Nero’s thumb: now in comments

UPDATE: This feature has two undesirable side effects:

1) significantly increased load times for post pages

2) it puts thumbs up/down on all old posts, not just posts going forward, so not only does it add load times to those, it leaves them with conditions not known by the original commenters.

While it seems this experiment was popular, until wp.com can make it work without penalty to the blog overall speed and character, I’m going to disable it. Thanks for trying it out – Anthony

Chronically angry troll Jack Greer left some smarmy comment in the WUWT wins Bloggies Best Science Blog announcement. I didn’t see what it was, because some other moderator snipped it. I suppose Jack can’t help himself.

It did however, remind me that I’ve been meaning to get this new blog feature enabled to try out.

Now, when it comes to other commenters, if you wish, you can be Nero. You can rate comments with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. If you don’t like playing emperor, you can always imagine yourself to be Siskell or Ebert. It looks like this:

Thanks to Jack for the prodding, he’s earned the first ever “thumbs down” vote on WUWT. Congratulations Jack!

You can also thumb your nose at certain comments, but we have no way to record that.

We’ll try this for awhile, and see how it is received. It may be popular, it may not. It may just be noise. But let’s find out. I’ll heed the poll results below:

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174 thoughts on “Nero’s thumb: now in comments

  1. I expressed my dislike for this in ‘Tips and Notes”. What next, funny faces?
    OK, the heat in Brisbane must be getting to me, but science is a numbers game, how many ‘thumbs down” does it take to make a ‘snip’ ?

  2. You’ve just encouraged me to examine your website HTML and reject the most possible javascript includes in my proxy server. Too much eye candy that distracts from the content. And amazingly high school clique like.

    Not to be a jackass, but this does not solve a problem I have.

  3. No comment/question in science is good or bad. It reminds me of the sort of things they play at Real Climate or Climate Progress. If you don’t agree with people that are not thinking the way you do, you vote them down. Science does not need votes.

    I am against this idea of rating other’s comments.

  4. I like the idea of giving a comment a like or dislike mark.

    I hope everyone gives this comment a thumbs up. ;-)

  5. Hmmm. Not too thrilled with these thumbs. Tend to promote groupthink too much. Prefer not to start reading a post with some judgement already rendered on it. And the comments speak for themselves, to each individual.

    And after all, it already was the best science blog in the known universe.

    But, I’m just one thumb down.

  6. Way too much busy work for me. I have enough trouble working this keyboard and getting my spelling right. pg

  7. I realize that you may not have much flexibility in modifying features that WordPress offers, however I would suggest just having a “Thumbs Up” and no down. That way people can spread kudos for well-thought out posts but avoids the problems that can arise with people piling on to diss posts. It puts in practice what my mother always said about “If you can’t say something nice…”

  8. I’m sorry, but things just got a little bit shallower. Where’s the hitcher thumb? Why in the world would anyone rate comments? If a comment is stupid, so be it. I thougt the commentary field should represent a cross-section of peoples minds and thoughts. If comments are plain evil and demeaning, well, then it´s up to the moderator to erase them. Rating comments are in the lines of grooming the opinions like they do in those one-party states, “Think and speak like us and it will serve you well”. It’s only by knowing the “enemy” tricks and tounge speech that you can learn how to argue against them.

  9. Elevator buttons are fun!

    But I agree with the above posters, although I gave them all “thumbs down” out of spite. This reminds me of LGF.

    Best let the discussions ride as is without possible “cheers and jeers” from the peanut gallery. Let the comments stand on their own merit, or lack thereof.

  10. Perhaps in keeping with the Science Blog theme, one could instead have icons for the most common retorts, e.g. “strawman”, “circular”, “ad-hom”… and then a few positives, like “touché”, “well-reasoned”? Although personally, I find the voting buttons a distraction, and they are too often abused.

  11. Now with my dead-slow dial-up connection, I can watch the comments get reloaded, followed by the entire stack slowly expanding as the “thumbs” get loaded for every comment, which takes so long I get a warning about scripts taking too long…

    Yet I shall not complain, shall not suggest/demand the feature be withdrawn. I have options. Specifically I have the Adblock Plus plug-in.

    1. Open blockable items
    2. Right Click on “http://i.polldaddy.com/ratings/rating.js?ver=MU” and select “Block this item”
    3. Filter out “http://i.polldaddy.com/ratings/*” and restrict to domain ‘wattsupwiththat-dot-com’
    Done! Site is as it was before.

    No complaining to the management necessary. I have simply chosen to not participate. Although, I can easily suspend that filter rule if I do choose to participate.

    I freely suggest others pursue that option themselves, rather than suggest/demand this new feature be (immediately!) withdrawn when others visiting this site may find it of value.

  12. Science cannot – by voting – be labelled as good or bad science. I enjoy and like to think of WUWT as a science blog where being rigorous and objective is more important than being liked. I would prefer not to see likes or dislikes and try to make up my own mind.

  13. I’ll go with the flow on this. It’s fun, I’ll agree. It’s satisfying to say ban him. But does it enhance the site? Time will tell – it’s Anthony’s decision.

  14. Only stupid comments should be thumbed down. If you thumb down “ideas” then nothing controversial will ever come out. That means no science by “popular” vote. Think of what this means for this site!

  15. Cue second tier moderation of the left v the right and the damping down of plurality of thought and expression.

    These “fingers” are such a bad idea, I’m a little amazed you would even go there. But then again, you’ve made this blog into one of the most cherished on the interwebs, so maybe you do know best.

  16. I like it. Often I agree with a comment (or disagree) but have neither the time nor the inclination to explain why. Having the “Atta boy” option is simple and easy. And, hey, there are lots of comments which should be thrown to the lions…and now we can ;)

  17. I think it works well at Jo Nova’s site, but there aren’t as many trolls there as here. It also has the added feature of having colour-coding and a rating.

