I'm considering a blog policy change

Preparing to launch a “flame”.

A couple of things have happened this week that has made me look at this blog just a bit differently than in the past.

  • I’ve had to ask for help for the very first time in moderating comments as I’ve run out of hours in the day. Thanks Jeez.
  • I’ve had one of the most stressful weeks ever in trying to juggle all the workload with this blog, including a wildland fire that has made 5 of my 6 employees absent today.  The phones are quiet at the moment and nothing had broken (yet) in our 50 or so servers.
  • The realization that I’m going to have half a million unique page views this month
  • Some very rude and juvenile comments were posted as of late by anonymous commenters, some of which I’ve simply deleted wholesale. Some I’ve banned. The trend for this has been upwards.
  • I’m not getting other important work done, such as getting the surfacestations.org database updated as new stations are surveyed, and I need to deploy my Stevenson Screen paint experiment again. One of the screens has been damaged my a recent windstorm (knocked over, anchors pulled out).
  • I’m falling behind in email correspondence.

As I review my time, I find that a good portion of it goes towards managing this blog. It has become a hungry insatiable animal. While I have no lack of material for postings, doing the moderation/management is becoming a bit much. It is often irritating as well as time consuming.

Faced with a choice of giving up blogging (as Roger Pielke did for awhile) turning off comments altogether (as Roger Pielke did when he returned to blogging) or changing the way comments are handled, I’m considering the latter.

One of the things that has always bothered me about blogging and commentary is that the “anonymous cowards” (as Slashdot calls them) generally have the upper hand. Science bloggers like Tamino and Eli Rabbet fall into the “anonymous coward” category, as do many of the rude posters here and elsewhere. Some like “Dano” and “TCO” have whole careers based on snark. Who are they? I don’t know/don’t care, as they are irrelevant. But, they waste everybody’s time nonetheless.

Being anonymous or using a handle allows you to say any stupid, hateful, inciting, derogatory, or otherwise negative thing you want and have no accountability for your actions. At the same time, your opinion or writings is generally worthless as it can’t be verified. Anonymity IMHO, serves only the purpose to allow bad behaviour while protecting oneself or one’s reputation from any real damage.

On the other hand, people that put their name out there with their work or writings, such as John Coleman, Roger Pielke, Joe D’aleo, Basil Copeland, John Goetz, Steve McIntyre, David Smith, Evan Jones, Jim Goodridge, Warren Meyer, and many others (I’m sorry if I missed anyone), including myself, often get viciously criticized for putting their word and reputation on the line every day for writing something they believe in.

The “anonymous cowards” that publish blogs or comments take no such risks when they criticize or challenge. They can work for NASA, be a member of the IPCC, work for a science organization, be a professor at a university, and can taunt, castigate, or criticize in any tone they wish, all without risk to their professional or private reputation.

So today, when I got some angry anonymous comments, one of which came from a NASA employee (which I know because WordPress.com automatically puts the source IP next to each comment, that’s not something I had to search for) it made me think about “why am I taking all the risks”?

Peilke and D’Aleo solved the problem by turning off comments. I like comments because they give myself and others new perspectives, but I don’t like the easy “drive by vitriol” that sometimes springs forth from anonymity. The commenter “MA” recently provided an example of the worst sort of that.

My father, God rest his soul, always told me to “stand behind my words”. I do that, by putting my name on everything that publishes here. I’ve taken a lot of heat for doing so.

So I’m considering this:

Change of policy – all commenters must use their real name and  have valid reachable email. The name would be published, the email would not.

Sure, that will anger some folks, but at the same time it will also force those that wish to comment to choose their words carefully, to act responsibly, and to be courteous of others. It will also cut down on the volume of comments that need moderation.

I figure if you have something to say, and what you have to say is useful, factual, and important enough to add to the discussion, you’ll have no problem putting your name to it. Right?

Ok have at it. I’ll make a decision next week.


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Gary Gulrud
June 13, 2008 3:40 pm

Well I like the proposed rule in part because I believe it tempers my own immoderacy more often than I’d care to admit.

June 13, 2008 3:41 pm

I think that your readers will follow you whatever you decide. Thanks for all your hard work. Here is my response to a snarky commenter on my blog:
“Just so everyone knows, I deleted a comment that contained profanity. If you don’t believe that these enviromental policies lead to regulation of every part of lives, then you are going to have to come up with better arguments than “You are full of ****!”
That is not an argument that would win any debate, but it might make you feel better about where your political ideas actually lead.
Also, how much guts does it take to make anonymous comments on websites that you disagree with? I put my name on everything I write.”

June 13, 2008 3:43 pm

Well done Anthony, I have put my full name down in advance of your decision. I have not agreed with many arguments or points you or other users have raised but I have enjoyed reading and contributing and, above all, learning about this complex subject. I have gone from pro AGW to about neutral mainly as a result of your work and links fom other conributors. There have been unwelcome comments from other users on both sides of he discusion with far too many references to religion! It would be a shame to stop comments but I appreciate the demands on your time. I hope you can carry on so we can carry on enjoying the banter!

June 13, 2008 3:45 pm

I say go for it Anthony, remember above all it’s your blog and you make the rules.

John Bunt
June 13, 2008 3:48 pm

I value your time and effort, so you need to do what YOU want to do. Thanks. John R Bunt

June 13, 2008 3:50 pm

I’m all for it Tony! As a matter of fact I spent the entire day today devising a method to reduce the incredible number of spam subscribes I receive each day to “The Mysterious Climate Project” (now at 3,000/day and climbing). The time I have to devote in maintaining the list’s integrity is simply keeping me from doing anything else.
I have no problem revealing my true identity to anyone (as I do with each post on your board).
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

June 13, 2008 3:53 pm

Why not dispense with comments altogether? Most are a waste of time.
Just please keep your excellent blog going please.

June 13, 2008 3:54 pm

Anthony –
First and foremost – this place is yours and no one else’s. Manage it as you see fit, the opinion and emotions of others be damned.
Second – I agree with your gut. While anonymity can be a positive thing at times (think about Benjamin Franklin’s pseudonyms before the revolution) but in the Internet age it seems overused and far beyond the point of benefit. If it is devouring your time for only to allow cowards to spew drivel at your expense, then you are perfectly justified to demand that they stand and be counted if they are to continue. The bravery of being out of range is something I’m sure that they’ll take to the next place that allows them. Good riddance.
Jimmy Fortuna

Kimo Hana
June 13, 2008 3:58 pm

You should go further: commenting should be strictly held to members only. If a bonehead pisses you off for whatever reason, boot him.
This is your blog. I follow it regularly and it’s an inspiration. Don’t let kindergarten trolls ruin it. You don’t need their comments.

June 13, 2008 4:00 pm

Anthony, you could also ask someone to moderate comments for you. Some of the higher ranked blogs do this.
Bottom line, it’s your blog! While I don’t have a problem with using full name, per se you may limit what information you do receive (referrals to information you might be interested in and may have missed) as there are still quite a few people who aren’t on a Google search yet and may not want to be.
Imagine trying to get a job and your boss decides you aren’t qualified because you agreed with Anthony Watts! Or, as that new Democrat video (Blue Balled) implies you might not get any action if you get Googled!
Of course everyone could just lie, but that is one step beyond being anonymous that many might not be comfortable with.

June 13, 2008 4:03 pm

What am I, chopped liver?

June 13, 2008 4:03 pm

I use a pseudonym because ,as a government scientist employed in a blue state, I would likely face retribution for what I believe are balanced views if it became know I was commonting here. While I am not quiet at work about the creep of politics in science, I have to be careful, particularly when speaking about climate.
That said, I do not have an issue with your proposed policy. I enjoy the content of the site and would continue to do so even if I didn’t have an opportunity to share my (mostly) irrelevant prattle.

Rick Ballard
June 13, 2008 4:04 pm

How you control access to your private property is your business. Whatever decision you make will not affect my daily visit in the slightest.
I agree with you wholeheartedly concerning anonymous cowards leaving droppings in comments. Nothing will be lost by barring them.
A gradual approach may work the best, bar anonymous comments and see what happens. If you remain displeased with the result then eliminate comments altogether.
Thank you for your efforts and thanks to Jeez for helping out. If you need additional help, make the need known and it will be available.

Steven Stanley Stipulkoski
June 13, 2008 4:05 pm

I’ll miss flowers4Stalin and other cute names but whatever you decide since its your blog. I had to rake a rest break while typing my name.

Daryl Ritchison
June 13, 2008 4:06 pm

I too very much enjoy the comment section and hope you can keep it open. Having everyone use their real name tends to keep the comments down as a rule, but we’re all professionals here and it certainly would not keep me from posting comments when the subject warrants.

Jerry Brown
June 13, 2008 4:07 pm

Whatever you decide to do is fine with me, just keep the site going, the information is far more important than the comments. Thanks for all you do

June 13, 2008 4:08 pm

Lawrie said: “Why not dispense with comments altogether? Most are a waste of time.”
If that is your opinion of the incredible amount of information others post on this blog, than all I can say is that you’re wasting your time. The contributors on this blog are some of the finest and most knowledgeable individuals, scientists, and researchers that you’ll find anywhere on the ‘net.
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

June 13, 2008 4:09 pm

My first suggestion would be a comment registration which is generally closed, and only opened when you want, would cut the clutter, That way, new commenters could be placed in a quarantine and only allowed to post without moderation after a trial period. This way, valid commenters who have something to say and hopefully add to the discussion, would get ‘qualified’, while the riff raff would be held off. It should cut down the moderation effort.
Another suggestion would be to allow other commenters to moderate by flagging comments, which could then be reviewed and deleted as required. You can use the collective to moderate. You could do this from the beginning, let all who show up register, close the registration, and then let the users have at moderating the riff raff.
Comments and the discussion are very valuable for your blog, and I would hate to see them go away.
I don’t think the ‘full name’ will do much, tying it to an email may do more, but setting up email accounts is an easy task. Restrictive registration would do the most.
It’s your blog, it’s your call. Just don’t give up blogging I would rather you turn off comments than quit …

Jim Arndt
June 13, 2008 4:10 pm

Sounds good to me. I have no problem using my real name on any blog. Your blog your rules.

June 13, 2008 4:12 pm

Oh and congratulations on your blog’s success!

Earle Williams
June 13, 2008 4:12 pm

I encourage you do whatever it takes to manage your time sufficiently to be able to spend as much as possible with your family. After you’ve taken care of your family, yourself, and your business, then whatever time you have left over should be enough to manage this unruly lot.
Pull the cord and let ‘er rip! Just bear in mind that unless you alter the blog software to enable registration you will likely still have to wade through false names and emails.
Thanks heaps for putting yourself out there. Your blog is a must-read several times a day. I’d hate to see it be so consuming that you need to shut it down, so do what must be done. Make no apologies, particularly to those undeserving of one.

June 13, 2008 4:12 pm

You are absolutely correct. Anonymity brings out the worst in people.
Just recently I realised that I didn’t like my own behaviour as a pseudonymous poster over at Metafilter; I closed that account and opened up a real one with my real name, picture, contact details etc. Now every time I’m tempted to get into a flame war or say something intemperate, I have to remember that everything I post is permenantly linked to my real life. Not only has that been a major positive change for me, but it makes other people react to me differently as they can see that I’m a real person. When you are rude to someone on the Internet, you are being rude in real life.
I strongly support what you’re proposing. There are a few (very few) situations where anonymity is important (whistleblowing etc) but commenting on blog posts just isn’t one of them. Make people responsible for their words. Make them accountable for their offensiveness. It makes all the difference.

June 13, 2008 4:15 pm

Personally, I agree with your sentiments. I help to moderate a large forum, and dealing with the trolls can be very tiring.
However, I don’t see a lot of value in requiring use of ‘real names’ – because they can be faked, too.
I like anonymity. I don’t want people following me around (as has happened), nor explaining my posts to work colleagues or my boss (hasn’t happened.. yet)
How about restricting comments to registered members? That would be at least a stop-gap.
But its your site. I enjoy reading it – thank-you to you & your team.

