which is why I didn’t say it but certainly it is good for billions of years. The rest is unarguably true, which presumably is why nobody tries to argue against it on facts.

    Dean is obviously wrong to base his argument on the claim that taxes have not risen under Obama.

  17. #17 Wow
    December 1, 2011

    How about heat waves?

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/in-tennessee-heat-waves-frustrate-nuclear-power/

    Yup, they’re unreliable in a warming world.

  18. #18 Stephen B.
    December 1, 2011

    Nuclear power is doomed by its high level of centralization and complexity in everything from the operations required to mine and process the fuel, to the plant, to the power grid, to the disposing of the waste, and financing and insuring all of the above. Our world, for a variety of reasons, is struggling to maintain the complexity it is saddled with right now and increasing the number of nuclear plants in this country to handle all of our electrical and transport needs would mean building and operating 4 to 5 times the power stations we have now.

    ‘Ain’t gonna happen folks.

  19. #19 Wow
    December 1, 2011

    And the needs of capitalism: increase profits by reducing costs.

    Safety is a cost.

    And may not even stop an event.

    Therefore, as is done in any industry, safety is cut back.

    Boom.

    Let someone else pay to clean up.

  20. #20 dean
    December 1, 2011

    “Dean is obviously wrong to base his argument on the claim that taxes have not risen under Obama.”

    neal,haven’t you heard of the continuation of the tax cuts? payroll tax rollback. simply repeating the same falsehood over and over, as you do, doesn’t magically turn it into the truth. again, taxes are at their lowest since the 1950s, and even though we need them to go up to begin to fix things, it doesn’t appear that they will.

  21. #21 Wow
    December 1, 2011

    dean, you forget the 1%ers (and libertarian loony) mantra:

    If it’s NOT a tax cut to the rich, then it’s a tax rise.

    See, when a CEO affords himself a 50% pay increase, he’s now increasing his tax burden. Therefore you have to reduce his tax rate to stop his tax dues rising.

    Of course he won’t pay those taxes, he’ll avoid them, but that’s not the point. If he didn’t have such a tax burden, he’d be dodging a lower tax burden!

  22. #22 dean
    December 1, 2011

    “you forget the 1%ers (and libertarian loony) mantra”

    I get reminded of such at many get-togethers with my wife’s family. she has a nephew and niece who are as extreme as any we’ve run into on these sites: the most epic comment from the nephew:

    “of course you and (my wife’s name) never had to work. you took the easy ways out and got master’s and doctorates. your life has been cake.”

    note: i have relatives who are just as crazy as those of my wife: the difference is i feel no duty to associate with my crazy relatives (especially after they trashed our adoption of two korean boys). my wife disagrees with that action.

  23. #23 Eric
    December 1, 2011

    Taxes are there for a reason – to support a government that will do things that we individually cannot (or will not) do.

    Should a company be allowed to put its trash underfoot (or in the air) and tell everyone who asks that they can’t see what is in the trash?

    Is it fair that wealth continues to concentrate in the hands of a few people? Will we see a return to royalty because of this?

    President George W. Bush put America into 2 wars – and refused to pay for it. He didn’t raise taxes – and he didn’t re-instate the draft; we’ve had a military draft for every war we’ve been involved in except for these 2 wars! And now, we’ve got a professional military service that is increasingly divorced from American culture because American culture no longer believes that sacrifices are necessary. But military families sacrifice!

  24. #24 NC
    December 2, 2011

    Wow’s claim that nuclear reactors cannot survive warm weather is matched by Dean’s that Obama has not raised taxes. Perhaps they could produce some evidence.

    Stephen assumes that we are bound to return to a less technologically complex era, closer to the Middle Ages or 3rd world.. If that were true then yes we would have to give up nuclear power lest it dtag us into progress. However he gives no reason whatsoever why this is inevitable. Perhaps it is in Luddite ruled countries but clearly China and India are not goi8ng that way. So what is your evidence that the trend of all of human history is about to be reversed?

  25. #25 Wow
    December 2, 2011

    “Wow’s claim that nuclear reactors cannot survive warm weather is matched ”

    By evidence. Which means “that which is seen”.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/in-tennessee-heat-waves-frustrate-nuclear-power/

    Got any evidence Obama raised taxes? Because the TRUTH (which you can’t handle) is that he’s not continuing a TEMPORARY tax cut.

    You DO know what “temporary” means, don’t you? And that was GW Bush who made those TEMPORARY cuts temporary. He didn’t offer permanent ones.