    Give it a go, but here I think it will be abused by trolls.

  18. One of the great joys of WUWT is that you can express minority opinions without being shouted down. Thumbs up and thumbs down will inhibit people from joining in the discussion.

  19. This is why I am all for this feature:

    It keeps people (including myself) from posting a comment to show solidarity with another commenter. It can be an exercise in asninity (Bush made up words too, leave me alone) to post a comment just to reinforce the validity or ‘response worthiness’ of another’s position. This feature provides an easy way of eyeballing which noodles stick to the wall, proverbially speaking.

  20. I think it is a bad idea. Consumes resources and can’t be relied on.

    After only a few minutes playing with it to figure it out, I gave the comment at February 27, 2011 at 11:01 pm 4 thumbs up. Now that I know the way it works it could be automated.

  21. Is this a popularity contest? Personally, in certain cases I would be proud to get big thumbs down – when I’m right and everybody else is wrong! ;->

    Go ahead and let people vote. I would caution using that info for anything. Some sites let people view the best rated posts. Some hide very negatively rated posts. Here, I think it’s best to just let people have their say no matter who agrees with them or not. Moderators can eliminate the nasty.

    From an aesthetic perspective, the rating tool clutters the look. The old way is clean and elegant. Does rating posts really serve any purpose? Novelty wears off.

    [VG post. IMHO. ~dbs, mod.]

  22. dp says:
    February 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    You’ve just encouraged me to examine your website HTML and reject the most possible javascript includes in my proxy server. Too much eye candy that distracts from the content. And amazingly high school clique like.

    Not to be a jackass, but this does not solve a problem I have.

    Vague and yet obscure.

  23. I shouldn’t be too surprised, but blocking all the javascript files (*.js) has not cost any content of interest, but it did drop the page rendering time in half. I don’t agree with those who want something for nothing, though, so when I shut down a site’s revenue stream I go looking for the tip jar.

    I’m always amazed at how the dynamics of the web works. A site adds a feature, visitors turn it off locally. It goes around and around. I’d read somewhere that the adblock add-on was written by a disgruntled Google employee who got fed up with the intrusion of web beacons, trackers, analytics, etc. That’s pretty much the way I feel about it, too.

  24. I think it’s a bad idea. WUWT has always stressed that it’s real-world evidence that counts, not concensus.

  25. I’m glad that you read my thoughts.

    Thumb’s rating is good for the commentators to check what others think about them but also keep in track who’s bothering reading your comment.

    I just wish they were positioned right of the title.

  26. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    February 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    “Yet I shall not complain, shall not suggest/demand the feature be withdrawn. I have options. Specifically I have the Adblock Plus plug-in.

    1. Open blockable items
    2. Right Click on “http://i.polldaddy.com/ratings/rating.js?ver=MU” and select “Block this item”
    3. Filter out “http://i.polldaddy.com/ratings/*” and restrict to domain ‘wattsupwiththat-dot-com’
    Done! Site is as it was before.”
    ——————————————
    Thank you for that! My normally fast ADSL is slow and jerky loading polldaddy stuff.
    I don’t think I like it, but I don’t really know my own mind. I will wait for guidance from the thumbs.

  27. Anthony

    This is a small nit pick but showing the Emperor Commodus (I think I got this right) as Nero is, er , waal, you know, though both were pretty odious characters. But yes, the thumb’s up/down is a polite way of us showing out agreement, not, without the need to write a a lengthy comment.

    Brevity is the soul of wit?

  28. Laughing my (snip) off. Jack is OK in my (snip) book. Let the (snip), foul mouthed (snip), infantile (snip), (snip) for brains (snip) holes from (snip) hell post all they want on the other (snip) blogs like Real (snip) Climate.

  29. I have had experiences with ratings systems at other web sites… they will get abused, and it is therefore unclear what they measure other than the mob sentiment. I imagine it might also be a turn off for serious scientific posters.

    Personally I don’t like them and I shall refuse to use the rating tool here (except for the initial opinion poll).

  30. I cast a “no” vote for thumb wrestling.

    If I really disagree with a comment, I can write
    a comment of my own, using my actual name, stating my
    particular point of disagreement.

    If I may make more than my ususal number of spelling
    and/or HTML formatting errors, will I get a “thumbs down”
    because of my poor presentation or the impoverished worthiness
    of my thought ?

    How will I or other readers know the difference?

    Will we see special awards for what a consensus of “voters”
    considered goodthought?

  31. PS> Ultimately the decision is yours Anthony… do you wish this blog to be more scientifically focused or more populist? The thumbs smack too much of group consensus.

  32. @Mike Jonas: You nailed it quite good. And, “In science it only takes one to be right”. That’s why I don’t see the purpose of this shallow fun park feature on a science blog.

  33. Is there any chance to have the score kept secret? unless you requested an update? I don’t mind the up and down. I actually like that. I just don’t want to be persuaded by others votes.

    The Other Jack

  34. I have an average speed web connection, but for some reason WUWT is always slow to load. The thumbs-up system has increased the page-loading time so I don’t like it on those grounds. I also don’t feel it adds any benefit to the debate.

  35. By the way, I have no problem with the thumbs up/down feedback concept. I just think it revealing and appropriate for Jack to make a complete Jack(snip) out of himself anytime he feels he is up to it. I likely won’t even bother to check the thumb data on Jack’s posts or even bother to make a mouse click on his (snipping) posts.