June 13, 2008 4:16 pm

On a more serious note. Don’t stress so much over this. You can always change your mind. The Internet is flexible.

June 13, 2008 4:20 pm

At the very least make the posters IP address visible to everyone. But what ever you do would be fine.

June 13, 2008 4:24 pm

I don’t have a problem with it in principle. I tend to use a handle because I also use it to comment on some more controversial blogs. I live in the SF Bay area and many of my co-workers and management are a bit extreme in their opinions on certain subjects and also extreme in their opinions of people with differing views.
I enjoy expressing my opinions and sharing information and not having to worry about someone “Googling” my name at work and my boss discovering that I am one of these “evil deniers”. I like to maintain good relations with many people of various political persuasions. Some of those people are not as open to befriending people with differing views, they take that stuff way too seriously.

Richard Wright
June 13, 2008 4:25 pm

100% in agreement, Anthony. Only allow real names and emails. I sympathize with those who worry about their jobs, but that’s a decision they’ll have to make. They’re not alone – just watch “Expelled! No Intelligence Allowed”. Many of the same tactics are being used by the pro-global warming crowd that are used by the anti-intelligent design crowd. Anyone who thinks that the members of the scientific community are above subjectivity, arrogance, greed, spite, kingdom-building, etc. is living in la la land.

June 13, 2008 4:27 pm

Take advertising; the revenue ought to hire you a sheriff.

June 13, 2008 4:28 pm

Well, this is my real name. and my real email addy has always been used.
Anonymous blogging comments are kinda like people who become a different sort behind the wheel, they don’t think there will be any consequences, so the thin veneer of civilization falls away rather quickly.
I don’t mind having my real name known but I would prefer that my workplace not be advertised. I work in one of those three letter government orgs (not a very exciting three letters tho) and my views on this subject would subject me to severe harrassment.

Perry Debell
June 13, 2008 4:28 pm

Hello Anthony,
Here I am, supporting all that you write, because the planet is getting colder yet again. The Irish have voted NO to the EU and we are voting NO to the AGW warmists. We have both right and science on our side and two poor harvests, this year and next will concentrate minds wonderfully. Keep up the good work, because the pendulum is swinging our way. Here is an excellent British blog for you to read, if you do not know it yet.
Best wishes,

June 13, 2008 4:28 pm

S’okay by me. BTW and FWIW, “DAV” is my real name … well, initials anyway. The people I work with know me by that name as well. My email address is also my name. My IP address is registered in my name as well as the url is in the some of the links that I’ve made.
Just a side comment though. Not allowing some anonymity might curtail valid comment if the commentor feels it may have professional repercussion. Maybe you could make an unadvertised Real Name field similar to the e-mail address. Just a thought.
How would you know the name is real, though?
— OR —-
Maybe it could be possible for vetted posters to post through without moderation? Might lessen the burden but I suppose it could also have the reverse effect.
Whatever you decide though.
I’d very much like to continue using DAV though.

Leon Brozyna
June 13, 2008 4:28 pm

Do it!
I’ve taken to using my own name as a small form of protest on the multitude of sites, reflecting my varied interests, I visit where anonymous drive by junk gets posted. If you have something to say that’s worthwhile, put your name to it and stand by what you say. Let’s get some degree of civility instilled in the blogosphere.
Just think, Monday is next week. Okay, technically it’s Sunday.

June 13, 2008 4:31 pm

I hear you on the overhead of having a lot of attention on your blog. First of congrats and well earned, this is a daily read for me now. Second, if you are going to keep this up you either need to delegate tasks to some minions, or find a way to have your blog make enough money that it’s your primary focus. That is the tough part.
Keep up the good work, the quality here is apparent.
Bruce H

Steve in SC
June 13, 2008 4:31 pm

While I have no problem using my real name, there is a small problem with my name. My name is Steve McEntyre and no I am not the guy from Climate Audit and I am not masquerading as him either. I was accused of that when I left a few comments on his blog. (not by him but by several of his more haughty readers)
Therefore I would sort of like to avoid that sort of confusion if I could. It could be humorous at times though.
Perhaps if you required the nearest town of the commentors as well as the name.
I have no problem with that either.
Most excellent blog though. Well written and accurate as well as inciteful and thought provoking. Required reading in my view.
Bottom Line: You are the boss.

June 13, 2008 4:32 pm

As a person who comes to this site often and has not made a comment I also believe a person should sign their name. I do that at other sites where I happen to have some knowledge of the subject. To those who sign their name even if their faced with personal attacks or even economic retribution they are obviously very courageous.
Here is the bottom line to me, this site offers objective and scientific information on the Climate. Those who take the cheap shots under a pseudonym are without merit in my view.
Ralph Short
Garden City, South Carolina

June 13, 2008 4:35 pm

Mc Grats said: The contributors on this blog are “some” of the finest
Lawrie said: “Most” are a wate of time.
“Some”, “Most” so what is your problem McGrats?
Ok: Some comments are not a wate of time but most are!

June 13, 2008 4:37 pm

Most times when I use my actual name it is when I venture forth to a Tamino or Rabett’s Run to do battle.
I’ve been using my handle for so long that the occasional post where I use my given name, my name itself provides a certain degree of anominity.
Another case where I use my given name is when I am visiting a foreign countryman’s blog. At such a time I feel it is my duty as an ambassador of America to be completely forthright.
I reserve the papertiger for use with my friends, but there is no hard and fast rule.
Sometimes as a gag I’ve impersonate Elvis or Darth Vadar.
How about we sign our posts in the fashion of Jack Koenig? Would that be cool?
James Mayeau aka you know who.

June 13, 2008 4:38 pm

I post under a pseudonym due to the fact that identity theft is rampant and many, (not all) Alarmists have become violent and vindictive, (I have an unusual surname). Eco-terrorism has been in the news a lot recently and the last thing I need is for someone to vandalize my home, my reputation or hurt one of my animals because of my views on this topic.
Something else to consider…… many times comments contain links to informative/valuable information concerning the topics.
This site is on my permanent “link” list…..I check it everyday and glean mountains of information from it. I don’t want to go so far to say that the site is indispensable, but I value the place immensely. I think that it’s important to keep sites like this running….sort of a gathering place for sane people.
Advertise? Maybe hire a few people to weed out the obscene comments and personal attacks with the proceeds?
Ask for a government grant? (Just kidding).
Maybe donations to pay for the extra help? I’ll chip in……
In the end, this is your gig and you should do what makes you and your family happy and content. Life is too short to carry on with a hobby that has turned into a chore…………I’d hate to see you close up shop though.

June 13, 2008 4:40 pm

my hat’s off to you and the work you’ve started and I’ll confess to visiting daily when I can and by all means – its your blog, do as you need to!
(FSM only knows how much I neglect my blathering excuse for one)
I’ll admit to mixed emotions on my part – having personally witnessed a “Docee Moment” job termination for an “against (unpublished – unknown) corp. policy” for an honest product comparison on a personal blog there is a certain amount of justified paranoia and I believe it is important to be able to maintain some degree of anonymity for us paycheque to paycheck folks
although I make every effort to open a “off blog” connectivity and share personal contact information and I’m consistent in usage of my handles (which I suppose is contra anonymity but such is reel-to-real life)
however I’ve also self proclaimed my heretical questioning of CO2 as the end of the world as we know it in local paper – in a region where, well lets just say tie dye and hemp haven’t gone out of style so I don’t have a problem if thats what you decide

Paul Martin
June 13, 2008 4:41 pm

(Thinking about commenters such as deadwood)
I would suggest, if someone wishes to comment anon for genuine reasons, that they – privately – email you their name and email address, which you will of course keep confidential.

Richard deSousa
June 13, 2008 4:41 pm

Anthony: I agree anonymous responders should be banned. If they can’t reveal their names they’re cowards and don’t deserve a place in the forum.

June 13, 2008 4:42 pm

I agree with Tarpon and McGrats above – the (nontroll) comments and discussions that follow your posts are almost as interesting and enlightening as your posts.
My email addr and website are already listed, but will have no problem with adding my last name if required.
That NASA employee was probably Jim H.

June 13, 2008 4:43 pm

why not? seems very reasonable for all of the reasons you gave. if someone is too much of a coward to post from a real email (at the very least) then they shouldn’t have the privilege (and it is a privilege not a right) to post.

D Werme
June 13, 2008 4:45 pm

Your blog, and a wonderful one at that. You might make exception for people who just can’t have their identity known for personal/political reasons, if that can be done without unreasonable extra work.
Thanks for all you’ve done.

June 13, 2008 4:46 pm

I really appreciate this site. Do *whatever* it takes to keep it running my friend. Although I don’t post here very often… I do check here frequently.

June 13, 2008 4:47 pm

I agree mostly with tarpon. A real name would probably keep me from posting and despite other’s experience, I am quite attached to my nom-de-plume, so I do in fact treat it like it will affect me. As for an email address, if I had to I would just give one I wouldn’t check anyway.
A registration system with some volunteer moderators would probably do the job best.
My (few) comments will not be missed by anyone and were mostly for my own edification. But, I do like to warm up before pontificating, so in a year that may change 🙂
I appreciate your site and your ownership of it, so feel free to do what you want with it. (a preview button would be nice, though)

Alex Cull
June 13, 2008 4:48 pm

I can definitely understand where you are coming from on this, having had some pretty weird experiences myself with trolls and multiple identities (“sock puppets”) on various groups. It would be a shame to get rid of all comments though, as these provide so much food for thought. Also the comment function lets even unscientific folks and bystanders to the climate controversy like myself contribute from time to time. But yes, dealing with the faceless dingbats can be a pain. 🙁

June 13, 2008 4:52 pm

It’s almost my real name… I’ve no problem at all using my real name. It’s mine, I’ve owned it for 40+ years, and I’ll stand behind any comments I make (and retract / apologise if incorrect).
Having said that, there are people who may well need to post under a pseudonym. Govenment scientists, NASA people… maybe the rule needs to be register using real name, ask permission to have it changed with an explanation of why.

pablo an ex pat
June 13, 2008 4:52 pm

I admire the courage of the people who post their full name. I chose not to some time ago after an experience on another blog where a fellow realist was harassed at his home by an AGW zealot.
I speak about my views publically whenever it’s appropriate and am happy to stand by them one to one or in small groups. What I cannot and will not do however is put my family in arms reach of those on the internet who are not tollerant of dissension to their ‘the science is settled” view of the world.
As for the rest as other’s have said it’s your blog Anthony, do what you see fit. It will still be a great resource whatever you decide to do.

Larry Todd
June 13, 2008 4:57 pm

I am using my name instead of my usual LarryT. Do what you need to keep this very useful blog going and keep up the good work at surfacestations.org.

Louis Nettles
June 13, 2008 5:00 pm

I would recommend restricted registration. And the first category of those allowed to post would be those who have surveyed a site for surfacestations. And you post an address for volunteers to assist in moderation.

June 13, 2008 5:02 pm

coolest thing I found out in the last two minutes:
When you mouse over the dates on the callender a drop down box tells you what stories were posted that day.
That’s a nice touch.
I don’t know what sort of capabilities your setup features, but I’ve seen systems where the readers themselves are able to gauge who is being a troll. Instead of the blog pilot, that being you, looking through every utterance deciding whats profane or irrelevant, all the posts go up without filtering, then on the rare abusive post there is a hotlink for we the viewing public to click our disapproval of a disrupting influence. This sends a red flag over to you where you return to the task of being moderator, but instead of moderating every word, you are freed up to do the other thing, only needing to deal with the rare 2 % of the bad apples if you choose to.
That’s the way the Sac Bee does it.