  26. #26 dean
    December 2, 2011

    nc, how unusual for you to use the word “evidence”, since you’ve never presented any on any topic. (we’re still waiting for you to produce research contradicting climate studies – research, not your usual tripe). I realize that you hate reality and numbers and all since they consistently prove you wrong, but:

    when you look at U.S. tax revenues as percentage of GDP, they are currently the lowest they’ve been in 60 years – at just under 15 percent of GDP. The percentage has been lower recently – 1950. The average (post-WWII) is roughly 18.5 percent of GDP. Even during the reign of reagan they averaged just over 18%, with the low around 17% in 83 or 84.

    Corporate taxes are also historically low by this measure – they make up about 1.4% of the GDP: the percentage was three times higher sixty years ago. The current percentage is the lowest among the same measure for major countries.

    If we aren’t paying higher income taxes, and corporate tax payments are historically low, where are these higher taxes about which you keep braying? Surely you won’t reference the bit of hysterical nonsense Stephen Moore wrote in the WSJ, where he proclaimed the left was trying to raise the to income tax rate to 62%? I’d like to think even you would go that far (but it’s 80-20 I’m wrong here). Notice that not only hasn’t such a thing been done, the only place it was mentioned was in his little screed. Have no fear, the income rate for the richest 400 American citizens will continue to average near its current 18.11%.

    Now go on and ignore the facts, as seems to be your calling in life.

  27. #27 Neil Craig
    December 3, 2011

    Dean http://www.atr.org/comprehensive-list-obama-tax-hikes-a6433 Please advise why this site is lying and none of these Obama tax increases ever happened – with evidence.

    Wow checking your alleged evidence you will see that the article says it was noi closed because there was any technological probelem with a reactor designed to work at hundreds of degrees cannot survive a warm weather, but because of environmental regs. While you are at it you will undoubtedly wish to provide evidence that it is physically impossible to run a reactor anywhere in the world where the weather is ever warmer than Tenessee.

    While he is at it Wow will certainly wish to explain how I was able to prevent him posting “facts” and why I am wrong to think that only he can do that.

    So lets see either present real facts.

  28. #28 Wow
    December 5, 2011

    Please inform us why you care, being a Scot in Scotland and not in the USA?

    PS Note again how whining about being deleted is now turned into me complaining about it. Pathetic.

  29. #29 Neil Craig
    December 5, 2011

    Gosh that really is scraping the bottom – being unable to actually answer anything you are reduced to saying foreigners should just shut up.

    “Whiner” remains pejorative and obviously Sharon, with her policy of balance, will delete your post wow!!!

    Wow has made no attempt to provide evidence for his claim that nuclear reactors cannot endure heatwaves and will obviously, with his official policy of being honest, wish to retract it ;-)

  30. #30 Wow
    December 5, 2011

    Nope, I’m asking why you care so much about a US president taxing US citizens.

    But it seems like there’s no reason for it you’d like to say.

  31. #31 Neil Craig
    December 6, 2011

    Guess I just like truth and honesty. Sorry you find difficulty understanding that Wow

    “Whiner” remains pejorative and obviously Sharon, with her policy of balance, will delete your post wow!!!

    Wow has made no attempt to provide evidence for his claim that nuclear reactors cannot endure heatwaves and will obviously, with his official policy of being honest, wish to retract it ;-)

  32. #32 Wow
    December 6, 2011

    Is that why you avoid using truth and honesty in your posts? So that they won’t get all used up?

  33. #33 Wow
    December 6, 2011

    I have given evidence of nuclear power stations being shut down because of heatwaves.

    Is there something wrong with your eyesight?

  34. #34 Neil Craig
    December 7, 2011

    #32 is nothing other than a gratuitous insult which, we all have Sharon’s word she wil delete.

    I look forward to seeing if that is true.
    You have given absolutely no evidence to support the obviously ludicrous and totally dishonest claim that it is impossible to run a nuclear power station in warmer weather than Tenessee. Your claim clearly represents the very hioghest standard of honesty to which you aspire. If you have any slightest evidence it is in the remotest degree truthful please either produce it or acj=knowledge there are absolutely no circumstances aunder whichany honest person can claim to believe anythjing you say.

  35. #35 Wow
    December 7, 2011

    Aaaawwwww.

    You don’t like it when someone does to you what you do to everyone else who DARES to disagree with you.

    What a baby.

    “You have given absolutely no evidence ”

    Twice, I did:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/in-tennessee-heat-waves-frustrate-nuclear-power/

    Which makes it three times now.