  36. I went and made coffee and had a think about this. Then Hoser ^^ pretty much summed up what I thought.

    Initially upon seeing the vote I voted yes. I stand by that vote however I don’t see any value in the ratings tool, here or in any website comment section. It’s simply too open to abuse.
    Whilst there will be genuine readers, especially those who post infrequently or not at all, who believe that they may be adding in some way to the debate by agreeing with a certain comment’s content the majority of voting will be a simple popularity contest and there will be the usual ‘them and us’ doing the voting. Some may vote a comment down simply because of the author rather than the content and that will work for both sides of the coin. It’s just human nature.
    Some people will even go so far as to be vexatious -yes, it would appear that even academics can be childish too – and remove the cookie set by the tool and make multiple votes on a comment to make it appear more or less popular than it might be.

    That’s not to say that I disagree with the tool being there, it does offer some loose insight into the number of people reading and not posting, but to take anything of value from the results would be a mistake. They ( the results) are simply meaningless in terms of how persons actually feel about the actual content of the post.
    If you were to use the information for an indication of anything I’d suspect that you would have to log the IP of a voter ( something I doubt that wordpress plugins allow you to do ) and determine which way that they vote in order to log those votes that would appear vexatious in order to exclude them from any result you are trying to acheive. I think you see the problem with the work involved.

    Then, as Hoser points out too ( I swear I came up with this train of thought independently, honest injun ;) ) it’s not very pretty and I find the repetitive thumbs a distraction from the erstwhile look.

    By all means keep it but personally I think it’s just another tool for certain posters to show allegiance or disdain for other posters without being brave enough to have their head’s above the parapets and at the end of the day that’s a bit churlish. It’s not a survey and not controlled.

    And thank you for having a post that does not contain a subject so far above my head that I’m afraid to speak out for fear of appearing to be a great buffoon ;)

    ( I added the last comment in order to generate the sympathy vote and more thumbs up ;) )

  37. The thumbs are a great idea. The Guardian has a similar feature called ‘recommend’ which does wonders for sceptics and demoralises Warmists. ;O)

  38. What the heck good is a thumbs up or down feature if you can’t load your own comments with a thumbs up?

    ;)

  39. It’s 8:21 here in the UK. I had a late night and I’m barely one cup of coffee in. Please forgive the erroneous apostrophes which are the bane of my existence.

  40. I like comment-rating because I think:

    1. It will encourage commenters who make sensible, middle-of-the-road posts that don’t get any backslapping comments and who worry that they are making no impact. If they get a lot of up-votes it will hearten them.

    2. It will tend to reduce the number of angry remarks, or moderate their tone, since people can channel their anger into a down-vote instead.

    3. It will provide a better indicator of the true sentiment of this site’s readers. There are sometimes comments made here that aren’t all that supportable, and yet no one wants to get in a tussle about them with someone on our side whose heart is in the right place. Once the mainstream majority here can down-vote wacky or over-the-top statements, warmists won’t be able to claim those far-out opinions represent the consensus here, just because no one here explicitly objects to them. This ability for the silent majority here to dissent from extremism will add considerably to the site’s credibility.

  41. What value does this have? The whole point of this forum is to form your own opinion, it’s not a popularity contest, so the feature is irrelevant and distracting.

  42. I like the option of the thumbs but less “in your face”.
    The color format of the presentation “jumps off the page” in contrast to the black and white..

    Can you hide the thumbs behind a button ?

    Then I can ignore it unless I want to express myself, quietly.

    When the tally is in my visual field I automatically read it even when I don’t want to.
    Hiding it behind a button will fix that.

    PS… Congratulations !

  43. Well, unlike some sites that have the “thumbs” feature, this doesn’t subtract one from the other leaving just a net balance.

    This is a good thing.

    For those who don’t like it , don’t do it. For those who do , thumbs up to you.

  44. Not a big fan of the thumbs. I read WUWT for the posts by Anthony and the others. If I disagree with a post, I feel obliged to explain why. If I disagree with a comment I feel obliged to explain why. A content-free mechanism like “thumbs” drains content and elevates the opinions of the ignorant to the same status as those of the informed (and empowers trolls, as we’ve seen on innumerable other websites).

    Keep’em, don’t keep’em, whatever. But I won’t be using or paying any attention to them.

  45. I do not think this is a good idea. It is likely to discourage some people from posting here, and that is almost always a bad thing. A trivialising distraction, in my far from humble opinion.

  46. No, I can’t say I care for this. Some people read the comments and hate or like them without much reason. It’s like my father-in-law. “That’s stupid!” he’ll growl about something, but when pushed for a reason he just grunts. Up until now, readers like that have been more or less silent. Now, however, it will give them the chance to register a negative response without having to “show their work,” so to speak.

    On the other side, agreement has always been expressed verbally here, and even if it’s just something like, “Good point, Willis,” it means more than a little icon.

    The more I try to express my dislike, the less I find I am unable to. However, if I were to use the “thumbs up/down” thing, I wouldn’t have even managed to articulate this much. Make it go away. It feels like a social network.

    What are you doing now: “I’ve just made a sandwich — nom, nom, nom.”

  47. I dislike clutter (one of the good things about this site usually) and prefer people to articulate why they agree or disagree with a post – voting is anti-science and relatively easy to game.

    Have taken kadaka’s useful advice and blocked them.

  48. I’m in two minds about the ‘thumbs’, on one hand, assuming they work the same as the ones on JoNova’s site, comments with too many ‘down thumbs’ get hidden not deleted, I’m happy given that it gives us a way to fold the more egregious trolls out of sight.

    On the other hand if too many ‘down thumbs’ cause comments to be deleted then I would have to be against their use.

    Above all the science should speak for itself.

  49. One advantage of rating is that it allows the postings to be ordered, newest, oldest, best ranked, as on the Daily Telegraph website.

  50. Comment ratings are critically valuable. There are frequently hundreds of comments on some topics. I rarely have the time or desire to read through them all. With ratings I can skim through and find some of the most valuable posts.