Richard Percirield
June 13, 2008 5:03 pm

I read your blog daily and find the comments enlightening, informative, entertaining, and sometimes they confirm my worries about humanity. To that end I have always used my real name, and would have no disagreements with registering to be able to post a comment. But please use the method that fits your needs best, and I for one will still follow along.
BTW I live in Iowa near Cedar Rapids where all of the flooding is occurring, and could not get to work today since there isn’t a bridge open to my south within many miles. However the Storm Predator was great in tracking the precipitation and everyone I showed it to liked it. My house is way above the 500 year flood plain, so all I have to worry about is the sump pump.
Thanks for all of your hard work in getting the real inconvenient information out there, and hope the fires do not affect you too much.
(P.S. No one has blamed this on global warming yet, but I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.)

Scott Walker
June 13, 2008 5:03 pm

Do what you need to do, but please keep your blog going. I visit every day and have encouraged some of my Warmist friends to stop by as well, just to show them that there is another side to this issue beyond the relentless MSM drumbeat. Good luck with the wildfire.

Aaron Gee
June 13, 2008 5:06 pm

Change of policy – all commenters must use their real name and have valid reachable email. The name would be published, the email would not.
Here Here!
If one believes what they are saying and one acts as an adult, then there should be no fear of this simple requirement. Many a child will be disappointed, bear them no mind. They have little to add to the discourse.

John M
June 13, 2008 5:08 pm

I agree with those who say it’s your blog, do what you want. From my standpoint, I prefer not to have my name easily “googled”. Just call me paranoid. But that’s my choice and I can live with it.
But I would also agree with some who have commented on the chance of confusion, even if people honestly use their real names.
Just think of all those poor guys named “Steve Bloom” out there.
Anyway, one other possibility is, has someone else suggested: Require registration; but make it clear that you reserve the right to publish e-mail addresses if people choose to abuse their privledges.

Larry Sheldon
June 13, 2008 5:12 pm

The policy would make no difference to me.
While I a a nobody, science-wise, I am Larry Sheldon, and my cox email address has that in it.
Actually, I am Laurence (growing up, my nickname was Frank–long story), but the school system stuck me with Larry and I gave that fight up years ago.
I have (like your father) always said that (in general) if you can’t put your name on it, I don’t trust it.
(Yes, I understand that if you are in Zimbabwe, or a womens shelter, anonymity might be important, but if you are writing from anywhere else, I mostly don’t think so.)
So I am all for it.
Is there a place for volunteer moderators?

June 13, 2008 5:13 pm

Whatever you prefer is okay with me, just so long as you don’t discontinue the blog. I enjoy the links and comments left by the other, more erudite posters. I’m just thrilled that I’ve found that there are other people that aren’t buying the global warming meme.
If you don’t mind, I would prefer not using my real name. I used to post only under my real name; however, in the past a lonely man decided based on my comments to a livestock and farming blog that I was his soul mate, whatever THAT is. It’s not that I mind having people show up at the house unwelcome and uninvited to carry me off because then I get to run them off with the shotgun, but my family gets all upset.

Vince Noir
June 13, 2008 5:19 pm

IMO making every poster’s IP details publicly visible is the only way it could work. A new email address can be obtained in less than a minute at no cost, and I’m not sure how you would go about verifying someones name, without, I guess, needing a credit card check of some kind.

June 13, 2008 5:20 pm

The psychology of pseudonyms is interesting because no one who chooses a pseudonym has to choose one that is easily identifiable as one. Sometimes a real name sounds like a pseudonym (i.e. the real scientist named Michael J. Fox). So people who choose obvious pseudonyms are making a conscious choice to tell people that they are using a pseudonym which is probably better than encouraging them to adopt real-sounding pseudonyms which would make it impossible to separate the genuine from the anonymous posters.
It also don’t think you should judge people simply because they use pseudonyms. I use one for my own reasons but I don’t treat it as a license to be rude or insulting. That said, I leave a real e-mail address. I would definately use my real name if I started a blog on any topic.
I have no respect for bloggers like Tamino and Rabbet who use that anonymity to make vicious personal attacks on others.
My suggestion: ask people to use an obvious psuedonym if they don’t want to use their real name but require a real e-mail address.

Larry Sheldon
June 13, 2008 5:21 pm

I have now read all the comments ahead of mine, and modified my opinion a bit.
Regarding nyms –it isn’t a perfect world and I forget that some times. There are people who work in the PRB and similar places for TLA’s that have the power to hurt.
So I’d suggest a registration procedure that allows nyms after verification of email and maybe real name.
And I still recommend you identify several that you trust (I’d like to be one) that have the time to take on some of the oderation work (I do).

Mike Smith
June 13, 2008 5:26 pm

Great idea!
Mike Smith

retired engineer
June 13, 2008 5:26 pm

At the very least, require a real name along with the email address which would not be published. Or membership, although that could take a lot of additional time to process. I stop by a couple of times a day and learn a great deal from many of the posts. I’d volunteer to help, but I don’t have any background in weather, just an old engineer.
Bottom line, do what you have to do.

June 13, 2008 5:33 pm

I would let people write under a pseudonym if necessary, political correctness might prevent some folks from commenting if their real name was on the record. I certainly think you should have a verified email from each commenter.

June 13, 2008 5:36 pm

I admire those bloggers who maintain their sites and manage/moderate comment sections as well: it is very time demanding and sadly, the few personally abusive posts and emails one receives can be enough to dissuade comment sections altogether. It is a conundrum with no simple answer: the interchange of ideas from responses to posts are often the only way debates occur in this field which is sadly overly polarized and often tainted by personal attacks. Full anonymity shields the net cowards and that is who we should be seeking to flush out. Is there perhaps a means by which respondents must register to post and pseudonyms can be used only with registered approval? This again generates more work and only those who have never faced the problem or hosted their own blog would be critical of any decision you make.

Steve Moore
June 13, 2008 5:39 pm

I’ve long thought the term “Anonymous Coward” was apt.
Real names for real people!
(btw, “Google” me, and you’ll end up with a fellow 2500 miles away. I have never seen myself on Google)

Bob B
June 13, 2008 5:46 pm

Anthony, it’s your blog and have been doing a great job with it. I would suspect though that too many people have too much too lose considering the “brown shirt” mentality in the media and leftists that are out there. I mentioned in a private email my situation. You could try at 1st step to register using your full name and address. Snarks could still give a false full name in any case.

June 13, 2008 6:00 pm

I agree with “Raven”. I use a pseudonym because I live in “enemy territory” – all my neighbours have socialist signs on their lawns during elections. A letter to the editor lead to both my vehicles being vandalized. That said, my name is not unique (I share it with a well-published author) so he can get blamed for my views!

June 13, 2008 6:05 pm

“I have never seen myself on Google”
The other issue is wackos. Once someone had a first and last name they can often use the phone book to locate a telephone number and address unless everyone has an unlisted number (and then what is the point of a phone book?) and that can expose one to considerable harassment in the case of some of the absolute crazies on the net.
I could post as Joe Smith and nobody would know if that is my real name anyway. I fear a requirement to use full names will simply end up in the use of fake ones.

C. Paul Barreira
June 13, 2008 6:06 pm

The blog is very important, the comments have the ability to extend the entries greatly. If the conversation between people of goodwill requires stern management, so be it. The rule regarding proper and full self-identification seems perfectly reasonable. Please, somehow, keep up the good work.

June 13, 2008 6:13 pm

Although I posted earlier and have similar problems with spammers subscribing to “The Mysterious Climate Project,” I thought I might add another two cents after reading all the above posts.
Why not create two categories of posters: “Trusted” and “Probationary.” Let the “Trusted” posters slide by unless you start receiving complaints from other “Trusted” bloggers about their behavior. That leaves you “only” with the task of moderating the “Probies.”
Once a “Probie” has established themself, move them over to the “Trusted” category.
Just a thought.
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterous Climate Project

June 13, 2008 6:19 pm

It’s your house, run it as best suits you. The comments are often informative and I hope you can afford to keep some. I’ve been tending to be anon here because there are too many jerks with power elsewhere; at least pseodonyms have let me contribute a penny or two.

June 13, 2008 6:19 pm

I’ve been involved with “the net” since it was the ARPAnet and implemented some of the first telnet, ftp, and Email programs anywhere. (Sorry about that last one….) Back then no one considered being anonymous, when the Internet went commercial I figured there was no point in hiding behind a screen name. Besides, with a name like Werme, I’m dreadfully easy to find. I think there are about 100 of us on the planet.
Through years of taming flame wars on Usenet, writing some web pages that take my state’s biggest agency to task, I’ve had very few negative things directed my way. Of course, were I young and female, more of a public figure, or moderated more than a stray Yahoo list, things might be different. Finding my Email address is easy. I’d post it it here, but spammers’ web crawlers would find it too.
To all the anonymous cowards: Write as though you’re talking to someone with a holstered handgun on his belt, ignore flamers and trolls (they hate that), and spend more time researching your post than typing it. Do that and you won’t have much trouble with attaching your name to your words.
I accept that some of the better commenters here have good reasons to shield their identities. I guess I’m glad I’m not one of them. Please keep them around.
Anthony: Please keep the comments, a lot of good stuff shows up in them. Is there some mechanism where you can let some people’s comments sail through to leave you stuck with reading everything from the lesser posts? Hmm, that doesn’t sound rewarding.
What are you going to do when you reach 5,000,000 views per month? Sorry to hear you’re so successful.
All: Think before you post. Post only stuff that adds to the discussion. “Me too” posts add nothing to the discussion. Proofread before hitting submit.

June 13, 2008 6:22 pm

crosspatch wrote: “The other issue is wackos. Once someone had a first and last name they can often use the phone book to locate a telephone number and address…”
This actually happened to me a few years ago. I started receiving threats via snail mail which included a photo of me taken off one of my websites.
The case ended up in the hands of the FBI (via our county cops) who found the nut case in downstate Indiana.
It turned out I had said “bad things” about bush league Bush the Senior and he was going to “teach me a thing or two.” All the Fed Boys would tell me was that he was back “in the home” and I’d be okay.
By the way, I removed all my photos from my websites!
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

June 13, 2008 6:27 pm

Crosspatch: Googling public records is even easier particularly if they know your rough geographic location.

June 13, 2008 6:28 pm

I use a pseudonym for identity theft purposes as well. I made that mistake years ago when somebody in California tried to take out a credit card in my name.
Just my two cents, but not allowing comments defeats half the purpose of running a blog. Gotta admit, I’ve learned a lot from a lot of readers in here.
In Word Press, there is a feature “users must be registered and logged in to comment.” I’ve never used it, but if it does exactly what it says, it’s probably the best way to go, IMHO.
And curiously enough, I noticed someone from NASA browsing my forum today as well. Happened to see the server name when they were browsing.

June 13, 2008 6:29 pm

I agree with you whole-heartedly. While anonymity has its benefits, all the “f” word scientists seem to come out of the woodwork to stir things up. I think it is part of their entertainment.
My suggestion, as others, is to have a registration process with real name, address, etc., and allow some degree of anonymity for those who truly need it for privacy and professional purposes.
There will be a significant overhead in approving those who wish to comment, and you would probably need help.
At any rate, I enjoy your blog, and whatever system you choose is OK with me.

June 13, 2008 6:30 pm

I think your are doing the right thing. Maybe you will learn how I am on day

June 13, 2008 6:31 pm

Whatever you do, please make sure that this blog doesn’t end up like a certain pro-CAGW blog which deletes a lot of dissenting comments.
It seems to me that skeptics have the moral high ground in this debate because (generally speaking) we don’t attempt to silence the other side.