    Is there ANY sign of intelligence or even cognition going on in your head? Doesn’t seem to be any.

  36. #36 Wow
    December 7, 2011

    I would like everyone to note how this barnpot changes the claims other people has made and then changes THEM when they’re shown to be absolute and incontrovertibly lies:

    me @17 Yup, they’re unreliable in a warming world.

    BP @24 Wow’s claim that nuclear reactors cannot survive warm weather

    WB@ 29: Wow has made no attempt to provide evidence for his claim that nuclear reactors cannot endure heatwaves

    TP@ 34: claim that it is impossible to run a nuclear power station in warmer weather than Tenessee

    Note the change in the claim of what I claimed changes as his psychopathy requires.

  37. #37 Wow
    December 7, 2011

    “Yup, they’re unreliable in a warming world.”

    Becomes

    24: Wow’s claim that nuclear reactors cannot survive warm weather

    29: Wow has made no attempt to provide evidence for his claim that nuclear reactors cannot endure heatwaves

    34: claim that it is impossible to run a nuclear power station in warmer weather than Tenessee

    What a brazen liar.

  38. #38 Neil Craig
    December 8, 2011

    Well it seems we have Sahron’s answer -she has no slightest intention of enforcing her “moderation” rules against any e——–t, they are merely a dishonest excuse to censor factual arguments of progressives.

    Wow I ask you to apologise for the gratuitous insults in your prevuious lying posts. Anybone reading them can see you are being wholly dishonest and incapable of rational discussion. Unfortunately if I say more Sharon will have the excuse to censor me while presunably leaving you to spout lies and obscenity.

  39. #39 Wow
    December 8, 2011

    What gratuitous insults?

    And why so much whining from you when you’re making stuff up all the time, as shown in the earlier posts?

    It’s clear you’re brazenly dishonest, even when there’s no need for it.

  40. #40 Sharon Astyk
    December 8, 2011

    Actually, I’m just going to close this thread, rather than delete the posts that you think are personal attacks, and leave NC’s posts that are also thinly disguised personal attacks.

    Frankly, I just don’t have time for this nonsense – NC, you seem to think I’ve got nothing to do but sit around read the two of you while both of you subvert my comments policy, so let’s just cease and desist here. When only two people are talking because you’ve driven everyone else off, that’s generally a bad sign. Given that both of you require so much personal attention (and I generally reserve that much personal attention for folks under the age of reason), I’m inclined to just remove you both from all commenting. So find a way to get along, discuss things civilly without an endless back and forth and don’t waste my time, or without further delay it will be bye bye to both Wow and Neil Craig. The resemblance to small children “but he said…but he did…but you have to delete his because…” is just beyond my capacity to tolerate.

  41. #41 Wow
    December 8, 2011

    He does have a point, though Shaz.

    You deleted posts that are not ad-hom and then simpered “The policy is clear” when the policy says (and I quoted) “1. No ad hominem attacks on your fellow posters.”

    Either your policy is NOT clear, or you are mistaken about what an ad-hom is.

    Then you cite we’re both as bad as each other. However, as was pretty damn obvious, this wasn’t the case UNLESS you have a zero-tolerance policy for insulting.

    Problem is, and this is where whiner has a point, EwanR insulted him and you did, calling him idiot.

    If you had a zero-tolerance policy (where there’s no difference calling someone a whiner and calling them a nazi baby killer), you’re boned by your own admission.

    Now, this doesn’t matter if you’re going to say “My place. Like or GTFO”. This is a valid position. It does, however, rely on your exercising of personal privilege.

    Don’t hide behind the walls of privilege and proclaim you’re occupying the higher ground. To do so is both dishonest and two-faced. Pick one or the other.

    But I guess you’re going to go all three-year-old and take your toys away.

    While whining about how immature I am. A common little-girl complaint to a boy.

  42. #42 Sharon AStyk
    December 8, 2011

    This thread is closed. All further comments will be deleted.

    I don’t honestly care what any of you think about my comments policy – what I care about is that two people are taking up 20 times as much comments responding time as everyone else – and frankly, I don’t have any interest in that. Feel free to feel how you want, the discussion is over. Do not attempt to move it to another thread – those comments will be removed or posters will be banned depending on how much time of mine they waste and which seems quicker.

    Sharon

  43. #43 Wow
    December 16, 2011

    And as I say, we don’t care if you’re using privilege in your decisions.

    Feel free to use it.

    Just don’t expect anyone to think you’re occupying the high moral ground when it comes to banhammering.

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