    It is also often the case that I don’t make a comment because I figure too few people will see it at the bottom of hundreds of comments. If I thought I might get a high rating and be noticed by more people, I would be more likely to comment.

    If you really want commenting to work well though, you need to have a more sophisticated system like Slashdot where there is more selectivity of moderators. Unfortunately Slashdot allows down mods which are sometimes used to bury climate skeptic comments.

    Another great feature would be to bring a few of the best comments to the top. That would be a huge motivator to encourage quality comments. But for good discussion, be sure to bring comments from both sides to the top.

  51. I voted ‘dislike’ because in my experience, it exacerbates the ‘team sport’ mentality. Rather than vote for a comment based on its accuracy, persuasiveness or humour, people tend to rate up comments that say what they want to hear and rate down those that don’t or come from someone they dislike. It’s unscientific IMHO and while it would be nice to think we can all rise above it, the debate on AGW offers little evidence for that on either side.

  52. In our quest for the truth and accuracy on climate science, and other topics, we might as well be accurate as well on the history of the thumbs up and down.
    I think that you will find that during the roman emperor days, there was no such thing as thumbs up, thumbs down. It was more a thumb extended, or thumb hidden.
    “To close down the thumb (premere) was a sign of approbation: to extend it (vertere, convertere, polex infestus) a sign of disapprobation.”

    http://bernd.wechner.info/Hitchhiking/Thumb/

  53. Since my ego is going to be craving “thumbs up” ratings, I’ll be that much more careful in crafting my comments. The rating system won’t alter my viewpoint, just my expression of it.

    In reality, this feature has little, if any, value, but that’s fine. For those to whom it gives pleasure, so much the better. It may give incentive to read more thoroughly other’s comments to be fair, even if it does invite mindless clicking.

    I must be behind the curve, since the votes are trailing off at this point. Seems you have to post early if you need a fix for volume of votes. That’s ok though, because I love having a forum that allows me to speak freely (as long as it’s reasonable), something not enjoyed at the forum-who-must-not-be-mentioned.

    Right or wrong. This shows that our host and moderators care about us. That’s why I like this place. Thank you, Anthony and all.

  54. I voted against the thumbs feature.

    I think comments in works should be the way to express views.

    WUWT is mostly an educational site. The thumbs feature has the appearance of a competition of popularity seeking. An idea that no one likes is just as educational as one everybody likes. I think The thumbs feature detract from the open educational aspect of WUWT.

    Beta testing the thumbs feature is a good way to see if it supports the education at WUWT or not.

    John

  55. There is one tiny, slight problem with using thumbs up/down – it’s a myth. The QI Book of General Ignorance has this to say:

    How did Roman Emperors order the death of a gladiator?

    Thumbs up. Neither Roman spectators calling for the death of a gladiator, nor Roman Emperors authorising one, ever gave a thumbs down. In fact, the Romans didn’t use a ‘thumbs down’ sign at all. If death was desired, the thumb was stuck up — like a drawn sword. For a loser’s life to be spared, the thumb was tucked away inside the closed fist — as with a sheathed weapon. This is expressed in Latin as pollice compresso favor iudicabatur, ‘goodwill is decided by the thumb being kept in’.

    Before Ridley Scott agreed to direct Gladiator, Hollywood executives showed him the painting Pollice Verso by the nineteenth-century artist Jean-Leon Gerome. In the painting, a Roman gladiator waits while the emperor stretches his thumb down to give the death sentence. Scott was captivated by the image, and decided on the spot that he must direct the film. Little did Scott know that the source of his inspiration was utterly wrong. The painting is single-handedly is responsible for one of the greatest fallacies of the last two centuries, namely that ‘thumbs down’ indicated death.

    Historians agree that Gerome wrongly assumed that the Latin pollice verso – ‘turned thumb’ — meant ‘turned down’ when in fact it meant ‘turned up’. If further proof were needed, in 1997 a Roman medallion of the second or third century AD was discovered in southern France. It shows two gladiators at the end of a battle and a gladiator referee pressing his thumb against a closed fist. The inscription reads ‘Those standing should be released.’

    The use of thumb signs can still be dangerously ambiguous in the modern world. In the Middle East, South America and Russia, a ‘thumbs up’ is considered to be a very rude insult, comparable to the Western V-sign. This has been problematic in Iraq, where American soldiers are unsure whether locals are welcoming them or about to blow them up.

    Ridley Scott was eventually told about the ‘thumbs down’ fallacy but felt obliged to have Commodus to give the ‘thumbs up’ when sparing Maximus, in order ‘not to confuse the audience’.

  56. I voted in the poll (yes), and then read the comments – and changed my mind. Perhaps the post should advise readers to consider the comments before voting?

  57. Most definitely like Jeff Albert’s suggestion of the 3rd option of the middle finger :)

    Jeff Alberts says: February 27, 2011 at 10:37 pm
    ‘I guess a middle finger would be out of the question.’

  58. I said “yes” initially to the poll because I liked it at Jo Nova’s, it helped me to find my way around a less-visited site.

    But following this thread right down, I find myself agreeing with the “no” comments more and more. I find it does not save me time here, to get to the meat of the issue with 200 comments.

    One deft sentence can do better than 50 thumbs, I now think.

  59. seems a bit twitty also may attract trolls competing for record thumbs down which wuwt certainly doesn’t need. So thumbs down from me.

  60. My $0.02? Ditch the thumbs, Anthony. We don’t need consensus in science and we don’t need consensus on comments.

  61. Hey, this is all about science.

    So, I have already analyzed this new feature and found the sum of the thumbs varies inversely with the distance of it’s distance from the top of the post and this directly infers that the early bird (Jeff’s bird) gets the worm!

  62. I don’t need to know whether I am part of a majority or not. We are grown-ups. This is a thoroughly bad idea, Anthony. Lowers the tone no end. Please rethink.