Tom in Florida
June 13, 2008 6:32 pm

This is a real dilema. I understand the reasons some do not want their names made public. I do not have a problem with your new rules, afterall, this is your blog. I found this blog through Junkscience.com and have made it a daily read, sometimes it is the first thing I look at when going on line. I have learned so much, not being a scientist or an engineer. I have commented from time to time, mostly trying to put a laymans spin on things, sometimes realizing I showed how dumb I can be. The bottom line is this is such a great place to get information, especially from all the intelligent posters who provide lots of insight to us novices (or is it novici?) Please keep up the good work you are doing.
Tom Bruno
Tom in Florida …. Venice, Florida that is.

June 13, 2008 6:34 pm

Great blog I try to check it every day. I rarely comment as I seldom have much to add or I usually find someone else has already made the point I wanted to make and usually they do so better than I would.
I have an unusual name and if Googled I come up and not a bunch of other people with the same name, except of course for all those weird Swedish references. I use the psedonym because I prefer the anonymity and also because it reflects my birthrite.
However time is valuable and I certainly can appreciate not having enough. Whatever you chose to do just don’t quit the blog as it is one of the best sources of information I have come across in a long time.

Austin Moseley
June 13, 2008 6:36 pm

Sounds good. I am up.
I do think that there should be a collection site for “anonymous cowards”
Sort of like a Credit Rating for Commenters.

Kim Mackey
June 13, 2008 6:52 pm

Fine by me. I don’t comment much, but I do appreciate your blog and the info you provide. Real name appears as of now.
Kim Mackey

kum dollison
June 13, 2008 6:55 pm

I would hate to see you change anything. Traffic is way up, right?
Your readers are grown-ups, Anthony. They can discern the “wheat” from the “chaff.”
However, in the case of ad hominems, and “extreme” foul language I would ban.

Brent Matich
June 13, 2008 7:02 pm

No problem!
Brent in Calgary

June 13, 2008 7:16 pm

I use initial and last name – hope that would be allowable. I’ve got no problem with verifiable emails, either.
It’s your blog – I’ve seen a lot of good forums ruined by the actions of one or two people, the sort who are professionally offended by differing views and beat you over the head with their dissent (no matter how contrived) until the whole communications channel shuts down. Banning trolls? Give them one warning, then play whack-a-troll.
You have an invaluable site here. Illegitimi non carborundum! (And yes, I know it’s not proper Latin…)

June 13, 2008 7:18 pm

I for one don’t really want to make it easier for someone to get my home address and/or phone number than it already is. I’m still arguing with Verizon about my IP addresses not only about being listed in my name but also registered with my physical address. I can sympathize with swampie. Furthermore, I already get enough hack attacks as it is. If it comes down to it, though, I suppose I could always use a faked IP address and name. It’s not all that difficult — trivial, really.
Steve Moore:

btw, “Google” me, and you’ll end up with a fellow 2500 miles away. I have never seen myself on Google

Well, then, here’s a treat for you!

NASA/NOAA may have lost GOES East satellite « Watts Up With That?Watts Up With That? Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, … Steve Moore (12:13:33) :. I didn’t see mention of this in the data book, …
wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/nasanoaa-may-have-lost-goes-east-satellite/ – 39k – Cached – Similar pages

Pipe Dream or Viable Energy? « Watts Up With That?Oct 19, 2007 … Steve Moore (11:09:14) :. One can patent practically anything in ….. Thanks for the kind words from Frank and the nice update by Mr. Watt. …
wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/pipe-dream-or-viable-energy/ – 94k – Cached – Similar pages
More results from wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com »


Bob Buchanan
June 13, 2008 7:26 pm

This is a great website … one of the best. Since this will make your job easier, go for it.

George Bruce
June 13, 2008 7:42 pm

OK by me.

Mike Bryant
June 13, 2008 7:47 pm

I’m on board for the long haul no matter what. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Kum. I would hate to see the traffic drop. Maybe a combination of several ideas. Maybe limit comments to eight or ten lines? Maybe four or five of your trusted could alternate days of being sherriff? Of course always encourage the use of real names, but there are so many ways around it.
I’m glad I live in Texas and don’t have to worry about speaking my mind or using my real name. The fact that we are even talking about this makes me realize that we now live in a socialist state. God help us all.
Mike Bryant

Larry Sheldon
June 13, 2008 7:48 pm

“However, in the case of ad hominems, and “extreme” foul language I would ban.”
That is the problem, I suspect. Being nanny, deciding who to ban, dealing with the sh*t storm that results is time-consuming, energy-draining, soul-sapping unpleasant work.

Bill in Vigo
June 13, 2008 8:04 pm

Bill is my real name and I have no problem using my name and I do remember the first time I heard the words anonymous coward and have signed my name since.
Have at it Anthony.
Bill Derryberry
PS I googled me and found me but there are sure a lot of other folks with the same name. Oh well.

June 13, 2008 8:07 pm

I agree that comments should not be anonymous. This leaves a small percentage out who fear persecution for expressing their views. But leaves most posters.
I also think . . . you need a support link. Bentrideronline.com take voluntary contributions and gets along. You also could take discreet sponsorship links. Then you could afford to hire some help.
Finally, develop a cadre of volunteer admin that you trust. Let them weed out the spam, ad hominem attacks, etc. . . . .
Grant Hodges

Bill McClure
June 13, 2008 8:11 pm

Other sites I visit require registration to comment. This seems like a modest proposal in comparison

Corky Boyd
June 13, 2008 8:34 pm

The main thing is to keep your time and attention on continuing your site. I am retired so I’m immune from intolerant bosses or lost sales, but others aren’t. Would prefer registration using a valid email for conformation. But, whatever you decide, do it!

June 13, 2008 8:37 pm

A good idea with a registration form for e-mail address and real names. I hope someone can help you at least with the initial rush, if you choose that.

Evan Jones
June 13, 2008 8:40 pm

Thanks for your kind words.
Obviously I have no problem with a true name policy. (Though I do show up on goog. I only hope that poor Evan Jones, the movie actor, hasn’t been been pranged for climate heresy on my account!)
But I’m more than happy to stand on my name and my words.
In fact I got an offer for a writing gig (which I’ll explain more about soon) partly based on what I’ve written here. For which opportunity I am very grateful. Thanks, Rev.
So I’d-really-hate to see the comments go!
Besides, it’s a big draw. Folks clearly like the comments here, and they like to be a part of it, too. So do what you gotta do, but I urge you to keep us on.
At any rate, the shop has sure grown since I started hanging around the middle of last year, and it has been a blast watching that the whole way through. Here’s to the future!
Nobody beats the Rev!

June 13, 2008 8:44 pm

Registration for membership I mean. I support that, or whatever you choose.

June 13, 2008 8:44 pm

I’m a long time reader and seldom poster. I have been disappointed in some of the comments lately. I support your decision even though I have always posted anonymously.
What drew me to the site orginally was the qaulity of your posts, but also the comments.

Steve Stip
June 13, 2008 8:46 pm

It’s true. The comments are a big draw. An “ignore” feature would be helpful and perhaps all that is needed. Surely this problem has been solved before somewhere.

old construction worker
June 13, 2008 8:57 pm

I’m a self employed old construction worker. Name Steve Beery
Your blog is yours, it’s important, your time is yours, it’s important, surfacestation.org is important, but keeping Mama happy is very important.

June 13, 2008 8:57 pm

My solution on my blog(s) is to post only the comments that I choose to. It’s my site, and my art, and so I am selective about what appears there. I know most of my commenters, but I do not post their real names.
I have two reasons. First, I don’t wish to subject them to the slings and arrows of notoriety. I choose to do that to myself, but not to others. Second, I can never be absolutely sure that the signed comment came from the actual person. I worry that somebody might pirate someone else’s good name, and that my site will be unwittingly a party to that.
So I use pseudonyms, or first names with an initial, on almost all comments, which, as I said, I select from. That cuts down on the trolls and lurkers tremendously, and so frees up my time for better pursuits.
Some have complained that I limit the dialog that way, but I am not in the dialog business. I have something to say, and I say it, and if others want to chime in with huge negativity, then they should get their own blog.
So that’s how I handle the problem, Anthony. You might consider it for your site.

Robert Woodburn
June 13, 2008 8:57 pm

My name is Robert Woodburn.

Mark Nodine
June 13, 2008 9:02 pm

Having read through 94 comments above, I’d say
1. I’ve learned as much if not more from comments on the blog as from the postings. (I may be one of the few who actually enjoyed your repartee with MA, though I felt s/he was overly insulting and you spent waaayyy to much time on it.)
2. The most important part of any change in policy is to give you your life back while not cutting back on the scientific content of the blog. Having to keep track of multiple lists of bloggers (e.g., trusted vs. provisional), check out whether the emails/names given are real, or many other things that were suggested strike me as still not scalable (though the coefficient may be lower in some cases).
3. While I have always been happy to use my real name, I recognize that there are valid reasons why people who have good contributions may want to protect their anonymity. For one, I think it is important for AGW proponents to feel comfortable commenting/challenging/asking questions as long as it is done with a properly respectful tone. if not, the blog runs the risk of just breathing our own exhaust fumes, preaching to the choir, whatever analogy you want to use. Scientific discourse requires dissenting opinions to flourish and encourage deeper thought. This kind of person may not require anonymity, but it may help. The other obvious reason is for people who fear reprisals, either professional or personal, if they represent a position, whether they agree with it or not, that contradicts the established AGW orthodoxy.
Since you have so many regular supportive readers, I would like to see comments go through unmoderated and your readers to be allowed to flag anything they consider unacceptable for immediate review by your (panel of) trusted moderators. I think this proposal would keep the primary benefits of comments while distributing the monitoring workload. Of course, I don’t know if wordpress can support such a model.
If the flagging scheme cannot be made to work, my second choice would be for people to register using their emails and real names, neither of which is published, and their pseudoname/handle, a la Google Groups. They cannot post until their registration is completed by responding to a message sent to their email. Registration, or at least the privilege of posting, can be revoked by any of your panel of trusted moderators. I don’t like this proposal as well because I already have to keep track of about 50 login/password combinations, but it seems to be what wordpress already supports.
Thanks for all your good efforts, Anthony!

David Segesta
June 13, 2008 9:24 pm

Sounds reasonable to me.
David Segesta
aka David S

Robert Ray
June 13, 2008 9:27 pm

After reading your post, I was in favor of using real names. Upon reading through the comments, I was surprised by the number of people who feel that their employment or reputation would suffer due to their opinion on climate change. As I’m a self-employed nobody it was not on my radar. I understand their concern. Perhaps some sort of private verification.
I enjoy your posts, and the comments often provide points of view I’ve not considered. But do what is best for you and your family.

June 13, 2008 9:28 pm

Well, this is your blog and you do what is easy for you to handle.
If you require registration, I will certainly register. Already my e-mail address carries my name.
I will think about putting up my real name to a bulletin open to the general public, particularly as the numbers are going up like this, if you decide to go that way . BTW congratulations on such a successful and informative blog.

Kent Gatewood
June 13, 2008 9:30 pm

Anthony, my two favorite Dallas Cowboys sites each have nine moderators. You are much more important than those sites. I havn’t been here long, but there are good women and men that I have read here that you could trust with moderation.
I appreciate you and the comments.
REPLY: More important than the Dallas Cowboys? Are you trying to get me killed? 😉

Noel Skippen
June 13, 2008 9:45 pm

Go for it Anthony.
Keep up the good work by keeping us informed of the alternative view on this complex subject. We can do without the arrogance of ‘those who know better’!

Richard Patton
June 13, 2008 9:58 pm

Requiring a valid e-mail address is the rule at every other forum that I contribute to. I don’t know why it should not have already be in force here.

June 13, 2008 10:17 pm

I am strongly for registration and login. You’ve grown to the point that unless you can watch all comments like a hawk, you will be trolled all the time.
Consider it a sign of success.

June 13, 2008 10:24 pm

I didn’t read all the comments. I suppose the cute little “handle” thing has a place. In fora such as this, accountable, blunt and logical debate is required. No time or emotion to waste. Please keep the comments. Do whatever works to get it under control. Lots of quality and qualified people on board who could assist — to which, no “real” name would object.