  63. Not happy with the thumbs up/down, for these reasons:
    *) open to misuse, such as trolls voting down comments as matter of course;
    *) not sure about its value in scientific debates;
    *) severely impedes the loading of the pages, especially when clicking on links provided in comments.

  64. Anthony, assuming you’ve made no other changes to WUWT, the thumbs slow page-load time considerably, and that detracts from the site. If your stats all of a sudden show a decrease in page loads, I’d dump the thumbs.

  65. Even though this was an idea that I proposed a few days ago, I think that the current implementation is not good because it doesn’t fulfill the goals that I had in mind when I proposed it.

    This is not about a popularity contest. I had thought it more like a help for late-commers to a thread, not to have to go through hundreds of replies to find out whether there was something really important in them. IF there is some visual indication that other readers have found the comment helpful, like a different background or so, then you can go directly to the highlighted comments with some confidence that you didn’t miss something important.

    For that to work,
    1) The user doesn’t need to know how many people did what. That distracts the attention and drives people to popularity contests. The system doe sneed to know that, to know what to highlight, but the users don’t need. Don’t show it.
    2) If a comment is very popular, let the readers easily know since the moment they spot the comment. Don’t show it at the end of the comment with only a small number which you need to compare with another small number.
    3) Unless you have a system that allows you to trully control who votes and be sure that nobody votes more than once (which probably would mean having a users registry and access control), I strongly suggest avoiding the thumbs-down option. Allow them to show their likes but not their dislikes.

  66. I shall not participate. This novelty is an unnecessary, meaningless distraction and puts me too much in mind of a baying mob. Is there a firefox addon to filter it out yet?

  67. John Whitman says:
    February 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Beta testing the thumbs feature is a good way to see if it supports the education at WUWT or not.

    The No-voters needn’t be worried. If this feature has the negative consequences they foresee, WUWT can take another poll and drop it with no harm done. It’s worthwhile to give it a spin for a few months to see how it works out, because if it has positive effects this is the way to find out.

  68. Hmm, it took poll daddy a while to populate the comments with thumbs. During which time I couldn’t scroll. Hope this isn’t a sign of slow page loads to come.

    Thumbs down from me so far for this and the same reasons given by many here.

  69. Thumbs = bad idea. The value of a comment needs to stand upon the merit of it’s contents and not on how people like or not like it.

  70. I voted YES.

    1. As I previously mentioned, the system is easily swept from away from view, thus I find it harmless.

    2. I checked the poll results. While the comments suggest “No” the poll is saying “Yes.” This tells me others do find the new feature to have value.

    3. I wouldn’t really care about the ratings anyway. I’m a skeptical person visiting a “climate skeptic” site, I already know I’m a bit of a non-conformist. I post comments here, in front of the unblinking gaze of the internet. While the nature of such commenting and this site can mask it, I am aware my words can potentially be read by millions, and by the readership of this site those words have at least as many readers as those of an average writer for a newspaper. Yet still I post, and know I don’t care much about what other people think about my words anyway, thus such ratings to me are basically meaningless.

    4. Very few readers here actually comment, easily seen by the comment/readership ratios. For those too timid to comment themselves, and they are legion, they now can at least register their approval/disapproval of the comments of others.

    For me, no difference. For others, positive difference. Thus I voted yes.

  71. Unfortunately, the function definitely does slow down loading of the page, at least on my computer, so my vote would be no. Whilst I enjoy giving the thumbs up and down on other sites, notably newspaper columns, I think the feature is more appropriate to populist tabloid journalism than to a serious scientific blog, especially to the one that has been voted “Best Scientific Blog.”

    Your detracters could also have a field day if someone makes an inane comment which attracts thumbs up support and which could then be used as a justification for criticising the intellectual quality and judgement, especially on climate matters, of your readership.

  72. When I want to write a comment, I don’t need to write all the time my name (well, alias actually) and my email. My computer remembers, maybe because of a cookie, I don’t know. How about remembering too the user’s preference about showing votes and allowing to vote? My suggestion:

    1) Deactivated by default.

    2) Allow to activate it in the form that you fill-in when sending a comment, having its effect after you send the comment. Never-commenters cannot vote or see votes. To be able to activate it you need to have written some comment sometime in some WUWT thread from the same computer.

    3) Being optional, those who don’t like the idea (as well as newcommers) will not get the high download-times inherent to this solution. They will see the threads the same way it has always worked. No thumbs, nothing to populate, no code to execute. Still, those who like the idea can still vote comments and see which comments are popular. You send them a different version of the page.

  73. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    February 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Specifically I have the Adblock Plus plug-in.

    Does anyone know how to block them using only IE9?

    My opinion fwiw: dumbing down at its worst.

  74. My feeling is that it is trivialising and open to abuse.
    What purpose does it serve?

    If it stays, a thank you to kadaka above.

    Regards

  75. As someone else noted comments should stand or fall on their content. The thumbs could be useful on the “Tips and Notes to WUWT” for a quick/informal take (on comments where audience feedback may make sense or be useful to you/moderators). Although a quick poll offer could do the same I suppose.

  76. Like Roger and Lucy I voted yes in the poll but have changed my mind since reading through the comments and giving it more reasoned consideration. After trawling through, I find it a distraction which offers no real evaluation of the actual qualities (or lack thereof) of the posts. It’s easy to imagine RC trolls coming here en masse to rubbish excellent opinions – that alone is enough to change my mind. Let people’s words stand for themselves.

  77. Don’t know if it is my pc only, but since the thumbs are added, the comments start to scroll by themselves…

  78. I would like to add, if I may, the observation that there are thousands of people who visit WUWT who don’t post comments in the threads. They may do so out of diffidence or perhaps feel that they have nothing to add to the thread as whatever they feel or think has been covered by others more bold or just earlier than they. They may just not have the time or inclination to post.