Diatribical Idiot
June 13, 2008 10:24 pm

I didn’t read through all the comments, so some may have expressed similar views to mine, which are as follows:
1) It’s your blog and you need not apologize for whatever decision you want to make that works best for you
2) That said, I don’t view the “only” reason for anonymity being to hide and be a coward. While I personally have not tried uber-seriously to not divulge my real name, I do in fact have a wife and 6 kids. I have a blog. It wouldn’t take a genius to put all the pieces together, but maintaining some level of anonymity has – at least in my own perception – a little bit of protection from God knows who and what when expressing opinions on the internet. I have always tried to present myself in anonymity as I would in full cognizance, but I understand that others do not always do the same. I will have to decide personally whether or not to comment given the new rules, if that’s what you decide to do. But so be it. You must think of yourself first. I do, however, appreciate your willingness to field comments first, though.
Nevertheless, I will continue to check your site even if I no longer comment. I value the information I get here.

Kate G
June 13, 2008 10:27 pm

Your blog is my favorite on the web. I read it every day. Whatever you decide to do regarding comments is fine. Please keep your blog going!
My husband and I are taking a road trip to Idaho in July and you’ve inspired us – we’ll be sending you some surfacestations reports from various Idaho locations.
Thanks so much for all your hard work.

hugo smith
June 13, 2008 11:41 pm

i log on to this site everyday and use it as a portal to other great sites. i read all your posts and only occasionaly read the comments. the posts in my view are obviously what people want to see more than comments so keep em comin’ and dont worry about changing the policy. Most of us will understand.
some of the policies have to change from time to time because of this sites popularity, and if the hockey stick karma keeps steepening your rise in hits then obviously somethings HAVE to change. and remember that for every idiot that writes something stupid, you have maybe reached ten others who are getting their views changed about AGW.
maybe one idea for later would be to turn comments off completely and only turn them on for certain stories and posts. i dont know if thats possible.
anyway keep up the great work.

just Cait
June 14, 2008 12:18 am

This is only my second comment on this blog so this may not be as relevent for me like the rest of you but I LOVE it and would hate to see it go. I also love the comments and I think Pielke’s blog lost a bit of something after he closed it to comments… mostly because it was from reading the comments that I actually understood what Pielke was saying
I would prefer not to have my full name out there because I live in a rampant greenie area in Australia and the council here is already sending out it’s dogs to survey properties et al to make sure we’re ‘doing the green thing’. They also have snitch hotlines set up where you can ‘dob’ in your neighbors for just about anything. Australia is a scarey place. Anyway, I totally understand people’s need for anonymity.
I think registering may be the best way forward.
Congrat’s on one of the finest blogs and keep up the great work!

June 14, 2008 12:20 am

Yes, this is the right way to go. At least for you. CA manages to get by without it, but that’s the benefit of having quite a few postings consisting mainly of pages of R code.
Some site, like OSNews, quite a few mailing lists, simply insist on registration before posting, but do not insist on real names. That is a halfway house. Checking that names are real and associated with a given address is both intrusive and time consuming. I would start with compulsory registration. Pielke jr I think seems to get by ok with that. If that still leads to false registrations and abuse, then you could go to verification by additional information which can be checked.
But in any case, as a blog, you’re sometimes mistaken, but always doing your best and trying to be informative, and you always personally avoid the kind of tone which you object to in posters. If there is a legitimate criticism, it might be that you’ve strayed a bit from your own expertise once or twice, and been a bit slow to correct. Well, we are all human.
Good luck with it anyway. I am pleased to reflect that this may be my last anonymous posting here, and look forward to the first registered one. Those who no longer come when anonymity goes will not be missed.

June 14, 2008 12:45 am

Yep… sounds awlright ta me…. I don’t go fer the excuse that “the bigidda badda Boss ” will google my poor wee name and bring down the wrath o’ th’ devil ‘pon thee…..
There’s plenty of Jason Hansford’s, Jim Smith’s, Julie Atkins’, Dweezil Zappa’s…. well maybe not so many Dweezil Zappa’s… But ya get me drift.
What ever makes yer life easiest Mr Watts. I reads ya blog and likes to comment when the impulse or reaction takes me fancy.
… More power to ya Sir.
Jason Hansford.

Hans Kelp
June 14, 2008 1:28 am

Hey Anthony
As I am mostly a lurker visiting your site, as I have done both Climate Audit and Steve Milloy´s site for years, I heavily support your decision whatever you might choose to do. Just you promise to keep up the good work you have begun by creating and running this blog which I consider to be both neutral and open minded. I think it´s needed.
Thank you and good luck.
Hans Kelp

Dodgy Geezer
June 14, 2008 1:34 am

Unless you’re going to run a complex and VERY expensive registration process (much more so than just returning an e-mail) you will not get REAL names. You will get identifiable names which can be tied to an IP address, but who is to say if they are real or not?
I am Dodgy because identification on the net IS dodgy. Long may it remain so! I could claim I was Geraldine Tong, or Sebastian Q Harcourt, but I think that Dodgy makes the point better.
By all means abolish anonymous posts and tie IP addresses to unique IDs so that posters can be tracked, warned and banned if necessary, but it would be a shame to lose some of the better-informed posters who can’t use their real name for political reasons. And I can see no benefit in making them, or me, lie about our identities – it just adds another layer of deceit to this already amoral world….

Thomas Gough
June 14, 2008 1:51 am

With you 100%. Keep up the good work.
Thomas Gough

Bill Bowie
June 14, 2008 1:58 am

I am a retired civil engineer and with time on my hands started to look at the claims for AGW which had seemed a bit fuzzy. I came across your web page and am impressed by the standard of the work you produce. Clear and factual (as distinct from the mob hysteria I associate with stuff from Al G and his cohorts).
Please keep up the good work. Your page may yet be a major influence in getting the Powers That Be, to look rationally at the science and hence avoid the waste of huge amounts of of the West’s wealth on fruitless attempts to change climate. Just recently I have seen references to your page in the UK press, so hopefully, more people will come to read your page.
Kind regards Bill Bowie

June 14, 2008 2:26 am

As a regular reader of this excellent blog but a new contributor I would prefer to use my regular pseudonym.
Can I suggest a compromise.
Add a registration facility where the real name is given and allowing the use of a pseudonym but also include a requirement for a response from the given email address before registration is accepted.

June 14, 2008 2:38 am

I discussed this on the phone with Anthony this afternoon, and in my opinion, the management and control issue can be readily solved with requiring registration with real names not necessary.
While there are 100’s of thousands of viewers to this site, there are currently no more than a few hundred regular posters. Registered users can be easily managed by a handful of admins. I think Anthony is worried this will cut down on users and posts, but I seriously don’t think that someone who has something even modestly interesting to write will be frightened off by a simple registration process.
Another advantage of moderating users is that after a certain point, you don’t have to moderate every post if the users are trusted. It is easier to block a single user than a dozen abusive posts by that user. The workload could drop dramatically.
There are valid reasons for anonymity on the ‘net. I have an Internet stalker. He does not know any personal details of mine and I wish to keep it that way. Violence is a distinct possibility.
Anthony’s fear of managing registration reminds me of his fear of flying with airline miles. I think it is necessary to experience the process before passing judgment.
Yes I am posting anonymously in violation of the proposed policy, but Anthony knows my name, business address, phone, and what I like to drink in an Italian restaurant…so nyeah!

Pierre Gosselin
June 14, 2008 3:18 am

I say take it even a step further.
People leaving comments should leave their FULL NAME and not just their first name. I personally would like to know with whom I’m communicating.

June 14, 2008 3:34 am

Anthony: Using a pseudonym doesn’t always have to do with anonymity.
When I first discovered the blogoshere via ClimateAudit three or four years ago, very few people used their real name and I just followed that trend. Now I run my own blog which I started using the same pseudonym, partly because I do not have a particularly catchy or presentational name, but also because all the comments that I had made on the web were under that handle and I thought that there might be some people who would recognise it.
Your blog has become one of the cornerstones of climate scepticism and an immensely important resource for all of us who want to see a balanced debate on this subject. Although I fully understand your problem with the TCOs and Danos of this world, and certainly prefer to read well thought-out and polite comments, it would seem to be better if you increase moderation, with help, rather than require real names.
Jeez is a name that I know well from other forums, and scanning through comments I’d usually read what he has to say, but if he were to start commenting under his real name it would mean nothing to me. There is also the very good point made by Crosspatch, DAV and others about professional repercussions.
TonyN http://www.harmlesssky.org

June 14, 2008 4:10 am

Junk Science has taken a step back, and now you are showing some strain; may I say I find this blog to be a valuable source of information which I occasionally take away and, as it were, spread the light else-where; so I really hope you continue your good work, providing a balance to some very insistent and aggressive opposition.
As to sobriquets; I use one because when growing up my heroes were Spiderman and Superman! Seriously, I go on these blogs because I want to argure the points and learn without personalites clouding the issues as it were; as a suggestion, why don’t impose a levy for those who wish to remain anonymous, for what ever reason, excluding those who only want to be abusive or trolls; some annual or monthly fee perhaps? Regardless, please keep the comments; as others have said on this post, some insightful and, at times, brilliant, things are written.

June 14, 2008 4:37 am

I like jeez’ idea. Go for it. I use my nickname out of fun & convenience & link to my blog w/ my real name.
As for real names, however, the ‘net is riven with people using pseudonyms, nom der cyber, sock puppets and what not.
Remember: We’re all a 13 yr. old boy in Kalamazoo.

June 14, 2008 4:49 am

Thank you for all your hard work. Please keep the blog going and the comments. I agree with your proposed changes.
I think Deadwood makes an excellent point though – there are some scientists working in the establishment who may need to keep their names private – the only way round it would be for you to allow special privileges (pseudonyms) in exceptional cases so we can still receive their views on both sides of the argument – trouble is that’s much more work and not clean. If it was me I’d delete all anonymous comments.
By the way I am just an ordinary chap in the UK trying to understand the arguments on all sides. I have to say I maintain an open mind but have become much more sceptical about AGW as a result of everything I have read here.
I found your blog as a result of a column in the Daily Telegraph – a leading British newspaper. I have used some of the postings on here to e-mail David Cameron (probably the next PM in the UK) asking him to have a much more open mind on the subject (I am not quite winning on that one yet!) so please keep it going.

June 14, 2008 4:51 am

Anthony and Jeez, since workload is the primary issue, I recommend Jeez’s solution. Share the moderation work load. The blog is a success, and grown past the point of the current limited staff, so solve the real problem, add trusted voluntary staff.
Indeed, I volunteer my services as a ?trusted? moderator or any other service needed.
I choose to remain anonymous, as I run a couple of blogs, one which has my open email. I am just waiting for that blog to get hacked or seriously spammed , before I am forced to make the hard decisions.
Counter Revolutionary (CoRev), editor

June 14, 2008 4:58 am

People who use their full names face retribution, not merely from cranks but also from those who wield power. Consider Dr. Bill Gray, and the fact he had eleven requests for funding shot down, back during Clinton’s administration.
The problem is the politics. Some feel they are saving the environment, and some feel they are saving the economy, and in both cases feelings run high.
It takes a measure of courage to face the backlash that will come, no matter what stance you take. I have noticed the scientists who dare speak out often are old and established, and have a security that younger scientists lack. You will find you silence some, if you ask for full names. Call them cowards if you will; there is such a thing as pragmatic common sense.
Churchill’s writing was actually banned from many English newspapers, because he was too “war-like,” in the 1930’s. Even if one is courageous, one can experience the depression of receiving a sort of “rejection slip.”
I suggest you have three categories of posts, with three types of comment section. First would be science-only, with no politics allowed. Second would be politics, with people required to display courage and use their full names. And third, an area which allows the free-for-alls we have all grown to detest-yet-enjoy, though the talk is without doubt uncivil. Although impolite, such unrestrained honesty gives one a clear view of the passions involved.
Although I personally qualify as a lurker, a member of the unwashed masses, and a shameful coward, (and perhaps at times display Multiple Personality Disorder,) I have found no way to avoid being intellectually beaten-to-a-pulp by people who are more knowledgeable, articulate and have more peer-reviewed links, (even if they are wrong.) Though it hurts my feelings and causes me to go off and sulk for a while, in the long run it has done me nothing but good.
The unwashed masses need places where they can speak without fear.