    The thumbs give such visitors an opportunity to add, in a small way, their opinion to the rapidly accumulating body of work and opinion that is WUWT. Some people do like anonymity for all kinds of reasons and it can be abused but I think, over time that the abusers will become bored and move off.

    Let’s see how it goes, hey.

  79. Here’s another reason to vote against the thumbs up/down feature.

    You can cheat and vote for yourself. I just tried it. Such behaviour is strictly for the other side.

  80. This will probably get all the warmists that read this blog to autmatially click the thumbs down buttong.

  81. Roger Longstaff says:
    February 28, 2011 at 2:08 am
    I voted in the poll (yes), and then read the comments – and changed my mind. Perhaps the post should advise readers to consider the comments before voting?

    Indeed – my sentiments also. I went back and voted no.

    Also the thumbs takes up vertical space on the screen – it might be better on the side.

  82. I think that this is a
    VERY BAD IDEA

    Ideas do not get merit by being popular and this eautre will drive away people with views that do not agree with the majority. This is ironic is a blog that decries the activist actions of some climate blogs. This has no place in any blog that values skepticism and healthy debate.

    Again this is a

    VERY BAD IDEA

  83. The changes to the website a few weeks ago made the pages clear and easily read.

    The thumbs are now a distraction, and I think add nothing to the site.

  84. I will reserve final judgement until it’s been going a while – so I haven’t voted yet.
    I do think it’s a bit pointless as I cannot see it serving any real purpose? (but maybe I’m just worried folk will start to diss my comments! LOL)
    but I do agree with some of the other commenters who suggest it is a distraction and also it makes the site appear less ‘sciencey’ and more ‘facebooky’ – yes I know they’re not real words, but it was the best I could think of at the time…

  85. I am a south paw (left hander) and lived my life in a culture of non-enlightenment/non-Christian. Or variations of such.

    The green shows a left hand with thumb up and the red shows a right hand with thumb down.
    Too much noise for me. Like the PNS interpretation dialogue by Ravetz.

    I’ll stick with the process of science. As I was taught in the enlightenment sciences by my good teachers and parents. And the excellent article(s) recently by Willis E, thank you Willis.

    Jessie

  86. aargh, I am now torn..I like being able to thumbs up some of the great informative and downright funny/witty comments, by the time I read em all its to hard to add a thank you /smiley to maybe 10 ripper comments.
    maybe leave it at an UPthumb?

  87. Lot of valid pros and cons mentioned here. Fortunately it is harmless to try this system out and see what happens. I’m quite sure it will be easy enough to eliminate if it proves to be useless or merely distracting. I say we experiment and see what happens.

  88. I’d rather do without the thumbs up/down. The reason is that I generally read all the comments and would like to formulate my own opinion about them without having my perception skewed by others who have already judged them. I’m thinking a popularity contest similar to a YouTube presentation wouldn’t enhance the content. Let those that object to content or support the same do so verbally so we know why.

  89. R.S.Brown says:
    February 28, 2011 at 12:01 am
    “If I really disagree with a comment, I can write
    a comment of my own, using my actual name, stating my
    particular point of disagreement.”

    Agree with this comment. Thumbing is for those who are too lazy (or stupid) to actually think about and post a comment.

  90. Dont like the idea of thumbs up / down – better to have the exchange with words, to follow or not follow lines of argumentation. For me it was always a very plus of WUWT
    that comments normally have a decent standard – you may agree or disagree, but at least
    there is an exchange that is interesting, as well as the story itself.

  91. Well, since you’re asking, I would have to say that the voting line has more downside than up …

    * Loading/Refreshing the page shows many new requests being sent out to PollDaddy.com, so there must be a speed/bandwidth hit to consider. (BTW: to see what happens on a page load or refresh on Opera, you make sure the status bar is enabled and also set the progress bar to ‘Popup at Bottom’. Anytime that a webpage is loading the requests are displayed which is nice for developers.)

    * The voting line does add to vertical space usage within each post so consequently the ‘length’ of each page will grow (get taller).

    * Aesthetically I would say that it is a negative, or perhaps they are simply too large in relation to all other page elements, particularly the fonts. Even small comments clock in at about 1.5 to 2 per screenful. WUWT on Opera looks good with page zoom at 80%.

    * These things can become troll tools. You know that Eadler and others will low-ball certain posts and commenters. And imagine if Steve Goddard still had Sea-Ice posts here, dozens of those little insects would leave their hive and fly over here to make a point. Why leave thoughtful comments when they can just click on their enemies.

  92. Seriously Anthony, you can already feel the childish games this would bring to a now great science site. A large number of the people who never participate here are voting at the top to include this voting system and clearly the commenters below seem to be more wary. Maybe the hidden voters want to degrade WUWT.

    I too am afraid this would knock WUWT completely out of the realm of real science and cheapen it. I say no, keep it pure and simple. We are all adults and can chose which comment to like or dislike by the words within. And you know, I rarely view a comment as up or down, but if anything at all, relevant or not.

    If you keep it maybe you can put words by those thumbs, being something like relevant and not relevant. That seems to make a whole lot more sense. Sometimes when in a hurry I wish I knew which comments were just on the posts topic. That way I could mark my own OT’s as ‘not relevant’ so they could be just skipped by others. ☺

  93. One thing I find very distracting – the color thumb images. I see a screenful of comments, but my eye gets drawn the the colored hands. Perhaps black & white would work better for me, I have know idea if that’s a WordPress option.

  94. Just a toy for the trolls. No worthwhile input.
    When I read the page on “Ancient Natural Global Warming” the posts suggesting CO2 lags temperature each had a down vote, but no up votes.

  95. I commend Anthony for being innovative, but I don’t think this is a good idea. As some have previously noted, it encourages groupthink, and reduces intellectual discussions to the blogging equivalent of blowing a raspberry.

    On the other hand, those who have written something outstandingly good, deserve some recognition, so how about a thumbs up only button – a nice little pat on the back from fellow bloggers for an outstanding response.

    BTW, the picture was Emporer Commodius from Gladiator.

  96. I could do without thumbs up or down, but what I do want is the ability to look at all post by individuals. Leif Svalgaard’s thoughts and comments are not only brilliant but his abolute rejection of what he sees as shenanigan science has had me laughing out loud more than a few times. Unfortunately I cannot easily access his post. Am I missing something?

    See now I am fearing the thumbs down for thread derailment!!

  97. Like many others, I votes thumbs down on the thumbs. Put the substance in the commentary. We can vote with our minds on the comments we read. I just don’t think this enhances WUWT.

  98. I don’t mind the comments, as long as you are going to do something with them, i.e. have the comment collapse when it reaches some level of negative reviews. Otherwise, it’s just noise.

  99. Can it be made an optional feature from the base camp? Perhaps a “v” after date/v/and before title. Or simpler maybe a box on the top of a discussion page to flip from one to the other which doesn’t alter URL?

  100. Is this a way to balance ‘consensus science’ with ‘consensus commentary’? I have about equal regard for both. It just lowers the level of discourse.

  101. I don’t like this at all…

    People should be able to vote with their words….
    …if you do or don’t like someone’s word, post and tell why

    This is just distracting

    Plus, it seems like it would lead to a gang mentality…..

    Don’t like it………….don’t need it………..

    Anthony, what happened to if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it………..

  102. Initially, I thought this a good idea, now I’m reconsidering. On the post indicating WUWT’s Weblog Award (Congratulations!), two people took the time to vote a “thumbs down” on each congratulatory notice….until about 10:21pm, which was presumably when mother put the little troll to bed.
    It seems that gives the trolls another way to express their distain for WUWT and its readers without explanation. It’s more anonymous and a step away from accountability.
    I’ve also seen, on other blogs, a oneupmanship on comments which may be driven by the psychological need for more up-thumbs. I would suggest that WUWT’s better the way it was.

  103. “So can I get a wish,
    to end the politics,
    and get back to the music
    that started this sh*t?”
    — B.O.B. “Airplanes”

  104. Oh my – each one of those rating things requires a connection and HTML fetch from polldaddy.com! This will do awful things to Tips & Notes load times. Time to see if I can change my vote above.

  105. If you use the ratio of up to down votes to adjust the font color (easy with a bit of javascript) then we’ll know well quick from the font color if a response is popular or not, and can avoid reading the bad ones.

  106. As stated above, rating comments suggests consensus science. This is the only time I have found anything to criticise in Anthony’s wonderful science blog! Of course it is your site to do with as you wish, Anthony.

  107. I like Leif’s comments. (Roy or Bob Tisdale).

    in contrast

    I like Vukcevic’s comments. (Fedinand Engelbeen or Bill Illis).

    and many other great commentators

    In any case described above I do not think as a simple reader (like me) can decide a vote of approval or disapproval.

    When it comes to politics.

    Anything from RC with absolute certainty already has my vote of disapproval (pre-trial with historical basis. Of course, RC is not perfect, should eventually make a mistake). [sarc/]

    ___________________________

    I voted yes.

    After reading the comments. I come to the conclusion that it was a mistake.

    Sorry

  108. If I’m reading several of the above comments correctly
    some participants have voted twice !

    They seem to have voted “Yes” at first, then reconsidered
    and gone back and voted “No”.

    Can we vote “No” more than once ? “Yes” more than once ?

    Are there any controls or limits on how many votes can be
    generated by a single user, or email address on the same comment ?

  109. Kate says:
    February 28, 2011 at 12:23 am
    “What value does this have? The whole point of this forum is to form your own opinion, it’s not a popularity contest, so the feature is irrelevant and distracting.”
    Quite agree Kate.
    I then promptly gave your comment a thumb’s up.
    QED.

  110. I’m not sure whether to give a thumbs up to the thumb down idea,

    or to give a thumb down to the thumb up idea.

    I’m going to have to give this thumb thought.

  111. Head’s UP:

    The thumbs appear on OLD wuwt posts. Unacceptable, as that was not the context in which commenters volunteered their words.

  112. Many years ago I made the acquaintance of an attractive young lady with severe hearing loss who depended on signing for much of her communication. Made the mistake of using thumbs down once and got an unexpected reaction. Learned that it means “Go to h…”, at least in her circles. I don’t know if that is standard ASL or not.

  113. I like the concept of giving non-commenters a quick means for leaving “a bit” of feedback, but a single bit (0/1) carries too little information to be useful to people who see it. “You didn’t like it? Why didn’t you like it?”

    (Actually, I guess it’s three-valued – up, down, not provided. “You didn’t give feedback? Why didn’t you give feedback?”)

    So it seems to me that its main value is as a toy for some, but not all, readers. Doesn’t seem worth the visual noise.

    Oh … p.s. … I backed this comment out before commiting it and refreshed the page, and Chrome timed out. Now I’m a thumb alarmist. Thumbs must be stopped before the internet overheats!

  114. Imo, this is needless.
    People come here because of the articles and the data.
    The comments are a sideshow and should stay that way.
    Plus it demeans the gravitas of the site to add this Roman Circus touch.
    I’d rather empower the editors to snip a bit more freely, it that is needed, which is however not apparent.

  115. One way this could be used to frustrate the alarmists would be to only have a thumbs up. Or when click the thumbs down, it counts as a thumbs up. This would be scientifically accurate if you consider alarmist math. So if Warming = Cooling, then Tumbs down must = Thumbs up.