Bruce Cobb
June 14, 2008 5:09 am

There appear to be a relatively small % of folks who comment here who have some legitimate concerns about using their real names, including jeez. But, as jeez pointed out, Anthony knows who jeez is, so this suggests to me a possible compromise, although I don’t know how feasible it is: require posters to use their full name, unless registered, and make registration optional for all others. That still wouldn’t stop the possibility of trolls using fake names, of course, but how often is that likely to happen? If it became too much of a problem, then requiring registration for all would be the next logical step.

June 14, 2008 5:17 am

And, um Tony:
Some days you post so many articles. Talk about time-kill central! How do you guys do it?
I like to have time for a thread to really settle in, worth, y’know? 200 or more comments before we have to start quibbling on a new topic.
It’s very funny to go over to John Cook’s blog over at skepticalscience.com where he tries to debunk your posts.

Joe Smith
June 14, 2008 5:28 am

I don’t know how you can get rid of the anonymous posters, because it is easy to use a service like Tor and a throwaway email address; but requiring registration would at least get rid of the drive-by snipers.

Robert Wood
June 14, 2008 5:55 am

Yes, full name.

John F. Pittman
June 14, 2008 6:07 am

This thread has shown how effective discussion can be. After MA or whatever his/her name was, I can understand your wanting a bit of relief. The troll was making me lose interest due to the sorry sight of their using your time and patience for no other purpose than baiting and name calling. Your patience was remarkable, not that it appeared to make a difference to the troll.
That said. I come here everyday because I have found that your site has quality and perspective that is unique. Even if you close comments, I will still come. However, I agree that there are those that I would wish to stay and comment . Some may have the opposite point of view than mine, and may have good reason to stay anonymous. I have found that generally the comments provide insight that I myself may well miss, if I had not read it, or would happen if everybody was in agreement.
Hope that you find a good answer.

steven mosher
June 14, 2008 6:36 am

maybe wordpress should have a plugin that lets other readers flag a post
for removal. voting off the island. a self moderating structure

Bruce Cobb
June 14, 2008 6:47 am

OK, I know that I only hit the “submit comment” button once, I sat and watched it go thru, so why the double post? Not a complaint, just puzzled. Software gremlins, I guess.

M. Jeff
June 14, 2008 6:55 am

Because I was once harassed by an irate telemarketer who I had been rude to, harassed to such an extent that I involved the police in the issue, I prefer anonymity. Does being cautious, by wearing seat belts for example, mean that a person is a coward?

steven mosher
June 14, 2008 6:57 am

wordpress plugins to consider
Blockyou is nice because when they try to view your site you redirect them
to a URL. that URL could be.. well,, anything.
also threaded comments plugin. threaded or nested comments would be great!
REPLY: To do all that, I’d have to move to a dedicated server off of WordPress.com, costs and more maintenance,

Christopher Elves
June 14, 2008 7:57 am

….What a shame….I kinda liked my pseudonym – Saaad – “Spooky Action at a Distance”…….but this is my favourite blog on the web and I’d hate to see it go!
Keep it up Anthony!…Please!
Christopher Elves.

June 14, 2008 9:21 am

I don’t mind registering with my correct name, but I’m not going to post here or any other blog requiring my real name to be revealed to one and all.
You might think this a bit daft, and I’m being paranoid, but the truth is as an English ex-pat living in Germany it’s illegal for me to receive UK satellite TV. Doing this contravenes international copyright law, even though it goes dead against the EU’s “TV Without Frontiers” initiative. It’s all Hollywood’s fault – nobody else seems to care.
Anyway, if Sky were to find out I was living outside of the UK, they would cancel my Sky TV viewing card. And that’s a risk I’m not prepared to take.
So, looks like it’ll be back to lurking for me …

June 14, 2008 9:22 am

It is a good idea.
Why not allow a pseudonym? Keep the encrypted real name and Email address on your server inside your firewall..
Require (as you do now) the (peudo) name and email address on all comments.
With that approach, I could use my “spam-catcher” email address and exempt anything from you as “Not Junk”.
Your site and the service you provide through it is well worth the daily visit!
(My real name is in this email address.)

Steve Stip
June 14, 2008 9:22 am

Does anyone remember “The Unknown Comic”? On the Gong Show? The paper bag reminded me of him.

Mike Hodges
June 14, 2008 9:25 am

I think it’s a great policy. Formerly Mike from Canmore. Never lived in Canmore. Just one of my favourte characters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_from_Canmore. I liked it for a couple of reasons; When I read tech analysis, sometimes I feel like the village idiot (in a fun way – I’m not afraid to laugh at myself) but I thought Village Idiot was too overt. In addition, “Mike from Canmore” was orginally “Mike from Coquitlam” which near where I now live.
I believe it was Brian the other day who pointed me towards a paper about PDO et al. I meant to respond to you and say thanks as it was an excellent link but that work thing got in the way. I hope you enjoy your visit to Canmore. I’ve been there several times and it is truly beautiful. Hopefully you don’t get snow this year. Make sure you zip up to see Lake Louise. Come back the road that parallels Hwy 1. It’s a 2 lane and much more apt to see some Elk/Bear.
Keep up the great work Anthony.

Ian Perceval Weil Standing
June 14, 2008 10:04 am

I for one shall use my FULL NAME! I fell all persons leaving comments should leave their FULL NAME and not just their first and last names. I personally would like to know with whom I’m communicating

David Gladstone
June 14, 2008 10:07 am

I think your idea is good. Your site is too valuable to lose because of a few morons. Thanks again for all your work, Anthony! ;]

keith wooster
June 14, 2008 10:25 am

We need to focus on the issues!
I am for full names, substantive discussion comments, and civility.
Otherwise we (collectively) are bogged with repetitive, insubstantive drivel or personal attacks that waste everyone’s time.

June 14, 2008 10:26 am

How are you going to implement this?
Do you need a plugin to email the first time a particular ’email’ address post, and let’s you register that email address/name combination so the comments appear later? (And/or are automatically deleted?)
To save you time, I think that as much as possible ought to be done through plugin. (And I know how to write them. 🙂 )

David Walton
June 14, 2008 10:35 am

I have no problem with the policy. I think it is a good one. I understand some folk’s concerns about privacy but, frankly, I have no sympathy for people who are unwilling to put their real names to their words.
Also, I prefer that Anthony spend his time creating the original content, which is why I read this blog to begin with, and not waste time fielding flames from anonymous and tedious cowards.
As far as I am concerned Anthony can cut off all commentary if it means he continues to produce this resource and work on his many other projects. While I enjoy reading the comments I do not visit this blog because of the comment section.

Jeff Alberts
June 14, 2008 10:39 am

While the decision is completely yours, Anthony, there is a good reason for remaining anonymous. There are a lot of crazies out there who WILL look someone up and do things to them. While the odds might be up there with lightning striking you, it has been known to happen.

June 14, 2008 10:44 am

I agree with you, it is after all your blog and you can do what you like. Go for it.

Steve Stip
June 14, 2008 10:58 am

If I were named John Smith it would take no guts to put my name down.
Top this anybody: Steven Stanley Stipulkoski 🙂
When they come to take me away, I won’t be hard to find.

Steve Keohane
June 14, 2008 11:01 am

Thank you for this blog. I am constantly blown away by considering the amount of work to produce this public service. I think the comments are a good source of expanded and tangental thought regarding the topic when they are not just an emotional opinion, eg. MA. Do whatever you need to in order to make your life easier. You have set a high bar for the honest exchange of information. It is people with your level of integrity that make the world a better place to be in.

June 14, 2008 11:05 am

I’ve seen your blog posted on the Hawt Post section many times, but never came to visit.
Personally, I think it’s a shame that “comment bullies” feel they can have the upper hand and feel the need “get their jollys” by ridiculing someone else’s viewpoints/standards/ideas and ideals, in the meantime staying anonymous to protect what dignity they have left. Interacting with commenters is the bread and butter of blogging and generally misunderstood by the unblogging community as a whole. Then again, they are very few in number these days.
Great place, I’ll be visiting again.

Robert in Calgary
June 14, 2008 11:07 am

I would prefer some sort of registration process tied to a real name, etc.
I’d like to keep my current handle.
Real first name, real email address. really in Calgary.

Mike Thornhill
June 14, 2008 11:36 am

Full names is fine by me. Anything so long as you keep this great blog going.

Freddie Stoller
June 14, 2008 11:38 am

Mister Watts, do what ever you like, but never stop your blog. Cut off the comments altogether, registration whatever, but go on with your good work.
Thousand thanks,
Freddie, Switzerland

R John
June 14, 2008 12:08 pm

Anthony –
On many sports blogs, registration is a required barrier to comment. While you can still use a handle, you must provide your real name and a real email that must be verified by responding to a bounce back email. In the profile that is set up, the commenter can choose to let others see their real name and/or email when clicking on the handle. When someone from a rival team attempts to register and then post an obviously inflammatory comment, that account is banned (and assumably the IP address gets flagged). I am not sure how much time that would take initially, but once set up and running it could allow for most comments to be “trusted” from those that always follow the rules that you establish.
However, if you have to turn off comments and just post stuff like they do at ICECAP, then I am sure we will all understand. All-in-all, I like the ability to comment, but hate the trolls that offer up random papers and then state “show me where I am wrong.”

June 14, 2008 12:09 pm

there are always a-holes in the world, its just best to brush ’em off your shoulder and keep on trudging on

June 14, 2008 12:14 pm

Hang in there.
I have witnessed the worst in humanity.
Best wishes.

Denis Hopkins
June 14, 2008 2:05 pm

If you don’t want to put your name to a comment you cannot expect anyone to give it credence. So don’t send it, and if you do send, don’t expect someone else to publish it for you.
Just seems common sense to me.
How could anyone object?

June 14, 2008 2:35 pm

The main point is the subject of the post and maybe you could put the comments into two categories (serious and non-serious). Keeping out the warmers is a mistake you will be doing exactly what they are doing to skeptics etc. For example RC has no link to CA. This weakens the position of RC because most serious sites link to CA.

Evan Jones
June 14, 2008 2:39 pm

I don’t think he wants to exclude contrary points of view. He just wants to clear out the guttersnipes.

June 14, 2008 2:58 pm

Refinements to my earlier comments.
I recommend registration. I recommend it be automated with email response so admins/mods do not have to approve registration manually. Use capchkas to filter out ‘bots. This would reduce labor requirements.
I recommend filtering out all free email accounts, yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc. A banned troll would need to keep registering domains or use another effort-consuming endeavor to break in repeatedly and it will not be worth it to them. It will take the troll ten times as much effort to get in as it will take us to ban them again. The asymmetry of this will greatly reduce labor on our end and quickly discourage trolls. Comcast, Shaw, ATT and other consumer email addresses would be allowed.
Posts need not be premoderated (or perhaps posts from users who have passed a probationary period). This can speed up the pace of discussions and again reduce labor.

June 14, 2008 3:19 pm

The concern of some of us at universities and research institutions that if we used our real names what we write could later be used against us is geniune. One of my geology professor colleagues at another university had disciplinary action launched against him by an AGW’er student who wasn’t happy with the lack of emphasis on the GW ‘doomsday’ in his lectures.
Is there some way you could check out those of us at universities or research institutions once (most of us have websites) and put us on an ‘approved’ list (or not) but not use our full names for publication on the blog?

Carey P. Page, M.D.
June 14, 2008 4:37 pm

I think your new policy is a good one. I read your blog regularly and really appreciate the cogent comments (both supportive and questioning) by your readers and associates. The “snark” detracts and wastes everyone’s time!

David L Hagen
June 14, 2008 6:32 pm

Keep up the good work. Full name fine for most.
Suggest selective pseudonyms where posting would jeopardize jobs, risk violence etc. BUT require full name, address, & phone to verify to quality for select few who need it.

June 14, 2008 6:45 pm

Anthony and/or jeeztheadmin, my full name is in my e-mail address. Is that good enough?

June 14, 2008 7:18 pm

I agree with your new policy. Why should we have to waste our time reading stuff that people are not willing to stand behind by using there real name. Snarky crap just wastes people time. Snarky crap by anonymous coward is a waste of band width.

June 14, 2008 7:27 pm

Not letting users use “free” mail accounts would cut me out. I use gmail. I could come up with another email account, but I like gmail.
I think this just shows that there is no one, perfect, solution. If I understand Anthony’s problem and concern, I think handing off moderation to a group of trusted individuals would take care of the problem. I participate in a forum associated with a particular individual with pretty high standards and this person gives his moderators full reign to snip, ban those who violate policies, etc. What is different about this venue is that in a forum the post is typically posted, and if is inappropriate it gets cut. Here, with moderation, offending posts would never see the light of day.
Does WordPress support registration, or can that be tacked on? I’m okay with registration, but if it is automated, I’m not sure that will fully address the issue; moderation will still be needed.
I appreciate the support Anthony has received from those who will continue to support the blog even if he turns off comments altogether. I will too. But I agree whole heartedly with those who see the free exchange of ideas in comments as constructive and educational, and would hate to see that disappear.
I’m ambivalent about prohibiting aliases or screen names. I use my own name here, but I’ve used nicknames elsewhere. I think the concerns that some have about using their real names are genuine and valid, though. The abusers obviously hide behind their anonymity, but that is not the only reason for anonymity, so I don’t think requiring real names should be a mandate.
Again, I think the best solution will be handing off the task of moderation to others, so Anthony can concentrate on news postings, his work on surfacestations.org, making a living, and getting on with life. He’s created an interesting community here, and I hope it continues, and isn’t scuttled by the incredible bitterness and pettiness that some bring to the discussion the topics covered by this blog.

June 14, 2008 8:03 pm

You probably haven’t read all this massive outpouring of advice, but if you get this far, I would suggest that their country be added to their name. On this site, and on SC24, I’ve seen references to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Mexico, Germany, Norway, and the USA – truely an international group.
Tom in Texas (still in USA).

June 14, 2008 8:12 pm

oops… just saw Switzerland above.

June 14, 2008 8:55 pm

Thank you for the enormous effort in maintaining the blog. I read it nearly every day. It is surely your prerogative to do whatever seems to limit the workload.
My real name, by the way, although not complete name.

anna v
June 14, 2008 9:57 pm

eeztheadmin (14:58:03)
“I recommend filtering out all free email accounts, yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc.:”
Do you have an idea of the percentage of posters using free email accounts? The percentage of unacceptable posts coming from such accounts? I would suspect that abusive and inconsiderate posts do not come from fixed e-mail providers, and certainly not from university or research institute ones.
If it is so, it can be easier to monitor, putting more stringent requirements to free addresses.

June 14, 2008 10:08 pm

Wow! I was not aware the degree of political correctness going on. Yes, allow people to protect their identities. As for me, I’ll not run. I’ve got plenty of lead and one sure gun.

Jason Salit
June 14, 2008 10:45 pm

Make it happen! I think your site/blog is way too important to free and rational thinkers to go dark. And for those who think that posting what you think is true might jeopardize your JOB… well, I would simply say
1) either get a new job where you can be proud of what you do or
2) do the one you have better so that *not telling the truth* isn’t a daily compromise that you have to make!
Isn’t that part of the big problem with all this “climate change” nonsense?!! Sheesh… it’s Group Think for scientists! Amazing!
Anthony, thank you for all you do.

Marshall Hopkins
June 14, 2008 10:56 pm

Hi Anthony you probably won’t get a chance to read this, but I just wanted to say “Thank You” for what your doing, and I’m so sorry that so many hateful and mean people post such negative comments. The ones who pretend to be the most tolerant are usually in reality the most intolerant if you have differing views. Anyways I’m just a simple weather hobbyist without the vast scientific knowledge of others on here, so I don’t post, but just read. Anyways thank you again Anthony, and so sorry for all the haters.
REPLY: Thanks, it comes with the territory I guess. – Anthony

Gary Hladik
June 14, 2008 11:02 pm

I like reading the comments, so I hope they’ll stay. I don’t mind using my name and E-mail, or even registering, if that’s what it takes. BTW, great blog and usually my first destination when I get on the web.

June 15, 2008 1:59 am

Anna V: Do you have an idea of the percentage of posters using free email accounts? The percentage of unacceptable posts coming from such accounts? I would suspect that abusive and inconsiderate posts do not come from fixed e-mail providers, and certainly not from university or research institute ones.

My reasoning for recommending filtering free email is not related to current posting patterns, i.e. that abusive posts may be more likely to be from free accounts. It is because if you eliminate free email, it becomes far easier to prevent troll attacks. It is a lot of work to keep coming up with a new non-free email address if a user is banned or deleted. But it is far less work to create new email addresses with free accounts. Less work for admin’s and more work for trolls is the point.
The asymmetry is key. If it takes the attacker ten times or more work to re-register than it takes an admin to rid the site of them, then simply through resource economics, troll attacks will fade away.
99% of the people who have Internet access have a non-free email they can use to register. They may not use it for regular correspondence, but they have it, (ok at least more than 90%, but I’m guessing a lot higher), and can dust it off, receive an email, and click on a link.
My plan is about controlling content while minimizing the human labor required on Anthony and his team’s side. I would like to automate processes which can be automated, specifically registration and posting. The point of is to remove human intervention where possible, but at the same time keep control where necessary and in my plan, preserve anonymity for those who need it, and simply discard, with trivial effort, the detritus that brings down the quality of the material here.

June 15, 2008 2:13 am

On the other hand, Anthony seems to have a sincere dislike of anonymity.
I disagree, but completely understand and respect that.
The choice is his. I’ve argued my point of view.

Alan Chappell
June 15, 2008 3:07 am

Well done Anthony,
My work takes me away from civilization for long periods, alias no computer, when I do return I spend time catching up on wattsupwiththat, what I like most is the absence of the ‘mickey-mouse crowd’.
With today’s’ I am an Idiot and somehow got to use a computer’ types it is really refreshing to read serious comments on your Blog, I have learned more from your Blog than I care to admit, I have had my email address in my name for many years, and ‘IF’ I make a comment that is not acceptable it is ignorance not malintent that promoted it.
Thank you Anthony, you work is greatly appreciated, by tens of thousands.

June 15, 2008 3:51 am

I’m not willing to put my name onto the Internet. Anthony knows who I am anyway.
Why not simply have everybody register on your blog who wants to post?
As for the rest, I have found that a clear and consistent moderation policy helps people “self-moderate”

June 15, 2008 4:02 am

I agree totally with a real-names-only policy; I’ve always taken the view that since Anthony has always made his identity plain it was only good manners to reciprocate.
To those worried about ‘retaliation’, maybe they should be more circumspect in what they say – this is after all (AIUI) a primarily scientific/measurement blog, not a rant space.
FWIW, an e-mail address for me has been trivially findable from my posts (with minimal antispam protection) for a while now, and I’ve had nothing but useful comments and support.
There is just one problem, though. Some of us have very common names: Already there is another Paul (H) Clark (a fellow Brit) in this thread and there’s another ‘paulc’ as well. This could get confusing – is it possible to have both real name and a nickname?

Mike Bryant
June 15, 2008 5:11 am

Well after reading every comment I have had a change of heart. I agree with Jason Salit. I think this whole thing boils down to integrity. We all know that Anthony has it in spades. Why shouldn’t he require that everyone who comments also stands behind their name as he has. The way we will slide into AGW hell is by keeping quiet. Get a backbone people, it’s the only way we can make truth and freedom prevail. Besides this blog we should each make the truth known to each of our acquaintances.
I hate to make the connection to Nazi Germany, but I think it’s obvious.
REPLY: One of the problems with our society i malaise. We generally have it so good, each of these these is trated as a small and almost insignificant sacrifice.
Nature can make grains of sand can disappear from the beach, over time the beach is gone.

June 15, 2008 5:11 am

I agree with those who say it’s your blog, so you decide the rules. But I also agree with the fact that there are sometimes good reasons for using a pseudonym. And Raven has an excellenent point that there is really no way you can determine whether a name is real or a pseudonum. So the change in policy might not always work as expected.
My name is real, but you only have my word for it.
I am also visiting this site on a dayly basis. Thanks for all the hard work.

Mike Bryant
June 15, 2008 5:20 am

Thank God the signers of the Declaration of Independence didn’t prefer to remain ananymous.
I can just imagine the signatures…

Mike Bryant
June 15, 2008 5:22 am

anonymous even

Rashid Faridi
June 15, 2008 5:45 am

you have every right to do so. I appreciate it.

June 15, 2008 7:48 am

First, I visit frequently and obviously I would like to see you continue the blog. Second, I do read the comments and have learned quite a bit from them. There are some names / handles that I always read, and some that I always skip. Lastly, while I do not comment often, I like the freedom and ability to comment when I feel I have something to add.
All that said, its your blog and therefore your choice. I would offer to help, but unfortunately I cannot guarantee QoS (quality of service). By, that I mean, I could go several days at a time without doing my part, and that would certainly take away from your readers.
If you did want to set up a pool of moderators – folks who could moderate at any time they were available – I’d be happy to join. Perhaps between a number of us we’d be able to get the job done in a timely manner. (BTW, is that what Real Climate does?)

June 15, 2008 7:48 am

Just a thought about using “real names” – how on earth are you going to tell if a name is real or made up.
This post could have had the name Fred Bloggs, Gordon Brown (you can tell I am from the UK) or – well make up your own option.

June 15, 2008 7:53 am

Anthony & Jeez I see you have several offers to help. I will include my email if you choose to take me up on mine:
CoRev at Comcast dot net
Emailing me gets my real name when i reply.

Zeb Bubovski
June 15, 2008 8:40 am

[late catch, banned poster]~jeez

June 15, 2008 9:25 am

I can understand Anthony’s frustration with certain behavior but to assign that entirely to anonymity is a bit off. Take TCO for example. I’ve encountered him quite a number of times in other places. I think I know who he actually is but that really doesn’t matter. He always uses TCO. It’s his trademark. When you see TCO on a post you know what it will be like. Would it really matter or help to know that his real name is Jon Jonzz? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending him or others like him. However, I sincerely doubt he would be any different if he posted under his full name.
And, as far as full names go, a full name is often anonymous as well. It just has the appearance of non-anonymity. If someone is bent on creating havoc, creating a “real name” and associated e-mail accounts are small impediments. Anyone who has spent any time in forums would realize this.
There’s one post above that nearly had me on the floor. I’m not going to say which because that person’s parents might have had a strange sense of humor. The fact that my initials spell my name is the result of parental humor (they though it was ‘cool’ way back before there was ‘cool’). It’s also one of the reasons why I tend to use it and would only not do so reluctantly.
One of the things I was taught: it’s WHAT a person says — not WHO says it (except in psychology it seems where WHO, WHEN and WHERE seemed far more important than WHAT, but I digress).
Few people seem to regard Spiderman as a coward because he doesn’t wear a Peter Parker name tag. OK! OK! Spiderman isn’t a real person. Hopefully though, Anthony will (and does) see the difference between manner of dress and manner of deportment.