  116. Do I like the thumbs up/thumbs down feature: succinctly, with respect, Anthony, no.

    And for the reason others cite in this thread, so no need repeating them …

    .

  117. Like many of the others I voted before I read the comments – should be a no from me too. Also, using Opera some of the comments dont seem to have the voting option (every fifth comment is voteless) and when you do vote it says thank you for rating this and then immediately reverts back to where it was before you voted. Probably just a browser thing.

  118. Not a fan of them myself. I’ve been on other sites that use the thumbs up/down and it often does turn into a groupthink tank. If the idea is to “shame” the troublemakers, it isn’t going to work. What I’ve seen other places it the real troublemakers don’t care, but those who have honest questions that might not go over well will be the ones who are silenced.

  119. My actual comment on

    Thumbs for Comments

    would be that I like a ‘Recommend’ button better, similar to what is used in the NY Times blogs. This allows positive reinforcement without giving in to the urge to ‘negatively…’ [what’s the antonym of reinforce? Whatever it is, insert here :-) ].

    As a commenter who desires to contribute to the conversation, receiving positive reinforcement when one’s comment is constructive and helpful (not necessarily agreeing or non-critical) tends to encourage thoughtful, careful writing, thus raising the level of the overall experience and moving forward the purpose of a blog like WUWT.

    While I’m at it, I kinda like the ‘Highlight’ function at the NY Times as well. It is more positive reinforcement for the commenter, and allows the author/moderator to select certain comments that he thinks are the best supporting or critical contributions of the readers. Best when the actual author selects, and often replies, within the highlight. Admittedly, some NYT authors only highlight comments supporting their views and saying things they ‘like’. Others use the function for its intended purpose and highlight the most contributive comments.

  120. Upon consideration, I prefer WUWT without the thumbs. The considered response that you get here – either positive or negative – is far more valuable.

  121. I think thumbs work better as a concept if…

    1) There’s a side-thumb for indifference
    2) There’s a question-mark for when someone simply communicated badly but you don’t want to thumb-them-down. (this has the added benefit of encouraging posters to think about their posts before submitting)
    3) The results are not presented numerically, but iconically.

  122. I was against, so it appears it was majority. Thumbs have gone. Thanks.
    Hey, what ? , the consensus won, hmmm…., but I am not for consensus… confused…

  123. Some comments are quite remarkable and informative, and excellent for newcomers.
    If I saw at the beginning of the comments that 50 people thought comment # 27 was exceptionally noteworthy, I could jump to it and not miss it.
    If posts could be numbered, a chart could be at the beginning of the comments with a tally I could click on to mark the numbered comment as “don’t miss reading this one.”
    Or a “Best Comments/Most Informative Comments” identifier of some type.

    As a site’s popularity grows, the comments become unreadable when they number in the hundreds or thousands. Individuals voting on the best ones makes thousands of comments “usable and practical”. I want to read those “most suggested” at the top of the comments and nothing at the comment itself.

    A newcomer could go to older posts and quickly read the highest recommended best comments if they were identified as a summary after the article.

    I envision a table with numbers at the top of the comments and if I think a post is very informative I click on a number on the table and the number changes in physical size. 10 clicks on a number and it swells to become obvious that people like it. A quick glance at the table gives me a visual cue as to which to read. I like this idea.

  124. FBTroy says:
    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 am

    I could do without thumbs up or down, but what I do want is the ability to look at all post by individuals. Leif Svalgaard’s thoughts and comments are not only brilliant but his absolute rejection of what he sees as shenanigan science has had me laughing out loud more than a few times. Unfortunately I cannot easily access his post. Am I missing something?

    An excellent idea.

  125. This feature crashed my IE browser repeatedly; I couldn’t open any of the comments or articles below the fold until Anthony disabled it again. At least, I assume that was the reason for these crashes, absent any other changes being implemented at the same time.

  126. A proposal was made, an experiment was conducted, the results were analyzed. This is science.

    I wonder what results came from the computer models evaluating how good the new feature would work. Did they show it would be more or less popular after being in use for a hundred years? Did they evaluate how popular it would have been thirty years ago based on the demographics?

  127. No more thumbs please.
    This (excellent) site has always been about the science.
    It has taken me on a steep and rewarding learning curve.
    This site has never been a popularity contest. Let’s keep it that way.

  128. REPLY: Yeah, it might be popular, but not worth the load time. – A

    Thanks, was crashing mine too on certain posts with many, many comments.

  129. docattheautopsy February 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Elevator buttons are fun!

    But I agree with the above posters, although I gave them all “thumbs down” out of spite. This reminds me of LGF.

    Aye; I remember when Charles implemented that ‘feature’. Things seemed to go downhill from there although that was not the only reason … I would write more but I have a green-cheeked conure insistent on getting attention and I require two hands to type …

    .

  130. I am not much in favour of this idea. Too gimmicky.

    You are a serious blog. Damn it, you have just been voted the best science blog. Lets remain adults and leave these trivial gimmicks to the children who believe everything they get out of the PSP3s (aka climate models).

  131. If something is good, it will get good ratings -People just voted WUWT best science blog on the planet- The same thing applies to comments: We cannot read all comments, we cannot hear all songs that are made, ratings help to separate what is worth reading from what is not worth.

  132. I changed my mind. Warmists are organized. I remember commenting on a youtube video and my comments -and the comments of other skeptics received about 20 bad thumbs in a few seconds. They are organized to disrupt us, they will sabotage us, they often do not care about truth, they seek POWER & CONTROL at any price. I know them, I fought them big time in the past.

  133. Phew!
    Thanks for deciding to remove the ratings, Anthony. Quite a relief; and proof once again that you have adventure in your veins, but a sixth sense when you realise it’s not a valley but a box canyon ahead.

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