Evan Jones
June 15, 2008 9:41 am

that the blogs where real scientists discuss real science on climate, there is no pre-screening of comments
You mean like rc?

David Walton
June 15, 2008 10:23 am

John Goetz has a good idea, a pool of moderators to take the heat off Anthony. I’ll volunteer for that if I can do it from my machine and connection. Of course, being one those who probably should be subject to moderation now and then (even though I have always posted with my name), I may be disqualified.
Nevertheless, I would endeavor to be a fair and judicious moderator refrain from posting on those days I would be moderating myself.

Adrian Starks
June 15, 2008 10:56 am

I’m always happy to have my full name published. I stand behind my views but are happy to listen to balanced views opposed to mine and will change my view if necessary.
If you cant put your real name down what are you?
What do you stand for, What are you frightened off? Can you not discuss difficult issues without hiding behind veils?
Good on you Anthony

RJ Hendrickson
June 15, 2008 11:20 am

From reading the comments above, it doesn’t appear there’s a good automated way to handle this without excluding a lot of legitimate commenters for one reason or another. Names can be faked, registrations also.
So the solution is: when the job gets too big for you to handle alone, delegate. When your blog gets to be too much for you to handle alone, lay out some rules and take on some moderators. Same principle applies here, and you’ve got several already volunteering to moderate for free. Put my name on the list if I can help.

Mike Bryant
June 15, 2008 12:09 pm

Why not make the registration fee one dollar. Maybe that will keep the riff raff out, and if it doesn’t, at least you got a buck for your trouble.
Non-refundable of course…

June 15, 2008 12:10 pm

Great BLog!

June 15, 2008 12:34 pm

“Why not make the registration fee one dollar.” Mike Bryant
Excellent idea! You can read for free, but for talk there’s a fee.

Mike Bryant
June 15, 2008 12:35 pm

The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 people of Integrity. If they had no backbone they may have signed like this:
John Hancock Herbie Hancock
John Adams J A Da Mannn
Thomas Jefferson Jeff Thompson
Benjamin Franklin Ben Jammin’
Samuel Adams Sammy Dammit
Benjamin Harrison Harry Boy Ben
Samuel Chase Smoothie
Just a little humor to lighten things a bit…

Mike Bryant
June 15, 2008 12:57 pm

For regular talk… one buck
for rhymes… half a buck
( i know this don’t qualify)

June 15, 2008 1:06 pm

M. Bryant: “Why not make the registration … ”
I’d go for that. Does WordPress give you the tools for it?
REPLY: Almost all of the suggestions regarding registration would require me to move to a private dedicated server to install such plugins. I setup a dedicated server for Steve McIntyre at Cliamte Audit last year when his previous web host in London got flooded, maybe it is time to do it for this blog.
I’m not sure about charging money to make comments though. Maybe charging for cuss words however…

June 15, 2008 1:31 pm

I’m not sure about charging money to make comments though. Maybe charging for cuss words however…
While it would hit me hard personally, a penalty fee of five dollars may be appropriate when a joke falls flat.

June 15, 2008 1:48 pm

Cuss words are not necessary to insult. Not even bad intentions. I seem to have run off Pam. Woe, woe that I am.

June 15, 2008 1:53 pm

I like the lass it’s true.
Her head’s too red
but her heart’s true blue.

Peter Melia
June 15, 2008 2:54 pm

I agree with you fully. I comment from time to time on blogs and newspaper articles, always under my full name, as above. I see no problem with that. The only thing is, some blogs, like Samizdata have made their comment access quite complex, with message rejections for, for me, non-understandable reasons. It could be that my non-understanding is my own fault for just being plain thick, but even so, since time is dhort, I have just deleted Samizdata from my favourites, which is a pity, because I like it.
I have no intention of deleting “Watts up with that?”, well certainly not under present managed. Wishing you continued overwork.
Peter Melia

Pamela Gray
June 15, 2008 3:41 pm

Been at my son’s graduation from Western Oregon University. I like having people use their real names. I also want to vote for keeping comments open. I love reading what other people have to say on either side. However, I hate comments that are stereotypical. I’ld much rather see true debate on both sides regarding science, data, theories, etc. Saying that conservatives believe this or liberals believe that doesn’t help me understand what the data is saying. That is not to say that we should be a members only blog. I’m afraid that GW’s wouldn’t want to belong which would make it difficult to have a debate. Use real names, but until we need more control (hope not), lets just start there.

Evan Jones
June 15, 2008 4:36 pm

While it would hit me hard personally, a penalty fee of five dollars may be appropriate when a joke falls flat.
Five bucks, please.

James S
June 15, 2008 4:40 pm

I like the anonymous comments as it means that if you work in a particular field / government then you can be open about your views without it affecting your career (part of what I do is advise on carbon trading schemes – my personal view is that they are a pile of rubbish but if that were known then I wouldn’t be given the time of day).
And as to why I do it my belief is that if it happens it will happen and I may as well try and get it working efficiently.
As an alternative why not have a registration system so that postings can only come from pre-approved email addresses. That way you can block email addresses should a user regularly troll.

June 15, 2008 7:00 pm

You don’t need to move the blog to enforce registration. WordPress.com allows people to create accounts without needing to create a blog. Since the registration requires a real e-mail address your “problem” is solved.
Then you change your blog settings to registered only and voilà!
I would however question whether registration is really the answer. You just need a group of people you can trust to enforce sensible moderation policies. The pain you’re suffering is just the natural problems of growth in a popular blog.
The greatest problem posters I had on CA were people who published under their own names – so its not the anonymity that produces the “keyboard kourage” but something else.

Jon Jewett
June 15, 2008 7:20 pm

There are many sources of nformation that I have found I can not trust.
You I trust.
Whatever you need to do.
But I’ll still let my Evil Twin sign the post.
Steamboat Jack

June 16, 2008 6:04 am

I, for one am glad this blog is here, debunking all of the Al Gore (and others’) hype. And I am glad the readership numbers are so high. Yeah, the kooks are out there, as always, opposing the truth. I find your information fascinating.

J Frank La Due
June 16, 2008 6:20 am

I just stumbled onto this site and want to see it continue. You do what you need to to keep it rolling.
J Frank La Due

C. W. Coe
June 16, 2008 7:06 am

As someone who moderates a very tightly controlled message board (in terms of civility, anyway) I think registration is the way to go (with the registrant asked to provide a real name to you, and encouraged to use as his or her posting handle), and a “report an inappropriate comment” button would allow some group help with the moderation. Probation periods also work well.
While I have no objections to using my real name, I can certainly understand the objections others have voiced. No one wants to be blindsided by a politically motivated boss using internet comments to determine raises, etc.

Michael Ronayne
June 16, 2008 8:18 am

I just setup an account in WordPress without creating a BLOG. I can now post without having to enter my Email account. I admit this would be a problem for some people who would be subject to reprisals but it would discourage a lot of the junk postings. Too bad you are no longer displaying avatars, I uploads a (vary bad) picture of myself.
REPLY: I’m aware of this reg process, it doesn’t do much for this situation though

Jeff B.
June 16, 2008 8:55 am

I use my first name, last initial only because my name is unique enough that it would be easy to find in a Google search. I worry that some highly-programmed HR director or bureaucrat would do a search, not agree with something I said, and then that would impact a future opportunity. And of course like so many commenters here, I don’t abuse the privilege.
At the same time, I believe that outright anonymity is a refuge of cowards. And there are so many on the web making awful comments and hiding behind pseudonyms. I would prefer a balance, or a registration scheme to posting full names. But as many have noted, it’s your blog Anthony. Your rules.
Either way, it’s a fantastic blog, clean, and well maintained and generally free from the terrible trolls, and I will continue reading.
REPLY: Making and keeping it that way is a huge amount of work. That is the issue.

Bern Bray
June 16, 2008 8:57 am

(Formerly superDBA) Fair enough. On my infrequent trips off the sidelines, it was only a conservative’s general desire for privacy that caused me to use a nom de plume.

June 16, 2008 9:47 am

Well it’s your choice, but I don’t think most of your readers will be pleased with your decision.

Nathan Stone
June 16, 2008 10:05 am

Excellent blog, I love it and read it every day. I fully support a decision to require actual identities to post comments. I rarely take time to comment on blogs because of a busy schedule, so I can appreciate the sacrifice of your personal time in moderating the blog. As for the ones who don’t want to be identified because of fear of repurcussions from the alarmists, I can only say it’s time to grow a pair and saddle up. Putting one’s personal interest above the pursuit of the truth is what got us into this looming catastrophe in the first place.
Nathan Stone
Hendersonville, TN

Dana H.
June 16, 2008 10:36 am

I post semi-anonymously simply for privacy reasons — to protect myself against weirdos, spammers, and identity thieves. I use my real first name, but only my last initial. Those who know me can know that the comments came from me; by not using my full name, those who wish me ill are less likely to bother me.
If I were to use my full first and last name, then I fear that simply by googling, a person could learn more about me than I wish to share with the world. (I have no problem with submitting an email address that does not get published.)

Jeff Alberts
June 16, 2008 11:09 am

James S: “And as to why I do it my belief is that if it happens it will happen and I may as well try and get it working efficiently.”
An efficiently working pile of rubbish is still a pile of rubbish. Find another line of work.

Jim Clarke
June 16, 2008 2:29 pm

When I first started commenting (doing battle with the likes of Dano 10 years ago) I went by jerel. Then I realized that I would not be able to take credit for my words when they turned out to be proven correct. I started using my real name and have never regretted it.
What kind of a country do we live in if government and/or university employees are afraid to express an opinion in a scientific debate? Stand behind your words and let’s shine the light on the neo-Nazis that want to control your speech. When you give in to these out-of-control authoritarians, you empower them!

June 16, 2008 10:32 pm

Just want to put my vote in for jeeztheadmin’s moderation solution.
Also want to voice agreement with posted concerns of some becoming targeted if their real name becomes known. I’m a real nobody and can give as good as I get but, many don’t have the time or inclination. As has been noted, there could be real political and professional consequences for some.
In terms of community policing and moderation, other structures such as yahoo groups or vBulletin forums may provide better tools. However, for me, the comments to your post here are very much a part of the sharing and camaraderie surrounding and supporting your blog.

June 17, 2008 11:07 am

I think requiring real names is an excellent idea. I own and/or moderate a half dozen or so email groups and the volumes of spam, trolling and other general nastiness has decreased exponentially since I went to a strict ‘real name / real location’ rule.
If its not worth putting your name on, its not worth saying.

June 17, 2008 11:40 am

“If its not worth putting your name on, its not worth saying.” SmartDogs

June 17, 2008 3:00 pm

That “LOL!” was a cheap shot. Forgive?

June 17, 2008 7:33 pm

Re your ‘full names’ comment policy : Fair enough, it’s your call. In my case, it could cause problems. I am a committee member of a local branch of the Royal Society. Unlike the RS Head Office in London, I consider it important to be seen to be impartial when acting on behalf of the RS. I therefore keep my personal views on “global warming” separate from my RS involvement. But my full name, if attached to a personal comment that showed a particular view on “global warming”, could be recognised and my personal view could then be attributed incorrectly to the RS.
I suspect that there are many others who would have similar problems, so a system like jeeztheadmin’s suggestion could be best.
In any case, your website is brilliant, so keep it going no matter what.

June 21, 2008 5:34 pm

Formerly Mike from Canmore. Never lived in Canmore. Just one of my favourte characters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_from_Canmore. I liked it for a couple of reasons; When I read tech analysis, sometimes I feel like the village idiot (in a fun way – I’m not afraid to laugh at myself) but I thought Village Idiot was too overt. In addition, “Mike from Canmore” was orginally “Mike from Coquitlam” which near where I now live..
I do feel stupid about my earlier quote on the other thread about driving through Canmore. Nevertheless. I did just drive through Canmore. It’s beautiful up here in the Canadian Rockies.

December 19, 2008 10:35 am

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